The monkey wouldn’t leave me alone.
I picked up a chewed hotdog stick from among the litter. “How many times do I need to tell you?” I threw it, wide to the right. “I don’t have any more cookies!”
The primate watched the fluttering projectile ricochet off the elephant’s water bucket. Then, hand reaching, he smiled and bounced.
I gritted my teeth.
Erratic footsteps stumbled in the trailer nearby. The door stuck before flying open. “Somebody help!” A large man with gigantic checkerboard pants and orange shoes nearly fell off the landing. “Look what she’s done!” He pointed, gloved finger quivering, at the oversized smile drawn onto his face.
I raised my palm like a policeman in traffic.
“You don’t understand,” he blinked extra-large painted eyes, “it’s red.” The wind tussled his frizzy pink wig.
“I don’t want to hear it, Pinky.” I turned toward the big-top. “I’m the vice president in charge of props. Yak-lady does make-up.”
“But it’s supposed to be cherry,” his voice broke as I stepped away, “with crimson accents…”
The calliope crooned from the entrance as the balloon vendors trolled the arriving crowd. The smells of deep-fat-fryers and cotton candy percolated between tents, trailers, and cages.
A hand clasped my forearm. “Stinky…”
I stopped. “You know that’s not my name, Chuckles.”
The big blue painted tear on his pasty face glinted under halogen floodlights. “You’re the prop guy, right?”
“Vice president, actually.”
“My gerbil, she’s lost.” He sniffled, wringing his hands.
“Chuckles,” my jaw clenched, “you’re the bubble juggler. The gerbil’s not part of the act.” I shrugged. “Ergo, not a prop issue.”
He leaned, grabbing my shoulders. “She was near the lion cage!”
I patted his arm. “I know. But that was in Omaha. This is Oklahoma City.” I backed away. “Besides, the lion’s got no teeth.”
His eyes darted under a puffy purple brow. “You think she could’ve walked all this way?”
“Could be. Maybe did a little hitchhiking.”
“Have you checked the hidden pockets of your manatee costume?”
His mouth gaped, a two year old on Christmas morning, then sprinted toward his trailer. “Thanks, Stinky!”
“That’s not my…”
There was a tugging on my pant leg. The monkey. He grinned wide and squeaked.
“Listen, you…” I pointed a condemning finger. “You took my whole box after the giraffe dung incident.” I bent low, my voice constricted and tight. “They were Mom’s homemade chocolate chips.” I pushed him with my foot and stood, the vein above my eye pulsating.
The monkey shrieked… and then urinated on my Nikes.
“Hey!” I jumped, staggering against a squishy frame.
“You really gotta learn to get along better.” Twix crumbs tumbled down my nose.
“He’s a monkey, Bluto.” I stared up at the double chin that wiggled as its owner chewed. “He stole my cookies and peed on my shoes!”
A voice shouted. Glass shattered and the dressing room walls shook with a deafening crash. “Get back here!”
Through the open door a figure waddled, enormous penguin feet flopping against the compacted dirt, exaggerated tuxedo lapels flapping in his attempted run. Wide eyes watered above thin red lips, white mime face pallid.
An axe followed, in the clenching grip of an oversized fireman, his coat painted with yellow flames and daffodils. His round nose flashed as a propeller on his miniature helmet spun like a helicopter rotor. “Thief!” He swung the blade to and froe as the distance closed between them.
The penguin hurried, wings extended, circling behind me, hiding.
I waved. “Whoa, hold on!” I caught the rushing fireman in mid stride. “What’s going on?”
He trembled, axe hoisted. “That… that…” He glared at the penguin. “That flightless French fowl has stolen his last joke!”
I glanced at the recoiling pullet then back to the smoldering fireman. “Smokey, Marcel is a mime. Why would he steal your jokes? He can’t even tell them!”
Marcel straightened, lifted his chin, and crossed his wings.
“Then why are his white, chalky fingerprints all over my notebooks?”
Marcel’s mouth opened as his hands went to his cheeks. He reached, fumbling in his tuxedo pocket, retrieving a gun.
“No!” I shouted.
Smokey screamed, swinging the axe.
Marcel raised the pistol, pulling the trigger.
The axe turned to flowers, raining petals about me.
The gun shot jelly into my ear.
The monkey laughed and rolled.
Bluto snorted, “Gotta admit, Stinky, you’re a wonderful clown.”
I shook my head, brushing myself off. “Vice president in charge of props.”
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