This excerpt from THE ACROTWIST CLOWN, part two of ‘A Tale of Fiddleeebod’, features Nobb and Jemby, pictured below. Almost a decade has drifted by since the shocking conclusion of part one, ORRUN.
Nobb, the Acrotwist Clown and
Jemby, the Goblin
alone on the shore of a faraway sea
the acrotwist clown paints his face carefully
Nine bar years later, wave crashed on rock, sending salty spray to spatter mist on the pompom hat, frilly collar, and painted face of Nobb, an Acrotwist Clown in training. Acrotwist Clowns, and acrotwist clowns, to be fair, are tumblers, comedy performing trapeze artist pie throw unicycle stilt trampoline bouncers and tenders of Fan Wa’s Clock. Fan Wa’s Clock, well-oiled and running, keeps time and the weather in harmonious dance. If and when the clock breaks down, which, sadly, it has done before, the end of the week might jump into the middle of the beginning of the week, or night might last three seconds or four days, as the mood strikes it, or the weather might switch from rain to sun to snow to tropical heat to sleet in a matter of two ninces or half a nonce. But since that is none of our worry here, I won’t waste any more time talking about it. At this time of times, when wave crashed rock, Fan Wa’s Clock efficiently ticked and rhythmically tocked. Time and the weather were safely in harness. All was well on the island. Island? Yes, island. Fan Wa’s Clock was located, with some logic, on Fan Wa’s Island. Fan Wa’s Island, shaped like a giant letter C, like that, was a journey and a voyage across the sea from the Orrun Mountains and the Queeendom of Fiddleeebod beyond. Nobb, the Acrotwist Clown in training, longed to be away and gone, oh so gone, from the island. He yearned to rule over Orrun Mountain, over Fiddleeebod, over all he had heard about, but never seen. No, we do not need to worry about Fan Wa’s Clock breaking down. But yes, we do need to worry about Nobb’s desire to rule over everybody’s everything everywhere.
What was Nobb doing, crouched there at the shore among the rocks? If he closed his yellow eyes, his face was a rainbow spiral. He had yellow eyes. Oh, look, is that a mirror there sitting on a rocky ledge? Yes, it is. Nobb dabbed at his face with a paintbrush, dab dab, examined the result in the mirror. Rainbow spiral face.
“Look at the tip of my nose, my friend,” he said, closing his eyes. “Follow the rainbow around and around, around and around. Sleep. Sleep. Now you will peacefully sleep.”
Why did he say that? He was talking to nobody. Nobody else was there. He had a plan. That’s what he had. A plan. He was refining his special skill, his gift of clouding minds. Mind clouding. It’s very much like what you call hypnosis down the well. Part of his plan. Mind clouding. Part of his plan. Rainbow spiral, soothing voice.
White pompom buttons marched up the front of his frilly white suit. He had three white pompoms on his white gumdrop hat. His white hair curled on his brow, over his ears, down his neck. Rainbow painted face. He had it. Yellow eyes. He had them. White gloves. He wore them, satin. Long wide white slap shoes. Slap! Slap! Slap! When he walked, they made that sound. Slap!
He turned when someone called his name.
JEMBY THE GOBLIN
nervous old sea on the targeted day
when jemby the goblin enters the bay
“Nobb! Nobby! Nobbity! I’m back, by Jembo! Ready as it is! Lookee! The water stays under the boat! It floats!”
“The water stays under the boat? Of course the water stays under the boat. Where else would it go? Why don’t you make yourself useful? Do something. Where’s my lollipop?” said Nobb, and he took a few floppy strides closer to the creature in the boat.
What boat? What creature? A bowl boat and a goblin creature. Yes, the creature there in the bright patchwork coat with the way too long sleeves trailing afloat was a genuine goblin. Jemby the Goblin, a mischievous sprite, had been dropped on the island a thin month before from a sky ranging city in order to train as an Acrotwist Clown. Now, what sort of luck brought Jemby and his long narrow beak of a nose to fall near the rocks where Nobb secretly plotted? Good? Bad? Jemby alone, Jemby scared. Nobb found him, huddled and cold, fed him a gumdrop, patted his head, kept him secluded, away from the others, brought him the coat, the finest of gifts, told him a story about the Orrun Mountains, discovered that Jemby was a builder of boats, set him the task to build them a craft, supplied him with tools, supplied him with boards, boards from the lumber piled back of the Hall, examined the almost not quite finished vessel, gave it a kick to test its resilience, nodded approval, tapped lightly together the tips of his fingers, and sent Jemby off to circle the island, a test to see if the boat was worthy of seas. Jemby was back. The boat rode high. The boat rode dry. The boat tilted and rolled in the gentle surf.
“Where is my lollipop?” repeated Nobb, hands on hips.
“In where I have it here,” said Jemby, and he held up an arm and pulled on the way too long sleeve of the bright patchwork coat until it slipped down and bunched at the goblin’s forest green knuckles. Jemby held in his forest green grasp a big round rainbow lollipop on a white stick. Nobb took the lollipop stick between white satin thumb and white satin finger and held the round candy in front of his face. Now here’s the odd thing. The rainbow lollipop matched to the molecule Nobb’s rainbowish spirally round painted face.
“Excellent,” said Nobb, “and now we go.”
He shooed the goblin back to the far side of the wooden bowl. That was the boat. That is what it looked like. A wooden bowl. Nobb waved the lollipop over his head.
“Enchantment,” he said, “invisibility. From hence here until forth there none shall see us. Jemby, can’t you do something to help me?”
Nobb had slap! slap! slapped! in his long wide white slapshoes to ankle deep in the bay and was preparing to tumble into the boat. That’s when he noticed something? What did he notice? Out of the corner of his eye he saw a dark shape moving, drifting below the surface of the water. What’s that? he thought and leaned over to see.