The clown wakes up, gets up. He struggles to get up, but a few cat stretches shakes off the lethargy. He zips his suit, paints his face. The clown then grabs his heavy trunk filled with the silliest tricks and sweetest tricks. More importantly, it’s filled with happiness. Or at least that’s what I think it is. He proceeds to drag his trunk with the handle provided. Did I mention it was heavy?
Thank goodness for wheels.
No car for this clown. Clowning is certainly not for those who seek such indulgences. This clown walks all the way to the party. 10 miles. This clown walks. Or takes the bus. Or maybe a cab if the previous gig tipped extra.
And there he is. He hears the children screaming, laughing. Not for him, of course. He just got there. They haven’t seen him yet. Must be a dog. Or a water gun. Or water guns. Wait. No. This time around, it could just be a game of tag.
Our clown knocks on the door. RAP! RAP! “I’ll get it! Oh finally you’re here! Hey kids, look who’s here?!” The door swings open, “Hey! Hey! Hey Kids! It’s me! S…” You could barely hear the clown’s name be said with all the shrieking. The kids go berserk. Have you ever met Jesus in real life? No? Too bad. That’s what these kids are feeling like right now.
Pandemonium! The clown plops his trunk on his stage, which is usually some open space in the backyard or living room. He opens it and brings out uninflated balloons. Huff! Puff! Squeak! Squeak! Squeak! A dog! More tricks here and there. Confetti all over! Pie on face! A joke here, some slapstick there.
Of course, not all goes well. Sometimes there’s that really annoying kid. The one you usually hate. But can we blame the little tyke? Certainly not! We blame the parents! Spoiling that child, who, by the way, just gave our clown a kick to the shin. The kid laughs, thinking nothing is wrong with having a little fun. Besides, clowns get hurt all the time right?
The clown winces, but you can’t really tell coz there’s a smile painted on his face. He rubs his shin for a bit, and gives the kid a giraffe. Yes, an actual giraffe. Yes, I’m kidding. It’s a balloon giraffe. A giraffe wouldn’t fit in the trunk.
The show goes on. The kids laugh, stare at amazement. By the end of the show, they all clap, children and adults. But wait! He’s not done yet. He has one last surprise. He opens his trunk one last time and pulls out… some glowing cube, no bigger than your usual children’s blocks. He hands them out to everyone, children and adults. A sense of comfort fills them as they receive these little treats.
Ah! Payment! Few bills here and that’s it. No extra tip. The parents apologize, they did not have any cash with them. The clown smiles and says thank you nonetheless. But the clown does get to eat some of the cake. The cake looks this time around. Yum!
Sometimes, the adults are usually quite old and no one seems interesting to the clown, but once in a while, someone does catch his eye. A lady, who, given a clown’s deduction through observation, has no one “significant other”. He gathers the courage to talk to her and they hit it off. Some witty comment here, a funny story there.
Just as our clown-turned-casanova is about to ask for her number, a latecomer arrives and drapes his arm over her shoulder. Introductions here and there. Hopes washed away. Oh and look! He has quirky anecdotes and everyone loves him. A funny guy! Of course, not all funny guys are clowns. Then again, not all clowns are funny.
And that’s our clown’s cue to leave. He packs up and exits unnoticed. No tip, no cab. It’s walking time. Or bus. There’s still the bus. That said, carrying a trunk full of balloons, spray bottles, horns and blocks of glowing… stuff… is no fun even with the bus ride. But those are the breaks.
He gets home, wipes the paint, unzips the suit. Wait. What’s this a message on his answering machine. “Hey you there? Anyway, I got you another gig. Rich kid’s birthday party. Lots of people, and I’m guessing there’s gonna be some good tipping.”
The clown smiles, opens his trunk, opens his chest. He takes out a block from his chest, one at a time and places it in the trunk. He closes his chest, closes his trunk and goes to bed. Simple life, simple smiles. This must be great!
“I’m on my way home. You want anything? You sure? Okay.”
I dropped the phone and took my usual route home. The one thing about “having the usual” is that you’ll always notice when there’s something new or out-of-place or, well, unusual. As you can probably predict, the unusual came by and I should just get to the point.
There was a wall. A white one. Okay, that’s not the unusual thing. Not saying that walls cannot be unusual. No, far from it. If a wall were to change color everyday, or were to phase between universes, then certainly that would be highly unusual. But not this wall. It was pretty much your standard cement wall: hard, cold tangible, fixed, and could very well be impregnable without the use of a large object or explosives.
However, the man who stood in front of it was a different story. As I approached him, I realized he was banging his head against the wall. I came up and tried to stop the silliness because, last I checked, wall beats head about 99.99999999999% of the time. But the man resisted my help, pushing me back each time I came closer. At that point, I thought the best thing to do was to ask questions.
Questions like… why?
“Because I have to get to the other side of this wall by breaking it.”
…what’s on the other side?
“What’s on this side?”
… (what did that even mean?)
… why use your head?
“Coz I don’t have tools. Can’t afford them. And my body is all the force I need”
… why not your hands?
“I don’t want to break my hands! Duh!”
When I ran out of questions to ask, all I could do was stare. It was oddly captivating. Trying to stop him would have been a futile exercise so I just stood there, and forgot that I was actually on my way home. His forehead, naturally, began to swell up until, finally, blood starting gushing out of the gash, painting the immaculate whiteness of the wall red.
And then he stopped. He turned his head and gave me a piercing look
“Are you just gonna stand there or are you gonna help me?”
So yeah, I helped him. I still am. I’m bleeding now.
The sedative began to wear off. William woke up attached to a machine that had yet to be turned on. There was movement all around: metal clanging, people talking, the PA requesting for a certain ‘Doctor Gonz’ who was wanted in the auditorium. William realized he was in the infirmary.
William, however, was still a bit catatonic from the sedative the doctors gave him. Despite the bustling scene in front of him, he stared into the nothingness of the spaces between the activity and movement. The nurse approached the machine and turned some knobs. It lit up and began whirring. The nurse looked away and began talking to a colleague.
Meanwhile, as the machine came to life, William began writhing in pain. The pain was unlike anything William had ever felt. He has had all sorts injuries: broken bones, cuts, trauma to different parts of his body. But this was different. When asked to recall how it felt, William would simply state “It felt like fornicating the entrance to hell.”
And there he was, standing across the room.. Mr. Cash. Mr. Cash pulled out a pack of cigarettes and fed a stick between his lips. William watched him light the cigarette, still with the pain coursing through his body. William, of course knew who he was, just as Mr. Cash knew who William was, perhaps moreso than William himself. Mr. Cash looked at William’s eyes which were begging for the end.
The nurse realized that he had made a mistake with his his calibrations and quickly adjusted the machine’s settings. William settled down as the pain subsided, after which he passed out. Mr. Cash simply walked away.
The bus began swerving. William woke up being tussleed left to right by the inertia. People were screaming, holding on their armrests; the bus driver struggled to take control of the vehicle. It’s been years since that visit to the infirmary. This time, however, there was no pain, only the feeling of the end.
It was then that William, who was seated on one side of the aisle, looked to his right and saw the collected Mr. Cash, who was smoking a cigarette. William wanted to utter a question, but the situation rendered him speechless. After taking another drag, Mr. Cash spoke to William “I’m not here for anyone’s convenience.”
William looked away feeling helpless, unable to do anything but stare at the eternity of the moment unfolding in front of him.
Forgive me, I was just reliving something that happened to me awhile back.
It was 1999, high school for me, maybe college for you, maybe elementary for others, and, for some, well, you get the idea. The time was somewhere between 10 pm to 2 am, I can’t quite recall but I do know that it was past dinner. I mentioned ‘past dinner’ because my friends and I were hungry once again. It was the usual midnight snack routine for us. “Star Mart!” was suggested by one of my comrades. That night, I fancied Star Mart’s hotdog on a bun.
If you have never been to the Philippines, then I must inform you that our hotdogs are special: thick, juicy and red. And no, I was not throwing some sort of sexual innuendo. They really are red.
And so, I rushed back to my house and gathered every single loose change I could find. Being in high school, I wasn’t exactly very liquid with my finances. This was further compounded by the fact that it was summer vacation, or at least I think it was, and my funds weren’t easily replenished by my parents then. I serached underneath my mattress, inside my cabinets and drawers, consuming about twenty minutes of my time.
Finally, I was able to scrounge twenty-six pesos, just enough for one sandwich. The moment itself was glorious, even if it only lasted for a few seconds, but such trivialities are worth the inner-celebration. Successful, I placed them all in my pocket and made sure that they were all safe in there. I could imagine each coin singing high praises to their lord and master. That would be me, in case you were unaware.
“Thank you o lord! We shall be more than willing to oblige you in your quest for a hotdog!”
I marched outside and saw that my friends were waiting in the car. I hopped in and we drove off. We shared the usual friendly banter and stories. More importantly, we shared a common goal: to satisfy our stomachs with food. And we shared a common sentiment: that we were going to be able to do just that. Star Mart was a mere five minutes away, so we got there rather quickly and advanced to the entrance.
There it was. The hotdog that I so longed to consume, in all its thick, juicy and red glory. I brimmed with excitement which I had to hold back. I did not want to be looked upon with bewilderment by the store’s employees. My coins, on the other hand, jingled inside my pocket, already sensing the triumph that awaits them. I walked over to the counter with overflowing confidence, looked the clerk on the eye and said.
“One jumbo hotdog, please!”
Just like that, he, or she, I don’t remember, grabbed the tongs with his right hand and a bun on his left. The tongs then took hold of one of the hotdogs and let laid it in between the bun. Meanwhile, I had taken every single coin out of my pocket and counted every single one. My worry was that maybe one of the coins had fallen astray. If that happened, then my quest for a hotdog would be a failure and all my efforts moot, futile.
“Twenty-six!” I said. I shoved the coins, which were placed on top of the counter, towards the cashier. She, or he, punched in the necessary code. “Ding!” and the receipt began printing. The wonderfullicity (Yes, I enjoy adding over-the-top suffixes to my words. Hah!) of that sound signified my victory. I grabbed the hotdog and made my way to the condiments to add some ketchup, after which, I walked out of the store and towards my friend’s car.
The hotdog gazed at me with its loving redness and juicyness. In that brief moment, that piece of meat on bun began reciting Shakespeare’s 18th sonnet to me. “Thou art more lovely and temperate” struck me to my core and demanded that I satisfy my desire to consume this magnificent creation of the gods. And so, it began, the meeting of the hotdog and my mouth. Closer. Closer.
Farther. Farther. I realized that, despite having the bun in my hand, the hotdog began slipping, falling, subject to the evil whims of gravity. I could hear it screaming in despair. I, on the other hand, could only give out a monotonous “Noooooo…” as if I cared little of the fate the hotdog. But I cared. I did. The shock was just too much. I could feel the emptiness from the bun in my hand as if embodying the void that suddenly opened up inside me.
And it laid there. The hotdog drowned in a pool of motor oil. It gasped, asking me to pick it up. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t be able to eat it anymore. It had lost all its worth. All I could do was stare and whimper silently. My friends laughed, unsympathetic to my loss. I ate the bun in hand in hopes that, maybe, it would fill the aforementioned emptiness. It didn’t. I walked away from the hotdog and into the car defeated. Goodbye, hotdog. Goodbye.
Pretty funny, eh?
There once was a goose who found a small, quiet pond, with just enough fish and just enough sunlight. I do not know the name nor if it is a he or a she. I just know that a goose is a goose. “All is good here.” said the goose to itself and felt no need to mention it to the gaggle. Upon returning to the flock and asked “Where have you been?” the goose would simply reply “Just by the cotton field.” It had been well-known that this particular goose liked cotton fields. It was also known that this goose was a bit disconnected with its own flock.
Of course, the goose’s secret would not be that much of a secret for long. Just as the goose was enjoying a quiet afternoon, a crane flew in, partly attracted to the pond, partly curious as to why there was only one goose in the pond. Again, I do not know the name of the crane, nor do I know if it’s a boy or girl. “Where’s your flock?” asked the crane. “By the west side of the lake, as they should be. I have no intention of telling them about the pond, and I suggest you do the same with your flock.” The crane looked around and understood why the goose wanted to keep it a secret. “Can I, at least, join you here?” The goose nodded, enjoying the idea of companionship.
A few days passed, and the goose and the crane got along quite well. They would talk about the pond, they would talk about the fish. The goose would talk about cotton fields while the crane would talk about life as a crane. Little did they know that another would join them.
“What ya doin’? Where’s your flock?” It was a lone duck. There are just too many ducks in this world and they all look alike to me, hence I do not know the name nor the gender of the duck. The crane obliged the inquiry “Just enjoying the pond. Well, the gaggle of geese are by the lake while my flock of cranes are standing within the reed beds, as they should be. We have no intention of telling them about the pond, and I suggest you do the same.” Despite the discomfort of not mentioning the pond to its flock, the duck agreed …”but only if I get to come here as well.” The goose and the crane agreed and, somehow, the goose had a feeling that the circle was complete, that “This is it. These two will be here with me for a long time.”
For a time, things were good. Fishes were as abundant as stories shared, which for these birds can be a lot since they do talk a lot. Well, maybe not the goose. The goose went on talking about cotton fields. The crane discussed the myriad complexities of crane life and the duck constantly talked about duck escapades “…or as we ducks call ’em, howards.” People worry about big things like politics, religion, social sciences, mathematics, quantum mechanics, relationships, and, therefore, might find such discussions to be trivial, for but for birds, they are a source of bewilderment and wonder, talking constantly for hours about cotton fields, crane life and howards.
Personally, such simplicity is quite enviable. But not all is simple in the animal world. A goose is still a goose and is obligated to the flock.
The gaggle had caught word of another lake further out west, one with abundant fish but lesser shareholders to the lake’s stock. Also, it was general knowledge that the new lake had the most maginificent cotton field, one that would make any admirer of cotton fields cry with joy. Our goose, naturally, wanted to stay but duty and desire called and so, visited the pond one last time. “No matter what happens, stay true to the agreement.”
And so, the goose joined the flock in the new lake, and did as goose would do. But the goose’s mind would simply wander off, wondering about his companions and the pond. Our goose missed the oddness of it all, how three different birds with nothing in common shared moments in the pond. More importantly, our goose missed the escapism of the pond, the comfort it gave. In this new lake, the fishes were abundant, but the fish did not seem to taste so good. The other geese would disagree so perhaps our goose’s opinion was somewhat tainted.
Alas, the goose remained in the new lake. Over time, the goose eventually came to appreciate the new surroundings. The fish started to taste better, the air started to feel fresher. And while there was nothing that would talk about the ways of the cranes, nor the howards of ducks, there were other geese who had eccentricities of their own. Some geese, apparently, would enjoy looking at cloud formations through the reflection in the water. While others would re-enact the popular goose classic acts like “Mon Goose: The Snake-Killing Goose”, “There It Goose Again” and “Duck Ducked Goose”.
I do not exactly know the details about these things for I am not a goose.
Months passed and the goose had set aside his thoughts about the pond. That, however, did not exactly mean that they were forgotten nor would these memories choose to be forgotten. The goose found a cotton field to admire, and would gladly visit it everyday. It reminded the goose of the pond and the crane and the duck, and what they told the goose before leaving.
“Tell us about the cotton fields when you get back.”
Suddenly, I was awake. 9:24 a.m. It was strange for me to be up considering I had come from a night of helpless inebriation. Then my phone rang, as if it had been waiting for me to get up before it would actually ring. Rosie. You know, my secretary? She was on the other line, sobbing. Something wasn’t right, obviously. I was about to ask what was wrong when I heard a knock on my door. I told Rosie to stay on the line while I answered the door. It was the sergeant with his face more grimace than usual. He told me what happened to you. I got back to Rosie for a bit and told her that I’d see her in the service.
I began speculating who the perp was. You weren’t exactly everybody’s best friend. Whoever it was, I knew I could get him. That would have been easy for me. You know that I’m one hell of a P.I. Nothing gets by me. Nothing. Dealing with these scumbags that fill this city is part of the job and you know pretty damn well that I’m good at it. I’d probably start at Malloy’s and shake up a few talkers, and work my way from there. O what I would have done to the bastard that did you in. He’d live but I would have made sure he’d never forget what he did to you and what I did to him.
But that wasn’t the case now, was it?
The sarge told me that there was no foul play, no evil conspiracy. Just a hand given to you by fate. You probably got a high ace and tried to bluff your way out of it by going all in. You were on your way home in your Buick. Nice car by the way. Witnesses said you were avoiding another vehicle. You could have dozed off before that. No one really knows for sure. You slammed into another car and that was that. Shame, you had a pretty car but who would have thought it would send you packing? Someone oughta do something about those boxes of death. Cars, I mean.
I remember our last conversation. It was a week ago. We were talking about putting up a new agency, working together as partners. The idea delighted me, of course. You were someone whose intelligence I respected and you probably felt the same way about me. In a town like this, it’s nice to know that respect still means something. I’m pretty sure, not a lot of people would have enjoyed us working together. The coppers came up to me asking for help on the alcohol crackdown, prohibition and all. Said they’d make it worth my while. I heard there was a big shipment of whiskey coming in about 2 weeks and it would have been great if you and I would be the ones to bust it. But now, I guess I’ll have to do it on my own.
I better get dressed.
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” said the evil queen.
“Why, certainly not you. You know that” replied the mirror.
The evil queen knew what she had to do. Kill Snow White. As we all know, she sent the huntsman to kill her, only to be filled with mercy and let her live. Snow White ran off and met the seven dwarfs, who vowed to protect her. Meanwhile, the evil queen once again, asked that favorite question of hers.
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”
“Sorry, your highness, but Snow White lives. You wanna try again?”
Weeks passed and the evil queen finally found Snow White. And so, she disguised herself as an old lady and visited Snow White. The queen gave the beautiful Snow White the poisoned apple, supposedly killing her. The evil queen left to return to her castle, while the dwarfs returned to a poisoned Snow White. As the the dwarfs were to lay Snow White to rest, Prince Charming arrived and gave her a kiss, lifting the curse of the poisoned apple.
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”
“You were close this time, but Snow White still lives, all thanks to Prince Charming.”
The queen had had enough. Being a powerful sorceress, it was time for her to use extreme force. She marched on to the dwarfs’ house, determined to rid the world of Snow White.
“SNOW WHITE! I’M HERE TO KILL YOU, BITCH!”
A Gatling gun. That’s what the evil queen had. She raised her weapon and just sprayed bullets all over the cottage. You could hear the screams, the agony, the death. It reverberated through the forest, scaring the life out of every living creature. Eventually, the cottage exploded, bursting into flames. The evil queen kept firing anyway, till she ran out of ammunition. When she was through, the evil queen stormed back to her castle and confronted her mirror.
“MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL, WHO IS FUCKING FAIREST OF THEM ALL?!”
“My queen, the gods must indeed love Snow White. I hate to tell you this but you missed.”
Furious, the queen turned into a dragon and grabbed from the castle armory a 50 megaton atomic bomb. She flew over the forest and saw Snow White mourning over the death of her friends. “DIE, BITCH, DIE!” was the queen’s battle cry as she dropped the bomb over Snow White. First came a bright light, followed by death.
The queen returned to her castle, expecting a different answer from her magic mirror.
“MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL, SURELY I HAVE TO BE THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL!”
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but, Baba Yaga summoned Snow White from the grave to join her evil zombie army. As a zombie, she’s still the fairest of them all. Amazing!”
The queen, incensed, grabbed the mirror and destroyed it. She had lost all hope for she would never be the fairest of them all. Even in un-death, Snow White still trumped as the beauty of beauties. Her heart sank. How could she compete? More importantly, who could love her now? Princes and kings sought for only the most beautiful and she would never have that privilege of finding true love. She fell on her knees and wept.
Just as things could not get any worse, the walls of her castle echoed loud crashes. Her guards were fending off an unstoppable force. The commotion grew louder and louder until finally it was just outside the doors of the queen’s chamber. However, even as the doors flew open, the queen did not care anymore.
“You’ve come here for me. Isn’t that right, Prince Charming?”
It was, indeed, Prince Charming, standing over her with his beautiful locks, his dashing smile, his overly exuberant and glorious manliness lighting up the room. His sword and shield at hand, and his heart filled with a resolve that demanded satisfaction.
In a fashion that would either make Shakespeare proud or cringe, the melodramatic prince said “Yes, but I am not here for thy head. I have come here for thy hand… in marriage. I am here, not to cut out thy heart, but to win it.”
The queen was, naturally, perplexed. She asked “What? Why?”
“For thou, my queen, thou art the most beautiful creature this kingdom has to offer. How could I not want to win such a prize?”
“Forgive me, prince, but I find that hard to believe. I am not the most beautiful creature in this kingdom as you say I am, for Snow White lives.”
Prince Charming knelt down, wiped her tears and said
“But, my queen, she’s a zombie.”