The Mask That Always Smiles…

Here’s a cool factoid for you. The longest biggest word in any of the major English-language dictionaries is ‘pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.’ It comes in at a whopping forty-five letters and refers to a lung disease contracted by the inhalation of ultra-fine silica particles, specifically from a volcano.

However, I disagree with all those learned journals. I think the biggest word in the English language has just four letters – hate. According to Wikipedia “Hatred, or hate, is an emotion. Hatred could invoke feelings of animosity, anger, or resentment, which can be directed against certain individuals, groups, entities, objects, behaviors, concepts, or ideas. Hatred is often associated with feelings of anger, disgust and a disposition towards the source of hostility.”

So, where’s all this going I hear you ask. Pull up a chair and get comfy, because I’m going to tell you. I hate, abhor, despise, detest, and loathe clowns. I always have and always will. As far as I’m concerned, clowns serve one purpose (along with cheerleaders, but that’s for another rant, another day), and one purpose only, and that’s as antagonists in horror stories and movies. I don’t suffer from coulrophobia, but when you were scarred at the age of eight-years-old by a clown, the cuts run deep, real deep.

Way back in 1965 or 1966, my school had a visit from “Coco the Clown” (who was probably the local milkman or resident pervert in makeup for all I know), and I was randomly selected for a ‘blowing-up-a-balloon race.’ Hell yeah, my time to shine, my time to impress the hitherto unobtainable females in my class. Once they got to see my balloon-inflating prowess, they’d be swarming after me in droves.

Sadly, my opponent wasn’t the school’s resident wheezy asthmatic who always had a letter from his parents excusing him from any physical activities – my opponent, whose name has been forgotten in my advancing years, had lungs that could inflate a kid’s paddling pool in one mighty exhale, or so it seemed. I had to damned near bust a lung to ensure a hard-fought, MVP-worthy victory so I could hold my head high among my pre-pubescent peers.

To the victor went the spoils. What did I win? I’ll tell you. It was a pencil…all my sweaty-faced effort led to one solitary freaking pencil that the face-painted creep probably stole from the school stockroom. Thanks, Coco, ya tight bastard. You’ll never know the damage you caused that day.

Despite the following years of anguish and mental torture, I’m a huge fan of movies like “IT”, “Stitches,” and “Clowntown,” and I’m eagerly awaiting the release of Stephen King’s “IT, Chapter Two” in theaters.

I’m pleased to say the mental anguish didn’t scar me enough to not write a story featuring clowns, though. Having laid it all out there for you, allow me to present “The Mask That Always Smiles…”

This short story features clowns doing all the evil stuff clowns should do in horror stories. They belong to a “smorgasbord of sin” known as “The Circus of the Night.” The two clowns – Misery and Anguish – have a penchant for chainsaws and Bowie knives. Suffice to say, this pair of bad-asses are not your stereotypical circus entertainers. The story also introduces a character by the name of Absinthe Dark, the ringmaster of this motley crew.

Influences for the story include one of my all-time favorite female professional wrestlers (see if you can guess who it is) and some awesome desktop wallpaper artwork I found while scouring the Internet for inspiration.

It was a fun writing project. The subject matter is a lot gorier than I usually write and I enjoyed visiting my “dark side.” I hope to be going there again very soon. As I wrote the first draft, I was Pennywise, Twisty and Stitches rolled into one, but in reality, I’m more like Tucker from “Tucker and Dale vs Evil.”

After I finished the first draft, I put out an appeal on Twitter for a beta reader. My request was answered by award-winning Australian screenwriter Dene Stark. Dene not only gave me some great feedback, but also turned my story into a screenplay. Yay me.

So (cue the Big Top music), without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, roll up, roll up and welcome to “The Mask That Always Smiles…” Sorry, no refunds.

Click here to read “The Mask That Always Smiles…”

The Mask That Always Smiles…

“Colby McCain zeroed in on the radio broadcast as he lowered another basket of fries into the fryer. By day, the cocky, sometimes arrogant 23-year-old was studying for a degree in engineering. By night, he worked in the kitchen and bussed tables at the diner. His mind wandered as he placed more beef patties on the grill, watching the meat steam and sizzle.

“This is the 11 o’clock news and I’m Tori Faithe. Tonight’s headline story comes from Devil’s Lake. Police are responding to another suspicious clown sighting in the wooded, inner-city area of Moreland Park. The clown is at least seven-feet tall and clutching a large bouquet of black balloons. Reports state the clown is acting in a threatening manner toward pedestrians and motorists. Currently, no information is available if the person is dangerous or carrying a weapon. Police are asking the public to avoid the area…”

The Haunted PEn - The Mask That Always Smiles…

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