My first ever Flash Fiction Challenge. This was fun to write and I look forward to writing more of these challenges.
My prompts were: Genre, Mystery. Location, A Birthday Party and Object, A Hard Hat.
A clown hired to entertain kids at a birthday party does not appear to be who they say they are.
A clown rings the doorbell to a 1960s bungalow on a hot summer day. Kids scream with delight from somewhere behind the closed door. The sound of all their tiny feet pounding through the house is like thunder in a stormy sky.
The clown nervously shifts their weight from their left foot to the right, over and over.
“C’mon c’mon c’mon already, open the damn door.” He whispers through gritted teeth.
Mother opens the door. “Oh, hi.” She doesn’t hide her concern. “Umm, your accordion, it’s uh, a lot smaller than it is in the picture in the ad.”
“Oh this! Yeah, it’s a opticajal illusion just for the pictures cuz the normal sized-ones are uh, too big to fit in the picture frames on the internets.”
“But does it sound the same as it did in the ad I watched online?” She asks doubtfully.
“Look lady, if you want someones else that’s your preeogrative. Either you lets me do my job or I’m outta here.”
“It’s just that, you don’t really look like the clown we paid for is all. But okay, we have a birthday party to make happen for seventeen kids, who won’t be happy if they find out I sent the only clown who showed up, away.”
He makes a huge, fake smile at her.
She thinks to herself for a second. “Alright, come in. The kids don’t know we’ve invited a clown to the party but they know someone special is coming so, just make it special, okay?”
“Yeah lady! Special is my spesheeality! It-is-what-I-do!” The clown pushes Mother aside and crosses the threshold of the house, toward the noise of children playing wildly.
That is when Mother notices the scent of the clown. He smells bad. Not just a little bit bad but like maybe-something-is-dying bad. She locks the front door and follows the clown to the rec room in the basement of the house. The clown has gone into the washroom next to the party room and the kids are going mental waiting to see the big surprise.
“Kids! Just hold on! It’s coming! The surprise is almost here!” Mother yells over their heads through the doorway.
The Birthday Boy is pulling on the sleeve of his mother’s expensive linen dress.
“Mommy I wanna know what it is! What is it?” He starts to stomp his feet just as the clown makes its big entrance to the party.
The entire room goes silent. One kid who is smaller and younger starts to cry somewhere among the crowd.
“Mommy! What is that?” The Birthday Boy hides behind his mother.
“That honey? That’s the birthday surprise! It’s a clown!” She tries to stay composed. “Okay clown, play us a song on the accordion, we have to get this party going. The kids have been waiting a long time for you!”
More of the younger kids start to cry loudly. The clown’s makeup is smudged into a black, muddy mess all over his face and sweat is dripping from his chin.
“Alright! Alright kiddsies! Here I am! I’m gonna make you some animal balloonses to play with!” The clown starts to pump air into long, stringy balloons to shape them into shapes that are more like knots than animals.
He makes four balloon blobs before announcing, “I will now play the birthday song on the accordion!”
“No, no I think we’ll do presents now, that’s enough.” Mother tries to stop the clown as she approaches the closet where the presents are hidden.
“No!” The clown jumps in front of Mother to stop her from opening the closet door. “The tools will fall out!”
“Wha? How? How do you know there are tools in this closet?” She demands.
The clown starts to play the tiny accordion and sing very badly. “Happy Birthday to you little boy! Happy birthday to you and you and you.”
His sweat sprays the tops of the kids’ heads as he flails his free hand, tries to play the fake instrument with the other, and keep Mother away from the closet where the presents are being hidden.
Mother tries to push past him but is having no luck, until the kids start to help push the clown out of the way.
“That’s my daddy’s closet, Clown! You can’t keep us out of it!” The Birthday Boy is kicking his little feet at the clown’s shins.
“Ow! No! Wait, just lemme play this one song for youse before I skedaddle!” The clown pleads.
“Now that is quite enough Mr. Clown.” Father pushes the clown aside.
“Daddy! Daddy you came home!” Yells The Birthday Boy. “Open the closet! Open it! I wanna wear the hard hat!”
“Okay son, you can wear my hard hat.” He tells his son as he opens the closet door.
The Birthday Boy screams when he sees the messy pile of presents that reach up to the ceiling inside the closet. The hard hat is sitting precariously at the top.
“Strange.” Father says out loud. “That’s not how my hard hat is supposed to be.”
Father reaches for the hat and one of the presents comes loose from the pile, causing the rest of the presents to fall. Everyone gasps when they see the Real Clown crumble out of the closet with his accordion still gripped between his dead hands. As his body lands on top of the presents with his accordion beneath him, the instrument plays one last exhaling shriek of noise for the stunned crowd.
The hard hat rolls from the clown’s head toward the Birthday Boy’s feet and everyone starts screaming at the same time, “The clown is dead! The Real Clown is dead!”
And when they turn to see him, the fake clown is already long gone.