Flash Fiction | Part 2
Clown poetry. Call me crazy but I was sure it would work. Everyone else? Not so much. The thing is, clown poetry has never been attempted. No clown to ever exist had ever thought about doing a clown poetry sideshow act. I was leading the way, breaking the mould, defining what it means to be a clown in 2018, taking on the establishment.
Alright, arguing with Captain Clownaround and Dr Norbert about holding the first ever clown poetry show at the circus but they were having none of it.
I sank back into a hay bale next to Popcorn and sighed. ‘That’s it, isn’t it, Popcorn. No clown poetry then. Crushed before I even got started. I-’
Suddenly we spotted Pugit shuffling slowly toward us. He was panting heavily and waving a poster in the air.
Pugit explained that there was this arts show, called the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, taking place in the nearest town. He said that anyone can put on a show on but the organisers said that we had to treat the show like a business and set it up properly.
The next five minutes turned into a blur as Pugit discussed getting funding, registration, something about licensing for music and something about insurance too. This was not a subject that us clowns or elephants knew anything about so at first I said no, but Pugit said he was well-versed with business practices and he’d sort everything out. Blinder!
It got even better too when I told him that I’d never actually written a poem in my life and he responded to my giant conundrum by calling it a ‘miniature setback’, which made me feel so much better, and then said that he would also write the poems for me too. Wicked!
Turns out pugs are natural rhyme masters because they speak to each other in poems. What-the-bloody-hell!
And, to top it all off, Pugit said that he’d been the UK’s leading pug rhyme master three years in a row so I was in safe, competent hands. All I had to do was turn up. Fan-flipping-tastic!
I should have bloody known though, the very first millisecond when Pugit jumped into the circus wagon and my brain went that’s a bit weird. Why would Pugit be wearing a giant tutu to the clown poetry show, that something was up.
But I didn’t. Instead, I drove Popcorn and Pugit to our clown poem show with stars twinkling in my eyes.
‘Just think,’ I said as we bounced along. ‘In a couple of hours time, the Queen will probably want a word with me.’
For a fleeting moment, I thought I heard Pugit say ‘More like with me you mean’ but I really couldn’t be sure. I asked him twice but he just shook his head and tried to blame Popcorn’s bum. Popcorn was well mad.
And then it got weirder. You see, I thought festivals would have been busy, but the back lane that we found ourselves in was pretty deserted except for two people faceplanting the floor and a scraggly black cat. I think at that point though, I was just so excited to be there that I put it down to too much festivities and continued on my merry way.
We then walked down some dirty steps and Pugit gave three knocks at a wonky door and shouted the code word, ‘death to all nice people’, and a burly doorman who clearly hated elephants, pugs and clowns let us enter.
I think by the time I’d made it through a room full of angry people though, who were gambling, downing shots, fighting with each other and sharpening knives, and over to this tiny, dark stage on the opposite side of the room, that I had begun thinking something was really up. But even then, I just thought Pugit had more than likely grown up in a rough back garden and probs just needed a new set of friends.
Funnily enough, I hadn’t even read Pugit’s poem that he had prepared for me. I’d spent all week asking for it, but it was only as I stepped onto the stage that he handed it to me. I gulped as I looked out at the crowd who glared back at me with sullen faces.
I lifted the microphone to my mouth and began:
‘Scottish people stink,
I think they need a shrink-’
The room plunged into silence as I looked over to the side of the stage. Popcorn’s eyes were popping out of his head but Pugit gave me the thumbs up so I continued.
‘I mean, just look at those ugly faces,
I reckon we should fit braces,
But even that wouldn’t be enough,
They’d still look bloody ruff,
Is that why they drink whiskey,
Because without it life would be risky,
Imagine waking up with that-’
I pointed at the crowd.
‘Och aye, y’all look like the back end of a cow farting.’
Silence. Stone cold silence.
Just for about ten seconds, then unfolded a set of events that were totally out of my control. Looking back, I don’t think I really had a chance to process what was happening because I was still reeling from the last line of the poem – it didn’t fucken rhyme, did it? So all I was thinking, as shit was going down, was it didn’t fucken rhyme, oh crap, it didn’t fucken rhyme, no rhyme, no fucken rhyme. And so on.
So first up, I felt the cold wind of something skim past my left cheek. I instinctively turned to my left and pulled a knife out of the wall and stared at it. Then, as I focused past the knife, I saw Pugit flying in the air toward me in his tutu. He slammed into me with his little, yet solid, pug feet and I shot off the stage and crumpled into a heap on the floor. The crowd cheered as I wailed from my lying position, ‘it didn’t fucken rhyme, did it?’.
Then I watched, helpless, as if in slow motion, as Pugit landed gracefully on the stage on his tiptoes and instantly launched into a killer pique turn that seemed to go on forever. Except, Pugit must have been super excited because a sea of dog vomit poured from his mouth as he spun in circles.
Within seconds he’d reduced the Exorcist to a PG film as a new breed of horror, that nobody knew existed up until then, washed over the crowd. I swear, his dog vomit reached the street as he continuously twirled over and over again and the crowd screamed in terror.
The only bonus, if there was one, was that technically his pique turn had come on leaps and bounds; however, I wasn’t about to compliment him on that in front of that scary doorman covered in dog vomit.
The rest is a bit blurry, but basically, Scotland Yard said that they got a tip-off from an elephant to say that there was a murder about to take place so they sent six British swat teams down to save everyone. To this day, I dunno who the fuck chucked that knife but they weren’t about to last five minutes when I got hold of them. Even Pugit said that was well out of order and he’d back me up.
Anyway, long story short, but me and Pugit ended up with a criminal record as long as my arm: threatening behaviour, hate crimes, disturbing the peace, gambling, carrying a knife. You name it, they charged us with it. Maybe this was why clowns didn’t poem. Maybe they did and they’re all still banged up.
And Pugit too, it turned out that he didn’t know business at all. It all came out later on in court that he did once start a bone business where he swapped bigger bones for smaller ones and then realized. I was furious.
And as for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe -we weren’t even there. We were in Leeds! Bloody Leeds! Pugit had just wanted to be famous, so he thought that if I got on stage before him and did a shit poem, and then he got up and did his ballet straight after, that because I was so shit that it would make him look really good, so he hatched this stupid plan and booked us into anywhere that would have us. I couldn’t bloody believe it. I thought the nearest town was a long way away…because it was a long way away!
Then, to make matters even worse, when he was supposed to be on the stand giving his closing speech, because he represented himself, rather than say anything that might actually make it better he just went, like, ‘fuck it, nobody likes poems anyway’. Which must have hit a raw nerve with me because the next thing I knew two guards were holding me back and I was screaming ‘HOW THE FUCK DOES FARTING RHYME WITH THAT MR PUG RHYME MASTER. YOU CAN’T EVEN POEM YOU LAZY BASTARD’. And then I got more charges for that.
So the moral of the story is….well…Popcorn has just said that I’m the laziest person he knows and that I should have cleaned up the dog sick at XFactor and written my own poem, so rude, but he’s an elephant so what does he know….so the moral of the story is….stay away from Pugit. He’s the laziest person I know.
Daily Florence is a writer and cartoonist from the British Isles.