By Tony Owens
‘Gangsters? No, no. We’re merely local businessmen. My name is Wilson and my associate is Gimlet.’
Klinko, the King of Klowns and Madame Heisenberg, the fortune teller of Hernandez’s Circus of Terror, regarded the two men dubiously.
‘What do you want?’ asked Klinko.
‘Well, you people have pitched camp in our lovely little town. We maintain its picturesque quality by levying passers-by a small tax that is primarily invested in the beautification of the local area.’
Madame Heisenberg turned to Klinko. ‘It’s a shakedown.’
Klinko sighed as he considered the parlous state of the circus accounts. ‘We can’t afford to pay a bribe. Our circus is running on the smell of an oily canvas.’
The two extortionists went into a hurried conference. Gimlet made strangling gestures with his hands.
Wilson shook his head. ‘My colleague, who tends to err in favour of the belligerent gesture, is sorely troubled by your lack of co-operation. I’m not an unreasonable man and so I will give you 10 minutes to pay.’
‘Or what? Our circus will be involved in some sort of ‘accident’?’
‘It will be no accident. We will burn everything down. I have no wish to obfuscate here.’
‘No I’m sure you don’t,’ muttered the clown, making a mental note to peruse the Shorter Oxford Dictionary at the first available opportunity.
Madame Heisenberg, a steely glint in her eye, said, ‘Leave this to me.’
She walked to her caravan and returned ten minutes later with a small wicker box. Placing it on the ground, she chanted in an ancient tongue. The sky darkened and storm clouds rolled in with flashes of lightning.
The only words Klinko could make out were some sort of reference to the Elder Gods, or the Ancient Ones, but otherwise it could have been a recipe for a cheese soufflé for all he understood.
With a puff of sulphurous smoke the box opened.
‘Yield to the unearthly majesty that is Mr Fwuffy!’ cried Madame Heisenberg.
A white long-haired Angora rabbit of infinite huggability hopped out of the box and twitched its cute button nose.
‘Aw, look at the widdle bunny wunny,’ said both criminals in unison.
Mr Fwuffy opened a third eye in the middle of his forehead. He became even cuter. The dark skies lightened to become an impossibly beautiful blue. A rainbow spanned the heavens, and butterflies of kaleidoscopic hues fluttered round. Daisies sprang from the earth in profusion. Klinko was pretty sure he saw a unicorn in a pink tutu.
‘Avert your eyes, Klinko,’ shouted Madame Heisenberg.
Gimlet, who had undiagnosed Type 2 Diabetes, exploded in a cloud of icing.
Wilson, perhaps made of sterner stuff, stroked the rabbit’s head. Soon, though, he collapsed, and jelly beans poured out of his every orifice.
The subsequent autopsy revealed hyperglycaemia caused by elevated blood levels of sugar and spice — and trace chemicals the coroner later classified as, ‘all things nice’.
About The Author
Tony Owens is an ESL teacher living in Brisbane with his wife and son. His short fiction has appeared in the anthologies In Fabula-Divino, Zombies Ain’t Funny, and 18. He also does a flash fiction series chronicling the adventures of the long-suffering Klinko, the King of Klowns, which appears semi-regularly on the AntipodeanSF website. His ultimate ambition is to find the literary sweet-spot between H.P. Lovecraft and P.G. Wodehouse.