The handful of performers who had stood frozen, watching the argument take place, quickly dispersed when Patty stomped over to her trailer, muttering something about stupid lawyers under her breath. She slammed her trailer door, then sat down to work on her accounting.
True to tradition, Patty would join the rest of the clowns from the Kaleidoscope Circus around a roaring fire, long after the sun had gone down.
It was the usual assemblage of roughnecks, spouting crude jokes with dirt and greasepaint rimmed faces where a quick scrub with a facecloth and dish soap had failed to reach. The clowns gathered to share stories of past glory and the noble art of clowning. They spoke of close calls and bad routines and sold out shows.
“Do you remember that show outside of Bethesda?” asked a heavyset woman.
She sat, still in her puffy clown suit, complete with frilled collar. Her name was Henka, an American-born German, as her name implied, but without the accent that her parents had. In her mid-50s, the blonde color that once shone from her locks had all but been swallowed by the white that had crept up from her roots and not quite made its way to the tip of the long hair that was now tied back tightly. She nursed a bottle of Jägermeister.
“Arr, ye mean that time the water was contaminated and half the tent suddenly ran out with the shites?” chuckled Cassidy, following a swig of beer.
“Pppttt!” Henka sprayed a mouthful of booze into the air like a giant Windex bottle. “Ha, no I forgot about that.”
The other clowns chuckled, looking back and forth around the fire at their friends, also enjoying the story.
“No, I mean a couple years before that, when Roger was still with us,” Henka replied. “Some guy was ripped on LSD and thought he could fly. Fell right out of the stands onto his face…”
“Yeah, and when he got up, his face was all bloody, nose busted up and he pulled a loaded handgun out of his pocket…,” chimed in one of the other clowns from across the amber-colored flames.
“That’s right, proclaimin’ that he was the Holy Matador of St. Peter and that Roger was a bull, made from the sins committed by Pepsico and The Salvation Army,” Henka continued.
“An’ Ol’ Rodge just stared him down as the wanker levelled the gun at ‘im,” Cassidy explained. “Roger told him that he was wrong, that Roggie was the matador and the wanker was the bull…”
“…so the stupid bastard just charges at him, mooing,” laughed Henka. “Haaaa haaaha.”
“Yeah, Ol’ Rodge put his lights out with one punch,” Cassidy chuckled. “I don’t think the police even made ‘im surrender the gun.”
“They didn’t,” Patty chimed in with a grin. “It’s sealed in a glass case in my trailer. Dad said he kept it to remind him that strong will and level heads could find a way out of any problem.”
“That’s your old man all over,” said Henka,
“It sure was,” said Cassidy with a grin and a respectful nod to Patty. “Yer pa was a good man.”
“He sure was,” Patty replied with a sad, wistful smile.
“To Roger!” the clowns around the bonfire proclaimed, raising their respective drinks to the sky in toast.
“The only thing wrong with him was drinkin’ that Crown Royal shite,” joked Cassidy.
“Yeah, erabody knows Wild Turkey is the best,” one clown chimed in with a hearty laugh.
“Ah, ye Yanks a’ bin dropped on yer heads if’n ya think there’s a whiskey finer than Jamieson’s,” Cassidy replied jovially.
They may have all disagreed on which brand of whiskey was best, but they all agreed on the key points of the clown lifestyle.
“But ye know where Roggie developed that shrewd sense of survival?” Cassidy led the group coyly.
“Rodeo!” one clown called out.
A chorus of voices from around the fire repeated the chant.
“That’s right,” said Cassidy, holding his hand over his heart. “The noblest of profession of our unique calling.”
“Here, here,” the chorus of fireside voices shouted out.
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