The early morning darkness did wonders in comforting Private Laurel Tate’s battle scarred mind. Maybe it was the way her platoon snored like little kittens as they laid in their sleeping bags on the desert ground. Maybe it was the vanilla ice cream-like texture of the full moon that night. Maybe it was the way the stars twinkled brightly across her field of vision. Whatever this comfort was,
envied her platoon mates as she marched back and forth with her AK-47 drawn
ready to shower any insurgent with bullets at a moment’s notice.
There seemed to be no need for such a brutal weapon that moment. It was surprisingly quiet for a war-torn desert. No bombs going off, no machinegun fire, just peace and quiet. Because of the strangeness of it all,
Laurel had to be extra
vigilant and the caffeine pills she took before her shift would help her do
that. Every once and a while she would drift off while she was on her feet, but
only for a few seconds at best. A lifetime of drinking coffee made her somewhat
immune to these military-grade caffeine pills. Nevertheless, she remained
steadfast in her night watch.
She reached for the radio on her hip and said into it, “Coast is clear, over.” But when she hit the button, the entire device popped like a balloon and gave
a quick jump scare. “What the hell?” she asked herself as she saw that her
radio was indeed a clown’s balloon. With wide eyes and a tight trigger finger,
she looked around at her platoon and saw that their weapons had been replaced
by balloon animals and their radios were replaced with bicycle helmets.
“Hey! Wake up! We’ve been made!” shouted
Laurel, but the mechanical snoring continued.
“I said wake up, goddamn it! We’re under attack!” Still no answer from the
drowsy crew. “Fucking morons! Wake your asses up, now!” she barked with even
more sauce in her voice. She even squeezed off a few rounds of her assault
rifle in the air, but that too turned out to be an exploding balloon animal.
“What the fuck is going on here?!” she asked while tightly squeezing the
remains of her inflatable giraffe.
“You can yell all you want, sweetheart, but they ain’t waking up!” said a cartoon voice with two honks of a bicycle horn to follow. Private Tate’s what-the-fuck face was cranked up to eleven when she saw a tiny gnome in a clown suit waving at her and peddling a child’s bike with a wagon full of AK-47’s and other military equipment. “Turn that frown upside down! Without these bad boys, you won’t have to go to war anymore! Smile, you silly goose!” From the gnome clown’s gigantic sleeves shot a volley of crepe paper in
Laurel’s now red hot
The marine private slowly wiped the paper off her face while maintaining a contorted look of disgust and vitriol. “You little shit weasel! You better give that shit back or else…”
“Or else what? You’ll get a spanking from your daddy?” mocked the gnome with a sarcastic hand of concern over his mouth. “You really need to loosen up, baby cakes! Here, have some music to brighten your day!” The clown flipped the switch on a radio mounted to his handle bars and played church organ circus music. He laughed like a hyena and started peddling away in his little bicycle while waving goodbye.
While she wouldn’t get “a spanking from her daddy”, Laurel would get an earful from her commanding officer if she allowed this little freak of nature to get away so easily with expensive military equipment. Physical training until her body resembled a skeleton. A firing squad that put more holes in her than a mesh fence. God knows how many years in a military prison that would rival most shit houses. Any one of these possibilities shook
Laurel to her core and her
nerves fired off like the assault rifles stolen from her platoon.
“Get over here, you little creep!” grunted Private Tate through gritted teeth while she darted after her thief at a deadlier speed than when she ran obstacles in boot camp. With every ounce of strength she pumped into her thick legs, she crept inches closer to her elusive assailant. Her heart pumped at a million beats per minute and sweat poured from her brow like a water park. She reached out her hand only inches away from her slick thief’s rainbow-colored hair. Two fingertips turned into three and three turned into an entire handful of clown hair.
With one clean jerk, Private Tate yanked the little fucker off of his bike and started raining punches down on his face. She could feel the molten lead pumping through her veins as well as the blood and juices splashing against her already red eyes and face. She finally relented her attack when she saw that she had been punching a watermelon this entire time. The burgundy in her face flashed a mixture of boiling anger and douche chills of embarrassment.
Standing right beside her and laughing like a lunatic, the gnome clown said, “Gotcha! I gotcha good, didn’t I!” before cooling off
Laurel’s face with a
spray of lapel water. The clown rolled on the floor laughing and kicking the
air while slamming his fists into the desert sand.
With her anger hot enough to make her head explode like a car bomb, Laurel finally got her hands wrapped around the little bastard’s throat and squeezed so hard that the gnome’s facial redness was easily visible through his white makeup. “Alright, you little shit head! Tell me who you are and what the fuck you’re doing here! I’ll make your death quick and painless if you listen to reason!”
The clown’s head popped in balloon fashion once again and his real head slid through the neck of his jacket. “Gotcha again!” said the diminutive booger as he rolled around laughing yet again.
Laurel could do nothing but remain on her
knees and watch this nut job with burning red eyes.
Upon witnessing the marine’s frustration, the clown stopped laughing and changed his expression to mock sadness. “Aww, what’s wrong? Don’t be sad, little girl. I’m just having some fun with you tonight. I suppose introductions are in order. My name is Ozzy May. Nice to meet you!” The two of them shook hands only for
to get a jolt in her fingers and for Ozzy to have another reason to chuckle and
“I give up. I fucking give up,” said
Laurel with a low and solemn voice. “I didn’t
sign up for this goofy shit. I’m supposed to be shooting terrorists, not little
shit stains like you!”
Ozzy nipped up and sat on the seat of his bicycle with his legs crossed and big red feet swinging. “So what of it? You want to go home? You want to see your husband and daughter again? Have you finally had enough of this god awful war that nobody needs to be fighting?”
“I need to fight it!” barked
Laurel. “I joined the marines so that I could
protect my country and if I have to protect it from little punks like you, then
I’ll gladly do it!”
Ozzy May rested his jaw on his fingertips and said, “Really? Who told you that? A politician? A recruiter? A TV pundit? Come on, little girl, you can’t really be serious about all of that rhetoric. The only reason why there aren’t any bullets flying tonight is because nobody’s alive to shoot them. I’m not just talking about whackos with bombs. I’m talking about women and children too. You’ve seen their bodies up close and you can’t get those images out of your mind. Those aren’t caffeine pills you’re taking. That’s trauma medication!”
“I know this because that’s how my gnomish race was wiped out,” said Ozzy with rare seriousness in his voice. “Too many of them were blown to bits while others lynched themselves into a peaceful death. That’s the reality of war, but no politician will ever tell you that. But of course, what does a gnome like me know about war? I’m too small to fight other people’s battles for them. Even if I wanted to be a soldier, nobody would recruit me because I’m small enough to get my ass kicked by normal sized men. If you need proof, just look at you and that raised fist!”
Slowly lowering her hand,
Laurel’s tears burst from her eyes, but she
refused to sob in front of this tiny man. “Why are you telling me these things?
You’re just a clown. You’re here to torment me!”
“Exactly!” said Ozzy. “If I don’t set you straight, these desert warriors will. I’d much rather you’d be pranked by a clown instead of blown up by a rocket launcher. Is that really what it’s going to take to get you home? A blown off leg? A mindful of shitty memories? A hole in your chest the size of a sewer lid? Or maybe you prefer to travel home in a wooden box with an American flag draped over it!”
Even more tears poured from
Laurel’s eyes as she rolled onto her back and
gazed at the night sky. It still looked beautiful despite her tormented mind.
She could have more nights like this if she came home alive and well to a
family that depended on her for income and love. She didn’t want to admit it,
but Ozzy May was right. But the more she pushed away his talking points, the
stronger they hit her.
“How the fuck am I supposed to go home now?” asked
Laurel wearily. “It’s not
like my commanding officer is just going to let me go. He’ll probably punish
the shit out of me before that happens.”
Wrapping his tiny arm around her shoulders, Ozzy said, “Did I mention that those weren’t caffeine pills you were taking? At least those are allowed. Illegally obtained prescription drugs? Not so much. The marines don’t want drug addicted trauma victims on their team. They want young healthy soldiers who can run into battle and beat some ass with the best of them. Your CO will find out sooner or later. But in your case, it’s as soon as you decide to wake up!”
That final sentence was punctuated with a cream pie to
Laurel’s face. She
coughed and spit up the pieces of whipped cream before angrily wiping it from
her field of vision. By the time her eyes were clear enough to see, it was the
break of dawn and her once snoring marine friends were gathered all around her
with scornful looks in their eyes. Was this whole thing just a dream? A fucked
up god awful dream about midget clowns?
One of them had a prescription bottle of pills with the name Dr. Ozzy May on the top of the label. That same marine knelt down to
Laurel’s side and said
with stern conviction, “We need to talk.”
“Am…am I busted?” asked
“You’re goddamn right you are,” said the head marine.