The driver pulled the bus neatly to the curb. He smiled when he saw her sitting at the stop, it was Marley. Hell, his kids watched her on TV. She was like family.
Marley the Clown Girl stepped up on the bus. To the delight of the other passengers, she went through a whole routine of finding the fare in her purse, removing several oversize objects in the process. Finally she found her coin and dropped it into the collection box. She leaned down and said quietly to the driver, “Do what you’re told or everyone’s dead.” She opened her jacket just a bit and showed him a peek of the explosive vest she had strapped to her torso.
He laughed, “That’s rich Marley” he said, “Are you working on a new routine? I can’t wait to tell my kids that you were on my bus today.” He fumbled for his phone and held it aloft “Can I get a photo? They’ll never believe me otherwise.”
Marley was reaching into her purse, “Sure” she said, “Take a picture of this.” She pulled a long barreled pistol from her handbag, the kind referred to as a hog leg in the old westerns, and pointed it at an octogenarian seated on the aisle two rows back. “Are you ready?” she asked.
“I am,” said the driver.
“Me too” said the smiling old man who was about to die. He was having a great time. He loved clowns.
“ACTION,” screamed the clown girl as she squeezed the trigger.
The noise was deafening. The result was sudden and violent. A small hole appeared in the middle of the old man’s forehead. His expression remained the same, and he went down smiling. A much larger hole appeared in the back of his head. Bits of brain, scalp, hair and blood erupted and sprayed all the way to the back of the bus. The high school student who had been sitting behind the dead man absorbed the bullet that had passed through the initial victim. It lodged in his neck. More blood.
Marley the clown girl turned back towards the driver, “Do I have your attention now? Do you believe I’m serious now? Get back in your seat and drive. Don’t stop driving until I tell you to.”
“Yes ma’am,” he sat down and pulled back out into traffic.
Marley the Clown Girl turned towards the passengers, “OK, boys and girls, everyone remain calm and do what you’re told. No one else has to die but you all can, if you so choose.” She opened her jacket and let them see the dynamite.
The news reader somberly looked at the camera and said, “I have just been handed a bulletin. It seems that a Metro Bus has been hijacked on the north side of town somewhere in the vicinity of Elm and Sugarland. This channel will follow the situation live.” The screen changed from the talking head to an aerial shot of a city bus moving slowly through traffic. It changed again to a shot of a middle aged man with a channel 3 microphone held up in front of his face. He was talking but there was no audio.
Suddenly the sound came up, “…yeah,” he was saying, “It’s a clown, a girl clown. She might be famous, I’m not sure. She’s got dynamite and a gun. She killed a couple o’ people already.”
The camera panned back and the frame expanded to include the ‘on scene reporter’ Amy Caul. “How did you get off the bus?” Amy asked the man.
“Marley asked me to get off,” he replied, “She wanted me to convey her manifesto.” He pulled a sheet of paper from his pocket and shook it open.
“Marley? Did you say Marley? Marley the Clown Girl? Her show is right here on channel three every weekday afternoon. She plays cartoons and makes balloon animals.” Amy said.
The man looked at the paper he held in his hand, nodded and looked back at the camera.
“Live, exclusive from Channel three,” interjected the journalist, always the professional.
The man continued, “These are her words, not mine;” he cleared his throat, “I hold three truths which must be shared,” he read, “Number 1. Used automobiles should not be offered for sale to the general public. They should be systematically destroyed and recycled. Never resold.” He looked at the camera and swallowed, “Number 2. Every household in the city should adopt a puppy from the animal shelter within the next five days.” He looked at the reporter then back at the paper, “Number 3. Amy Caul is a bimbo and should not be allowed on TV.”
“Nawwww, come on” the reporter said, “let me see that paper” she snatched the paper from the man and read to herself, eyes flicking back and forth across the page, lips moving silently. Finally she too, looked at the camera, “Holy shit, it really does say that.”
The screen abruptly changed back to the studio shot. The news reader was seated at his desk. A publicity shot of Marley the Clown Girl displayed behind his head. “Channel 3 will continue to follow this story live and bring you developments as they occur.”
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