ONE CLOWN SHORT, page-15

Screeeeeech went the brakes. "Get in, no stores here," yelled Violet. "No flights either."
"Then we're driving. Let's get out of here." The car peeled out of the airport toward the
freeway.
Once they reached the freeway and were past all the airport traffic, Butane Bob stepped on
the gas.
39"
"Aah, nothing like the open road. It's such a feeling of freedom—the wind in your hair."
"Too bad we didn't get a convertible for the occasion," said Mandy and Violet, who were
amused at having had the same thought at the same time.
"Yes, it really is too bad. I just love the rush it gives me, with all that fresh air all over me.
Should we go back and get one?" asked Butane Bob.
"No!" the women replied, again in unison.
The speedometer read ninety miles per hour. Mandy tightened her seat belt.
Violet, who was in the front seat, asked, "Does this car have an airbag? How far is it to
Louisville? Can we stop at the liquor store? I'm going to need a drink to get me to Louisville."
"It's about 250 miles. We'll be there in no time. Sit back and relax. Enjoy the ride."
She turned to get Mandy's reaction from the backseat. "Close your eyes and take a nap."
"Take a nap?" interjected Butane Bob. "And miss all this beautiful scenery? You two need to
learn how to live on the edge a little. You're going to end up like Gramps back there in wherever
we were. Oooo, look—there's a Burger Boy at the next exit. Who's hungry?"
An "Ugh" came from the backseat.
"I love Burger Boy. What's wrong with it? They have the best cinnamon-flavored milk
shake."
Violet began to chuckle.
"Maybe Mandy can get us a free meal."
"A free meal! You can do that for us?"
"What? You can't afford a meal at Burger Boy, but you can fly first class everywhere you
go?"
"The company paid for that. And frankly, I'm a little surprised they didn't fly you two first
class. Usually everyone gets to fly that way. Please, Mandy. Please get us a free meal."
"And the company is going to pay for your lunch too. So why do I have to stick my neck
out to get you a free meal?"
"For the sport of it, Mandy. For the sport of it."
She threw up her hands. "Butane Bob, relax. I worked at a Burger Boy at home when I was
between jobs. Once I went there with Violet and got us a free lunch. I won't be able to do that
here. They don't know me."
"Oh, but you need to try. Please, pretty please. I love that cinnamon shake. It would really
hit the spot about now."
As they were walking through the parking lot, Butane Bob coached Mandy on what to say.
"Can you at least give them your employee number and get a discount? Tell them your
wallet was stolen and you have no money."
"There are three of us. All of our wallets were stolen?"
"Hmmm, good point there." He thought for a moment. "You're a smart girl, you'll figure it
out. I'll have a double cheeseburger with everything and extra hot sauce, large f ries, and a
cinnamon shake."
40"
"If you need me to flutter my eyes at him for you, Mandy, I'll be happy to help."
Mandy was apprehensive as she approached the counter. The other two found themselves a
table in the back, so as not to be too obvious.
"Is the manager available?"
"I'm the manager." He looked to be about sixteen.
"Hello. My name is Mandy Maloney. I'm employed by Burger Boy in Florida. I'm traveling
with some friends and our luggage was lost. My wallet was also stolen. We're very short on cash
and need to get to Louisville. Can you help us out? I'll make sure you get repaid as soon as I get
back home."
"You with that guy with the hair?"
"Yes."
"If you let me take his picture, you can have anything on the menu. On me."
"Really? Then take as many pictures as you want."
"Cool!"
She brought the food to the table.
"Butane Bob, the food was free as long as I agreed that the manager be able to take your
picture. He likes the way you look."
"Then I had better comb my hair."
"Don't do that. I think that's what he likes about you."
The three were just about finished eating when the manager appeared at their table with a
camera.
"Here, let me clear the table for you," he said as he picked up a tray. "I don't want all the
trash in the picture. We get raises based on how clean we keep our stores."
First he posed Butane Bob by himself and snapped a few frames.
Then he turned to Mandy. "Would you mind taking a picture of the two of us together?"
The geeky young man and Butane Bob the ham put their arms around each other's
shoulders and smiled enthusiastically for the camera.
"Cheese!"
"Take a couple more, just in case."
"That ought to do it." She handed him back the camera.
The manager began looking at all the shots in his digital camera. "Cool! Thanks. Need
another cinnamon shake for the road?" he said, pointing to Butane Bob's empty cup.
"That would be fabulous. Love that cinnamon shake!"
"How can you drink those things? They're disgusting. Cinnamon shakes."
"No, Violet, they are the perfect blend of fire and ice. I could drink them all day long. My
mouth lights up like a fire, but my stomach stays cool and comfy. It is such a beautiful shade of
red. I'm surprised I didn't come up with such a concoction myself. I'd have been a millionaire
by now."
41"
Butane Bob got his shake for the road and they piled back into the car. They arrived in
Louisville at about four in the afternoon.
"Let's stop by that store first before we call it a day."
Violet plotted their course through town on a road atlas she found under the seat. "Here it is.
Exeter Avenue."
Looking out the window of the car, Mandy observed, "This must be it, with the cannon in the
parking lot."
"What?"
"Right there, a circus cannon."
There was a woman sitting under a big sign that read:
ON SALE
BE A HUMAN CANNONBALL
CANNON
$999.99