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Limpy the clown

Story ID:5771
Written by:Monte Leon Manka (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Hemet Kansas USA
Person:Chelsea Kansas Kid
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Down by the Santa Fe tracks around the bend from the Chelsea Train Station, a bunch of Hobos were huddled around a small fire. They were each relating their life stories to the others while warming their hands.

Joe took a swig out of the “Mogan David” wine jug and stood before the rest.

One night, when I had hit rock-bottom, and was looking for a place to sleep, I was beaten by a pair of thugs and left to die.

A Policeman found me unconscious and called for and ambulance and had me taken to emergency. I awoke in the Susan B. Allen hospital in El Dorado, and felt terrible. I sustained a broken leg, two broken ribs and a broken arm. I was a mess and had casts every where I looked.

I was moved to the basement to recover because that is where the people who could not pay were placed. The room was clean but the service was terrible. The nurses were few and far between and it was hard to get a glass of water.

A small redheaded boy was looking into the door of my room. I hate kids and told him to go away. He turned as if to go then waved to me and disappeared into another room.

I finally was able to get up and walk around the halls outside my room. There were kids everywhere, in body casts, head bandaged, arms and legs in traction and the some swathed in bandages covering bad burns. I said something to the nurse about the kids and she told me that they were all wards of the state.
Their parents had left them. Some had been beaten, some scalded, and some had been starved. I hate kids but I would never hurt one. I just did not want to be bothered with them. The nurse told me that I was the only man on this floor. She asked me if I would dress up as a clown and put a few smiles on their faces. I told her no way, I do not like kids.

The doctor came in and told me if I would entertain the kids, it would help pay my big hospital bill. I may be a Hobo but I have principles. I did not owe anybody and I did not want to owe the hospital.

I agreed to play the clown and the nurses came in and painted my face, found some baggy red plaid pants and a yellow plaid shirt, and my own shoes with the worn heels and holey soles.

The nurses provided the balloons, rubber balls to juggle and various props to help with the entertainment.

The nurses had placed all the children in a large room where they waited breathlessly for the Clown.
While he was being made up, his knees were knocking. Why am I scared? I have faced many things that were worse but appearing before kids, I was scared.
Joe needed a name Jocko, Socko, Bumper, Popper, Hoppy, what could he use as his headline name. His broken leg left him with a bad limp so he decided on Limpy for his Clown name. My gosh I hate kids and here I am trying to think of something to entertain kids.

Limpy was ready. As he approached the room where all the kids were, he wondered if he could pull this clown thing off.

He limped into the room, all the kids stared at him, and his knees got weaker. He picked up the rubber balls and as he tried to juggle them, he dropped all three on the floor. The kids smiled and some laughed. He picked up the balloons and tried to shape them as animals. He was a total failure.
The kids thought this was part of the act and clapped for him. He felt something come over him and he picked up the balls and juggled them perfectly, never dropped one. He grabbed the balloons and found he could make all kinds of animal shapes. The kids loved it and showed their appreciation by yelling “Limpy, Limpy, more, more.”
The little red headed kid in the back never smiled or laughed but watched Limpy carefully.

Limpy tried Pantomime and found he had no trouble making the kids laugh. He was surprised at what he could do. He even started liking kids.

Limpy could never get the little redheaded boy to smile or laugh no matter how hard he tried.

Limpy ran out of things to do. He took a bow and limped out the door to his room. The kids clapped their hands and all but the little Redhead were laughing or smiling.

The nurses were so happy to be able to see the kids smile and now have something to live for.

Limpy gave a performance each week while he was getting better and the day he was able to leave the hospital, the nurse told him the little redhead wanted him to come to his room and see him. The nurse told Limpy the little red head was dying with cancer and begged him to go to his room before he left the hospital.

Limpy dressed up in his clown garb and headed to room B-3. He limped into the room and the little redhead lay quiet on his pillow and showed no emotion. The Clown went through his routine for the little redhead.

When Limpy finished the little redhead held his hand out and Limpy took it in his own. The little redhead squeezed Limpy’s hand, smiled, closed his eyes, and quit breathing. The tears poured down Limpy’s cheeks as he gently lay the little redheads hand on the bed. Limpy felt that he had accomplished a great feat by getting a smile on the little redheads face.

Limpy walked out of the hospital headed for the railroad tracks to be with his Hobo friends.

As Limpy walked across the parking lot, he met his doctor. The doctor asked Limpy if he would come to the hospital once in a while and entertain the kids.

The doctor told Limpy the kids were doing so much better because they were happy and he was responsible. Limpy told the doctor he would and went on his way to Hobo City in Chelsea.

“Fellow Hobo’s,” Limpy said, “of all the things I have done in my lifetime this has been the greatest experience of my life. Thank you for listening.” Silence followed.

Then the Hobo’s all stood, in unison, and gave Limpy a standing ovation.

Monte L. Manka 12-14-99