I don’t know why, but I’ve always been afraid of clowns. I saw “IT” way too early, and so I blame it on Stephen King a little bit. Write what scares you, is some advice I’ve always heard. Maybe that’s why King writes so much about rats.
Today for Finish That Thought, I wrote a little piece about clowns. It was hard–I was scared the whole time.
“Excuse me, but what on earth are you doing up that roof at this time of night?”
I thought it was Petey, but when he turned around I saw the made up face. A putrid smell hit my nostrils, and my stomach turned with nausea. I’d always hated clowns.
I’d been sitting in my office chair, working on the next great novel, the feel of “Q” and “L” beneath my fingertips when I heard something up on the roof. Up on the House Top. Quick, Quick, Quick. But it wasn’t Christmas—snowy white—so I knew it wasn’t Santa Claus.
I blinked, and when I did, he’d come down from the roof. The dreadful smell of rotting fish filled the air around him, and I leaned closer to see a maggot wiggling out of his nose. I had the strongest desire to touch him, but I didn’t. He stood only about four feet tall. The red spots painted precariously against the white makeup adorning his face. Just a child. But what was a child clown doing on my roof?
He wore one of those pointed hats, with a red ball dangling off of it. You could imagine him in an ancient circus. The white of his costume was stained around the edges. Was that blood near the torn place on his sleeve? I wiped my eyes, because I had to be dreaming. Maybe I’d fallen asleep in the office chair and this nightmare had come to wreak havoc against my coulrophobia.
“Hey mister, want to play?”
The pint-sized clown suddenly was holding two hula hoops. The streetlight shined on the lawn, as I grabbed one from his hand. I placed it over my body and securely on my hips, then I started wiggling, but it kept falling down to the ground, thudding loudly against the grass. The clown laughed, but his hula hoop was spinning around fast, even though he wasn’t holding it.
“You’re good at this.”
“Lots of practice in the circus,” the clown said.
I reached out, wanting to touch him again, but he backed away from me.
“Look, no touch—like the bearded woman at the circus. She bit a man’s finger off once,” the boy clown said.
“What are you doing here?”
“You should ask yourself that question.”
I looked around me. The street was dark and silent. The houses all shuttered like eyes closed for sleep. The moon shined, a giant ball sitting in the sky. When I looked back, the clown smiled at me, a sincere grin. I heard the front door squeak open; it needed some WD40.
“Dad, what are you doing out here?” Petey asked
I looked at him. “I was just talking to the clown.” But when I turned back the clown was gone.
“Sleep walking, again. I’ll help you get into bed.”
The smell followed me back into the house, putrid, rotting meat. I knew it wasn’t the last I’d see of him. They always came out at night.