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MAG 44: Tightrope

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This recording marks the first one recorded by Gertrude Robinson that Jonathan Sims was able to get from Basira (MAG 43).

Yuri Utkin loved the circus, but because he lived in Algasovo, a poor community, he and his father and brother had to travel to the nearest town, Morshansk in Central Russia. Yuri loved the clowns, but didn't like the acrobats because his childhood friend, Piotr fell from a tree when he was 6 and badly broke his leg.

In early November 1952 the circus came to Algasovo and it didn't really occur to Yuri that this might not be the national circus due to its size. As he, his father and brother approached другой Цирк ('Drugoy Tsirk', or 'Another Circus') they met a robotic-like woman in a leotard who didn't seem to notice the cold. A calliope could be heard playing and Ivan, Yuri's brother, ran into the circus in excitement.

As Yuri and his father went into the circus he heard a tiger roar. Looking behind a tent she found it, although its movements were doll-like and it didn't open its mouth to roar. Two huge men in overalls put their hands on his shoulder and, speaking in guttural Russian which seemed to flow back and forth between them, said that the tiger "wasn't finished yet".

Yuri's father asked the ringmaster where they might find Ivan, but he replied that "they'd never lost one yet". Yuri resolved to go and find Ivan himself. Whilst looking for him, she went into a tent labelled "Freakshow" (in English), where he saw many deformed men, some without heads, some with mouths not on their faces and some with limbs like rubber. At the end of the tent she found a hessian bag tied with coarse rope. As the calliope started to play to signal the start of the show the bag started to move and Yuri fled to the big tent.

In there, he found his family, friends and neighbours watching two clowns brutally fighting each other. High above was Ivan on a tightrope. He slowly edged his way across with tears in his eyes. Eventually he got to the other end and disappeared from sight. A moment later, Yuri's father and Ivan found him and they left the circus, shaken. The circus had gone the next morning.

For many years Yuri thought the events of that day were a terrible dream, but he spoke to Ivan about it many years later, who said that he remembers the day and going through the gate but nothing else. In November he still has nightmares of being tied up in hessian sacks and always wakes up screaming.

Post-Statement Follow-Up Edit

Gertrude remarks that the inhabitants of Algasovo got off easy with only significant mental trauma, remarking that Gregor Orsinov's troupe was a dangerous one, but weren't as dangerous after Nikolai Denikin [sp?] left in the 70s (see MAG 24 for more on Nick Denikin after he left Russia). She remarks that Ivan must have been something special, but he passed away in 1984.

Supplemental Edit

Jonathan Sims is disappointed that there's not more information about why Gertrude started making these tapes, or why she stopped. He also believes that someone's found his supplemental tapes and resolves to find a better hiding place for them in the future.

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