A response to a news story heard on NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me.
Photo (C) Hellroy
I told them this wasn't going to work. I told them, "Tony Bowden," that's me, "ain't no liar." I'm a pizza delivery man, I might've been some use as a driver but those clowns would never let me behind the wheel. They still didn't trust me after the unnatural way I joined the group. So that's how I found myself in the county jail's interrogation room across from a gorilla cop whose donut belly near burst his shirt.
The goon leaned on his knuckles as he loomed over me. "You don't look like a victim."
"Telling the truth, sir." The last word left an aftertaste like an oil film anti-rainbow left in a rain puddle. "I'm not an ex-con."
"Why are you wearing a clown suit?" He pulled one of my green curls away from my face and let it go to snap against my cheek.
He wanted the truth. Easy cheesy. "Like I told you, I drove home after the late shift and these two clowns stood in the middle of the road as if they've got nothing better to do. What did you want me to do, run them over? Besides, how was I supposed to know they'd escaped."
Were donut fryers filled with brain-sapping oil? If this was what protected us, we were in trouble. "What are you, crazy? Nobody reads that junk these days."
"Look, I'm a pepperoni stinking deliveryman. I don't have money for that." I waited for him to say something, but he bored his black-olive eyes into me. I suppose I should have milked the pause for all it was worth, but like I said I'm a pizza guy, I cracked. "Twenty-four of them crawled out of the ditch when I stopped the car, stuffed me in the trunk and somehow they all squeezed into the car. Took me prisoner. Against my will, you hear me, you got it on tape?"
The cop looked at me with disgust clouding his eyes like grease pooling on a pie. "What I don't understand is why eyewitnesses report they saw you at the scenes of break-ins."
I squirmed in the chair. I remembered standing in the living rooms, wearing a clown outfit like the others. They wouldn't give me a gun, but still there was an excitement seeing the fear in the children's eyes as they saw guns pointed at their parents. The sheriff's stupid idea to replace the orange inmates uniform with clown outfits had backfired. "Didn't want to."
"The witnesses don't believe you were coerced."
I looked at the clock on the wall. They were late.
"I want their names, and the safe house where they're staying," said the cop.
I kicked the table leg and it caught the cop on his thigh and doubled him to the floor. I grabbed the keys off his belt. The door was unlocked, and surprised I pushed my way through. I locked the door before the cop arrived to pound on the reinforced glass.
Finally, I saw the hot-pink shirted clowns with their yellow and white-striped pants and their bulbous red noses as they waddled in their two-foot-long blue clogs.
"The cells are this way," I shouted at my buddies as I tossed the ring of keys. I can call them buddies now, can't I? I realized maybe this would work, maybe I was more than a pizza delivery man.