Sunday, 14 February 2010

The Death of a Clown

My make-up is dry and it clags on my chin
I'm drowning my sorrows in whiskey and gin.
The Kinks


I leave the door open. My make-up is dry on my skin. It feels hard and tight like fish scales, and I can't find anything to clean my face with so I just sit down in a chair, facing the mirror, and wait. I see half of my reflection; I'm sitting a little off-centre. My mascara had bled a little and it looks like a crow has stood on my face. I lick my red lips tasting the wax. I am like a cartoon, as if someone has drawn me, my mouth is ridiculous. It's a massive thing over my teeth. My eyes are big; everything seems so big, as if it's all been magnified a hundred times.

I see fleshy light bulbs burning thin streaks of yellow light into the room. The lights around my mirror make me want to flutter my eyelashes at myself, and I do, but it doesn't look pretty. I look like a child has found it's mother's make-up and applied thick coats of lipstick over and over again and slapped layers of deathly-white foundation over the skin. I feel heavy.

There is an old sense of madness with this face, which I'm wearing on my skin for everyone to see. There is a cold draft coming in through the door, there is probably a face at the door, its sexless eyes watching like the compound eyes of a fly. I watch it change into a fly – I watch you change into a fly – you first take off your clothes, undressing with the slow precision of a toolmaker, dropping your thin layer of clothes showing muscle discharge and afferent in relation to slow moving articles of clothing like shedded skin. And you fly away back out of the door, with a silent buzz that rings in my ears as if it was a scream.

The door is open and I am freezing cold, I can't see or hear anyone, I can still hear the tiny buzzing of a fly, I sometimes see it, or I think I see it, flying around the room. I am sitting down. I am drinking gin. I am waiting for something, I can't remember what it is, but here I am, waiting. My make-up is solid on my face, my skin feels like it's made out of rock, I am made out of rock, it is why I am not moving. A fly comes in and buzzes around my head, a thin, sickening buzz screeching in my ear.

I find a cloth and wet it under the tap at the small sink in the room. I see myself in the mirror again, cleaning my make-up off like a woman. It melts. It looks like my eyes have burst and secrete black goo down my cheeks. My lips are swollen. The white skin wipes off with cold cream. I am so white I am a ghost. I can't finish. My arms are heavy and I feel so lazy that I could just sit back and sleep. I look terrible. I look ridiculous. My eyes are bloodshot as if I have been strangled, savagely cut in half, one part English one part alien. My stomach contracts. My hands seize and relax. Seize and relax. I feel … sick. I want to be sick. Am I wearing clothes? Yes, I'm wearing clothes. The door is open. There is no one there.

My make-up is ruined, I look ridiculous. I look terrible. I'm tired. I doubt I am here. There is no one here. There is a fly here, somewhere, it is you. Why are you so attracted to me? Like a magnet. There seems to be a strange amount of magnetism in madness. I turn and my spine cracks and there is the odd moment when my spine makes the only sound in the world, and it's like gunfire behind a pillowcase. I lean forward and bang my fists against the dressing table and the light bulbs jingle and everything rattles and the rubber chicken squeaks and one juggling ball rolls and drops to the floor with a muted thud as the fly flies around the room watching my every thought. I find the lipstick and apply a new coat of red over my lips until they are thick and swollen again, like a woman's, but I can't finish the paint without someone to help me. Where is the help? I need my paint. My mouth is distorted like seeing a blood clot in a broken mirror. I am tired. I … I am … this flesh-thing sits … face like some dead creature … face white … face like melted oils, morphed into animals and various creatures … I can smell the danger like a dog.

My clown make-up is cold on my face, my eyes see my face in mirror. The light bulbs light up my face as if I am an actress. I am a boy. A room like flesh, and horrible, terrible things – when boy asks what kills the eyes you reply …

My face … my make-up gives me an enormous sense of power, as if I am larger than I really am, magnified a hundred times under a microscope – an old, crawling thing, blue and white and red, and black, and waxy and old … my face sees my face in the mirror.

My body is old and dishevelled, it creaks and moans, she is like the scorpion's stinging tail stuck suddenly like a knife, and it doesn't hurt, more like it burns and there is a fly buzzing around me, I hear it, but there is no fly, the room is empty, I don't hear a thing. I am sitting on a chair. Something truly big comes in the room like a shadow. I am forced to stand up and led away. I smile. I do a dance. I attach my big red nose that squeaks when you squeeze it. Although I am innocent in all of this, away from my reflection at last, my other half is like the devil, and she protrudes like fingers and when I reach the door, feeling the cold draft on my damp face, like icy breath, you almost kill me, but by the time I feel the expected nothing, I fall against the door. It's like being another person, don't you understand I'm not actually you? You are laughing … you are laughing … I am laughing … the gin has kicked in … I fall against the door and spoil my make-up, I fall against the door and nobody needs clowns anymore. I fall against the door as it slams shut.

© Michael Holloway

2 comments:

Cole said...

I could see and sense it all through your words, the isolation within his own deteriorating mind, yet his eyes reminding him of his existence. Strange and sad, yet brilliant. Well done.

Josephine said...

If this is the piece you sent in, which I think it is, I'd like to leave a comment to it. It's a good piece, almost poetic, but it's too long to be poetry and too short to be a story. You write about the misery of a "clown" (whether you or not you), but nothing really happens. I was taught a story should have a beginning, a middle, and an ending. When reading your story, it feels like being stuck in the beginning all the way. Because nothing really happens, you know? The clown is just miserable, in a poetic kind of way. So you may want to consider writing poetry instead of stories, or do both, but when writing stories, make sure something happens. And make sure to give the readers a hint of what happens in the beginning, so you can keep them reading, so they'll want to know what happens after.

My blog is not the best example you could have, but I do write and read a lot (and my non-blog writings are of better quality), and I hope you'll take this comment well and put it to good use. Whatever you do though, keep believing in yourself because that's the most important of all. Stephen King tossed Carrie in the bin after all; it was his wife who sent it to a publisher.