Thursday, March 19, 2009

Talking With John



It was just last week, or maybe the week before that I got the phone call from the boss. No more night work. There hasn't been a call at all this week, and likely there won't be next week as well. At first it seemed like it would at least have the advantage of freeing up the day. I wouldn't have to wait around until two in the afternoon. If there's no call by six forty five, there won't be one. But already the extra time weighs heavily on me. I'd rather be complaining about work than complaining about not having work.


I walked down to the corner this morning. Old John was there. He got a good deal on some fried chicken, and melon medley from Fresh n' Easy, and he was having it for breakfast there at Starbucks patio. He offered to share the melon medley, but I had just come from breakfast myself. John asked if I needed money for coffee, but I didn't. John is generous with the little he has. I stayed quiet, while John went on about the deals he'd found on food, and the sheet music he'd bought at the library used book sale.
After a while, he started talking about Phoenix, how he met up with a fellow who made a living as Bozo the Tramp Clown. Not the Larry Harmon Bozo that we remember from afternoon TV shows. Checking Wiki, I find that Bozo was a common name for tramp clowns before the syndicated TV show, so whoever it was that John knew was one of many who used the name. He was down and out when John met him in some hotel bar. He showed John his photo album, and they got to talking, and John invited the guy to come stay with him where ever it was that John was staying. Sometimes John's stories are a little hard to follow. Bozo the Tramp Clown had been run out of Hollywood for crossing the union in some way or other. He was trying to ply his trade in Phoenix, when he was told again that he couldn't be a Bozo. The franchise was taken. Among other things, John helped the guy out by reading the letters sent from Bozo's estranged wife, and then writing return letters, and sending them to her along with alimony checks. Bozo could neither read nor write. Clowning was all he knew.

They had finished a large meal, John said, and were sitting out back. Bozo was on a swing relaxing when he was hit with a heart attack. Someone called an ambulance, and Bozo was rushed off to the hospital. He recovered, I guess, and then started clowning again despite the warnings from the union. Bozo had completed some gig, or other when he was mysteriously run down by a hit and run driver. He died afterwards, but I didn't get it clear if it was the direct result of the hit and run, or if he died later from broken health. Like I said, sometimes John is a little hard to follow.
JWM

4 comments:

Robin Starfish said...

Man, what I would give to be told I couldn't be a Bozo.

mushroom said...

So, how did Firesign Theater get by with "I think we're all Bozo's on this bus"?

Van said...

Wow. Well, I suppose better Bozo the Tramp clown, than Pennywise The Clown.

At least IT is for John.

Ricky Raccoon said...
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