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August 17, 2012 / Daniel

Beep Beep

[1662 words, rated PG]

“So,” Cathy said to Hugh, as they walked toward the cab, “You’ll leave me here for, months, and we stand to make a fortune. Then what. We uproot and move again, or you’re coming back, or…”

“Two weeks, Cath. Two. Not months.”

The cabbie lugged Hugh’s bags into the back of the Checker Cab and pulled the trunk lid down, shoving twice to be sure it latched. He climbed in to drive, and pulled the door shut, flapped the palm of his hand on the outside roof to signal his readiness and a bit of impatience.

Cathy and her husband faced each other, holding hands. “Then I’ll be back and we put down roots here, like we’ve always talked about.”

“You’re all I have, and we moved here away from my family…”

“Which you didn’t want to do.”

“Which I was unsure about. And now you’re leaving me. It’s just a big adjustment for me.”

“You’ll be fine, honest. Just, no clowning around, eh?” he tweaked her nose gently and mouthed “beep, beep” silently. Their silly private joke always broke her tension when she needed it most.

Cathy hugged him one last time, and closed the cab door after him, then watched the cab pull away from the curb. She hugged her own elbows as she walked back up the walk toward the porch. As she climbed the three steps, she thought she heard a noise, stopped, looked, saw nothing.

She went inside. “I thought I left this lamp on,” she said, crossing the living room to switch it on. To her left, she was sure she saw something move, and looked quickly. Nothing there.

She flopped herself onto the sofa, smoothing the poof out of the blue ruffles of her dress. The room was quiet. Uncomfortably quiet.

After suffering the silence a bit, she stood again and walked over to her record cabinet. She opened it, and put the 45 RPM adapter onto the spindle, and selected a record. She set the tone arm, started the turntable, and sat back on the sofa.

The Everly Brothers sang,
“Don’t want your love anymore”
“Don’t want your kisses, that’s for sure”
“I die each time”
“I hear this sound”
“Here he comes. That’s Cathy’s clown”

Suddenly, something hit the lampshade next to her, making it shake violently. She jumped and looked, but saw nothing that would have caused it. The shade was struck again, and the lamp fell to the floor. A small hand disappeared behind the armrest of the sofa near the table that held the lamp.

Cathy jumped up and looked around the end of the sofa. Crouched there between the end of the sofa and the end table was a small person, not a child, but a small female adult, reduced in size unnaturally, and dressed as a clown. She attempted to retreat more into her corner, and smiled, flecks of white face paint crumbled off and fell onto her knees and the carpet around her.

“I’ve got to stand tall”
“You know a man can’t crawl”
“But when he knows you tell lies”
“And he hears them passing by”
“He’s not a man at all”

“Shoo! Shoo! Get out from behind there!” Cathy waved her hands frantically, trying to scare the clown away.

The little clown lady craned her neck a bit to look around Cathy, where another little clown lady scampered over and clamped her teeth firmly onto Cathy’s left ankle, growling or giggling or both. The first clown lady laughed at the sight; thoroughly entertained.

Cathy stumbled around in her heels, trying to get a good view, exactly, of what was accosting her. She gathered her dress to see around the ruffles, and three more small clown ladies appeared and climbed up her back, ripping and tearing and clawing at her blouse and her arms and her legs.

One grabbed Cathy’s hair with both tiny fists and began swinging and squealing as her hair whipped around in the fray.

Cathy swatted at the creatures and yelled at them “Get off me! Get off!!” The one in her hair sailed around near her face and she batted the thing away again; it’s breath smelled like warm wet dog with cotton candy rubbed deeply into it’s waxy, oily fur.

The doorbell rang, and all five clown-things released her and scattered quickly out of sight.

Cathy half-ran and limped to the door and opened it to find her neighbor, Lori Matheny, who had stopped by for a fresh cup of gossip.

“Cathy, oh my stars,” she gasped. She was a mess of smudged makeup, ripped clothes, and bleeding scratches.

“Things, clown things… they attacked me…” she pleaded.

They both looked around the living room, behind the sofa, under the cushions, but found nothing.

Lori seated her friend carefully, then, dashed into the kitchen to search for whatever it was that had attacked her friend. She was expecting a wild cat or a dog maybe; certainly nothing “clown”-like.

From within the kitchen, Cathy heard what sounded like a pan thumping against a brick wrapped in a blanket, then a thump, then silence.

“Lori? You ok? LORI!” No reply.

Cathy struggled to her feet and peeked into the kitchen around the frame of the doorway. It was quiet in the kitchen; silent. On the floor, not moving, she could see Lori’s shoes and legs.

She moved in a little further.

Lori lay on the floor with a misplaced pan by her head, in a small pool of blood.

Five little clown ladies were crouched on the pan rack, the counter tops, and one sat cross-legged on Lori’s back. They all turned slowly to face Cathy.

They chanted quietly, “murderer, murderer, murderer…”

“Not me! YOU killed her! I’m calling for the police.”

She ran across the kitchen and picked up the telephone receiver, and pounded the hook several times, “Operator, SYcamore 4… operator?” The line was not silent, but no operator replied. When she listened, it was only the faint refrain of a calliope, playing a midway tune over and over.

The clown ladies whisper-chanted, “theyyy won’t… belieeeve you… theyyy won’t… belieeeve you… theyyy won’t… belieeeve you…” and they leapt up and crawled like excited spiders on all fours out of the room.

“No! NO!!”

Cathy fled the kitchen to get away from the body.

One of the clowns had climbed into the record player, and dragged the needle across the record surface in a long shrill scratch. She flipped the 45 to the B side, and set it up to play, “Always It’s You”.

“When I feel downhearted”
“When I’m feeling blue”
“When I’m low and lonely”
“Who do I turn to”
“It’s you, always it’s you”

By the door, one of the clowns had two hammers. One was a red plastic squeaky-hammer that she would hit herself in the head with and then roll her eyes as if she were stunned.

The other was a steel claw hammer. She smashed that one into her face and jaw, bashing her own teeth loose. She would then pick up a tooth, and hammer it into the crevice between the front door and its frame, tooth by tooth, wedging the door hopelessly shut.

Cathy ran over and kicked the clown aside and lunged for the doorknob. She pulled and tugged, but the door did not budge.

She whirled around, “Why are you doing this! …What ARE you!”

The clowns shrugged and shook their heads in silly ways. They balled up their little fists and made “boo hoo” motions near their eyes, pointed at Cathy and giggled. Mocking her. They skittered around the living room, imitating her, and doing cartwheels and then trampolined on the sofa cushions.

The Brothers sang.
“When I’m dreaming daydreams”
“Who comes into view”
“Who shares all my daydreams”
“Who makes them come true”
“It’s you, always it’s you”

Cathy backed against a curio cabinet, and fumbled the doors open behind her. She patted around until she found her knitting needles, and clutched one in each hand, then lunged for the clowns, screaming.

She connected with one cartwheeling and pierced it solid in mid-air, it tumbled to the floor, stood up, performed a mime of being stabbed with a sword, saluted, then fell flat like a board to the floor.

Another clown stood at attention and whistled “Taps”. The impaled clown withdrew the needle, tossed it aside, unhurt. Another clown barrel-rolled by and sprayed the blood away with a seltzer bottle.

Cathy ran back into the kitchen and found a cast iron skillet, which she used to pound on a window until it broke open. She bashed at it until the glass fell away. She screamed until someone took notice.

The neighbor husband arrived, and started throwing his shoulder into the jammed door.

One of the clowns sped out from the hallway in a mini car, and all the clowns piled inside with arms and legs hanging out, barely fitting. The driver burned out of the room on two wheels as the mini car rounded the corner, “beep, beep!”

Lori’s husband James finally burst through and looked around. Nothing.

“Are you ok? Where’s Lori?”

“In the kitchen!”

He ran in “Lori… Oh my God…”

He stormed over to Cathy, still holding the skillet, and punched her in the face with his entire rage, “You’ve lost your mind, you, monster…” and she collapsed.

He picked up the phone “Operator, operator…” Nothing. “Dead.”

James ran back to the front door and yelled “Help! Help, someone, help!” and waved another neighbor over “Call the police and ambulance, someone’s hurt! Quickly!”

He returned to the kitchen “No, no, please, God, no…”

“Beep beep!” the car sped across an empty living room, unnoticed, and zigzagged out the open front door.

“When I feel like smiling”
“You’re the reason why”
“If I ever lost you…” click, skip
“If I ever lost you…” click, skip
“If I ever lost you…” click, skip
“If I ever lost you…” click, skip

7 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Helen / Aug 18 2012 11:39 pm

    It’s a good thing that clowns don’t scare me ^__^

    • Daniel / Aug 22 2012 8:23 am

      Same here, Helen. I’ve never found them particularly scary. Creepy, dirty, repugnant? Oh, you bet!

  2. marc nash / Aug 19 2012 7:33 am

    Utterly mental, but in a good way! 😉

    • Daniel / Aug 22 2012 8:25 am

      Thanks marc! Glad you got that reaction. I’m particularly fond of the creep by the door with the two hammers. That whole comedy/gore/door-binding thing is pretty messed up.

  3. ganymeder / Aug 19 2012 10:28 am

    So, is she nuts? I’m assuming they’re in her head, but if so… What triggered them?

    Very creepy! Reminded me of the mini-Ashes in Army of Darkness…
    “Goody, goody two shoes!” LOL

    • Daniel / Aug 22 2012 8:27 am

      You infuriate me, in the sense that those things seem so obvious now, but didn’t come to mind at all in the writing of this one. I neglected entirely to consider what’s going on with her that’s causing this. I think perhaps she may be nuts in that Bell Jar sort of way. I -should- have put a Necronomicon under the sofa…

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