sing me a rueful old dirge

In America fear was bubbly again. All the creepy clowns were outlawed and nobody liked an incongruent affect anymore. The children were safe in their beds and Poltergeist was just a movie despite all indications to the contrary, the untimely deaths in subsequent years of several key players on the set. I was in the woods and came across a painted face, beckoning me from the shadows. He was smiling but not, shiny and hot, and had hospital scrubs for a clown suit. I followed him to a quaint house camouflaged by the moss, and inside I met others, none of whom spoke a single word. They served me venison and goose off the iron, flame-broiled with the world’s animosity. Shriveled balloons were all about the dirty floor, and my feet were followed by the eyes of a cur beneath the table, with a dagger tail and long resting jaw. The scene had teeth. The food was outrageously good and the company so silent and modest. I felt ashamed for I was clothed in the fear of my culture, which made these good people recede to the margins. I thanked them prolifically large, then sang them a rueful old dirge. They applauded like grateful old mimes. My faced turned red as their smiles almost, and stayed that way somehow. My hair fell off my head in one lump into my hands, and my eyes widened as I looked at this wig. I looked around and before me at my empty plate, the utensils had grown twice the size or more. My hands went to grab them and that’s when I saw my own hands had swelled up like balloons. The funny old woman with the green painted eyes, she drew out some plastic white gloves like the kind you see in the cartoons. She tenderly took my wrists while staring into my eyes, and pulled them over my hands. Some mangy children beneath the table had pulled off my shoes and replaced them with ones like the others. I got up to leave and tried to cry out but no words would escape from my mouth, and I honked and I bonked and puffed and huffed my way to the door of this godforsaken place. But someone tripped me or else I tripped on my silly fat shoes, and that guy with the cherry nose and beady eyes came and put me in a headlock. Out the corner of my eye I saw the hospital scrubs, lime green, being drawn over me where my clothing once was. That’s when the face painters came – to finish me off.
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