The Iron Writer Challenge #175, 2016 Summer Open Challenge #12

clown

The Iron Writer Challenge #175

2016 Summer Open Challenge #12

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

  Authors:

Tina Biscuit, Maureen Larter, Steven L. Bergeron, Roger Campbell

The Elements:

A clown, numbers, A barn, Rabbit Stew

Fired

Tina Biscuit

‘I’m funny how? I mean funny, like I’m a clown? I amuse you?’

‘Well, yeah’, Connie agreed, ‘but right now, I need to use the bathroom, and don’t be using all my lipstick’, she continued, her head slumped against the other side of the door.

The door opened.

‘How do I look?’ Colin asked.

‘Funny.’

‘Funny how?’

‘Don’t start that again; we need to get going. I’ve arranged to meet with Marvin before the show.’

‘Alright, Connie, but why have we got to meet him?’

‘I’ll tell you on the way. I’ve got some news.’

‘Sounds ominous. I’ll get my shoes on.’

He was still lacing up his shoes when Connie came to the door of their trailer.

‘So, what’s the news, Connie?’ he said with a broad grin.

‘I’m going to need a bigger box, Colin.’

They walked over to Colin’s car; he stepped in, and opened the door for her.

‘I’m not going in your ridiculous car’, she turned, and started walking.

She walked in silence. Colin drove next to her for a minute, until they arrived at Marvin’s office.

‘Are you finding it harder to get into the box, Connie?’

‘Kind of, but I’m going to be getting a lot bigger’, she said with a whimper. ‘I want to ask Marvin for a rise, or see if we can get you a new job’.

‘What’s brought this on, Connie?’

‘I’m pregnant, Colin. We’re going to hear the patter of tiny feet.’

‘Big feet’, Colin corrected her.

‘Can’t you be serious for a minute?’

‘No.’

‘Unless our numbers come up on the lottery, we have to play this one sweetly’, she chided.

Marvin came out of his office, pulling a gold pocket-watch from his garish waistcoat.

‘Well, if it isn’t my favourite contortionist and clown; to what do I owe this pleasure?’ he said, ushering them inside.

‘It seems we’re asking for a raise’, Colin blurted out.

‘Or a new job’, Connie added.

‘How about a knife-thrower? That’s a fine act’, Marvin offered.

‘Yeah’, said Connie, ‘a clown that couldn’t hit a barn door, throwing sharp things at the pregnant lady – that’s going to pull in the crowds.’

‘How’s your balance, Colin?’

‘You’re not going to get me up on the high-wire again, Marvin, unless you fix those safety nets’, Colin replied.

‘I’ll have a word with Mephisto, maybe he can help’, said Marvin.

‘I can’t do magic’, said Colin.

‘No, but I was thinking he could keep you in rabbit-stew for a while’, he said, wryly.

‘You do know that he uses the same rabbits every night, Marvin? He doesn’t really magic them out of his hat’, said Connie.

Marvin stood up; the show was starting.

‘We’ll talk about this later, guys. I think Bobby’s about to do his big entrance.’

They startled as the explosion resonated through the canvas walls of the big top. The gasps of the astonished audience accompanied a three-second flight. The lightning-bolt atop Bobby the human cannonball’s helmet pierced, and ripped, into Marvin’s office. The spent shell of Bobby crumpled to the floor.

‘Looks like your career path has taken a new trajectory, Colin.’

What Am I Observing?

Roger Campbell

He stood motionless. His eyes opened to the point they hurt. His mouth opened to the point it hurt. What he was seeing was not possible.  Slowly Brian scanned the street in both directions. 

All the structures along the road were barns. While a rich assortment of styles and colors, they were barns.  Barns situated so tightly together as if to imitate row houses.  And it seemed as if each had a different hue.

“What the heck?” Brian slapped his face, opened and shut his eyes several time and pinched himself. “This ain’t possible.” The barns did not go away. 

“What the heck yourself. I’m late.” As the clown hurried past Brian, it tipped its very under size top hat and honked a crimson nose.

Before Brian could react another clown approached. After tipping his hat and honking his nose it asked a question. “Pardon me. Do you know where barn 21 is?”

After looking at several barns’ numbers, Brian replied. “Well, this one is number 19, so the next one should be number 21.”

“Huh?” The clown wiggled his mouth and eyes. “Ah no. The next one is 42.” 

“Than that’s 21.” Brian turned to the opposite direction and pointed. 

“No, no. That’s 13.” A doubting clown stared at Brian. “Are you sure you know your numbers?”

“Hey, why ya’ll standing there looking like a couple of statues?” A third clown asked as he walked past. “The rabbits just announced their stew’s ready. Come on.” He waved for the pair to join him. “Heard a rumor they actually put some real food in it this time. None of that green stuff they like.” With a tip of his hat and a spin of his tie the clown hurried off.

Brian took a deliberate look at the street in both directions, the barns and the clowns. As he did so all the barns slowly changed colors and numbers. It did not surprised Brian when he noticed a rabbit looking clown standing beside him.

“You’re the same clown I’ve been talking to, aren’t you?”

“Oh, I say. That is a most rude question. Of course I am the same one. Do you think I changed my looks?” It held up a finger. “ Do not answer that. A clown never changes their appearance.”

Brian took another look around. “This ain’t real. . . .  Where am I?”

“The question to be rendered is not, Where am I? That is very clear. You are there?” The clown pointed at Brian’s feet. “A question which would be more appropriate would be, What am I observing?”

“Okay, What am I observing?”

“You are not only observing, but are also participating in a dream. One which could be define as a very strange, perhaps even weird, dream.”

“How does this end?” Brian watched the barns change again.

“When you wake up.” The clown began moving his arm in a circular motion. “Which will not happen until you go back to sleep.”

WHAM! A fist slammed into Brian’s jaw. 

Harold the GreatSteven Bergeron

Steven L Bergeron 

“Ladies and Gentlemen for your viewing pleasure we have, what’s clearly our top ten entertainers this company has ever produced. We present to you Harold the Great.”

With that introduction, it will surely going to be my last. My little car barrelled it’s way out the pearly gates hitting every barrel insight. Harold the Great had become this companies bubbling fool. The entire crowd was roaring in there seat at my antics. Well almost everyone, this old man in the top row sat there motionless, his eyes fixed on all my moves.

I ‘m a Stewart and this was the end, I was all clowned out. I proceeded to my trailer to pack up my life. As I poured my last ounce of JD,a knock suddenly appeared my door . I ignored it thinking it was the ringmaster with my last pay check.

“Mr Great, I would like to have a word with you?” That voice so dead, it took me back to our last talk.

“What can I do for your old man?”

“I have a proposition for you.”

I opened the door looking him straight in the eye.

“After all of these years , why should I listen to you?”

“If not for me, do it for your mother. You know every Sunday she’s been cooking her “Country Corn bread with rabbit stew” with the barn windows wide open, hoping the aroma would call you back.”

“So you come crawling back, hoping that I forgive you.”

“Something like that, it was your mother’s idea that I come tonight. She threatened me to make amends tonight or she would be gone by the time I get back. Can I come in? We can talk better in private.”

He took the couch as I finished my last swig.

“I’d offer you some but this is all I got left. You know I saw you in the bleachers just staring.”

“Well I never been much for rodeos or clowns. But if it’s any consolations you were good.”

“Thanks too bad it’s going to be my last.”

“Oh”

“I make a fool of myself out there tonight. It’s the first time back here since I left. The crowd made me feel like a fool. I’m a Stewart and should be proud of it.”

“Yes you are a Stewart , and like all of us a strong head on your shoulders. What you are doing leaving all of this behind, takes guts. I was wrong all those years ago calling you a fool. I learnt something to tonight, it doesn’t feel all that bad to admit when you are wrong. Come on let me gives you a hand with all of this?”

For the first time in my life I understood where my father was coming from. And that folks was the last anyone ever heard of Harold the Great. The Stewarts were a family again, till our next big outburst.

HavenMaureen Larter

Maureen Larter

They sat, huddled together for warmth, in the barn. They hoped no-one had seen them sneak across the field at the back of the lonely farmhouse. Fortunately it had been cloudy and the moon had only shone filtered light to ease their escape from the soldiers.

Aaron spoke first. His voice was muted but sounded loud in the tense silence of the barn.

“We need food.”

Ester stood and looked outside, her eyes scanning the field for anything that moved.

“The soldiers might search here in the morning – we have to keep moving.” She looked at her husband, registering his tired eyes and hunched and troubled stance. “We have to get Abigail somewhere safe to have her baby.”

Joseph nodded.

“The rabbit stew we had two days ago,” he said, the sadness permeating each word, “won’t sustain us for much longer. We will have to ask the owners of this farm for some food.”

‘But what if they are Nazi sympathizers,” Lamar hissed. “They may turn us in. We will be shot!”

“I’ll go.” Abigail said quietly.

They all shook their heads.

“You can’t, my love.” Aaron clung to her, yet knowing the desperation would change their minds.

“I must,” she said. “Look at me – eight months pregnant. Surely they wouldn’t turn me away.”

She twisted away from Aaron and slipped outside just as the moon shone brightly through a break in the clouds.

The family shrank back into the shadows as Abigail made her way toward the farmhouse. The wave of fear followed her, but she moved purposefully on. The knock seemed to echo across the valley, and Aaron jerked forward, ready to run for his wife, but the door opened almost immediately and Abigail disappeared inside. The family, hidden still, and anxious, took a collective breath and waited.

Although it felt like hours, it was only some fifteen minutes later that Abigail re-appeared.

She beckoned.

“Do you think she’s being forced to get us?” Lamar whispered, dread breaking his voice into a whimper.

“Don’t be a clown, Lamar,” Aaron spoke harshly filled with the same fear. “Your sister wouldn’t put us in danger. She’d have thought of something to warn us.”

The family crept out of the barn and carefully moved to the shadows near Abigail.

“Is it okay?” Ester whispered.

“Yes – come!” Abigail grinned with relief. “I knew we were safe when I noticed the man of the house reading ‘Numbers’ in the bible.” She held out her hand as her family hesitantly stumbled towards her. “Come in, come in,” she repeated. ” Levi welcomes us.”

They had a safe haven … for now.

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The Iron Writer Challenge #167 – 2016 Summer Open #4

clown  The Iron Writer Challenge #167

2016 Summer Open Challenge #4

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

  Authors:

SzeTeng Ong, Geoff Gore, Vance Rowe

The Elements:

A Clown

Numbers

A Barn

Rabbit Stew

Hear Their Roar

SzeTeng Ong

The only sound lingering in his ears was the echo of the lions’ roar, the low feral sound undeterred by the fuzzy sound recording. A horn blared to signal the end of the clown’s talk and he shot to his feet, shoving his way out till he was free from the hall’s confines. Afterwards, with the school a speck in the distance behind him, his gaze settled on the clouds trying not to imagine them as lions lying on their side after a good whipping.

~~~

“Didn’t you enjoy the talk at all? You used to love clowns, Jason.”

“That was before I knew how they treated animals,” he muttered, picking at his cutlery restlessly.

Gingerly a bowl was lowered to his placemat. A single sniff of the aroma of the brown substance was all it took to sound the alarm. “Rabbit stew?”

“Only the best!”

“I thought I told you to stop!”

“You will eat whatever I bring to the table or nothing at all,” a low voice spoke, menace burning underneath. He didn’t have to turn around to know that it was him, donning a wolf-skin, still sweating after hunting.

There was no room for argument in his tone and he did not want to feel his father’s wrath. Fist clenched, he spat into the bowl of rabbit stew and slid out of the kitchen with his mother already starting her berating.

~~~

8 mice, 3 pigs, 1 cat, 13 of them.

The 13th was him, greeted by 12 voices welcoming him back to the abandoned barn. They were eager to have their go at prancing in puddles after the light shower before, and the headcount was all the more harder to carry out. He stepped gingerly as thin-tailed bodies scuttled around his feet, while Twelve meowed and wound her tail around his legs. The pigs’ pen was noisy, and he smiled at the game of tag ongoing. After a few minutes the speckled pig scurried out of the barn for her daily walk, drawing from him a smile as he took her place.

~~~

The next day was tense, though the clown had not returned for another talk. He was silent, shifting his attention to the dish she was cooking instead. The pot was bubbling just like yesterday, but the scent was different. “What is this?”

“Pork soup, since you didn’t want rabbit stew?”

Speckled black and white, the pig skin hanging by her side served only as a trigger. His fists clenched and he refused to look up as the pot churned cheerfully.

“How’s the pork?”

As his father strode towards him, he grabbed the pot’s handle, tipping the steaming hot soup over the stove. From behind him his mother yelped but made no move towards the flying liquid. The wolf pelt could only raise an arm to block himself, the boiling soup splashing all over his face and torso.

The howl rang low and long. It lacked the buzzing of a sound recording, but the roar pounded against his skull, urging him away from Fifteen’s dried skin and cooked thighs. Roar still ringing in his ears, he took flight again.

Rabbit Stew

Vance Rowe

The perfume wafted by his nose as he sat at the bar with his drink. He turned and saw a beautiful lady taking the seat next to him.

“Is this seat taken?” she asked with a smile.

“No, it isn’t,” was his simple reply. He then tried to gather the courage to say something to her when the bartender walked over and asked her what she was having.

“A gin and tonic, please.”

“Put that on my tab, Pete.”  The lady thanked him.

“That is an intoxicating perfume. What’s it called?” he asked as he tried to make conversation with the beauty next to him.

“You like it? It’s a new perfume called ‘By the Numbers’. It got rave reviews in the fashion mags so I had to try it.”

When the bartender returned with her drink, he looked at the man and asked, “Another drink, Rabbit?”

The man winced when he heard the bartender call him Rabbit and with a sigh he said, “Yes.”

“Rabbit? There has to be a story there,” the woman said with a smile.

“Yes, I am afraid there is. To make it shorter, I used to be a track star in college and they called me rabbit because I was so quick and sadly, it is one of those names that stick with you.”

“I think it’s cute.”

The man blushed a bit and replied, “Thank you, but I hate it.”

As they nursed their drinks they got to know each other a bit better. When they finished their drinks, the woman asked, “Do you want to go to my place?”

“Yes, I do,” he replied with a smile.

“We’ll take my car and then I will bring you back here later,” the woman offered and the man graciously accepted.

They climbed into her car and they both laughed as a drunk clown staggered up to the car and he knocked on the passenger side window. “Open it and see what he wants,” she said with a chuckle. The man opened the window and the woman said, “Hey, clown. This is Rabbit.”

“Good-night, Rabbit,” the clown replied with and squirted a liquid from the flower on his lapel into the man’s face and he passed out. The woman then went through the man’s pockets and found his car keys. She handed them to the clown and then she drove off with the unconscious man. She drove to a diner that had a huge barn out behind it and drove up to the barn. The clown followed them in the man’s car and he dragged the unconscious man from the car, stripped his clothes off and she went through the pockets. He tied the man to a table and began sharpening his knives.

The next day a truck driver walked into the diner and asked the cook what the special is today. The cook chuckled and replied, “Rabbit Stew.”

Just NumbersGeoff Gore

Geoff Gore

“What the hell happened back there?”

I look across to the driver’s seat. The clown’s red rimmed eyes are focused on the road ahead. He says nothing, instead brutally jerking the gear stick, taking a sharp left before slamming an oversized foot sharply down to the floor. The car shudders in protest but takes the corner and once again accelerates.

I watch as the numbers on the dash climb steadily back toward 100.

I was supposed to be the ringmaster, but it’s the clown who’s calling the shots now. I look down at the blood splattered across my blue suit pants. It’s already turning a crusty brown, indistinguishable from the remnants of last night’s rabbit stew. Last night, when we went through the plan one last time. Except…this wasn’t part of the plan.

“This is bad. This is very bad.”

“Shut up!” Barked the clown.

“We need to get this car off the road.”

“We need to get to the hideout, like we planned.”

“Like we planned? What the hell happened to ‘like we planned’ when you decided to turn the bank lobby into a war zone?”

“The disguises have been good up until now aint they? How was I supposed to know that woman would have a clown phobia?”

“You didn’t have to fire! We agreed, the guns were for show. I didn’t even know yours as loaded.”

“What was I supposed to do?”

“Well not kill her for a start!”

“She was screaming the place down. When people scream at me I get jumpy, okay?

“You shot a woman and her child for God’s sake!”

There was a long silence before the clown spoke again. “We’ll be okay.”

We’ll be okay? What about that lady and her kid?”

“What can I say? Mistakes were made. Son, let me give you some advice, if you wanna survive in this game you gotta try not to think about it too hard.”

“I want out. I want no further part in this. I can still see the kid’s face!”

“Don’t think about their faces, otherwise you’ll go insane. They were collateral damage. Just numbers. Granted, you gotta try and keep those numbers down, but its numbers, that’s all.”

We’re on the open road now. The clown starts to relax a little. One hand leaves the steering wheel and fumbles around for something inside his oversized tunic.

“We’re nearly there,” he announces.

Ahead looms the abandoned barn. We slow to a halt and the clown looks across from behind the steering wheel. “You sure you still want out?”

I steel a glance back at the two sacks of cash lying across the back seat, but all I can see are the faces again. Eventually I just nod.

“That’s too bad.” He pulls the Glock from his tunic and points it directly at my head. “But then again two hundred grand goes a whole lot further when you don’t have to split it in two.”

“What?”

“Don’t take it personally. It’s just numbers.”

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