The dark alleyway was bulging with the blight of the city. Trashcans overflowed with the detritus of civilization. The pale glow of the moon filtered down through the rusted metal of slightly sagging fire escapes. Brick building surfaces that constituted the walls of this urban prison sweated the city?s stench. Not even cats would venture here in search of a meal. It was certainly no place for a young boy.
Billy was trying to get home from school. Doe-eyed innocence prevented him from seeing the mortal danger he was in. Blindly and gaily, he pranced, backpack bouncing endearingly behind him, hoping that this alleyway would funnel him home where a cool glass of milk and a sticky rice-crispy treat waited to greet him. He was moving along at a good clip when he hit something solid that knocked him back onto a rotten banana peel.
“Hold it right there, kid,” rasped a frightening voice.
Fear froze Billy’s body, but he forced himself to look up toward the source of the words. He found himself looking first at legs, the ends of which were planted in oversized orange shoes, a clown’s shoes. Following the thick, polka dot clad legs upward, past the bulging chest with festive rainbow suspenders, he reached a terrible apex: a giant, sheet-white, maniacally laughing clown face, complete with a massive, red nose sphere, and wildly unkempt orange hair. Billy’s terror was now complete. He, like all children, hates clowns.
“So, kid,” the clown half-wheezed through his yellowed teeth, “do you like balloon animals?” His sick accentuation of the last two words made Billy quiver. He now noticed that two other clowns were leaning up against opposite walls, behind the frightening stranger. They now stood up and sauntered to his side, giant shoes flopping on the wet, stinking pavement.
Billy managed to squeak out, “Uhhhh….I suppose so….”
“That’s great, kid.” Billy hadn’t noticed the clown had something in his hand, a bottle. The clown lifted it to his lips and took one long draw, draining the remnants. He threw the bottle up against one of the fire escapes, shattering it. “Mmm…that’s some good hooch. ?feels like a slow fire under the Big Top. Alright kid, whaddya say ol’ Socko makes you one of his famous balloon creations?”
Socko reached deep into his clown-pocket, rummaging for a long time, discarding useless objects like a rubber chicken, a George Foreman grill, and Joan Rivers. Finally, he pulled out a long, blood red balloon. Before Billy’s eyes there was a whirling of oversized white clown hands and red balloon, the result of which was–a gleaming crimson CLOWN DAGGER.
“Hey sonny…” Socko threateningly jabbed the bulbous dagger into Billy’s ribs. “You want one o’ Socko’s special pies?”
“No sir….” Billy whimpered.
“Sure you do…BOYS! Bring the pie!” One of the clowns brought up a “pie.” It sure didn’t smell like one; it was rank and flies thickly swarmed around it.
As the clowns inched forward with the pie, Billy squealed, “HEEEEEEELP!”
Suddenly, out of narrow crevice in the buildings, shot a jet-black boot. It connected with the face of one of Socko’s henchmen, sending clown-bits flying. Billy was curled up on the ground, making sure not to see anything, but he noticed a red clown nose roll up to his shoe?it still had a nose in it!
Out of the crevice emerged a dark stranger, the one who had just laid out Socko’s pal. Billy looked up, but could only make out the stranger’s long, mullet-like hairdo and a black trench coat.
The stranger reached inside his coat and produced a coconut. He wound up and threw the hard projectile right at the other clown henchman. It hit him on the shoulder.
“Oh man, Socko, we gotta get out of here! He’s throwing coconuts!” The clown took off running down the alleyway and skittered around the corner.
“You better believe it….I’m coo coo for coconuts. Ha! Come on…that’s pretty clever,” insisted the stranger.
“Youse is gonna be real sorry, mister. No one screws with Socko the clown.”
The clown lunged at the black clad stranger, but missed. The stranger ducked and sidestepped, deftly engaging the clown in a headlock.
“Prepare to meet your maker, you red-nosed bastard.” In a completely unexpected move, the stranger started giving Socko a noogie…a real bad one. When he was done, all that was left of Socko’s white pate was the blood-encircled halo of exposed bone. Socko dropped to the ground.
“Mmmuh–mmmuh–mister…wh–wh–who are you?” whimpered Billy.
Well, the natives who raised me in Bolivia called me “He Who Is Rough with Clowns…but you may simply call me Brad.”