The Roads Are Calling, or It's A Carnie Life: Part 2

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I apologize for the extremely lengthy time between postings for this story. Life, as I mentioned in the prologue, can be an utter PITA. Some of that was due to the muse striking at various times with stories or chapters of stories, some due to the muse apparently being on strike or lost.


We arrived at the site for the Lake County Fair perhaps an hour after we left the Williston area that Monday morning.

As usual, Jack prepaid our fees for the fair, but had to pay for Walburton's rides too, then we had the fun of setting everything up. That took most of the day and part of the evening on the Monday, and half of Tuesday morning before everything was up and checked off as being safe.

Jack told everyone to relax for the rest of the day, and Wednesday too, it's best to get some quiet time before the events start happening.

Since we now had time off, mom and dad used a tablet to go online through a wifi set-up Jack organized and looked up walk-in medical clinics in the area. The closest one they could find was over in Mount Dora, and it would be open for several hours the next day, Wednesday.

While my parents were looking for a medical place we could go to so I could get examined and find out what the heck was going on, they told me that Jack had come in the night before and informed them that Walburton's rides would be with us from now on out. With how busy it gets while we are doing shows at a fair, I don't often get a chance to wander off and go on rides, so having them with us might offer that chance.

It seems that Walburton had accrued a fairly nasty debt load and had had the creditors crawling up and down their backs, then Jack stepped in to help. Birchland Carnivals has been doing reasonably well in all the time I've been part of the show, that's nine years, so I guess there was enough actual cash available to cover the Walburton's Wonderful Whirlds of Whee company's debts and clear their current credit records.

As I said already, the end result was that Walburton's would be part of our show and set-up from now on. What I hadn't known, until my parents informed me of it, was that Walburton's rides and our events used to be a combined show that went separate ways back in the '70s (see the tie-in story here: ).

So mom and dad figured we could relax today, go in tomorrow and get the examination done, then be ready for the fair on Thursday. That sounded okay to me, so I wandered off to my area in the RV that mom, dad and I share and spent the next few hours doing homework.


Now, I'm not sure if I've told you this before or not, but I've been home schooled since I was five and was old enough to be going to school. If we, as part of Birchland Carnivals, weren't on the roads for a good eight or nine months of the year every year, things would be different. Well, mom usually picks out stuff on various things like history, geography, social studies, math, English (including creative writing), Spanish, gymnastics, and whatever else she thinks might help me to get a well-rounded education, then has me do homework on each of the "classes".

Today, my studying was on history, specifically Washington's part in the Revolutionary War that led to our independence. She also had me studying about the places where Washington and his forces were during that war. Let's just say I learned a lot, mostly from online sources.

To this day, I find it amazing that forces like Washington's and the British troops could live and fight in what had to be appalling physical conditions. Diseases like cholera, dysentery, malaria and smallpox were often rampant in army camps back then, it was not unusual to lose about a tenth or more of an army to diseases. That was often due to the fact that cleanliness was not something that many folks espoused at that time, thus they were open to diseases that spread through the air, the water or from one person to another or from an animal to a person.

Even harder to comprehend with today's medical knowledge and devices is that, if one had a major wound back then such as a leg or arm shattered by a heavy rifle slug or a cannonball, the wounded would most likely have that limb removed, often dying in the process.

After I had been studying for a few hours, I made up a sandwich and poured a glass of milk, then curled up on the bench seat with my food.

I suppose I could have stopped at that point, but I kept looking at sites that described army conditions and how even something as simple as the environment of the area where they camped could have an effect on the overall health and capability of the troops in an army. For instance, camping near a swamp or other wet place could mean being bitten by mosquitos or other bugs, many of them carriers of various diseases.


Mom and dad returned from their wanderings around the fairgrounds, telling me that there were many carny groups already here. I nodded, that would mean that there would be some variety, as some companies are known for specific things, like Birchland's for the lions we have.

I guess they must have had something while they were wandering around as mom said that we wouldn't have supper until 8 PM tonight. I giggled and told mom that was fine, as I had finished my little meal perhaps twenty minutes earlier and had cleaned up after myself already.

I then informed them that I was going to wander around and see what was happening, and added that I would be back in time for the food. Mom laughed, she knows just how I eat, which is more typical of a large athlete than of someone my size, but hey, I'm growing, ya know?

I stepped out of the RV, looked around and walked over to talk to some of the Walburton's folks and look at the rides they have available. It's been at least a few years since I've been on a ferris wheel or a tilt-a-whirl or a scrambler or a gravitron or a roller coaster, for example.

I had no idea that Walburton's had a roller coaster, but they do. It's not a huge one, but it has drops, loops and twists on about 4200 feet of track. Since it needs more space, the roller coaster is on one side of the area Walburton's has available with the other rides across from it.

There was a big guy standing in the open area between the coaster and the other Walburton's rides. He noticed me, walked over and asked me what was up. I replied that I was just taking a look at things and would probably be roaming around a fair bit of the fairgrounds today.

I also told him that I was with Birchland Carnivals and he nodded, then said something about our being allowed free rides if they weren't busy. When I asked about that, he said that Walburton's owed their presence here to Jack Birchland having interceded with their credit problem. That put them in a debt of honour position to Birchland, so they were giving those of us from Birchland who might want it rides for free.

"So, kid," he continued, "My name is Clarke Horton, I run Walburton's Tilt-A-Whirl, just let us know if you want a ride. Have fun wandering!"

I nodded after re-introducing myself, and headed off to see what other companies had come to set up early for the fair. The next few hours were spent roaming from one end of the fairgrounds to the other, looking at the games, big top events and rides that were available. There were companies present that were from as far away as Seattle, Washington and LA, California, and others from various places in Florida.

The "local" companies were ones that mostly stayed in Florida or might go into neighbouring states if there were no Florida events available.


I strolled up to our RV and stepped inside, then stopped dead as the smells of the dinner mom was making flooded my poor brain. I took a good long sniff and grinned as I turned to face the small kitchen area, "Meatloaf, mom, is that great-grandma Beth's recipe that you're using?"

Mom just giggled and nodded as she checked the veggies cooking on the small stove, potatoes in one pot, a mixed vegetables assortment in another pot. I asked her low long it would be until we would be eating, she sniffed and told me, "Maybe fifteen minutes, wash your hands!"

Now it was my turn to giggle as I replied, "Yes, mom! Right now, Herr Kommandant!" She shook her head as I entered the tiny washroom.

It didn't take me long to wash up. As I came out of the washroom, dad was coming into the RV, and he headed for the washroom. Well, he was heading there, but first, he had to stop just like I did and sniff the food that was cooking, then he grinned and entered the washroom.

We sat down to eat at the four person dining table that was part of the front section of the RV. The meal was fantastic, but that's no surprise, really, great-grandma Beth's recipe has been very popular at many family events for as far back as I could remember, perhaps even longer.

After supper, I climbed up into the bed over the driver's area and looked at the small collection of books that were lined up along the front "wall". I finally decided to reread the books in the Hunger Games trilogy. I guess this would be the fourth time I've read them, but I only have a few books available, and most of those are single volumes, which might end up being no more than a few hours worth of reading for me.

I do have a large print set of The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. I'll reread them soon, I'm sure, as I'm a huge Tolkien fan.

The rest of the evening passed in my little loft as I read and listened to the radio playing country songs while mom and dad talked below me.

Finally, at about 11 PM, mom told me that I needed to get to bed, as we wanted to be at the medical centre as early as possible.

I came down long enough to do a simple cleaning, brushed my teeth again and crawled into my bed. Sleep rolled over me soon after that.


Well, I have to say that I had a decent night's sleep, which is good. Mom and dad were already awake and sitting at the table with their usual cups of coffee. I opened a cupboard, grabbed and opened a mini box of Rice Krispies, added a bit of sugar and milk and threw two slices of whole wheat in the toaster. I like my toast to be browned a fair bit, so I was able to eat about half of the cereal before the toast was done.

Shortly after I was finished eating, I had dressed in a simple pair of boot leg jeans, a t-shirt, flannel long sleeve and a light jacket.

Mom and dad had put on their jackets while I was getting dressed, so we were soon on our way to the medical clinic.

We arrived a bit early, so we relaxed in the RV until someone came to open the place up, then we locked the RV and followed the woman inside. We hadn't been in there for more than a minute or two before she came back out and asked us to fill out a bunch of forms.

Don't you just hate having to fill out all of those forms whenever you go into a new place for a medical visit of some sort? Well, imagine what it's like when you're on the road for two thirds of the year or longer and might need to visit a clinic two or three times in that time period.

I'd hate to think how much hassle it must be for the new places we go to to have to get medical records from the last ones we've visited.

The forms were eventually filled out as other folks came into the clinic, some going in the back, some sitting in the waiting area. Several of the folks that sat down in the waiting area were soon inundated with forms like mom and dad had been just a short while earlier.

Then a new woman came out, called my name and I stood up and followed her around a corner and into an examination room. She asked me to strip down to my underwear, as she would be doing several tests and it would be easier without clothing being in the way.

While I stripped, she introduced herself to me as Dr. Savannah Brandt, then she had me sit on the exam table and the tests began.

Dr. Brandt checked blood pressure, pulse, my eyes, ears and nose, then tapped my knees with a reflex hammer just to check that things worked as they should. A nurse came in to draw some blood from me, saying they would use it to see what was happening inside of me.

Then Dr. Brandt got down to business, asking why I was here. I showed her my chest and she hummed and hawed for a moment. She also took a moment to examine my scrotal sac, which is when she looked slightly surprised, then she touched my penis and I barely felt anything.

She picked up a phone, connected on an internal line and set up several more tests, urine, stools, ultrasound, X-rays, more blood tests.

Someone called her a few minutes later, saying they had an ultrasound ready if she would send me down to them.

A female worker, possibly a nurse or nursing student, led me down another hall and into the ultrasound room. I was told to lie down on the exam table as the male technician pulled out a jar of some kind of gel and spread it on my chest, then started looking using the machine.

I suppose he must have been a bit surprised by whatever he saw there, as he uttered a slightly shocked grunt, then wiped my chest clean before applying more of the gel to my abdomen. This bit of the exam took longer, as he was looking at a larger area, but the results showing up on the screen were clear enough, even to someone like me. I laid there, shocked would be polite, stunned would probably be more accurate.

You see, what was showing on the machine was what looked like a not quite fully formed uterus, with ovaries, fallopian tubes, etc. He guided the sensor down a bit further, right over my pelvis, and the image showed what should have been a vaginal opening, but it was closed. A tiny slit in the center of that bit of skin was visible, as if the pieces to either side were trying to separate and open, but hadn't succeeded yet.

He shut down the machine, wiped my abdomen clean of the gel, then had me put the gown back on. I'm glad the door was closed.

He was shaking his head as he picked up a phone and called someone, I assume it was to tell Dr. Brandt what he had found. I wasn't listening to him at that point, to say that I was still stunned would be an understatement. Well, this would explain the itching and other odd feelings.

Once I had the gown back on, I was sent back to Dr. Brandt's office, where I waited for about twenty minutes before the phone rang again and she was informed that the X-ray tech was available, could she send me down there now? A nurse showed up and led me down the halls again, this time turning into an area a short distance away from the ultrasound room, then asked me to wait there for a moment.

I sat down on a chair and waited for nearly fifteen minutes before she reappeared and led me into the X-ray room. The tech had me stand by the machine, had me put my arms on it in a certain way, then hold my breath until they said otherwise. The machine emitted that odd sound that they seem to make, then the tech said I could breathe again. I repeated the process for a left side chest view, then for two abdominal ones.

Getting good copies of all four pictures took a bit less than ten minutes, then the technician said I was done and I could go back to the doctor's room. I was beginning to get some idea of where the halls in here went, so I found my own way back to her office and knocked on the door.

I had to wait a minute, then Dr. Brandt let me in and led me into a small exam area next to her office, where a nurse drew six more vials of blood from my other arm. Once that was done, I was led to a bathroom and told to produce both a urine sample and a stool sample, STAT.

Darn medical people that expect you to piss and poop on command. I guess I was lucky, last night's supper and the breakfast I had eaten a few hours earlier had worked their way through my stomach and my whole intestinal tract. It wouldn't be too long before I'd be pooping it out.

I sat in the bathroom for a bit over twenty minutes, but after that time period, I had both samples in their respective containers.

I was all too happy to wash my hands quite thoroughly after that, then I returned to the doctor's office, knocking on the door once more.

By the time all the testing was done, the clock in the doctor's office was showing 2:45 PM and I hadn't eaten since 7:30 that morning. To say that I was hungry at that point would have been quite funny, comparable to Niagara Falls being a "small waterfall" if you get my meaning.

Dr. Brandt gave me an odd look when my stomach growled rather loudly, then giggled. "Go get some food and come back here in an hour or two hon. That will give us some time to get all the test info together and see what we need to do." I nodded, quickly dressed and left the office.

Mom and dad were glad to see that I was okay, then were startled, as were several others, when my stomach rumbled quite loudly again.

Mom grinned and suggested we get something to eat, at which point dad's stomach rumbled and mine repeated it back to him.

Mom shook her head and giggled as we walked out of the clinic. Across the parking lot, I spotted a sign for a Chinese food place and pointed it out to my parents. They seemed to agree that it would do for a lunch meal, so we crossed the large parking lot and entered China Eight.

The place catered to simple meals, so we each ordered bowls of hot and sour soup, some won tons and a plate of noodles and chicken bites.

The food wasn't the best Chinese I've eaten, but it sure satisfied my poor starving stomach. We had also ordered drinks with our food, mom and dad going for their usual coffee, while I chose to get some Coke. I sighed in contentment as I cleaned the last bit of food from my plate.

Mom and dad were still eating, I guess they hadn't been quite as hungry as I was, but then, they aren't teenagers any more, right? The place wasn't busy, so we decided to stay there and relax before going back to the clinic, which led to our getting refills of our drinks.


Finally, when my watch showed that it was almost 4:30 PM, we paid the bill and walked back across the asphalt to the clinic.

We didn't have to wait for more than a few minutes before we were led down to the doctor's office, mom and dad were right next to me.

We were showed into her office and the three of us sat down in the chairs that had been provided, then waited for the doctor to appear.

She came in about ten minutes later, sat down by her small desk and faced the three of us. "Well, this has been an interesting day. After I had examined Larry's chest this morning, I ordered several tests to be done, and each one validated what I thought to be the case.

"Larry isn't a male at all, but a fully functioning female, or she will be once her reproductive system matures. The ultrasound technician found what is clearly identifiable as a uterus with fallopian tubes, ovaries, the whole kit and caboodle, but none of it is fully formed yet.

"This was corroborated by the films that the X-ray technician took, which clearly show a female bone structure developing.

"We were able to get the blood samples we'd taken checked quite fast, as there are labs that do business with several clinics in the area. Those tests showed that Larry is producing almost no testosterone, along with slightly higher than normal levels of estrogen for a teenage girl. Those estrogen levels are many times higher than would be normal for a teenage male, and Larry is showing initial stages of breast growth.

"The urine and stool samples also brought back results that are more in line with a young female. By that point, we were expecting it."

"Wow!" was mom's enigmatic reply. "So what happens now?"

"Well, one of the things that we discovered is that Larry has what should be a vaginal opening, but it needs to be snipped a bit to allow it to open. If we don't do this soon, we're afraid that there will be serious issues as menstruation occurs. Better to fix it now, oh, and snip the bit of flesh that has been of little use to the child except as a way to urinate. It's easy enough to redirect things like that to where they should be.

'So, with that in mind, I'm going to contact some hospitals and see if one can fit Larry in within the next day or two to deal with that."

Dad spoke up, saying, looking at mom and I as he said, "I'd better call Jack and let him know, he'll be covering the medical costs."

Mom nodded and dad walked over to a corner of the office, pulled out a fairly old cell phone and called Jack. We could hear that he was talking at some points and listening at others, but he was speaking in a low enough voice that we couldn't actually hear what was being said.

Mom looked at the doctor, then sighed and nodded to her, saying, "Do what you need to do to help our child, Doctor Brandt."

That was all it took, Mom, dad and I left the office, dad still talking with Jake and we sat down to wait in the waiting area.

This wait lasted about an hour, then Dr. Brandt called us back in, at which point she informed us that a bed would be available in the children's ward and a nurse would be coming soon to take me up to that floor so they could do all the necessary preparations for the operation.

Dad informed Dr. Brandt that Jack had agreed to cover the medical costs and to have the bills sent to him in care of his lawyer. Now Jack's lawyer, Fargo Thomas, is an older black gentleman who grew up in the south, then came up north to go to university and stayed there. Jack had employed him for more than twenty years as the lawyer for Birchland Carnivals and left many matters in his quite capable hands.

Dad then assured Dr. Brandt that Jack was most likely talking to the lawyer right now, to get the ball rolling, so to speak.

About twenty minutes passed before a very young nurse entered Dr. Brandt's office, then informed me that I was to go with her. I just about jumped into mom's lap, wrapping her in a big hug, before I stepped down, hugged dad and followed the young woman out of the office.

"We'll be giving you a small meal in an hour or so, then no food until after the procedure is finished."

"But... but..." I spluttered, "How will I survive? I eat four or five times a day, you know, growing kid and all that?" as I giggled at her.

"You poor thing," she laughed, "You'll just have to suffer until afterward, then we'll make sure you get a nice meal, okay?"

"Oh, all right," I grumbled as she led me into a small room on the female side of the children's ward and pointed at an empty bed.

"I'll bring you a gown, then you will need to strip and relax until your dinner arrives. Don't give me a hard time, little missy!" she chastised me.

I sighed and nodded, then waited as she left and returned a few minutes later with a couple of those hospital gowns and a towel. "There is a small shower down the hall where you can wash yourself either tonight or early tomorrow morning, that's why I brought the towel."

I thanked her, sighed again, then stripped and quietly put on the flimsy gown that covers all too little before I sat down on the bed.


I had been sitting there moping for maybe thirty minutes when a young girl, perhaps twelve or so, entered the room with people that I assumed to be her parents. "Look, mommy, daddy, I have a roommate again!" she shrilled. She asked what my name was, Larry didn't fit, so I said Lara.

She settled onto the other bed, then her mother and father talked with her for a few minutes before they had to leave for the night. The young girl told me her name was Shelly DeAngelo, and she was here for cancer treatments due to her being diagnosed with children's leukaemia.

She started to cry, and that had me almost crying, so I hopped off of my bed, walked over and hugged her for several minutes.

I explained why I was here and she thought it was hilarious, then giggled and said, "Being a girl is good, and thanks for that hug!"

We sat and chatted until my food arrived. It was time for Shelly to go to sleep, so the nurse tucked her in and I quietly sang a lullaby. The soft words of the song soon had Shelly in the depths of slumber and I continued to eat my meal of now cold roast beef, a potato and peas.

Once I had finished eating, I lay back down on the bed, then thought about everything that I had heard earlier. I guess the biggest surprise was finding out that I had never been male at all, but that some doctor in the hospital where I was born had assumed I was male because of my supposed penis. Then today I find out that it wasn't anything more than a way for me to urinate, it would never be functional in any other way.

Well, if that meant that I would have to live as a girl from now on, I could handle that. If I couldn't, mom and dad would get help for me.


I'm not sure exactly when I fell asleep, but I'm quite sure that it was much sooner than I had slept the night before.

Two different nurses came in, waking me up both times to do quick checks on my current status, then left me to sleep again.

I woke up for the last time just after 6 AM. A nurse popped in a few minutes later, checked everything, then left like the others had last night.

It was just after 8:30 AM when a nurse came in and unlocked the wheels of the bed, then started hauling me down the corridors of the hospital. I was taken into a prep room where a guy came in and checked blood pressure and pulse, then said I was ready for the anaesthetist.

That worthy added something to my IV line and asked me to count down from one hundred. "100, 99, 98, 97, 96, 95, 94" and that was it.

When I woke up what seemed like several hours later, mom and dad were in my room, and a nurse popped in to say the food would be there soon. The nurse was actually correct for once, a plate of what turned out to be the lunch meal showed up less than five minutes later.

I had just finished eating when a doctor entered the room, then Dr. Brandt followed him into the room, as well as the floor's head nurse.

The male doctor lifted my gown for a moment to take a look as Dr. Brandt explained that he, Dr. Powell, had done the operation earlier.

He straightened up soon enough and stated that everything looked to be fine, then added, "No strenuous activity for at least three weeks."

Oh, dear, that might cause problems, as my tightrope act is fairly popular. Perhaps dad or Jack could find someone to do that for a while. If whoever that was hired turned out to be any good, perhaps we could become a team once I was well again, a two person tightrope act.

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