I haven’t taken part in one of Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds flash fiction challenges for a while. This was due to an increasing amount of excuses and dwindling amount of willpower. Well, I dragged myself up and off my ever-increasing arse and decided that this was the week where I would actually take part in the challenge. Not put it off until tomorrow, or later in the week. Oh no, actually putting fingers to keyboard and producing the piece of flash fiction now. So hoorah for me.
This weeks challenge had a fairly simple concept. There’s a list of twenty conflicts and I had to either choose one of them or put my faith in destiny and fate and use a random number generator. Well, I did the latter and I got…
‘A Difficult Funeral’
Luckily for me not only did I come up with an idea for this one fairly quickly but I figure ‘A Difficult Funeral’ would also work as the title as well.
Well, here we go and I hope you like it. Remember, for every comment left I well send you through the post, completely free and without charge a collection of oxygen and nitrogen atoms, in a special collectors edition oxygen and nitrogen bag.
Have fun, kiddleypeeps….
A Difficult Funeral
Jonah stepped out of his beat-up Ford Prefect, an old and well used car he bought expressly for the Douglas Adams reference. The funeral had already started, and he was late, not fashionably –making-an-entrance late either, almost-not-worth-turning-up late. His brothers funeral was going to be difficult at any time, but today was going to be even worse.
He looked around at the crowd that had gathered around the funeral plot. Most of the crowd was what you would expect at a funeral, very solemn looking people, dressed in black, shedding tears into their handkerchiefs and offering supporting arms around the grieving family and friends. However, there was another small but very obvious part of the crowd that Jonah knew couldn’t go unnoticed.
Jonah and his brother Evan were young boys, when their mother had died in a car accident leaving their father to bring them up. Their father had only wanted the best for his boys and he did his best to push them in the direction of becoming great lawyers, doctors or architects. A profession where he thought they could really make a mark on the world, make a difference. Their father’s dominant and often strict approach hadn’t worked for either of them, Jonah’s only difference to the world was that he ensured that the local population had the pizza’s that they ordered, and although Evan did become famous, his father always felt that his son could have done more, much more. Evan had done what so many young children dream of, he had left home and joined the circus. He had become Pongo the Clown and when word got round that Pongo had died, other members of his profession wanted to attend the funeral to pay their respects.
On the whole, Jonah thought it was a wonderful idea and he was proud that his brother had made an impact to so many people’s lives. On the other hand, on the opposite side of the coffin stood a crowd of flamboyantly dressed clowns. Each wearing the brightly coloured and ridiculous costume of their profession, complete with make-up and red nose. Evan had told Jonah a little about the way clowns did things, but it something he was finding difficult to get used to, even down to the way that each clown’s face make-up had been changed to be a sad face with one or two tears painted on their cheeks.
Jonah had never told his brother that clowns creeped him out. He had seen him perform on several occasions, but those clowns were at a distance. Now he found himself walking towards the largest group of clowns he had ever seen in his life. As he got near, they all turned to look at him and for a split second he suddenly felt that they were all going to kill him, until they smiled sadly at him and turned back towards the priest, who was now in full swing.
Jonah’s father looked over towards him. He could see that his dad was less than amused about what he would no doubt call a fiasco or ‘bloody rude’ but despite the way they looked Jonah knew that they had all come here not to mock or make fun, and certainly not to disrespect Evan but to celebrate his life in their own way, a way he would have understood.
The priest trudged his way through the carefully scripted eulogy that their father had written that was careful not to mention any clown activity, even though the attendance of so many of them had made the effort embarrassingly moot.
The priest ended his speech with the usual ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and threw his handful of dirt on to the coffin. It was then that he signalled gently to someone stood far to the side, and music started playing. In other funerals you may expect a mournful dirge or a piece of beautiful classical music, would you would not expect in any other funeral except maybe this one would be the March of the Gladiators, otherwise known as the clown song.
Jonah looked over towards his father, who was severely failing to hide his pissed-off grimace as he dropped his handful of dirt on the coffin. Jonah followed him and as he dropped his dirt in he saw several of the clowns stepping forward and dropping their own items on to the coffin, red noses, squirty flowers, plastic flowers, and coloured handkerchiefs.
Once everyone had paid their respects and said their farewells to Jonah’s brother, the crowd slowly dispersed.
‘Complete bloody shambles’ grumbled Jonahs father under his breath as he marched over to him. ‘How could you let those bloody freaks come in here and ruin it.’
‘He was well-loved, and they wanted to show that.’ Jonah responded quickly.
‘Well I guess, we should expect a whole load of people in pizza delivery outfits at your funeral then. Throwing pieces of pizza, and cans of coke on to the coffin, seeing as you like these fiascos so bloody much.’
Something boiled up inside Jonah, and he wasn’t sure whether it was his dads attitude towards his brothers friends, or that he was talking about his only living son’s funeral or the inference that he was actually enjoying his brothers funeral. Jonah popped.
‘Dad!’ Jonah fumed. ‘Evan was a good person, probably one the best. Certainly better than you. Evan wouldn’t grumble and moan and bitch about what anyone chose to do with their life. Plus, he was a damn good clown, by all accounts one of the best. Children loved him, adults loved him, everyone did…”
Jonah stomped away from his dad, and before he knew what he was doing it all came out. His secret. It wasn’t the right time, and it certainly wasn’t the right place but it come out anyway.
‘Oh and dad. It won’t be pizza delivery people at my funeral…
…It will be everyone from my GAY BURLESQUE SHOW!”