Tuesday, November 2, 2010

El Payaso: Part 4

I couldn’t think of anything to say. We sat in silence, as the mariachi version of the 1812 Overture thundered out of the speakers on the wall. A tumbleweed rolled by. Someone across the street yelled “Yahtzee!” In all likelihood, somewhere on the planet a piano exploded.

“I don’t much care for mimes,” I finally said.

“Who does?”

“No,” I continued. “I really, really don’t like mimes.” I took a deep breath. “It all started back in pre-school. A mime came to visit the class.” As I spoke, the room defocused and the 1812 Overture began to fade. “It was supposed to be a regular day. A normal day. A happy day. We were going to make macaroni ducks. Then every-“

I jumped at the gunshot. The Dame was pointing her .38 in the air, a curl of smoke rising from the barrel. “I don’t have time for a full flashback,” she said. “Just give me the quick version.”

“The mime locked me in an invisible box and I cried.”

“Good. The clowns appreciate enthusiasm.”

I shook my head. “I never said I was going to help.”

She smiled. “You think you have a choice?”

“After-school specials taught me that I always have a choice.”

The Dame leaned forward. “They lied.” She reached down to her purse and pulled it into her lap. “The clowns thought you might be reluctant,” she said, as she pulled out a small white box. “So they gave me this.” She placed the box on the table, turning the latch side towards me. There was a picture of a harlequin on the lid.

I flipped the top open. Inside was a small, grayish object. It looked kind of like a deflated sack. I flipped the top shut. “Very funny,” I said.

“No joke,” she responded. “You just assumed the gall bladder you found in the bathroom was yours. It wasn’t. This,” she said, tapping the box, “is.”

There was a noise from the kitchen, as if a can had fallen off a shelf. Neither the Dame nor I looked, as our gazes were locked on one another. Then a red balloon wafted out and over the counter. It slowly sank to the floor from a slow leak, flattening into a small red pool.

“You clowns play hard ball,” I finally said.

“Oh, I’m not a clown,” she responded. “I’m just an idiot who had an organ problem.”

“Then I’ll make you a deal,” I said.

“What could you possibly have that I’d want?”

“Well,” I began as I folded my napkin and put it on the table. “My guess is that our ninja waiter just took out a clown in the kitchen. Ninjas and clowns always travel in packs, so a fight is inevitable. On top of that, we haven’t seen a paper airplane in a few minutes, so that means the mimes are moving. And once the smell of blood hits the air, that gall bladder’s going to go ballistic. We’re about to be in the middle of a four-way ninja, clown, mime, gall bladder battle.”

The Dame froze, eyes going to the kitchen and back.

“What do you say? You want a partner for this dance or are you gonna try it solo?”

Tomorrow: The Finale!

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