Scream like a girl

John Talbot was not usually shy. His job made him outgoing but as soon as he walked into the 1970s village hall, his heart raced. She’d not seen him, he was sure of that, and when she did, he knew she wouldn’t recognise him, not without his costume… without the mad multi-coloured wig, the red nose and ‘war paint’ as his mother Mildred used to call it; the white, black and red that was supposed to look humorous, make the children laugh.

For all the years he’d been an entertainer, nearly thirty, he’d always had mixed reactions. The majority loved him, but there had been one or two at every venue that had gone crying to their mothers. Mothers who’d whisked them away to play with balloons or eat yet more cake and ice cream, but not before they’d glared in John’s direction as if it was his fault he was there, not the parent who’d booked him for their spoilt brat’s birthday.

He went to the bar and ordered a whisky. He’d had a few of those in his time but tonight he’d just have the one… seeing as he was driving.

He stared in her direction, not at her, not obvious. John was an expert at how to look in a crowded room, only he usually had make-up to hide behind.

It was the black kid’s birthday he remembered her from. The sister of one of the mother’s, there to help make up the grown-up numbers, although compared with John she’d hardly have been called a grown up. John figured she’d have been late teens, early twenties, less than half his age, and tall. He liked tall. Anyone approaching six feet was a bonus. And that smile, he remembered that smile.

Someone behind him coughed but John ignored it and took a swig of his whisky, then shuddered as it ran down his throat. The person behind him coughed again and said John’s name.

John spun round, expecting to see someone he knew but instead saw his clown costume staring back at him.

He dropped his glass and screamed like a girl.


Photography courtesy of

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