The Joker

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Well. It is a funny way to make a living, especially when it turns from a lark to a job, then a living and then a career.
 
The first time I was a little bit drunk. I did it for a bet. It was an open-mic night at a local club.
 
The girl… Helen was her name… maybe. She said ‘I dare you.’
 
I wanted to impress her, get into her knickers… or, more accurately get her out of them. So I dared.
 
I was a hit.
 
They invited me back… several times.
 
Somewhere along the way, I lost Helen. But there were others, some who didn’t even wear knickers, at least by the time they’d come back to my hotel room as I toured up and down the country.
 
I won contests. I played bigger clubs. Got on TV panel shows and made a dick of myself. I got into the theatres and, over time, became the headline act.
 
Then, as mysteriously as it happened, it started to unhappen.
 
I was no longer on TV, no longer in the theatres.
 
So, here I was, with Suzie, my manger, crawling around the back streets of some northern town, looking for their local comedy club.
 
‘Is that it?’ Suzie peered through the rain-smeared windscreen. The windscreen wipers in my knackered old Rover only worked on intermittent, so I had to wait for them to crawl across the screen.
 
‘Looks like it,’ I said.
 
A few minutes later, we’ found somewhere to park the car, and ran through the rain, getting soaked to the skin.
 
Suzie pulled the door open.
 
Inside, music played, the lights were on and my name was on a poster on the wall, but we were the only ones in there.
 
‘Bloody hell, it’s the Marie Celeste,’ I said.
 
Then I turned to see Suzie, mouth open in a wordless silent scream, pointing at the bloodstain that spread across the dance floor.
 
I wanted to turn and run, but I didn’t because I could hear something breathing, breathing heavily, behind me.

Published by David Hadley

A Bloke. Occasionally points at ducks.

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