Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Clown: A short short story

He thrived on impossible situations. Especially those of the love variety.

If there were a clear cut path to Mecca, he would blithely pass it by in favor of an overgrown artery just off to the side. Forging through the bramble, fighting burrs and bees, he would soldier on to the beat of his very own drummer. His heart thumps steady but slowly into the dark and cloudy night.

Rain soaked, lantern out, he makes his trek, despite the moon taking a well-deserved night off. She’s had a rough week at the diner, constantly attending to the needs of townies demanding recognition. She can see him but he can’t see her. She’s laughing at him, high above the insulation of her stormy ether. He laughs too, albeit unaware.

There are moments when the tempest lets up and the gales die down. He doesn’t take the opportunity to rest because he knows that these are the times when he can put down his pack and run.

Possessing nothing more, he is light and wet. His feet make squishy sounds as they slap through muddy earth. He’s lost his shoes but that just makes him move faster, toes making contact with the soft terrain, heels digging in to maintain his foothold. The rhythm of this run is redeeming him.

Out of breath, he slows. There are no obstacles in his path, but night is black and the moon is still laughing. Mysteriously, impossibly, he hears her. She didn’t mean for it to happen, but one of her giggles hitched a ride on a soft breeze and he’s caught wind of her revelry. She makes herself be quiet even though now it’s probably too late.

He doesn’t know what to think but knows he must keep moving. So he divorces why from what and keeps on. There are levels of knowing, and it doesn’t bother him that he is just on the second floor. If there is a penthouse, it exists regardless of whether or not he finds it.

The moon is getting sleepy and she really should just go to bed. It’s hard to take her eyes off his expedition, but time doesn’t really take requests. She has no choice but to tuck herself in and turn on the television, which will eventually give way to light.

The television stretches its beefy arms and its clumsy fingers wipe crud from its eyes. Its not all there yet, so it puts on a rerun.

Our journeyman senses the reoccurring of dawn and hurries his gait. As daybreak arrives, he notices that he is not on a virgin path per se, but rather that road less traveled. There is evidence of previous adventurers. One even left a thermos.

The sky lightens and he realizes he is nearing the end of this groove. In fact, there is a clearing up ahead and sounds of civilization are calling to him. His calves are spattered with drying dirt and he wonders what they will think of him when he finally stops to rest.

He has nothing to offer so he will have to take before he can give. Lucky for him, the cacophony of sound in the clearing is a large and mighty circus. Fearless acrobats and bearded ladies beckon to him and he goes to them.

He is welcomed unconditionally. Music wakes him up and freedom is served in hot steaming mugs.

“How was your trip?” asks the ringmaster.

Our journeyman pauses and thinks. “It was mine.”

“Welcome,” says the ringmaster. “We’ve been waiting for you and we’re happy you’re here.”

So our journeyman decides to become a clown because of his unusually large feet. He figures that at the very least, he will have an easy time finding new shoes.

A few days into his new life as a clown, he realizes that he is incredibly content and supported, but there is something that he misses. He looks around, but he is alone. Television beams bright and he stares at its screen.


He doesn’t quite know this, but he is missing the sound of the moon. He longs to hear her chortle, her cackle and her banter. She’s been busy serving slop. He walked away from her, but it’s he who feels abandoned. She’s just been trying to make ends meet.

The ringmaster pops his head up from the bamboo shoots and startles our journeyman.

“Don’t fret my young charlatan. Everyone misses her. But she visits at night. She checks in on you when you are sleeping. While soaking her feet in a salt bath, she counts her tips and sends you blessings.”

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant!!! Personal, universal, timeless.