Aphelion Issue 224, Volume 21
December 2017 / January 2018
 
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Not Anymore

by Ray Prew




My flight was delayed for several hours so I decided to take a cab into town and visit my favorite bar in this city. I hadn’t been in here in a few years but the old place looked the same as ever. I ordered a drink and looked around the room. It was then I saw him.

He looked worn down and sad. His once bright blue suite was faded and worn. His once bright red hair was graying, where it once ringed his head it now sagged in some places and hung loosely in others. He had really gone to hell.

“What’s doing B?” I asked him as I sat down. “It’s been a long time, how you been.”

“Not so good, pal. Ever since I lost the show I can’t find work anymore,” he said as he took a long drink from his glass.

“It can’t be all that bad B your still a clown. Clowns find work.”

“Wowiee kazowie you don’t understand pal!” He started to sob. “I used to be the world’s most famous clown! Not anymore, not since that hamburger selling bastard Ronny came to town. He’s not even a real clown! I’ve worked at the circus. I bet he never stepped in elephant poop even once in his life.”

He was becoming a bit agitated, the other patrons were starting to turn and stare at us. A sailor with huge forearms started to stand up but I motioned him to sit back down we were fine.

I sat back saddened to see my boyhood idol having it so hard. I used to love watching his show. “What ever happened to your friends, the circus boss, Butchie, or Professor Tweetyphoofer?”

“After the show went off the air we tried to restart our circus. The three of us put our combined life savings into it. We hired star acrobats, world famous animal acts, we didn’t skimp. It lasted all of three seasons. The circus boss had a stroke and spent the last 5 years of his life rotting away in a nursing home. The circus was his only family. We lost everything! Me and my pal Butchie ended up as homeless street performers. Butchie turned gay and is now a dancer at gay strip clubs, the Professor got blown up in a lab experiment.”

“Jeeze B that’s harsh. That’s a lot for any one clown the deal with.” He took another deep draw off his glass and started to refill it from his bottle, he offered me some but I declined. “There are other kinds of work you know,”

“I tried being a street mime, but people threw pies not money! My life has gone to hell, all because of that son of a bitch, that hamburger-selling son of a bitch! I used to be the world’s most famous clown, now not even little kids recognize me anymore. The ones that do recognize me ask me if I know him.” He took another drink.

“You used to tell us ‘just keep laughing’ B, maybe you should try it.”

“Laugh!? Laugh at what pal? I went to the unemployment office the other day; they tried to send me to Ronny’s burger joint.” He started to sob softly. “Do you know what happens to used up clowns? Do you? They end up in a dirty ally in back of toy stores letting dirty old men squeeze their clown noses for money!”

“So, what are you going to do? You can’t just continue to fall apart like this B.”

“I don’t know pal, maybe this is the end of the road for me. Maybe I should jump off an overpass,” he said sadly, as he stared at the floor slightly shaking his head.

“Nonsense!” I exclaimed. “Here, go across the bridge and get a room for the night at the Denton Motel. Tomorrow, go out and get fresh clown makeup then go see the unemployment office. I believe in you B.” I slid a couple of hundred bucks to him. I got up and rubbed his shoulder. “I have to catch my flight but I expect to hear of your come back B,” I told him as I smiled and walked away.

6 months later I was at a hotel in Providence, as I came out of the shower toweling my head, I saw newscast about a tragic shooting. A former child entertainer and veteran circus clown had died in a hail of gunfire. He tried to rob a fast food burger restaurant, but the employees hit the silent alarm and the cops were on him before he made it to the sidewalk. Witness all agree the clown fired first requiring the police to return fire. The spokesperson for the burger chain, also a clown, has been unavailable for comment.

He did it, he actually went and did it, he chose suicide by cop, I thought to myself. All the news will do is play up the tragedy, they will barely acknowledge all his years of entertaining little children.

His show was a hallmark of kid’s television entertainment. The captain is gone, the fellow with the cardigan sweater singing about his neighborhood is gone, and all that’s really left is a purple dinosaur that even the little kids know is a fake. B was real. He would even bring out exotic animals and their handlers so the kids could learn something, the purple dinosaur doesn’t do that. There is no quality entertainment for kids on television, not anymore.

I contacted my company and told my managers to take charge of his remains and see to it he has a decent funeral. I told them to have his headstone read here lays the world’s most famous clown.


THE END


2017 Ray Prew

Bio: Ray Prew was originally from Rhode Island, but now lives in Florida. He is a graduate of the New England Institute of Technology. Ray has been a blue-collar worker all his life, and started writing as a hobby. He spent 9 enjoyable years as a phone psychic. Ray’s work has been published in Spinetinglers magazine (6 times) one of the stories was used in a trivia quiz. Two Spinetinglers stories are on You Tube, one story called Some Monsters Are Real is narrated by someone, and the other was made into a short video called let me out by Ray Prew. He has been published in Blood Moon Rising (7 times including 2 poems), Aphelion magazine (12 times including 2 poems) as well as several other magazines. He has an anthology book of published and unpublished stories available on Amazon called Delightful Nightmares. His work has also appeared in the anthology vicious circle season one put out by sinister grin, and one poem in an anthology of vampire poetry called vampoetry.

E-mail: Ray Prew

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