Payaso – A Short Story

Robert Artbogast

The clown did not hesitate. He ran out of the circus really fast, looked up into the sky, and it was blue, the same as the day before. Different clouds, but still the same blue. He had a permanent smile that could charm any living creature on earth. He walked and looked around for a while, and there she was, coming out of her yellow door, and the door closing behind her, also wearing a permanent smile.

She had a smile that tamed any furious beast on any circus grounds. They smiled at each other, walked toward each other, hugged, kissed, smiled again, held hands, and walked away from the performing area, heading towards the woods. Now they were in and under the trees, with rays of light beaming through the leaves.

For about twenty minutes, they walked until they reached the edge of the lake. She sat on a wooden bench facing the water, and he stood behind her, rubbing her shoulders. Facing the lake and smiling at it, they both remained silent for a moment, but just for a moment.

“What are you thinking, Oscar?” “I’m thinking about the unfortunate treatment the animals get at the circus.” “Don’t break your head over that, baby; you know there’s nothing we can do.” “It really bothers me, Olga.” “It bothers me too.” “But not as much as it bothers me.” “You don’t know that.” “Yes, I do.” “No, you don’t.” “Yes, I do. I notice it every time you do your act.” “Oh yeah?” “Yeah.” “Get out of town.” “I’m serious. You know that part in your act when you’re making the lion walk on his back legs?” “Yes?” “And how you make him walk and run around the ring, till his tongue hangs all the way down?” “Yeah, and?” “You mistreat the animal too, Olga.” “The lion likes it.” “He doesn’t like it.” “He hasn’t bitten me.” “Yet.” “That giant cat is in love with me.” “The fool. Poor thing, you’re making him believe he’s going to get a piece of ass. Poor thing. He’ll eat you when he finds out you’ve been messing with his head.”

She stood up from the bench and started toward the circus without saying a word. Oscar followed her at a slower pace. Olga walked out of the woods and headed toward the lion’s cage.

The lion, inside his cage, slept like a baby. He gave silent roars for snores. He was fifteen feet long, nine hundred fifty pounds, with a hairy black spot on the tip of his tail and a ten-year-old beard that stretched all the way up his head and around his ears. This beard hung long and low, all the way down to the floor. But now he was asleep, resting carelessly inside his cage, releasing silent roars for snores. You could hear the beast breathing in and out.

Olga walked up to the cage. The cat opened his mind-reading eyes, stared at Olga, who had an enchanting beauty, probably the most beautiful woman on earth.

“Hello there, my beautiful lion,” Olga said to the fifteen-foot-long cat. “Why do you always have a serious look on your face, huh?” She continued, “No, don’t get up; do you mind if I come in and lie by your side?” The animal sat on his two back legs and lowered his chest, lowering his majestic head. She opened the gate slowly, got in, closed the gate behind her, got on her knees, and rested her body against the lion. Twenty minutes went by. Twenty-five minutes went by. And out from the woods came Oscar the clown.

With a permanent smile, he walked toward the lion’s cage. He noticed Olga sleeping with the lion. The giant cat stood up fast on his four legs. Olga’s body flew against the thin bars of the cage.

“What the hell’s wrong with you?” Olga screamed at the beast.

The animal grinned at Oscar, showed Oscar his long sharp teeth. Oscar noticed the lion smiling. He kept on walking towards the cage. The lion sneezed, then gave a roar—an earthquake of a roar. Everything shook when the beast awakened. Oscar’s heartbeat raced. His feet did not move him forward or backward. He just stood there somewhere between the woods and the cage. His knees shook like earthquake waves. Cold sweat ran down his forehead.

Olga stared at Oscar, stared and stared and stared, and laughed. Olga laughed a sinister laugh. She didn’t really care for Oscar’s feelings. Oscar the clown noticed the angry lion. The animal released clouds of steam from his ears. The cat gave another roar. Oscar’s legs did not move; they seemed to be frozen in the most awkward position. Cold sweat was now running down his entire body, and he had about twenty knots in his throat. Oscar tried swallowing but was not able. The lion was angrier than ever, the angriest. He didn’t like Oscar, felt insecure around him, especially when Olga was around. The cat was very well aware that he was just an animal, unable to transmit human emotion. Oscar had the upper hand, and Oscar the clown knew this, for he had made love to Olga many times before, but now she was inside the cage, and the woman inside the cage was Oscar’s lady.

Not a moment more went by when the lion gave another aggressive roar. This roar was louder than the two he had given before. Everyone inside the circus tents rushed out towards the lion’s cage. Oscar was still standing somewhere between the woods and the cage.

All the circus freaks surrounded Oscar the clown, and I mean, all the freaks: the earless midget, the twelve-foot-thin man, the flying acrobats with wings, the six-legged man, the 6-year-old Cuban boy with a communist father, the ugliest man on the planet Fidel Castro, the manatee man, the talking rabbit, the four hundred fifty-pound man, the magician, the wolf man, the President of the United States, OJ Simpson, the Colombian mafia, and standing right next to Oscar the Clown, Medusa, with thirty poisonous snakes for hair.

Everyone just stood there, next to and behind Oscar, staring at the most beautiful woman on Earth and at the most beautiful lion. Everyone mumbled their judgmental slurs. Then Olga whispered something in the cat’s ear. All the freaks got quiet. You could even hear the wind whistle in the ear. The fifteen individuals that surrounded Oscar took one step backward. Oscar remained still. His legs still frozen. Everyone noticed how Olga slowly unlocked the lion’s cage, opened it, and oh, how she left it wide open. All the freaks took five steps back. Except Oscar. Olga jumped out of the cage. The lion jumped out of the cage. Olga whispered one last thing into the lion’s ear.

“Olga, get him inside the cage right now!” Oscar announced.

“Why don’t you tell your monster friends to step back under the tents, huh?”

“Alright, you all heard her!” Oscar told his mob of freaks.

They all went back under the circus tents, back to their business. Olga started towards Oscar, and the lion followed her closely. Oscar did the same, and the two of them were now just six feet away from each other. The freaks inside the colorful tents pretended to mind their own business, but they didn’t. They were all twisting their eyes toward the outside and kept their ears sharp on the event that went along out in the open.

Olga and the lion stood side by side, and Oscar stood in front of them. The lion sat on his hind legs as if waiting for Olga to let him know that it was okay to eat him. The fifteen-foot-long cat was hungry. Oscar could hear the hunger roars the lion’s stomach made.

Olga grabbed the lion’s cheeks and gave the cat a kiss on his hairy mouth. She gave him tongue. Oscar noticed. The lion opened his eyes wider and wider. Olga kept on kissing and kissing. Oscar the clown was now very jealous, furious, insulted, turning red in the face. Forehead sweating bullets. Sweating from the palms of his hands. Unable to interrupt the kiss because an interruption in this case would mean death. Painful death. Oscar felt helpless. The lion had the upper hand now. Or maybe the cat always did have the upper hand, who knows? Who knew? The gorgeous Olga was the only one who knew the upper hand man. Oscar was confused.

The lion was now breathing heavily, and his heartbeat was unstoppable. Fast. Faster. Breathing heavier. Olga kept kissing and kissing.

“You’re going to give him a heart attack, Olga. STOP KISSING HIM!” Oscar screamed.

The lion’s eyes were now closed. His two front legs were shaking. The giant cat had lost most of his mighty strength. Olga stopped kissing him. She took one step back. Moments passed, and the animal’s body tumbled onto the grassy ground.

“You killed him!” “He’s not dead, he’s asleep.” “What were you thinking, Olga?” “I was going to feed him a beautiful clown.” “I’m leaving the circus.” “What?” “I don’t want to be a part of it anymore.” “Oh, did I scare you?” “You’re not funny, Olga.” “I’m not?” “And you’re not as beautiful as I thought.” “It was only a stupid joke, Oscar.” “Then I don’t understand your sense of humor; I’m leaving.”

Oscar took one step back, turned around, and started walking towards his little trailer. Olga’s trailer was right next to his. Oscar’s trailer was the one with the blue door.

Art by Robert Artbogast

Liked it? Take a second to support The Jitney on Patreon! The Jitney needs gas. Please donate or become a Patron here
Become a patron at Patreon!

Oscar Fuentes

People know me as The Biscayne Poet. I write personalized poetry with one of my vintage typewriters.