“I can’t believe he’s gone.
“Ugh, that’s a horrible way to start. There’s only one way you can go from there and the audience expectations are already set. It’s sentimental and clichéd and just lame. In my experience – which is considerable, even if this is one of my first funerals – if you write something that automatically sounds in your head like it’s being narrated by Fred Savage, you’ve failed somewhere along the way. As a writer, as a eulogiser, as a human being.
“You’re probably still hearing Fred Savage’s voice in your head. Awful. I’m so sorry. Let me start over, see if I can fix it.
“I can’t believe how Goddamn hilarious it is that he’s gone.
“Yeah, now even if you’re still hearing Fred Savage’s voice, it makes a lot more sense. Bunzo was a clown, after all. He died as he lived: funny to some, terrifying to many, and oh boy, dressed like a five-star freak. The Bun, he dressed like the freakiest freak in Freakytown, the capital city of Freakonia, during the annual holiday of Freakover during which he traditionally leads a street parade in celebration of freakness. But I digress.
“And it is hilarious, make no mistake. Bunzo’s passing was everything he would have wanted – it was not only loud, and messy, and applauded by hundreds, but it also had a timeless, bittersweet irony about it that meant the events that transpired leading up to and directly following the incident were retroactively and thenceforth painted in shades of the same tragic paradox, culminating in what is universally remembered as a series of mishaps that transcended mere coincidence, mere synchronicity, and would make an observer question the assumed lack of consciousness of a cold and uncaring universe.
“It also involved a very small piano and a bucket full of clear beads on strings that were attached to the bottom of the bucket so they’d fly out like water but then not touch you and it was perfectly timed.
“Now when I say Bunzo was a clown, I don’t mean he was the funny guy around the office or classroom who delivered one-liners to make people laugh, or pretended pieces of stationery were phalluses. And I don’t mean he dressed up in a wig and face-paint and big flappy shoes and paraded around with hula-hoop-pants full of whitewash on weekends for kids’ birthday parties. Although, like many clowns, he sometimes did so when he found parents willing to pay for cash on a zero-referrals basis.
“Bunzo was actually, factually a clown, taxonomically and for reals. I hadn’t even known there was such a thing as clowns. I always sort of assumed that the people who dressed up as clowns were, you know, clowns.
“Bunzo taught me a lot. And that was the first thing he taught me. Along with how annoying he and his kind found it that humans had started dressing up as them in order to amuse each other. On the other hand, he told me, it did make their lives easier in some ways. Over the centuries, as human and clown evolved side by side, it became convenient for them to pass themselves off as “professional clowns”. It gave them something easy to say when they were questioned by authorities, and it meant they could go more and more frequently without the cumbersome and humiliating human makeup that they used to wear when they had to come down and get their hands dirty.
“The Bun also taught me how to make the perfect Squashed Frog.
I’ll miss you, Bunzo.”
Later, Creepy stood by my side as I paid my last respects, as did Yool, the concerningly buff Christmas tree who has been here the whole time. It was, by necessity, a closed-casket service. Once the piano had been extracted, there hadn’t been much of the Bun’s head left.
“It was a good eulogy,” he said, sombrely. Out of respect for the occasion, his customary greens were of a variety so dark as to almost look black. Since everyone else was actually wearing black, of course, it still showed up green – but it was the thought that counted.
Creepy stepped forward and extended his hand. “See you, Bun.”
Creepy patted the coffin. A sensor-rigged sound system in the middle of the casket, tucked into the confetti-spattered cavity where the left side of Bunzo’s ribcage had once been, activated.
“H … h … hello? Where am I?” the muffled recording said, to the accompaniment of scratches and then increasingly-frantic thumps. “Hello? What’s going – OH MY GOD THIS IS A COFFIN I’VE BEEN BURIED ALIVE! HELP ME! OH SWEET MERCIFUL CHRISTBALLS SOMEBODY HELP ME OH GOD OH GOD…”
“Let’s go,” I said.