Walli was wallowing in the divine. Balmy April night with the windows open. Virgin Mary candle lit on top of the dresser she painted herself. Cerulean, her favorite color. Walli was buzzing from the vodka and orange juice and her astrology numerology poetry fix. Thank you, Linda Goodman. Thank you, Gooberz. Love Signs. Star Signs. Walli was an Aquarius with a Virgo moon and ascendant. Birth eight, name four. Doubly fucked. Hampton Dumbo, the man she loved and worshiped from afar, was a Leo with a Gemini moon. Walli didn’t know Hampton’s ascendant because she didn’t know what time he was born and she was scared to ask him. There were boundaries and Walli tried to be respectful of those even though her flaky Gemini mother hadn’t raised her to believe in boundaries or decor. So much pretension. Dance your disco sweat all over the world, stomp on the world’s toes and show no motherfucking mercy.

And his name… obviously it was a name he had chosen for himself. Walli wanted to know the name his mommy had given Hampton at birth. She wanted to know his true surname. But she was too timid to ask. She was too afraid that asking such a common question would make her seem uncool, unhip. Retarded, maybe. For Hampton, Walli strived to always be intriguing, exciting, an agile mental gymnast bursting with intellectual delight. For Hampton Dumbo was the most brilliant, perverse, thrilling, original man Walli had ever met.

It all began with his poetry. Walli had first encountered Hampton’s genius in his full-length poetry collection, Unholy Dingle Dangle. She’d found the self-published book at the bowling alley, of all places. Someone had left it on the bar. There was a wet ring on the cover from an icy glass of something soothing. A Whiskey Sour, most likely. Walli had sat there drinking numerous Mexican beers, reading Hampton’s poems with wet panties and a singing heart. The poems throbbed with a heady blend of passion, cynicism, ebullience, humor, despair, rage and singularity. Hampton Dumbo was a man very much at home in his skin. The world was his playground and he was flicking cigarette butts, hawking loogies, pissing and puking with wild abandon. The man was marking his territory on planet Earth. Walli loved him at first read.

Walli took the book home and it became her Bible. She read Unholy Dingle Dangle when she was horny. She read it when she was depressed. She read it when she was restless. She read it when she was searching for some kind of answer. Eventually it occurred to Walli to do a Google search of Hampton Dumbo. He wasn’t at MySpace. He wasn’t at Facebook. He wasn’t at Twitter. He didn’t have a blog. He popped up in a clown sex forum, inexplicably. Walli read his posts with rabid fascination. He was a vociferous proponent of clown sex. He loved all kinds of sex but had a special place in his heart for sex that involved clown make-up and the traditional clown props. Hampton made it clear that he wanted to be the only clown in the equation. He wanted to be the clown fucking the beautiful, glamorous trapeze star. Walli immediately ordered a trapeze artist costume, false eyelashes, glitter eye shadow and glittery pink lip gloss on eBay. She gussied herself up and took a ton of self-photos. She studied the photographs for hours until she decided on one she thought was hot enough to turn Mr. Dumbo on. Walli signed up for a user account at the forum and uploaded the hot trapeze artist self-photograph. The user name she chose for herself was Dolli Cumbeaux. Walli worked up her nerve and posted a comment on the board.

I’ve never had sex with a clown before. Well, only in my dreams, never in the waking world. I love the circus! I love poetry about cunnilingus. Got a plane to catch. Bye.

Walli disconnected her computer and paced around her small den. She would stay off the internet for the next week. She didn’t want to appear too eager, too easy. If Hampton took the bait, Walli would make him dangle like a worm.

Hampton’s looks were secondary, but Walli kept staring at his author picture on the back cover of Unholy Dingle Dangle. He was bald. He wore black sunglasses and a white wife-beater. He had colorful tattoo sleeves. He was smoking a cigarette in the photograph and holding a bottle of wine. In his thumbnail picture at the clown sex forum, Hampton wore a rainbow afro wig and clown make-up with a big red nose. That picture was stuck like Karo syrup in Walli’s mind. What a delicious mindfuck of a man! Walli could not contain herself. She was giddy with hope, flushed with infatuation. Walli got in the battered Chevrolet pick-up truck she had inherited from her grandfather. “Universe! Give me a fucking sign!” Walli shouted. She turned on the radio. ‘Obsession’ by Human League was playing. Walli smiled huge and clapped her hands. He will be obsessed with me! He will see my photograph, read my posting and be blown to smithereens! He wants to capture me! Like a wild butterfly! Oh GOD yes!

When Walli returned to the clown sex forum she found a private message from Hampton. Her heart raced like a cheetah after its prey as she read Hampton’s words.

Dear Miss Cumbeaux,

I’ve never had sex with a trapeze artist before. Your photograph beguiles and titillates me. Shit, it turns me on. That’s what it does. I see by your profile information that you are located in Texas. I’m located in California. How is this going to work? I’ve written a poem or two about cunnilingus. Speaking of poetry… our last names rhyme! How about that. You’re a mystery I would love to attempt to solve. I look forward to hearing from you when you return from your trip.

Your Funny Valentine,
Hampton Dumbo

That is how it began. They corresponded via the clown sex forum, then e-mail, then snail mail. Then they talked on the phone for hours at a time every week. The first time Walli heard Hampton’s voice she had to come clean. She was convinced he was the love of her life and he had to know the truth. She told him about finding Unholy Dingle Dangle in a bar. She confessed the Googling of his name. She confessed everything. Hampton hung up on Walli. Walli burst into tears, turned off all the lights in her small house, played Billie Holiday on the stereo and got drunk on cheap Pinot Grigio. She sniffed some Pine-Sol and Kiwi Shoe Polish. She popped four Benadryl capsules. Just as she was dozing off on the nubby brown carpet in the dark den, Hampton called her back. He forgave her.

They had been corresponding and talking on the phone for four months now. Walli was ready to drive to California and consummate their love, but Hampton had reservations.

“Our love is so fucking fresh and fragile and fabulous. I’d hate to fuck it up,” Hampton said over the phone late one night.

“Say that three times fast,” Walli mumbled.

“Aren’t you worried at all about the demystification process?” Hampton asked.

“No.”

“No?”

“No, I’m horny for you. Goddamn it, man. Aren’t you horny for me?”

“Of course I’m horny for you. I’m burning for you, baby. Like iguana guts on Arizona asphalt. But there’s more to us than sexual attraction. Isn’t there?”

“I’d say so, considering the fact that I fell for you on the basis of your poetry. I love your mind. I may or may not love your penis. The sex between us might suck. But I doubt it. Sex starts in the mind.”

“I know, baby. I’ve just got a really shitty track record.”

“So do I! This is different! This is huge! Gargantuan! Our stars are so aligned!”

“If you say so.”

Walli closed the windows and blew out the candle. She got in bed. She tossed. She turned. She wanted to masturbate but decided against it. Walli wanted to save her orgasms for Hampton. She would drive to him tomorrow, just show up on his doorstep dressed to kill in her trapeze artist costume. Walli was ready for the circus. The circus of love. The circus of fuck. The circus of OH HELL YEAH. Hampton didn’t have to be ready. She was ready enough for the both of them.