The Clown: Part 1, Coney Island


I met this guy and he told me he became afraid of clowns on Coney Island because that image of the laughing clown with the sharp teeth started there in the funhouse and bumper cars and he said I was there with my parents as a kid, back in the eighties, when it was remnants and preterite seed, an MC vaunting over the booth playing Michael Jackson or Run DMC or KRS-One and for some reason allowing me into the adult bumper cars even though I was only a kid, but they didn’t have the kid’s bumper cars and at that point it was late enough at night that he was high or drunk and everything he wasn’t supposed to be, ignoring the head I was missing in order to ride the cars according to the park statute, let me in, and the adults, in their brain-jostling frenzy, wedged me into a corner as they jousted for supreme cars, weaker ones running into me while alphas competed in the middle of the rink, rotten teenagers picking on me and the MC over the mic, come on kid, I know you stuck in the cohna but you gotta defend yoself a little dey called bumper cars kid, and finally mom having to intervene and yelling at him to stop all the cars and the music so they could take me out and prevent me from the liver-splitting action, bump and down and plate and hit, and giving the MC a piece of her mind, really laying into him, dad having to intervene because if she got any closer to him, she would have scraped out one of his eyeballs with one of her inch-long fingernails, and then a fight would have started and dad would have been in deep trouble and so the MC starts yelling at him as he pulls mom away telling him to keep his woman under control and take better care of his kid dad’s face all red, really upset, pulling me away, mom still jabbering in his ear, yelling at the MC, who by now has resumed the cars, since they pulled you out still shaken, still getting your land legs back, and you look onto the vast blue-black sea and wonder why people disagree about things and if you were older you would be more willing to have done that, now that you know the consequences, or perhaps you would have better anticipated the consequences, and unfortunately, your youth is a disadvantage and not something cherishable, but rather a perpetual looking forward to old age, when you wish you had some remnant of what you know now, then, but alas you don’t and everything seems frightening and out of your control like the mouth of a clown in mid-laugh…

By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.

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