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«I'M THE KIDS FAVORITE SHOW !!

- OH YEAH ??? EVEN MY MAKE-UP COULDN'T COVER HOW USELESS YOU ARE !!!»

Eddie Oswald didn't particularly want to be here, in this Kid TV Show Convention, but his manager told him to get his fingers off his ass and go there if he hoped having a job in the near future. So he walked on the alleys with his pink paint and blue wig while people took pictures of him even without his approval. And then, at some point, he stumbled across someone who looked like a discount Mad Hatter, someone named... what was his name again ?

Oh yeah. Arlo Dittman.

Eddie knew about Magic Funhouse : Clive Butler wanted to make a crossover between the two shows but quickly cancelled it when Eddie started to act crazy. It could have been great though. The clown and the magician.

It could have been great.

If these two weren't absolute assholes.

«FUCK YOU!! AT LEAST I DIDN'T LOSE MY HANDS !!!

- You know what you did lose in pair ? YOUR PARENTS!!!

- MOTHERF-»

He didn't even remember how the fight started. Maybe they talked about each other outfits and then made snarky comments and then it escalated quickly. Anyway, Arlo punched him. Eddie didn't mind, couldn't even care less, he deserved it after all. Talking about Arlo's dead parents was way below the belt especially for that kid inside an adult body. Eddie saw what it did to him when he realized his crew lied to him. Oh, where was his crew by the way ?

"I'm going to kick your ass ! screamed Arlo, his hat falling down.

- Do your worst, but at least i can spell divorce without pushing my head further up my butt to find the dictionary put there by my lack of intercourse.

- YEAH ? Well, at least i can do MAGIC !

- Oh, wanna see a magic trick ? Look, I'll make this wig DISAPPEAR !"

And then Eddie snatched Mr Marble blue wig from Arlo's head and sank it into his mouth. Arlo spat it out before he ran at Eddie and crushed him, beat him on the floor. A lot of people started to surround them, screaming, laughing, some saying "MAR-BLE ! MAR-BLE ! MAR-BLE !" while others were shouting "BLAH-BLAH ! BLAH-BLAH ! BLAH-BLAH !!!". When security agents could finally reached the two men, Eddie had blood on his left ear where Arlo bit him, and Arlo was bleeding from his nose because of the iron fist he received.

Honestly, Eddie could had hurt Arlo more. Much more. His metallic hands were dangerous.

But he wasn't that kind of bastard.

They were put in the infirmary of the Convention where some people fixed them up, Arlo still yelling at the clown but Eddie didn't listen. Gosh, he really didn't want to be here.

"What the heck was that ???"

Leslie Chronis, the network head of TV30, rushed in the infirmary, his eyes wide open.

"Arlo, you've been in that Convention for twenty minutes and you already have your nose broken !! We have a panel in less than an hour. What the fuck ???

- I'm sorry Mr Chronis but that guy was upsetting.

- And who the hell are..."

His eyes wided more.

"Holy shit. You're Eddie Oswald, the murderer...

- I'm NOT a murderer, sighed Eddie.

- Yeah yeah, whatever. This is a Kid Show Convention and guess what ? There are kids EVERYWHERE ! So put your shit together Arlo because if you want to beat Karry's Krazy Kastle fair and square, you'll need..."

His phone beeped. Once. Twice. Thrice. So many notifications that Leslie checked, frowning. He replied to a few texts, looked up to the two men while whispering "oh daaamn" and then the phone rang. Eddie bent his legs, massaging his forehead with his knees, to stop listening to the man blabbing but when he looked next to him he saw that Arlo pressed his temples probably to do the same.

They were fucked-up, weren't they ?

Was he going to face trial ? Again ?

No, no no no no, Eddie couldn't do that again. And it seemed like Arlo couldn't either.

When Leslie hang up, he had a big smile on his face.

"Well well well. Seems like we won the big prize.

- What do you mean ?

- There are already videos of you fighting in the internet and it's trending like a Kardashian sex-tape. And your manager just called me to ask if we could have a partnership."

Maybe it was the phantom pain in his hands or the lack of sleep since Wendy died but Eddie wasn't able to understand what was Leslie Chronis saying. Luckily, Arlo asked the question for him :

"What are you suggesting ?

- To include Blah Blah The Clown in Magic Funhouse. You know what the audience love to see the most, right ?

- A fight, answered Eddie and Arlo at the same time with the same sinister voice.

- Yes. He would be a main character trying to mess up every episodes and fighting with Mr Marble before disappearing when he lose."

So he would play the villain again. Great.

"What do you think ? said Leslie to Eddie.

- I need some time...

- You don't have that time. If we're going to work together, we need to make the announcement during the panel in forty minutes. You don't agree before that and the deal is off."

Eddie didn't, couldn't think clearly and went out the infirmary, out the alleys, out the building, just to breathe for a second. Or at least to pretend to breathe. And then a few minutes later...

"You okay ?

- Let me guess, grunted Eddie. You're here to persuade me to join your group.

- Leslie is right. Us together, and fighting in front of the camera, this would put us at the top of the list. I mean, my show was never more popular than with all the shit that happened with Dave. And you... I... You were...

- Everybody talked about me when everyone thought I killed my crew.

- Yeaaah... Sorry about that."

Arlo lit a cigaret, the smoke coming out his mouth in a very mesmerizing way. But Eddie knew what was the most unsettling thing about that boy, about that situation, about their fight and their hatred and their costume : in a way, they both looked alike. A lot.

Even without the make-up and the wigs, they looked the same... well... except for the eyes. If Eddie's eyes were as blue as a Blue Shock Mountain Dew, Arlo's were brown like a smoky quartz.

"I'm sorry about what I said with your parents. Sometimes I just... I don't know. Maybe I'm a little jealous because I wish my mom was dead.

- Shit bro, coughed Arlo. Want to talk about this ?

- That's the least of my problems right now."

He let himself slide into the wall and sat on the floor and Arlo allowed himself to sit next to him.

"I should say yes to this proposition, right ? said the clown. I definitely should say yes. My app is great but it doesn't pay my bills, my girlfriend's restaurant is nice but it's not my passion and every time I make a video with Daniel, even if it's been almost a year, all the audience see is Blah Blah The Clown."

He put his forehead on his knees again.

"Fuck, I'll never get rid if him, will I ?

- Is it that bad ? asked the magician.

- He took everything from me. My sanity, my crew, my girlfriend, my freaking hands...

- I loved to watch Quiet Time."

Somehow Eddie couldn't see the magician with blue hair anymore. He only saw a 7 year-old boy, pulling his sleeves nervously.

"It was like another dimension. Where I could be whoever I wanted to be. You looked so... free. Isn't that ironic ? So when you were charged for murder I didn't believe it. How could someone like you be behind bars ?

- You believed I was innocent ?

- I hoped you were.

- Wow.

- I'm sorry about your hands.

- I wish I could tell you that it's okay, that I sometimes forgot they are gone... but that's not the truth.

- Listen, you deserve a second chance. And I know that playing Blah Blah again doesn't seem like one but we could... work on it little by little. Plus, you won't be alone anymore.

- That worries me too. I wasn't the best crew mate and I don't want your team to deal with what I've been through."

(AND, your actress reminds me too much of my dead girlfriend.)

"They are tougher than they look. So ? Do you wanna try ? You have nothing to lose anyway... No pun intended.

- Yeah. Yeah I think I'm on board.

- Cheers !"

Arlo extended his cigaret to Eddie who declined with a shake of his head. The manchild dragged on it, his eyes closed and suddenly the boy disappeared from Eddie's vision.

"How could you smoke that much while being so young.

- That's the thing. I'm still a young boy in my head, but I'm supposed to pretend to be an adult wheres I missed so many thing as a child."

He kept drag.

"I missed my college years, my high school years, my graduations. I missed my driving license and so many birthdays. I missed all my firsts : first road, first job, first kiss, first hangover. Shit, you were even right about my lack of intercourse, I... I'm not ready yet. And when I will be, I'll be probably too fucking old."

He threw his finished cigaret on the ground before crushing it angrily.

"I missed all of this. And my crew probably doesn't know that I feel fucking sick about it. So now that I'm too old to do what I was allowed to do as a kid, I do everything I am allowed to do as an adult. Even if it's freaking dangerous or unhealthy, I don't care. I won't miss opportunities again.

- That's... a bit sad...

- Whatever, Arlo shrugged. But what about you ? Why don't YOU smoke ?

- I think that with the Blah Blah Bars and my time in the asylum, I had the equivalent of a lifetime of drugs, right ?

- That's a bit sad too.

- The best clowns are the sad one. Welcome to the show."

They exchanged a look full of strain, pain and madness, but also full of hope, and joy, and laughter. Because no matter what life put then through, no matter how fucked-up they are and how crazy their career is going to be... the show must go on.