The Clown Trilogy
by Pasquale Capocasa
She took the jar of mustard
from the table, my neighbor did,
and with a strong fluid motion threw
it at the clown in the cook's hat.
The clown, gesturing wildly
with a barbecue fork,
never saw it coming; it caught
him just behind the left ear.
He coughed once like a cold engine
and slid loosely to the ground,
the lump growing magically
before my eyes.
The woman nodded
in grim satisfaction and marched
toward the house. She was
mad, my neighbor was.
Meanwhile, the clown,
who happened to be the mugger's
husband, stared into nothing,
his legs twitching
like a beetle on its back.
I stared after his wife,
swallowing hard. She looked
so good from behind,
especially with her anger pushing
her. But, my personal lust
notwithstanding, I'm glad
the two of them live downwind.
the clown, was really
a very nice guy. He had his
high spots; but nonetheless,
he was a bonafide clown.
One day he told
his wife he was going
to walk the dog (his wife
actually smiled at him)
and was gone for six months.
He came back
with the dog and a broken foot,
in the middle of the night,
blind drunk, and promptly
set fire to the garage.
His wife was beating
him with one of his crutches
when the fire engines came.
The dog was yelping
and jumping around,
really enjoying himself.
Fun times again!
He's Gone Again
Two things happened after the big fire:
My neighbor took the pledge; "No more
drinking, honest!" And his wife took
to smiling more. They both gained
weight, looked less harried, and made
less noise, but I was still uneasy.
I'd come home from work and glance
down the hill looking for some telltale
sign of mayhem. Maybe I'd see the two
of them playing badminton or volleyball
with the kids, the dog yelping and jumping
with them, but I was still uneasy.
The fourth of July came. We celebrated
in the park with all the neighbors,
and it went like a church picnic. I relaxed
a little after that; still, I would
glance out the window at their house
almost every night before I went to bed.
Maybe expectations push events, I don't
know; but on a hot, pulsing, August night,
with air-conditioners gasping in every window,
the clown stumbled over his wife
and the bartender from TwoJacks bar mixing
it up in the back of her new Volvo wagon.
Like three startled chickens, they bolted
in different directions. The bartender
headed home, where later, his wife would
grimly tell the police he had been there
the entire night. The wife ran to her sister's
and stubbornly refused to talk to anyone.
The clown, quite naturally, considering
what he had in mind, headed straight home.
He dug out a stashed bottle of Jack Daniels,
took a series of violent pulls, repeated
the process until his stomach revolted,
then eased the twelve gauge, semi-automatic
shotgun from its sheepskin case.
Then, with his sanity stretched like a hide
on a shed door, he went looking
for his wife and the bartender.
Three o'clock in the morning,
and still suffocatingly hot,
the clown jerked himself erect
in front of the now sleeping TwoJacks bar.
He quickly shot out all the plate glass windows,
the heavy covering drapes billowing inward
like vincible ghosts. He then blasted
the door off its hinges in three quick
eruptions, rolled inside like a crack
squad member and reduced everything
to a noisy plurality.
He had blown his last eight rounds
into the empty Volvo, still parked
in the back lot, before the police clubbed
him into grinning submission.
He's gone for three years this time,
but at least she knows where he is.
©2001 by Pasquale Capocasa
Pasquale Capocasa is the editor of Poems Niederngasse.