This is my response to the Prompt, which you can find here.

And apologies for not posting yesterday. Events conspired against me somewhat.


clown and ladderI blinked at the sudden light, disorientated and briefly blinded. As my eyesight recovered, the first things I saw were two red shoes. Not normal shoes. These were enormous, the size of divers’ flippers. Patent leather, cracking slightly, the upper on the left shoe pulling away from the welt. I allowed my gaze to drift upwards. Red and white hooped socks. Three quarter length yellow satin trousers, the crotch stained and wet, giving off the damp biscuity smell of cooling urine. A baggy sky-blue blouson with purple pompom buttons. A garishly made-up face, a flashing red nose, a blond curly fright wig. The hands protruding from the arms of the blouson had white gloves with only four digits, like Mickey Mouse.

At first my mind refused to register quite what it was seeing. The shoes were about eighteen inches off the ground. The person wearing them had his back against a paint-splashed ladder leaning on a tentpost. His head was jammed backwards between the top two rungs, tilted at an awkward angle, the chin resting on the top rung. The entire weight of the body was suspended on the chin, the feet in their ludicrous shoes hanging limply down the ladder.

His tongue, a blackish blue colour, gashed in places where the clenched teeth had bitten deeply, was lolling out of the mouth with its artificially bright red lips. A trickle of bloody spittle ran down his chin. The eyes were wide open, staring but sightless, the whites mottled with broken blood vessels.

I took a step forward, about to check uselessly for a pulse, but became aware of another presence in the room. I turned slowly. Sitting in the faux wreckage of a bright yellow circus car was another clown. He looked at me, nodded a greeting, turned to gaze at the body on the ladder, and spoke.

‘I killed him. I killed Mr Moffo. With his ladder. Serves him right, the thieving bastard.’

‘You did?’ My mind still wasn’t working properly.

‘Yeah. He deserved all he got. He were a thief, he took what were mine, what I loved. So I took what were his. I took his life.’

‘What did he steal?’ My mind was waking up now. ‘Somebody you loved? Your wife?’

The clown snorted with laughter. ‘My wife? Naah, he stole something much more valuable than ‘er.’ He started to shout. ‘It were my bloody ladder routine! Mine! I worked it all out, all the falls and spills, and he said it were ‘is! It were mine and he stole it.’ The clown began to cry, big tears rolling down his painted face. ‘He even stole my bloody ladder what had been my dad’s.’

He sniffed loudly, wiped his nose on his sleeve. ‘You don’t steal a clown’s routines,’ he said in a calm, matter-of-fact voice. ‘Nor his old dad’s ladder…’