Jarod Baker and his older brothers Aaron and Seth were technically orphans. They had been living with their Grandma Baker and their Uncle Bill for as long as any of them could remember. The boy's parents had died in the only fatal train accident to occur in Indiana for over 65 years. The mystery dinner theater train the young couple had booked to celebrate their third anniversary had the misfortune of gliding over a broken sensor. If the engineer had done his job, he would have recognized that the track wasn't making contact with the network. If the sensor had worked, the engineer would not have had to do his job. When the thirty car coal and auto parts line hit the antique mystery rail car and engine from behind, the entire passenger car was lifted first onto the engineer car of the oncoming train, and then both the antique engine and passenger car of the mystery dinner train tumbled down a steep embankment and into a shallow river. The thirty car train was unable to stop for another quarter mile.
Grandma Baker, Uncle Bill, and Bill's wife Mary had identified her son's
body at the morgue there was some confusion, he had been the "murder
victim" on the mystery train. The sweet and loving young father looked
as though he was sleeping peacefully but for a large kitchen knife
sticking out of his chest and watery redness fanning out over his white
dress shirt. Naturally, Grandma Baker thought he'd been stabbed.
couldn't even take the fucking knife out of his chest? What kind of
hospital is this?" Uncle Bill had been pulled from a party for the
macabre task of helping to identify his young brother.
sir, it's not a hospital. This is a morgue. I do apologize though, we
didn't expect you so soon" Replied the white coated attendant, Grandma
Baker gasped as he snapped the knife from the pins holding it to the
shirt. "We haven't done the autopsy, but we believe he passed on due to
internal hemorrhaging. I'm very sorry for your loss"
The family lived comfortably with the help of a large settlement from Grant Mystery Train Tours and the Elkline Express.
it was because they had plenty of money, and maybe it was because the
boys were orphans, Grandma Baker had a tendency to plan extravagant
birthday parties for her young charges. She had booked Slappy the Clown
for Jarod's 9th birthday party three months in advance. Slappy was a
full service party clown. His well reviewed performances featured
balloon sculpture, a stand up routine, and a real live miniature pony
called Starbright. Slappy would begin each show riding in on the pony
and flinging glitter onto the children while calliope music and sirens
blared. After a little haywire capering through the yard, the pony
would stop abruptly, flinging the clown into a forward roll across the
lawn just in time for a cacophony of loud farting noises and slide
whistles. Kids couldn't get enough of it.
loved the show too, it was a high energy performance with a little
something for everyone. Slappy was talented in the art of weaving
threads of mature comedy through his program in ways that adults could
appreciate and that children wouldn't notice.
like a God damned hobo." Slappy hadn't heard Uncle Bill's first
outburst, or had ignored it so professionally that nobody could have
suspected otherwise. The fierce whisper didn't go entirely unnoticed,
however, it had brought a few nervous titters from nearby kids. Slappy
was engaged in pulling multi colored ribbon from his closed hand,
offering a little girl in the front row a handkerchief bouquet that
turned into a rainbow of flapping bird wings the moment her little hand
closed around the stems.
It was harder to miss Uncle
Bill's next offering, he shouted it over the cheering crowd. "A God
damn hobo! You gave that kid some birds? Some fucking birds? I'm
gonna call the health inspector! Someone call the fucking health
inspector!" Uncle Bill laughed hoarsely.
Slappy made a
nearly imperceptible clicking sound and the well trained Starbright
stuck a long pink and blue tongue out in Uncle Bill's direction.
Everyone but Uncle Bill laughed.
"Oh that's how it's
gonna be, you have your horse fight your battles", Uncle Bill stood up
now and staggered a few steps forward, raising his fists menacingly.
"C'mere my little pony, I got something for you"
Bill was a slight man but he had been the state wrestling champ in his
weight class his sophomore, junior, and senior year. His own two sons
lived in Ontario with his ex wife but that didn't stop Uncle Bill from
drunkenly trying to pass his athletic knowledge to his nephews in lieu
of his absentee progeny. Jarod and his older brothers had endured
plenty of Uncle Bill's spontaneous center of gravity lessons. While his
nephews were no worse for the wear, these thin bookish boys had long
outgrown the pleasure of being knocked to the ground.
of the more aware parents ushered their complaining children inside as
Grandma Baker struggled to her feet. "Bill honey, let the kids watch
"Fuck you too mom, I know you talk to
Mary and my boys, so don't start your shit with me, this fucking clown
is going to the big show tonight!"
The more Uncle Bill
spoke, the less slurred his words became. Jarod, Aaron, and Seth
recognized the sobering sense of purpose in their uncle. They had all
learned that his drunken rants should not be taken lightly.
this fucking clown", Uncle Bill spat the word clown out with a sneer,
"This fucking clown and his little horse, I bet you bang that horse,
tell the truth, you bang that fucking horse!" All of the children but
for his nephews and a few stragglers by the cake table had been ushered
inside the house. Slappy stood in stunned and expressionless silence,
the rainbow clown watched the impending arrival of Uncle Bill with a
balloon in one hand and a top hat in the other.
boys looked at their uncle imploringly but not one of them dared attempt
to impede his progress through the empty folding lawn chairs. The wiry
man made his way through the rows of chairs as though he was wading
through three feet of water, knocking them aside with his wrists and
muscled forearms and raising his knees high.
could have predicted what the clown said next. "What was your wife's
name? Mary?" Slappy whispered loudly enough only for the few nearby to
hear, "I fucked a Mary once while her kids waited in the car, she said
high school steroids ruined her husband's dick, she said mine was like a
long hard velvet rope after his limp noodle"
Bill grunted and lunged the last few feet, Slappy deftly stepped aside
and the small muscled drunk sprawled across the trick table, sending
balloons and ribbons flying. Grandma Baker and her orphaned grandsons
"Fucking clown trick, clown tricks" muttered
Uncle Bill as he got to his feet, he bounced from one heel to the other
with his elbows turned towards his ribs and his hands spread out. The
boys recognized this as the knock em' down stance, it was often the only
warning they got before being bumped to the ground or into a wall or
cupboard by their playful drunk uncle.
Uncle Bill in the nuts with an over sized shoe, the end of which
crumpled on impact. Uncle Bill howled in agony as he hit the ground,
sending a white rabbit skittering from a box beneath the table. The sad
drunk followed up his howl with a keening wail as he lay there gripping
his testicles and sobbing, the boys turned away embarrassed. Grandma
Baker headed inside to send the few remaining guests home.