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Marcus Jacobs rested his elbows on the tiny dressing table and sighed at the reflection that looked back at him from the antique mirror. Twenty-seven years old, and he already had tiny lines spider-webbing from the corners of his eyes and dry patches high on his cheeks and forehead. Came with the territory, he supposed--greasepaint could dry out a man's skin like nobody's business.
He'd tucked his wavy red hair, inherited from his dad, the Great Coppertop, neatly inside a white stocking cap, ready for his trademark rainbow-colored fright wig. Marcus' lithe body was snug in his sparkly silver leotard, soon to be hidden away inside his raggedy shirt and baggy, patched pants. On a chair next to the table were his oversized, floppy red shoes, white gloves, and polka-dotted suspenders. He only wore the shoes during his clown routines--when he was on the high wire, he went barefoot.
On the dressing table before him was his makeup box, filled with the tools of his trade--small pots, tubes, crayons and pencils of color. Taped to the inside of the lid was a tarot card--the Knight of Wands. He paused, tracing the image on the card with his finger. The Knight held aloft a torch instead of a sword, as if lighting the way. It seemed to Marcus that the Knight knew the secret all clowns knew--that the way to peace and happiness was through light and laughter, rather than violence.
Garishly colored, edged in gilt, the card had been a gift to Marcus from his father. Marcus remembered the day his father had given it to him as if it had been yesterday. Marcus had known on that day, in that very moment that he would follow in his grandfather and father's footsteps--he would be aclown.
He'd been six years old.
"This is me," his father had said, placing the card in Marcus' hand and pointing to the Knight. "He was your grandfather, and he will be you, too, Marcus. The Knight is full of fire. He is carefree, happy. He takes what life throws at him with grace. Never forget that with humor, Marcus, no heartache is unbearable."
"I still miss you, Pop," Marcus whispered. "It's been really lonely without you."