If I am repaired, can we meet again for the first time, in all of the places I have feared to go, and then, again, in all of the places I will have forgotten, if I am repaired?



Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mag 118, 'Yellow Clown'

When the jaundice set in, really set in—when the whites of his eyes turned off the color of acrid urine—Richard decided it best to cancel his June birthdays.

          He hated to. Not so much because of the money, but rather, five of the parties he had booked for June were new customers, in Bellwood, an upper-crust neighborhood he had been trying to get work in for years.

          He couldn't risk it though. There would be too many mommy hens in and out of those Bellwood coops. If he showed up looking even the slightest bit like a drunk, or as if he might be harboring some infectious disease, word would spread. Mommies are tough as hell on a clown and they network like nobody's business.

          Innocent as it was, Richard couldn't risk the truth of a lodged gallstone either. Clowns of late, carry the same stigma as drywall hangers and bricklayers. Hint at any problems, in or around the liver and you hint at an addiction, a recently completed twelve-step program. A death in the family, Richard decided, would be best. Nothing drawn out and cancerous, a grandmother perhaps, endeared and living out of State, who passed quietly in her sleep of natural causes, after a long and healthy ninety-three years.

          Richard polished his story. He wasn't much of a talker, but one by one, he informed the five young Bellwood mothers of his loss. He thanked each for their sympathies and left the phone number of a trusted replacement act, his understudy, Morton.

          Morton was a good kid. A bit young to be clowning, in Richard’s opinion, but he had the gift: that Chaplinesque ability to captivate, to utilize the moment. Richard often felt his heart swell with pride, working with the boy. He was amazing, with both the kids and the mothers, trusted and catered to. Better still, his record was squeaky clean (Richard had checked), rare these days for a twenty-four year old.   

          The parties cancelled, Richard closed his phone and laid it on the counter. He stood there a moment studying his left hand, tinged yellow in the creases of its knuckles, around the fingertips and in that soft sort of webbing between. His face, he already knew, was the color of a legal pad. Richard laughed, remembering how at first he had thought the discoloration had been from eating too many carrots. He had heard of such a thing, toenails turning orange. A sharp pain suddenly bit into his lower back. Richard winced. The stones, or stone, whatever the case may be, was moving.

          Richard went to lay on the couch. From what his doctor had told him, this was going to be an ordeal. He had been given medication for pain, told to call an ambulance, if necessary. Pain, Richard thought, he could endure. He had been stuffed into cars no bigger than a hat box, shot from a canon. Surely he could pass a gallstone.

          Just don't let anyone find out.

          Richard fluffed the pillow beneath his head, considered looking for the remote, then closed his eyes instead to get some rest.

          Morton had him covered. Morton was a good kid. Everything would be fine. Just fine. The show would go on.

          Of course it would. The show always goes on. What a stupid thing to say.    

1 comment:

  1. Good story! What we allthink we have to do to keep up our image! Too bad but true.

    and Yes, I used to make all my kids baby food and too many carrots and squash can turn them orange.. I figured it out after much scrubbing wouldn't get it off.


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