Joining the Clown Show
With drumrolls and rimshots, spinning spotlights, glittering confetti, and lots of fanfare, all the clowns of the Professor Amos Dynamite’s Traveling Family Fun Circus piled into the little clown car: Zig and Zag, Tater and Tot, Blue Johnny, Skeeter, Josey Oh, Doc, Saggy Gene, Patches, Buddy, Cupcake, Bimini Jim, and Yuri Nitkin. The last of them, Chuckles, with a knowing smile to the audience, a flourish of his ragged top hat, a kick of his big clown shoes, and a big wooden mallet out of which a huge red boxing glove and multi-colored paper snakes sprung, he pushed the last of the clowns into the tiny car and then climbed into the driver’s seat himself, pulling the door shut and honking the shiny golden horn to a peal of even more laughter. He then set off around the dirt oval around the three rings in the big tent, weaving in and out among the blue and pink-painted horses, the jugglers, acrobats, fire-eaters, unicycle riders, and stilt-walkers.
“Okay, whose foot is that in my back?” Chuckles asked with a grin.
“Not mine,” Cupcake answered with a laugh, “Mine’s in Skeeter’s back!”
“Mine’s in Yuri Nitkin’s eye!” Tater said.
“Mine’s in Buddy’s face!” said Patches.
“I think it’s mine.” someone with a low, raspy voice said.
“Is that you, Doc?”
“No, I’m over here.”
“Nope, not me. I’m over here.”
“You sound like that ol’ trumpeter,” Chuckles noted, “what’s ‘is name, Parker something?...”
“He was a saxophonist,” Zig said.
“Wasn’t he a pianist?” Zag asked.
"Nah, he was an astronaut.” Saggy Gene said with a giggle.
“No, it’s me: Surus.”
“I thought Surus was the elephant?” Chuckles chortled.
Chuckles suddenly stopped smiling, quickly grabbed the rear view mirror, and peered into it; sure enough, there was, indeed, an enormous pachyderm fitted out in brightly-colored circus livery stuffed into the tiny car with all of them. He couldn’t imagine how he hadn’t noticed it sooner, the immense expanse of gray-brown wrinkles, bristling hair, baggy skin around the neck and the glistening off-white ivory tusks took up the entire back of the car so he couldn’t see out the rear window at all.
“Surus! Whatcha doin’ here?” He practically screamed, slowing the car down and putting the horn he’d been honking out the window the whole time down on the dashboard. “You didn’t trample your trainer, did you?”
“Oh, no, I slipped away while he was talking to the Bearded Lady… I — I want to go home, Chuckles. To see Momma,” Surus said. “I thought you fellas could help me out.”
“Where’s home?” Skeeter asked.
“I thought you were from Toledo?” Buddy asked.
“He means he wants to go back to India,” Chuckles said. “So, you skedaddling, Surus?”
“I just figured you guys could pull up close to the tent flap and I can sneak out.”
“Are you crazy? You’re 11 feet tall at the shoulders and weigh five and a half tons. What’re we supposed to do, jump out and hold open our jackets in the hope nobody notices the — ‘the elephant in the room?’ And, let’s say you do get out of the big tent unnoticed by thousands of screaming and laughing circus-goers, and even get out of the fairgrounds; you don’t think anybody’s going to notice a giant Indian elephant sashaying through downtown Bluemount, Kansas? You’re not sneaking anywhere!” Chuckles hollered.
“Well, uh, I guess you have a point...” the elephant muttered.
“Why don’t you just ask Ringmaster Bill for some time off? He’s a reasonable guy.” Doc asked.
“Yeah, he a great boss; pays us real well, gives us medical and dental...” Josie Oh said.
“...pays for our refresher courses in clown school...” Patches said.
“...and buys us all the whoopee-cushions, gag squirting flowers, twirling bow ties, paper snakes, glittering confetti and joy-buzzers we could ever want,” Skeeter finished with a smile.
“And clown noses, multi-colored saggy pants, and ridiculously oversized-shoes,” Tot added.
“Yeah, Ringmaster Bill’s a swell guy; he’d give you time to go see your mother,” Cupcake said.
“You think so?” Surus asked.
“Sure he would.” Yuri Nitkin added with a grin.
“Yeah, so don’t go, Surus,” Bimini Jim almost pleaded.
“Yeah, Surus, stay here at the circus with us and we’ll all go with you to talk to Ringmaster Bill in the morning.” Blue Johnny said.
“You honestly think he’ll let me?” Surus asked.
“Sure.” Chuckles assured him.
“Gee, thanks. You guys are sure swell.” The elephant smiled.
“Here, to celebrate your staying in the circus, we’re going to let you hit Strongman Steve in the face with the cream pie when we get out of the car.” Chuckles added and all the other clowns nodded.
“Really?” The elephant asked with a chuckle.
“Yeah,” Blue Johnny said, handing the elephant the pie. “And it’s Key lime pie, Steve’s favorite.”
“And if any of the rest of us did it, he’d knock our blocks off.” Saggy Gene added.
“But thankfully, you’re too big for that, Surus.” Buddy said
They all laughed and Chuckles pulled the tiny car right up in front of Strongman Steve, who was lifting a fake barbell labeled “10,000 lbs.” and strutting around pompously with oiled muscles and waxed mustaches. The clowns all leapt and rolled and somersaulted out of the little car to drumrolls and rimshots, spinning spotlights, glittering confetti, and lots of fanfare, followed finally by Surus who, trumpeting loudly, hit Strongman Steve in the face with the Key lime pie to uproarious laughter and cheers from the crowd.
Ringmaster Bill loved the routine. Surus approached the ringmaster for a private chat later that night, and the old man gave the elephant a big hug and said “Of course! Family comes first.”
The next morning he bought Surus a plane ticket and gave him plenty of time off to go visit his mother, and after the elephant got back, having seen Frankfurt, Dubai, Singapore, Tokyo, Seoul, and Honolulu too, made Surus part of the clown act. Surus got to travel with the circus to Kansas City, Indianapolis, Grand Forks, Miami, Washington, DC, and a lot of places in between, and in every place he’d squeeze into the little car with the clowns, ride around the ring, and pop out with a flourish and splat Strongman Steve in the face with a cream pie. What a life! Although his family was in Assam, India, Surus felt glad to have found a second family with his circus-mates.
“Thank you so much Ringmaster Bill for making me feel welcome and included at your circus, and letting me make time for Momma, too!” he finally said one day, hugging the ringmaster with his long trunk.