“Holiday pops on the red nose, snaps his oversized striped suspenders, spins sillily over gigantic shoes, & with a flourish & happy hop-step, slaps on his tiny top hat…”

“You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge.   You unlock this door with the key of imagination.  —-> There’s the signpost up ahead—your next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

The Tear of a Clown: A Twilight Zone Story

The bright lights of a vanity form a frame around the face of a man, a man whose smile is painted on in an orange-red U-shape, nose colored in an outlined elongated triangle. The white paint covering & filling the contours of his face have a slight sheen in the florescent. He pats powder over the white parts of his make-up, mattifying, carefully keeping it in place.

Rod Serling Intro:  HOLIDAY is the only name we need to know this man, a man whose smile is painted on & routine is set, whose face is in permanent smile, a working man who makes a living from spreading laughter. His professional & social calendar are one in the same & is full of engagements for people who want his entertainment, the type of entertainment only to be found in … The Twilight Zone.

The Tear of a Clown: A Twilight Zone Story

Jolly circus music plays in a room filled with pasted up handbills as Holiday plucks up a red ball off of his make-up table & squeezes if for a delightful squeak, which makes him laugh to his reflection, “Ha Haa! The finishing touch!” Holiday pops on the red nose, snaps his oversized striped suspenders, spins sillily over gigantic shoes, & with a flourish & happy hop-step, slaps on his tiny top hat & crosses the brightly garish room to a table overwhelmed with an open orange suitcase.

“Well allrighty, we have a boy’s birthday party today, so we are going to bring all the most fun things to really make the show a success! Let’s get this never-ending handkerchief into place. Flowers up the sleeve. Into the “Case O’ Fun” Rubber chicken, check. Novelty glasses, check. Lots of balloons, check. Confetti, never leave home without it!” Holiday sits on the oversized orange briefcase to latch it & he steps out the front door into the sunshine, trailing streamers & stickers.

Holiday has a skip in his step as he travels down the sunny city sidewalk.

“Good Morning Madam,” says Holiday with a chuckle in his voice, tipping his tiny top hat to The Young Mother pushing a perambulator, who quickens her pace from stroll to constitutional.

“Coochie Coo,” Holiday says sweetly to the baby, who screams at the close-up sight of the clown crouching face to face.

“Poor child must be getting his teeth,” says Holiday, smiling on.

“Top of the morning to you,” Holiday greets every soul a fond good morning.

Holiday stops to pet a terrier who does not stop barking.

“Must not care for strangers,” says Holiday to the rushing-off owner.

An arm-in-arm couple, sauntering bedroom cozy, crosses the street in a hurry as Holiday turns the corner.

“Ah, to be young & in love & there’s no one else in the world,” says Holiday smiling at the neighborhood in his jolly, painted way.

Holiday halts at the base of a large concrete & brick staircase, flanked with heavy slumbering lions. He bows deeply to the lion, “Hello, is this the location of the greatest show on Earth? Ha haa!”

Holiday pushes the doorbell & bops delighted to its jingle. The door is answered by The Butler, who greets Holiday with an eye roll, “You must be the entertainment.”

“That is correct & you must be the house genius,” says Holiday jovially, offering an ignored hand-buzzered handshake.

“Down the hallway. Wait in the kitchen & don’t do anything,” drolly replies The Butler, who walks away from the clown with a tight tap of heel.

“I can’t help it if I spread joy while I wait!” says Holiday, who grins at his reflection in the heavily-framed foyer mirror & fixes his imaginary mustache with an oversized comb. He then traipses down the handsomely appointed hallway & flourishes into the first doorway.

The Dad, standing behind his dark desk holding documents, jumps at the sight of Holiday coming into his office, “Oh! You gave me a start! Creepy stuff having a clown come into your office unexpected!”

“Quite the contrary,” laughs Holiday, “I’m a happy fellow, wait until you see my routine!”

“Of course, but the make-up, the oversized shoes … I’ll bet you’re good for laughs.”

“Clowning is an ancient form of entertainment. Everyone likes buffoonery!”

The Dad shuffles his papers impatiently, “Yes, but to be the buffoon? So, man to well, clown … There are going to be loads of important people at the party today. Can we count on you to show everyone a good time?”

Holiday snaps to attention & salutes stiffly, “Yes sir! You can count on me to make sure every child laughs themselves silly! Especially your son the birthday boy!”

With a heavy exhale, The Dad continues, “Make sure my boy has a blast, of course; if you nail this you will be booked at every kid’s in the corporation’s birthday.”

“Nothing would make me happier than to be at every party!” says Holiday, blowing up a long balloon, quickly twisting it into a doggy, & handing it to The Dad, who does not put down his documents to take.

“Why don’t you stand in the kitchen & try to find someone to direct you,” says The Dad, putting down the documents & picking up his silent phone.

“Certainly, sir, & I thank you for this exchange of services,” says Holiday, putting the balloon doggy on the desk & wandering down the hallway into a cavernous kitchen gleaming with copper & alive with cakes, deliveries, & people with lists in triplicate.

Holiday smiles at each soul who crossed in the cacophony of caterers, planners, & mini ponies.

“Excuse me, Ma’am,” speaks up Holiday to a particularly commanding woman orchestrating with a shiny silver pen, “can you please tell me where I should be?”

“Where were you told to be,” says The Commanding Woman.

“I was told to wait here”

“Well I suppose that’s what you should do then,” says The Commanding Woman who lifts her heavy eyes to disapprove of Holiday, “I’m sure we won’t loose you.”

“Thank you,” says Holiday flourishing flowers from his sleeve with a debonair bow, which The Commanding Woman brandishes away with her silver pen.

Holiday jitters in place for a few moments & no one comes through the kitchen, nothing crosses the immaculate tile & stainless, alone for but a moment.

A stage outside the picture window catches his eye, “Well alrighty! Hello old friend, a familiar face! Lights, camera, action Ha haa!” says Holiday swinging on outside.

Kids run around & chase each other with pop gun & kites in front of the stage, as parents pile up glittering presents & porcelain plates with shrimp cocktail.

A boy in a paper crown runs up to Holiday, “Make us laugh clown!”

“You must be The Birthday Boy,” says Holiday with a celebratory trill.

“Yeahhhhhhh so make us laugh!” says The Birthday in his outside voice, as hoards of kids encircle the clown.

“Make me a balloon sword,” screams one.

“Do magic,” shrills another.

“Dad, the clown won’t do any magic,” says The Birthday Boy loud enough for his dad to hear over the racket of his third dry martini.

“Say, clown, are you ready?” says The Dad as his cronies turn their perfectly parted hair & similar suits to stop & stare.

The Mom raises her coupe & announces, “Everyone to the stage to see the clown!”

The men stay at the bar, but keep one eye on The Moms who crowd the kids as Holiday skippity-be-bopps toward the make-shift stage, ringing a bell.

“Show us your rubber chicken!” calls The Dad & there is white noise laughter.

Hitting center stage, Holiday reaches for his motley briefcase & unclasps it, & overfilled, novelites, & confetti spring into his face, onto the stage, & into the crowd, all his funnies spilling out, & every entertaining element hitting the deck.

Holiday hops off the stage, holding the unclasped empty briefcase, into the laughing crowd of kids who are scattering, pushing each other over, to take all of gags & claim them as theirs.

“You call this a rubber chicken,” laughs The Dad, viciously pecking.

“Ha haa I’m not a piñata,” no one hears the clown say.

Holiday pops up the steps onto the stage, spins & trips, falls & BOOM smacks face down on the platform’s planks.

Laughter erupts as Holiday sees stars circle like Saturn & lights dance in his eyes. He shakes his head to clear the cobwebs.

Blood starts to seep & fill his red foam nose. Holiday pulls the saturated foam off his face & his hands squish the bloodied ball; he drops the deepend red nose with a paint-like splatter.

Underneath the foam, Holiday’s facepaint nose was still drawn on perfectly outlined orange-red triangle still stretching unsmudged upward on his bridge.

Holiday pulls out a bit of the rainbow silk everlong hankie from his lapel pocket, his timbre is a convincing panic to the cracking up crowd, “Well allrighty, I sure am sorry about this, usually a clown will have egg, or pie, or seltzer, or paint, or anything besides blood on their face,” as he continues blotting, trying not to smudge his still-perfect makeup, as blood continues to drip down the front of his costume, onto the oversized striped suspenders & polka dot tie.

The crowd cracks up, “How is he doing the blood gag?”

The Mother’s try to cover The Kids eyes, but they are too raucous to be contained.

Holiday dabs his bleeding nose with the yellow square, & his eyes grow wide with surprise, theatric in the actual confusion, when there is neither blood nor makeup on the silk. He pulls the endless hankie further & further out, dabbing his nose on every color along the entire length of silk.

The Kids are in a uproar laughing, throwing whistles & tops, calling for more.

The important parents spill martinis as their hysterics becomes uncontained.

“Ha Haaa I’m not sure if I’m okay, if there’s a doctor in the house?”

“Make me a balloon crown,” demands The Birthday Boy.

The Dad & associates bristle like hyenas; The Moms on rocking chairs of hilarity.

Holiday picks up the everlong rainbow scarf pooled at his feet, & smudges it on his face. His make-up remains unmoved & the scarf’s colors retain their bold sheen.

Holiday runs off the stage, through the pack of company who roar with laughter & shake riotously: a gas, a barrel of laughs alight, deranged defiant hoot & holler.

Holiday tears through the kitchen & down the hallway. He stops at the mirror in the foyer, his perfect makeup reflected, “How is it possible?!” Holiday pulls off his polka dot tie, wipes all over his face with the clean tip, & there no change in the permanent smile on his face. He shakes his head: disbelief usurping joy, strange terror changing from entertaining delight.

Holiday slinks out the front door onto the quiet afternoon street, not a pedestrian in sight, & the amber glow lays a restive hue to the clown’s matte white makeup & touches his upturned U mouth with gold.

Holiday sits on a bench, by a curb, & sinks into a slump. Someone else was hunching on the bench & slunk away from unnoticed by Holiday.

Holiday’s mouth breaks into a sob despite the smile, and his “Ha haa” turns sad & his eyes, triangles of blue, well up & spill over.

As the single tear falls down Holiday the Clown’s painted face, it streaks through the layers & wipes away a line of makeup, stripping through the character & revealing the man’s face underneath: fleshtone, porous, & sadly unmasked in the fading spotlight of a solitary twilight.

Rod Serling Outro:  What we have here is a clown who has lost his zest to celebrate joy when the laughter became too harshly human & what we have learned is that you only really know who you are when away from the costumes & the lights & the laughter … & when you are alone, on a quiet street, in The Twilight Zone!