His eyes closed, trying to block out the pain, thoughts raced through Adam’s mind.
That time in high school when he’d gotten so close to kissing Cindy, love of his then-life, only to ruin it all by having a coughing fit. Right in her face. He decided later that smoking, in fact, was not cool at all.
That time in college when he got busted for having stolen test answers in his bag. And the nearly 2000 dollars he’d made selling them. Claiming he had nothing to do with it, that it had been planted there, hadn’t helped one bit.
Getting kicked out of the house by his parents after being expelled over the test incident, because they were disappointed that their hard-earned savings were wasted on such a “goddamn cheating weasel.” Those were his father’s words, to the letter.
All the missed birthdays and holidays spent apart from his family, because both parties involved were simply to proud to back down, let the other back in. Maybe forgive a bit.
His ex-girlfriend, who he’d found in their bed, in their apartment, with their grubby, unshaven, much older landlord. Kicking her out, burning the bed which would never be clean again and trying to move on. He drank far too much. Slept around just enough.
He worked shitty jobs. With just a high school diploma, no specific skills, he had no choice.
Of all the shitty jobs he’d ever had, he’d never expected this one to land him in the hospital.
Movement in the dark. Car doors closing. Opening his eyes, he saw the inside of an ambulance. He tried to move his legs, but all he got instead of movement was tremendous pain.
“Don’t move,” said the paramedic. “Both of your legs are fractured and we need you to be careful with your neck, just to be sure nothing’s wrong. Just lie still and we’ll take care of you.”
Adam groaned. “What… What happened?” Try as he might, he simply couldn’t recall. It all happened so fast. He tried to remember.
He was doing his bit at his regular spot in the park, one he’d decided to use after a particularly good day there. Enough people stayed to watch him, and by his count enough of those ‘donated’. All in all, it was a pretty good day.
“Witnesses said you were…” The paramedic chuckled softly and tried his best to hide it from Adam. “I… I’m sorry, but this is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever heard…”
“Yeah,” Adam said. He paused, the memories starting to return. “Oh. OH!” Adam blinked. “Oh. I remember now.”
Near the end of what Adam considered a ‘day of work’, they showed up. Again.
“You’re not welcome in this park,” the big one of the bunch said.
“Yeah!” added the Bozo’s goons.
Adam didn’t respond. He waved dismissively at the Bozo and his cronies and continued his bit. The Bozo walked over to Adam and shoved him.
“Hey now,” said Adam, throwing up his hands in protest, “this park’s big enough for the both of us, Bozo! No need to get all worked up!”
Last time Bozo threw a fit, Adam ended up packing up and avoiding the park for a week.
“You don’t get to call me Bozo. You’ve got five minutes to get your invisible ass out of here. Five. Minutes.” Bozo crossed his arms and snarled.
Adam crossed his own arms. Bystanders moved back or simply moved along, not wanting to get involved any more than maybe seeing an anecdote-worthy beat down.
“I’ve got half an hour left and this is my spot.” Adam’s shoulders lowered just enough to notice. “You, Bozo, don’t get to tell me where I can or can not work.”
The Bozo’s face twitched. He uncrossed his arms and cracked his knuckles.
“I told you,” said the Bozo, “you don’t get to call me that. Boys? Go to town.”
Three angry clowns jumped Adam, throwing him down to the ground. The Bozo’s buddies held him down, allowing the Bozo to violently show him his place in the world. Punches to the face knocked out teeth. Kicks to the chest shattered ribs.
Bystanders yelled in panic, cringed at the sounds of bones breaking, recorded it all on their camera phones and eventually, someone used one of those camera phones to call 911.
By the time the police arrived, the three aggressors had fled. Nobody had tried to stop them. Adam didn’t blame them. Besides, he was safe now.
“Why’d they have a problem with you anyway?” asked the paramedic.
“Clowns and mimes just don’t get along.”