DAY FOUR LYNCH~Quite clowning around

All the way to reno
You’ve dusted the non believers
And challenged the laws of chance
Now, sweet
You were so sugar sweet
You may as well have had ’kick me’
Fastened on your sleeve

"All the way to Reno" by REM

Well they're some sad things known to man
But ain't too much sadder than
The tears of a clown when there's no one around.

"Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson

Vera put her hands on her hips and stamped her foot angrily, losing her patience with Matthew’s constant and relentless meddling. ‘We should stop for the night.’ ‘We need to start going East.’ ‘I’m worried about the survivors.’ As though she wasn’t! She privately thought that Matthew needed to worry a little bit more about getting a foot shoved so far up his ass…

She stopped and breathed, shaking her head. When had she so completely lost control of her temper? She wasn’t normally like this, or at least she didn’t think she was. It must just be the stress.

Disappointed in herself, she shouted out to the group, or at least to those who had bent their ears to her argument with Matt.

“Alright, we’ve got ONE HOUR before we need to be ON THE MOVE again! So get what you want and go!”

And with that, she went inside the small building that at one time had housed the management for the car dealership in Reno, Nevada.


The rest of group though was outside having a 'trial' for one of their number. The clown consultant had come under a lot of suspicion of late, what with trying to cheer people up with his jokes and regaling them with tales of famous clowns that he had advised in his glory days.

“Clowns are evil! Everyone knows that. He's guilty and that as plain as the nose on his face.”

“Yeah, no one grows up wanting to be a clown. I bet its a cover for some past life of cold hearted murder!”

Another looked a little dubious “That would be a pretty stupid cover. Don't you think?”

No apparently they didn't. They weren't completely heartless however. They were going to let poor Dirk have his say on the matter. The group of travelers had found the helium tank that an inn used for blowing up balloons for advertisements, special occasions and parties and were planning on putting it to use.

“Breath this all in and then tell us why we should believe you.” A large red balloon was handed over to the, now no longer happy, consultant. “Don't look at me that way, just do it.”

Dirk sighed and breathed in the contents of the balloon. He tried to stop and explain himself after a few breaths but the ring leader kept urging him onward until he finished its contents. “Look!” the man squeaked in a pitifully high voice. “I'm not a killer!”

Now was no time to ask if they had all gone mad. These days everyone was insane, too much badness in so short a time. He had tried to lighten everyone's mood with his stories in hopes that it would help. It only made him look too cheerful and that was suspicious.

“Oh yeah then what's this for?” Someone held out his Han Solo figurine and waved it at him in accusation. “Does it have secret compartments? Is it how someone will know you? Why Han Solo? Yoda was -way- more cool.”

Dirk was handed a green balloon this time and prompted amidst snickers to breath in all the helium before answering the ridiculous question. Feeling lightheaded, he wobbled a bit and blinked up at the crowd around him, trying to look as sane and trustworthy as humanly possible for a man who chose to go into a career meeting the needs of clowns.

“Its mine!” He reached for it and managed to get in a lucky strike despite seeing funny. Dirk clutched the toy to his chest and sat silently until prodded by the others to answer the question. Sighing, he looked down at the figurine before answering. It was kind of embarrassing after all, his little secret.

“ mother” Dirk tried to mumble but ended up sounding like one of those cartoon chipmunks. “She said it was my father.” Now that the humiliating confession was out he stammered in his childlike voice trying to explain quickly. The leader gave him a yellow helium filled balloon and nodded his, by now well understood, instructions. Dirk sucked the horrible stuff down quickly in a rush to explain.

“Obviously not the figurine...I'm not daft. He left when I was a baby and I wanted to know, like every child wants to know, who his father is. She gave me this and said that my Da was famous and that this was him.” Dirk tried to focus and blinked owlishly at the crowd. “Obviously there's not a lick of truth in the tale but for a long time I believed my father was someone special. Then I had my ninth birthday and there was this clown...”

Dirk was handed a pink balloon with multiple urgings of “go on” so he breathed in the stuff and croaked out more of his story.

“He waited until my mum wasn't in the room and then he leaned close and said to me 'Dirk, I'm your Dad. Your mother and I had a bit of a falling out when you were young. She told me to leave and never come back but I wanted to see you,Son, and see how you were.' Ever since” The clown consultant smiled up at the group and gasped out “that day I....”

The ending to the story would never be told; Dirk had been turning more and more blue with each balloon and finally he could no longer breathe. The well dressed man fell over holding the tiny statue of his "father" to his chest, one last smile on his face.