The King of Clown Circus

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This story is a political satire/allegory describing the struggle of a group of clowns in electing a new leader for their circus. Any likenesses to real-life persons are completely unintentional.

Submitted: November 27, 2015

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Submitted: November 27, 2015

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Eckle looked down somberly at Yoyo’s mangled, crooked corpse. He was lost for words, tears streamed down the sides of his painted face. Yoyo had not only been his leader, the one who had started up Clown Circus and laid down the very principles by which all the clowns lived by, but he was also Eckle’s close personal friend. Eckle had served as Yoyo’s right-hand man almost from the beginning, and the two had developed a powerful friendship. Yoyo was a fair, selfless leader with a knack for settling disputes and making sure that at the end of the day, every clown got his share. He was the very fabric which held the circus together, and up until the day that he was trampled by Bobo the elephant, the clowns could not have been happier.

 

“What a shame.” said Jingles, as he held up a small mirror and painted a blue tear on the side of his face. “What a terrible, awful shame indeed.” He put down the mirror and brush and put his arm around Eckle’s shoulders. “I know it’s hard, but we must think of the future, with Yoyo gone, we’re going to need a new leader, and soon too, we have a show tomorrow night.” Eckle, still sobbing, said in a low voice, “Shouldn’t we bury him first?” “Ah, yes, yes of course.” said Jingles. “Come on, let’s gather all the others.”

 

The clowns stood around the grave of their former leader, and their usually happy, smiling faces were stony and aloof. “Welp, does anyone have anything to say?” asked Jingles. He was met by a cold silence until Eckle stepped up to Yoyo’s corpse awkwardly, cleared his throat, and said shakily, “Yoyo was my friend, and a friend to all of us. He was the best leader we could’ve asked for, and he never thought to satisfy his own desires before making sure every one of us was content. He founded this circus as a haven for us clowns that couldn’t find work anywhere else and if it wasn’t for his leadership this circus would’ve collapsed long ago. I don’t know what will happen next, but what I do know is that we will do everything in our power to maintain the circus at its full grandeur. It’s what Yoyo would’ve wanted.” He stepped away from the grave and the clowns stood in silence for a moment before several of the clowns that trained the animals went to retrieve shovels from the circus tent and proceeded to bury Yoyo.

 

“Well now that that’s all cleared up, let’s move on to the next order of business.” said Jingles as he stood on top of Yoyo’s grave addressing the clowns. “Yoyo may have been our great and righteous leader, but he’s gone now and the sad fact of the matter is that we’re going to need someone to replace him.” The clowns looked down at their huge feet, most of them still thinking about poor, dead Yoyo. “Now, we’re all clowns here, but let’s face it, some of us are just more important than others.” The clowns murmured, and Eckle looked at Jingles with a mixture of confusion and disapproval. “Eckle, Buster, and I are the entertainers; the stars of the show, the ones who were at Yoyo’s side under the spotlight, the rest of you, with no offense intended; band members, those who care for the animals, a few acrobats, just aren’t in a position to really know how to run a circus. That’s why I think it only fair that Eckle, Buster and I be the prime candidates for the new leader and king of Clown Circus.” “I have no interest in being elected king.” said Buster dryly. “I’m subject to enough ridicule already having pies thrown in my face and whatnot; I don’t need any of this nonsense.” “Fine then,” said Jingles. “That leaves you and me, old buddy old pal.” he said nudging Eckle in the ribs playfully. “Does anyone have any objection to Eckle and I running as candidates for the new king and leader of Clown Circus?” asked Jingles. The clowns continued to murmur but no one spoke out. “Alrighty then,” he said. “Time is of the essence in this election, let’s not forget we have a show tomorrow night, so let’s get started right away. Everyone come inside the main circus tent where Eckle and I will begin to state our positions in about five minutes.” The clowns walked wearily into the tent and sat in the stands. Eckle and Jingles stood at the center stage, talking quietly for a few minutes before Jingles called out “Buster! Get down here for a minute willya?” Buster groaned and walked down to the stage slowly. “What is it?” he asked. “Welp,” said Jingles “We need you to make some ballots for us and distribute them to the clowns. Just put our names on them with boxes next to them so the clowns can mark which candidate they wish to elect. You’ll be in charge of tallying the votes at the end. It’s the least you could do, you’re the only one who knows how to spell or count.” he said, giggling. Buster nodded and began to walk away. “Oh, and pens! Something to write with.” Jingles yelled. “There are no pens.” Buster said without turning around. “Only those phony ones that squirt out ink when you click them.” “Then how will you write the names on the ballots?” asked Jingles crossly. “I use the ink from the phony pens and a feather from Pogo the parrot.” answered Buster. “Take as many feathers as you need to give to the clowns, kill the damned thing if necessary.” ordered Jingles.

 

“Alright everyone.” said Jingles looking out at the clowns. “Now let’s begin.” He cleared his throat. “It is in the spirit of a democracy, to serve all of its members as equals. No one here is more important than anyone else.” “But you said earlier that-” said Eckle. “Now, now Eckle your time to speak will come shortly. As I was saying, the purpose of a democracy is to serve its members as equals, and that’s why you are all here now. Any changes that come in the leadership of a democracy should be in the best interest of that democracy’s people. Of course, the changes in the leadership of our particular democracy are the effect of some very unfortunate circumstances, but nevertheless, I am here now to propose to you my plan of action for the leadership of this circus. Yoyo, God rest his soul, was a great leader, there’s no doubt about it, but there are a few things I would change concerning his policies. I propose that we increase the price of the cotton candy and popcorn sold to circus-goers in hopes of raising money to buy the many commodities we need to sustain our livelihood. Us entertainers are in great need of some balloons, perhaps some more toys to entertain the people with, and I know we could all benefit from some new outfits and face paint.” “But these outfits are our trademark! We’ve had them since Yoyo started the circus!” Eckle exclaimed agitatedly. “Please don’t interrupt me Eckle I’m almost done.” said Jingles “Welp, there ya have it. I think I could make great changes to this circus and I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t vote for me. Eckle, let’s see what you have to say.” Jingles smiled brightly while the crowd murmured with excitement. Buster had passed out the ballots along with ink and quills from the now deceased Pogo the parrot. On the ballot in neat, calligraphic writing were boxes next to the names of the two clowns and a third box next to the name of Bobo the elephant.

 

Eckle stepped forward and began to speak. “First of all, I’d like to say that I do believe that if we increase the prices on cotton candy and popcorn, especially to the extent needed to pay for an entire new set of outfits and face paint, circus-goers will be discouraged from buying anything at all. The prices will be too high and we will make less revenue. Also, we should try to spend the profit we do make on the things that we actually need. There’s nothing wrong with the uniforms we have now, we’ve always had them and they’ve endured well. Shouldn’t we focus on things such as more food to feed the animals with? Maybe a few more musical instruments for the band? Or perhaps more netting for the trapeze artists to make their job safer?” The crowd was now very intrigued, and murmured in agreement. “If I am elected as king, I will stand by the same principles that Yoyo established and stood by. After all, that’s what he would want, may God rest his soul.” The clowns were very excited. Eckle was relieved, and smiled warmly. “Vote for me and I’ll do everything I can to continue Yoyo’s legacy and guarantee that this circus remains as great as it ever was.” Jingles was shocked and angry, and began to panic. “Wait!” he shouted suddenly. “Is it not in the spirit of a democracy to treat all of its members equally and represent all of their opinions in the voting process?” The clowns nodded in agreement and affirmation. “Well our democracy, our society, our kingdom consists not only of us clowns, but also of the people who attend the circus. If it weren’t for them, there would be no circus! Now how is it, with the critical role they play, that they aren’t even given a vote in the process of changing leadership here at Clown Circus?” The clowns seemed to concur with this and murmured among themselves. Eckle was dumbfounded, but was emotionally exhausted, and  didn’t feel like arguing with Jingles. “Very well then,” said Jingles. “At tomorrow night’s show we will leave it up to the circus-goers to decide who will be appointed the new king of Clown Circus.”

 

That night Eckle lay in his personal tent thinking about poor dead Yoyo again, and how he would convince the crowd of circus-goers at the show to vote for him. He was appalled by Jingles’ deceptive tactics, but also realized that Jingles was cunning and very well-spoken, a dangerous adversary, he feared deeply that Jingles would be able to outsmart him and knew that Jingles would make a greedy, tyrannical, selfish king, who would surely let the whole circus be diminished to ruins for his own benefit. He knew that he must do everything in his power to stop Jingles from winning, for Yoyo’s sake. Just at that moment, Jingles walked into the tent. “Hello Eckle.” he said coldly as he cracked a wide, sadistic grin. “Hello Jingles,” Eckle replied. “What are you doing here?” “You undermined me today.” said Jingles now looking at Eckle malevolently. “Damn near convinced those clowns too.” “I said what I believed in. Nothing more. No harm, no foul” said Eckle sincerely. “Oh Eckle.” said Jingles with a sinister chuckle. “We both know there can only be one king here, and I can’t let that be you, now can I?” suddenly he pulled a revolver out from his coat and pointed it at Eckle. Eckle looked him, eyes wide and filled with terror. “Whatever it takes to win. I’m sorry Eckle,” said Jingles. He pulled the trigger, the gun made a small popping noise and released a small, yellow banner which read “BANG!” in red letters. Eckle gasped. Jingles cackled loudly. “Gotcha!” he said to Eckle, still laughing as he put the revolver back into his coat. “Best of luck tomorrow, Eckle.” he said smiling, and walked out of Eckle’s tent. Eckle slept only a few hours that night.

 

The next morning, Eckle awoke tired from a lack of sleep, and stepped outside his tent surprised to find a large group of clowns standing, waiting for him. “What are all of you doing here?” he asked, puzzled. One of the clowns said “We’re here to support you and help you with your campaign tonight. The rest of the clowns have sided with Jingles. We will serve you, obey your every request, and do whatever it takes to win.” Eckle had not anticipated a separation among the clowns as intense as this. He was still lost for words when Jingles walked by followed by three clowns. Eckle noticed that Jingles no longer had the tear painted on his cheek and his nose was now painted bright blue, instead of the traditional red that Clown Circus’ clowns usually wore. The clowns following him also had blue noses. “Morning Eckle!” said Jingles with a grin. “Sleep well last night?” The clowns who had once worked together and shared laughs now looked upon each other with scorn. About half of them had sided with Eckle, the other half, now made distinct by their blue noses, sided with Jingles.

 

The day consisted mostly of the divided clowns constructing large posters the faces of the candidates they supported on them and other propaganda of the same nature. The atmosphere was tense and almost no one spoke at all. Eckle and Jingles prepared their speeches quietly. Buster made yet more ballots, and took the remaining feathers off of Pogo the parrot’s corpse. He was the only clown who hadn’t declared his allegiance to either candidate. Eckle was anxious the whole day, thinking about the show that night and how the votes of those circus-goers would change the fate of Clown Circus permanently. His supporters were loyal like hungry dogs to him, and were willing to help him in any way they could. He had spoken to most of his followers about certain measures they could take to ensure his victory. Jingles had agreed to let him speak first, and then the two would take turns stating their different positions. Eckle couldn’t shake the feeling that the circus had already begun to fall apart; he hoped that once a leader was chosen things would return to normal.

 

The night finally arrived and the circus tent filled up with an excited crowd. Two large posters hung behind the center stage, each with the face of one of the opposing candidates. Eckle stood at the center stage, and attention was directed towards him after the band began to play “March of the Gladiators”. “Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls welcome to Clown Carnival! Tonight we will be hosting a very special show, in which you, the people,” he pointed out at the crowd “will be active participants of.” The crowd cheered in excited anticipation. “Unfortunately Yoyo, the former king and leader of clown circus has perished, but tonight we are electing a new leader, and by we, I mean you.” The crowd grew even more excited. “The two candidates for the new king of clown circus are myself and…” At that moment the band began to play loudly again and Jingles rode into the tent mounted on Bobo the elephant. He was met by a roar of cheers and applause and waved to the crowd, smiling. He jumped off of Bobo and onto the stage right beside Eckle. “Good evening ladies and gentlemen!” he shouted cheerfully. “As you know, tonight we have a very special show for you all. Tonight you will be the deciders of the new commander-in-chief and director of affairs here at Clown Circus.” The crowd cheered louder than ever before. “The candidates are myself and…”, throwing a condescending glance over his shoulder, “Eckle.” “Well let’s get started.” Jingles said clasping his hands together and rubbing them. “Eckle, would you be ever so kind and let me propose my ideas to the people first?” Eckle gestured with his hand apathetically and stepped off the stage. Jingles turned to address the crowd.

 

“Now first I’d like to begin by stating that every action I take if I’m elected as the ruler of clown circus will be in the name of making the experience of the circus-goer more enjoyable and convenient. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the candidate running against me. Eckle has planned to raise the prices on not only tickets, but cotton candy, popcorn, peanuts, and almost everything else! The worst part is that he plans to use the profit he makes for his own benefit and the benefit of those who support him.” The crowd grew angry and began to boo loudly. Eckle stepped back on stage. “That’s preposter-”, he began to say, but he was grabbed by two clowns who supported Jingles and one of them put his hand over his mouth. After a small skirmish he was released and ran back quickly to his own supporters. “As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted,” Jingles continued “Eckle is a greedy, inconsiderate, pompous, corrupt, lying bastard who’ll run this circus into the ground and will wreck the very principles it was founded on. If you want an honest, fair, and caring ruler, vote for me, I’ll make sure this circus continues to thrive and stand by the ideals it was founded on. In the name of the deceased Yoyo, vote for me, it’s what he would’ve wanted.”

Meanwhile Eckle frantically started organizing of plan of action with his supporters. “You three,” he said pointing at three of the clowns, “I need you to go to the booth where the cotton candy is made and grab all the cotton candy you possibly can, when you have it all start handing it out to the crowd. Make sure you let them know that it’s being provided by my campaign.” “Yes sir.” one of the clowns said. Eckle turned to the rest of his supporters. “As for the rest of you, I’m going to need you to form a wall of protection so that I can get up on stage.” “Eckle.” one of the clowns designated to distribute the cotton candy said. “What is it?” Eckle said turning around to face him. “When this is all over with, assuming you do win, I want a good position, something that I can do where I won’t have to work too much and can get paid more than the other clowns.” “Yeah me too!” said one of the other clowns, and then another, and another. Eckle looked troubled for a moment, contemplating. “I suppose that can be arranged.” he said softly. The clowns cheered. “But now we have other matters to deal with, let’s get to work.”

 

Eckle approached the stage with six clowns surrounding him. This time he was able to climb up on stage without being dragged off. After a small altercation, Jingles and his goons were forced off stage. Eckle was now the center of attention. “I hope you’re all enjoying your free cotton candy. Please note that it is being given to you as a courtesy of my supporters and I.” The crowd cheered, many of the faces of the people in the audience encrusted in cotton candy. “At this time, my associate Buster is passing out the ballots. Please vote wisely, and keep in mind that my opponent is a dirty liar who’ll say anything to get elected. Am I so greedy? Am I as bad as my adversary claims I am? Would I propose motions that would be bad for the people who attend Clown Circus, the people of Clown Circus?” The people cheered and began voting. Eckle smiled, reasonably sure that victory was his. “Now, my plan for the improvement of--” At the moment Eckle was hit square in the chest by a pile of elephant dung and knocked to the ground. The thrower appeared to be one of the clowns in charge of taking care of the animals, a supporter of Jingles who was laughing hysterically. Another pile of dung was launched and hit the giant poster of Eckle. Just then, Jingles stepped back up on stage. “The only reason he’s giving that cotton candy out for free is because it’s filled with elephant dung! He’s serving you elephant dung!” he exclaimed. Then, Jingles too was hit by a pile of elephant dung.

 

The clowns were now engaged in an all-out brawl. The only clowns that weren’t involved were the members of the band, who began to play “Entrance of the Gladiators” at high volume. Pies and dung were thrown through the air, the clowns hit each other using bats, balloons, shovels, phony hammers, real hammers, and if they couldn’t find anything else, their fists. One clown used the cannon to launch himself into a large group of fighting clowns. The crowd was roaring with laughter and applause. Jingles and Eckle fought each other personally, neither one of them armed, but both of them determined to kill the other. Suddenly, fireworks went off, exploding dangerously close to the roof of the tent. Upon hearing them, Bobo the elephant panicked, and began to run. The crowd panicked as he ran through the stands, trampling several people as he went. Amidst the confusion, he rammed into one of the posts that held the tent up, breaking it. The tent now came crashing down and a firework ignited the fabric of the crumbling roof. Even through the flames, the clowns to continued to fight to the tune of the morose-sounding symphony, and undoubtedly, that was the last sound heard before the peaceful silence.





 

Author’s note: “Entrance of the Gladiators” by Julius Fu?ík is the song traditionally played at circuses accompanying the acts of acrobats, and especially, clowns.  



 


© Copyright 2017 PatrickBerlin. All rights reserved.

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