“Shut up. You never let me think.”

The lion turned in his little cage, his mane caked with sawdust and straw. He was making a humming sound. Gary never thought a lion would make a sound like that.

But there was a storm outside and they were both on edge and a little seasick. Gary would have preferred to be up on deck enjoying the night air, where he could puke over the side of the ship as needed. But tonight, the weather made that impossible.

Somewhere over his left shoulder, a monkey screeched. “God dammit! Everybody just shut up!” he screamed, clasping his head with both hands. “I’m trying to think!”

Gary sat on the side of his cot, trying to focus on a small stack of paintings he’d leaned against the lion’s cage. The top one showed a male lion standing proudly on a rock with three females lounging on the ground around him.

“Not this one,” he said. “Too easy.” He stood up and took one step toward the paintings as the boat heaved and sent him tumbling onto the lion’s cage. His face smacked into the cold steel and he grabbed the bars with both hands. Now he knew what people meant when they said they saw stars.

The lion was there too. Gary could feel its hot breath on his face. Some lion trainer he was! He dared not look the beast in the eye. Instead he pushed away from the cage and, somehow, got to his feet.

Settling himself, Gary took the first painting in the stack and placed it behind the others. He then returned to his cot and resumed his staring.

The second painting was whimsical. In it, a male lion was wearing a brass buttoned coat and a tall hat, like the drum major in a marching band. A female cat sat on either side, gazing at him. The one on the left wore a blue bonnet. The one on the right wore a straw hat.

“This one will work,” he muttered. “This one is perfect.”

The lion sat on its haunches and yawned. He then puffed and lied on the floor of his cage.

“That’s better, kitty. That’s a good kitty,” Gary purred.

Then Gary laid back on his little cot and dreamed of the big top. He would put the painting on an easel by the entrance so everyone could see it when they came in. Then, after his lions jumped through a few flaming hoops, he would arrange them just right. When everything was set, a giant canvas would unroll behind them, painted to match the background in the painting. They would have to be on a turning dais so everyone in the big top could see.

The one thing that troubled him was how he was going to get this lion into a brass buttoned coat.

Gary sat up on the edge of his cot and addressed the lion. “You’re going to love the circus,” he said. It’s got lights and music and pretty girls on trampolines and on the high wire. And best of all, you’ll be a star.”

“I’ll be a star,” he added, in hushed tones, as he fell back into bed.

The boat lurched again, and Gary leaned over the side of the bed to puke.

About Prompt-A-Day: The rules are simple. Every day, I generate a prompt¬†using Story Shack’s awesome writing prompt generator. Then I set a timer for one hour. At the end of the hour, I post what I’ve got. Sometimes it’s decent. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes I fail at the prompt. Sometimes I do okay. I do not edit, unless I find a typo, because I can’t help fixing those. Feel free to join in and post a link to your writing in the comments.