The Clown Brigade
by Stephen Graham Jones
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Pub Date 26 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 08 Feb 2023
Scribd, Scribd Originals
The following story may be disturbing and contains graphic violence which may not be appropriate for all readers/listeners.
Stephen Graham Jones has been hailed as the Jordan Peele of horror lit and is the award-winning author of genre-defying New York Times bestsellers like The Only Good Indians and My Heart Is a Chainsaw. In his Scribd Original story The Clown Brigade, he takes on the horrors of mainstream American life as only he – a literary shapeshifter and Blackfeet Native American – can, reminding us that monsters too often hide in plain sight.
It’s a brand-new day for Kyle: He’s flying across the country to meet a woman he connected with online. His last relationship still haunts him, but just because it didn’t work out with Steph, a wildly popular spin-class instructor, doesn’t mean it won’t with Jenna. When the plane hits some turbulence, Kyle feels the world go still even as the cabin’s insides churn, and he sees down the aisle, of all things, a clown – a real clown, white face paint, eyes drawn like diamonds, a wilted red wig – looking right at him and no one else. He briefly wonders if it’s some kind of an omen. He might be a fool for love, but he’s no clown, right?
He plans to surprise Jenna and shows up at her building with a single red rose in hand. What could be more romantic, more innocent? Yet Kyle’s the one treated to surprise after surprise: Another clown, in white face and red wig – the works – pops up out of nowhere, and security on the premises isn’t as friendly as Kyle had hoped. He’s just a young guy looking for love. But looks can be deceiving, and in Jones’s hands boy-meets-girl becomes daring and darkly funny social commentary, a deeply disturbing and tragically timely Poe-esque reckoning with a culture where the fantasies of fools and clowns – in fact a whole brigade of them – too readily turn to senseless violence and end in chaos and destruction.