Scene Seven

Flying Pie was one of the few remaining institutions in town upon which Bernie Jackson would extol the coveted title of Pizza Parlor. Melody wasn’t entirely sure of the exact specifications that would warrant this, other than it should serve the titular food choice, along with beer and salad (via an open bar of airborne contaminants). But her best guess was poor lighting, rude patrons and the constant clatter of metal trays being banged together in the kitchen.

Lonnie and Bernie were staring up at the large board above the counter. The young woman at the register began by asking them for a type of crust and was rhythmically tapping her pen on a small tablet. From Melody's point of view, this had no meaning behind it other than possible OCD, the pressure of it seemed to make Bernie nearly panic.

“Um," he began. "How thin is thin crust,” he asked her, not looking away from the board.

Lonnie took over. “Don't listen to him,” she said. “We'll just get our usual. Regular crust, one topping - that being mushrooms.” She tapped her husband on the back, either to calm him or in an attempt to shoo him out of her way.

Bernie breathed a sigh of relief. “Yeah,” he agreed. “Those things she said.”

The young woman gave them a number and some water cups, which Melody grabbed and took over to the dispenser at the far side of the counter.

“Let's find a quiet corner,” Lonnie said, helping her daughter.

They pushed their way through the throng of gawkers -- people who seemed either confused by the ordering process or possibly waiting for the rest of their team to show up (there seemed to be an inordinate number of small boys in filthy baseball uniforms milling about) -- and entered the main dining section. The place was decorated with photos of little league baseball and swim teams that the restaurant has supported over the years, as well as photos of past patrons and lots of collectible knickknackery. The one distinct feature of the place was a set of table and chairs fastened upside-down to the ceiling.

Melody stared at the anomaly, suspiciously, and hoped her father would fail to notice this, begging the Universe to just once not subject her to a dad joke about overhead seating.

“Backroom,” Lonnie said, directing them to a small, hallway dining area with three or four booths and a couple of old video games. While the room was dark and smokey, and shared access to both the bathroom and the pizza pickup window, the location was usually less crowded and quieter than the main rooms. To Melody's dismay, however, she noticed an upside-down table and chairs fastened to the ceiling in here as well.

They sat down in the farthest booth.

“Okay,” Lonnie said once they were settled. “Back to the mystery of the swapped out jars. Where did we leave off?”

“With me freaking out, and running up the stairwell,” Bernie said. “It was turning into a scene from every horror movie I had ever seen.”

“Take a breath, Dad,” Melody said, with her head propped up by her hand. “You’re among friends now.” Behind her, however, from the next room, came a disturbance. Someone was speaking excitedly, and for a moment she thought she heard a horn honking.

“Oh no,” Melody said, and placed both of her hands, palms downward, on the table in desperation. “What day is it?”

Lonnie looked at her quizzically. “It's Friday,” she said. “Why?”

Melody didn't care for the look. As a homeschooler, she didn't always have a great grasp of which day of the week it was, unless her father was home all day (which meant he either had a tummy ache or it was a Weekend). However, now was not the time to argue, she had other pressing concerns. “Isn't this the day that they have free entertainments?”

Bernie's eyes got big and his face flattened. “Clown night!” he said.

Lonnie nudged him. “Don't make a thing,” she told him. Bernie Jackson, however, did have a thing for clowns. And not a good, seltzer down your pants, blow milk through your nose, sort of thing. It was more of a night terrors, wet the bed sort of thing. And he wasn't afraid to admit it to friends, family or passing strangers alike.

“What thing?” he said.

“We should get our pizza to go,” Melody said, quickly tapping her hands on the table. She had been through one of these clown nights before. There was direct table communication and balloon making and dumb jokes. She wasn't afraid of the large-pedal oddballs, but their close proximity did make her feel uncomfortable.

This was the typical interaction scenario:

  1. They did something dumb

  2. They stared at you until you gave them some response

  3. Revisit one and two until interaction ends.

However, Melody never knew what the response was supposed to be. Laughter? Simple acknowledgement of their existence, as in, “Yep, you did a thing there, chum. You should be proud?” More often than not, she would just shrink into a dark, concentrated ball of anxiety. She believed science called it: A discomfort singularity. An object certain to explode at the most inconvenient time and create a universe of unpleasantness for anyone caught near the event horizon.

“It'll be fine,” Lonnie said sharply, in an attempt to contain the situation. “Just don't make eye contact, and it'll...HE'LL go away. The clowns are only here for the kids anyway.”

“Yeah, Dad,” Melody said. “What's a few nightmares.” And then a thought occurred to her. The clown might see her as a kid, rather than a young adult, simply because it...HE had a quota to fill. She shuddered at the thought of it.

And then a sound filled the room.

Bernie's ears perked up. “The toots of a little horn, followed by the insane chittering of the Clowndigo.”

“The what now?” Lonnie asked. “You’re not starting to do that monologing thing that Melody does, are you?”

Bernie’s eyes narrowed. “You've heard of a Wendigo?”

Melody turned toward her father, eyebrows furrowed intensely. “No, why?”

“Well,” Bernie told her. “This is a Clowndigo!”

Ah,” Melody said, nodding her head. “That explains absolutely nothing.”

Behind them inane laughter, and more tooting on a little horn.

Bernie crouched down. “A Wendigo in the Native American culture is an insidious beast who can possess human beings, and change it's shape from an elk to, say, ...well..." He pointed at the clown with his open hand.

Lonnie felt his forehead. "You sound a little nutty, Bernie. Did you get into the cough medicine again? Just because it has a delicious cherry flavor doesn't mean you should drink the entire bottle."

“Not really getting the connection.” Melody said, ignoring her mother's silliness. “Why don't you just call this a Wendigo then? Why the goofy play on words?”

Bernie looked offended. “Because the Clowndigo is very specific. It changes only from beast into clown, where it attempts to blend in with parties and family gatherings and feed on the fear of children.” He covered his face with a napkin and peered down the hall from behind it.

“I think you might be confusing a Wendigo with a Skinwalker,” Lonnie said to him, a single eyebrow raised. "...But I'm no expert."

"Okay, fine," Bernie said. "I'll give you that one, but my point still stands."

Melody shook her head. "There's a point here in all of this madness?" She turned around. They were in the far back of the row of six booths, three on each side, only two others populated by adult couples. If the Clowndigo chose to enter this passageway, there was no back way out.

“Free FREE FREE!” came a booming voice from the threshold. The Clowndigo entered without fanfare and dropped a hat shaped balloon on top of the older gentleman's head at the first booth.

Bernie began to scratch at the walls. “It's not just concentrating on the children,” he mewled. “It's going after the adults, too. And we're trapped down here.”

There was a loud call for “JACKSON!” in the otherwise merry din.

“Calm down, Bernie,” Lonnie said. “There's our pizza. Melody why don't you go up there and grab it.”

Melody turned around in the direction of the pickup window, and could see no way to get there without attracting the attention of the painted faced weirdo.

“You're kidding, right?”

“Oh for the....” Lonnie got up from the table. “FINE,” she said. “I'll go and get it. Melody stay here and protect your father from the happy fun person.” She made her way to the front.

“There's no way it's going to let her pass.” Bernie said. He and Melody watched in horror as Lonnie carefully stepped past the clown. A difficult process made more so in the close quarters of the Clowndigo's flailing arms and overly accentuated gestures.

“Excuse me,” she said, issuing a comical cartoon voice. “Pardon me.”

Bernie groaned and slapped his hands over his face. “Don't play along,” he said. “You'll only draw attention to yourself.”

The clown let out a loud “WH-WHOA,” pretending that Lonnie nearly knocked him over as she passed. He then pointed to her with his over-sized gloved hand, and shouted. “Sssssomebody's in a hurry for their peeeettttssssa!”

Lonnie turned and laughed appropriately. She apologized and then resumed her quest.

Melody raised up her hands. “Mom was NOWHERE NEAR that clown,” she said. “He's being ridiculous!”

Bernie was now wild-eyed. “That's what they do,” he said. “They make a big deal about everything. Turn every little thing into a joke. Now your mother has acknowledged it, giving it strength. She's going to be sucked into it's twisted reality soon.”

Lonnie returned with the pizza in her arms, and by this time, the clown-creature had made its way one set of booths closer. As she passed, the thing yelled “WHUUUPS!” and rolled forward into one of the empty booths.

This was followed by roars of laughter from the other patrons, as well as Lonnie who blushed, and again apologized.

Once back at the table, she set down the pizza on the rack in the center. The rack was elevated so that a candle could be positioned underneath to keep it warm. Melody and Bernie, however, didn't plan on staying long enough for the food to get cold.

“You should have brought a To Go box.”

“Bernie,” she scowled. “He's funny. Don't you hear everyone laughing? That's a sign.”

“I hear a bunch of sheep bleating out a few chuckles out as a fear response, if that's what you're referring to.”

“It is, and you're just jealous.”

Bernie snorted. “Whatever, everyone grab a piece in each hand and start cramming.”

Lonnie slowly took a piece of pie, and carefully bit off the end. “I'm going to enjoy my slice, thank you very much. I'm not going to get a stomach ache just because you don't know how to behave in society.”

“Melody doesn't like them either,” he protested.

“That's because you're a bad influence, genetically. Anyway, I bet she thought the clown was funny.”

“You really need to work on your observational skills, Mother.”

“Here he comes!” Bernie said, trying to become smaller than he was.

The clown approached the table, hands at his sides, his gait slow and determined as though ready for a shootout at High Noon.

“Okay, pahdnahs,” he said, with a sneer on his greasy face. “When I count to three...draw.”

Bernie placed his hand on his face. “I know where this is going,” he said.


“This is so stupid.”


Bernie snapped his fingers in the air. “Check please.”

“Two and a half....” The Clowndigo's words were slow and resolute, and finally with lightning quick movements he produced some pieces of paper from his puffy satchel at his side and plopped them down on the table with a pronounced THUMP! Followed closely behind were three individual wrapped packages of crayons. “DRAW!”

Lonnie laughed. Melody smirked. And Bernie raised his hands above his head. “I knew it,” he said. “Pure and utter camp.”

Melody decided to take a diplomatic tack. She was actually finding herself in a quandary, one in which she was more embarrassed by the actions of her own father than she was of a clown. “I'd like to apologize for him,” she told the creature. “He actually has a… I don't know what the exact term for it is, ...erm, clown phobia.”

At this, the clown stopped its drawing and giggling, and stood up straight. A somber expression appeared in his eyes. “Oh uh, “ he said. “I'm sorry to hear that.” He looked at Bernie and took off his hat and held it at his chest. “I actually get that more than you think. I'm not sure why. Maybe he’s just one of those special people who can sense the sad truth that we – that is the clown-folk -- only try to make people happy because deep down we're so gloomy inside.”

With that, he clutched at his chest and raised up his head, and tears like a sprinklers began to spit out of his eyes. “Oh, knock it off,” Bernie said and crammed half a slice of pie in his mouth. “No one believes that depressed clown bit.”

“Actually,” the clown said, becoming serious. “I have been diagnosed as clinically depressed. In fact, I'd show you the prescription I'm on but I lost the bottle in my pants three days ago.”

All three of the Jacksons, after a pause, blurted out laughing.

“Ah,” the clown said, smiling. “Like my father, Burp-O the Clown, always said. 'Know your audience.” He produced a horn from someplace on his person and tooted it three times.

“Okay,” Bernie said. “We had a moment there, and you just ruined it.”

“C’est la vie,” the clown said, and then added, pointing at Melody. “Well, go on. Say it!”

Melody only stared at him. “I won't say it when my father tells me to, and I won't when you do,” she told him.

“Ah ha!” said the clown, turning to Bernie. “A clown at heart. Here’s my card, folks. I’m Mark-o the clown. Ask for me by name.” He handed Lonnie a small cardboard rectangle which had no writing on it whatsoever.

“It’s blank,” Lonnie said up at him, apologetically.

Mark-O hit himself upside the head. Then he became serious and stuck his finger up in the air. "I remember," he said. "It's printed in invisible ink." He then pulled a seltzer bottle from his satchel, and squirted it at the card. This had the effect of both producing some words magically upon the paper, and to also partially soak Bernie with seltzer water.

Melody stood up and pointed at her father and the clown in succession. “You know, you two have more in common than you’d probably care to admit.”

Bernie shook his head. “Melody,” he said. “Go get a TO GO box. I've just lost my appetite.”

It Happened on Lafayette Street

Season One: Episode Four

Melody Jackson

vs. The Creeping Terror

by BMB Johnson

Scene Seven

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