from the upcoming collection of short stories “DEADICATION” by Abadawn Sims
Artie was a clown. He wasn’t one of those clowns with a name like Bozo, Bonky’ or another cliché “B” name. No, he was just Artie the Clown. It was just his real name plus “the clown”. He always secretly wanted someone to call him “art” but instead it was always the full Artie. To tell the tale of how Artie became a clown is a whole story in itself, and so we shall focus on the end.
Tonight Artie sits on a crate just outside of the elephant stables. Hands on his head that hangs low Artie tries to remember a time before he was sad. He can’t. The other clowns are still in their dressing rooms getting ready, practicing ridiculous tricks and acting as though any of it really matters. The lifeless cheeks under his sunken eyes feel as though weights have been tied to them for years. He tries to keep awake but he keeps drifting off into a realm of sheer terror. He sees images no man wants to see. He awakes to take another swig of rum from the inside of his patchy suit jacket while spilling half of it down his painted chin then drifts off again.
Ander and Inger walk by arms locked side by side. The Swedish acrobat couple from hell, they act constantly infatuated with one another in public, after the show they get drunk and scream at each other in their trailer only to make up for it later having loud Swedish sex that everyone hears. Artie used to masturbate to it. That was years ago. It’s all bothersome now. They walk by him letting out loud giggles that would make a Disney writer pull the trigger.
In misery Artie closes his eyes. The sad clown is attacked with twisted visions of hell as he drifts off into a drunken emergency nap. For the past fifteen years about four to five times a day Artie finds himself waking up from these. His body so weary and shot from the abuse that it comatoses itself at sparse moments. There’s no auto-pilot on his blackouts anymore, it’s just black and he’s just out.
Everything is stale smoke. There’s nothing but a cloudy haze as he awakes only minutes after falling asleep. He can hardly see through his own strained eyesight. As his focus comes back he feels wet. Looking down he realizes he pissed himself. Gibberish at a low grumble streams from his cracked lip-stick red lips. As he fumbles around attempting to get up without the attempt, a small framed female in an Evil Kneivel knock-off suit with helmet in hands is kicking him. It’s Fernie, one of the human cannon balls and a real bitch to Artie.
“you need to get the fuck up scumbag, this is supposed to be family entertainment.”
“we..we’rre not enter-uhhhtainin any famlees right naow!” he tried to retort.
“you are a bumbling idiot and I’ve had enough of working with worthless drunks like you, the show starts in twenty and if Ringmaster Ducrow sees another slip up from an old alkie clown falling asleep during his act perhaps, I’m going to be so on his ass about getting you the fuck out of here.”
“shove it, wench!” he managed to pronounce clearly.
There she goes, dropping an exaggerated o-face and storming off back to the Ringmasters trailer. Artie used to hear them screwing too, he never masturbated to that. He hated Ducrow and saw him as the devil himself not to mention Fernie was a cunt. Ducrow only keeps Artie around because he knows he has nowhere else to go, but because of this he always rubs it in his face. Last year every clown in the circus got a bigger trailer. Not Artie. Artie still has to bunk with Larry the Llama man; a freak show act of a human that grows wool like a sheep. Once Ducrow caught Artie falling asleep in a blackout during the clown performance, and he literally beat the shit out of him that night. Even Larry the Llama man had trouble sleeping with the seeping shit smell that wafted from Artie’s sleeping corner. Ever since then any mistake that Artie makes is punished by brute physical torture. The only good thing to come out of the shit-kickings was that Artie wasn’t usually able to perform a day or two after, and he liked that. The list only goes on from there as to why our beloved clown hates the Ringmaster Ducrow.
Fernie the human cannon-ball however is in love with Ducrow. Although, he has no care for her, he sleeps with all of the female acts; bearded women included. He even sleeps with Inger and she’s married, however often enough Ander is included. Artie would get jealous those nights and would be unsure whether to masturbate or not, and was usually too drunk to get it up regardless.
So the dust settled, all was quiet and Artie fell back asleep. Suddenly he was being kicked into consciousness again, this time is was Boingo The Clown.
“Come on Artie we got to go on now!”
“I..I’mmm comin gawdammit.” Artie stood up and stumbled about as Boingo rushed around the corner to the main floor.
As he began to stagger in the same direction Artie nostalgically turned around to look at the backstage area, and for a brief moment felt as if he were a kid again, seeing it all for the first time. What now brings him misery used to be a place of joy and wonder. For all he cared this could be the last time he saw it, and it was.
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN ARE YOU READY FOR FUN!?”
The crowd of stupid children and fat parents roared.
“Ringmaster Ducrow presents to you; The Bouncy Clown Brigade!”
The audience uprises in hoots and hollers as the clowns make way onto the field.
Artie stumbles out alongside the other clowns that all perform their silly introductory antics. Then all eight of them pack into the tiny car, they drive around in circles and park right over a trapdoor. As the eight clowns pile out eight more follow out of the trunk from the trapdoor. The crowd is ecstatic.
The clowns all gather at one side of the ring while Bugsy The Clown makes way to center stage unveiling a cart of pies, Beanie The Clown runs to the opposite side of the stage and mimes rude gestures to the rest of the clowns. Bugsy holds out a pie and the first clown runs up grabs the pie jumps on the little trampoline and flings the lemon mirengue right into Beanie’s face. Two more clowns repeat the process, then it’s Arties turn.
As Artie runs towards the pie he drunkenly trips on his own feet and falls face first into the pie in Bugsy’s hand. The crowd is out of their seats in laughter. This would have been fine considering its part of the act but there were nine more clowns supposed to do the same thing before the tenth clown Brussels trips and falls into the pie. Because Artie fell early it shaves about 3 minutes off of their performance, and timeliness is important to Ringmaster Ducrow, he glares at Artie from ring side, Fernie right behind him giving a devilish grin his way.
The next couple acts went by without a hitch, but Artie couldn’t ward off the daunting stares he was getting from Ducrow, Fernie and the rest of the clowns. With one act left he finally said “fuck it”. As the exit music played and each clown did their silly final move Artie unbuttoned his bottoms, exposed himself and began to piss. The children laughed, the parents cringed and Ducrow began pulling his hair out and yelling obscenities. “GET OUT OF THE FUCKING RING NOW!” he demanded.
The clowns ran off ring towards the back stage quarters as Artie purposely lagged behind. The lights went dim and the cannon was rolled out into view. The crowd burst into excitement, completely forgetting the clown dick that was just presented to them.
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! ARE YOU READY FOR THRILLS!?”
The crowd of stupid children and fat parents roared.
“Ringmaster Ducrow presents to you; The Fearless Flying Fernie!”
The audience cheers as Fernie skips towards the cannon.
She purposely bumps into Artie on her way “I told you, you’re gone asshole.”
He has nothing left to say to her. Ducrow eyes down Artie, and points to the backstage before starting to hastily head there.
Fernie skips to center stage, giving a bow to the crowd she puts on her helmet and climbs into the cannons bore. The fuse is lit and the stadium is silent except for the faint hiss of the burning wick. Ducrow enters the backstage and turns around to no Artie to beat down. “What the fuck is he doing?” he was in the middle of saying when.
The cannon is shot, Artie jolts in front of the rifling as Fernie is hurled out of it. She flies through his body liquefying around her. The cloud of blood and flesh of a funny man fills the air like one of Gallagher’s watermelons. Fernie skids across the ground limp with her spine broken in several places. Artie’s bottom half takes a last reflexive stagger and plops to the ground. All of the parents cringe and all of the children laugh.