|It was a dark stormy night and the Bobo the Clown was sitting at his makeup desk. He hadn’t stopped crying since it all happened. He had seen a lot in his circus career but tonight was the exception. He threw his wig in the corner of his tent as he reached for his bottle of wine. He took a drink of the wine and grimaced as the warm liquid ran down his throat. He didn’t really care it eased the pain in his heart and his head. He got up from his chair and looked in the mirror. The bandaid on his head was still there for all the good it did. He strolled to the door of his tent and looked at the lightning flash in the southern sky. What a night it had been and now it was only going to get worse. He took another long swing of wine and sat back down in his chair. What went wrong? How could everything have gotten all screwed up?
It all started when the man with the badge showed up. He was an IRS agent looking for the manager. It seemed the Manager had not been paying his taxes. Bobo simply pointed out the manager’s trailer and went about his business. He didn’t think anything about it but the circus manager not paying his taxes didn’t bode well. Bobo entered the big top tent with the three center rings with a huge grin on his face and cheered silently. How excited he had been as a little boy when the clowns, the acrobats, and trapeze artists performed for the cheering throngs. Gone are the days of yesteryear Bobo thought with a grimace. No one wanted to be a part of the circus anymore living the unfettered life of a gypsy. All the quality people were in Paris, New York, or London working seasonal shows and staying at home.
The grin on Bobo’s face darkened and he shivered. He would like to live a house all his own someday. Nothing fancy mind you just something to keep him warm and dry. Anything would be better than that old tent he was living in. But there was nothing else he could do. There was nothing else he would do. Bobo the Clown was a circus performer and he was damned proud of it. Lulu the Stallion rider was finishing her practice runs as he entered the tent. She waved at him as he walked to where his prop trunk sat. My she was a beautiful woman even in her late fifties. He thought about the first time he had seen her in that little costume and he blushed. Good thing he had his makeup on!
He found his trunk and the props all in good working order. Lulu was riding as well as she ever had. The flying Everson’s were still dazzling after twenty years. Too bad it wasn’t twenty years ago thought Bobo. The ticket manager had promised the performers some good money tonight. Ticket sales had been through the roof. Everyone was trying to do the very best to put on a great show. Now it was Bobo’s turn to go through his routine. He dazzled his comrades with the best jokes, antics, and magic tricks her knew. It was going to be a great night indeed!
Finally, the crowds started filing in. The adults came to recapture a little of their childhood. The children came to be awed by the elephants, the giraffe, and the clowns in little cars. The sounds and the smells Bobo simply adored about the circus surrounded him. He was in heaven!
Suddenly, the manager rushed onto backstage. He couldn’t be the Ring Announcer tonight someone would have to take his place. He was tied up with settling the books and he simply couldn’t stop. Everyone stared at him dumbfounded. How could he even suggest such a thing? To change right before a performance was tantamount to suicide. It was very bad luck! He insisted that someone would have to play dual roles tonight. Bobo volunteered since he was the only member to have ever been a Ring Announcer. He would simply include it in his act. The Manager was ecstatic! The performers reluctantly agreed. On went the show!
After the first few moments the show went off without a hitch. Then, Bobo saw the man with the badge enter the tent. He was looking for someone. He motioned behind him and twenty more men entered the tent. Bobo’s heart began to race, his throat cracked, and his palms began to sweat. This wasn’t bad luck this was a disaster! When the men left the big tent Bobo began to relax and the show proceeded smoothly. It was turning out to be a great night until the skunk entered the ring. Bobo smelled it before he saw it. Then, the horses smelled it. Finally, the crowd got a whiff of it.
Bobo had decided he would bear the burden of the ill smelling creature if he could catch it. Until someone from the crowd screamed …skunk…and all Bobo could do was cry. The horses panicked setting off a stampede. The crowd knocked over the barricades around the lion’s cages. The lion’s reaching through the bars with fangs bared clawed several people as they got too close. The horses terrified by the skunk and the screaming crowds trampled Lulu and her companion riders. Lulu received the worst of the injuries with a broken bone in her leg. All Bobo could do was cradle Lulu’s head and cry.
Bobo remembered walking into his tent but he had to stop and think about the rest. What had happened? Why had they been detained and questioned? They couldn’t find the Manager anywhere on the circus grounds. They had arrested the ticket manager for tax evasion but had finally released him after some hard explaining. The man with the badge informed that the circus and all of its holdings would be sold to pay off the back taxes estimated at over $1,000,000. The performers were stunned. They had three days to remove their belongings. Three days to remove thirty years of memories. The wine bottles were beginning to pile up in Bobo’s tent.
The tears began to run down Bobo’s cheeks again as the rain began to fall outside. The thunder boomed and the lightning flashed and it all came together. Bobo understood what went wrong. It was the Manager’s fault that son-of-a bitch. That thieving bastard had been what some called “the subtract” or skimming them for years. Always telling them they were broke and couldn’t pay them. Well, they had worked hard to fix that. Everybody had worked damn hard to make ends meet. Now they had nothing. And what was supposed to be theirs was going to be taken away from them.
The wine bottle shattered in Bobo’s hand. The pain of the glass cutting his hand brought him to the present. He knew what he had to do. He stripped off his grimy clothes and took a quick shower. It had to look convincing –like he was leaving. He packed what personal items he owned into a suitcase and set it outside. He reached down and pulled on the support peg of the tent. He watched in grim satisfaction as the tent collapsed. If the feds wanted his stuff they would have to work for it. He grabbed his suitcase and went to Lulu’s tent. He would meet her later on in New Orleans. He had some money stashed there. They could live on it for a while. They would make a good couple he knew. He would take care of her for as long as they lived. But first he had some unfinished business.
He made a beeline for the Lion Tamer’s tent. He would have what he needed. He only hoped it was empty. No one needed to know who did this. Just that it had been done. He would make sure the Tamer wouldn’t be blamed. He stood outside of the tent and called for the Tamer but he didn’t answer. Good the coast was clear. He went inside found the big trunk and looked inside –there it was the fully loaded Weatherby .45 revolver. It would do the job nicely! He straightened the clothes and closed the trunk. He knew where to find that weasel. He walked quickly from the tent to the giraffe stalls.
Bobo entered the stalls and looked around. He had to be careful that bastard was so spooked he’d shit his pants if a fly farted. There was no telling what he would do. Bobo needed to be real careful. Some movement in the corner caught Bobo’s eye and he walked toward it.
“Bobo! What are you doing here?” The Manager whined.
“I’m here to settle my account with you. You dirty rat!” snarled Bobo.
“Wh-what are you going to do? Shoot me?”
“Yeah! For starters, then I’m going to watch you die. You ruined our lives.”
“Oh, please! Don’t kill me! I’m sorry.”
“SORRY! You’re sorry! Do you think I’m going to listen to you snivel? You stole thirty years of my life and I aim to get it back with interest.” Bobo roared.
The Manager crawling on his knees pleaded with Bobo. “Don’t kill me. I’ll show you where it is every penny of it.”
Bobo stopped. He lowered the gun slightly. “Every penny of what?”
“The money the feds are looking for. I hid all of it.” The Manager giggled maniacally.
Bobo wondered and stared. Finally, he shook his head and cocked the hammer, “You’re lying!”
“NO!” The Manager shrieked.
“Why?” Bobo asked grimly.
“Because I’m not lying.” The Manager sniffed.
“Get up and stand over there!” Bobo ordered.
“What are you going to do?” The Manager wailed.
“I’m going to tie you up, then you’re going to tell me where the money is. If it’s there I’ll let you go, agreed?”
The Manager nodded and gave Bobo elaborate instructions on how to find the money. Bobo looked at him and nodded his head. “I’ll be back.”
Bobo left the giraffe stalls sticking the gun in his belt. People were wandering everywhere looking for the Manager asking all kinds of questions. Bobo was able to skirt around them and he found his way to the cotton candy tent. There hidden under loose boards was the money Bobo was looking for. Now Bobo’s greedy mind began to grind away. Was this the only stash or was there more somewhere else? No time to wonder about that. Got to get his money out of here before the feds found it.
Four suitcases were stuffed underneath that cotton candy machine. Bobo struggled with each case finally pulling them all out. He raced through the circus grounds he knew better than his own hands. He successfully dodged all the feds before he wound up at the trash wagon. He would drive that out in the morning and no one would bother it before he left the next morning. Now it was time for some unfinished business. He stalked off toward the giraffe stalls.
The Manager looked up longingly at Bobo’s grim face as he entered the giraffe stalls, “Did you find it?”
Bobo shook his head, “No, the feds beat me to it. They found every dollar.”
“No! That can’t be. No one else knew where I hid that money. They never could have gotten in there without my help.” The Manager moaned.
“Be that as it may. There’s no money there. It’s gone. Now it’s time to pay.”
Bobo reached around the man he hated and retied the gag. It would be easier to do it right here. No need to carry him off. He would plant the little weasel in the ditch at the end of the building. The Manager’s eyes grew wide as Bobo holstered the gun and began swinging the shovel. The sound of the ringing metal and the sickening squish were drowned out by the thunderstorm outside.
Bobo awoke the next morning refreshed and invigorated. He felt like a new man. The early morning dew shimmered like new diamonds as the sun rose. The feds were still there but they still hadn’t found the Manager. They never would Bobo chuckled. He grimaced as he bent over to tie his shoes. He smiled. He never felt better. And just like he had every morning for the past thirty years Bobo mounted the trash wagon. With a sentimental smile on his face he turned the key and off they went.
Bobo dumped the trash some distance from the old circus grounds. Some thought it was kind of funny to see an old man carrying four suitcases and a shovel but Bobo didn’t mind –he was happy. He went and visited his sweetheart in the hospital and took her to a little white house with yellow trim he ha paid for in cash. He knew the law might one day figure out what happened but he didn’t worry. The feds had what they wanted and he had what he wanted. Now he was going to make sure everyone else did as well. So, with a stroke of his keyboard he sent every member of the circus crew an invitation to a reunion. They met in the backyard of Bobo the Clown and Lulu the Stallion Rider to gargle down champagne and relive fond memories of the free and unfettered life of the circus performer.
© Copyright 2003 Spencer Williams (UN: twinhammers at Writing.Com).
All rights reserved.
Spencer Williams has granted Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.
|Log In To Leave Feedback|