Chula hated clowns ever since she could remember. Grandma Zelda adored
them. Grandma Z’s whole apartment was done in a clown theme: white-faced clowns frolicking
in paintings; harlequin clown statuettes twirling canes; a huge clown tapestry with
a morose clown holding out a dying flower; a butcher clown with flopping ears and
a mustache, wielding a giant knife and chasing another clown. The place looked like
it had been through a collision of clown cars, their corpses spread in every direction. Chula couldn’t tell Grandma Z how she felt about the clowns, there was
no way Grandma would understand the way her hands started sweating when she looked
around at all those painted smirks. When Chula got in trouble she was made to sit
alone in the corner, thousands of clown eyes on her. She rarely got in trouble.
They were in the kitchen when the doorbell rang. Grandma Z wasn’t the
kind of grandmother that whipped up fresh cookies, instead she was working on mushy
salmon patties. “Hon, would you get the door, my hands are yuck,” Grandma Z said, holding
up the salmon encrusted hands. Chula felt herself throw up a little in her mouth.
“Okay, Grandma.” She opened the door and there, leering in the doorway,
was a frizzy red-headed clown, his face pinkish with red and black exaggerating his
eyes and mouth. “Hi there kiddo,” he growled, taking a long drag from his cigarette before
throwing it down. At the same moment Grandma Z came to the doorway and shrieked “Surprise!”
Chula felt a warmth spreading through her jeans and she ran to the bathroom. She stayed there all afternoon in her dampened panties while Grandma Z
pounded on the door.