by Ben Rankin
Two sides of one coin.
|In a single moment, an entire crowd erupts in cheers, laughter and, applause. Happy the Clown, a hero in the performing arts, has finally arrived on his stage. His fans think of him as a sultan of charm who could do no wrong.
Happy is distinctly whimsical; his fans recognize his style in an instant. Covering his face he displays a mask plastered with vibrant colors: red, yellow and orange with a soft pink that circles his eyes. Also displayed on the mask is a sketched smile that stretches from the opposite ends of his face.
With every slapstick routine, the audience goes wild; with every punchline delivered, the fans' stomachs ache with laughter. Even the adults feel animated by Happy's youthful performance. Through the spectacle presented before them, the fans become inspired by the Clown. They believe the Clown feels no dismay, for the world is his paradise; the world is his stage.
Brilliantly produced fireworks signal the show's grand finale. The end of Happy's theatrical appearance leaves his fans gleaming with admiration. With arms wide open in a loving embrace, Happy gazes upon his crowd. In return, the crowd welcomes his love.
They love Happy! Everyone loves Happy!
In a single moment Happy bows, curtains drop, people leave, and he stands there... facing nothing but emptiness. Continuing to stretch out his arms the clown looks out into the empty chairs that used to be filled with his admiring fans. What use is a clown without his cheering fans?
Time begins to move slowly. Time has become the formidable enemy of our hero. Time has slowly created the clown into an emotionless void as he watches years fly by. Time has shown Happy that the world is not the Shangri-la he once knew as a child. Happy resents time and its ambitious destruction of everything that he has ever known.
The clown sits at the edge of his stage completely alone in a motionless atmosphere. The auditorium no longer exhilarates him as a coldness replaces the long-gone friends who made his theater home. With curtains closed behind him, he stares at the ghost of what once made him Happy.
While backstage, he haltingly peels his mask away exposing his true self. The reflection in the mirror sits before him like a grim memory. What the clown sees in the mirror is not what he ever wanted, but everything he never wanted has become his reality. The clown that used to be Happy hangs his mask over the mirror to cover the reflection; his grim reality.
As the clown walks outside, gray clouds conceal the sun’s light. Only rain waits for the clown as he steps out the back door of the theater. Shockingly it seems the clown has his own personal rain cloud. The people of the city stride past him, late for meaningless engagements and appointments, oblivious to the shuffling clown and his absurd personal precipitation.
As he arrives home a sense of peace follows him. Home is an intermission from the hostile outside world. Laying alone he dreams again. He dreams of the lad that he once was: a dreamer, and most importantly, Happy! The same nostalgia that once shot an arrow through the heart of the clown is now an inspiration for his show. The clown impatiently waits for his next show; he waits to be Happy again.
In nothing but a moment, the clown is backstage again. He can hear people screaming his name, impatient for his return. In his hands, he holds his mask with a tight grip. then, In an act of courage, he releases the mask from his grip and allows joyous feelings to return to him.
With no mask hiding his face, freedom overtakes the clown as he parades onto the stage with his loving embrace to his crowd of fans. In return the people cheer, they laugh, and they applaud.
They love Happy. Everyone loves Happy.