How to Make A Clown
There is the memory of heat pressing against her scalp. Her hair has been curled, her face is sticky…there’s a tar like residue drying against her skin. Her makeup? She was hardly wearing any and now it is as if her skin has been pasted over and cracked open. Beside her the face of a clown reflects in stagnant rainwater. The clown’s black rings around its eyes—her eyes—are broken, leaking.
She’s become a clown once more…Was she drunk? No…no headache, no rancid taste in her mouth. Light creeps in through the cracks in the ceiling and there’s something wrong with it, like it’s rotten. The room, the building she’s in is dead and made of crumbling, weary stone. A castle? No…she needs to get her mind working. She awoke on the floor, vaguely damp but not sore…to the room, an empty chamber save for a wooden rocking chair in the middle of the room, only slightly larger than her kitchen. There’s only an empty door frame, of rotting wood, and the door, if there ever was one, has either eroded away or has been torn free.
She is free and relatively unmolested, save for what’s been done to her hair. She usually wears a wig and now, now it’s been callously curled and dyed in rhythm to a gay pride flag. She has her work uniform on…big floppy red shoes, a blue and white one piece suit with dorky fuzz buttons stemming to a frilled collar and cuffs along her ankles and wrists…she’s only missing her Rudolph nose and her pale latex gloves (more for her protection from the dirty little runts she jests than for cosmetics). She wasn’t drunk, or drugged…she drove over an hour back from the party and it was only around nine but she was exhausted after being forced to play for another party at eight in the morning. Little kids don’t give a shit about sleep. Bitter thoughts followed by weary ones and she was sleeping, dreaming…then there was a hand against her mouth.
She thought it was her own at first, until she wiggled ten fingers, realized her room was cozy and the hand against her lips was that of plastic and void even of cold. More things snaked out of the dark, before she could sit up. A writhing centipede of hands, some caressing her cheeks, her stomach, pulling the blanket up from her feet and gripping her toes. The hand against her mouth shifted against her nose and the need, the ache for breath is soon overshadowed by a return to the coziness…and then here, reborn a clown…
Birds are singing melodiously to one another outside and that means everything isn’t as bad as it seems. Plus, she hasn’t been raped and of course that bit of positive thinking reminds her of some of the men in the park that like to point out ‘You’re too pretty to be a clown.’ or otherwise comment about her makeup. Hampton beach isn’t exactly known for its intellectual folk, although her business demographic doesn’t exactly call for that type either. Aside from teenage boys audibly whispering about how a well a clown would be in the sack, she’d only been harassed once, by a pathetic forty-year-old in a leather jacket who had grabbed her ass. So who wants a clown…
She knows no joker, silly uncle, or friend who would ever go farther than tripping her in public or leaping out from beyond a corner. The worst her roommates ever did to her was to leave a bunch of condoms full of shampoo across her bed. Her latest ex-boyfriend only has such a title because he’s going to graduate school across the country. Her roommates’ boyfriends are pacifistic stoners more concerned with videogames than glancing her way, even when she’s in her panties and an overshirt, reaching up and bending over the counter to make tea. It’s starting to look like whoever did this is a stranger.
As a clown she knows only an algorithm of magic tricks involving coins and never ending handkerchiefs and her balloon origami skills are best left at dogs, crowns, and arm hugging monkeys. It’s more about making children smile than any budding career prospects. She likes to look at it as a interesting touch up for a resume and an extra spice for her blog and her poetry and telling boring assholes what she does for cash with her bachelors degree. Words to live by, people that are afraid of clowns are cowards.
Rumbling in the hallway…no…there’s a rhythm to it. Almost like the pitter patter of rain. Footsteps. More than one. More than one person, one abductor…those hands all over her, how many pairs where there? Feeling her up, tearing her from her pocket of blankets and sheets. There is a muttering beyond the gaping portal in the wall where there is supposed to be a door to close—to lock. A low croaking sound, rising with those who approach. “Mooshuck” on an endless loop. No, “Moon Shack,” muttered in multitudes of guttural voices just out of sync.
“Hey. Please. Hey!” And she doesn’t know if they can hear over their own mumbling madness. She’s noticing a baseball, three baseballs, dog eared with the red of their seams faded white, blending in with the dimness of the floor, in front of the rocking chair. Three balls…juggling…she can’t juggle…awaking alone in a room with no door, a rocking chair, and three baseballs while she’s made up like a clown…a rocking chair that could be a throne…a place that could be a castle…They are expecting a show.
Apelike, hunched over, eyes dead, blank, and endlessly staring. The real clowns slowly lurk into their kingdom. Their lack of speed is anything but hesitant, more so curious. “Moon shack” is spit over and over without a single twisted tongue. With skin so white you can’t even see where they had to have applied their makeup…their noses are rounder and redder than the purest fictional apple. Their hair, varying among them in their discernible numbers, ranges from yellow and frizzy to blue and spiked. Some are bald. Their attire matches hers except it’s less plastic and more quilt, more hand-knitted—right down to their near identical dull red floppy shoes. These are plastic clowns, hunched over and hopping towards her like true amphibians. They surround her and the empty room is now filled.
A clown with a crop of orange hair around a massive bald spot upon its scalp approaches her directly as the room continues to be stuffed with clowns fat and thin, yet mostly the same height. The clown throws a quick “Moon Shack” at her and then grins. Its yellowed teeth have holes in every single one of them and she feels herself falling, tumbling into them and down the gullet and into the belly of this plastic thing before her. The bald clown bends down, its face and unblinking eyes never ceasing its analysis of hers as it scoops up all three baseballs in a white leather gloved hand, unlike the plastic around her fingers. It holds out the juggling orbs in one, slow cranking motion. The way the clowns lips pry apart to show those wormhole teeth…you can’t call it a smile.
She scoops the baseballs with two hands and she’s backing up, her heels touching the curve of the rocking chair. The clown with the holes in its teeth meshes back into the ground and “Moon Shack” seems to be muttered by every other thing in the room. She’s realizing she hasn’t said a word, so she lets her lips fall open but she already knows these are clowns. These aren’t people…these are real clowns. Born clowns. They aren’t wearing make up just like they aren’t wearing costumes.
The clowns begin to part and like a Moses of artificial terror, there are rows of clowns perfectly aligning with the open doorway. She can see winding stairs, meshed with the shadows beyond the…throne room. The clowns, like royal guests, like soldiers, are perfectly even with one another, save for a bit of frog like lurching here and there as they continue there muttering. “Telsa,” the clowns seem to be intertwining with their muttering of “Moon Shack.” Except they aren’t saying “Telsa,” they’re saying “The Else” on that same rain pattering loop.
“Moon Shack” and “The Else” sound like a title, like “The King” or “The Duke” and she is shivering and there is snot mixing with her makeup. She is standing before the rocking chair, the throne she now casts an eye over and it is hand carved…there are things drawn along the seat, the wooden poles composing its back. Like fairytale drawings there are trees and thorns and centipedes or worms or snakes and fleeing words written in an ancient cursive. They’re English but she can’t make them out…something is coming from the hallway. Something is creaking in a building of stone. The Else follows his legion of jesters. They are expecting a show…
“I can’t, I, I don’t know how.” She holds the balls up, turning to the pack of clowns to her right. She’s throwing her hands up, trying to get them to understand. They have to understand. They wear clothes, they have faces and hands and they can speak. One of the balls slips from a makeup smeared latex palm and the baseball plops to her feet and rolls slowly down the hallway towards the door frame. The clowns converge.
The sea swallows her back up and they are all silent. There is nothing but her distorted breathing, sniffling, and the clown with the hole in all of his teeth has his gloves off and one hand is grabbing her wrist. It’s white skin, of diamond, of a million tiny, coarse diamonds gripping her by the wrist and her flesh instantly peels off like a potato to a skimmer. There is no pain.
Other clowns reach in and some of their lips are tight and puckered while others grin teeth with holes speckled among them and it’s a clown thing, she wouldn’t understand, as their eyes stare and stare. They pull at her from the left and more skin is torn and peeled away, like plastic. She’s the one that’s been covered in soft warm plastic faker than anything else. Her body needs to breathe, that’s it. Maybe it’s like when sharks bite a swimmer so quickly they don’t realize they’re minus a leg. Hah, sharks. She starts giggling and by the time the clowns pull her nose off it makes perfect sense. She couldn’t perform, so they peel off her skin. She’s a clown, and she couldn’t even juggle. So they rip her limb from limb. There is only comedy in failure and her laughter can testify to that.