The Great Bradello

“Sometimes the one with the biggest smile is the one hiding the biggest frown.”

Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. Great clown, Pagliacci, is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor, I am Pagliacci.”

There’s a good chance you’ve seen this joke somewhere online in the last few days. I’d never heard it before—because I’ve never seen Watchmen—but people quickly realized the joke was quite appropriate regarding the passing of Robin Williams and began posting it everywhere.

I’m not going to ramble on about Robin Williams—not because I’m not sad about it or affected by it—quite the contrary, actually. But in this day and age, commenting on something after four days have already passed, well, that’s an eternity in online time. There’s not much I can say that hasn’t already been said.

What I am going to do, though, is share. I wrote a short—very short—story about a year and a half ago that sort of fits the situation. Sort of. I haven’t looked at it in a long time and I’m sure it’s a little rough, but I don’t have a whole heck of a lot else going on that’s really blogworthy, so I thought I’d post it here, now.

It’s not about a clown per se, but a magician named The Great Bradello. Enjoy.

Brad took a sip of his cheap whiskey and looked at the clock. 11:38 am. Time to get dressed for work. He gulped down the rest of his drink and carried the empty glass into the kitchen, shoving a stack of dirty dishes aside to make room.

He ignored the pile of overdue bills on the kitchen table as he walked into his bedroom and pulled out the only clean clothes in his closet: a pair of black dress slacks and a crisp, white button down shirt with long sleeves. Then he grabbed his black dress shoes, polished to a high shine as usual, followed by his cape and black top hat.

As he dressed, Brad couldn’t help running through the argument the night before. The booze wasn’t enough to make him forget about Ashley. The way she’d begun by gently suggesting he needed to “grow up” and get a “real job,” eventually escalating to name calling and yelling, telling him he was a born loser.

The breakup was inevitable, even if she hadn’t started in last night. She just didn’t understand. Still, he already missed her. She was the prettiest girl he’d ever dated, and while they were going out he would imagine how she would look dressed up on stage as his assistant in a big Las Vegas show.

Fully dressed and shoes laced, Brad tied the cape around his neck and donned the requisite top hat before checking his appearance in the mirror.

Spot on.

Outside, a horn honked. Brad pulled back the curtain to see his cab waiting. He turned back to the closet and grabbed his case full of props. He stuck a deck of cards in one pocket and put his ‘never-ending’ handkerchief up his sleeve so he’d be able to pull off a couple of quick tricks right out of the cab.

Looking at himself in the mirror one last time before heading out the door, Brad smiled for the first time in three days.

For the next two and a half hours, he would convince himself that his life was not in ruins; he was not depressed. Brad would convince a birthday party full of children and their parents that life was good and he was happy.

And that was The Great Bradellos’s greatest trick of all.

I realize now this is a fairly depressing post, and I don’t  want anyone to end their week on a sad note, so if you’ve read this far you must now click this link to make sure your weekend starts off right. Seriously, it is required by Books of Jobe administration. Do it. And have a good weekend, everybody.


Published by Kenneth Jobe

Kenneth Jobe is a writer, photographer, musician, and Native Californian living in the Midwest with his wife and son. His fiction has been published in Jitter, The Rusty Nail, Ghostlight: The Magazine of Terror, and the horror anthology Robbed of Sleep, Volume 2.

What's on your mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: