Out the Clowns By Emily Tyler-Slade
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Send Out the Clowns
By Emily Tyler-Slade
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This short story was written by Emily Tyler-Slade, who is a resident at the Ame Prison for the Criminally Insane. Since her incarceration, she has learned book binding and printing techniques. She was a librarian before entering Ame, and now runs the prison library. Her personal time is devoted to writing and her subjects are varied; all are dedicated to the memory of her mother. Whilst here, Emmy has contributed several stories, notably, 'Larf is Lark a Box o' Chocolates' and 'The White Pebbled Road.' These interesting works may be found at the Author-Me site.
If you would care to support Emmy and other inmates, a donation would be gratefully appreciated.This may be sent to the Director of Ame, Mister Bruce Cook. Care of AuthorMe.com Thankyou.
'You have thick, curly red hair. You must be a clown.'
'Yes Madam, I am,' said Bode, lying through his teeth. Even his teeth were a lie. Not that they were false, you understand, simply that they had been solicited into the shape and regimentation of performing seals, each side by side, upper and lower; gleaming white with deception.
Bode had always been a deceiver. About the closest he had ever been to a clown was the one he had shot. Well...What was he to do?
After all, he had been caught literally with his pants down...But the Lady Lion Tamer had been so...so seemingly attainable.
It was all a matter of timing really, just a few more moments and no one else would have been the wiser.
Instead, he had blundered in, her betrothed, the Bozo! And when he discovered the two of them clasped in a tableau embrace, he had reached for his pop-gun.
Fortunately for Bode, he was not only deceptive by nature, but deceptively swift of response. He too had drawn a weapon and fired it before his adversary could get a bead on him.
The face of the clown was sad. The grease-paint lines that drooped from the corners of his mouth sagged even more so as he looked down at the crimson splotch that had appeared on his yellow and white banded vest.
Without looking back, Bode had dropped the weapon, hauled up his trews and made good his escape upon his unicycle.
He travelled swiftly beyond the outskirts of the village and soon was speeding through a forest, the trees racing past as he peddled the monocycle like a being possessed. Indeed he was possessed, for he well knew what would befall him if the clowns pursued and hunted him down.
Hell hath no fury like a troop of rabid clowns.
Bode rode on through the day. Eventually, the going became steeper before him so that he was forced to leap from his vehicle, fold it up and thrust it over his shoulder. Then, with a sigh that spoke of hunger: not only for food, but of lost lust, he set off again on foot.
Into the afternoon he climbed the steeply winding road.
Once, coming to a cleared vantage point, he halted and turned about to scan the way below. Much to his concern, he could see fleeting glimpses of reds and greens and golds and blues and silvers through the far off trees and he heard the faint honking of horns and the sharp cracking of slapsticks.
Taking to his heels once more, he hurried on, his tongue now lolling from his foaming mouth like some mad, haunted apparition.
After a time he blundered out of the screen of leaves onto a lawn and there stared up to the white towers and gleaming red roofs of spired and turreted buildings.
Before them was set all around, a stone wall, higher than a man's head, and along this perimeter Bode trudged until he came to a gateway. There was an old man, dressed in emerald livery, waiting by the open gate. 'Would you care to pass in?' he asked Bode.
'That I would,' Bode replied, taking a swift look over his shoulder. He could hear the clatter of broad, flat black clown shoes slapping along at a click of a pace. Bode began to feel very apprehensive and made to enter.
'Just one thing sir,' said the little man. 'I suppose you do realise that you are standing at the border of Circusland?'
'Ah yes!' said Bode. 'So I am, and I should be very happy to step beyond it and into...?'
'Into the Grand Duchy of Trevnay, sir.'
'The Grand Duch... why of course! How foolish of me! This part of the world is separated from the lands below...'
'In geography and in bylaws, sir. Passing through this gateway exempts you from those who pursue you. They have no right to enter here. You will be safe here.'
'Then may I come in?' asked Bode, a trifle uncertainly, as if he felt that there might be some sort of proviso: like selling his soul or swearing an oath. ( But he'd already done both of those, the first for not enough and the second, he had long since broken. )
' A'course you may,' replied the little old man, standing to one side.
For one fleeting moment Bode wished that he had had his pole with him. He felt lost and naked. ( Well, not naked. That was generally a good feeling.) He turned his unicycle across his shoulders, grasping each end with his hands. Now that felt better. That felt like he was again in balance, in control. Like he always did with his pole, up there on the high wire. He put a foot forward, the point of his shoe quivering slightly as it did on the wire, and then with an assurance borne of practice, daring and certainty, he danced forward on the balls of his feet and entered.
Behind him the old man lowered a white post so that it demarcated the border.
'Aren't you going to lock the gate?' said Bode, glancing back, aghast.
'No need, sir. They'll know the jurisdiction. They may be clowns but they recognise their limitations. Take no concern there sir.'
Bode could see them bursting from the trees: cream pies raised and ready to volley, folded umbrellas lowered to the charge, buckets of coloured, slopping water, sloshing to and fro.
Their features were clearly defined: the greasepaint was raging red on their stark white faces, black lines of madness ran from ear to ear. They were a lynch mob of baggy pants and orange braces.
He shrank back against the wall, clutching his unicycle to him. It was his only possession. Strange that, considering that it was a contrivance built for escape. And yet not so strange, considering that due to his own innate nature, he was the very person that would be most suited to such a vehicle.
The clowns stormed up to the entrance. Bode listened to their frantic shouting. He could see their hands and arms gesticulating wildly over the barrier: some were white gloved, some mittened, others held top hats and umbrellas, and the dreaded soda syphons. ( Scoff if you wish-Ever been clobbered with a soda siphon? )A ladder was set ominously against the white boarder post.
' Sirs!' said the little, green-liveried man, his voice rising above the clamour. 'Sirs and Clowns of Circusland, what is your purpose here?'
The madding crowd subdued somewhat and an imperious voice, a voice that threaded its way through the throng that was beyond Bode's sight, emerged and enlarged as it progressed to the forefront.
'My purpose, Frontier-Keeper, is to pass this border and to seek out a bounder and a cad, and a high wire artist, by the name of Bode. Very dexterous at sleight-of-hand. Or sleight-of-other-anatomical-parts-for-that-matter! I seek him on behalf of... The Bozo!'
At once an arena's worth of clapping and cheers erupted, followed by a savage rattle of slap-sticks.
'Permission to enter here is denied,' said the old man, and he proceeded to draw forth a scroll of paper that dropped to the ground and rolled out of Bode's sight beneath the border post. 'Says here that none, no matter on what business, may have leave to enter The Grand Duchy of Trevnay without Her Grand Highness, The Duchess of Trevnay's, permission.'
The part of the scroll that had rolled beneath the border post and out into Circusland came back as confetti.
'Boo!' 'Humbug!' 'Rhubarb!' 'Rhubarb!'
'Cauliflower!' someone added for good measure.
'I still say, permission to enter here is denied,' returned the old man.
'But what about the wronged Clown? What about his honour?'
'I thought he was rendered dead...That is from all accounts I've read in the Circus Dailey.'
'Oh that Toe-Rag, not fit to print the news that isn't fit to pri...In any event, my good man...'
'I aint. Get on with it.'
'In any event, here is the plaintive. Come forward Mister Bozo.'
'Ah Mister Bozo...Here wait a moment! I thought you got shot, according to the Circus Dailey. We get it delivered...'
'As indeed I did, manservant! Observe here, this red splash upon my jersey!'
'Why that's nothing more than red paint!'
'Quite so. Wielded from a paint-gun by the very creature we pursue. He has destroyed my honour. He has deflower...'
'Here, here, we don't need to go into too much detail on that score. Any way, the answer is still no. Sorry Gentleman, and Clowns. Time Gentleman, if you please! Move along now. Make way. That's it, move along.'
There came a rumour of frustrated rebellion and several gloves and top hats were actually thrown over into the courtyard beyond.
'Don't make me call out the Tin Soldiers!' the old man cried, and the ladder was swiftly removed.
A bewildering remonstration of jeers, followed by several blurts and the sound of an organ-grinder's organ, grinding, heralded their indignant departure. 'We'll get ya one day!' was an original and rather catchy theme behind the general retreat.
Bode felt and tasted the sweat, running from his forehead down around his nose and into the corners of his far-too-cleaver mouth. His genitals also seemed to be releasing their grip upon his intestines. He stepped away from the wall, wiping his brow with a flourish of his arm (which would have looked very dramatic if he had been wearing laced ruffs at his wrist instead of bare, shaky flesh.)
' 'Ere! You! I ain't been able to get me 'ands on yer collar this time, but don't yer worry. Yer gonna get yours!'
said 'The Bozo', slipping back into his natural vindictive vernacular, before shuffling down hill, a walking cane swinging on his arm as he flapped away.
'Now then, sir,' smiled the little green-liveried man, turning to Bode, 'that seems to be the end of the episode. Therefore we may progress. If you will follow me,' and he led Bode along a flight of steps that took them through a subdued market place, past the barrack rooms of mingling Tin and Chocolate soldiers and into an atrium filled with a collective of various nondescript Idlers, who may or may not have been the gentry of the Duchy.
Finally, the pair attained the heights of the halls, and after pressing through a throng of wigged 'somebodys', the dust, undusted from their lapels and gauntlets, (probably for a decade or two) they emerged into the isolated presence of Her Grand Highness, The Duchess of Trevnay.
'I'll be leaving you now, sir,' said the little man, with a deep bow and a flick of his shiny shoe that pivoted him and sent him on his way.
'So you say you are a clown,' said the ancient relic before Bode. 'That is most useful to me. I have an urgent need for one.'
'Oh good, I do Mondays and Fridays. Matinees on Saturday and Sunday. I also moonlight as an aerial arteest. The high wire. Pretty good with my pole...'
'As I have been informed by my...informers. And that is why you are most welcome to the Grand Duchy of Trevnay.'
'And what is that to mean?' asked Bode, with a biding presentiment lurking behind his question.
'I should have thought that to be obvious. For long years, since the death of the Prince, I have been in waiting.
Waiting without a Consort. None were forthcoming in Trevnay. Now I have you.'
'But...but, I cannot..I must take my leave. I have further pressing engagements...'
'Where?' asked the Grand Duchess. 'Below lies Clownland. On the other sides are the Regions of the Ringlings and Barnumland.'
'Can't go there,' muttered Bode, 'I'm wanted at the Old Bailey.'
'Exactly,' said the Dowager. 'And you are now required...pressed as it were...into service. My service.
This time you will not have to take an oath or sell your soul, I require neither. What I see is what I get,' she concluded with an appraising monacled eye.
'I don't suppose it would do any good to say that I'm not really a clown,' said Bode, doodling his monocycle backwards and forwards before him.
'Ah but you soon shall be', said the Grand Duchess.
Somewhere above, the sound of a steam calliope roared into life, rolling out a merry circus tune that announced the beginnings of an investiture.
'Oh...' was about all that Bode could say.
'Yes,' said the ancient crone, a twinkle now in her monacled eye. 'You are to become my Clown Prince.
I really can't wait to see you up there, on the balls of your feet, balancing your pole...'