where the writers are
Short Stories 365:116

Today on my bus ride home, there was this guy. He was loudly discussing how - more or less - the liberal agenda was out to get him.

Guy on bus, loud, to friend: "It's the damned liberals. They're totally screwing us over. They, like, watch us, and they report on us..."

Friend: "No they don't."

Guy: "Seriously, it's like they watch, figure out that I like something, and then ruin it."

Friend: "You're nuts."

I, and a few others, were passing annoyed looks around them, and you could tell the friend was getting rather embarrassed that this guy just wouldn't stop talking. It went on for a while, but it circled around that topic. Eventually, it came to my stop, and I couldn't help myself. Sometimes, I have poor impulse control. I rang the bell, got up, met the guy's gaze, and then pretended to take his photo with my phone. He does a double-take, and I put the phone to my ear.

"We have a new target," I say. "I just sent you the photo. He's onto us." Guy gapes. Friend bursts out laughing. I get off bus.

At my stop, the lady getting off the bus behind me told me I'd made her day.

If there were a conspiracy afoot with our government, I'm fairly sure they wouldn't care overmuch about a dude in his "tapout" wear, but it did remind me of how some of my favorite stories have some dark governments in play. And a real dark government wouldn't clown around.

Well, maybe one would...

"Circus Maximus," by Sean Meriwether

In a dystopia of a world where clowns and circuses run the world with a dark depravity, a pair of brothers are in real danger when they run afoul of the wrong... well, clown. It's hard to describe this story, exactly. It's dark, erotic, a wee bit disturbing (said brothers are quite, uh, enamored of each other) and - ultimately - provides a glimpse into a world very much unlike any other I've ever read.

That Jerry L. Wheeler always pulls together awesome themes for his anthology is something I already know, but I daresay that it's tales like this that show how he pulls together such varied stories to build around these themes, ending up with the collections I always love.