Friday, October 17, 2014

Nightmare Fuel, Day the Sixteenth - CLowning Around

I don't understand the meme that clowns are scary. I take that back: I understand that exaggerated features, and a hidden face can be scary to some, but I've never felt it. To me, a clown is not only a figure of fun but, at best, the narrative thread at the center of a performance. It's the archetype of the fool which can reflect reality through a funhouse mirror.

So, today's prompt was a clown picture. The story is a callback to my earlier "We Can Cure You" 

The image was presented without known attribution.

They cured me. You probably heard about that. It doesn't matter how. If it's magic leeches, mystic chants, or twelve steps of surrender to a higher power, it's a cure. They cured me.

What nobody tells you about a cure is that it doesn't take that part of you away. The wanting a drink part. So they cure you, they take away the drink, and leave the wanting. The hunger.

So we wear masks to cover up the hungering beasts. They could be satin, silk, steel, or leather. Or greasepaint.

IT started with a book, the way such things always do. No, not a magic book, not a dusty tome with no author and no apparent source. I've learned my lesson about shops that weren't there yesterday, and disappear when you aren't looking. No, this was a nice, reliable, Complete Idiot's style guide to clowning. I loved the makeup. Wearing it, I feed different. I'm [name] the clown.

There are places you can practice if you look hard enough. I found a group just outside the city, in an abandoned old church. The furniture has long since been stripped out, the plaster walls are riddled with holes, but it's at least rainproof. It's a good group. Amateurs who love to work on the craft. We practice makeup, practice pratfalls, practice skills like juggling. Not like the "real" jugglers; cascading seven balls is damn hard but doesn't look impressive in a showy enough way. It's just throwing and catching. No, when we juggle it's tricks. Spins and pirouettes that look sloppy-drunk but pull out the catch at the last second.

Yeah, my clown-character is a bit of a drunk. Don't worry, I still don't touch the stuff. And even though the pounds have melted away after hours on the unicycle (another important skill) the veins on my nose show just a bit too much. It's OK, really. The makeup hides it.

So yeah, I came to look forward to the afterwork clowning hour. Then two. And a quick unicycle circuit at lunchtime. And yeah, I was late for dinner a night or two. Sometimes I'd pretend to be late at the office. Look, it's a calling. I wouldn't judge yours? The amazing thing about the clowning club is that someone is always there. Always. I've never come to the church and found it empty.

I came home one night to an empty house. She'd stuck with me through the drinking, but left over the clowning. How fucked up is that?

And here's the crazy thing. The makeup, I swear, is just regular clown makeup, like the way the book got me started was just a regular book. I didn't get it at a magical store, or for an old gypsy woman, or trade my last cow to a mysterious stranger for it. It's just a tube of makeup, ordered over the internet, OK?

So why won't it come off, no matter how hard I scrub?

Why has the mask become my only face?

Must I wear another mask over it, when I'm not clowning?

Do I even want to?

No comments:

Post a Comment