“Sleep is Blissful. Wake Me Up, Please”
“Ha ha said the clown
Has the king lost his crown,
Is the night being tight on romance
Ha ha said the clown
Is it bringing you down,
That you've lost your chance "
-Sung by Manfred Mann
(“Ha Ha Said the Clown”)
The little car came chugging up. It sounded like it should have a big key in the roof, grinding and turning as the car moved toward me.
It came to a stop with a cartoon squeal.
The doors on both side popped open.
For the first time I was aware that I was standing in the center of a circus ring. The car had just bounced into my circle and I looked around for help. No one was in the stands. It was just the car and me.
Then car horns began to scream. My ears threatened to melt from the beating they were taking from thousands of horns. They wouldn’t stop, they wouldn’t lessen. I held my hands over my ears hoping to fight the pain, but my ears were gushing blood. My hands were red with my own blood.
I remembered dying. It wasn’t this bad.
I fell to my knees.
Now, the clowns started pouring out of the car, one after another. Hundreds of them. When they emerged, each of them grew to the size of Rex Ingram in “Thief of Bagdad.” Each of them towered over everything. And they were all coming for me.
I looked at the first one, the closest one.
The car had been about twenty feet from me, but now it was a football field away. Was that to intensify the growing terror? If the giants had farther to walk, I would have longer to wait, and longer to be scared.
I started to laugh. That was stupid. They were clowns. I wasn’t afraid of clowns, never had been. Had I? I didn’t remember now.
I didn’t think I was scared of clowns.
You know that’s called coulrophobia, right?
There I go again. Trivia rather than emotion. It had always been the cape to my matador. All that stood between me and feeling.
Then there was something I was scared of. Simonson was riding on the shoulder of one of the giant clowns. He was herding them toward me.
I was scared of that cuckoo clergy fakir?
I wasn’t aware of it until that very moment.
It wasn’t the religion.
It was that he was crazy and had power.
People ceded power to this maniac! That, I realized, was the most frightening thing in this world. The Hitlers, the Mussolinis, Jim Joneses, Mansons & Limbaughs, all the men who were unbalanced, and people who let them be the voice they would follow. Unreasoning granting of leadership to someone without analyzing of the worthiness of that leader; that was something that could bring us all down.
I reached for my holster to bring out a .45 and take him down, but noticed that he was armed and I wasn’t. He was armed with an army of clown giants.
But, now he and the giants were farther away. They were rushing toward me, but they never got any closer.
The clowns were a threat in name only.
A shot rang out.
It was from somewhere in the bleachers.
The bullet hit me in the arm, right where I had been hit before.
Everything was gone now. I was lying on the ground, but it wasn’t in a circus tent. It was a grass covered piece of ground.
It was a grassy knoll.
Not a bad ego image there, huh, fella?
Another shot rang out, but I don’t know if it hit.
Max had just swerved to miss a something on the road.
“Sorry, boss, didn’t mean to wake you,” he apologized. “It was a deer.”
“Remind me to buy that deer a salt lick of his own,” I said and sat up straight.
I noticed that my shoulder hurt.
© C. Wayne Owens