He tells another joke and the crowd goes nuts. The laughter and applause so intense the light fixtures shake. His pulse rate jumps as his teeth begin grinding. Then, as always, comes the pleasure. It’s counterintuitive. It’s not sexual pleasure or even an ASMR tingling of the scalp or spine, but hating their laughing just makes him feel good inside.
At the comedy club, most comics start with their best material to quickly win over the crowd. The tortured comedian begins slowly. Some heckle or boo and some walk out. The club manager doesn’t care. He knows the tortured comedian finishes strong. People even return from the parking lot when the place starts shaking. From his slow start, he builds to a climax leaving the audience laughing so hard they gasp for air. I’ve even seen people at his show reduced to lying face down in the aisles pounding on the floor in puddles of joyful tears. His eyes squint as he visibly abhors the euphoric response, yet his anger makes them laugh all the more. They love it. He’s disgusted. But inside he’s dancing a pleasurable little jig. It’s a virtuous cycle and everyone goes home happy.
He’s single once was engaged to a woman who constantly laughed at his jokes. She knew his whole routine and it never grew old. Her laughter made him so mad he could hardly take it. And, of course, he loved it. Eventually the one-dimensional relationship blossomed into something deeper and she began serving him breakfast in bed. He realized the thing had run its course: no laughs, no pain, no pleasure. He lives a circular, love/hate existence. Once I asked him how he sees his future. “No change,” he said. “Sisyphus has his boulder. I have my jokes.”
Crop Circles in the Park
The circles were there. In fact, they’re still there. I spotted them in the park while walking the dog the other night, probably soon after they were created since the bitter smell of singed grass was still in the air. The scene gave me a prickly, crawling feeling on my neck, like wearing a necklace of caffeinated spiders. Dinner churned in my bowels. I immediately scanned the skies for UFOs, but they’d already fled. Believe me, I’m an eyewitness to the circles, and my wife and dog are co-witnesses. They both clearly saw them in my presence the next morning. In fact, my wife insisted I take pictures of her, the dog, and the circles, and you better bet I did. The dog told me he couldn’t comprehend what he’d seen that first night. He said, “Hey, honestly, it was just too much for me to process out there in the dark. Anyway, I definitely grasped it all when we went back in the morning.” I admire his humility, after all he’s a dog. He says he’s willing to testify under oath. There are two identical circles in the park, each 35 feet in diameter, forming a modified figure eight. I say modified because there’s a small gap between the circles. So, to be absolutely clear, they formed double zeroes instead of a figure eight. Don’t try to catch me out on a technicality. The circles are unmistakable - dry, burnt grass contrasting with the deeper green color of the rest of the park. There are no cows in the area, otherwise I’d have done a mutilation check. And, get this, a neighbor down the road is late returning from vacation - we’re praying there’s not been an abduction. I’ll be phoning a late-night radio show to file a report. The police around here won’t even take up the case. They can’t get over the talking dog.
-- Eric Burgoyne lives on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. He recently completed an MA in Creative Writing - Poetry, from Teesside University, Middlesbrough England. His poems have appeared in As It Ought To Be Magazine, Brickplight - Poetry Beyond the Pale, Spillwords, Skink Beat Review, Journal of Expressive Writing, and elsewhere