I think I’ll join the rodeo
Think I’ll be a clown
Lure away the broncin’ bulls
From all the clowns lying on the ground
Comb my hair up high
Paint some tears by my eyes
Wear a frown wondrin’ while
“Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?”
“State your name and occupation for the court.”
“Jubilation Tee, I’m the rodeo clown.”
“Do you have a last name?”
“Yes sir, Tee.”
“How old are you Mr. Tee?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“No sir, I don’t.”
“How long have you been the rodeo clown?”
” I guess for ’bout as long as I can remember.”
“And what is it you do, exactly?”
“Lots of stuff….” I guess you have to read the poem.”
“Do you know why you are here Mr Tee?”
“Respectfully Sir, I do not.”
“Then at this moment we have no further questions. You’re free to go.”
After the Trial…
Descending the staircase in front of the courthouse, Jubilation pulled a pack of Marlboros out from under his overalls and “lit up” without missing a step. He cupped the lighting match to block the brisk wind that blew his tower of red hair sideways across the painted face he had worn since morning. He didn’t notice the several alarmed “onlookers” giving him room while in route to his faded ’52 Chevy pick up parked down the street.
Even from a block away, Jubilation couldn’t help but smile as he heard his border collie Bandit barking out the rolled down window of the truck. With each step closer, the decibel and frequency of Bandit’s excited barking synced with the rotation of his tail.
After feeding a past due parking meter, they happily walked together “exploring the local fauna” until making it back from around the block to the sanctuary of the truck’s cab. Bandit’s tail would continue to intermittently thump against the front seat as they cut through the wind southward down Route 66 to Amarillo.
The Texas sun loomed over the outdoor arena making it an exceptional day for those with the cold drink concessions at the rodeo. Jubilation and Bandit got the “wave through” at the service entrance to the fairgrounds, trading acknowledgments with all the familiar usuals behind the scenes. Dust clouds billowed up from under the old red Chevy as the Clown and his partner arrived at their parking spot next to a small corral off the main arena…..A lot of the “riders” were sitting along the corral’s wooden fence watching the current #1 bull rider, Billy Chiclets taking his warm ups on a practice bull. They were throwing out the usual verbal jabs testing to see if they could distract Billy. When Jubilation and Bandit came up to the riders, many ignored them, even though the clown and his dog had saved most of them at least once over the years.
“Why’s Billy warming up so early?”
“Didn’t you hear, he’s scheduled to open the show with Diablo today?
“I thought they banned Diablo?
“Nope, he’s back and fierce as ever….looks like you might have some serious clowning’ to do today bud.”
“Hear that Bandit? Best we go get stretched out. When’s it start?”
“They’ll be at the chute in twenty minutes.”
No one took Diablo lightly. Billy Chiclets and Jubilation needed no more than an instant meeting of the eyes to understand the gravity of their situation. From inside the arena Jubilation took the last drag on his cigarette as he watched Billy “rosin up” his gloves inside the chute. What he didn’t know was that Billy’s crew had taken extra steps to tighten up the rope around Diablo’s abdomen so Billy’d have a “Wilder ride”.
After the announcement beginning the event was made to the crowd, a dramatic silence blanketed the arena. Jubilation turned to Bandit…”OK pal get ready”… five (what seemed like twenty) seconds ticked off while everyone anticipated go………………CRACK! The gate to the chute opened but no-one came out. The crowd gasped. Billy and Diablo were doing battle inside the chute. The crew tried to push them out into the arena, but Diablo was bucking furiously determined to rid himself of Billy right there. Jubilation and Bandit charged towards them. As Bandit barked for Diablo’s attention, Jubilation quickly entered the small chute determined to protect Billy. In that moment, Diablo pushed forward and as Billy fell off into the side rail, Jubilation was trampled into unconsciousness by the delirious bull. The back-up clowns pursued Diablo while the crew rushed to assist Billy. Jubilation laid to the side, limply alone, bloodied and unattended on the ground with only Bandit at his side.
When Jubilation slowly opened his eyes the dusty film covering them dissolved until revealing the steadying of the cowboy wallpaper in his childhood bedroom surrounding him. He was certain now that he was at his parents old house at the foot of the San Gabriels.
His oldest brother Peter, which he knew to be deceased, entered the room and told him “It was time”. Together they made their way down the narrow hallway past the bathroom where Jubilation, as a four year old, used to watch his father shave. After passing through the walls of a small dark den they floated down three steps until stopping at a table set beneath a great Chinese elm in the back yard.
In a semi circle around the table was a gathering of Jubilation’s entire family (past and present), neighbors, friends and every teacher he’d ever known… all silently standing with non judgmental blank expressions. On the table before him was one sheet of paper simply titled, “FINAL EXAM”.
Without explanation it was quickly apparent to Jubilation the time had arrived to answer the inevitable single question availed.
FINAL EXAM – Jubilation Tee
- Why are you here?
a) To clown around.
b) To find humility.
c) To find righteousness.
d) I don’t know
e) All of the above
f) None of the above
Before Jubilation was able to put his pencil to paper he awoke to the sense of a moist cloth being brushed across his forehead. As a gentleman wearing extremely thick glasses attended him, Bandit lifted his head from Jubilation’s chest and let out a resounding ARF! Jubilation rejoiced, having once again escaped his nemesis, Eternal Loneliness, waiting for him in the red dirt of the Texas panhandle.