When I came to, my head was hurting so bad I couldn’t open my eyes. Aside from my groaning, I could hear an elephant trumpet somewhere in the distance and heard someone shuffling their feet in the dirt as they approached. “Hey, buddy! You okay?” he barked, leaning in just inches above me and sprinkling saliva on my face.
The rank smell of cheap cigars, onions and armpit snapped me out of the concussion faster than smelling salts ever could. As my eyes fluttered open, the dark silhouette of a stocky man stood over me, sunlight filtering pink through the paper wings attached to his back.
My head pounded like thunder from the back of my skull to my corneas.
I groaned and tried to block out the sun with my hand to get a better look at the guy in front of me. It was at that moment that I noticed the ruffled sleeve of the clown costume I was wearing. “What the hell?” I thought out loud. Shit was smeared across my comically large pair of blue and yellow shoes, to boot.
Sitting up, I found myself eye to eye with the smelly guy with the cigar, who was standing erect. Finally in focus, the dwarf was unshaven, chewing on a smoldering cigar, and wearing a gnome costume with fairy wings. He spit near my puffy pant leg and grumbled, “Yeah, I wouldn’t have gone with yellow and blue if you’re going to wear a red fro, but, then again, you have got to be one of the craziest mo-frappies I ever seen.”
His breath could have killed flies on a dung heap.
I scrunched my face into a confused knot. There was no explanation for my attire and I no idea why I was sitting in the middle of a circus tent. It’s not like I was a clown or anything. I didn’t even work at the circus.
“I’m sorry, who are you again?” I managed.
“Dumpy,” the dwarf said and scratched the bristles on his double-chin.
“Really?” I’m not exactly sure why I asked that under the circumstances.
“No,” he said flatly. “Dumpy is what my friends call me. My real name is Dumperius T. Hornswaggle. At your service.”
I nodded along and held my breath. Pulling off the curly red wig, I felt the pulsing bump on the back of my head. “Right. You wouldn’t happen to know how I got here, would you?”
The little man let out a laugh that shook his pot belly. Smoke leaked out from around his brown teeth. “You don’t remember?” The cigar rolled from one side of his mouth to the other. “Well, from what I reckon and from what I saw, you and your pals were upping the stakes on some bet outside the Bearded Lady’s tent. You lost, buddy. So you go into Bernie’s tent and about ten minutes later you come out with her.”
It sounded like something me and my friends would do. “But that doesn’t explain how I got here.”
Dumpy grinned, “Well, you went back to her trailer. I don’t rightfully know what happened in there, but it was one of two things. Either one,” he held up a stubby little finger,” her boyfriend the Snake Man came home, or two,” he held up another finger, “you found out that she ain’t no woman,” he chuckled.
My mouth was gaping open and my hand shot up to stifle the retching sounds. That’s when I found out I had lipstick all over my face.
Dumpy spit pieces of chewed cigar off of his pasty tongue, and said, “So you come tearing out the back of Bernie’s trailer like your ass was on fire, wearing nothing but your socks. Course you can’t go running around in just your birthday suit, so you ducked into the clown tent.” He blew a smoke ring. “You didn’t do a bad job coordinating that get-up, aside from the wig anyhow.”
I shut my eyes as tight as I could and rubbed the back of my neck, hoping to God that my friends didn’t see any of this.
“And how you got here, well, clowns may look friendly, but don’t ever cross them. And stealing from them definitely falls under the crossing category. They chased you all over creation until you ran through this here tent.” He waved his arms around. The underarms of his gnome costume were stained beige from sweat. “And, well, you must not be used to the shoes because you slipped in elephant crap and bounced your head off the ground. If you hadn’t woke up, I was going to throw a bucket of water in your face.”
“Wow,” I said grudgingly, “You saw all of that?”
“Some,” he replied, and held up his smart phone. “The rest I saw on Youtube.”
I slumped back down on the ground. For a second I wondered, since there was no way I could ever go home after this, if the circus was hiring and when they were leaving. After a deep breath, I realized this wasn’t as bad as it seemed. You’re supposed to publically embarrass yourself. It’s almost a rule. Sure it would be humiliating at first, but then it would just be a funny story later in life. Besides, the odds were slim that anyone would even see the video.
“Check it out,” said Dumpy with a chuckle. “You’re up to five-hundred-thousand views.”
I took another deep breath. “Are you guys taking applications?”
I hate my friends.