Clownsby leaned over the shovel, drained. His greasepaint ran in rivulets down to his chin and spattered his already soiled overalls. He was a mess, but he’d finished burying the last of the bodies by sunset.
He reached into his pocket and fished out the fifth of whiskey, upending the bottle down his throat. He coughed, gasped and smacked his lips. “I’m so glad I took that correspondence course in molecular biology,” he said to nobody in particular. “Making that clone for the police to find sure paid off. Now I can execute my evil plans without interference.”
There were clowns in every town and city now, a vast sleeper cell waiting to be called by a single toot of the subsonic bicycle horn. Clownsby’s disciples took many forms and occupations. They were deacons, doctors, plumbers, chemists, bankers, random sodomites and men and women without spines. He now uttered a fiendish laugh, answered only by the slow gurgle of the reeking brown stream that ran from the reservoir to join the river and then the ocean. Soon other nations would join forces under his sole command, bringing terror and tainted cream pies, leaving only floppy footprints and lifelong trauma. He watched as a deer, started by the laughter, darted out of a grove of trees near the grave site and, as though mesmerized, sniffed the water. The deer fell to its knees, then lay on its side, gasping. Its eyes closed, and it slept as one dead. Then, snorting, the animal awoke. Standing up on its hooves, it began to manipulate clods of dirt with its forelegs and nose–the first rudimentary steps toward full-blown juggling. Even the animals would clown it up, Clownsby thought, congratulating himself again, this time on his investment in a whole secret laboratory in which he had perfected the arts of propaganda, mind control, pharmaceutical warfare and the yogic secrets of ancient India.
“Not so fast, Clownsby,” said a voice behind him. Clownsby turned slowly, his back aching. He tongued his back molar, the one containing the cyanide capsule. Like his clone, they would never capture him alive. He put his hands in the air.
“So, you caught me,” he said. “Found me out.”
Secret Agent Kandy Fontaine raised the .357 and aimed it at Clownsby’s forehead. “Don’t you fucking move,” she said. “I’ll blow your clown ass to kingdom come. Save the people the cost of a trial.”
Clownsby’s smile was even more sinister than usual. “Feeling a little shaky there, Fontaine? Not so fast on the trigger? Maybe you can’t move your arms.”
Fontaine shrugged, but the suggestion had already done its job. Her arms sank to her sides like lead weights and the gun dropped from her limp fingers.
“Perhaps now you feel a little tired, sleepy, like you can’t hold your eyes open. It’s ok. Nobody will blame you if you succumb to the hypnotic control of Clownsby. They’ll say you fought bravely, but in the end, his dark arts prevailed. The puddin’ was stronger than Fontaine.”
Fontaine sank to the ground, her fingers grasping at tufts of grass in a furious but futile struggle to stave off Clownsby’s hold on her thoughts.
Clownsby began a triumphant dance. He pulled the bicycle horn from his pocket and was about to sound the summons when he saw Director Gustaffson step from behind the grove of trees. His eyes were fierce and fiery. He didn’t use a gun; he used words. Big words. High-falutin’ words. Words beyond Clownsby’s admittedly limited vocabulary.
It was like a cloud in his brain. He felt a thickness in his limbs; when Gustaffson trotted out a final line about “expediting the disposal of the insalubrious gelatine-packed cadavers,” Clownsby froze like a statue of ice.
“So, you like rape, and murder, and mind control, and commanding vast armies of innocent men, women, children, animals and even plants–you sick fuck, even carrots–to do your vile work. Well, your time has come, my clownish friend.” Gustaffson placed a box before Clownsby’s feet.
“Would you like to see what’s inside?”
Clownsby’s lips moved, but no sound emerged.
“I’ll show you.” Gustaffson raised the lid and set it aside on the grass. Then he pulled out a figure. A doll, the exact image of Clownsby, wound head to toe with a clear, ultrathin plastic cord. “Maybe you’ve studied yoga, pharmacology, psychology and metaphysical botany, but you forgot something. Something so obvious, it convinces me that your veneer of evil genius is just only greasepaint deep. You forgot about the voodoo.”
To Be Continued