Rudolpho's Comeback by Steven Barrett

Ken struggled to untie the knot in the black bin bag; it was very tight. But then he’d always been good at tying knots, having spent so many years blowing up balloons. Also, he’d never imagined needing to open it again.

Finally, though, he succeeded, and the memories poured out like confetti from a bucket.

Until four years ago, he’d been a clown – Rudolpho – entertaining at fairs and children’s parties. Then the work had completely dried up. A huge part of Ken’s life was inside this bag - days gone now. But the chance to relive it was too good to resist.

Yes, he was really looking forward to meeting up again with his two old mates, George and Bob, fellow clowns who also enjoyed reliving past glories.

Ken removed his carefully packed motley from the bag, and went to the bathroom to get changed.

‘Don’t take too long,’ shouted his wife, Janet, from downstairs. ‘You don’t want to be late.’

After applying the finishing touches to his slap, he added the red nose, and smiled as he recognised his other self in the mirror.

He’d known that coulrophobia was a common fear, but then Stephen King’s It had come along, and the subsequent films. Also, The Joker from Batman, and then, finally, the whole scary clown thing a few years back. The business had fallen apart like a clown’s car.

Ken adjusted his bright green wig, and walked downstairs, which wasn’t easy in size twenty-four shoes.

‘Just in time,’ said Janet, peering out of the window through the curtains. ‘Here they come.’

Janet had always supported him, even when he’d been forced to admit defeat and needed to look for other work. He now delivered pizzas, although he was constantly having to stop himself when making a delivery. Whenever a customer opened their door, he was always tempted to take the pizza out of the box and throw it in their face. It was muscle memory, of course. All those years flinging cream pies.

The doorbell rang.

Ken picked up his favourite car horn.

‘It’s good to have you back,’ said Janet proudly, straightening his oversized bow tie.

She opened the door for him.

Over the past few years, on Halloween, some of the older teenagers in the area had come to the door, demanding money. No costumes or songs, they had just been threatening. Five of them had now congregated on the doorstep.

All five just stood there, staring, their mouths wide open.

Ken grinned and honked his horn.

The teenagers ran away, absolutely terrified.

Ken burst out laughing. I’ll always be a clown, he thought, even if I am considered scary.

Later that night, he packed away his old life again and tied a knot in the bin bag.

But not too tightly. There was always next Halloween.

And he couldn’t wait until tomorrow night when, over a pint or two, he’d tell George and Bob how Rudolpho made his comeback.

Published in Issue #20

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