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Necessary Punching Bag



The deflated air balloon looked like a clown having been punched in the face, and the mountains in the distance were his bushy eyebrows, now frowned in Disbelief.

I didn’t know why he would be surprised. Clowns are the necessary punching bags of life. They take the beatings with resignation and hilarity so the rest of us can feel superior.

I could see flames licking through the hole in the balloon to make it even bigger.

“Come,” said Resting Bitchface, “we have to get him out.”

It hadn’t occurred to me, but of course, someone must have flown it. It wouldn’t have taken off or crashed on its own like most Beings.

Resting Bitchface dismissed the idea of scaling the electric fence across the ditch and ran to the gate further down the dirt road to enter the clown face by the chin. I followed him as best I could in my wet and blister-inducing hiking boots.

“Why do you think it’s a man?” I asked.

“Hold my poles,” Resting Bitchface said and handed me the red hiking poles he had bought for an obscene amount of money after reading every review on every outdoorsy blog on every occasion from here to the Alps. It would take me one finger to count the number of times they had touched the Ground since we started out four days ago. I sensed yet another reiteration of their Purpose coming up tonight.

Useless is what I felt standing there with his poles in one hand and Nothing in the other, watching how he put his whole weight behind pushing the gate open. That was how our relationship worked. Resting Bitchface acted with resolute annoyance, and I stood by with almost teenage-like stupefaction. He got his Need to be needed fulfilled, and I my Need to need.

The Poor Booger in the clown nose, however, struggled with their needs. They had emerged through the fire from the balloon basket and were rolling on the ground to put out their smoldering clothes. Resting Bitchface would have been there to help had it not been for getting his foot caught in a marmot hole and losing his balance. The poles did have some Merit. Go figure.

I began to make my way toward the two tumblers in the field, shedding my notions with every step. It wasn’t fair to assume anything about either people who traveled in clowns’ noses or people who bought expensive hiking gear, no matter what my Mother had taught me.

The thought that Mother, with or without intention, wasn’t truthful made me stop. The mountains were sharp and rugged against the blue sky. The earth felt soft under my feet. In a pile of goat droppings, a Hello Kitty sticker peeked through. It smelled like rich growth. Resting Bitchface squinted at me from under his Immaculate mahogany hairline, having lost his Jacques Marie Mage sunglasses.

“Kitty,” he yelled, “when you have a minute, we could use some help over here.”


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