War of the Clowns

One time two clowns set themselves to arguing. The people

would stop, amused, to watch them.

—What’s that? they asked.

—Why, it’s only two clowns arguing.

Who could take them seriously? Ridiculous, the two comedians rep-

arteed. The arguments were common nonsense, the theme was a ninnery.

And an entire day passed.

The following morning, the two remained, obnoxious and outdoing

each other. It seemed as though, between them, even yucca soured. In the

street, meanwhile, those present were exhilarated with the masquerade.

The buffoons began worsening their insults with fine-edged and fine-

tuned barbs. Believing it to be a show, the passersby left coins along the


On the third day, however, the clowns arrived at acts of force. Their

blows became a disarray, their counterkicks zinged more across air than

across bodies. The children rollicked, imitating each jester’s blows. And

they laughed at the two fools, their bodies tripping upon their own selves.

And the boys wanted to repay the delightful goodness of the clowns.

—Dad, give me some coins to leave on the sidewalk.

On the fourth day, the jabs and blows grew worse. Beneath their

makeup, the faces of the clowns began to bleed. Some kids became

scared. Was that true blood?

—It’s not serious, don’t fret, their parents soothed them.

In failures of trajectory, some were struck by directionless wallops. But

it was light fare, only serving to add to the laughs. More and more people

joined the gallery.

—What’s going on?

Nothing. A friendly unsettling of accounts. It’s not worth separating

them. They’ll tire out, it’s nothing more than a bit of clowning around.

On the fifth day, however, one of the clowns armed himself with a

stick. Advancing on his adversary, he discharged a blow that tore off his

wig. The other, furious, equipped himself with a symmetrical beating

bat and responded with the same dismeasure. The wooden rods whistled

through the air in somersaults and deliriums. One of the spectators, un-

expectedly, was struck. The man fell, deadspread.
A certain confusion arose, the souls divided. Little by little, two battle-

fields began to form. Various groups traded drubbings. Still more were


It entered a second week and the surrounding neighborhoods heard

it said that a dizzied pandemonium had set in around the two clowns.

And the thing embroiled the entire plaza. And the neighbors found it

funny. Some went to the plaza to verify the reports. They returned with

contradicting and inflamed versions of their own. The neighborhood

continued to divide itself, in opposing opinions. Conflicts began in some


On the twentieth day, shots began to be heard. No one knew exactly

where they came from. Could have been from any point in the city.

Full of terror, the inhabitants armed themselves. The tiniest movement

seemed suspect. The shots spread. Dead bodies began to accumulate in

the streets. Terror reigned over the whole city. Soon, massacres began.

At the beginning of the month, all the city’s inhabitants had died. All

except the two clowns. That morning, the comics sat, each one in his

corner, and ridded themselves of their ridiculous dress. They looked at

each other, worn out. Later, they rose to their feet and embraced, laugh-

ing at the flags dispersed. Arm in arm, they gathered the coins from the

roadsides. Together they crossed the city destroyed, careful not to tread on

the cadavers. And they went in search of another city.

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