No More Clowning Around

     The bar was deserted, and while Billy knew his regulars would be arriving soon, he thought that he’d never known a silence so pure. Looking around, he came to the conclusion that for an old man who had little in the way of education, he’d done fairly well for himself. He was the founder of Bill’s Bar, and even though it wasn’t as much of a success as he would have liked, it was enough of a success that he was able to keep it up and running.

     It was a small space, but was also the result a lifetime of hard work, and therefore, perfect. At the entrance were charming round tables, surrounded by equally charming chairs, both crafted in oak wood. The quaint lamps suspending from the ceiling above the tables gave off a warm, isolate yellow glow, making customers feel as though they were the only people there. That is, if they could ignore the noise coming from the other tables and the few noisy drunkards at the bar. The bar itself was typical; it was long and made of green marble, with matching stools. Behind it was where Billy was usually found, with bottles of various types of drinks, although the usual drink for the regulars was almost always beer, straight out of the bottle. Behind the bar was also a large walk-in freezer. Although it wasn’t used very often, there were still ice and other miscellaneous items stored inside.

    On top of this barroom was where Billy made his home. There was a set of stairs that lead up to the second extension, hidden behind a door situated directly next to the freezer. The only time Billy was upstairs was when he needed some sleep; otherwise he spent the day in his bar.
     His thoughts were interrupted when the bell attached to the front door jingled, alerting him of the entrance of a customer. Through the door came three men whose names were Corn, Moe, and Chandler. They were the regulars at Bill’s, and it looked as though they were ready for another long night of drinking. They comically became the ‘three stooges’ among the other locals, and when they were at his bar Billy didn’t feel like he was on the job; he felt like he was just one of the guys, hanging out and getting wasted. It was the only time he felt that he could really be himself, and although he never showed it, with all the stresses of running a bar, Billy needed these guys for his own sanity.
     "Hey! My drink should be prepared before I get here Bill, you know that," Chandler exclaimed sarcastically. But that was Chandler, so full of sarcasm and rude comments, you’d think he hated you. Under all that though, he had a good spirit and a good heart, so Billy could take the sarcasm and with time, he had come to love it.
     As Billy prepared their drinks, and he knew exactly what they’d want because their choice hadn’t changed in three years, he said, "Listen, Chan, I don’t want to listen to your mouth all night, so if you have something to say, say it now."
     Both Corn and Moe burst out laughing, and Moe shouted out, “He told you a’right! Yes he did, he told you straight up, didn‘t he Corn?” and Corn replied, “He sure did Moe! He told him good!”
     Moe and Corn were not nearly as clever as Chandler. They weren’t sarcastic or rude; rather, they were honest and all around decent men, but very, well… dumb. They drank and drank and laughed and laughed, but could never partake in much of an intellectual conversation. This was fine with both Billy and Chandler, who were rarely interested in an intellectual conversation at the bar anyway.
     “Alright but listen, Bill, in all seriousness, where did you get that?” Chandler asked, pointing in Billy’s general direction with an innocent look on his face, but not being specific as to what he was talking about. So as Billy handed the three stooges their drinks, he took the bait and asked, “Where did I get what, Chandler?”
     “Why, Billy, that dumb look on your face!”
Corn and Moe hadn’t even gotten through their first sips of beer before their uncontrollable laughter caused them to spew it all over each other. Then, as they looked at one another covered in their own regurgitated beer, they laughed even harder; Moe leaned back in his barstool, tears streaming down his face, while Corn fell off his chair and laid on his stomach, beating the floor with his fists and convulsing with laughter.
     The front door’s bell jingled again, and as Bill looked away from the scene Moe and Corn were causing, he saw that it was none other than June Halloway. He felt a sudden shiver crawl up and down his spine. June was a gorgeous woman, and she knew it. She had perfect, curly blonde hair which she prided herself on, and wore a lot makeup; too much makeup in Billy’s opinion, but he couldn’t deny that it did a great job accentuating her beautiful sky-blue eyes. June never went ten minutes without checking herself in a mirror, and sure enough, as soon as she walked into Billy’s bar, he noticed that she had looked at herself for a brief moment in the mirror he had placed next to the door, at her request. She was intimidating, yet adored by all the gentlemen, including the three stooges. To Billy, she was nothing but a shallow and superficial hag, who took pleasure in seeing others suffer.
     “Chandler! What a delight to see you here. And Moe, Corn, you two look as,” she paused, contemplating her choice of words, “as charming as ever.”

     She smirked as she looked down her nose at the two beer-covered men. She took off her long black jacket and placed it on the bar, then looked down at her barstool and said, “Billy, I would like a seat that doesn’t have filth on it please. And a martini with an onion. Quickly Billy, I don’t want to be here long. Quickly,” and her demand was completed with two crisp claps.
     Billy sighed, but instead of complaining, he merely replied “Yes, ma’am,” and replaced the barstool with a ‘clean’ one, although taking a quick glance at the accused seat, he could not see a speck of dirt. He then went behind the bar and began to prepare June’s martini. As a final touch, he put an olive in the glass, and gave it to her, careful not to spill a drop.

     June stared at the drink with an appalled expression, and threw the contents of the glass at Billy’s face, which stung his eyes and soaked his hair. She then hurled her glass across the room at the back wall. The three stooges’ faces were frozen in shock, and Billy’s was twisted into an expression of confusion. June looked at Billy and screamed, “I asked for an onion you imbecile! How can it be so hard for you to get a drink right? You hardly have any business here, and the few people who do stop by, you screw up their drinks? What kind of a moron… I’ve had it Bill!”

     She looked around the bar and said, “C’mon guys, we’re going to a different bar. One that isn’t a complete embarrassment to New York City.”
     The three stooges looked at Billy, then at June. They looked back at Billy and shrugged simultaneously, which would have made him laugh if circumstances were different.
     “Sorry Bill, but we only came in for a drink or two, and we’ll see ya tomorrow night anyway, right?” Chandler asked apologetically, and then, in a softer voice he said, “She scares the crap out of us Bill, you understand.”
     “Alright, buddy, see ya tomorrow night. Bye you guys,” said Billy. He realized that tonight wouldn’t be the fun night he had expected, thanks to June. She stormed out of the bar, Corn, Moe and Chandler following a good distance behind her.
     She took the guys from me? Thought Billy. But, I need them. Damn it, they were supposed to be here tonight! And she just took them, just like that.

     As he began to clean up the mess that Corn and Moe had so generously left him, he noticed that June had left her jacket on the bar.

     If she’s out of the picture… well, then I‘ll have lots of time with the guys. Yeah, yeah, that’s what I’ll have to do. Take her out of the picture.
   Sweat began to trickle down his face, and before he knew what he was doing, he grabbed June’s jacket and climbed up the stairs leading to his room. By the time he opened the door and strolled in, he knew exactly what he had to do and exactly how he was going to do it.




      A couple of hours later, just after closing time, Billy was sitting behind his bar when the door’s bell jingled. He had been waiting for June to come back and get her jacket for a while now, and was not surprised to see her walk into his bar, fixing her hair in the mirror before she finally looked at him. The expression on her face made it clear that she was not here to apologize but merely to retrieve her jacket.            

     “Listen June, before you say anything. I wanted to apologize for screwing up your drink. It’s been a long day, and I guess I’m just a tired old man.” Billy forced a chuckle, reached under the bar, and offered her a pre-made martini with an onion in it.

     “I didn’t come for a drink, Bill, I just want my jacket back. I left it right here,” said June as she patted the bar where her jacket had been.

     “Sorry, I didn’t think you’d be coming back tonight,” Billy lied, “so I took it upstairs. I’ll go get it, and please just take the drink. I know how you feel about wasting perfectly good alcohol.” He then moved up the stairs once again and spared a quick glance over his shoulder to see June sitting on a stool, sipping at the martini.

     With a smile, Billy sat on the step just in front of his door, and waited for a few minutes before going back downstairs. Finally he went down, and immediately saw June with her face laying atop the marble bar, eyes closed and mouth partly open. His smile widened - the drug he’d put in the drink earlier had worked. He walked quietly towards her and poked her side, just to be sure that she was really knocked out. When he satisfied his suspicions, he seized both her legs and dragged her limp body towards and up the stairs, her head hitting every step on the way. He nudged open the door with his foot and dragged June inside, closing the door behind him.

     Inside, there were no lights on, and while some of the moonlight shone through his window, it was still rather dark. There was a single chair in the very middle of the room. Surrounding that chair were numerous mirrors; some small, but most of them long, body-length mirrors. Someone looking inside the room would feel as though they were in a funhouse, even though none of these mirrors distorted their reflections. Scattered next to the chair were various items: a single long rope, two pink razorblades, a pillow, a camera, and a small, black box.

     Billy sat June’s body in the chair, and hummed a pleasant jingle as he picked up the rope and began to tie her to the chair tightly, ensuring no potential escape.

     “Aww, shoot! The scissors…where did I put the scissors?” Billy said aloud, for no one to hear but himself. He then began rummaging through the drawers of his dresser, looking for the misplaced scissors. As he continued his search, June awoke with a jerk. Billy casually glanced in her direction, but paid her no more attention. He was much too focused on his hunt.

     “Bill, what are you doing? What the hell are you doing?!” demanded June in an increasingly panicked tone. She tried to move her arms but failed, so instead she tried to move her legs, and yet again could not. Billy ignored her, and after five minutes of searching, June’s irritating shouts becoming more frequent, he finally found what he was looking for. He pulled the scissors out of his bedside drawer, and as June saw the gleam from their blade, her eyes widened in fright.

     “Bill! Please! Stop this, I’m so sorry… I just really hate olives? That’s all! I won’t bother you any…anymo-” and from there her pleas turned into incomprehensible sobs. Billy watched her weep, but could not find it within himself to sympathize with her. It was too late for her apologies.

     “How do you like the setup here? Enough mirrors for you? We both know how you love to look at your reflection. Well do it now June. DO IT NOW!” Billy bellowed, his first words since her capture startling her into silence.

     “No shirking June, or my scissors hand could accidentally… slip.” And he moved towards her, the scissors in his hand. Wasting no time, he began to chop off her long blonde hair, curl after curl. She again began to whimper, tense with the effort it took to stay still; seeing her gorgeous hair lay in bunches on the floor was overwhelming. When he felt he had cut as much hair as he could, he bent over and grabbed one of the pink razors. With no hesitation, he started shaving off the small tufts of hair he’d missed with the scissors. After rendering her completely bald, he moved down to her eyebrows, and despite June’s cry of contempt, he shaved them off as well. When he was finished, he took a step back to admire his work.

     “Well June, I must say, you’ve never looked better,” Billy said with a smirk. June looked up at one of the mirrors with an expressionless face.

     “What have you done to me Bill? What have you done? I’m hideous,” declared June in a monotonous voice. Judging by her lack of concern for her physical appearance, it seemed as though her fiery personality had been extinguished by Billy, and he was glad.

     “Oh no, quite the opposite. But the fun doesn’t stop here. No. I have another surprise for you,” said Billy excitedly, and as he walked towards the black box, he continued, “See, I never thought you wore enough makeup. Sure, you wore a lot, but did it really accentuate your beauty? I don’t think so.”

     He opened the small black box, which contained a costume makeup kit.

     “If you move away at all, I’ll knock you out again. Don’t call my bluff June, I’m not playing around with you,” he threatened as he began to paint. He started with the white paint, smearing it all over June’s tear-streaked face and cleanly shaved head, until none of her tanned skin could be seen. He then used blue to surround her eyes, and green for the skin around her mouth, painted downwards into an enormous frown. Finally, he painted her nose a vibrant colour of red. Once he had finished, June was unrecognizable.

     “I hate you Bill. When I get out of here, I swear I’ll kill you myself,” muttered June, so infuriated by his actions that she didn’t know how to react.

     “Oh c’mon now, this is not a time for threats,” Billy said quietly, “It’s a time for smiles. You’re a clown in her own funhouse; what’s not to be happy about? Smile!” And as he reached down and picked up his camera, he grinned. “Smile for the camera June. Say cheese!”

     The camera’s flash went off, illuminating the dark room with a blinding white light. Billy set the camera down on the floor, and picked up his final tool, the pillow. With it he walked behind June and held the pillow tightly against her face, smothering her. Her body began to thrash around, but because she was restrained by her binds, did little to escape.
     “Shhh, it’ll be over soon June,” Billy whispered. Slowly, her thrashing became an occasional shudder until she eventually stopped moving altogether.

     Billy removed the pillow, cut the ropes, and dragged the body towards the stairs. He couldn’t carry it down, so instead he pushed it. The lifeless body fell to the bottom of the staircase. Billy hopped over the crumpled corpse and opened the freezer door. He grabbed it by its ankles and pulled it into the walk-in freezer. Then he shoved the body into the far corner, covered it with ice, and left, closing the door behind him.




     A couple days later, Billy had never felt better. He had already disposed of the body and had finally received the developed clown headshot he’d taken of June. Sure, there was the occasional twinge of guilt, but Moe, Corn, and Chandler came in nightly, and that was all that mattered.  As he awaited the three stooges’ arrival, he placed the large photo in a rich, brown frame, and hung it on the wall behind the bar.

     Billy stepped back to admire the picture when the door’s bell jingled as Moe, Corn, and Chandler came waltzing into the bar, laughing.

     “Billy, my boy! Where’s my drink? I’ll take a martini today, and I don’t want an olive!” demanded Chandler with a sly smile.

     “Get it Moe? Because that’s what June said! Get it? That’s so funny Chandler!”
     Moe replied, “Yeah Corn, I get it a’right! ’Cause that’s what June said! Ha!”

     Billy laughed, thinking that he’d never find any group of people more perfect than these three men right here.

     “Hey Billy, I know you like to wear makeup in your spare time, but don’t you think you overdid it a bit in that picture?” Chandler said, obviously noticing the picture of June. Moe and Corn began to laugh.

     “Very funny, Chandler. But I don’t wear that much makeup. Looks more like the amount June would wear, wouldn’t ya say?” asked Billy, smirking at his own private joke.

     Moe and Corn burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter, Moe shouting, “It’s so true Bill! She wears so much makeup, she may as well be a clown!” and Corn agreed, “Yeah, June the Clown. It’s perfect!”

    The three stooges chuckled at that thought for a good five minutes, and spent the rest of the night chatting about nothing, caring about nothing, and knowing nothing.





The End

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