One fine day in the olden days (1976), Sidewall Sam* and I were sitting in the doorway of his van enjoying the fine spring air. We were in Huntsville, Alabama; the circus was set up in a mall parking lot. It was between shows, late afternoon, a quiet time when most of the performers were fixing supper and the gazoonies and workin' men were passed out.
I was feeling particularly good -- the lot was next to a high school and the show had gotten us permission to use the gym showers. I took advantage of this delightful perk in the morning. Because it was the weekend, the school was deserted, which meant I had the entire girls' locker room all to myself. I turned all of the shower heads so that they pointed to the center of the shower, turned them all on as hot as I could stand it, and stood right in the middle, soaping, shampooing, conditioning, loofahing, and generally steam cleaning every pore.
Anyway, as I said, Sidewall Sam* and I were lounging in the van. We might have been drinking a beer or smoking a joi- never mind. Not important. All of a sudden a group of gazoonies and prop crew ran past us, as fast as they could. A couple were carrying stakes. This was very odd behavior.
"What the hell?" hollered Sidewall Sam*.
"Rosie** got loose!" hollered Bullitt. Rosie was one of the lions. Evidently the prop guy in charge of ensuring that the cage was fastened had fallen down on the job and Rosie decided to take a tour of Huntsville.
We looked at each other for a second. Then Sidewall Sam* yelled, "What are you gonna do if you catch her?"
Well, by this time the gang had chased Rosie into the big top. Sidewall Sam* stood up and followed them, running into the lion trainer on the way. They grabbed a length of sidewall as the prop master wrangled the cage through the back door.
The gang had cornered Rosie near the back door; never fear, they weren't very close. She really wasn't particularly dangerous; she was mostly confused. But still, she was a lion and she did have (some) teeth. We took the length of sidewall and spread it out among us. Then we held it up in front of us and walked slowly toward Rosie, herding her toward the back door. As we closed her in, forming a circle around the cage, Rosie decided that she'd seen enough of the outside world and hopped back into her cage.
*Not his real name.
**Not her real name.