68) Super Sunday, 2/21: 6:00 AM and After… “What Clowns Do…”
As the cheap tarpaper of the One World Mall’s roof began to bubble and hiss, Tom Eppert, Westmoreland Soames, Kristi Chaine and David Lee raced to its edge and waved frantically to the crowd of looters, jesters and their Queen in the parking lot…
“Don’t think they’re watching…” Westy observed.
“They are,” said Tom Eppert, grimly, after casting longing glances at the corner of the Mall, beneath which the yellow butt-end of the crane, just barely visible beneath the collapsed back door to the Giga-Plex warehouse – so near, and yet so far away. “They’d just rather watch us burn than help…”
“Can’t help,” David tried to give the mob the benefit of the doubt. “Whaddya expect, someone come along and break out a ladder? That’s the fire department’s job…”
“Then we’re screwed,” Tom determined. “That asshole in charge of Giga-Plex got into it heavy with the locals and the Guard and they just walked off…”
“There’s got to be something…” Westy proclaimed…
“Maybe it’s time to try the other door. Down there!” she pointed north, the little cube over the former Fuzzy Planet Grocery that held the other stairwell appearing and disappearing in the smoke. “There’s too much fire, up here…”
“Too many zombies, down there…” Soames shook his head…
For some reason, Eppert took offense. “You calling me a zombie? I been workin’ since before dawn…”
“Stash it, Tomboy,” Westy snarled. “This is serious bullshit…”
A hefty chunk of roof directly over Oil Change Charlie’s collapsed downwards into the Mall and more flames skyrocketed out, quashing the discussion. Vicki began limping north, Craig circling her, and Tom and Westy followed reluctantly, only to see the North door flung open and a barely human tide ooze out. A few carried looted televisions, sacks of jewelry from Bling Thing, clothes, lingerie, suitcases of beer… a few wielded guns or knives, most also carried rude weapons: torches, clubs, even boxes of produce from the Fuzzy Planet Greengrocer. A couple of howling zombies hurled avocados and pomegranates at the trapped foursome…
“Holy shit!” David exclaimed a split-second before a champagne bottle – empty but still heavy – arced out of the sky and beaned him.
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As towers of flame spewed out from the roof of the One World Mall, the harmonious sign buckled, leaned, finally toppled over the edge. The clasped hands detached and crushed a screaming knot of voyeurs, the great blue globe bounced across the parking lot towards the refugee clowns, clerks and clergyman gathered around Effie Lou Wilson like medieval serfs paying homage to their Lady, cowering and crying for deliverance. Miss Dominator alone stood tall, raised her imaginary wand and decreed…
The blue iron globe struck a great, black, burnt-out SUV and bounced high into the air… missing Craig and Vicki by less than a yard… then swiveled, rolling beyondwards across the parking lot and onto the blackout-congested highway, inciting new overtures of crashing metal, screams and horns.
“That didn’t exactly work, did it?” asked the cynical Shriner-Clown.
“Was anybody here
hit? Shut up, then!” Effie Lou snapped
back, her accent lapsing from Middle Earth to Middle
While all the great sedans, pickups and SUVs remaining in the parking lot seemed to have been burned-out or looted to a point beyond uselessness, a drab, little Corolla remained whole, and Effie Lou flounced towards it with no less apprehension than Cinderella approaching her carriage. She stopped, opened her purse and withdrew a small, oblong box…
“Is that bitch stopping to touch up her goddam face?” Vicki snarled, causing Reverend Godwin to flinch.
“No, look…” Craig pointed.
Withdrawing her needle and socket, Effie Lou quickly picked the doorlock, then the ignition and her chariot roared… or, more appropriately, sputtered… to life. The parking lot princess rewarded her entourage with a rueful smile…
“In Waxahachie, I used to be a bad, bad girl…”
Craig shepherded Vicki into the front seat and crowded in next to her – Godwin and Lockett climbing into the rear. And then the mania began… clowns squeezing in next to them, over them, underfoot and around, sideways, down… clinging to the roof in layers like a black bean, guac and mozzarella party dip; stuffed into the open trunk like Mafia victims, still piling in with their rubber chickens, ooga-ooga horns and big, Styrofoam feet until a cramped, astonished Trent Lockett cried out… “No more! No more!”
“More!” replied the Green Clown. “All of us!”
“We’re clowns…” Blacknose reminded them.
“This is what clowns do!” added the dwarf.
And so, with Joker’s face leering two inches from his own, Craig Synch pretended to smile while, with Blacknose’s polka-dotted butt massaging Vicki’s face, she reminded him…
“Remember, Craig, this doesn’t change anything between us…”
“You tell ‘im, lady,” Blacknose chortled, waggling his somewhat unclean bum.
Vicki tried to lean back, but the Shriner-Clown’s tongue was licking her ear.
“And that goes double for you!” she warned Effie Lou’s entourage, en masse…
The Joker laughed hysterically, affording Craig full measure of his garlic meatball supper halitosis as Miss Dominator gunned the engine and the Corolla finally groaned and wobbled off towards the north, the only exit onto an unblocked road, and, perhaps, safety. But, meanwhile… high above…
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