Rachael Engel ~ Tears of a Clown

“I think we’ve both seen this coming for a really long time, and I think we should just end it before we hate each other.”

“I already hate you.”

“Well, more than we already do. I mean let’s just stop dating before we hate each other more than right this second.”

Sprinkles began to cry.

“Why are you doing this? Is it someone else? Is it that slut Pennywhistle? She’s only slept with every other clown here, has she finally got to you, too? Is that it?”

She was so insecure. So stupid. He hated that about her. That was really why he was breaking up with her, but he couldn’t say that right now, not with her crying like she was. She hadn’t made him angry enough for him to go there.

“You know what? In a way I’m glad this is happening.” She wiped at the real tears that ran down her face, washing away the tears that had been carefully drawn on. “People talk about you, you know. They say your work is too ‘experimental’–you’re just not funny.”

He hadn’t been angry before, but this did it. That was what happened when you were in a relationship, he guessed. You know exactly what the other person’s weakness is and he resented her for exploiting it. Her pink hair blew; she was standing right beside their oscillating fan inside the trailer they occupied together. She was so vulgar. So stupid.

“Too ‘experimental’? Is that what they think, Sprinkles? Well, I don’t care what they taught you in shit-splat Sarasota–mmkay? I don’t give a shit. Don’t care. I didn’t go to Florida like you. You wasted your time and your parents’ money being taught how to act like a jackass.”

Unlike Sprinkles, Mr. Pickles had been taught not how to be a clown–but to be a mime. It was a distinction he held in a very high regard. During his undergraduate years at NYU he had been very heavy into David Bowie and drugs. He failed out of college but David Bowie’s influence never left him. He enrolled in a very prestigious mime school and never looked back.

He had been initially attracted to Sprinkles because of her beauty but over time knew that he was far too intelligent to ever be with her. Her education, in his eyes, was second rate. The way she had been trained was so American and unrefined. She had earned her clown education at Barnum and Bailey Clown College in Florida. He had always been annoyed with her techniques but had not mentioned being so until this very moment.

“You people are the reason children fear us–you insult their intelligence with your slapstick bullshit.

What I do out there? That’s ART, Sprinkles…that’s art.”

“Oh, get off your high-horse you asshole…your name is Mr. Pickles, for Chrissakes, I mean, come on, how self-righteous can you be?”

She pulled a rubber chicken from her oversized pants and threw it at him in a fit of rage. She screamed obscenities at him as the chicken landed at his feet. He cocked his head and slit his eyes.

“Really? Really?”

Sprinkles had met Mr. Pickles about five months ago–it was her first day with the circus. She had studied for a while in Sarasota at a very renowned clown college and now she felt that it was her chance to prove herself–to really shine. Mr. Pickles would prove to be her teacher. He was so good at what he did–even if he could be annoyingly arrogant about it. She looked past this because she saw only the good. She had a crush.

Theirs was a storybook courtship. Nights spent on the ferris wheel makin’ out, the rich smell of cotton candy and elephant shit permeating the air. Fake flowers. Dying each others’ hair. Playing tricks on the bearded lady and stealing money from the manager. Yes, this was love She remembered thinking to herself. She had been so foolish.

It was only now that she was standing in the trailer that they shared, crying, her rubber chicken lying forsaken and mocked on the floor that she truly realized how foolish she had been. Something occurred to her. “You never even took me on a date!”

“We went on dates all the time. We rode the tilt-a-whirl together not two days ago. I don’t know, I think that was pretty damn special.”

“We never even left the circus, Mr. Pickles. I live at the circus!”

She had a point, but he would never admit it. He had to remain focused and appear angry even though he was getting kind of tired. “What about that goldfish I won you?”

“The goldfish died!! He died just like our love!”

She sobbed dramatically and he rolled his eyes at her. He really was tired. Just being around her did it to him. She was so damn dumb, even if she had a point. That only made things worse.

“Well, you know what? If we’re bringing up pets, how about that damn pet monkey I’ve had to put up with? You think that’s been a holiday for me? It has not. Throwing its shit at me night and day, it’s disgraceful. It’s a disgrace having a monkey. Irresponsible, it smells Godawful and the thing is just…it’s just batshit crazy. I don’t care what you say it’s not CUTE. It’s not ENDEARING….and it DOES NOT help your routine out in the least.”

“I’ll beg you not to bring Waffles into this!”

“Whatever. I’m sick of this. I’m going to bed.” He removed his top hat and threw it, along with his red nose, at the wall.

Mr. Pickles went to bed that night alone. Sprinkles, on the other hand, would sleep in a friend’s trailer nearby–but not before she took a long walk on the circus grounds to clear her head. Most everybody was still cleaning up from the show they had done earlier. Animals were being led into cages and the tent grounds were being cleared of all feces, dropped popcorn, and candy apple sticks. Popcorn and cotton candy stands were carefully rolled away.

She stared at the middle distance, the sun was setting on this dreary scene. What would people say? How could she work in the same company as Mr. Pickles after all this?

Just as she thought these things she caught the eye of the company’s chief balloon animal artist. He’d had a crush on her for a while and had made several inappropriate advances. It was now that he made a penis out of balloons and placed it on his head. A penis hat…just for her.

She blushed and giggled like a girl in middle school might. She had felt so hopeless before, but this made her feel as though overcoming Mr. Pickles wouldn’t be as difficult as she had previously thought. He approached her and introduced himself. “I’m Sir Isaac Fig Newton. What’s your name?”




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