Tell us a joke” everyone asks of the clown. He sits on a log and begins to think. Everyone waits gap-mouthed in anticipation. A slight breeze ruffles the clown’s coat, his pompom buttons, his bright red hair. His nose becomes redder in the cold. Hours pass. All but the most dedicated of joke listeners leave him to rot for all they may care.

The clown opens his mouth to speak but no words come out. A tear falls down his cheek, and another. He begins to sob. The last joke listener comes over to comfort him. She puts a hand on his shoulder. He looks up at her, red face, red nose, white lips, and says “Thank you.” He vanishes from the clearing. The last joke listener sits on the log and looks up at the sky. The moon is full. The world creaks on its axis.

Paul looked up to the space on the wall where a window should be. The shadow of his face wavered in the candle light. He looked back down at the card he’d been writing on. He read the card. He crossed out the for all they may care in the first paragraph, and “Thank you” from the second one. “What could he say” he thought to himself. “What could he possibly say to her.” He went outside to clear his head with a cigarette. He took his axe with him this time.