Bozo

A drop of blood slid down the peachiness of Jeremy’s index finger. His instinct was to lick the wound but he stopped himself. Not because he believed that to be an uncivilized or unsanitary procedure, no—Jeremy had a better idea. Instead, he gazed at his reflection in the only still-standing shard of his dad’s broken mirror, the cause of his cut, and placed his finger on the tip of his nose. Jeremy painted his nose delightfully sanguine. After two proper coats, Jeremy admired himself. Red was his favorite color.

“Poser. You’ll never have a nose like mine!”

“Be nice, it’s my first try,” Jeremy excused.

“Why should I? No one was ever nice to me when I was trying to find my real nose. And I’m not nearly as ugly as you are.”

Jeremy’s eyes welled up as he responded, “Why are you always so mean to me?! You might think your words are in jest but they really hurt, you know.”

“Oh I know they hurt, that’s why I say them. Ugly people need to know how ugly they are and you’re as ugly as they get!”

“Whatever. I don’t have to take this. You’re just as ugly as I am. I’m not going to listen to you anymore.”

The lips of the pale-faced man in the mirror stretched from ear to ear as he laughed. “Get real kid. Who else you gonna talk to? It’s just you and me now. I’m all you’ve got. I may be mean, but I’m just trying to toughen you up! You’re too soft.”

Jeremy made eye contact with the man’s reflection in the mirror. “There are many different kinds of strength, Bozo.”

“Who you callin’ Bozo?”

“You. That’s your name now.”

“Oh, you finally decided to give me a name after all this time? Took ya long enough. I thought I was going to have to start begging!” Bozo said.

“You; beg? That’d be the day!”

“That’s right—Bozo begs for no one! And neither should you Jerm.”

“I told you I don’t it when you call me that. My name is Jeremy.”

Jeremy put his mouth over his wound for a moment. Although Bozo had no visible cut on his own finger, he mimicked Jeremy’s behavior. Both of them slicked their hair back, synchronized as if they were practicing something they’ve choreographed before. 

Bozo continued will they groomed, “Well since you’re giving out names, it’s time for you to give yourself a new one.”

“Why?”

“You know why.”

“I don’t want a new name.”

“Listen, like it or not, but Jeremy needs to go. Jeremy let daddy push him around, but you? Us? We’re not Jeremy. We’re something special, you and I. We don’t take shit from nobody! Daddy called you names and insulted you for years. And when I came into your life and pestered you for what seemed like forever, what did you finally do? POW! Slammed daddy’s head right through the mirror! Now daddy can’t call you nothing because daddy’s not movin’ no more. Who’s weak now huh? Face it, that’s not something Jeremy’d do. We’ve become something new, and we deserve a new name.”

Jeremy fell silent and left the room. After a short time, he came back with both hands full of various bottles of all shapes and sizes. Bozo scrunched up his face. Some of his white makeup fell from his skin, exposing speckles of peachiness.

“What you got there?” Bozo asked.

“Before we can give ourselves a new name, we need a new look.”

He pulled a large shard of glass from the floor. Bozo proudly supervised as Jeremy went to work on himself. When Jeremy felt like applying makeup, he would. When he felt like cutting, he would. After about forty-five minutes, he pulled away from the mirror fragment and looked over at Bozo. 

“What do you think?” Jeremy asked.

“Kid, I don’t care what everyone else says about you, you’re beautiful. Now all you need is a good name and you’ll be set.”

“Bozo.”

“Yeah?”

“No, it’s not you—it’s me. It’s us.”

He turned the makeup and shard of mirror glass to his fallen father. He used his father’s pooled blood to give him a similar red nose and painted his father’s face pale like his own. Once he was finally satisfied, he slowly pushed the glass through his father’s solar plexus, just under the rib cage. Jeremy beamed with pleasure as he heard his barely conscious father grunt and sigh, and release his last breath into the air. 

Jeremy was displeased with his father dying with his eyes closed, but that’s not a difficult problem to solve. He retrieved another shard of glass and used it like a scalpel, tracing the upper half of each eye socket until the skin came free. Jeremy ignored the growing cuts on his palms. Best to focus on the delicate procedure at hand instead of tearing up over a few trivial lacerations. Bozo stepped up to Jeremy and put a supportive hand on his shoulder. Just as soon as Jeremy felt Bozo’s touch, Bozo stepped through him, finding a new home inside Jeremy’s own skin.

Someone new stood. He examined himself in the remaining mirror fragment. He smiled, ear-to-ear “We are Bozo,” he said to himself.

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