It was the varnish, they said.

Forty years he’d plied his trade. Carousel horses made from scratch, or restored. He’d learned from one of the last great masters on Coney Island, and everyone with an antique carousel who turned up their nose at cheap plastic and fiberglass was at his door.

All that sanding, all that coating, endlessly in the workshop.

Some might do it faster, or cheaper, but none did it better. He didn’t say that himself, naturally. There was no need. His work spoke for itself, and his beautifully restored merry-go-rounds were a fixture in the homes and grounds of wealthy eccentrics.

Working as he did, hands-on with few power tools, should he have been surprised?

Along with a mechanic and a calliope-man, he had been one of the holy trinity of restorers. And he’d broken the news to them first, since their livelihoods depended on his the most. They’d been resigned, understanding. Friends, true friends, always were.

Six months, give or take. The first three wouldn’t be so bad. The last three…not so much.

It was, he mused, perhaps fitting. In the carousel of his body, it was not the outside but the inside that failed first, the delicate calliope organ bringing the rest down from within. For what is a good merry-go-round without a solid body, mechanicals in working order, and a fine set of pipes?

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!