The Red Ticket


It’s been a long time since I met Vanyo, and I still laugh at the guy’s name. He’s a loser. He was when I met him and he still is. That’s the only thing you can call a guy who works at a carnival. He should own the thing by now, but he doesn’t. He’s just the same old Vanyo, and I’m just the same old me, but being me is better.

The night I met him was when I came up to his stand. I was walking around with a girl, trying to impress her so she’d let me get her number. I heard Vanyo barking up a storm. Just like he’ll do tonight and every other night, he sells baseballs to kids who think they can knock down the little pyramids of bottles he puts up. No one wins—it’s rigged.  But I had a good arm and something was off the night I met him, which is why I got to walk off with the giant stuffed animal. It’s also why Vanyo introduced himself.

Vanyo is a little guy.  He was older than I was, though not very old compared to how old I am now. Short, thin and balding, the opposite of what I was at the time. But his voice stood out. When he wasn’t barking at customers, he sounded completely different. I’d say nice, but that’s not getting at it exactly. Gentle is better. “Hey kid, you think you’re pretty special, don’t you?” If it wasn’t for the sound of his voice, I would’ve thought he was trying to make me look dumb in front of the girl, which would’ve meant I would’ve gotten in his face.

I said, “Yeah, little man. I am.” And that’s when he handed me a ticket—a red stub like you get when you go on a ride. He told me to keep the stub with me so that the world would recognize how special I was.

I probably laughed. I know I made a joke to the girl who was now holding her bear and my hand. And yet I had enough sense to know I should take the stub just like Vanyo told me to. I stuck it in my jacket pocket and walked away with the girl, and then I forgot about it. I was so focused on getting the girl to come with me to my car, I didn’t even know we were walking by the ferris wheel until BAM! This sad-sack came down on me and her with so much force that our heads came right off. The guy weighed like a ton. I heard he had to do a lot of convincing to allow the carnie to let him on. He knew he wanted to go out that way. What a sad piece of shit that guy must’ve been.

I can talk about it in this way because I’m alive, still going strong. I can’t say the same for the girl, though. She looked good, but she wasn’t special. And she died that night, crushed by a fat guy who was even less special.


That night was the first time I woke up different. Different might be debatable. Different body, different me, right? Or maybe not. I think I’m the same. No matter what body I jump into, I still remember what happened to me before. I can’t tell you what happens to the people I replace. They might be in a body with me for all I know. I don’t over think things. When I got up that morning after the suicide, I found Vanyo’s ticket on the night stand. I picked it up and looked at it and then went about my new life, not looking back.

This has been my pattern for years now. I walk around with Vanyo’s ticket at all times. It’s always there. And then, something bad happens, or I just get old and die. But the next thing I know I wake up and start again somewhere else with a different body and face and a different life, but I’m still me—a sixteen year old kid. No matter what I look like, I’m still me.

Vanyo is the only one who knows this. Every time he comes into town with the carnival, he spots me in the crowd and asks me if I’m special like he did the night we met. Then he winks and we catch up. For a while, he wasn’t so happy to see me. He admitted as much. When he gave me the stub, he thought he was teaching me a lesson. He was sure that after a while, I’d want things to be like they were before.  I was never much of a reader, but I guess there are a lot of stories about people who get to live forever and who start to hate it. Personally, I think that’s bullshit. Why would I want to turn pussy and grow old and die like everyone else?

I’m not saying life is perfect. I get attached to some people and they die or I die, but the difference is that they die wondering if there’s life after death whereas I know. It’s not the way they think it is. I’ve been with some religious girls who hope we’ll be together in heaven. I don’t say anything. I’m not an ass and what’s the point? Look, there’s no heaven, not for me. There’s only jumping around from one body to another. What happens in the afterlife for most people is not my business. I don’t care because it’s not my life. I’m special. Did I mention that?


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: fiction

Author:the circular runner

g. martinez cabrera currently lives in San Francisco with his lovely and talented wife. He holds degrees from Columbia and from the Harvard Divinity School where he spent three years thinking about lofty things. Since then, he tries to write some lofty and some not-so-lofty things down so others can see how lofty he sometimes is. When he’s not writing or spending time with said wife, he tortures young people with learning. He blogs at and Tumbls at

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One Comment on “The Red Ticket”

  1. December 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm #


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