Writer's Alcove

Jester

by on May.22, 2013, under General Topic

Soon to be released this month in ebook and paper back novella.

Copyright © 2013 Jonathan Black

Cover by Brian Fatah Steel

Published by Dark Red Press

Jester

 by

 Jonathan Black

1.

Insanity Speaks

 

Standing in front of Wang’s BBQ restaurant window, Jester looked inside, not at the décor, nor the patrons who gathered around tables, sitting in booths, or filling their plates from the buffet table that stood in the center of the room. Nor did he watch the young female Asian waiters as they scurried throughout the open room with trays filled with glasses of iced water and tea, pots of hot tea, or carrying a bill. Like the customers, the waiters ignored the man dressed as a clown peering in, all the while talking to himself.

Surely, Insanity was Jester’s partner as his stare focused on one table in particular. A table of four. A husband of forty, his wife of thirty-five, a young boy of eleven who resembled his father more than he resembled his mother, and their daughter who just turned nine and resembled neither . She was much prettier than her parents. But a secret had etched itself upon her young face as if placed there by a sculptor who had found the perfect marble in which to chisel out the perfect face of fear and guilt. Still, today a messenger would release her from the clutch of that private hell. However released, it would be a memory she would carry until she reached the age of twelve. An age where she will have exhausted all the strength she had to rid herself of the secret, and would finally take her own life. Shortly after, her mother would follow. Although from the same loin and nectar as Anna Beth, Anthony was no innocent. He would continue his father’s hobby until his mentor’s bullet would take his life.

Instructed to take Anthony Alexander’s life, Jester refused. He could never hurt a child, no matter what lay hidden in the dark recesses of their mind and the things they do when they act on those dark thoughts. He would leave that task to the police or maybe, when Anthony was no longer a child, Jester would kill him. Although ensured by his partner, Insanity, it was too soon to know if Anthony would gain a mentor.

A birthday cake sat ceremoniously in the middle of the table, Anna B was the only portion of her name left as the cake, like her name, had been sliced into wedges and were now being devoured by the two children as though they had never before had the luxury. Mother picked at her cake as she studied her daughter, wishing the child happiness on her birthday.

Blind to the secret, Mother held no knowledge of the abuse Anna Beth had endured at the hands of the man who was supposed to love and protect her.

The father, Tony Alexander, had a faraway expression. His mind was elsewhere. His workshop, perhaps. A place where he felt the happiest. His “man cave” is what Mother told her friends and relatives. “Tony, oh, he’s in his man cave… You know Tony, he just loves that workshop,” her excuses sounded somewhat practiced as she responded to the question of “where’s Tony…” Too slothful to take his napkin, he wiped saliva from his lips with his bare arm as he thought more of his workshop and the helpless toys waiting for him.

Little Anthony, his back to the wall, looked past his mother and pointed, “Holy cow, Anna, mom got you a clown.”

Perplexed, mother turned in the direction of Anthony’s pointed finger. She hadn’t summoned the clown, she could never afford such luxury. She smiled, thinking Tony finally did something nice. For once.

Anna Beth squealed while trying to wedge herself out from behind the table. Poppa Tony had pushed the table close to his princess so that she wouldn’t ruin that wonderful dress she was wearing. He liked his princess in that dress and he also liked his princess clean.

“Look, momma, a clown,” said Anna Beth as her squeal settled into a jubilant laugh. Unlike Mother, Anna Beth had no clue of their financial situation, and beamed at the thought that her mother would complete her dinner with a clown.

Outside the restaurant, Jester looked away from those lively caramel eyes of Anna Beth. “I can’t keep doing this… I just can’t,” Jester said as he looked at no one but at some one.

Dressed like a Court Jester, with the pointy hat, a white face, red nose and a warm wonderful red smile, Jester the Clown shook from the pressure. Although he couldn’t hear it with his ears, he knew off in the distance, in a racing police sedan, the radio was squawking, “All available units. Proceed to Wang’s BBQ restaurant, corner of Coit and Park for a 10-32. Unit is on the scene with a visual for Jester the Clown. Suspect is presumed armed and extremely dangerous.”

Jester turned back to the window and peered inside. A single tear rolled down his cheek, leaving a sad trail through makeup applied by the hands of an expert. He looked to his left.

“They’ll kill me tonight… this will be the last…” Jester said with a lump of fear and remorse in his throat. He coughed. “It won’t hurt will it?” He stood still, waiting for Insanity to answer him, maybe trying to decide if going inside was such a good idea, or maybe he was actually hearing an answer. It appeared to be the latter as a calm passed over him and he held his head up. He nodded and said, “Okay.”

Jester looked at Anna Beth for a long moment, then over to Tony.

He listened as Insanity spoke to him.

“Yeah, Officer Jake Hooper is an idiot but there’ll be more police than him for me to worry about,” said Jester, as he looked back at the black and white Plano police sedan. “They’ll be better at pulling their trigger… It won’t hurt too badly, will it? I can only hope it’s a bullet to the eye and straight to the brain… I hear you can’t feel pain if it’s in the eye and to the brain…” Jester rambled. He shook from the thought of the police killing him, not at dying for he welcomed it, but the pain that can precede dying. When he killed, he always tried to make it fast and painless, even though those he killed deserved to suffer.

A second black and white Plano police sedan bounced and scraped across the curb as it raced into the parking lot, drowning out someone’s radio. Match Box 20 – Real World, one of Jester’s favorites, faded as the car that blasted the song sped away.

Jester hesitated for a long moment, listening to someone, a voice in his head, or maybe the voice of reason. He nodded, blew out an audible sigh, and opened the door. He hesitated as the air-conditioned cool blast washed over him. Then after a long moment, he moved to go inside.

The wind tossed celebratory confetti of sand and dirt. It rained down like birdseed at a wedding. The gesture was not wasted as Jester mumbled, “Poor little Anna Beth…”

As he stepped across the threshold, Jester heard an officer shout, “Unit One is in the parking lot, suspect is entering the restaurant.”

“Proceed with caution, Unit One. Suspect is armed and extremely dangerous. He’s wanted for multiple murders,” the voice on the radio said, and two young police officers, feeling invincible, Jester’s age, perhaps, with weapons drawn and ready, raced toward Wang’s BBQ. Maybe they knew Death was not waiting for them like a conductor taking a ticket for a one-way trip. Maybe they knew Death, in his dark hood, clutching his scythe in a bleached hand with bony crimson fingers, would be waiting for Jester, and the two had no worries. Tunnel vision can lead one down a path of deceit like a lamb to a butcher, but tonight, Death and his scythe would take someone else.

As Jester’s left foot passed over the aluminum threshold the wonderful scent of cooked meat welcomed him into the restaurant’s belly. Jester’s stomach grumbled but his mind and his partner, Insanity, led Jester directly to Tony as though she had taken him by the elbow.

When Tony looked up, he somehow knew death was only a few steps away but in his arrogance, he ignored the telegraphed message and leered at the clown. Normally his bulky physique and leering stopped his opponent but his stupidity didn’t register the danger that the malevolent figure would cause.

As Jester passed table after table he could hear the “oohs and aahs” and whispers coming from the children and the adults as well. Jester was dressed impeccably, except for the obvious trail of that single tear that had disappeared down the neck of his ruffled blouse. In the far background, he heard the door open and then the jingling of metal, keys maybe, the squeaking of leather, and thudding footsteps drawing closer. Even farther away, he heard sirens and hoped it was an ambulance coming to whisk him away to the closest crematorium, but he knew the sirens were more police vehicles. Nearly every law enforcement agency in Texas was looking for him. Jester the Clown, a serial killer of more than seventeen men, would elude the police no more. Like the Canadian Mounties, tonight the Plano police would get their man.

Jester stood silently by the table for a long, long moment. Waiting. An intense moment as everyone in the restaurant watched to see what the clown would do next. A magical show no less, or maybe a silly song and dance that would bring smiles and cheers from everyone.

“Why do you have to kill them?” Jester asked softly. He wanted the secret to remain between him and Tony. He pinched mucus from his nose and wiped his thumb and finger on a blue handkerchief hidden inside his left sleeve.

He blinked at the overhead florescence. For the first time he realized he had stepped out of the light that kept him warm, and into the coldness of that very moment. He felt a breath upon the back of his neck and knew she was with him.

He inhaled the aroma of Chinese brown sauce over fried rice and exhaled the scent of rose petals. He never knew why, but he tasted and smelled the scent of roses just before he pulled the trigger on every man he killed. He believed it to be a gift from his Insanity partner so that he would never smell the scent of death. He thanked his friend but wondered why she chose him. Why had she chosen a man who loved children more than he loved life, and he loved life so much being a clown was never something he would give up.

Another single tear welled, hanging there on his lower eyelid for a moment before it spilled over and followed the same trail down his cheek, beneath his chin, then down his neck where it too would disappear beneath the ruffled collar.

He had long ago run out of tears. There’d been too many to deal with.

Poppa Tony merely stared at the crazed man and refused to respond. Egotism often clouded reason and vision.

“Please tell me… Why do you have to kill them?” Jester asked again but louder. This time he wanted to both intimidate Tony, and also let the rushing police officers know what his next move was going to be with the murderer that refused to acknowledge him.

Jester looked at Mother, into her frightened eyes, and mumbled, “I’m so sorry…” He then looked to Anna Beth and smiled. “It will be over very soon, baby girl,” Jester continued in a near song like voice.

“What the…? Get the hell outta here, you crazy bastard,” snapped Tony, in the tone and manner he usually showed Anna Beth when he took her to his workshop.

Jester didn’t move. He stared at Tony, and then tucked his right hand into the pocket of his baggy pants.

Anna Beth started crying and scooted across the booth toward Anthony. She knew, but was afraid to admit what the clown had hidden in his pocket. She knew it would not be a clever sleight of hand trick that would bring out a bouquet of flowers, but it was a warm, kind hand that would end her secret. She didn’t know how she knew, but she felt a breath of relief and the worried lines so expertly chiseled on her face had already begun to loosen.

Tears welled in her Mother’s eyes. The secret was exposed. Mother reached and grabbed her chest where her heart lay hidden, to where she had once laid Anna Beth’s head when Anna was a baby and then hummed a lullaby that would put Anna Beth to sleep. Mother moaned a tear-filled sorrowful “No”.

“If you don’t go away, I’m gonna bust you up,” said Tony, his chair scraped away from the table in a feigned effort to stand.

Jester turned his attention back to Mother as he pulled the .45 caliber pistol from his baggy pants pocket. He pointed it at Tony not once believing Tony actually had the courage to confront someone of strength; Jester knew Tony was a coward who only took those weaker than him.

Behind him, in the background, Officer Jake Hooper, now fully in the restaurant, screamed out, “Drop it!”

Tony’s chair scraped again as he struggled to hide behind the mother of his children.

Mother, Anthony, and little Anna Beth cried out in panic.

Behind Jester, and all through the restaurant, everyone who could move leaped away from their table and rushed to the door, all the while blocking the police. As she promised Jester, the police would not have a clean shot. It was total chaos. Jester could do what she sent him to do.

Jester stared at Mother, his eyes pleading for forgiveness. Never moving away from her beautiful raw sienna eyes he said, “I have to stop him. I warned the police, but they wouldn’t listen.” He winced with each remorseful shot. Bam. Bam. Bam. Bam. Bam. Bam. Six of them. In exactly the same spot, each bullet trying to push the previous one deeper into Tony’s heart, and so quickly did the bullets enter him, Tony’s body sat neatly erect, held by invisible hands, so that each bullet was a sure kill.

Still looking at Mother, Jester said, “He has three women in his workshop. He’s murdered one, and would have murdered the other two before the weekend is over.” He turned to Anna Beth, but still speaking to Mother, “He has taken Anna Beth’s innocence away…”

Mother screamed out in horrible pain. Not at the fury that had accosted the table, nor at the court jester who had taken Tony’s life, but at the light that now shone brightly as the blindfold fell from her eyes. She didn’t reach for Tony, nor Anthony, but for her baby girl.

Anthony looked up at the clown and then over to his father in awe, and, for some unknown reason, with excitement, and for the first time in his life, with an erection. He was even closer to his father than his mother ever knew. He turned back to Jester and their eyes met and held for a brief moment. Anthony shivered in utter fear that chased away the erection.

Jester, silent, then turned to the police, who were in awe but alert, and listened as Officer Jake Hooper demanded, “Drop the gun, you fugging clown!”

Jester pointed his empty gun at Officer Jake Hooper and smiled a bright clownish smile.

Suicide by Police.

In the deathly silence of the aftermath, in the calm eye of a hurricane, Officer Jake Hooper fired a single shot.

 

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