by R. Nikolas Macioci
I bought a clown suit, tried it on each day like a prayer. Days in advance of Halloween,I collected pieces for disguise: red and yellow, big-toe shoes, painting gloves, long eyelashes,and a huge, red, bulbous nose.Couldn't wait to become someone else even for one night. Excitement stirred in meeach time I climbed in and out of the cheeseclothcostume. Intimate secrets felt hidden, closer to the bone: playing doctor with neighborhood boys,beatings from Dad's drunken belt. When I took off the suit, I felt suffocated. I slippedit from arms, legs, turned back into a boy who daily balanced fear and security on either end of a seesaw. The special night arrived with rainy streets. I painted my face geisha-white, cheeks and mouth ketchup red. I ambled from house to house, coaxing doors open with greedy threats. By 9:00 o'clock I filled with dread of home, felt something gone because I had spent it. I undressed in semi darkness, lay the other self back in its box under the bed, flopped onto the mattress,my head in shadows. Except for streetlightthrough a single window, I wore dark like a hugof hope, imagined what was left of me would peel off by morning like a mask, andsomeone else would rise out of warm sheets with confidence that wouldn't crumble.