To Mssrs Bellasco, Bellasco, and Bellasco, Mme Bellasco, Mr Kent (esq), Paris, from Erasmus Lydecker McNair, Chief of Operations aboard the Belle Nuit, General Manager of the Circus Aeroplex, San Francisco:Dear Sirs and Ma’am, First, allow me to once again express my humble gratitude for my recent promotion. I have been Chief of Operations aboard the Belle Nuit for some eight years now, and it is gratifying that my years of service have not gone unremarked. That being said, I would like to ask, with all humility, WHAT IN THE NAME OF ELI WHITNEY’S MARVELOUS MODULAR MISTRESS MAKES YOU PEOPLE THINK I’M QUALIFIED TO RUN A CIRCUS? I should remind you, perhaps at the expense of my situation, that the Belle Nuit has been in drydock since two years before I was hired, and in all that time I’ve seen neither captain nor crew other than myself. The “operations” I’ve been chief of largely consist of sweeping the floors and polishing the fixtures. Per your instructions, I have sent out press releases announcing the triumphal return of a San Francisco tradition after an eighteen year hiatus. Our gala reception was indeed met with royal fanfare – the same giant raspberry given His Imperial Majesty Norton I upon his advent to the throne.
The crew I have is terrifying. The only pilot I could find was an aestermad night-man savage, tattooed like the very wild man of borneo, and raving about some mysterious fleet from beyond the stars who are in fact responsible for the aester. I know that madness is common among aeronauts – It’s nigh impossible to live in the rigging without taking in a few fumes, but I swear he’s huffing the stuff like it was ether!When I asked the pilot, who answers only to the name of “Bedouin”, who his co-pilot was, he pointed to one of the young ladies from the “little Egypt” show, who is apparantly a fully qualified aeronaut, but has chosen the life of an exotic dancer in a carnival side-show for the glamour it offers. Words… fail me. Our leading man is a drunkard who spent the whole evening consuming vast quantities of ale. He does, at least, want to do the job he was hired for. Our magician miraculously failed to appear. The only replcement I could find was actually appllying for the job of Ship’s Mechanic. The dancing bear is so old nd feeble it can’t do any tricks. The clowns trained a your camp are not only horrifying they have formed a separate union and their leader is running for political office under the campaign slogan “for once, put a real clown in charge”.
Rehearsals will continue for the next few weeks, by which time the Belle Nuit should be once again airworthy. I only hope she suvives past the first aester storm.Until this whole thing crashes around my ears, I remain, Your Obedient, E McNair