SuperTruth® has brought low the mighty human race. SuperTruth® has turned reality into insanity. SuperTruth® has turned insanity into anxiety, so at least the insane are motivated to go to work. At least anxiety forces us to find a way to function, to search for that which will relieve our anxiety. Life is a disease, and there’s only one cure. But since most of us fear death, we’ll have to settle for… SuperTruth®.
When skies hang pendulous leaden clouds of unnatural hue; seas skip like rams and leap and bow like fire-worshiping devils; the atmosphere groans fat and snappish with negative ions, the barometer uncoils, fright wigs are on edge, and pancake white refuses to be applied evenly to faces beaded with flop-condensation; and all the world’s stage feels burdened by a furrowed lowbrow glower redolent with the sense that too much time has been borrowed, the usurious interest is overdue and the gas gauge reads that your luck has run out; that is when the Lost Dauphine is sighted, bearing its unhappy driver and four dozen eternal passengers, cursed to ride the storm clouds galloping heavy over the bigtop… forever.
It had been a bad year for clowns. Chuckles, dressed as Peter Peanut, had been fatally shelled by an angry elephant who’d had enough of human shenanigans. Pennywise had his heart pulled out by the Losers Club. Octavio the Clown was killed by Frank Lopez’s hitmen in an unsuccessful attempt on the life of Tony Montana. Violator the Clown’s head was cut off by Spawn. Krusty was eaten by Zombie Sideshow Mel. A posse of Penn State students rampaged with the intent to lynch a thousand clowns, but only got the unfortunate Bippo. But the worst clownaclysm of all was the notorious disaster of the Dauphine.
In September of 1989, tragedy struck the non-clown community: 31-year-old Leslie Pulhar, a waitress from Royal Oak, Michigan, was driving across the Mackinac Bridge to visit her boyfriend in the Upper Peninsula. The bridge runs high above the Straits of Mackinac, connecting the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with the Lower. To this day no one knows why the two are part of the same state. Perhaps the thinking was that, as two peninsulas, they had so much in common they simply belonged together. Whatever the reason, Pulhar died when her Yugo was blown off the bridge by a 48-mile-an-hour gust of wind that sent it plummeting 160 feet into the freshwater straits below.
Not one week later, 48 clown passengers and one hobo clown driver named Bum Steer piled into a classic Renault Dauphine. Despite the shadow of Pulhar’s death hanging over them, they had agreed to confront the gloomy prospect of driving yet another economy car over the very same bridge.
What had led them to make this decision? Well, they were the Ypsilanti Clown College class of ’89, after all. They’d been trained for this. They were determined to attend the “Well Above The 45th Parallel” Midwest clowning convention in Escanaba. Perhaps they felt their combined weight would give them stability and prevent them from suffering the same tragic fate as Pulhar.
But does a clown car impossibly stuffed with an absurd number of clowns actually achieve the total weight of the clowns, or does the absurdity collapse them into a six-dimensional Calabi–Yau manifold, (according to theories they were surely taught by Professor Daisy Floppytopper at Ypsi), sharing out most of their mass into other dimensions?
But clown sub-quantum physics was moot. They never found the opportunity to apply it, because Bum Steer, the sad hobo clown, driver of the Dauphine, was aptly named. Once they passed through Petoskey, a strangely persistent fog enveloped them. Bum Steer lost track of the surface of the highway itself. It was as though they were suspended in a uniformly gray-white limbo. This went on for hours.
How do we know what they experienced? One clown, Little Pip, somehow managed to crawl through the ventilation system, out of the grille, and jumped in panic to freedom and watched as the Dauphine, with the rest of the class of ’89, slipped out of sight, like a carp into a pool of cream.
Little Pip found himself afloat in the lake, at the vertex of an expanding horizon that stretched away into infinity. He treaded water there, his body going numb with cold, his mind falling into a madness in which visions of Hiawatha, Hemmingway, and the ghosts of the Chippewa sang Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” to him on endless loop.
Little Pip was pulled out of Little Traverse Bay off the coast of Harbor Springs on the verge of dying from hypothermia. He fell into a coma that lasted a week and a half. Afterwards he told his tale to a local journalist in a single afternoon. That night Little Pip’s heart mysteriously stopped beating with the abruptness of an alternator seizing up. His face was frozen in a mask of terror, his dead eyes bulged from their sockets. What had he seen?
There are times, at night, when the sky threatening a storm has displayed the unappealing colors of bruises on a battered body, bruised brooding clouds hanging leaden above the bigtop of one circus or another, one never knows which, when clowns and other circus folk testify that they have seen the Lost Dauphine appear. Bum Steer at the wheel, the knuckles of his gloves frayed, his eyes below the brim of his worn-out bowler hat are red and all but molten with tears. His painted frown drips down his jowls. The faces, noses, shoes, knees, and hats of the magically packed passengers press in chaotic discomfort against the window glass. One white-gloved hand reaches out of a partially open window, waving, now and then honking a bicycle horn or flaunting a rubber chicken.
It is said that if you stick out your thumb, hitch-hiker style, and in particular if that thumb is comically oversize, and moreover covered in a white glove, the Lost Dauphine may descend from the clouds. You might find it idling beside you. And the legend is that if you don’t flee from it as fast as your gangly legs and floppy feet will transport you, the gloved hand will pull you in through the window, into the six-dimensional Calabi–Yau manifold, and you will ride with the class of ’89 aboard the Lost Dauphine for eternity.
This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!