Betty raised her arm, brightly coloured ball in hand and hurled it at the stack of cans on the pedestal.
“Fuck!” All heads turned in her direction, but Betty didn’t care. She’d been trying to win a silly purple stuffed monkey since earlier in the day. Handing over another wad of cash, she collected her balls from the gap-toothed carney who ran the game.
“Look lady, if you want to keep wasting your money, I’ll keep taking it from you.”
Betty continued to toss the balls at the stack, each time missing the mark. Her exasperation began to show in the way she tossed her hair over her shoulder and the huffing breaths she took every time she missed.
“I’ve got a game you can’t lose at. Do you wanna try that one instead?” The voice was accompanied by a dingy white gloved hand on her shoulder.
Betty looked at the hand and then past it to the crudely painted face of the clown. He smiled, but it didn’t reach his red-rimmed eyes. “You do? Can I still win the purple monkey if I play it?”
“Sure you can win that, but you could win something even better.” The clown laughed, then said, “If you dare.”
Betty studied the face for a moment before turning back to the game she’d been playing. Lobbing all three of her remaining balls in quick succession, she missed each time. “Okay, where’s this game?”
The clown took her hand, tightening his grip as she resisted and led her down the midway to a brightly coloured tent in one of the farthest corners. Pulling back the flap, he led her into the dimly lit interior. Music began to play, a haunting melody that permeated her mind, making Betty feel slightly ill at ease.
“Where’s the game?” Betty looked around the space and couldn’t see anything remotely resembling a game of chance. The only things in the tent were a chair and a table covered with a dark blue piece of cloth.
“Would you care to sit down?” The clown extended a gloved hand in the direction of the chair. “All will be explained in time.”
Betty looked at the chair, then at the clown before sitting down. “Okay…”
“The game is simple, in fact you’ve probably played it with your friends,” the clown paused to take the cloth from the table, letting Betty see its contents. “So what will it be? Truth or Dare?”
The table held two piles of cards, one labelled Truth, the other Dare.
“I don’t understand.” Betty looked from the clown to the pile of cards, confusion evident on her face.
“It’s simple, you pick a card, I read it and your answer or action will determine your prize.” He rested his hands on the table, studying her.
“What’s the catch?”
“There is no catch, my dear. You simply choose a card and we play from there.” For a moment the clown’s exasperation flooded his words, but he quickly hid it away.
“Okay…” She considered the pile before saying, “Dare.”
The clown picked up the top card and carefully turned it over. He smiled before reading it aloud. “Oh this one’s easy. Call the Game Master the worst insult you can think of.”
“Who’s the Game Master?”
“Well I am. So what are you going to hurl at me? And remember, make it good! You’ve got a lot riding on this…”
“A lot riding on it? What do you mean?” Betty shot a confused look at the clown, beginning to wonder what she’d gotten herself into.
“Your purple monkey—don’t you remember?” The clown laughed, as if to reassure her. “So what’s your insult?”
Betty looked at the clown as different insults crossed her mind. She could comment on his appearance, but that seemed too easy. He was a clown and a rather sad excuse for one at that. There was his profession; certainly there was an insult in there somewhere. None of that seemed enough though. In the end she went with something she knew would bother her if someone pointed it out…
“You smell like shit. And I mean you really smell like shit. From your costume to your breath. Actually it’s like shit and death; you know that smell when you find an animal after it’s died? Only worse.”
The clown’s over-exaggerated eyes widened as he laughed, his whole body shaking with mirth. Still chuckling, he responded, “You don’t smell so great yourself, sweetheart. That perfume you’re wearing can’t hide all those years living on the wrong side of the tracks.”
Betty bristled for a moment, drawing her arms close around her in a hug. As her shoulders slumped, she wondered who else could smell it on her…
“That was an excellent round! You definitely took on the dare and won.” He pulled a purple stuffed monkey from beneath the table and sat it on the top between the piles of cards. “Do you want to go for something bigger?”
Betty looked at the toy on the table, all the while wondering if she should continue. Her greed won. “Abso-freaking-lutely! What do I do now? Do I pick another card?”
“No, it’s my turn now.” He said it with such glee it made Betty wonder if she’d made the right decision. She watched as he picked a card from the Dare pile and flipped it over. “Tie your opponent to the chair. Oh, that’s easy enough!”
It took him only a few moments to overpower Betty, tying her to the chair with a nylon rope pulled from underneath the table. While she struggled, there simply was no way for her to have stopped him. She screamed, begged for someone to help her but the music in the tent only got louder, muffling her distress.
“Well that was easy, wasn’t it?”
“Fuck off you stupid asshole! Let me go!” Betty tried in vain to get him to untie her, but the gravity of her situation soon overwhelmed her. With tears streaming down her face she stopped struggling and looked up at the clown who now held her captive.
“That’s better. Now what will it be? Truth or dare?”
“Truth.” Picking a Dare seemed too dangerous to chance.
After picking up the top card, he read, “How scared are you right now?”
She looked at him, mascara tears winding a path over her cheeks and whimpered, “Very.”
The clown smiled in reaction and said, “Excellent! I think I’ll pick another Dare…”
Copyright © 2014 Julianne Snow