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When I was around 6 or 7, I lived in a small neighborhood filled with tiny, somewhat run- down houses. At the time, it was just my parents, younger sister, about 2 at the time, and me. Every June, a carnival would come to the open field next to my neighborhood for a week, and the residents got free admission for dealing with the noise.
I remember an encounter I had at said carnival all too clearly, and it still keeps me up at night thinking about it.
I remember it was a hot June day, and my family headed out to the carnival. The only rides were one of those big see- saw like swinging ships, a merry- go- round, and a tower drop. The rest were games and attractions. My favorite thing to do was go on the swinging ship, go through the haunted house, get a funnel cake, then go see the clowns. In my younger years, clowns didn't bother me, and I was oblivious to how creepy they were- especially these at the carnival.
I never had a problem with the clowns, nor did I ever hear about problems, until this year. There was one particular clown that stood out, and I still see him out of the corner of my eye when I'm alone. He was short and fat; about 5'3" and 300lbs. His base makeup wasn't white, rather a cruddy, pale yellow. He had scraggly green hair and huge, bushy brown eyebrows. Although his face naturally sagged into a frown, you could tell he had painted a huge red smile on, almost from ear to ear. The only problem was, as well as the rest of his makeup, the smile was faded, so it looked like The Joker's glasgow smile. He had a tattered orange suite with purple polka dots, and ripped up brown trousers over black shoes with the soles peeling off. His worst feature was his nose; it was big and bright red, and offset the rest of his look so much that he became almost surreal. This guy was plain scary.
I went and watched the clowns do their thing, and noticed he kept grinning at me. It was a huge grin that showed off his crooked, stained teeth. I shook it off as him trying to be a friendly clown. In my naïve youth, I figured he must have been going through hard times and needed this only job to get by, and he tried to make the best of the terrible situation. This led to the biggest mistake of my life.
After the show, I walked up to him and told him he was a great clown, and I reached out and gave him a nickel I found on the ground in hopes of cheering him up. He just gave a big, crooked smile, and I returned a smile and walked away.
I continued through the carnival with my parents and sister, stopping occasionally at different games and what not. I noticed, however, that every time I turned around, about 30 yards behind me, was that creepy clown. I tried to shake it off, I mean, he did work there after all.
The time came for us to go, as it was getting late and dark. We made our way through the crowd, and I was only focusing on the huge spool of cotton candy in my hands. I suddenly ran into someone big and plump, and I looked up to apologize. I rose my head and met the gaze of the creepy clown staring down on me with his big, crooked grin. I screamed and ran to my parents and could hear him let out a deep cackle behind me.
We didn't go to the carnival again that year, and I soon forgot about that clown until one day when I was outside playing. I remember being in the front yard playing army when I felt like I was being watched. I looked around and spotted him: across the road on the opposite sidewalk, that clown was staring back at me. I screamed an he let out another cackle, and I bolted inside. I told my dad, but nobody was there when he looked outside.
At this point, I thought I saw the clown everywhere, but it was always my mind playing tricks on me. That is, until about a week and a half after I saw him across the street. I was lying in bed and I thought I heard footsteps on the front porch. I snuck out of bed to investigate. I walked through the living room and was about to step into the kitchen when I heard a faint tap on the window that I had just passed in the living room. Nobody was at the window, and I walked up and looked up and down that side of the house. Nothing.
Figuring it must have been the wind, I climbed back in bed. Not 5 minutes later, just outside my house, I heard that cackle. I could feel the color flush from my skin as I became paralyzed. I didn't sleep that night.
In the morning, I went to play outside in the yard again, but first decided to look around my house. When I came around to the window outside my bedroom, I felt my heart drop. There, sitting perfectly on the windowsill, was the nose. His nose, bright and red as ever. I was too scared to even tell my parents, so I ended up jogging down the the pond in the field the carnival is hosted in and threw the nose in the water. I watched as it sunk to the bottom, and could swear I hear a muffled cackle as the last red spot sunk below the surface.
I haven't seen or met the clown since, but I still find my mind playing tricks on me when I'm alone. Every time the sun sets on a beautiful summer evening, the red sun morphs into that nose, and I see his face take shape in the clouds, still watching, and still grinning at me.