A clown walked into my bedroom. It was 4pm on a Saturday.
That’s a lie.
A clown didn’t walk into my bedroom. It walked into the room I was in and I was in a bed. I’m pretty sure it was a Saturday. I think it was a Saturday because the day before, on the Friday, before sunset, a lady Rabbi walked in with two battery operated Shabbat candles and a loaf of cholla. As to the time, I’m guessing there.
I didn’t see the clown walk into the room.I opened my eyes and there it was. When I saw the clown standing in the doorway I closed my eyes. Waited a moment or three, and opened them again. The clown didn’t go away. In fact, in those three moments, it moved closer. It stood right at the foot of my bed.
I’m not afraid of clowns, but looking at this one with it its purple and orange satin oversized jumpsuit, ruffled collar, yellow Elton John glasses, white pancake makeup face, blood red lips and wild orange wig and a small red dot at the tip of its nose, well, in that moment, I understood the phobia.
“You know,” I said. “People hate clowns.”
“I know,” the clown says, “I have permission.”
Permission? From the nurses? The doctors? The old patient down the hall that screams at everyone and throws things at the nurses? I feel bad for the nurses and I tell them so. They’re nice, all except for the cranky one.
“Why are you here?” I push myself up. I have to use both hands and it hurts like nobody’s business. This isn’t a complaint. It’s a fact. Just that morning they wheeled me down to radiology, put me on my stomach, and drilled a hole in the left cheek of my derriere. Something about draining an abscess in my gut, like I’m some kind of engine block and they’re the car mechanics.
“You can watch if you like,” the nurse had said and pointed to the monitor above my head and to the right. I don’t think so. I’m on my stomach, in a cold white room. They had to use an x-ray machine or something so they could see what they were doing—guide the tube to the correct place above my stomach and to the right, or the left. I don’t know. “That’s okay,” I said to the nurse. “But you can give me more drugs.” She obliged and shot something into my IV. I was getting used to the icy liquid of morphine shooting through my veins, my heart skipping a beat and forgetting to breathe. She held my hand during the procedure. I squeezed tight. She was a good nurse.
The clown doesn’t tell me why it’s in my room. Instead it reaches into its clown pocket and pulls out something wrapped in cellophane. The clown walks closer to me and I push myself harder, away from the clown and into my raised the bed.
“Here,” the clown says and pushes a pale veined hand at me. She reveals a red nose wrapped in cellophane.“This is for you.”
Crinkle, crinkle, crinkle. I flinch and it hurts. I take the nose from the clown. “Thank you.” I lay it on the table to the right of my bed, next to my cell phone.
“If you put your nose on,” the clown points to the nose. “We can take a picture together for Facebook.”
Are you kidding me right now? I don’t post pictures of myself when I’m sick. I’m just not one of those people. I don’t post pictures of chicken soup with captions that say, “I’m sick”. I don’t post status updates that say, “Got a stomach bug” or “Hey, I’ve got food poisoning, guess where I am?” I had been in this hospital bed too long, my hair was greasy and I looked pretty green. No amount of make up would make me Facebook-photo-ready.
“No thanks,” I say.
The clown won’t leave.
“Can I take a picture of you?” I ask the morphine-clown.
“Of course,” the clown seems happy with this.
I snap the picture. I thank the clown and I close my eyes.
When I wake up it is dark. The room is quiet. I reach for my cell phone.