Clown shoes

A Short Story

Published by Unlikely Story

I told him not to look. I told him. But Jameson’s always had a gluttonous curiosity. The kind that chews and chews on your liver until you give it what it wants.

He didn’t just glance at the thing when we passed by the enclosure. He really looked. Just straight-up gawked like the idiot he was.

“He doesn’t have shoes,” he said in his little-boy voice.

Of course not, I said. Discarded clowns don’t get to have shoes. Everyone knows that.

Except for Jameson, of course, but he really should have known better. He was twelve. Twelve is too old to be naive about clowns.

“But he looks so sad.”

It, I reminded him. Not he. And of course it does, I said. Clowns are tied to their shoes.

The same way selkies are bound to their skins and bird-wives are chained to their feathers. That’s how the world works.

“What does it look like with its shoes on, then?”

Ask mom, I hissed as I dragged him out of the slaughter-red tent. Jameson shut up immediately. He was just a baby — lucky brat — when the clowns came for dad but he heard the stories.

The drive home was caked in uneasy silence. Fog crawled up through the Oregonian undergrowth to take bites out of the fat white moon. From time to time, Jameson would point out eyes in the bushes. Feral clowns. Officially, they weren’t anymore dangerous than your average grizzly. But I still didn’t like them.

“I don’t like red,” Jameson said as we closed in on the edge of our town, which glowed like a wound in the night.

You’d like it a whole lot more if you were being chased by a clown, I said, as I rolled my eyes and fiddled with the rear view mirror.

Available as part of Clowns: The Unlikely Coulrophobia Remix.