Pagliacci the Clown


Picture: Portrait of Enrico Caruso as Canio in Pagliacci from a postcard published circa 1904 (public domain)


Written for NYC Midnight’s Microfiction Challenge 2019 – round 1.

My brief was as follows:

Genre: Comedy
Action: Setting an alarm
Word: Exotic
Time limit: 1 day
Word Count: 250 words


I set the timer on my phone for 55 mins and place it on the table. The doctor observes quietly. She’s younger than me, late thirties, with a calm, maternal manner. “Do you mind if I look at the alarms on your phone?” 

“Nope,” I say. She scrolls back through the previous alarms. She’ll see alarms set for everything. One for waking up. One for a shower. One for brushing teeth. Everything timed. Every new doctor goes through this routine. I have to travel for work, so I get new doctors a lot. 

“What good qualities do you have?” she asks me.

“People say I’m funny.” 

“Do you have any jokes?”

I look her up and down, “My humour is kind of… exotic.”

“Try me.”

I clear my throat, “The worst thing about receiving analingus, is when you think you’re going to break wind, but you end up defecating on your dad’s face, and the bus driver kicks you off before you can clean the other passengers.” 

She smirks. Not the worst reaction I’ve had, “Gross-out comedy?” 

I shrug.

She says, “I’ve been invited to a comedy show tonight. Some new comedian. Edgy… exotic humour. My friends bought me a ticket but I hate that kind of stuff. I’ll give you the ticket if you agree not to set any alarms. Something to enjoy. To distract you.”  

She hands me the ticket. One entry to Pagliacci the Clown. 

“What’s wrong?” she asks. 

“But I am Pagliacci.” 

Drum roll. Curtains close.

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