Absurdio's Return to the Hidden City

by M. W. Anderson

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Absurdio, the last of the adventuring clowns, stood on the edge of the Well of Lost Hope, at Center Square, in the Hidden City of Clowns.  He stood erect, yet haggard, and forlorn; his Great Journey was at an end, and he had no good news to give.

"It is with a sense of utter bafflement,” he said to the gathering crowd, "that I must report.  No, that's not right--at first I was baffled, but now I am simply resigned to the facts.

"There is no good way to begin.  I am at the end, which is also the beginning, so let us start there.  I am the last of the scouts, for all who have ventured forth have perished."

A gasp went up among the milling crowd, and then chaos ensued for a short time, as all made twittering noises of disbelief.

"It is so, my friends.  Many of the Great Ones have been dead for thousands of years.  Some became delusional and were entombed as gods, and others mingled with men and the dust, were vilified, murdered--forgotten."

The news was too much.  Violent arguments erupted.  Finally, a pair of dangling bell-headed Jesters drew tickler-wicks; too soon it would become a laughing matter.

The great mayor Blutonio cleared his voice and said, "Why, that is impossible!  We were created to show mankind the true meaning of existence!  HE would not allow such a thing…"

"We have worshipped Him since the dawn of time, and we have served Him even longer,” said the High Priest of Clowns.

From the crowd someone called, "What of Rollo the Tall?"

"Broken in half."

Other names were shouted out.  Absurdio told what he had discovered.

"I know that such is hard to believe, but it is true; I stood and caught the smell of their corpses on the wind.  Our greatest have perished.

"While this news alone curses my tongue, what I saw among mankind is the true mockery of our existence!

"I was in a city called New Orleans , and I had not yet encountered a living clown in all the earth.  Then I saw him.  From what is called a circus, I followed a fellow who was the very image of our brother Julio the Frowner.  He left his tent and headed for the Great River .  I caught up with him in an alley, intending to embrace him, to tell him of the fate of the others--then I saw that his face had been...removed!

"We are mocked by men--not a single lesson was learned."

"If that is true, Absurdio, mankind has forgotten HIM completely!  But what of us?"

"HE has forgotten them--and us as well.  Farewell."

“But why were we created, if God would abandon us all,” asked the High Priest.

Absurdio shook his head, and shrugged his shoulders.  Then he stepped forward, falling, into the bottomless well, and one by one, the sad and bitter clowns followed...

...Except for the High Priest.  He remained, stubbornly unconvinced.