The Clown woke up at the dawn of time, as he often did on weekdays. He exchanged his rainbow nightgown for a rainbow suit, and his clown slippers for a pair of business casual clown shoes. Gainzo may work from home, but he dresses to impress.
Gainzo strolled to the mirror and examined his perfect complexion. His powdered face? Whiter than an elven pride parade. His teeth? Sharper than a dark elf’s flaying knife. His nose? Well, it was big. His hair spread in every direction, three tufts of blue, green, and yellow. Gainzo was looking sharp.
“You’re looking sharp,” he said to his reflection.
“And you’re gorgeous as ever,” his reflection replied.
Gainzo went downstairs to the lounge, and took his place at the grand piano. His big meaty clown hands danced across the keys, filling the universe with an idyllic melody. “If it pleases the universe,” Gainzo spoke to himself, “I will play my song.” So Gainzo played his song until the end of time.
When time had ended, the Clown started to get bored. “Oh, this is terrible!” he proclaimed. “I’m supposed to play Gainzo’s Song for eternity, but I’m not even halfway done! I need a break.” He stopped playing the piano and stood from his bench.
Across the universe, the Eldritch god began to stir from his infinite slumber.
“Oh right,” Gainzo moaned, picking up the song again. “I have to play the song, or the boss will wake up.” He consigned himself to his fate, and played the piano forever.
“Unless!” he thought, breaking the eternity. “Maybe someone will cover my shift!” He looked around the empty mansion, but saw no one who could match his musical bravado. But out the window, the peaceful green hills beyond the mansion must be full of artistic talent. Gainzo slowly pushed the piano closer to the window, never breaking his rhythm.
On the front lawn, a squirrel idled peacefully in the grass. “Hey squirrel,” Gainzo shouted. “I need to go somewhere. Would you play the piano while I’m away?” The squirrel stared at him with the beady eyes of a lesser mortal.
“Fuck you Gainzo,” the squirrel replied.
“Oh come on man,” the Clown complained. “What did I do to you?”
“The last time you asked me to do this, you were gone all day! And you haven’t bothered to learn my name, even though we’ve been friends for-”
“I promise I won’t be long. And I’ll try to learn your name, squirrel.”
“Ok, fine.” The squirrel bounded through the window and took Gainzo’s place at the piano, picking up the song seamlessly.
Gainzo left the mansion, and he was halfway across the lawn when he realized: “I can’t go out dressed like this!”
The Clown scratched his head. “It’s not that I don’t look great, because I do… But I’m the most recognizable face in Parada! I’ll need a disguise.” So Gainzo spun clockwise three times, and found himself in the Boxscape.
“There must be a disguise in here,” Gainzo spoke, “I just need to find it.” He perused the endless collection of boxes, each one labeled by its contents: Set of all boxes. Cosmically significant plot coupons. Bee hell. Very favorite box.
“Gah, this will take forever!” the Clown moaned. He could never find what he wanted in the Boxscape, despite creating the labeling system himself. But he had no time to waste, so he spent a minute searching a statistically impossible number of boxes.
Finally, Gainzo found what he was looking for in a box marked Easy plot resolutions. Inside he found a rainbow wig with three tufts of hair- one yellow, one blue, one green; and a pair of comically large glasses.
“This is perfect!” he said, putting them on. “Parada will never see me coming!” With a snap of his fingers, he was back at the mansion.
Now Gainzo strode boldly toward the hills, keeping in mind his degree in the clown arts. Immediately out of sight of the mansion, Gainzo could go no further- he had hit a missing texture. A plane of pink stretched infinitely away from him, a dimension of the universe that the gods did not care to render.
“Oh hell,” Gainzo cursed. “I really want to go to Parada… but I’ve reached the edge of the world!” He looked behind him, all the way to the far end of the universe, where the Eldritch god still slumbered peacefully. “Well,” he said, “I’ll just be very quick. I’m sure he won’t even notice.” So Gainzo stepped out of reality.
When the void spit him out again, the Clown found himself in Parada, at the outskirts of Fortuna’s Bluff in an arbitrary year. “Just be cool,” he told himself. “You’re one of them today. Just don’t stand out.” Gainzo strolled through the city gates.
HONK. HONK. HONK. HONK. HONK. With every step he took, he became more confident that they were totally buying his disguise. No one seemed to be staring at him any longer than usual, and certainly no one was screaming in horror. He was totally pulling this off.
Gainzo wandered to the market district, and immediately a sign for the box store caught his attention. Gainzo loves boxes.
The box store was everything Gainzo dreamed it would be- rows and rows of cardboard boxes stacked to the ceiling. He picked out a handful that he had to have, and brought them to the counter. After a long and tense barter, the store clerk finally communicated to the clown that a jar of bees cannot be used as legal tender (no matter how fundamentally significant they are to the main storyline). Gainzo left the box store feeling glum.
As he strolled back to the town square, nothing could cheer him up- not the smell of charred screamer meat from the roadside stand, nor the sound of offbeat popular songs being covered on a banjo. But there was one thing that had always cheered him up before. A familiar craving overcame him.
Gainzo stopped a ragged old woman who was passing by. “Hey lady,” he called. “Can I bum a cig?”
“Oh my gods,” said the woman. “Aren’t you Gainzo, the demonspawn, Clown Prince to the Hellscape?”
“N-no, I’m not!” Gainzo protested.
“No, he’s not!” a man interjected. “Pardon my intrusion, but Gainzo has three tufts of hair: one blue, one green, one yellow. This man has three tufts of hair: one yellow, one blue, one green. As you can see, they cannot possibly be the same clown! And besides, Gainzo never wears glasses.”
“No, that’s definitely Gainzo,” a third bystander insisted.
“I’d recognize that grizzled mug anywhere!”
“Okay, you caught me!” Gainzo ripped off the fake wig (but decided he quite liked the glasses). The crowd cheered when they recognized their prince.
“It’s really him!” shouted one.
“Show us a clown trick!” yelled another.
“Do some stand-up!”
“People, please…” Gainzo tried to calm down the audience. “I’m cutting work today, so I’d like to keep a low profile… can I do that?”
“I heard he beat Bee Satan in an unfair fight!”
“I heard his mansion appears to those who need it least- but never if they know it exists!”
“I heard he loves boxes!”
“I heard he has a very favorite box!”
“I heard he can’t play the banjo for shit!”
“Yeah, I heard that too!”
“Wow, okay,” Gainzo interrupted. “You’re about to feel really stupid. Fetch me a banjo!” An old man passed his banjo to the Clown. Gainzo strummed the instrument a few times, pretending to warm up but really coping with his secret fear of public performance. “I’m going to play, uh…” He thought of the only song he knew, the one he had practiced infinite times. “This one is called Gainzo’s Song.”
Gainzo strummed through the opening, at first nervously, but as he hit the refrain he could feel himself hitting his groove. He poured his soul into the performance, and it paid off in the audience. The crowd hollered and cheered… until their joy turned to screaming.
“Oh my gods…” one woman wailed. “Everything hurts!” Her face sloughed off her skull, her eyes melted, and her skeleton fell to the cobblestone.
“Rockput almighty…” another shouted, “I can feel my brain bleeding!” Her face melted as well, killing her nearly instantly.
“Hey, this is actually pretty good…” a third mused. “Oh lord, now I feel it!” He too crumpled to the ground.
“Why is this happening?!” the crowd screamed. “Why have the gods forsaken us?” As Gainzo continued to play, the entire audience’s faces melted, some lasting as long as fifteen seconds!
“Heh, I guess I forgot,” Gainzo chuckled, as he concluded his performance and found he was the only one left alive. “It’s the song so beautiful, mortals can’t bear to hear it!” No one laughed, as everyone in earshot had had their face melted.
“How uncomfortable,” the Clown realized. “I really think I should be getting home now.” He hurried out of the town, out of Parada, and out of spacetime as we know it. The world had seen enough Gainzo for one day.
Gainzo returned to the mansion, with ten minutes to spare before the heat death of the universe. The squirrel was still playing the piano frenetically when he arrived.
“Good evening, Gainzo,” the squirrel smiled. “How was your day off? Did you make any friends?”
“Fuck you squirrel.”
Gainzo went upstairs to his bedroom and slipped into his nightwear. As he crawled into bed, he could not help but tremble recalling all the fun he had. What great adventures he had taken, what great people he had met! All in all, it was a good day.
“I wonder what antics I’ll be up to tomorrow?”
[Adapted from The Paradian’s 2500 Essential Bedtime Stories to Tell to Your Horrible Grandchildren, 7th edition]