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Before Wild Billy waters the elephants, he crosses the midway to check on the clowns. Their trailer is disastrous. Tiny sink stuffed with crusty knives and plates. Tiny wastebaskets stuffed with frozen burrito wrappers and crumpled tissues. Everything—the doorknobs, mirror, the rim of the toilet seat, the popcorn button of the microwave—smeared thick with greasepaint. Everywhere piles of floppy shoes and giant pants. The clowns passed out drunk on the pull-out sofa and the banquette and the bathroom floor. The clowns need a mother, he thinks.

Nah, a babysitter, he figures, taking off his bandana and soaking it with some vinegar he finds in a cabinet. A babysitter would make sure they have fun but not too much fun. That they have three beers instead of seven. He rubs at the greasepaint until the doorknobs and mirrors and toilet seat and microwave buttons shine. Until his bandana is filthy white.

Maybe girlfriends, Wild Billy whispers to himself as he runs hot water in the sink. Most of them ain’t too bad looking out of make-up. He rinses the knives and the plates, putting them away feather soft in the cabinets and drawers.

Yessir, lovers would whip these clowns into shape, he decides as he ties up the handles of the grocery bags that line the wastebaskets. Get them to eat scrambled eggs in the morning and a goddamn green vegetable once in a while. Knit them sweaters. Take them to museums and the symphony on their day off. The bags make soft thumps as he drops them by the door.

All these clowns need are some good women, Wild Billy thinks as he covers each one with a soft blanket and picks up the garbage and gently, so gently shuts the trailer door against the orange light of dawn.