Tomas the Lion Tamer
BY RON RICHARDSON I DECEMBER 17, 2009
Cursed with a strange name, young Tomas Curiosity, a fledgling lion tamer, migrated from Eastern Europe aboard a two - stack steamer bound for the United States, arriving July 4th, 1911.
Tomas with no special skills, and unable to speak English, considered himself fortunate when he was hired for fifty cents a day by a small traveling caravan of "past prime" circus performers to clean dung from big cat cages.
By day he bumped along rutted and winding roads perched atop an ancient lion's cage softly humming folk songs from the old country that seemed to sooth the near toothless creature pacing below.
The day waned in golden hues as the tired little troop came upon a quaint village. Stopping short of its limits, the owners ventured forth and asked permission of the town fathers to "perform" their big cat act "this very night and only for a penny." The good news spread quickly throughout the countryside. Barnyard chores hurried, a festive crowd gathered as darkness settled around them.
Rag torches soaked in coal oil lit the town square. The lion, taken from its cage, limped along in bored fashion beside its handler to a chorus of "oh's" and "ah's." It was then the western sky bubbled black and rumbled with a growing storm.
Tomas watched from the shadows as the storm rolled closer. A dreadful feeling clutched his innards. Hoots, hollers and thunder filled the air. The cat was agitated. It hissed and pawed the air. The trainer moved back in fear, tripped and fell. The lion pounced, clawing the downed man. With dripping claws it roared, darting toward the chaotic crowd.
Tomas grabbed a length of iron pipe and sprinted after the wild animal. He caught it and with two well placed blows crushed its skull.