“We’re All Bozos in This Opera”
“Everybody loves a clown, so why don’t you?
Everybody laughs at the things that I say and do.
They all laugh when they see me coming,
But you don’t laugh; you just go home running.
Everybody loves a clown, so why can’t you?
A clown has feelings too."
- Sung by Gary Lewis and the Playboys
(“Everybody Loves a Clown”)
The IT people weren’t able to do any worthwhile investigation on the e-mail. They traced it to an internet café in Kansas City, but the person paid in cash and they had no security cameras. It was in an old part of town and they didn’t even have any traffic cams within three miles, so we couldn’t even begin to search for the guy’s picture. They even printed the computer that was used, but there wasn’t a single usable print. The owner said it had probably been cleaned twenty times since then, since the policy of the house was to do so between patrons. Just our luck, just when you don’t need a clean freak!
The IT guys did have a positive addition to the investigation. They had done a search for any possible other clowns that might be found in the area.
Bozo’s Juggling School
Pagliacci’s Pasta & Pizza
The Simpson Souvenir Store (with a large section of Krusty the Clown items)
The Midwest Met Tour – Featuring Baz Lightel’s production of “Pagliacci” at the U. of N. Theater on Campus.
Bim Bom’s Russian Tea Room (Bim Bom, it seems, was a famous Russian clown in the 1920’s)
The Community Opera was doing its yearly Gilbert & Sullivan (the only show that actually made money) and this time they were doing “Yeoman of the Guard” featuring the clown Jack Point.
Adding Omaha, you got:
The Tonkin Art Gallery was featuring a collection of Red Skelton’s clown paintings.
The Omaha Community Players were doing “Hamlet” and, though he was only a skull, it did have Yorick.
Every McDaniel’s had a live Randal McDaniel, plus statues at every location.
The Grind House Movie House was featuring a triple feature at its Midnight Show. They were in a clown mode, that, I hope, was booked before the killings. They were showing “Shakes the Clown” and a feature version of the TV mini-series “It” (with Stephen King’s Pennywise the Clown). Finally, they were showing “Killer Klowns from Outer Space.”
Every comic book shop had The Joker and other clown villains. Every video store had copies of dozens of clown films.
And, finally, the local independent TV station was set to air the episode “Chuckles the Clown Bites the Dust” of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
They also told us that there was a 77.9% chance that there were at least 9-12 clowns they might have missed.
Given the cases already, they rated the top candidates, in order of probability, as #1 – One of the Pagliaccis. #2 – The Movie House. #3 – The Art Gallery or #4 – The Juggling School.
We would cover these sites strongly, while taking a look at as many of the others as we could afford. At this point there were 5 comic book stores and thrice as many video outlets.
Nate walked over to me, with the look of the aunt to whom the job of explaining the facts of life has fallen.
“You need to stay here,” his dour face told the story. “Your men aren’t here yet, and we can’t afford to take men off the job to watch you.”
Unhappily, I agreed. At least I would be at the center of things and able to know what was going on at all the locations much quicker than if I were at only one of them.
Everybody cleared out, with the exception of a desk sergeant, two janitors and the dispatcher. I was at the computer center, linked to all the walkies and car radios.
Three hours had passed since they all went into the field, and nobody had even seen a drunk with a red nose.
I got off the radios and checked to see if any of our bloggers or tweeters had anything to add.
Then there was the e-mail. It was a video file addressed just to “The Victim.”
I beckoned one of the janitors to come over. “Could you tell Sergeant Timor (the man manning the desk out front) to be on the watch for anything out of the ordinary?”
He rushed off gleefully. He was obviously excited to be involved with something beyond swabbing the floors and emptying trash bins.
I opened the film, and there was a clown. It was one I didn’t know, but, under the make up, he looked as though he might be a non-Caucasian. But, I could be wrong.
The clown was smiling scarily.
Then I heard music. The figure on the screen smacked the screen with a balloon on the end of a stick, and then he said, “Homey don’t play dat!”
Before I could even try to remember where this familiar sounding phrase came from, the monitor screen exploded. That was followed with a rapid succession of shells hitting around me, and then one got me in the shoulder. While falling to the ground I force myself to look around.
About a step and a half from me was a large safe. I hadn’t noticed it before, but I crawled to it as the bullets continue to rain. At that point several ricocheted off the safe. It was a worthy shield.
The bullets brought Sgt. Timor, pistol drawn, to enter the room. He waited, as he had been trained, for the muzzle blast in the darkened room. When he saw it he returned fire.
After his first shot the shooting from the other source ceased. We stayed still for a very long time.
Then Timor ran over to me. No one shot at him as he ran across the room.
“Are you okay?” he asked, while scanning the ceiling for more shooting.
“Yeah,” I lied.
“I’ve called for back-up. I didn’t stop, just did so on my walkie-talkie.”
He grabbed a towel from the desk top and wrapped my shoulder.
Sirens wailed in the distance. We didn’t get up until they got close and armed police entered.
It felt over.
In a few minutes they had found the nest built in the bottom of a closet. Someone had drilled a hole in the floor and gave a limited view of the room. If he had had more room, I might be dead.
On the floor of the closet were a rifle and a clown costume. It was the same as the figure in the video was wearing.
The officers who watched the video on another computer identified the clown immediately. It was the clown created by one of the Wayans for the “In Living Color” comedy show. He had used Homey the Clown’s signature saying.
It wasn’t the least funny to me, for some reason.
© C. Wayne Owens