They met at the pharmacy next to the theatre—her in a colourful costume, him in all black. He was a lighting director on dinner break, and she’d just finished a shift at the hospital. The Harlequin’s suit, the rainbow wig, the red ball nose, the garish makeup, and the oversized shoes she wore outside of work hours had become her silent statement on society. Amateur clowns and their devices were everywhere, so why shouldn’t she engage in a little mockery?

His aloofness was nothing of the sort. A dread of life’s unknowns had forced him inward. Most people mistook this for spiritual detachment of some kind, when really, he was just a prisoner of his own mind. But she wasn’t like most people. Her perception was keen and spotting fearful men from twenty paces or more was easy because their eyes looked into their skulls. Backward eye syndrome she called it, and his was an extreme case, so much so that her foot shot forward; far enough to bring him down from his ivory tower. He’d been staring at his phone while rushing by her in the birthday card aisle. Breaking his fall meant letting go of his phone which then cartwheeled across the floor before coming to rest in front of a Hallmark display. In Banana Years You’re Bread, read the closest card.  

He was too young to command respect, yet too old for relevance. Even the number of his age seemed divided against itself; what with the three and the five standing stiffly, back-to-back, poised for a duel over the loss of youth. Past woes and future struggles had monopolized his mind, forcing him into a permanent state of yellow alert. Weariness ensued along with a reluctance to participate in what he called the sad circus of life. A few years previous his doctor diagnosed him with high blood pressure and this, of course, was a symptom of being at odds with his surroundings. Generally speaking, he despised surprises. Unexpected developments were viewed as threats to personal sovereignty not opportunities to grow. Being in constant retreat from the world robbed him of what it means to be alive. Life’s daily bread had been left uneaten. Black curtains covered the windows of his mind. He needed to be broken out of his own jail, she thought.

Turning away from the birthday card, he glared at her oversized shoe lingering in the middle of the aisle. Then she stepped forward, introducing herself as Percy Flage the Unsuspecting Clown before offering to help him up—an offer gruffly refused. Next came the pat apology, implying an accident had occurred, but he was having none of it because there seemed to be a soft malice in her voice and a knowing gleam in her eye. Can you at least tell me your name so I can write you a formal letter of contrition? His eyebrows lifted in silent rebuke as she pulled a notepad and an absurdly large pen from her pocket. Come on, tell me your name, she insisted. You tripped me and now you want my name… Are you mocking me or something? It was clearly an accident and now I’d like to write you a formal letter of contrition. What you did was no accident. Yes, it was. You’re lucky my phone didn’t break when it fell. Just tell me your friggalicious name. Friggalicious? Look, my name’s Sebastian, and this’ll be the first and last time we meet. No, it won’t. Yes, it will. How’s about I address this letter to Bash, she replied, her soft malice and knowing gleam still apparent. Nobody calls me Bash, and I don’t want your letter.

Pink and blue on black. Those three colours were destined to play against each other on the Harlequin-patterned banner that hoisted itself above their love, half-masted by the constant nearness of death and torn by the cold, prevailing wind. It was love in the loosest sense but it found the heart’s deepest soil, and there it became immortal. Presently, however, Bash was not in the mood for love of any kind, or in any sense. He wanted to get away from her as fast as possible—that is, until her costume reminded him of the lighting palette he’d been struggling with, just prior to dinner break. The solution to his problem was right there in front of his face. In a flash of Spanish pink and Egyptian blue, the cold resentment he felt toward her melted into a warmth of gratitude and at once he found himself charmed instead of irritated. Having seen the sudden change in his demeanor, she folded her arms under her breasts, framing them like Caravaggio’s fruit. The air conditioning in the pharmacy had hardened her nipples. The stolen glance was quick but didn’t go unnoticed. Take a picture, they’ll last longer, she said, blunt as a ball-peen hammer. No, I—I was admiring your costume, came his mealy-mouthed response. Oh, well, thanks, I just got off work at the hospital; I’m the entertainment in the pediatric cancer ward, she explained, knowing he’d lapse into awkward silence… It’s okay, everyone’s like you, they go quiet after I tell them what I do. Looking now for the first time into her brown eyes, he noticed her prettiness, plain to see beneath the makeup. Then an image of him fucking her flickered in the middle distance of his mind, within range of her perception. I’m on Instagram, why don’t you look me up? You might also be interested to know that I go by Kinky the Curious Clown on OnlyFans, and her costume’s much tighter than Percy’s. His silence went from awkward to stunned. Don’t be shy, Bash, we’re all sexual beings, even us clowns, she said while forming her unwritten letter of contrition into a paper airplane, launched at a downward angle. When it connected with the crotch of his pants, she bobbed a curtsy, turned, and walked away.           


7 thoughts on “Friggalicious

  1. Hi Aaron,

    How long now? I’ve lost count. Everyone older, perhaps wiser, maybe more polite, less self-destructive. I think when we write on this site, it’s as if we are fresh heart surgeons. The patient usually dies, but every once in a while, we have success. Our knives work. Life gets another chance and we turn the page, sharpen the blade. The thing I see is the interpretation of real events, real people, but in odd ways. Interesting ways. That is where you have got it right with this one. But allow me to add a positive criticism. Let’s look at this passage: “When he turned to leave, she asked him his name and he said Sebastian. I think I’ll call you Bash, she said in response. What do you mean you’ll call me Bash; nobody calls me Bash, and besides, we don’t know each other? We will, though, she answered.” Okay, given what came before and what comes after, let’s imagine this: She digs him in the moment. That immediate attraction thing.
    And she asks, “What’s your name?” He says, “Does it matter?” She says, “Yes.” We get an internal thought from him, something “odd” , it needs to be “odd”, even unconnected, something that somehow vaguely belongs. Then he says, “Sebastian.” She says, “Okay, Bash'” and then she laughs with more internal thoughts from him. If these two are to become a thing, then the first meeting and realization there might be something there, should be a homerun or goal for you. My advice is to reconsider those lines related to the first recognition of what might be. Okay, I recently wrote this to someone: more and more, I am on a spaceship or maybe a masted ship from the 1800s. either way, I often feel alone. you are a lifeline, the message in the bottle, the probe to a planet unknown and like a captain in the dark, I stand on the quarterdeck, at the controls in the glow of screens, looking out on all I behold … born alone, live alone, die alone. yet, here I am, set sail, adrift upon wave after wave. occupying the cracks of myself. love. duke

    Did I see you see me?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Duke. The therapy clown character has been kicking around the back forty of my mind for a while and now it’s come to the fore, demanding my full attention. As usual, this bit will go through a slew of revisions, so I’ll do my best to work in your suggestions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Aaron,

      As usual, you are too kind in contemplating my ideas. But then, I think we all made the agreement that THats was to be a learning experience for all of us, me, you, Jan and any others who wanted to get involved. Trust is at the heart of the enterprize. Sometimes only a tiny piece of what we suggest makes it into the writing, but that alone, I think, is a good thing. As you know, too often writers are overly sensitive to positive criticism. I remember once I offered to give developmental criticism to a published writer and she wrote back that the story I was talking about had won a short story competition in Australia. Sorry, I said, it is really good, no doubt and it was, but there was one part that could have been improved. The story was on ReadWave. Remember those guys in London? When it went bust they offered to sell it to me. Ha. Okay, your start has a lot of potential and the clown character is great. Reminds me a bit of the story about me dating a crisis actor. I thought that one was pretty good, but it never went anywhere. Keep expanding your novels. What are you up to now, three? Published anyway. Love. Duke

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Duke. Thank you. Your cynicism is always appreciated. Re: positive/negative criticism: These days, I’m pretty egalitarian when it comes that, which is to say, if it makes for an overall improvement, then I’ll do my best to heed it, regardless of where it came from.
        PS Congratulations on your new book of poems. I’ll try and win a copy, but that skill testing question of Jan’s is a doozy! How about asking what number you’re thinking of between one and five, as that’ll greatly improve our odds here on THs.

        Liked by 1 person

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