Just a joke – Furious Fiction August 2020

Hi all, its been a while. I’ve been deep in the rabbit hole of my dissertation, writing and rewriting. Looking forward to getting it done and getting some rest. . .or maybe signing myself up for another course. Because apparently I don’t like having any spare time.

Just kidding. Not about signing up for a course, I definitely did that, but I’m super excited to be part of the next 6-month AWC Write Your Novel course, and looking forward to developing the creative part of my dissertation into a full-blown novel.

But on the topic of ‘Just kidding’, I haven’t shared a Furious Fiction entry for the last couple of months either, so this one is a little late. I don’t recall too many of the conditions apart from the ‘humourous’ requirement. Those who have read my work before know that humour isn’t really my thing. It isn’t that I don’t like it, its that humour is HARD! So I interpreted a little this month and made it about concepts of humour instead. Its only a short piece, but I wanted to capture one of my pet hates – when someone tried to defend an action or statement with, ‘It was just a joke, I was just kidding!’ So I focussed on that. Hope you enjoy!

A blast of cold water shot out of an exotic, plastic flower on the driver’s jacket as Jake stared at the bright red nose and wig. This had to be a setup. It couldn’t be his Uber. Yet checking the car details – a pale green Volkswagen, personalised plates of ‘M.A.’ – it all seemed to match.

‘Good to go?’ The clown took a drag of his cigarette.

Jake shoved the remainder of a sandwich – a quick snack before tonight’s party – in his mouth and nodded.

‘So who booked you? Who’s the prankster?’ The driver shrugged, flicking the cigarette butt before waddling towards in the car in his oversized shoes.

‘Was it Steve?’

‘Keith.’

‘Keith?’

‘Keith.’

Did he know a Keith? A vague memory of a quiet kid from school surfaced, but Jake hadn’t heard of him for years. Didn’t he die or something?

A shock exploded up Jake’s arm as he grabbed the door.

‘Clown car, whaddya expect. All good, buzzer’s off now’ The driver coughed, spitting a wad of phlegm onto the road. Jake reached gingerly for the door, opening it to a miasma of cigarette smoke. This ‘Keith’ guy must have a twisted sense of humour.

‘You know this Keith?’ the driver asked as the car spluttered to life and Jake tried to make himself comfortable on the lumpy seat.

‘Nope.’

‘Said he went to school with ya. Funny bugger, loves a punchline.’

‘I mean, yeah, there was a Keith, I think. Weird guy, never had much to do with him.’

Keith… if it was the same one, why hire the clown now?

‘Hey, you’re meant to turn left here!’ Pulling his phone out, Jake turned to show the driver the route.

‘See? Its – ‘ A white mass smashed into his face, a sickly, chemical sweetness seeping into the corners of his mouth and cutting him off. A tiny fringe of darkness curled at the edges of his vision, pausing momentarily as though to allow Jake to appreciate the terror of the situation, before taking him entirely.

Jake woke, still dizzy, facing to a tombstone.

Keith Geoffrey Harris, 1998-2016

‘Remember him now?’

Memories flashed of a small, weedy kid. Pushed around, teased a little… but nothing serious. It was all in fun. Just a joke, right?

Jake tried to run. His legs, his arms though… nothing was responding. Shit

‘Calm down, I ain’t gonna kill ya.’ The clown lit another cigarette, opening the boot with nicotine-stained gloves. Jake’s eyes widened – staring back from the Volkswagen were multitudes of faces, far too many than should ever fit, all sobbing and wailing, pleading for release.

‘Clown car,’ coughed the driver, ‘Fits hundreds in there.’

Tears streamed down Jake’s face. He barely remembered Keith. He hadn’t exactly been kind, but it was just kids joking around, right?

‘You know the funniest aspect of a joke?’ The clown lifted Jake as he spoke, throwing him into the boot with the myriad of moaning faces. ‘Funniest thing, is who gets the last laugh.’ 

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