для читателей старше 18 лет
Elena Fedorova is a poet, writer, member of the Russian Union of Writers, a member of the International Union of Writers, Playwrights and Journalists, Internetional Guild of Writers. She is Honored Cultural Worker of Lobnya (a town in the Moscow region), an author of more than two hundred songs for children and adults, an author of thirty five books whichinclude nine books for children in Russian and three books in English. The genres of her works are diverse: fantasy, urban novel, detective, romance and adventure, mystery, verse novels, ballads, proverbs, tales, stories, and short stories.
Elena began to write poetry and prose in high school. The first book was published in 2000. She became the finalist of the award “Writer of the Year 2014”, was included in the list of the top 100 best writers; was nominated for the National Literary Prizes “Poet and Writer of the Year” and “Nasledie” (Heritage).
Her Golden Country Children Song Project (“Zolotaya Strana”) in collaboration with the composer Vyacheslav Gridunov became the Laureate of the Prize of the Governor of Moscow Region in the category “Care for Children” in 2013.
Elena worked as a flight attendant for Aeroflot Russian Airlines, then later as a journalist for the television and radio company “Lobnya”. Elena is the author and hostess of literary and musical evenings, film director and performer.
She was awarded a letter of Appreciation from the Deputy of the State DumaA. Baskaev “For selfless devotion to dramatic arts”.
Elena lives in Lobnya in the Moscow Region. She was awarded a medal “For contribution to the development of Lobnya”.
You do not fit the mantle of a dolt,
Why do you dress it up and why
do you scuttle,
And the audience at the fair why
do you chuckle
You need not that kind of role,
not that role….
It’s worthwhile for you to be a peregrine,
Who sings the songs to the sunshine
Do not get carried away by fancy tint,
It’s really no use in square stardom.
Simone was sitting at the open window of the motley circus show-booth and with a smile on her face was looking at the field that was stretching to the horizon.
“Just think,” she was exclaiming mentally. “The whole field is full of sunflowers! This is the triumphal procession of small solar brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, close and distant relatives of the sun that have descended to earth to please us. How can one petals, fluttering in the wind? Can one imagine something more wonderful?”
The door creaked. Simone turned around, saw Charles, and whispered: “How?”
“Divinely”, he smiled, removing a red wig from his head. He sat down in front of the mirror and pulled a funny face.
“Everything is fine, dear”.
“I do not dare to ask you, why do you need all this?” Simone said, looking at the reflection of Charles in the mirror.
He straightened his back. The face became very serious, and the voice sounded like they were not in a small show-booth, stuffed to overflowing with different costumes and props, but at the huge circus arena.
“For the motley it is easier
To hide our own stupidity.
Tell me, please, who will dare
In this disguise to suspect the lie?”
Charles got up, threw the royal mantle over his shoulders, and frowned. Simone crossed her legs and clasped her knees with her arms not to interfere with the procession of the lord in the throne room of the tiny show-booth. The voice of Charles changed. It became bossy, strict.
“Tell me, who in this disguise will suspect
I’m so great that it causes vibration
My view, my moral admonitions,
For you my scorn is the great verdict…”
He smiled and confidentially whispered in the ear of Simone:
“And I’m just someone who does a silly trick,
And I am just a silly, nasty jester
I am covering with beautiful attire,
(the mantle flew to the floor.)
Amusing you, I find comfort in desire
To make you fool, confuse and shame
With floridity of my clumsy word frame
With dear to all of us, beloved “kind-of”word!”
Simone began to laugh.
“That is sharper than a rapier,
sable, snee, sword,
Steel and blade, or even
a double-edged spade…”
Charles came down squab on the floor, doubled up with pain, held out his hand to Simone, and groaned:
“I’m, wannabe, wounded… dying, wannabe,
I’m, wannabe, bleeding before the eyes…”
Simone got up. Charles winked at her and sat down on the floor, clasping his knees with his arms, as she had done a moment before. His voice became softer from the bottom up to her, looking at him with regret.
“Are you startled?
You shout sobs and sighs!
Forgetting that here is the theatre, stage,
All, wannabe, is fun, all is in a flash
Now it will change all of a sudden
And, wannabe, it will be time for fun.”
Charles jumped up, hugged Simone by the shoulders, and winked:
“And you agree with me, don’t you?”
“I kind of agree. Yes,” she said. Then shout: “Bravo! Bravо,” Simone said inertly. She did not want to fool around.
“And glorify a stupid clown!” Charles clapped his hands several times.
“I control you with my hands down.
Puppets are far and wide, far and wide,
far and wide…
Did I frighten you, my child?
I’ll do no more, I beg your pardon,
And let the curtain on the window down…”
Charles hugged Simone, ran his hand through her soft hair, and asked: “Did I satisfy your curiosity?”
“Not quite,” she replied, moving away.
“Really?” Charles smiled, sat down on the chair, threw one leg over the other, and looked at Simone quizzically.
“And you, my soul, are not so simple
as it could seem at first.
Eyes are two lakes. In them the water’s clear,
But deeply, at the bottom, of course,
there’s a secret!
Stranger, of course, am I accurate?
My soul, your temper is quite moderate.
The lips are coral. The waist is thin…
Oh, what a real fool you are, old harlequin!
Before you not a simple virgin,
in your booth came the Queen!”
Charles knocked his forehead with his palm. He got up and bowed. Looking at Simone from the bottom up, he said:
“I kindly ask you, Your Grace,
forgive me this disorder.
I am willing to beggar the wealth of ours,
So you stayed in the booth for an hour,
and if I am lucky,
For one or two days…
I see you are laughing at my phrase.
I am ready to serve the Queen.
Ready for centuries to be her harlequin…”
Charles put on a red wig on his head and began to trill with laughter. Simone shook her head and said in a sad voice: “It is not funny for me to look at your antics. It hurts, hurts, hurts… Have you, Charles, the greatest, the wisest man, the talented actor, decided to spend your life in this squeaky box with a beautiful name circus show-booth? Not small but a huge buffoonery.”
Charles grinned: “You are the first to use the superlative degree in describing my humble abode. I am filled with pride. I will just burst of self-worth and self-importance,” he puffed out his cheeks. “I will burst, and you, Simone, will mourn a great actor, an unsurpassed red-haired clown, a brilliant…”
“Jester, who is wasting his life,” Simone finished his tirade.
“Charles, you are on!” the manager of the circus cried out.
“That’s my turn,” having adjusted the wig, Charles said. “Allow me to leave you for a while. I can only ask you not to disappear. I hope you will be able to forgive me for all these stupid antics. Please, stay at the window, like a statue. And I will come back and will create a portrait: a window, sunflowers, skylight, and a lady…”
“Charles, hurry up, the program is coming to the end,” the manager tapped at the door.
“I am fly-y-ying,” Charles exclaimed, stepped out the door, and stopped. “Do not disappear, Simone. Wait. I will be right back… I will be back in a trice…” his voice reached from afar. It was not his voice, but the voice of the red-haired clown, who was amusing the audience.
Simone took a white sheet, sat down in front of the mirror, and wrote:
Dear, dear, Charles! I am sorry. I have to leave. Yes, yes, yes… I have to leave, despite everything you have done for me. Due to everything you have done for me. For you, for me, for US, Charles. I understand that the show-booth is your life, your work, giving you the opportunity to live… not to live, but to exist. Acting, buffoonery soaked so much into your skin, got in the bloodstream, in mind that… (please, think this out yourself, you are better at this). I know, you will upbraid me, saying that your tricks used to entertain me, your clownish laughter used to amuse me. Yes, you are right. I used to have fun because I was a little girl. I grew up, Charles. Now I am a mature, intelligent, well-mannered girl, who does not want to spend her life, her youth to check entrance tickets… I am sorry that I am telling you this, and not vice versa. Charles, you are a wise man, who has been teaching me not to be afraid of difficulties, but you yourself succumb to them. Why? Then, when we meet next time, you will answer me this question. You can answer yourself right this minute… So. I am leaving for you, Charles. My, at first glance, thoughtless act is really thought out to the last detail (I had an excellent teacher!). I am leaving you, Charles, knowing that you will not let such insolence remain unpunished.
P.S. Oh, forgive me… I do not want to hurt your feelings (in my opinion, you still have such feelings, such emotions that are not typical of clowns) … So, not to make your heart explode out of despair, I whisper you four words that you have wanted to hear from me for a long time. I know that it is true, that it has not been the work of my imagination, that you have not been playing at that moment, otherwise… otherwise… I will die out of sorrow and despair, because, because… I LOVE YOU, CHARLES! I am leaving for us, for… (think out the finale of my letter on your own, please…)
“Success, success, success! There has never been such a storm of applause in our circus. Simone, can you hear? It is the season of the red-haired clown!” Charles cried, opening the door of the show-booth. Flowers, which he was holding in his hands, slowly flew to the floor. A wig and a big red clownish nose followed them.
“Simone, where are you?” Charles said distractedly, realizing that something irreparable had happened. “Did you leave, Simone?”
His gaze rested on a sheet of paper, written in a steady hand.
“Black letters on a white sheet of paper this is the beginning of the finale,” Charles said, having stopped in the doorway. “Black letters instead of you — so little, so little… I have missed the tale, the dream… When will I find peace? I have to follow you again to meet the dream…”
Charles sat down on the steps, folded his arms, and, through the squinty eyes, began to observe the usual bustle of the circus actors. His thoughts were far away in the past, in that day. When he first saw Simone…
The girl with huge cherry bows was sitting in the second row. Why did he notice her and invite into the arena instead of the clumsy daughter of the Director of the circus Matilda? Probably, it was just fate.
“Do you want me to help you?” the girl from the second row exclaimed.
“Yes, yes, yes, my child,” Charles exclaimed in a clown’s voice. “Please, please. Help me become a person. Help me defeat the obnoxious white-haired clown”.
“I will try,” having reached out her little hand, she said. For some reason, Charles picked her up and carried into the arena. The white girl’s dress with cherry satin ribbons, threaded through the lacy collar and cuffs of the short sleeves, resembled a turned over liqueur-glass. Charles was admiring her.
“What should I do?” the girl asked in a businesslike tone.
“You should win,” he said, having remembered that they were at the arena, that the hundred-eyed audience was watching them, so…
“Don’t do anything silly,” he whispered to the girl.
“Of course,” she said, having done unquestioningly everything that was required.
The white-haired clown was defeated. The grateful red-haired clown Charles wanted to accompany his savior to her seat. She pushed his hand away and said: “I can take it from here.”
“Bravo!” Charles began to shout and to clap his hands loudly. The audience supported him. The girl walked to her seat under the storm of applause. She sat down, straightened her back, turned her head, and said something to a man, who was sitting next to her. He hoisted his eyeglasses on his nose and leaned forward. But new actors ran into the arena: Madame Juju with the pets dwarf dogs…
The performance came to an end. Charles ran to his show-booth to change his clothes. Somebody loudly knocked on the door.
“Open,” Charles cried. Somebody knocked on the door again. Then he got up, opened the door, and whistled, having seen a gentleman in eyeglasses, behind whom the cherry bows were hiding.
“May I talk to you, Mr. Clown?” he asked.
“Sure,” Charles said, having sat on the top step. “I am listening to you. Speak, Your Honour.”
Charles thought that this man, dressed in an expensive gray suit, a starched white shirt, white gloves, a tall bowler, and a neckerchief, fastened with a diamond pin, was, most likely, a lawyer, to whom one should address “Your Honour”.
“My daughter was helping you today at the arena,” he said, drilling Charles with a savage look of gray, like the colour of his suit, eyes.
“Do you want me to share my fee with her?” Charles grinned.
“You are stupid, “the man screwed up his face. “You are so stupid that you cannot listen to the interlocutor till the end. I am not some vagabond but a decent, respected man, a successful banker, who has deigned to honour you, a pathetic comedian, with my attention…”
“I did not ask you to be so generous,” having crossed his legs when sitting down,
Charles said: “You are too arrogant, Mr. Banker. I like to talk to vagabonds, they…”
“Young man,” having tapped on the hand with a walking stick with a gold knob, the banker interrupted him. “I would never condescend to the communication with a stupid actor on the margins of the circus, if not for my daughter Simone, “he pushed the girl forward.“I am here only for her. Care to get up, Mr. Clown. Although, the word “Mr.” is too great for you. You are a jester, a poseur, an actor, who has forgotten about his true face, given from birth. I wouldn’t be surprised if you do not know your last name,” Charles slowly got up. Jaw muscles began to move on his cheeks. If not a girl with cherry bows, he would pounce on this dressed up dandy, would drag him in the dirt of the circus, in the horse manure.
“I am truly sorry.”
“Goodbye,” the banker said, having grinned. He noticed thatthe clown got tensed, that his eyes began to sparkle, that he clenched fists.
“Simone, you have five minutes to talk to this…” he looked at Charles with contempt and slowly said: “per-son…”
“You have a strict daddy,” Charles said, watching the receding banker.
“He is my guardian,” Simone said.
“Sometimes, once every six months, he fulfils my whims. And the rest of the time, I live in the boarding house of Madame La Rouge.”
Charles looked at Simone with interest. She smiled.
“I would like you to visit me in the boarding house if it’s not too much trouble for you, Mr. Red-Haired Clown.”
“Of course not,” Charles said, having sat down on the steps again. It was more comfortable for him to talk to the girl. Their faces were at the same level. Charles noticed that her eyes began to sparkle, that her cheeks flushed.
“Hurrah!” Simone whispered.
“I would like to ask you to do me a favour,” Charles said, having folded his arms on his chest.
She looked at him with wide-open eyes.
“Don’t ever again call me Mr. Clown. Call me by name.”
She began to nod. Charles held out his hand to her and introduced himself:
“Charles Benosh is a young, promising actor, who dreams of playing the Prince of Denmark, Hamlet, but who is abandoned by a twist of fate in the circus show-booth Chapiteau. This is my temporary shelter. Do you believe me, Simone?”
“I believe, Mr. Charles Benosh,” she said, handing him a white piece of paper, on which she had written in a steady childish hand the address of the boarding house and the name Simone Stowasser.
“Meetings with a family are allowed on Mondays,” Simone said.
“And are we a family?” Charles exclaimed, having winked her. “I would never have thought that participating in the circus act makes people so close.”
“It does not make people close this way,” she shook her head, “not earthly but heavenly.”
“O-o-oh!” Charles said significantly.
“Fate brought me together with a young philosopher. You are so clever, Miss Stowasser. May I ask, how old are you?”
“I am not too old. I am just…” she leaned forward and whispered: “I will turn thirteen in two weeks. Come to congratulate me.”
“Ok,” he answered in a whisper. “I will come.”
“Thank you, you are… a wonderful man, Charles Benosh,” she said and ran away.
Charles was long sitting on the steps of his show-booth, perplexedly looking at the sheet, written in black round letters, and was whispering the name of the girl with cherry bows:
“Simone, Simone, Simone Stowasser… What am I supposed to do with you? Am I supposed to play with dolls? Perhaps…” he sighed. “Time flies so fast: yesterday I was a child, but today… No, it’s better to remember what happened yesterday…”
Charles saw the multi-coloured tent Chapiteau and froze.
“I would like to look inside. I would like to take a quick look at what is happening there, to know what kind of miracles are made,” he said.
The boys, who were standing next to him, exchanged glances. The puniest one dug Charles in the side, having exclaimed:
“Did you forget that there are no barriers for homeless children?” Charles shook his head. “Then go ahead,” he commanded and was the first to slip into the thickest part of the crowd, thronging at the entrance to the circus. And all the other boys melted into the crowd of spectators.
Charles found a spot on the stairs between the rows, located right under the dome. From up here the arena resembled a big bowl, on the bottom of which the miracle, the miraculous event, the wonder was being created. Watching trapeze artists, Charles decided to stay at this amazing place. Imagination immediately pictured him an amazing image. He is an idol of the public, a trapeze artist in a shiny leotard, who performs his best-known number the flight down from under the dome of the circus.
At this point, a drum-roll began to rattle. People froze. The slender artist in the golden suit performed somersault and flew down, having beautifully outstretched his arms. The audience gasped. But the hands of the gymnast suddenly turned into huge wings.
“Birdman!” the audience breathed out.
“The golden bird of happiness!” the voice of the compere was heard. “The trapeze artist Edward Houdini.”
Charles wiped sweat on his forehead, having thought that he would never become such a brave man like Houdini. His beautiful dream faded into oblivion. Its place was immediately taken by another, more realistic dream. Funny clowns, white-haired and red-haired, appeared at the arena. Charles sat up to get a better look at them.
“Oh, what a brave boy!” the red-haired clown exclaimed. “Look, look, he wants to repeat the flight of Houdini.”
Charles had not time to figure out what boy was being referred to, and the red-haired clown was already rushing upstairs, jumping over the steps.
“Do not be afraid,” he was crying and throwing his arms about.
“Come here, boy, come here,” people pushed Charles.
“Me?!” having gotten wide-eyed, he whispered.
“You, you” the clown smiled and, having grabbed him by the arm, yelled at the whole circus:
“This braveheart is willing to perform the trick of the trapeze artist Edward Houdini before your eyes!”
Charles realized that he had nowhere to run, so he decided not to resist but to go down and to stand a few minutes at the arena in the spotlight. He knew that such a possibility could be given once, and decided not to miss his hour of triumph.
“Do not be afraid,” the clown whispered him when they were running down. “Trust me, and everything will be fine.”
Charles confided. They pushed him into the gun instead of the projectile. The drums began to rattle… and the gun broke into two pieces, and the audience was showered with multicoloured paper rain. Splendid!
“You can go to your place,” the clown said happily, helping Charles to get to his feet.
“Can I stay with you?” Charles asked with the voice of hope.
“Well, if we do not have problems with your relatives, then,” the red-haired clown said.
“No, no,” Charles cried. “I am an orphan. I am homeless, living under the fence.”
“Perfect,” the red-haired clown tapped him on the shoulder and, having held out his hand, introduced himself:
“I am Bebe.”
“I am Lele,” the white-haired clown said.
“Are you a woman?” Charles exclaimed enthusiastically. “Wow!”
“Yes, wow!” she mimicked him. Then she hugged him by the shoulders and asked: “Do you really live under the fence?”
“Well, it is not always under the fence,” he smiled. “Sometimes it is possible to spend the night at the station, or at the museum, or in the park, near some statue, which is not very scary.”
Lele began to laugh resonantly, disarranged his hair, and said:
“If so, then we are ready to allow you to participate in our number. We will call you Benosh. Okay?”
“Okay!” Charles exclaimed, not believing his luck. He not only stays in the circus Chapiteau but becomes a clown with a sonorous name Benosh, and Bebe and Lele will be his parents!
Charles was ten years old at that moment. Now he was twenty-three. He is not the little boy Benosh but the red-haired clown Benosh — an idol of a public, who has just been scolded by the gentleman in eyeglasses and praised by the girl Simone.
“What happened?” Bebe asked, having got into the show-booth past Charles, sitting on the steps. “Why did you freeze like a terrible statue?”
“What did the gray gentleman need from the little boy Benosh?” Lele asked, trying to look Charles in the eye. He handed her a note and said:
“The girl Simone wants me to congratulate her on her birthday.”
“Wonderful!” Bebe exclaimed. “We will seat ourselves on our the circus bicycles, arm with whistles of all sorts, and…”
“Wait, Bebe,” Lele cried. “We need a different approach here. You have seen this snow-white phenomenon. You first said that she looked like an angel, descended from heaven, and our Benosh looked like a bewildered waif, who can disrupt the performance.”
“Ye-e-es,” having leaned out of the door, Bebe said. He made a funny face, having portrayed the confused Benosh.
“Did I really look so stupid?” Charles exclaimed.
“Really,” having tapped him on the shoulder, Lele said. “But that’s in the past. Forget about it. Get up, we are going to do great things.”
Charles got up and trudged after Lele. He did not ask her any questions. He knew that Lele is a unique woman. He loved her like a mother. Thirteen years, not once she has raised her voice at him, has got mad at him. Although, there were enough occasions. How she had managed to be soft, gentle, kind, still remained a mystery for Charles.
“Do as I say,” Lele whispered him, hiding behind the door to the office of the Director of the circus.
A minute later, her big red nose, then her eyes, and her hand leaned out the door, and only then the mysterious whisper began to sound: “Come in.”
Charles looked around. No one. He whisked into the open door.
“Hey, it has been a while,” the Director of the circus Rudolf Welzer said. He was sitting at his polished desk and was condescendingly smiling. “Matilda is upset with you. She sheds tears. Good thing you had the sense to come before I called you. Well done. I value brave people. I forgive you and…” he got up.
“I allow you to take Matilda to the cinema.”
“Oh, we are so honoured!” Lele exclaimed, having pressed her arms to her bosom. “It is an honour, a great honour. But… Benosh will not be able to go to the cinema.”
“Why?” the Director frowned.
“He had nothing to wear,” she said in a tragic voice. “He will not dare to take your daughter by the arm if he wears a such a clownish attire.” Lele ordered Charles to turn around several
“Ye-e-es,” having sat at the table again, the Director said. “Yes, that’s not right.”
“You should not be upset because of the trifles,” Lele smiled and said in her clownish voice:
“If you, Mr. Director, give us a fee we will be able to dress up the boy.”
“Okay,” the director nodded, wrote a check, and handed it Lele, saying:
“Buy the boy something nice for Matilda would have a worthy boyfriend.”
“Certainly, Mr. Director,” Lele bowed.
“Our Benosh will look better than that gray gentleman in a bowler.”
“We-e-ell, that’s a strong comparison,” the Director grinned. “Nobody can look better than the banker Schtanzer.”
“We will try,” having winked at him, Lele said. “Besides, we have one little, tiny advantage it is youth.”
“Bravo, Lele!” the Director began to laugh. “You are the smartest woman I have ever met in my life. If it weren’t for your Bebe and my…” he began to whisper. “Gilda…”
The Director came out from behind the table, hugged Lele, kissed her on the neck, the only spot with no makeup. She stared wide-eyed, pressed a finger to her lips, and shook her head.
“Ah, I have forgotten that we match Matilda,” the Director exclaimed, releasing Lele out of his embrace. He looked at Charles and said in a stern voice:
“Today, at half past five, Matilda will be ready to go with you to the cinema.”
“But the boy has absolutely nothing to pay for the tickets in the cinema,” the ingratiating whisper of Lele sounded behind him. “Benosh wanted to outdo the banker so much that…”
“Okay, okay, I got it,” the Director grinned, having written another check. “Lele, you can turn me round your finger.”
“I use this gift extremely rare, Rudolf,” she said coquettishly.
“I appreciate this, dear,” he smiled, having handed her another check. “This is for Bebe.”
“Thank you,” she sang and pushed Charles towards the door.
“We are fabulously rich,” she exclaimed when the teller gave her cash. “We can leave everything and run to the end of the world. But…” she became very serious. “We will never do this because we are people of honour, though, we wear a clownish attire. We have no right to let Rudolf Welzer down. He is a very good fellow and a very, very unhappy man,” Lele sighed. “Okay, let’s go. Today, I am not going to tell you heartbreaking stories because you have to take Matilda to the cinema.”
“And can we do without this?” Charles hopefully asked, anticipating the answer of Lele in advance.
“No,” she stated in a categorical tone.
“Lele, you know that I do not like this fat Matilda,” Charles began to whimper.
“People will point their fingers at us and will
“Haven’t you gotten used to people laughing at you?” she asked, having frowned.
“You should consider yourself a hero of the scene, a king of the circus arena. Be above the crowd. Remember, darling, everything that happens outside of Chapiteau is the same circus. You just do not know the sequence of numbers and the number of artists, involved in the program, so you should be prepared to perform your favourite trick at any moment. Okay?” she flicked him on the nose. “Smile, my dear, we are being watched.”
“Who is watching us?” having looked around, Charles asked. Lele climbed the steps, opened the door of the show-booth, and answered:
“Eternity… Someday, we all will appear before the Almighty. We all will give Him an account of our deeds, words, and even thoughts. Therefore, do not think evil. Let your soul be pure and light, like a feather. After all, souls but not bodies will be put on the scales of eternity.”
“Lele, isn’t it too early for you to lecture the little boy?” Bebe asked.
“No, it isn’t too early,” Lele said, having sat down in front of the mirror.
Bebe turned. The makeup was completely wiped off his face. It was not easy to recognize the clown Bebe in this man with firm chin, large nose, large far-set eyes rimmed in thick lashes and hairy eyebrows.
“Most importantly, you shouldn’t be a clown in real life, my son,” Bebe said, looking Charles in the eye. “There is an arena for acting. There is a scene for characters. Everything else is ordinary, everyday life. It can be surprising if you yourself will make every moment unique. Admire, love, kiss, and enjoy what you have. Live happily, do not be sad because of the trifles.”
“That’s easy for you to say, you are not forced to go to the cinema with the beautiful Matilda,” Charles lamented.
“Son, look at this from another perspective,” Bebe said. He took Lele by the arms, began to whirl her, dropping stools, throwing right and left clothes left on the floor.
“You look so delicious, my sweetie, Matilda! I am ready to eat you right away. Wait, wait, wait, I will tie a napkin on the neck, pour a cup of tee-e-ea…” Lele stood up and ran off aside. Bebe began to approach her. “Matilda, where are you going? Matilda, I miss… your forms, curve of your hands…” Lele winded around his neck and rubbed her white cheek on his cheek. He tried to free himself from her embrace. “Matilda, why are you like this with me? Why are you like this? Like this?”
“I am doing this because you are a fool!” Lele replied. “Only jesters and clowns, like you, can talk such nonsense.”
“By the way, you are also a clown” Bebe smiled. “The little Benosh is still a hybrid, though, he is already so famous that receives invitations from honourable ladies, gray-haired ladies, and silly, funny girls… Well, okay, joking aside. What will we do next?”
“Next?” Lele sat down in front of the mirror. “Next, there will begin life without deceit, without hypocrisy and lies…”
“I will fall from happiness now. Benosh, hold me,” having rolled his eyes, Bebe exclaimed and fell to the hands of Charles.
Then they went to an expensive shop and chose Charles a strict dark suit, a shirt, a neckerchief, and an expensive pin. Looking at himself in the large full-length mirror, Charles could not decide who he was. A funny clown, a homeless child, a circus actor or…
“Are you a lord, a milord, or a baron?” having looked behind the screen, Lele asked.
“I am… Charles Benosh,” he said, having slightly raised the chin. “I am the Prince of Denmark, Hamlet.”
“Bravo!” Lele exclaimed. “That’s just what I thought. Jesters and kings people of the same rank, same class, so they are always side by side. A king without his faithful jester is nobody. And what about the jester? He is a huge mirror, in which all vices become noticeable hundredfold. Aren’t you happy about this?”
“About what?” Charles did not understand her.
“That you, my boy, are a jester. You are the mirror of the crowd, to which people keep coming to look at their vices…” Lele replied.
“I am tired of being a jester,” Charles frowned.
“Let’s talk about this before going to bed,” having pushed him to the door, Lele said.
“It is time, Matilda is waiting for you. It is not nice to make a lady languish in uncertainty.”
“I hope that our relationship with Matilda will be disconnected today for ever,” Charles said, frowning. “I hope that she will understand that I am not just a bird, who dreams to build a nest, but a lonely wanderer, Mr. In-cog-ni-to,” he looked at Lele. “Indeed, I know nothing about myself. Who am I? Who are my parents? Why was I left all alone? What made me be on the tramp? Almost everything was erased from my childhood memory. Although…” he considered for a moment.
“Sometimes, strange pictures of the past come to me while dreaming. I do not know whether it is mine or not. I dream of a rich house, candles in the candelabra, and servants dressed in white gloves and lacy cuffs, a bright wooden train, tin soldiers, a big teddy bear to sleep warmly. Fire burns in the fireplace, someone reads fairy tales. Sleep envelops me. I do not see faces, I do not see people, I hear low voices but I do not understand what they are talking about. It seems that people are talking about something mysterious. It is early for me to know this mystery. It is early because I am a child. And then… then it is getting late, too late. The train is burning in the fireplace, the pages, torn out of the books, are scattered across the floor. The big teddy bear was lost, and it felt cold, terrible without it… Sleepless nights in some abandoned house among the hundreds of homeless, shelterless, hungry, skinny boys like me. Why are we here? Why? There is no one to answer.”
“Don’t you have anything left from the past?“Lele asked, having taken Charles by the arm.
“Nothing,” he replied and smiled.
“Nothing but a birthmark in the form of a comma on the right forearm. Looking at it, I keep thinking that a comma is better than a point because there should be a continuation. So, I also should have a continuation…”
“I would say it is a good continuation,” Lele winked. “You will certainly play the role of the Prince of Denmark, my boy, but you need to learn.”
“Oh, you are saying this again,” having freed the hand, Charles said. “I do not want to. I do not want to. That’s it. A point. A point, not a comma. Please, Lele, do not to have such conversations anymore.”
“Okay,” she said. “Only bear in mind that nobody will give the role of the Prince to an impostor, “she flicked Charles on the nose.
“If you dream of a good future then you need to work a lot, to work in good faith. Remember this, son.”
“I already work a lot, “he growled out.
“I work all days long, and the bad Director does not want to raise my salary.’
“That’s because he does not consider our craft to be a great work,” Lele said.
“Everyone can run on the stage and amuse the audience. Everyone. One does not need special tricks and wisdom to grimace, to make faces, to imitate, and to laugh at all sorts of nonsense. But not everyone can make the audience cry, can find the words to make their flesh crawl, to make tears roll down. Very few people can do this. Such people are rare. Extremely rare,” she sighed. “I know, Charles, you will be able to be different. You are initially different. You do not belong here, in our show-booth.”
“Are you pushing me away, Lele?” Charles turned pale.
“No, no, dear Benosh,” having embraced him, she exclaimed. “I am not pushing you away. I will never push you away. Never. Is it possible to push away a son? No. I want you to think over my words. He looked at everything with different eyes. The eyes of the Prince of Denmark, if you want,” she smiled. “Look, Charles, it is difficult to change an ordinary way of life, sometimes it is impossible, sometimes it is not necessary, for example, as for Bebe and me. But you need to do this. You are not a clown, not a jester. You are an exquisite boy with manners of an aristocrat. You know, I am really glad that you met this girl with bows and the musical name Si-mo-ne. And the last name Stowasser sounds like a hundred gallons of happiness.”
“Why?” Charles got surprised.
“Yes, because wasser is water, which we always need,” Lele said.
“If only this wasser did not drown us all,” the voice of Bebe was heard, as he was trailing behind, tossing pebbles that got in the way with his foot, and was angry that nobody was noticing him. Lele and Charles stopped.
Bebe looked at them and continued his thought: “The rich uncle blocked the taps, and the water gushed into another place,” he began to shake the hand of Charles. “But our Benosh has a bride, Matilda Welzer…”
“Okay, do not be silly,” Lele slapped him on the forehead. “It is not so easy for the boy. He will have to walk with Matilda on the arm, and this is…”
“A great human happiness, “Bebe smiled, having taken Lele by the arm. “You, Charles, should be proud that you have been done such a great honour. Smile, stop being angry.’
“Okay,” having put on the clownish smile, Charles replied.
“Matilda will faint when she sees you,” Bebe tapped him on the shoulder. “Good luck. They left Charles near the house of the Director of the circus and left. Charles knocked and came in. Having seen him in such an attire, Matilda refused to go to the cinema with him.”
“What happened?” Charles asked distractedly. His confusion was sincere. ‘Why don’t you want to go with me to the cinema?’
“Because you want to make a fool of me,” she cried out.
“No, Matilda, no,” he said. “I learned that you had been upset because of the girl, and decided to redeem myself somehow. Thus, I decided to apologize to you.”
“Why?” she grinned.’‘Is it because you have never held me in your arms? Sure, you were afraid to overstrain yourself.”
“Not at all,” Charles smiled. “Well, do you want me to raise you right now? He took a step, thinking that he totally messed things up. What will happen if he cannot raise this fat girl?’
“Don’t be silly. Don’t you dare come near me,” she screamed, thinking that he will drop her on the floor and will begin to laugh with his disgusting clownish laughter. And she will burst into tears from pain, resentment, and humiliation. And then the whole circus will be whispering behind her back, discussing this ridiculous scene. No. She will not afford such a pleasure to the red-haired clown. She herself will laugh at him.
“Get out of here before your new pants split apart at the seams,” Matilda said aloud, having pushed Charles in the chest. He staggered and sat down on the floor. She was confused.
“I have touched you with my fingertips, and you…’ she began to laugh loudly.
“Wow! What a surprise! This will be our new number… Da-ad! Dad, come quickly. Look how I have dumped the admirer”
Rudolf Welzer appeared in the doorway as fast as if all this time he was listening behind the door and was waiting for an opportune moment to reveal his radiant face.
“Prostrate Hector,” he grinned, looking at Charles, who was sitting on the floor.
“Matilda, you are a genius. We can show this to the public. You will become the most, most, most famous amazon. We will create a suitable attire for you, and we will dress Hector in the skins. What do you say?’
“I can only shout bravo! Bravissimo, Matilda!’ Charles began to clap his hands.