Lon Chaney Said It Best

There’s nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight.

Even before you arrive at the obvious ponderances, such as what a clown is doing parked somewhere below your bedroom window, the uncanniness of the scene will be impressed upon you. The moonlight eliminates the warm tones of the circus slap, leaving an eerily bloodless visage. Skull contours, benign in daylight, are thrown into sharp relief. The clown’s head is not a smooth, painted egg, as you may have unwittingly believed, but a strange elliptoid that has more in common with the angles of an exoskeleton than anything mammalian.

You cannot see the eyes. You strain to see the eyes, and there is a glint where you think they might be, but they lie adrift in two dark spaces you’re sure are far too deep to be sockets. Why is the mouth so big? The real article is lost in a lopsided frown, like the disruptive coloring on an owlmoth. Once you think of it, no other purpose makes as much sense. This was not a being designed to delight. This was not a being designed. You refuse to believe that anyone would willingly paint their faces in such an alarming fashion. Maybe it’s not even make-up.

Christ, even the suit is wrong. Yes, it is funny when you don clothes far too big to be your own. But no one would put on a pair of polka-dotted, quintuple-X oxford bags by accident. Nor match it with a screaming pink blouse and puffball buttons. It’s as if the outfit is mocking the concept of clothing itself. “Why do you bother?” it rasps, “it will never work. Nothing will.” An attempt was made to bolster the pants with bright red suspenders, as if falling down is the worst thing that could happen to this outfit. And what is so terrible that no one would want to see? Doesn’t it wear clown-underwear?

And now the big question: why the hell is there a clown outside your window? At this hour? Is someone pranking you? What manner of social sin would warrant this punishment? It hasn’t moved once since you just so happened to glance out the window. The phone sits just beyond your reach. You will call the cops. Maybe.

It’s silly.

It’s not silly. The absurdity makes you want to dismiss it, but perhaps that’s just what it wants. Isn’t laughter just a way to disarm your enemies? Perhaps that’s what all clowns had ever been, a front for something inexplicable, just waiting to get your guard down and…

Did it move?

What would you tell the cops, “there’s someone dressed like a clown outside my window?” They’d laugh at you. You’d laugh, but the laughter is drying up in your throat, along with the speech and scream and any other sound you could make as it starts to move.

There’s nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight.

So why is it laughing?


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