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The Innocent One

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Vince's 10th Birthday

My mom and I lived alone in a tiny trailer on the outskirts of a small town in Texas. I won't say the name of this town, you may figure out why later. My best friend and constant companion was a stray Doberman Pinscher mix. I don't know what exactly the mix was, as he looked about 95% Doberman, but his fur was too thick to be a pure bred. Mom worked day and night and I was alone a good deal of the time. The trailer was in a secluded location that nobody ever called protective services on us. Or maybe the few people who knew our situation just didn't care enough to call.

Shortly before my tenth birthday, Mom proclaimed to me that a clown would be coming to my birthday party. This bizarre edict came out of nowhere. I had never liked clowns or expressed any interest in them whatsoever, ever. Even when I was younger and I saw on a clown on a kid's show (on the rare occasions our TV was actually working), I changed the channel. Unlike some people, I did not think clowns were creepy or strange, I just found them dull and unfunny. Nothing less funny than a person who thinks he's funny, but isn't, trying to act funny. Which to me defined what a clown was, and did.

Almost as strange, although at the time I didn't think it strange at all, is that nobody but my mom and I, and the clown, would be at this 'party'. Nobody ever came to our trailer. It was hard to find, out of the way, the electricity worked only sporadically, and mom apparently loved the privacy and seclusion. On all my previous birthdays it had only been my mom and I celebrating with a piece of store bought cake. Or, at least, I ASSUMED it was bought from the store, and not procured in any other fashion.

The 'big day' finally arrived. Mom came home late on this Saturday afternoon with an entire store bought cake this time and a man in a clown costume. They were laughing as they entered the tiny trailer and announced, "Happy Birthday, Vincent!". Vincent's not my real name,. I could tell from the way they were standing (barely), that they were inebriated. My dog Dillinger (yes, that was his real name, no need to change it for this story) bared his teeth and growled. His fur stood up. Mom petted him and tried to calm him down, but it only worked to a certain extent. He clearly disliked the man in the clown suit.

"Look, Rusty, Boffo the Clown is going to do a show for us!," Mom declared. Mom and 'Boffo' immediately fell into fits of uncontrollable laughter. After the interminable giggle fest, Boffo went into his act, which was clearly bad to begin with, but the fact he laughed every time he made a mistake or botched a punch line made it even worse.

Then it got really bad.

"Why ain't nobody laughin' at me?," Boffo asked. "I'm puttin' on this hilarious act, and ain't nobody laughin'. What's wrong with you people?"

Now I saw fear in my mom's eyes.

"Rusty, go to your room," she said. Now my room wasn't actually a room, just a sheet hanging down so I would have something resembling privacy in that trailer. She didn't have to tell me twice. I tried to get up from the metal folding chair, but Boffo put a firm hand on my shoulder.

That's when it happened. Dillinger attacked. He did a thorough job of it, too. Boffo tried to fight back but it was no use. Shortly before he lost consciousness, he shouted, "I just wanted to surprise my kid. You're my son, Rusty! You're my son!"

When it was finally over, Mom said, "He told me he had changed. I don't know why I believed him. I guess I just wanted to believe him." She told me again to go to my room, and to not come out until she told me. Which wasn't until the afternoon of the next day.

I never knew how she lugged his body out of the trailer or where she buried him. The trailer, aside from my 'room' was cleaner than I'd ever seen it. Nobody ever came around asking about 'Boffo', nor did I ever learn, or care to learn, his real name.

Man, how I loved that dog.

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