Humor Magazine

Train Travel Tales #41 – Clown Town

By Gingerfightback @Gingerfightback

fresco_rescue

 

I was not surprised to have a Clown sit next to me. The train route has the highest clown transit in the country, probably due to the Clown Sanctuary situated in the town at the end of the line. Clown Town we call it. You have probably seen the TV adverts for the Clown Sanctuary, where aged, abandoned clowns rescued from all over the world are sent to live out their dotage in slapstick serenity.

Trains have been modified to accommodate these mirth makers with plank storage facilities and a pie throwing carriage available for those with this inkling. Indeed, the Hogarth Tunnel, through which the train travels towards Clown Town, has been remodelled as a huge smiling mouth!

The clown was dressed in clownish garb - bright, oversized and shod in shoes that were at least three feet in length. Balloons flopped loosely from his jacket pockets and a large plastic flower, dripping from recent japery, was in his button-hole. His nose sported a red ball and atop his head a black afro wig sat slightly askew.

He smelled of tobacco. He extended a hand. I shook it and received a mild electric shock from the hidden buzzer.

“Benno, children’s entertainer, balloon contortions a speciality.” He smiled weakly, causing the unevenly applied white face paint and red lipstick to fracture slightly. His teeth where a delicate hue of smoker’s yellow.

Between his legs was a plank, about four feet in height. “Benno” was stencilled on it.

“Nice plank,” I said.

“Cheers. Made it myself.”

“Really, from what?”

“Wood.”

I nodded knowledgeably. I know a thing or two about wood.

The trolley attendant appeared at the entrance to the carriage. She had a number of stains on her shirt of the savoury variety. I presumed the pie throwing carriage was busy. He ordered a cup of tea and a packet of bourbon biscuits, giving the exact money from a yellow leather purse with a smiling clown’s face stitched on either side.

“Would you like some crisps?” The attendant was keen for a double sale from the clown. Clowns are silly with money, everybody knows that. Benno shook his head.

“So, mostly kid’s birthday parties and the like then?” I said.

“Yeah. I fookin’ hate kids. Loathe them. Noisy, thankless little swine. Seventeen years I’ve been doing this bloody job and for what? More apple pie in my face and bangers down my trousers than you could shake a stick at.”

Not a plank. Difficult to shake a plank. Unless you possess enormous upper body strength.

“Years of working with inflatables and my gift remains  unrecognised. My signs of the zodiac, particularly Taurus and Aries are something to write home about. But what do people want? Dogs! Or if you’re really lucky, a rabbit.”

“I know mate,” I sympathised, eager instead to talk about his plank.

“I’ve been to a birthday party in Peterborough. Ungrateful little bleeders. Do you know what one of them said to me?”

“Nice bit of wood?”

“No. He said I was a bit sad. He can’t have been  more than seven. And all the time they’re blowing plastic whistles, like a sheet of white noise.  Can’t they see my magical skill? No, they want to see me fall off a ladder or walk into a door. Or get an electric shock from the plug socket. Little bastards. The mother said she was disappointed with my show. Lacked spontaneity, craft, wit and any interaction with the children.  Do you know what I did?”

“Hit her on the head with your plank?”

“No. Told her to fuck off and thwacked the kid’s hamster with me plank. Hit the poor little fucker clean out of the garden. You should have seen the look on their faces. Shame the dad was a Detective Inspector. Worth it though. There still a bit of fur on the plank. Want to see it?”

“Not really. Nice shoes,” I replied trying to change the subject.

“Cheers. My Joyce made them for me. My lovely Joyce. Cobbler to the clowns of England she was. She left me for a Newsagent a year ago. Lives with him on the Isle of Wight now.  Balloon art or newspapers? I’d have thought there would be no competition. I hope she’s still cobbling though. Gifted with uppers she was.”

An aged, overweight Labrador sitting across the aisle lolloped over to inspect Benno. The aged mutt’s attention turned to the unopened packet of bourbons. Benno stood up and pottered to the toilet,  asking me to keep an eye on his plank. As he waddled away, I admired Joyce’s handiwork. Lovely bit of stitching.

I picked up the plank and held it on my shoulder. I could feel comedic power surging through me.

“Excuse me please,” the voice was calm and measured. I swung round and there was the unmistakable sound of wood thwacking a man. He moaned. He fell, crumpled to be more precise.

It was another clown. More Harlequin than clown. He lay on the floor groaning, with remnants of rodent attached to his cheek. I placed the plank on the seat.

“What have you done?” Benno said on his return, a tinkle drop clearly visible in the crotch of his trousers. “Rollo, Rollo are you OK?”

“Mmmmmnnnnhhhhh,” was the reply.

“Do you know him?”

“He’s a legend in Clown Town is Rollo. Had more bangers down his trousers than anybody else in history. Bollocks blown to buggery but he still entertains.”

“Mmmmmmmmnnnnnnhhhhhh,” groaned Rollo.

News of the planking spread throughout the train. A number of pie pocked Clowns approached Benno and I as we stood over the prone Rollo. Each carried their own plank.

The old dog wisely sidled away, a bourbon in its mouth.

The justice visited upon me was swift, harsh and brutal. And involved splinters. Lots of splinters.

Clown Town is now off limits…….


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