Touch of the Clown

Touch of the Clown by Glen Huser

Book: Touch of the Clown by Glen Huser Read Free Book Online
Authors: Glen Huser
Tags: JUV000000
sugar and banana sandwiches and color in Pocahontas, too?”
    â€œIf that’s what you want.”
    Daddy hears us come in. “Where have you kids been?” he calls from the living room.
    â€œJust to the library,” I say, giving Livvy a little push up the stairs.
    A thunderstorm rolls in after the heat of the day. Great waves of sound rumbling across the sky, and sheets of light.
    â€œYou’re supposed to unplug the TV in electrical storms,” I tell Daddy and Grandma.
    â€œWe’ll live dangerously,” Daddy says, slipping a cassette into the VCR. “You kids want to watch this before you go to bed?”
    The movie is called
Sarah Plain and Tall.
I know the story from a book I got in the library when I was in grade four. It is about a family inpioneer days, and the dad is raising his two children after his wife dies. He decides they need a mother so he advertises for one.
    â€œWho’s in this one?” Grandma asks. She’s lost her cigarettes and searches for them as much as she can without getting out of her armchair, her hands checking through the mound of dishes and potato chip packages and tissues that have accumulated on her TV tray, patting the pockets of her housecoat, reaching toward the carpet.
    â€œGlenn Close,” Daddy says.
    â€œNever heard of her.” Grandma sounds disappointed. “She must be a new one. Livvy, be an angel and see if you can find my cigarette package. Claudette Colbert. People used to say I looked like her. I never saw it myself, but I did used to do my eyebrows long and thin with eyebrow pencil.”
    Livvy has found the cigarettes. “I want one,” she says.
    â€œLord have mercy,” Grandma cackles. “Where did you ever get such an idea? You give those over now, and you can have some of that apple cider Mrs. Perth brought when she came by today.”
    â€œShe’s not supposed to have sweet drinks before she goes to bed,” I say.
    Grandma fumbles with her lighter and finally gets her cigarette lit. Then she levels a gaze at me. Sometimes her eyes seem to be covered with fog, but not tonight. “I don’t know what we’d do without you, Barbara,” she says, as if she were cutting each of the words out with a pair of sharp scissors. “A little bit of apple cider isn’t going to hurt this child.”
    â€œYummee!” Livvy dances around with her drink, slopping it onto the rug.
    Daddy is rolling his eyes to the ceiling. He doesn’t like it when people talk during the movies. “You want to talk, I’ll put it on Pause,” he always says. He puts it on Pause now. “Can I pour you a little something, Ma?”
    â€œI don’t mind,” Grandma says.
    With juice glasses of sherry poured for him-self and Grandma, and warnings about no more talking, he starts the movie again.
    Glenn Close is too beautiful to be Sarah Plain and Tall, but I let myself sink into the movie. I wonder if people nowadays still send away for mail-order brides. What would happen if Daddy got a wife, a mother for Livvy and me? Would anyone marry someone Daddy’s size? Maybe he would diet and quit drinking.
    It isn’t long before both Grandma and Livvy have fallen asleep. Daddy winks at me. In the old photographs with Mama, he is a good-looking man, overweight even then, but with dark wavy hair and a moustache. I think of him and Mama holding hands at the movie theater where they worked. And I can feel again the feeling, like the little spark of electricity that went running up my arm and then went racing around my body when Nathan’s fingers kept brushing against mine as we were walking home. Different than the touch of Cosmo’s fingers, so smooth with white greasepaint. Cosmo said it was a touch connecting us to the world of the clown.
    In the world of
Sarah Plain and Tall,
the pioneer family gathers by a pond for a picnic. Green meadows stretch as far as you can see. The

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