Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer
They had been walking for weeks. They could easily pick their destination at night, or rather avoid a destination from the bluish glow low on the horizon that signalled a radioactive crater where a city once lived.
They were hungry, very hungry. The two men were perched atop a barren ridge overlooking a small town in a valley below. One of the men glassed the town through the Leopold scope mounted atop his H&K 91.
“Bill, what do you see,” Ronald Jenkins asked in a whisper.
“Nothing, the town’s abandoned. I don’t see anything moving, no cars, no people… What the hell?” Bill Gaines dropped the rifle and retrieved his binos for a better look.
“What is it? What do you see?”
“The circus is in town.”
They made their way down the ridge. After a hike that left them both exhausted and famished, they stood before a red and white striped circus tent that had been erected in what was presumably the town square.
“Creepy, ain’t it,” opined Ron, “where’s the sound of people, children laughing, animals?”
Bill scowled. “Let’s see if there’s anything to eat.”
Inside the tent, though the animals were long gone, the smell lingered upon the air. Little food was to be found. Popcorn lay crushed in the footprints of quickly departing patrons. Here and there lay the rotting remains of candied apples.
“Not much here, I guess they took whatever… did you here something,” Bill asked cocking his head to one side. “It sounds like…”
“Someone crying,” Ron finished.
Towards the far end of the tent, in the direction of the mysterious sound, a flap hung partially open revealing a smaller space within. “Let’s go,” Bill whispered, slipping the safety of his rifle off.
In a small addition to the big top, they found a man, a clown actually, sobbing uncontrollably. His heavy tears had caused his makeup to run terribly, giving the two the unrelenting combined feelings of revulsion, disgust, pity and a need to defecate that only a clown can engender in a human.
“By the ghost of Emmett Kelly… AN AUDIENCE,” the clown exclaimed jumping up and embracing the men, leaving red and white smears on their ragged clothing.
“Get off,” Ron growled, shoving the pathetic jester to the ground.
“I’m so sorry, it’s just that I haven’t seen another person in weeks. I’m so lonely.”
“What happened to the rest of the freaks,” Bill asked, trying to shake off the clown as it desperately attempted to attach itself to his leg.
“They left Sir, they left as soon as the bombs began falling.”
“Why didn’t you go with them,” Ron asked, kicking the clown in the stomach in an attempt to dislodge it from his companions leg.
“Ooooofff! They wouldn’t let me on the bus Sir. They hated Chancre they did Sir.”
“Wait, Chancre the Clown?”
“That’s me Sir.” He honked his nose twice for emphasis.
“C’mon Bill, let’s get out of here.”
“Please Sir, take Chancre with you.”
“Get the fuck off my leg or so help me I’ll kill you.”
“That’s just what they said Sir.”
The rifles report was deafening within the canvas confines of the small enclosure.
Later that evening, Ron and Bill had made camp and were eating a short distance outside the little town.
“Give me another piece, will you Ron?”
Ron cut a strip of meat from the joint spitted over the cheery fire and handed it to him on the point of his knife. As Bill chewed thoughtfully, he asked, “Hey Ron, does this taste funny to you?”
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