# # Excerpt From A Story I Can't Imagine I'll Ever Write - short fiction

Brother, I Can See Your Skull.

Brother, I Can See Your Skull. - The Coreyshead Blog

Excerpt From A Story I Can’t Imagine I’ll Ever Write – short fiction



Chapter 12

in which we find our heroes on a precarious ledge over the clown pit


Jimmy’s upper lip was trembling and beaded with sweat.

“You have to go,” Chip whispered, indicating the access door some thirty feet away. The ledge leading to it was only four inches wide. Ten feet below, a crowd of multi-hued clowns perambulated in aimless circles, awaiting their turn on the hard packed dirt of the coliseum’s triple rings.

Chip understood Jimmy was afraid of heights – heck, he had his own fears with this particular obstacle – but he was also angry with Jimmy’s hesitation, his weakness.
‘Just move!’ he wanted to yell, his own fear of never getting out of this strange and dark world once again nearly getting the best of him. “Look, it’ll be alright,” he said instead. “Just like the barn.”
“It’s not just like the barn,” Jimmy whispered back.
“Sure it is,” Chip soothed. “Just pretend, instead of a ledge, it’s the beam across the haymow. You can do it. We have to get home! You want to go home, don’t you?”

Jimmy swallowed hard, then nodded and tucked the star wand into the neck of his shirt, being careful not to bend or tear it. Scooting forward on the seat of his jeans, he edged off the small metal platform and, gripping the handrail he had just slid under, stood up on the ledge. He looked back at Chip again, then shuffled out along the ledge until his arm was at full stretch. The susurrus of the shuffling clowns filled the air and their stale, cotton candy scent wafted up in cloying, undulating clouds of motes, further choking his already shaky concentration.

Chip placed his own hand on top of Jimmy’s and edged forward, blocking the potential for retreat. The fear in Jimmy’s eyes looked to quickly be sliding into something wild. “It’s okay,” Chip murmured, squeezing the tight knuckled back of Jimmy’s hand. “You can do it. Just don’t look down. Do you want me to hold the wand?”
Jimmy shook his head no, then turned to look at the hatchway at the other end of the ledge and, releasing his hold on the railing, eased forward again with tentative, sliding steps.

Chip waited, watching, then moved onto the ledge himself and suddenly understood Jimmy’s fear: holding onto the platform railing, the ledge seemed wide enough for comfort but, once away, the cold of the wall leaned against him, seeming to push him into the void with real purpose. The ceiling, mere inches above his head, furthered this sense of malign bullying. Dust and loose flakes of concrete crunched and fell from the ledge with each shuffling step, threatening to give them away to the senseless foe below.

Chip glanced up to see how Jimmy was doing and his heart began hammering in his chest. Jimmy had made it to the middle of the expanse but was trembling, arms outstretched as if to hug the flatness of the wall, his back arched in a struggle to retain his eroding balance.

“Hold on,” Chip hissed, knowing there was nothing to hold on to, and urged himself forward along the thin, crumbling lip, his own fears forgotten.

Jimmy turned his head to shoot Chip a frightened look then succumbed, tumbling backwards off the ledge with an unbelievable slowness, his limbs windmilling, silent, pointless. He seeming to hang in the air a moment before plunging, with a splash of wigs, foam noses, and conical hats, into a cluster of startled, bleating clowns .

Chip held his breath and watched the confusion, not daring to believe that Jimmy could survive such a fall, even with the terrible, soft and sparkly clowns to land on.

The crowd of gaily colored buffoons mewled and barked as it thrashed to twist away from whatever had crashed into its midst. Stripped and polka-dotted outfits bulged and crinkled away from the center of the chaos. Jimmy got to his feet, somehow unfazed, and began to claw his way through the rainbow-hued confusion, looking for an exit.

The clowns parted at the surprising physicality of his insistence, too busy trying to protect the delicacy of their painted and primped exteriors to stop him but a great bull of a clown, towering head and shoulders over the others with a poof of orange nylon hair and a broad, crimson smile, stomped towards the cause of the disturbance, each step punctuated by the honking of his bulb-horn shoes.

“Look out, Jimmy!” Chip cried. “Go to your left, to your left!”

Jimmy was too far from the holding pen door to be able to make it safely. The only exit within reach was the wide, curtained entrance to the coliseum. He glanced upward at Chip in affirmation, then looked back at the approaching bull clown and started shoving his way towards the coliseum entrance.

Chip worked his way along the edge, still unnoticed by the clowns despite his shouting. He was so close to the other platform now. If he could only  make the door …

The bedlam increased as the bull clown, spotting Jimmy, forced his way forward through the agitated crowd, his striding bulk wreaking even more havoc than his quarry. The great puffballs on his elbows flattened bulging noses, tore ruffled collars, and smeared grease paint expressions of staring delight to indignant shock as he swaggered through, grunting out menacing barks of laughter as he went. The milling mass of terrified clowns did their best to part before their hulking brother but many were trampled and left miming their woe in his wake, their ridiculous, circus-tent legs splayed out before them as they wept and were comforted. An asynchronous chorus of dramatic nose blowings accompanied the appearance of uncounted polka-dotted hankies.

Jimmy reached the velvet rope of the coliseum entrance a few steps ahead of the bull clown but found he could neither unhook it from the stanchion nor duck under it; another unexpected magic barrier.
Chip was still frozen on the ledge, his eyes, his heart, torn between freedom and the drama unfolding below. His fear begged him to keep moving but what about Jimmy? He couldn’t leave him now, could he? The answer was in his heart. Gritting his teeth, he located a cluster of softer looking clowns and leapt from the ledge.

Jimmy pulled the star-wand from his shirt and spun, walking back to face the bull clown as it burst through the edge of the frightened, baying crowd. The gargantuan harlequin reared back on its oversized shoes, laughed a loud and challenging guffaw, then crouched to spring, performing a classically-comic yet frightening running leap at the boy. Jimmy cowered, thrusting the star-wand at his assailant, his head turned away, eyes closed.

The trusting defiance with which Jimmy’s tiny hand thrust forward the wand, this construction-paper star with its flaking sparkles and loose-stapled connection to the rolled paperboard handle, unnerved the clown and it clawed the air with powerless, white-gloved hands as it fell towards the otherwise pathetic looking, homemade talisman.

There was a poof and a tearing sound as the clown hit the nearest point of the star. Jimmy disappeared in a cloud of rolling, flashpowder smoke and the collapsing shape of the bull clown’s voluminous, multi-colored bodysuit. Chip, recovering from his landing, stared in disbelief as beads, confetti, noise makers, popcorn, and individually wrapped hard-candies cascaded in a torrent out of the rent in the deflating bull clown’s midsection. It honked and flailed as it collapsed in upon itself, the head wrinkling up like an old, failed balloon. The air around the wreck was filled with a hail of small plastic charms, gumballs, and foil streamers that flew out from the clown’s frantic, final death shudders. Chip could just make out Jimmy, on his knees and gasping, as he fought to keep his head above the mortal avalanche of carny crapola.

Shoving his way through the petrified tumult of clowns, Chip yanked Jimmy to his feet. Jagged bits of glitter and plastic confetti stuck to the moisture of Jimmy’s lips, irritated his eyes, and hung snagged in his hair. “It itches,” he cried, clawing at his shirt and shaking a leg to rid his clothing of the carnival gore. A necklace of transparent green plastic dangled from one of his ears.

“We’ve got to get out of here!” Chip cried. All around them the collective anger of the milling clowns was growing. He pulled Jimmy, still half-blind and stumbling, toward the velvet rope.
“It’s no use,” Jimmy coughed. “You can’t move the rope!”
“I can’t – but I bet we can!” Chip replied, guiding Jimmy’s hand with his own toward the rope’s hooked end.

Sensing their imminent escape, the clowns roared to life and charged but, as Chip expected, the thick, maroon barrier of serpentine velvet responded with ease to the boys’ unified touch. Together they lifted it free of the chrome stanchion’s loop and were running forward into the curtained entrance when Jimmy turned, shouting “Wait! The wand!” but it was too late. The wall of enraged clowns hit them like a wave, lifting them off their feet and sweeping them out under the all-seeing glare of the coliseum’s triple spotlights.


Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply