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Volume 2, Number 7 -- July, 1997

Under the Big Top

by Dean Shutt

 So anyway, me and Dave (the other Dave) pulled into town about half past six in the morning. We had been driving all night with nothing but a bag of Ruffles, a dozen Ding-Dongs and a fifth of Wild Turkey to sustain us. Now before anyone out there gets all bent out of shape over the Turkey, let me assure you that whoever was driving had his with coffee, we aren't menaces after all. The point I was trying make is that we were starving. At half past six in a sleepy little town your food choices tend to be limited, though. So we headed to the only restaurant that happened to be open at that hour, the local Denny's.
 Being old Denny's hands, Dave and I could have got along all right without menus. For that matter, we would have been OK without the waitress, but what the heck, she seemed nice enough and there wasn't any room in the trunk anyway so...never mind. Anyway we sat down in those luxurious vinyl booths and rested our weary heads while we waited for the nice lady to bring us our coffee. When she brought the Java we asked her to leave the pot and about a hundred sugar packets (I've always held that you can never have too many stimulants). She seemed kind of uncomfortable with that idea but then Dave gave her a smile. Dave's smile has a certain effect on a woman, but it's usually worn off by the time the police arrive so charges are rarely pressed. So she left us with our coffee and went to get us our three Grand Slams a piece (a growing boy needs his protein after all).
 With coffee and food solved we needed to plan our day's activities. We had been on the road pretty much constantly since the whole Dairy Queen fiasco (I don't care what they say, he never told us he was a cop and what did they expect men of action like Dave and I to do when a man wearing a gun enters our Dairy Queen?) and were actually starting to enjoy it. Of course once the Air Force realized those dummies we'd propped up at our desks weren't us, we might have some problems. But we figured that they just might make it till our discharge date next year. Heck, according to my bank statements, mine had earned me a raise. The problem was, we were getting bored with being on the road, bedding hundreds of gorgeous women and performing startling acts of heroism. What we wanted was some good old fashioned fun, no more psychos, beauty Queens or middle eastern terrorists. Just some boring small town fun.
 That's what had brought us here to this burg. We'd seen signs on the highway for a County Fair and figured what the hell. After all, you can't find more boring fun than at a County Fair. What with the tractor pulls, livestock shows and appearances by people like Billy Ray Cyrus, why, that is about as boring as fun gets. So, needless to say, we were excited at the prospect of a long idle day.
 When the waitress returned with our food I knew she had become smitten with me. After a while you can just tell these things, there are hints you know. The way they play with their hair, the way they give you those furtive looks, the way they pause between dialing the 9 and the 11, all of those little romantic games. Unfortunately for her, I wasn't interested that morning. It had been a long night and I just wanted to sack out for few hours before we hit the festivities. She had it bad though, following us into the parking lot, begging me to come back. Granted she tried to hide her affection by claiming we hadn't paid for our food, but trust me, the vibes were there.
 We headed out of town towards the fairgrounds. We planned to park and crash in the car until the fun got up and running that afternoon. As we passed through the main drag, we could tell we picked the right place. A couple of fast food joints, some gas stations and minimart were about the only modern structures in the whole place. It was nice quiet little village, just what we needed to soothe our jangled nerves. We got to the fairgrounds and parked along side the road under a nice big shade tree. After a couple of hits of nitrous to put things in their proper perspective we dropped off into the sleep of the innocent.
 We woke up around three and headed off to a little stream we had passed on our way in for a wash. It can be hard to stay clean on the road and laundry is an especially thorny problem. We usually found it convenient to wear the same clothes as long as possible and washing fully clothed when we got the chance. We were rumpled but hygienic for the most part. After our bath, we headed to the fair.
 Everything about the fair was just how we remembered from our youth. The fence even gave way under the same amount of pressure from the wire cutters as it did when I was a boy. We were in and happy then, with a nice relaxing day lay ahead of us. We sauntered down the midway, past the rigged carnival games and the various fried food stands. Little children scampered past us as their parents kept a watchful eye from the beer tent. Yep, it was just like the county fairs of my younger days. Why, in no time at all the drunken brawls would start and the State Troopers would wade in with the tear gas and billy clubs. Brought a lump to my throat, I'll tell you.
 That's when the trouble started. We heard the kids screams before we saw what was happening. Coming up the midway was the biggest, ugliest, meanest looking clown I had ever seen, and I have seen some beauts. He was picking up little kids and tossing them to the side like so many rag dolls. I exchanged a look with Dave, and we slipped between a couple of trailers to let the nut go by us. We were hoping that the cops would handle this one, cause as I've said, we really needed a day off. No such luck though, a good ol' boy in a State Trooper uniform moved towards Bizarro Bozo to have a word and caught a size thirty-two shoe upside his head for his troubles. The clown had barely slowed.
 This then was exactly what we needed, a psychopathic clown that obviously had martial arts training and was intent on snapping as many children's necks as he could reach. Dave reacted before I did. In a flash he'd scooped up some of those weighted milk bottles that are impossible to knock down, and began chucking them at the clown's head. This wouldn't have been a bad plan of action had he not been dumb enough to actually hit the moron with one of them. Unfortunately his aim was true and the loon spun around and stared directly at my compadre and I. We gave him a smile and a wave and took off for the hills with Krusty in hot pursuit.
 Luckily, Dave and I have always been good at thinking on our feet and soon had a plan for our painted friend. I tore off to the right and Dave to the left, each intent on performing his part of the scheme we'd come up with. I headed for the food pavilion to locate a few gallons of grease. Dave took off for the area where they were holding the home improvement demos for his part of the plan. We were going to meet up later at the highwire act. Meanwhile the clown had decided to chase me. It didn't matter that I kept screaming that Dave had thrown the bottle, he just wasn't thinking straight. I lost him by ducking through the freak show tent and into the folds of the world's fattest woman. The things I do for kids!
 I gathered up the lard without too much trouble and headed for the high wire act. Dave got there a little later, explaining he'd had a little trouble convincing the carpenters to give up the nails we needed. He accidentally had to drop a couple hammers in the proper places before they would agree to lend us the proper supplies. We commenced preparations for our crazy friend's arrival. We knew it wouldn't take him long to find us, it wasn't that big a fair. Besides, the fat chick had given me up the moment I left her. Looking back, I probably shouldn't have told her that "Roseanne" joke.
 He came barreling around a corner just in time. He slowed to a stop and shot me an evil grin, I grinned back and shot him the forehead with a pellet gun I'd taken off a kid. He let out a roar and tearing at me like a madman, which of course he was. Dave yanked on the tripwire and the clown was suddenly airborne flying at me head first. I ducked out of the way and he hit the ground...and the full speed. He must have hit that bucket of nails at about thirty miles an hour. He was easily about six-five and yet fit quite nicely in a four foot tall barrel filled with finishing nails. For obvious reasons he started thrashing around like a wild man. Dave and I pulled on that rope for all we were worth and what with the adrenaline and all, we got him about thirty feet up the highwire pole before our arms gave out and we tied it off.
 With that we took our leave of the situation. I suppose we could have stayed and been heroes for the moment and all that but that just isn't our way. We had seen a problem, we had solved the problem, we were no longer needed. We figured even the State Troopers could handle it from there. Heck all they needed to finish the job was a reasonably sharp knife and some Bactine.
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