The clown reached up and tweaked his own nose, laughing hysterically.
''But I AM real.'' he whispered.
He watched her sleep, her arms bent at right angles, her hands fisted at either side of her tousled head - like an infant.
''Bless you, my child.'' murmured the clown, making a cross over her with his white mittened hands. ''The bless to you - even terrible!'' This slip of the tongue caused a fit of the giggles so uncontrollable and overpowering that the only way he could recover his composure and break their grip was to flush the cistern once more. He looked at the swirling waters in the bowl, for some unknown reason tinted purple, and the sight and sound halted his painful laughter and brought tears to replace it.
He looked at her, unconsciously tweaking his nose again.
She was too eager to believe all that Bishop nonsense, he reflected. A true believer would know that any bishop worth his salt would not have corrected her incorrect protocol and said gently, ''Just call me Father.'' Any bishop, any monsignor, even a Cardinal. And for that matter, the Pope himself. What fools these mortals be, he thought, turning to the window.
Time for him to leave this place, for now. He could return when she woke. He would leave her to her dreams.
He flew through the open window and into the night.
Passing another house nearby, he spied two children, a girl and a boy. They were sitting on a cabin bed, clutching their sides in paroxysms of helpless laughter, their small faces flushed and sweaty. He perched on the windowsill,watching them,unseen.
The girl was pointing at a computer screen next to her bed, her elder brother reading aloud from the monitor. He could not hear the words, so peered at the text, It appeared to be a story writing website and these children were dabbling.
''The pooey man got into his poo rocket and went to the moon. He was farting when he saw it was made of poo. A green poo man came over to him and farted, and then said ''Welcome to Poo planet, earth poo-ling. We are farting to meet you and award you the Poo medal.''
The clown mentally applauded their great talent and flew on.