"And when I'm gone, just carry
on, don't mourn
Rejoice every time you hear the sound of my voice
Just know that: I'm looking down on your smiling
And now I don't feel a thing, So baby don't feel no pain
Just smile back…"
-When I'm Gone, by Eminem
It's only when the blue sky turns to pink and then degrades into darkness do I question what exactly I'm still doing here.
I always look at a photograph of him whenever I sit on my bed in my disastrous sty of a room. I have never made much of an effort to clean up after myself. Some consider me disorganized and lazy. Others think it's a sign of genius.
Russel Berry was much slimmer then, his head was covered in short blonde hair, and his prominent moustache was thinner. He was holding the hand of his blue eyed daughter, aged six.
God, Regina has grown up so fast. I sometimes have trouble associating the stunning young woman I always see training ferocious animals with the child in his photograph. Her eyes are wide and scared as she reluctantly strokes the flank of a lion. Russel beams proudly at his daughters bravery in front of the king of the beasts.
He didn't know later that he would have to kill the lion after a young man he raised as a son got bitten by an simple accident that occurred ten years later.
I smile as I look at his beaming face. Not one person who performs here had anything bad to say about Russel. He picked us up whenever we fell down. We were friends for many years, and we eventually started the Berry Big Circus shortly after my wife divorced me.
I remember being so depressed, and after illuminating the faces of men and women with my antics, I couldn't resist the urge to cry myself to sleep. My wife had left with my daughter Larina, who isn't much younger than Regina, and the fact that I wouldn't be able to see her made me feel as though I was torn up inside.
Russel told me that I had to pick myself up because no matter how much of that make up I applied, I couldn't hide that sadness. People always saw it, and it made me feel exposed after he informed me of the externality of my sorrow. I told him I'd give it a shot, and I resolved to be the best clown I could be. Those people who come here deserve nothing less.
At times, I can't help my mind from wandering about Larina and how she's doing. I sometimes fantasize about Regina and Larina meeting. I always chuckle whenever I think of it. Regina is so cheerful, but Larina has since grown into a factual and mature young lady…
I can't dwell on my own past for too long without pitying myself. I have to pick myself up. Now that Russels gone, I have an entire circus to run. I can't afford to let these people down, because I always admired Russel. I always wanted to be as good and just as he was. Now that he's dead, I have a reputation to live up to. I want to do my best friend justice.
Acro was sent to jail for killing Russel in Reginas place. Bat shortly died afterward in his coma induced state. I don't know what happened to Acro, but I haven't talked to him since. I haven't told him that his brother is dead. I think by now he already knows… But I want to make people laugh and smile. Not cry… Not mourn…
I put the photograph back in its album, which is where all photographs ultimately belong. I know that the time will come when I will eventually revisit it, and all of those emotions from so long ago will return: Anger for my friends death, Sadness for the daughters left behind, Frustration from the choices I've made, confusion of my position in this bizarre place.
But clowns are the people who grin and bear it. If we don't, who will? I was once a clown... Now, I'm the leader of a circus, which I now realize, puts more of a pressure on me that I've never truly realized before.
I have to write the checks. I have to make sure everyone is okay. I have to approach things with even more of a positive outlook. I have to grin and bear it.
But, if I'm doing this for a friend, his daughter, my performers, and everyone who is awed at our performances, then it's all worth it in the end.
I turn off the lights and go to bed. There's so much to do tomorrow it makes my head spin.
But, I remember that it's all going to be worth it, and that alone is enough to make me rest easily and make the dark of night and the loneliness I feel nonexistent.