The office sat at the far end of the parking lot. I opened the door and sniffed the air, like a soldier going into battle. A bony, long-haired man older than fifty got up from a couch against the far wall and walked barefoot to the desk. The wall was covered by a bookshelf full of clown dolls, puppets, trinkets, toys, and dust. I could taste years of neglect on my tongue.

I turned and found the other wall covered with pictures, posters, masks, and other circus paraphernalia. It was an exhibit—someone’s untamed passion, passed down, left unkempt and forgotten in plain view. I let my eyes run wild around the room for some seconds, then noticed the man looked agitated. He conveyed a kind of exhaustion from sitting for too long, like DMV clerks and old people with dementia.

“So, you went to clown school or something?”

“No dude,” he said, sinking back in his chair. “I just found some shoes and they put me to work.”


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