Sunday, February 7, 2021

A Clown in a Clown Store

A Clown In A Clown Store

Mark Davis


Professor Emily Wilfreda Wolcott smiled warmly at Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero.  "I'm so glad you were able to make time in your busy schedule," she said, "to be here at the opening of our exhibit Mr. Anarchy.  Without your help, none of this would have been possible...."

"Without my help we'd be drowning in clowns you mean," muttered Grandpa.

Wolcott was the epitome of a college professor in her tweed suit, wire-rimmed glasses and with her hair pulled back tightly.  Grandpa Anarchy wore his usual gray suit, slightly rumpled, with a silver anarchy symbol stitched over the left breast.  His muscular young sidekick Panic at the Dance Hall Boy wore a multi-colored spandex outfit accessorized with glow sticks and flashing lights.

"This exhibit is a vindication of everything that my great grandfather Professor Wilfred Eustace Wolcott  and his protégé Professor William Bradfort spent their lives trying to achieve," said Professor Wolcott.  "Here is absolute proof that the ancient Kalownian Empire dominated the Anatolian plateau in Asia Minor between 2300 and 2000 BC, before the rise of Hattusa.  I can now say with absolute confidence that all of their detractors can suck it."

The gallery was filled with glass cases in which various objects of antiquity -- reconstructed pottery, statues of bronze or gold, tablets inscribed in unfamiliar glyphs, and ancient "rubber" chickens carved from wood -- were displayed.  Two large stone statues not far from the entrance still held flecks of paint, from which one could clearly see that these rotund figures had once had white faces and that their large bulbous noses had been red.  The stone sarcophagus of Bofforma III was on full display, the upper half carved in the shape of a rotund individual with a large round nose.

"I'm just here to make certain that this ancient clown king doesn't command a repeat performance," Grandpa Anarchy said.  "Displaying his death mask is the height of folly.  That thing is mystical!  It draws people to it, you know!"

"Yes, I am well aware," replied the professor.  "The Kalownian emperors were renown as powerful magicians.  But the emperor's death mask is the centerpiece of my collection!  No show would be complete without it.  We've taken every precaution... no one is allowed inside without having first eaten strawberry pancakes produced by your lapel pin...."

Grandpa Anarchy nodded.  The lapel pin -- in the shape of a stack of pancakes with strawberries -- had been given to him as a gift by a powerful alien known as the Reality Bender.  With it Grandpa could summon strawberry pancakes as often as he liked.

"Good," said Grandpa.  "The ability of those pancakes to protect against mind control is the only reason we avoided a worldwide clown apocalypse last time.  With any luck, it'll protect us during your exhibition...."

Grandpa's voice trailed off.  "Hey!" he called out.  "Step away from the display!"  A tall, thin man was leaning against the display glass, staring at the emperor's mask.

"It calls to me," the man said.

Grandpa Anarchy leaped forward and yanked the man back.  "Oh no you don't!  Nobody's becoming an ancient clown king on my watch!"

Grandpa led the man to the front door.  His sidekick was arguing with another patron -- a man with a thick moustache.  "What seems to be the problem?" Grandpa asked.

"He won't eat the pancakes," Panic at the Dance Hall Boy replied.

"Don't like them," the man with the moustache muttered.  "Never did, never will."

"Then you aren't allowed in the exhibit!" Grandpa snapped.  "Good day!"

He turned.  Across the room a woman leaned in to the death mask display, staring hungrily.

"Hey!" Grandpa called out, charging forward.  "Stay back!"

"I want it," the woman said.  "I need that mask in my life."

"I said stay away from the display!"  Grandpa shoved her back.  ""What am I, a clown in a... a clown store?  This is important, people!  The last time someone put that mask on we were hip deep in clowns before you could say John Wayne Gacy!"

Glass shattered.  A heavily-muscled body builder stood over the death mask display, hands bleeding.  Glass lay scattered on the floor.  He reached in and picked up the mask.

Grandpa Anarchy slammed his fist into the man's jaw.  The man stumbled back, dazed.  Grandpa punched him again, and he keeled over.  Grandpa bent down and snatched the death mask of Bofforma III from his unresisting hand.

"That's it!" Grandpa Anarchy snarled.  "This has gone just about far enough!  Obviously the pancakes aren't strong enough to stop the call of the mask.  I'm summoning an expert to deal with this!"

Moments later shadows exploded in the center of the room.  A bearded gentleman appeared dressed all in black, with a billowing cape with a high collar and with dark glasses.

"I am here!" he exclaimed.  "Dark Dr. Dark, Leader of the New League of  Two-Fisted Justice, Team A, and Supreme Sorcerer of the World for five years running, non-consecutive -- not counting 2010 when I wound up in a tie with Ojal Dani and lost the runoff, or 2012 which was of course a strike year!  I have recieved your dispatch, my compatriot and co-leader Grandpa Anarchy....."

Grandpa tossed the mask to Dark Dr. Dark, who caught it.  "Right," said Grandpa.  "This mask is too dangerous to place in the hands of mortal humans.  I need you to take it and place it in the most secure, remote location you can think of... perhaps your monastery retreat in Nepal, but place a force field around it so that Harold Simonson the hot dog vendor can't get it, and maybe a dozen warding spells and whatever else you can think of and oh crap have you eaten any of my special strawberry pancakes yet?"

Dark Dr. Dark frowned.  "No," he said, "why would I?  I've told you many times before, your sickeningly sweet ideal breakfast is not to my liking.  I much prefer an egg, crumpets and tea.  You know this."

"Crap!" said Grandpa.  "Give it back."

Dark Dr. Dark stared down at the mask.  "No..." he said, "I do not think I will.  It is very compelling, is it not...?"

He put the mask on.


Deep within the Anarchy Cave, Grandpa Anarchy, Panic at the Dance Hall Boy and Professor Emily Wolcott watched news footage.  Hordes of clowns with red noses and oversized squeaky shoes terrorized the streets, hurling cream pies at anyone who got in their way.  No one was safe.  They'd already crossed from New Jersey into New York and the heart of downtown Manhattan.

"So the spirit of an ancient clown emperor and magician, Bofforma III, has taken over the world's most powerful sorcerer," Grandpa Anarchy said.  Images of a giant spell-wielding clown in a golden mask flashed across the screen.  "Well, it could be worse."

"How, exactly?" asked Panic at the Dance Hall Boy.

"I still have my lapel pin," replied Grandpa.  He rubbed it, and a plate of pancakes topped with strawberries appeared.  "If the world's about to go to hell, at least I won't face it on an empty stomach...."


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