The clown stood on the sidewalk. His gaze focused on the kitchen window. After a moment, he smiled. He lifted a gloved hand and waved. Sadie thrust the kitchen curtains closed.
"What is it, Mommy?"
Sadie looked to the kitchen doorway to see her son. "Nothing, Mike," she said.
"Is it the clown?" Mike asked.
Sadie stared hard at her son. "I don't want you going near him," she answered.
Mike walked up to the kitchen window, but didn't touch it. "He likes you, Mom."
"Have you been talking to him?" Sadie asked. Mike shook his head.
"Good." She picked up the phone to dial the police.
The next day, Sadie rummaged for her keys in her pocket in the store parking lot, holding an armful of groceries. She shifted and almost dropped the bag when it was lifted from her hold.
"Thank yo— " The words died in her throat as the clown grinned, peeking at her from behind the grocery bag.
The white face paint creased over his wrinkles, skin rough underneath. His painted grin cracked over dry, chapped lips. The white oversized outfit, with frills and colorful buttons running down the front, was tattered and stained. A spongy neon wig bounced atop his head.
The clown gently placed the bag on the roof of Sadie's car. He leaned in close. Sadie took a step back, holding her keys up in defense.
"You smell like coconuts," he whispered. His voice was gritty and high. He smiled — teeth short and jagged. He winked a painted eye and skipped away.
Sadie hurried into her car, stuffing the groceries into the passenger seat. As she left, she threw her coconut scented shampoo out the car window.
At home the babysitter was waiting for Sadie in the kitchen.
"Hey, Stephanie. Where's Mike?" Sadie placed the groceries on the table.
"Taking a nap in his room," the babysitter answered. "Uh, Ms. Melrose, this was tacked on the door when we got back from the park." She handed Sadie a folded green piece of construction paper.
On the front, written in purples and blues, was "Sadie, my Lady." Stars and happy faces decorated the words.
Sadie opened it. A crude picture of her with her heart ripped out and the clown holding and kissing her heart was done in crayon. Signed on the bottom was "Leopold the Clown."
Sadie looked at Stephanie. "Did Mike see this?"
"No!" Stephanie sat wide-eyed at the kitchen table. “Of course not.”
"Okay," Sadie pulled out a few bills and handed them to the girl. "I'm gonna call the cops."
Stephanie took the money. "Thank you." She hesitated. "I hope everything gets fixed, but, uh, I've seen that clown around and I just don't feel so comfortable… you know?"
Sadie nodded. "I understand."
"Yeah, I told you he looked through the living room window," Stephanie said.
"And I told the police," Sadie said. "But they didn't catch him while doing their surveillance." She held up the make-shift card. "Now I have proof."
Stephanie nodded. "Good.” She placed her arms around her shoulders searching for something else to say. “Well, I'll see you." She left.
Sadie checked on Mike sleeping in his room. He was there, thrown over his bed in peaceful slumber. She went to the kitchen and grabbed her cell from her bag.
Sadie got as far as dialing "9" before she was shoved to the floor. She hit the ground with a hard thud and her cell went sprawling. There was a thick crunch as a large, red shoe came down on her phone. Sadie looked up to see the clown looming over her.
"It's me!" He cheered. "Leopold, your loyal, loving servant!"
Sadie scrambled up and backed away until she hit the counter. She ripped open a drawer. "Where…"
"I removed all the harmful items," Leopold grinned. The strong red lips were drawn lopsided. "For safety reasons." He produced a bread knife from inside his puffy sleeve. The jagged edges matched his teeth. "Except this one," he said. "I named him 'Jim.'"
"What do you want?" Sadie demanded.
Leopold moved closer. "Kisses!"
Sadie rushed past the clown and out the kitchen towards Mike's room. She slammed her son's bedroom door behind her and locked it. Mike struggled up from his sleep.
"Shhh," Sadie took hold of Mike's hand and led him to the window. She moved aside the star covered curtains to see the clown smiling from behind the glass. He wiggled his gloved fingers on one hand and brandished the knife with the other.
Sadie and Mike stumbled back.
Leopold tapped on the glass and blew kisses at Sadie.
Mike's voice wavered, "Tell him to go away."
Sadie opened the bedroom door and pulled Mike with her into the living room.
The living room walls were scribbled in various shades of crayon: "Be my Valentine." "Hey, girl." "Don't ever leave me."
Sadie yanked Mike towards the front door. He cried out in protest, but she ignored him. They ran out of the house towards the car. Sadie fished her keys out of her pocket and got her son and herself inside. She started the car and threw it into reverse. Slamming on the gas she paid little attention to the driveway and ran over the neighbor’s gnome.
As the car raced down the street, Sadie reached out to touch her son's shoulder. "It's gonna be o— "
A bread knife swung around from the back seat and stabbed Sadie through the eye.
Mike screamed as his mother lost control of the car. They spiraled into a tree.
Through bleary eyes Mike looked at his mother — her head bowed with the knife jutting out of her eye socket. Blood seeped onto her lap.
"My eye," Leopold said from the back seat. "Was struck with her beauty. Now I've struck her eye." He giggled. He leaned close to Mike. "You see, now she'll always be mine." He frowned underneath his loopy grin. "But she left you." He smiled again. "I'll make it better." Leopold laughed, throaty and deep. The sound crawled on to the boy’s skin and he shuttered against it.
Mike watched as the clown's faced changed. The grin turned into a snarl and the bright neon hair bristled. His features sharpened to match his razor teeth. The eyes bled.
Leopold grabbed the back of Sadie's hair and picked up her head. “Kisses,” the voice was guttural and dark. Mike screamed as the clown's mouth descended onto his mother's face.
Mike shut his eyes. He tried to block out the munching and sucking sounds. He whimpered. The noises blended with the approaching sirens until Mike heard a knock at his window. He jumped and looked to see a fireman standing outside the car. Relief flooded him and Mike turned to his mother. She was gone.
On her empty seat was a bright orange piece of construction paper. The front read: "My guy, Mike."