Wrote this in the course of 2 and a half hours in the morning. Hopefully I got my point across and didn’t get too lost in myself. Actually, it is likely that I will change the ending
And so they gathered around me, clowns, ghouls, armless hands and fingers all, for I sat by the pool of immediate fortune with my head bowed. The clown, presenting himself and his pasty white face with a step forward and jazz step known as the shoe shine, waved his jazz hands and grinned, rhyming:
“A pensive look flutters in the air!
Such a face is often rare -
You don this mask when you start to care
So share! Share,
And throw your troubles to the air!”
He jumped from foot to foot with each rhyme he spoke, smiling his horrific, lipsticked grin. The audience simply watched in peace, for even though many of them were often butting heads with the clown, they propagated their assent with silence, waiting as the clown continued to hop from foot to foot.
I rose from my seat, a wooden log sometimes, when it was not a steel chair, or a lounge or ball and chain. I rose from the pool that reflected every face but mine, and where that was supposed to be was a blur, even in the eyes of those I gazed straight into. Yet when I touched my face I could feel the nose, poke an eye and pull the hair, scalp, eyelashes or brow all. The face existed, it simply had no look to it.
“I’ve been thinking”, I began, reveling in the vibrations of my lips and teeth, fleshy and bony as I spoke, “of the simple question, the question we always solve together. Who of you (and here I rotated full circle with a finger outstretched) will accompany me today?”
As my finger passed upon each choice, the disembodied hands from earlier pushed each candidate forward before they stepped back. When it was finally their turn, at the empty spot in the circle, they dashed back to position and quickly mimicked a mouse and keyboard. When I passed over them, they slumped in disappointment, and pushed no candidates forward thereafter.
There was silence, but breaking it was the ever fearless of the group, the ghoul and robed spectre of death. They too were faces in the group, and they stalked forward and peered down into the pool. With their approach, the pool fenced itself off with walls of stone and became a well. The earth shuddered as the ghoul on four limbs peered his frozen face over the rim of the water, his jaw unhinged and drooling, and the well drew well back as death hissed.
“I ssee nothing for you ssave another dull day on thiss plane of exisstencee… come with me, and I will bring you peaceee.”
He had always been coercing me from somewhere in the background to find peace. He was daunting too, but not because he was death, for death had no choice in the matter. He was daunting, because often there was a draw from him to me, and I found his opportunities appealing. That was the fright of death, and he curled his skeletal fingers forward. I stepped towards him, but not before all the other faces, save the ghoul pulled back. The strain of it all, coming from the child of memory, the adult to become, the imp of imprisonment and the centaur of wonder, those drew tears from my eyes, and they cried too, wailing and pulling me back. The smith, the jersey, the fairy helpers and hands pulled too, and dragged the droplets towards the earth.
“You have more to see, more to do!” they cried in unison. And then I whispered in reply to death.
“Not yet,” I said, even though death’s hand was calming and enticing. He hissed and shrunk away, disappointed. “But soon, my friend. Soon.”
Death smiled then, patting ghoul on the head as he turned away. But ghoul did not go, and he continued to look into the well and at me, expectantly. The chorus breathed a sigh of relief, but their eyes turned to me once death was gone.
Once again, I peered into the well of immediate fortune, the liquid inside still colorless to many, and saw that the level of the water was rising. The day was fresh, but the day was looming on the horizon. The faces came closer, but none approached, but they made a wall as they stacked up upon one another. Only the ghoul stayed within the circle, and I looked at each face, each hopeful look to be my face for the day.
Seeing my hesitation, the ghoul became more lively. He was almost prancing upon his hands and feet, his almost hairless scalp flinging the tendrils that were left in wild spirals atop of his head. He was often like a puppy before he was chosen, and I knew that I would go with the ghoul again.
I knew it, the clown knew it, the ghoul knew it, everybody knew it. I would speak the words of not knowing who to choose, then resign myself to a choice by making none. Indecision and no decision was a decision too, and that decision was the ghoul. The ghoul was the lazy one, the gnawing one, the biting one. The one who let my body rot by eating away at it.The imprints of his teeth would stay in my arms, legs, neck and mind, still there from the days before and invisible.
Death earlier had smiled because he knew the ghoul would be chosen. The ghoul would bring me soon to him, after the ghoul had eaten himself full.
The faces began to disperse as the brim of the well began to have liquid bubble over. The time of choice was near. As if on cue, the clown frowned and muttered to himself:
“There is no time,
The well’s filled up
You’re resigned to grime
Fortune my buttocks
My ass and derrière
I’ll take my friend the pen here
And we’ll leave you today
For someone who cares.”
The clown had been my friend throughout many the hard day. He had been my face in front of others, even when the ghoul ate away. The child and fairies had kept me hopeful and young, but the adult in me in his rare showings, made the right decisions while the centaur kept my dreams wild. Still the ghoul howled on. He began to lap at the well as my fortunes began to overflow.
But then I did something that I had never done before. Something needed to change. Gripping my fingers on the edge of the stone well, I heaved upwards with my arms, unearthing it from the ground. With nothing to drink, the ghoul gave out a little whine, but some of the water splashed to the ground, but some on the faces of the faces about me too. I pulled and pulled until the well stood erect, the bottom sealed itself and made it a tall, stone bucket. Then I pushed it over. My fortunes poured out and flooded the planes.
“There!” I declared. “You hungry faces, yearning for a morsel of chance. Settle yourselves in one place each and take your share. I’ll take you each on then, when the time is right.”
The ghoul whined and howled, but quickly began to flatten himself as to take as much of the space as possible.
Then I turned away and began to stalk back to my chambers. I had had enough, and the faces that each wanted to be on display would get their time. I contemplated death’s offer as I walked, but then I realised that I did not walk alone.
“What’re you doing?” asked the clown who held my pen. “Go back.”
He pulled me around with a yank of his gloved hands. His red nose was no more red than the area around his eyes.
“Go back”, he repeated. “You didn’t have to do that.”
I looked in bewilderment at him.
“I only gave you all what you all wanted. A piece of me. Now you all have it, so let me be.”
The clown did not let go of my shoulder.
“Let go. Go away, and talk in rhymes. That’s what you’re supposed to do.”
Two of the things
You’re doing to yourself
Out of four I do two
Out of four two is yours too.
Is this the rhyme you want?”
He pulled an armchair from out of the air and sat down heavily in it, and pushed me backwards into the catch of another that appeared. Stroking the two poles of his hair that came out of his head in diagonal pillars, he continued to speak.
“Do you even know why I talk in rhymes? Or why I’m dressed like a clown? Do you even remember my function? I’m part you put on whenever you have friends over or whenever you have to go out and talk to people. Usually you put on Mr. Hidey over there,” and he gestured at a trench-coated, detective-looking shadow trying to find his own piece of fortune on the ground. “but once in a while you put me on. But I’m a clown.”
“So?” I said, defensively. “Everybody loves clowns. Clowns are fun.”
The clown gave me a quick slap across the face with his oversized glove. It was painless, but sobering. I could hear the din of the flood dying down as suddenly their attention was directed towards us.
“Not you. You hate clowns. You hate having to put me on. You like to think that people shouldn’t have faces, but that this clown-like you is the one that they’ll most accept. That this rhymey, chimey, fluttery you is the one that’ll they’ll like most, so you hate me the most out of all of them. That’s why you make me a clown. That’s why you refuse to accept me.”
My look must have been frantic as I looked at him.
“You’re breaking the rules. You’re in my imagination. You’re being too explicit. I want the story. I want the story version.”
He sighed and showed me the face that I had on now, the child, but not the child of memory, but the child who needed to get what I wanted. Then he pulled off his makeup and hair, and did it as if he was pulling off a mask. Suddenly his face appeared, not mine, but a wiser, friendlier friend who had come to visit and changed my life once, a long time ago. I had admired him. Almost worshiped him.
“D— tells tales too. Or, told, and you wonder what he’s up to now. Everyone liked him too. Admired him. You tried to be like him. Made me, to be like him. Then you made me a clown.”
My friend leaned forward and put his hand on my face, his palm, yes! On my nose. His thumb and pinky finger above the corners of my eyebrows. The base of his hand hovered above my mouth and ricocheted the air I heaved outwards back onto the surface of my face.
Yet in his eyes I could still see that my face was a vortex. Still a blur.
Then he was a clown again, and in his hand he held a wine glass, but filled up with the liquids of my immediate fortune, and he was walking away towards the debauchery being made over the liquids and what I had poured out onto the surface.
“You’ve lost yourself!” he said, sipping.
“Lost yourself and the result is this —
but nothing that can be lost
is something that can’t be found again.”
The ghoul was still swimming in the pool and the clown stepped on him to get across.
The water level rose and overflowed.
I took a sip of the fortune that drowned me and walking forward I chose to seize the immediate day.