The Amazing Bobo
Tag(s): "short story" comedy "circus bear" fiction
Outside the arena there is a thick layer of snow. His breath condenses
in the freezing air as a swirling mist spilling from his nostrils. It is colder
than usual tonight, but he doesn’t feel it, he is built for this kind of
weather. He bites down hard on the remainder of his cigar, baring his
teeth, growling, firing himself up.
The engine of the Kawasaki chugs between his legs, gurgling fuel, the
revs rising and falling each time he adjusts the accelerator with a flick of
He has made this jump many times before, but he’s tired, his body
aches, the plate in his shoulder throbs with each heartbeat. He loves to
ride, but he’s had enough of this gig, he wants out.
Dmitri has told him they’ll get away from here, too many times, they’ll
leave Russia and go to Europe, but it’s always, One more time Bobo, you
can do it once more for me can’t you? There would be a thousand ‘one more
times’ before Dmitri had cleared his debt. The ringmaster always found
ways to add to it.
The lenses of his second world war aviator goggles are steamed up.
The flaming ring positioned at the end of the narrow wooden ramp is
nothing more than a bright blurred orange circle. The heavy canvas cur-
tain hides the audience from him, but he knows they are out there, hun-
dreds of them, bundled up in thick winter coats, sipping from flasks of
vodka or hot tea… or vodka mixed with hot tea. Some have travelled
hours to see the show.
He guns the engine, twisting the handlebar grip with a roll of his paw.
A microphone positioned by the exhaust amplifies the sound
throughout the arena. The crowd go wild with applause. He guns it
again and again, working the crowd. They know what’s coming, the
town has been buzzing with anticipation for weeks.
He adjusts the leather pilot helmet on his head, releasing a stream of
sweat down his muzzle. The audience are clapping in time. Each clash
of their hands intensifies the pain behind his eyes. The cigar is pulled
from his teeth and several 1000mg painkillers are stuffed into the corner
of his mouth. He instinctively crushes them between his giant molars
and swallows hard.
Dmitri is slapping his back, shouting only inches from his ear, but his
voice is lost in the sudden intensified roar of the audience as the ring
master strides into the middle of the arena, whirling and cracking his 10
foot long bull whip, shattering wine glasses balanced precariously on the
heads of platinum blonde sequin clad girls.
‘Ladies and Gentlemen… ’ he begins theatrically.
He stands in the middle of the ring, legs apart, arms raised and
‘Welcome,’ - he spins on his heels - ‘To the greatest show on earth.’
The audience are on their feet, cheering wildly.
The music stops abruptly and the lights in the arena dim, only the
flickering flames of the burning ring light the hundreds of eager faces,
now sitting in silence.
The speakers start to rumble with the sound of bass drums, then
powerful strobe lights start flashing, illuminating the ring master as he
walks like a robot waving his arms.
The motorbike engine roars again, amplified by the microphone held
by the back wheel the speakers distorting the noise. The audience gasp,
then scream. Bobo holds the brake, letting the back wheel spin against
the dirt. He tilts his head side to side cracking the vertebrae in his neck
and waits for his cue.
The audience are ready to rupture, someone shouts his name, then
more of them, soon they all join in, chanting his name, each chant louder
than the one before. The drums are getting faster, then Iron Maiden
kicks in at full volume.
Bobo yanks the grip all the way round, the engine wailing as it
guzzles the gasoline. He clamps his massive molars together, hot breath
blasting between his long canines.
‘Behold… .’ The ring master bellows above the music, ‘The… . a-
mazing… Bo-bo Bear’
He swipes the goggles from his face, the relief is immediate. He holds
out his arms and waits. The crowd are struck dumb, they always are,
then explode into spontaneous applause, many jumping from their seats
and screaming his name.
Bobo clasps his paws together, shaking them at the audience, offering
small bows in appreciation as he dances around on the ball moving it in
She takes hold of the trapeze and leaps from the platform.
Bobo, still struggling to gain balance, tries to move his ball into the
right position to make the catch. She releases too early, makes an awk-
ward somersault and spreads her thighs to make her anticipated landing
on Bobo’s shoulders.
Somehow Bobo makes it, but he’s out of control. Griselda lands with a
thud, something cracks in Bobo’s back and he winces with pain.
Griselda, completely unaware, beams at the crowd, thanking them for
the rapturous applause, but Bobo is now weaving all over the arena try-
ing desperately to find somewhere to dump this massive load. He
crashes into the wooden scaffolding supports of the ramp causing the
flaming ring to fall, it doesn’t break free completely but drops far enough
to set fire to Griselda’s hair, she screams as the intense heat burns her
Bobo races away on the ball, dancing frantically as the wood creaks
then fails. The structure collapses to the ground. The flaming ring starts
rolling toward the audience leaving a fiery trail of fuel on the floor of the
arena. They are on their feet screaming. Bobo hops off his ball and
plucks Griselda from his shoulders with his powerful paws and launches
her toward the small tub of water he is supposed to dive into from the
lofty platform at the top of the tent later in the show.
The ring crashes into the audience setting fire to the barriers and seat-
ing. Jackets and scarves burst into flames. Clowns, armed with fire ex-
tinguishers, rush into the arena spraying plumes of CO2. More clowns
with blankets, climb into the grandstands and try desperately to smother
the flames consuming the fleeing audience.
‘uh oh.’ He says.
Dmitri is pulling the Kawasaki out of the collapsed net and shouting at
The giant bear races over to help with the bike; easily lifting it free, as
though it were no more than a toy.
‘Uh… now we go to Europe Dmitri?’ He asks, dumping the bike on
the floor. The engine roars as he jumps on the kick start and guns the
‘Yes, Bobo, now we go to Europe.’ Dmitri climbs up onto Bobo’s back,
the old man's weight is imperceptible to the powerful bear.
‘Go Bobo, go.’ Dmitri shouts, grabbing handfuls of thick brown fur.
A small slice of light from the bottom of the cargo container door is
barely enough for Bobo to make out the shadowy form of his old friend,
Dmitri. He knows it is him, he knows his smell, his sounds, and the
rhythm of his breath. Dmitri has taken care of him his whole life.
'Tell me again what it is like in England Dmitri?’ Bobo asked quietly,
tipping the last sip of vodka from the bottle onto his pickled tongue.
The slow rhythmic snoring of the old man continued undisturbed. It
was the only noise other than the rumbling engines a few decks below
and the groaning of the ship's twisting hull as it bucked and dived over
the rolling waves.
'Dmitri?' Bobo leaned over to jab the old man with his claw, but
thought better of it. He needed his sleep. How old was he? Bobo
wondered. Dmitri had been an old man when Bobo was just a cub.
'Older than I feel' He would say, adding a wink, each time Bobo
A friend had arranged for them to stowaway within this container of
vodka bound for England. There were no guarantees they would get
there safely, if at all, but they had little choice. The ringmaster had
powerful friends and Bobo was a valuable source of income. The circus
was nothing without him. They would be found if they stayed in
Bobo rested a paw on the seat of his Kawasaki and sighed. He had
made a lot of jumps on this bike. He drummed his claws on the exhaust
pipe and rested his head on the fuel tank. He did not need any light to
see his bike; every detail was ingrained in his mind. He would disas-
semble and rebuild the engine every week, labour over each part clean-
ing and regreasing, then retuning, ensuring it was perfect for the shows
ahead. How long would it be before he made another jump? They were
on their way to London to work for Dmitri’s cousin Yvgenny. He had a
small takeaway pizza parlour, and Bobo would be delivering the pizza.
The lift was small, lit by a flickering fluorescent tube and stank of ur-
ine. The sheet metal walls were dented and covered with graffiti tags.
Each time the lift passed a floor it would judder causing Bobo's helmet
to bounce against the ceiling.
It was only the beginning of his shift and he was already tired. He had
taken a second job, as a motorcycle messenger. Though he loved to ride,
weaving in and out of London traffic all day was exhausting.
The journey had been tough on Dmitri, Bobo could see the old man be-
coming weaker by the day. He hated himself for pushing the old man to
leave Russia. Dmitri suffered his last heart attack, not long after they
‘This old clock, it still goes Tick Tock’ he had said defiantly to the doc-
tor who had insisted he get back into bed. With that, Dmitri smiled at
‘He tells me to rest Bo-bo.’ He sighed, he was so tired. ‘Maybe it is
Bobo knew what his old friend was saying. A tear rolled down his
‘Please, not yet Dmitri.’ He pleaded, gently taking the old man’s hand
in his massive paw.
‘You… really were amazing on that bike Bobo… ’ The old man
winced, closing his eyes tightly.
‘Don’t worry my friend… you will be again.’ He coughed for the last
time and was gone.
The lift stopped at the twelfth floor. The door slid open then jammed
halfway, Bobo squeezed out buckling the door as he pushed his massive
body through it. He glanced at his watch, noticing he only had 3
minutes to deliver, or the pizza was free of charge. It would come out of
his pay check if he didn't make it. He bounded down the hallway, his
boots loosing traction as he turned the corner. A tiny elderly lady pulling
a huge two wheeled trolley loaded with shopping was blocking his path.
There was no way he could get by her. He checked his watch, Sponge-
bob was almost done clicking off another minute. Bobo edged along the
hallway patiently behind the lady, his huge body blocked most of the
feeble light from the single blinking fluorescent strip.
She stopped and poked around in her purse, muttering and shaking
'Oh dear, here they are.' She announced, holding a Las Vegas casino
chip key fob, populated with more keys than a janitor.
'Excuse me Madam.' Bobo growled softly.
The lady looked up, her jaw dropped, as she sucked in a whoosh of
air, then screamed, launching her keys into Bobo’s face.
Startled, Bobo dropped the pizza and roared, scaring the lady even
more. They stood there screaming at each other for a few seconds, until
Bobo held up his paws in defence.
‘Stop, Lady Stop.’ He then dropped to the floor, gathering the pizza
with one paw and hooking the keys with a claw on his other paw.
'Which key?' He tried to say gently, the words gurgling in his throat.
She pointed, offering a small squeak.
He quickly unlocked the door, and swept up the old girl and her shop-
ping trolley in one arm. He gently placed them inside the apartment and
waved good bye.
One minute to go, he raced down the hallway, sliding to a stop in front
of the door, his boots squealing on the tiles.
Before he had a chance to knock, the door swung open. The man
standing in the doorway was wearing only his underpants, slippers and
a dressing gown two sizes too small to cover his pot belly. He tapped his
nicotine stained finger nail against the glass of his watch, and smiled, re-
vealing a row of crooked yellow teeth.
'Too late. This one’s for free' reaching toward Bobo to grab his pizza.
Instant rage boiled over and Bobo snarled, displaying his massive
glistening fangs. He grabbed the man by the throat lifting him off the
ground so that he was at eye level and roared. The force of his hot
breath steamed up the man's glasses and blew his combed over hair into
streamers flying off the back of his head.
'I’m not late. So it not free.' He bellowed, throwing the man into his liv-
'It says delivered in 30minutes or less or your pizza is free.' The man
was still stood in front of Bobo, stabbing his yellow finger tip at a
crumpled flyer and grinning.
Bobo shook his head clearing his fantasy scenario and sighed.
'I’m not late.' He said weakly, showing his Sponge Bob watch buried
in the fur of his wrist.
'Right, I'm calling the manager.' The weasely man said, heading back
inside to get his phone.
Bobo carefully placed the pizza on the floor and walked back toward
'Keep shooting. We are not going back inside.' Terry screams, drop-
ping down into second gear, wrestling the bars to weave the bike
between two cars. He leans the bike right over to make the corner; the
back wheel breaks traction and squeals against the tarmac.
'Christ Terry, they won't have to put us back inside if you don't keep
us upright.' Dave shouts above the wail of police sirens and revving en-
gine as Terry guns the accelerator, kicking the bike back on course. Dave
twists around and sprays bullets from his ouzi 9mm at the armed
response police car fishtailing around the corner. The car’s back end
slams into the parked cars but keeps going, blue lights flashing, sirens
Dave fires a few more shots at the chasing coppers, they bounce of the
windshield leaving spidery cracks.
'They're not giving up Terry, you'll have to lose them.'
Terry huddles over the bag of cash stuffed up his coat and scans the
traffic ahead. Gridlock.
'Hold on Dave, here we go.' He guns the engine, lifting the front
wheel into the air and bounces up the curb. Rush hour commuters scat-
ter to the sides screaming. Pinning themselves against shop windows or
diving across the bonnets of parked cars.
'Get out the bloody way.' Terry screams, popping a wheelie and blast-
ing through them.
The police are stuck. They shout at the cars in frustration, but there is
nowhere for them to go, they can't get out of the way. Two police
decked in body armour jump out of the car carrying semi automatic
weapons and sprint after the motorbike.
Bobo sits at the lights daydreaming of jumping his bike again. He is
done for the night and can't wait to get home; it has been a long day. The
sirens somewhere behind him are so loud, this city is so noisy, he misses
the quiet of home, and he misses Dmitri. As he presses his paws against
his ears to try get away from the noise, a motocross bike carrying two
men in Fox helmets charge down the pavement next to him.
It's a KTV, pretty sweet, 'Hey, nice bike,' he shouts clattering his claws
against his fuel tank with approval.
'Stop, or I'll… ', an armed response cop shouts, cutting himself off,
shaking his rifle in frustration, it’s too risky there too many pedestrians.
Bobo eyes the policeman and realizes what's happening; he grits his
teeth together and drops the bike into gear.
'Don't worry Mister Policeman, Bobo will stop them.' He roars above
the wail of the siren. He yanks the accelerator, forcing the back wheel to
spin wildly on the damp tarmac, the bike lurches away from the lights
squirming from side to side as the tyre fights for traction.
Bobo expertly weaves his bike through the traffic. A double decker
bus blocks his way as it pulls away from the curb, sending him into on-
coming traffic. A Lamborghini Murcielago gurgling along at 3mph is
heading toward him. There's nowhere to go. He pops the front wheel,
drops down a gear and revs the engine, leaping the bike onto the bonnet.
The tyre squeals on the paintwork and catapults him into the air, leav-
ing a cracked carbon fibre panel in his wake. Bobo uses his airtime to
style it up and whips the back end round, looks over his shoulder and
raises a paw in salute before firing the engine to drive the bike back in
line for his landing. The tyre yelps as it hits the road and Bobo is back in
pursuit, he can see the brightly coloured motocross helmets only a few
cars ahead. The passenger turns and sees Bobo gaining on them and
raises his weapon, he shakes his head in disbelief.
'Terry, there's a bloody great bear on a crosser after us.'
'A bloody great big fricken bear… on a motorbike… . right behind us.'
Dave wails above the noise of the engine.
'No you muppet a bear like as in Yogi, but much bigger and scarier.'
'Well shoot it then for chrissakes.'
Dave raised his ouzi and squeezed off a couple of warning shots. The
bullets whizzed past Bobo's ears, he roared defiantly, ducking down
over his bars and started weaving to make himself more difficult to hit.
'Oh my God, he's really pissed off now.' Dave whined.
Terry swerved around the massive roundabout by Chelsea bridge and
shot under the railway arch, he slammed on the back brake causing the
bike to slide sideways then fired up the back wheel sending the bike
lurching through the gates to Battersea Power Station.
'Where the hell are you going?' Dave shouted staring at the wild eyes
of the giant bear now only 20 metres behind him.
Bobo hit the brakes hard sending his bike into a perfect speedway
drift. As he flew through the gates sideways, he noticed the huge poster
depicting one of his heroes, Robbie Madison, pulling off a huge super-
man seat grab high above the dirt-jump below.
Red Bull X-fighters live at Battersea Power station August 22nd 2009.
That's tonight, Bobo gulped. That's when he heard the wailing moto-
cross engines on the other side of the power station.
Bobo tucked in low and started to gain on the bike in front. He had to
stop them before they were lost in the crowds.
Dave aimed at Bobo, only a few metres behind and squeezed the trig-
ger. The gun jammed.
'The shooter's knackered.' Dave screamed in panic, shaking the
weapon and repeatedly squeezing the trigger.
Bobo pulled up alongside them just as they approached the crowd sur-
rounding the dirt jump arena. He swiped at them trying to knock them
down and nearly came off. He roared as loud as he could to warn the
spectators. A woman at the back turned and screamed, everyone hesit-
ated a brief moment then scattered, knocking each other over as the pair
of motocross bikes ate up the ground between them. They crashed
through the fence into the arena.
The ouzi finally unjammed and sent a spray of bullets over Bobo's
shoulder, two of them tearing through Bobo's fur but only nicking the
flesh. Now the whole crowd were screaming as the two bikes raced
through the arena. They both hit the main jump ramp together. Bobo
tipped his bike to the right and swung both legs over the seat, executing
the perfect Indian Air. His giant biker boots made full contact with the
crooks sending them flying off their bike 30 feet above the ground.
Having made this jump hundreds of times before, Bobo tweaked the ac-
celerator letting the gyro of the back wheel pull the bike back into line
underneath him. He dropped his feet back onto the pegs and lined up
for the landing ramp; he touched down throwing up a small plume of
dirt and then let the bike slide out from under him leaving him standing
in the middle of the arena facing a silent audience. He walked over to
the two men lying on the ground concussed, and picked them up by
their collars, seeing they were going to be no further trouble, he dropped
them back down again.
'It’s ok, they not hurt anyone now.' He said quietly.
The freestyle motocrossers stood next to their machines gobsmacked.
Then, Danny Torres started to applaud, then Robbie Madison, then the
others and a few seconds later the whole crowd erupted, cheering and
applauding louder than Bobo had ever heard.
Robbie walked over to Bobo and slapped his back.
'What else you got big guy?'
Bobo shrugged again.
'You want to see?'
'Hell yeah.' Robbie turned to the audience and shouted, 'Y'all wanna
see what this bears' got?'
They went wild.
Bobo shrugged, got on his bike and gunned the engine. He held the
front brake and let the back wheel spin throwing up a huge rooster tail of
dirt. The crowd cheered louder. Everyone in the grandstands is now up
on their feet.
‘You were amazing on that bike Bobo… ’ It was Dmitri’s voice in his
ear, ‘… You will be again.’
Bobo let go of the front brake and flew at the ramp, roaring with
‘Let them see what Bobo can do’, he growled.
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