Albertson, frustrated, ran a hand down his face, momentarily smoothing out his many wrinkles. “Go over it with me again.”

“Well, of the seventeen people that applied to the help wanted ad, we had to reject one who thought we meant ‘lawn’ instead of ‘clown’ and showed up with a weed-whacker,” Albertson’s personal assistant, Dennis, said.

“Good to know that I didn’t hallucinate that one,” Albertson said.

“We have five others who were dressed as, and I quote, ‘death metal clowns who pose significant copyright problems.’”

“In addition to being a little harder than I want my five-year-old grandson to rock,” Albertson sighed.

“Of the remaining eleven applicants, four were dressed as famous clowns from horror movies, three as supervillain clowns from comic books, one was a prissy college boy trying to do commedia del’arte, and one was…how did you put it again, Mr. Albertson?”

“John Wayne Gary, restored to life through some satanic pact and allowed to once more roam the earth,” Albertson said. “If I’d known how hard it would be to find a non-psycho clown, I’d have raised the kid on Disney instead of Bozo. Bozo worked for me, it worked for his no-good dad, but damn if it isn’t backfiring now.”

“That leaves only Squids the Clown, the sole female applicant,” Dennis said.

“Oh, yeah,” Albertson said. “Little miss sunshine with the pink hair and green diamonds over her eyes.”

“Real Name: Emilee Verde. She has no references, no experience, and was decidedly un-jolly, as you say. But her application does say that she wants to be ‘friendly, outgoing, and sparkling.’”

“She was also the only one who wasn’t disturbed or terrifying,” Albertson said. “Call her back.”

“Are you sure?” Dennis said.

“My five-year-old grandson has asked for a birthday clown, and by God I’m going to give it to him. Yeah, this ‘Squids’ wasn’t exactly a charmer, but she also wasn’t a psycho. Maybe she can fake it ‘til she makes it. Call her back.”

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