Python Parlari

Kathy Hoyle

She coils and twists her lissome body. A glint of evening sunlight catches the sequins on her costume making her shine like a gilded jewel. Crimson letters swirl across the wooden board beside her, Part girl, part python! A phenomenon of nature!

A mechanical foxtrot seeps from a desolate merry-go-round. The scent of congealed candy floss permeates the air. There are no crowds tonight. No wide-eyed children or disapproving mothers, the biting wind has kept them away.

Her amber eyes flick toward the striped big top. A smattering of men in coats and caps huddle by the dark mouth of the tent, captivated by her father, resplendent in red. He is blathering his usual spiel. Three rounds, winner takes all!

A scrawny boy jumps onto the podium next to ‘Big Jim’. Her brother, Gus, scowls. He can’t run a book with odds like that. He likes to at least give the townies a show.

She pulls her shawl around her and trudges across the mud towards the tent. She catches the boy’s eye and winks. Good luck! The boy puffs out his chest and grins. Gus glares.

Standing in the shadows, she listens to the whispers.

It’s Bobby Grayson’s lad!

Aye, THE bobby Grayson.

They say the young un’s even better than his Pa.

More men arrive, waving notes, shouting odds. They teem into the tent and congregate around the makeshift boxing ring in the centre. The boy bounds into the ring. The men bray and holler. The frenzied scent of testosterone assaults her senses.

She feels a sharp tug on her hair and whips around. No women allowed!

Gus shoves her with his great bear hands.

Better to leave than to deal with his temper.


Father calls for his brandy. Big Jim and Harry the Furness. Ha! The little flyweight saw them both off.

The men sing the old songs, keening their loss. She sits on the steps of her caravan, amused by their lament.

The boy appears before her. She knew he would. He offers her a smoke, proudly tells her his name is Stanley Grayson. She glances around. No Gus.

In the ring, the boy’s size had fooled them all. He is much stronger than he looks. She knows that now. In an instant he has her pinned against the caravan, hand clamped tight across her mouth.

She feels his heart pumping. Her senses reel. For a brief moment, she resists, but she cannot help herself…

She strikes.

The boy is not the only one stronger than he looks. She coils and twists her powerful body. Her mouth waters at the exquisite sound of his bones cracking. There is no mercy. Her jaw expands and slowly, slowly she inches him into her throat, savouring the delectable tang of his fear.

Gus appears, brandy bottle swinging. His dark eyes flash with disgust, as the last of the boy disappears.

‘What will I tell father this time?’ he growls.

‘Tell him it’s time to move on,’ she replies.

This story won First Prize in the March 2021 CIRCUS Themed Flash Competition.

About the author: Kathy Hoyle writes Flash Fiction and Short Stories. Her work has appeared in a variety of literary magazines including Spelk, Lunate, Cabinet of Heed and Ellipsiszine. She was awarded third prize in the HISSAC Flash Fiction Competition, received a Special Commendation in the Blinkpot Awards and has been both long and shortlisted in several other writing competitions. She is currently working on a Novella-in -Flash fuelled by jammy dodgers and tea.