Pity Party
rating: +8+x

It was always so easy with other Clowns. You tell them you like them, you kiss, then hijinks ensue. Either that or you get hosed with water and walk away in defeat with wet, floppy shoes. Humdrums always had to make everything so needlessly complicated and unfun.

“Hey, Crash!” she heard a smaller Clown call out to her. He had a bit of a waddle to his walk as he neared her. She snapped out of her daze as she looked him in the eye.

“Oh, hey, what’s up?” Crash asked, slack-jawed and unaware.

“You’re up next!” he exclaimed. “Tower of Clowns, remember?”

Crash stared directly in front of her to the entrance into the Big Top from a side run under the bleachers where the talent gathered before a show. “Oh. Right. Am I on now?”

“YES, you’re on now! Get out there!”

She shook her face in an attempt to get herself back in the game and ran out into the ring where nearly a dozen Clowns were stacked on top of one another while the bottom Clown rode around in a circle balanced on a ball. She leaped on as it passed by her and climbed to the top, her hands and feet grabbing and stomping on the other Clowns along the way, much to the amusement of the audience.

When she had reached the top, she grabbed the hands of the top Clown and raised herself into a handstand. The one she found herself holding hands with was none other than Zoozoo, who she acknowledged. “Zoozoo.”

“Crash,” the demonic Clown replied.

“Hey, maybe don’t try and scare away our staff.”

Zoozoo gave her an indignant snarl as she said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Tootsie's staying whether you like it or not.”

The tower swayed to an extreme degree, the two of them bending along with it. “She’s a Humdrum with a liability attached to her brain. As if we don’t run enough risks with us Clowns! Humdrums should at least be reliable!”

“So you wanna fill the Circus with as many boring Humdrums as possible? That sounds exactly like what a Humdrum would say!” They straightened out as another Clown came climbing up the tower.

“Then maybe they’re onto something after all.”

The final Clown was finally at the tower’s top, her feet standing on top of the bottom of Crash’s oversized shoes. “Hey Lolly,” she said, craning her head to look up at her.

“Hi Crash!” she said back, smiling sweetly to the audience as they cheered. “Did I interrupt an argument? It sounded like I interrupted an argument. Any juicy drama?”

“Zoozoo’s trying to get rid of Tootsie.”

“Manny’s trying to get rid of Tootsie,” Zoozoo corrected her. “Don’t pin this solely on me.”

Lolly screwed up her face as she looked down at Zoozoo, saying, “But she’s family! Zoozoo, stop trying to scare away family!”

“That’s what I was saying!” Crash added.

Growling, Zoozoo simply said, “Can we talk about this later?”

“And we almost kissed last night!” Crash said directly to Lolly.

Lolly ooh’d in delight. “Scandalous!”

“It was on the ferris wheel! Super romantic stuff.” Zoozoo must have realized that this no longer concerned her as she had gone quiet. “Hey, you wanna get wasted after the show?”

“Do I ever!” Lolly replied as she leaped backward, landing on a miniature trampoline that had magically appeared behind the tower.

“You’re not invited,” Crash let Zoozoo know as she did the same after sticking her tongue out at her, landing on another magically appearing trampoline.

By the time the tower had reduced down to just the Clown on the ball, he leaped off of it, but no trampoline magically appeared, causing him to crash down to the ground as the audience got a good laugh at his expense. The rest of the Clowns bounced off of their respective trampolines and gave a deep bow to the audience, who applauded the act.

Icky came out afterward to play them out and introduce the act after them, by which point Crash had exited the stage. Lolly stayed in the Big Top beside Icky, a giant smile on her face as always. The orange-haired Clown gave one last glower in Zoozoo’s direction as she received the same in return.

To her surprise, when she turned around, she was able to make out the face of Cassie amongst the crowd as she picked up litter with a pointy stick. She didn’t exactly seem very happy doing what she was doing, despite being in one of the best places in the known world. “Tootsie! Hey! Did you catch me out there?”

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t,” Cassie responded, giving her a half-hearted smile. “With how many trash cans you’ve got sitting around, you’d think people would be more inclined to spend an extra few brain cells to use them instead of tossing shit on the ground.”

“Kids, am I right? Once you make the big switch, you don’t mind them as much. Clowns are just weird, grownup, creepy kids, after all. And plus, you’ll get access to hammerspace!” She reached into her Clown pocket and pulled out a bouquet of flowers to hand to Cassie. “Sorry again about your beanie. If there’s anything you need, let me know.”

Cassie shook her head, saying, “It’s alright. I’m still really tired from last night, so I’ll probably just go to sleep after my shift.”

Crash frowned, but gave her a reassuring pat on the shoulder nonetheless, saying her goodbyes before making her way to one of the bar tents. She took a seat at one of the stools and leaned onto the counter, heaving a sigh as the bartender came to check on her.

“Tough day?” the Humdrum asked.

“Something like that,” she replied despondently. “You ever been in love, Bartender Man?”

The bartender shifted his eyes from side to side and said, “Look, it was a one-time thing, if she’s said anything about me then it’s probably not true.”

“Because I feel like I suck at it.”

“Oh.” The bartender regained his composure and continued, “Well, ya can’t win ‘em all, eh? Just gotta hope that next time will be better. Always a next time.”

“Gee, thanks,” Crash remarked with a quick glare, not realizing that he had moved on from their conversation to service a guest. “Sometimes you just wanna wear a hoodie and slacks, ruffle your hair up, and lie on the floor.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Lolly as she took a seat beside her, ordering two jugs of Clown Milk.

Crash sighed, saying, “It means I’m all out of love these days.”

“Get some Milk in you and we’ll see about that!” Lolly exclaimed, raising her jug to her lips and chugging a quarter of it right away. She rapidly bounced up and down in her seat, her eyes spinning in her head until they landed on an image of hearts. “The more ya drink it, the more ya love it!”

Crash took a few sips from her own jug, then a few more sips, followed by even more sips until she slammed it back down on the counter while exhaling in ecstasy. “Great for your skin and keeps your blood sugar up!” she agreed. “I wish Tootsie could experience this. Humdrums don’t understand what they’re missing out on.”

Lolly giggled at her. “You’re really hung up on her, huh?”

“All the woes in the world belong to me!” she cried out under a spotlight she had summoned from nowhere in a display of theatrical melodrama, her arms and legs waving around as if they had no bones as her eyes expelled tears at an inhuman rate. “All for a beanie! Pray tell, fair lady, what power doth this woven head covering hold over you! What spell hath been cast! What evils betray thine colorful threads!” She hung her head and bowed just as she had done for the audience earlier that night. “Scene!”

Lolly applauded with her white gloves as her hands were separated from them, using them to down more Milk. When she put the jug back down, she fit her hands back through her gloves and said, “Did she lose her cute hat somewhere?”

“Somewhere in Russia,” Crash replied, the spotlight fading as her body took its regular form once more, bones and all. “And during her birthmonth, too. It’s a sad state of affairs.”

“Humdrums don’t care as much about the months they’re born in, remember?” Lolly pointed out. “Just the day. What a waste of a month!”

“The only thing they do right is Christmas,” Crash sighed. “It’s been a while since I’ve had that kind of connection with someone. Thought I was in there last night, but at the last second… Woe! It feels like it's been so long since I've really kissed someone."

Lolly turned to her, black liquid practically oozing out of her lips. “Okay, okay, I give, lay it on me already.”

“Ah, it’s not the same,” Crash said, resting her cheek on her palm. “I need the romance! The passion! The lust! I need that feeling you get when you know you’re about to kiss someone for the first time… and then you do! And then rainbows! Fireworks! Ka-blam! Ka-blooey!” Her hands acted out every word she had been saying. “I had a crush in middle school. His name was Maurice. Great guy. The first time we smooched was in the cafeteria after lunchtime was over. It was like a… caterpillar climbing a branch to eat a leaf. Ya know? Like when two hands reach into the same bucket of popcorn and then they touch and both people have to make a decision right then and there. It’s like chemistry, yeah?”

“Chemistry?” Lolly asked.

“Yeah, chemistry. Like a mixed drink.”

The bartender, who had been halfway paying attention to their conversation, came closer and looked at Lolly, asking, “Is she always like this?”

“Mhmm!” Lolly replied as Crash went on with her nonsensical tangents. “You’re new here, but you’ll get used to it.”

“Hey!” Crash cut in. “No talking about the story’s narrator when she’s busy narrating!”

Lolly shrugged. “It’s obvious you’ve come down with a case of puppy love, but we both know how to right a wrong. I can lend you a key of a certain variety if you know what I’m talking about. It’ll just be a quick jog there and back again.”

Crash gasped at the realization in a manner that was far too dramatic for what the situation called for. “The rocket! You’re right!” She held Lolly by her cheeks and gave her a big kiss, complete with unnecessary kissy noises before releasing her and bolting out of the bar.

“I meant the kaleidoscope key!” Lolly yelled as she chased after her, but it was too late. Her goggles were placed over her eyes and her rocket was already roaring.

“Hey, tell Icky I’ll need the day off!” she called out as she grew more and more distant in the night sky.

From just outside the tent, Lolly slapped her face with her palm and shook her head. “If that girl would just listen for five seconds.”

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