I told him I didn't want candy and ran off.
I was always afraid of clowns.
Not because of those horror movies depicting clowns as these evil creatures demons disguise themselves as.
Nor was it because I had a bad experience with Ronald Wcdonald.
It was 2016 when it happened.
Everyone remembers 2016, it was the year when every news outlet craved the next scary clown story. For odd reasons, a clown fest was what 2016 needed for humanity to feel scared of something.
Why clowns? I don't even know.
I'm not sure why clowns were such a hot topic back then but they definitely succeeded in scaring people of all ages.
Kids shitted their pants while their parents abandoned them to save their own skin, others could've used common sense and driven over a clown but decided to reverse and hit a tree instead.
There were all kinds of stories.
Most of them ended fairly boring. The people lived, or it was a prank, and only a few resulted in tragedy.
But what about me?
Well, I'll tell you one thing.
Clowns are goofy. They are silly. They're meant to be poked fun of and make the kids laugh.
So that's what one clown did at my birthday party.
He greeted us at the doorway after introducing himself as Stitches the Clown. My parents told me they've heard of Stitches' wonderful service among the gossips of neighbors who had hired him before, and so they thought it would be a nice idea to have him at my birthday party.
I had just turned 12, so having a clown at the party was a bit embarrassing, but admittedly many of my cousins were much younger so a clown would probably be entertaining.
Stitches did a great job distracting the little ones. I admit I enjoyed his presence because he'd pull silly jokes that weren't cheesy for once unlike my classmates, and he knew his assignment.
Anytime a kid wanted my attention, Stitches would announce he's ready to hand out candy, tell silly stories, or create an animal balloon.
I kept observing Stitches.
He was your typical clown alright, with a friendly presence of a man who enjoyed his job. A bright smile to lighten up the day, his polka-dotted attire for the kids to count, and his goofy hat obviously too tight for comfort.
Sometimes, I'd catch him staring at me too.
"Would you like some candy?" He'd ask.
"No thanks." I'd reply.
I'd then kept my attention to something or someone else, but I couldn't help but feel like someone was keeping an eye on me.
Was it because I was the birthday kid?
I mean, it'd make sense that I should be getting the attention, right?
As the hours go by and the kids left one by one, Stitches performed one last bow to the remaining children happily waving goodbye.
Then, he turned to gaze at me with those big eyes and an uncanny smile.
Without saying a word.
"Would you like some candy?"
Sure enough, there were a few pieces of leftovers. Obvious flavors kids didn't like.
I stepped back.
"No." and then I ran back into the house just as my parents walked out to pay Stitches.
I watched from my window as Stitches took his payment, exchanged a few words with my parents, and skipped his way out our front yard and into his white van that was parked across the street.
But my eyes focused on the van and didn't dare to blink until I was sure he'd left.
My heart started racing when the van didn't leave.
My parents didn't seem to notice as they became occupied with ordinary things at home.
But I kept staring.
I could've sworn I saw someone else with Stitches, but perhaps it was a silhouette of something else. Maybe an item, maybe a mannequin. Maybe just other things clowns carry for entertainment.
Stitches suddenly turned to face the house and waved.
Feeling uneasy, I immediately crouched away from the window and convinced myself that he didn't see me.
He was odd. But I suppose you had to be odd to work as a clown for a living.
Eventually, the van was gone, and life resumed normally.