Jangles is not cramped. Clowns are pliable, fold together neat as origami. Noodles’ round red nose against his chest, Yurple’s giant shoe against his face, these feel right and holy as a lover’s embrace. The intermittent beeping of horns and tinkle of bells as clowns squirm and settle into one another, hot moist clown breath everywhere, Jangles exalts in this accidental music and shared heat, and Jangles steels himself for what’s to come. For eventually the clown car’s journey ends and all clowns must bail out, scatter like buckshot into the stark light jeers of the big top. Eventually Jangles will shimmy alone in the center ring, his heart like a bucket emptied of its confetti.
Tom Weller is a former factory worker, Peace Corps volunteer, Planned Parenthood sexuality educator, and college writing instructor. His fiction has appeared in Booth, Pidgeonholes, Barrelhouse, and Milk Candy Review, among others. His fiction collection And There Came Forth a Great Fish: Stories was published in 2022. He lives in Victoria, Texas, with his wife and his ill mannered but big-hearted rescue dog, Beans. He occasionally tweets from @WellerTom1.