Excerpt from DEVIL IN A CAGE


The man on the unicycle, wearing a black skirt, and playing the ukulele did not have a good day after he accidentally spit gum into the window of one of Bob Toni’s Smiling Clown Pizza’s delivery vans; no one enjoyed getting their ass kicked by a clown with a club.

Giggles, the moniker of the driver once he was on the clock, slammed on the breaks when the little wad of wet gum hit him the eye, and yelled out the window, “Hey asshole! What was that for?”

He put the van in park and got out. He was six-foot even and a paunchy two-ten. He stalked forth with his hands balled. His curly rainbow wig bouncing furiously from side to side. He also had on a vinyl suit, blue down one side and green down the other, with the red balls down the middle. His shoes were yellow and enormous and his face was painted white with a bright red smile and purple rings around the eyes. Despite his jovial make up job, Giggles was pissed.

The man on the unicycle was named Chester and he used to be a Tiny Tim impersonator. It didn’t do much for him because most people didn’t even know who Tiny Tim was. But, Chester had liked him ever since he heard him sing, “Tip-Toe Through the Tulips” on Laugh-In when he was a kid and used to sit up at night in his room watching Nick-at-Nite on his black and white TV with the ten inch screen. He was by no means a large man or a fighter. He was only about five-seven and barely weighed a hundred and fifty pounds. As if being a ukulele-playing Tiny Tim fan wasn’t enough, his size used to get him beat up a lot in school. He was prematurely bald, and that had always made him feel inadequate, so he usually wore a top hat. When he saw Giggles approaching, he started trying to cycle away.

“Sorry, man. I don’t want a problem,” he said, looking over his shoulder as he tried to flee from the clown, who had put a little pep in his step.

“Too bad, jerk. You hit me in the eye with your chewing gum.” Giggles got closer and swiped out to grab Chester, but Chester turned to the side and started going in a circle as Giggles pursued, swinging his large arms as he jogged after him. “Slow down, asshole. I’m gonna make you eat that stupid Abraham Lincoln hat.”

“No, man. Go away!”

People had stopped to watch. They were in a neighborhood of small business and restaurants called the Highlands on Bardstown Road in Louisville, Kentucky. The altercation was taking place at a corner near a place called Skyline Chili that specialized in things covered in chili. A car almost hit Chester as he spun on the cycle to change course and confuse Giggles. When he did so, he looked back and then smacked right into the multicolored van that had a bunch of smiling pizzas on the side, and a plastic figure of a grinning clown lovingly holding one of those smiling pizzas out in front of him.

The unicycle slipped out from under Chester and wheeled away about ten feet. When he smacked the ground, his hat fell off and his ukulele skidded under the van. He heard the clown’s heavy footsteps start scraping his way.

“I got you now, dickhead!”

Chester rolled towards the van to try and get under it, but he felt his foot grabbed from behind.

“I’ll teach you to spit gum in my face.”

“It was an accident, man!” Chester insisted.

Grunting in the effort to drag the unicyclist from under the van, Giggles replied, “Oh sure, buddy. The gum got tired of being chewed on and decided to fly out of your mouth and into my eye.”

“No man,” Chester said as he was slowly pulled out. “I don’t mean that. I didn’t mean to hit your eye!”

“But you did, and now I’m gonna hit yours.”

With a strong push of effort, Giggles pulled back and Chester slid out. When he rolled over, he had the ukulele in his hand and he hit Giggles in the shin with it. The clown grabbed his leg and hopped around.

“Damn it! You dickweed!” he exclaimed as the people around them laughed.

One quality Chester’s lack of size brought him was agility. He sprung to his feet and took off for the cycle. The shoe at the end of Giggles’s unhurt leg slipped halfway down and, as a result, Giggles landed on it and it caught under his foot and made him fall, slapping the concrete and losing his wig.

Chester seized the moment and righted his unicycle and took off.


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