It is dark. The street light in front of the Thorson house doesn’t throw good light, it’s weak and yellow like malaria. A faint moon doesn’t help, it just flattens the light making details bleed together; edges hard to find. Across the street stands The Clown all smiles and teeth. William feels the roots of the earth holding tightly to his ankles keeping him from attacking or running. With one hand on the door latch of the truck and another on the rail of the bed he runs questions through his mind. They race like slot cars around and around the same track. Was that there when I came out of the house? How could I have not seen that? Round and round and round, 0ver and over and over.
Fear isn’t in his mind, just awareness. Awareness of failure to see a threat standing across the street from his children, wife and home. Awareness of his “worldwide 9” under the truck seat. Awareness of The Clown standing like an IED waiting, perhaps for his son to return from his date or his youngest to take out the trash. Awareness of the fake blood dripping from the machete in The Clown’s hand. He knows its lie from across the street. Real blood ain’t nothing like the fake shit, probably using a pump in his sleeve to keep it wet. Mind games. The Clown is a fucking terrorist in the truest sense of the word, only wanting to breathe and drink the fear of his children, to masturbate with the image of their panic. It’s your move Clown, he thinks. Hearing his thoughts The Clown starts to walk toward him wide collar flopping with each step. It’s not a threatening walk, it’s like a slow walk to the mailbox, it lacks malice of any kind and reads forced with the big shoes and baggy polka-dot onesie.
Smoothly he works the latch and opens the door, being sure to keep his breathing even as he keeps his head up–eyes on target–dips at the knees and reaches under the seat for his gun. The gun comes out cleanly with a gentle tug. Shielding the weapon from The Clown he works the slide putting a round in the chamber. It is so very quiet and he can smell the road and oil and grass and fresh dirt left in the bed of the truck and the wet heavy air and then he hears himself, in his big voice, shout “Halt” and “Stay where you are” followed by “I’m armed–stay where you are.” And the gun swings up. The Clown keeps walking, walking like a teenage boogie man wannabe, his silhouette growing behind the orange dot at the end of pistol’s barrel. The Clown is a shadow, a shape which has a center, a center he owns. “Final warning” he hears his voice booming at The Clown, the words, the warning pushed out of his lungs aimed and propelled to make The Clown stop but there’s no stopping The Clown who rubber mask flaps at the jowl like an old, well fed politician. Focusing again on the chest he pulls the trigger twice.