The Sadness and the Laughter
As he ascended the thick rope ladder leading him closer to the ceiling of the big top, the audience encouraged him with an applause that circled the tent like a vulture circling dead meat. He found `the analogy appropriate, considering his intentions.
He was a common jester, but never the less a crowd favourite. His act would keep the audience entertained with the usual slap-stick comedy synonymous with clowns. He was good at what he did; he was capable of inducing hysterical laughter upon the crowd just by walking into the circus ring.
The ladder was one he had climbed many times before and he was familiar with the act that the ascent preceded: a comical chase back and forth with a female acrobat. This act had always been his favourite to perform. Although he had never had the chance to watch it himself he always imagined it to look beautiful, in a sense.
He pictured the contrast between her fluid, yet precise movements and his stilted, fumbling shuffles along the tightrope, the way her grace complemented his amusing clumsiness and the effort it took to conceal that any effort was being made at all.
Despite that the routine was as known to him as the indented lines that ran across his palms, he would still get nervous as he made the climb. This particular night, however, he felt no such nerves. Tonight he knew that the performance was to go exactly as planned. Tonight he was in total control.
Up and up he went until finally he reached the top. He clambered onto the platform and looked down. Meters below, the crowd waited anxiously for his performance.
He stepped onto the rope, foot by foot until he was directly in the middle. From there he was in plain visibility of every spectator in the tent. On any other occasion, he would have used his keen sense of balance to resist the forces of gravity. But that night, knowing his fate full well, he leaped off the rope and into an ever-quickening plummet to the ground....