The tears of a clown

Bingo was the happiest clown in the circus. He was naturally jolly and always had a smile on his face.

The doors of Bingo’s caravan were thrown open. Flashes of bright white light were being directed into his eyes. Multiple voices were ringing in his ears. ‘BINGO THE CLOWN, GET UP, GET OUTTA BED. YOU ARE UNDER ARREST FOR MURDER’.

‘Wha, what! what’s going on? what!’. Bingo couldn’t believe what was happening. Only seconds before he had been dreaming of dancing in the woods with all of his circus friends as the morning sun shone it’s beautiful rays of fresh daylight through the tree tops onto their playful activities.

Bingo quickly got into his usual clothes – massive green clown shoes, extra large blue trousers, extra stretchy yellow bracers, giant red polka-dot rotating bow-tie, his pink bowler hat with the yellow carnation in its white brim ribbon and he stepped outside to face the familiar crowd that had congregated around the crime scene. All of his friends were there and not a single one of them had a friendly look on their face. They all looked really really sad.

It wasn’t Bingo’s fault that Hanno the elephant had escaped and stampeded his way through the village, killing three children, one chicken, three goats and six horses. He had fed him, as he’d always done, after the show. He had checked his chains and they were as tight as he had made them every day for 45 years. He couldn’t work out what had gone wrong. He went through every step in his mind as the guards marched him off towards the prison van. ‘Wash, chain, feed, stroke and check again. Wash, chain, feed, stroke . . . . I have done everything. I have, I know I have.’ His thoughts weighing heavy on his sorrowful mind.

As he raised his left leg, with the long floppy green shoes at the end, to stand on the first step into the doorway of the van he paused, turned back to look over at Hanno’s cage. ‘I’m so sorry, I really am. I just don’t . . . . . ‘.

One of the guards squeezed Bingo’s arm and pushed him through the van doorway. He caught his shoe on the top step and the second guard slammed the door behind him then turned the key in the lock, trapping his shoe under the door. Bingo’s cheerfully painted face could be seen through the bars. ‘I’m so sorry’, he mouthed as he waved to the crowd that were standing outside of Bumblies big top. Marvin the bearded woman, Kelvin the tallest man in the world, Harvey the dwarf, Bobbins the sad clown, Precious and Jemima the trapeze artists, Ursus the dancing bear, Marcy the fattest lady in the world, the twenty-two ducks, the twelve shire horses, Chaplin the Lion tamer, Leo and Leona the two Lions, Lennon the fire eater – all waved back at him. ‘Goodbye Bingo’, were the silent mouthed replies.

Suddenly the van screeched to a halt and Bingo was thrown towards the front of the van, his face slamming against the bars behind the drivers seat. The shoe which had been trapped under the door was ripped from his foot. As the overwhelming shock of the evenings events started to take it’s toll, he began to sob. This was the worst day of his life, how could it possibly get any worse.

‘Come on Bingo, you’re coming with me’. Said the clumsy guard, who had trapped his foot in the van door. The guard placed two heavy chains around Bingo’s wrists. ‘Now that’s how you chain a dumb animal up, Bingo the clown’. The guard sneered, then dragged Bingo out from the van on to his feet, one of which was missing a very large green clown shoe. ‘Not that you are going to need it where you are going, but can you pick up your shoe and fetch it with you?’. The other guard took hold of the heavy chains and lead Bingo, hopping, through the imposing doors of the jail to the courtyard. Six other guards were milling around, across from where he was to stand. Each had a prison issue rifle at their feet .

Simultaneously the guards picked up their rifles and turned to face Bingo. Suddenly, every single one of them started laughing. Laughing so much that most of them dropped their weapons to the floor.

‘Come on you shameful rabble, sort yourselves out – quit clowning around!’, was the cry from the prison warden, which only made the situation worse. The firing squad couldn’t face him. Every time their guns were raised, Bingo cried. His tears washing away the makeup below his cheerfully painted eyes. The guards fell around laughing – they couldn’t help it – they had to hold their stomachs and wipe tears from their faces because they were laughing so much. This was the first time Bingo hadn’t enjoyed people laughing at him. He was getting sadder and sadder.

It took 3 over hours for the firing squad to regain composure and calm down. By which time, it was discovered that Hanno had simply broken his chains and gone into the woods to play in the moonlight, where he was found. A local lad had reported that; it was one of the tigers from the village which had killed the unfortunate children and animals. She had, apparently, broken free from her cage and gone on a rampage after the owner had left her without any food.

The clumsy guard freed Bingo from his burdening chains. ‘This has been the saddest day of my life.’ He snapped. Bingo wasn’t very happy. He wasn’t the happiest clown at the circus, he wasn’t naturally jolly and for the first time, he didn’t have a smile on his face. It was a very sad day indeed.

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