By John Thomas Tuft

Jesus Woodstock was a farrier’s assistant, son of a man who was a traveling knife sharpener, or cutlery, for 67 years. Joey Woodstock, dad of Jesus, was known for the paper lunch bag he wore on his head for a cap, with the edges rolled down, while he worked over the grinder, sharpening knives, scissors, gardening tools and whatnot. Jesus liked riding around in his father’s old green truck, with the crudely painted on name and description of services rendered. But he discovered a love for horses when a girl he liked in the eighth grade had a sorrel pony in the old barn down at the bottom of their pasture. Soon he knew all about hoof picks, clinch cutters, hoof gauges, anvils, trimming knives, rasps, nippers—the whole kit and caboodle. By the time he was in his fourth year of apprenticeship, the blacksmith had named Jesus his assistant. Working on shoeing horses requires a lot of patience and muscle strength and Jesus Woodstock had a lot of both elements. Getting along with horse owners and trainers and veterinarians, aye, there’s the rub. More agreement could be found in a conversation between universalist nontrinitarians and complementarians about the seven mountains of dominionism; ie. Not a whole lot.

Jesus Woodstock loved his father as much as he loved himself and, in that spirit, he also wore a paper lunch bag rolled over at the edges as a cap when he worked. With the heavy leather apron of a farrier, his steel toed boots and muscular arms showing below the usually rolled up sleeves, Jesus Woodstock cut quite the figure of a young man. His work became so well known that people would request that he be the one to come shoe their horses and care for their hooves. “We need Jesus Woodstock,” became the most heard request in the office of the blacksmith. So it was not entirely unexpected that one day a call came in from The Greatest Clown Show On Earth, saying that they were coming to town and that they used a lot of horses in their act, could Jesus Woodstock work his magic on them? The Blacksmith was only too glad to dispatch the farrier’s assistant. It would be for one day at a top rate.

Jesus Woodstock drove to the town where the Greatest Clown Show would perform and looked at all the horses, took care of their needs, then made use of his free ticket to watch the show. Clowns being an ersatz version of human foibles, fears, and failures, he found the show to be entertaining but unfulfilling and prepared to check the horses again as it drew to a close. But a strange and unexpected thing happened. A few members of the audience stayed and asked the clowns to keep going. So, they climbed on their horses and continued clowning. Soon word spread that the show was still going on and more and more people came to witness this unending show. The bigger audience fed the clowns need to perform and they just kept going. Hour after hour, then into a new day, then another. Newspapers took notice of the growing crowds, the buses parked in the parking lot, the never-ending entertainment from the clowns. They labeled it the Great Clown Revival and soon other shows started to wonder how they could measure up to this kind of competition.

Forgotten in all this were the horses. They were starting to come up lame. The head of the Greatest Clown Show sent for Jesus Woodstock. But he was nowhere to be found. Appeals were published, TikTok videos were made, social media discourse was launched asking for the whereabouts of Jesus Woodstock, the farrier’s assistant. Why was he falling down on the job, failing at his duties, many wondered. The Clown Revival needed him. Finally, someone spotted him in a homeless encampment and the police were summoned. Fortunately, Jesus Woodstock did not have dark skin, so it was a safe bet to send the police for him. The officers caught up to him outside a ratty old laundromat. They recognized him by the brown lunch bag he wore as a cap. “What are you doing?” they demanded. “You are needed at the Circus.”

Jesus Woodstock took an old woman by the arm and brought her in front of the police and gathering press. “This is Martha,” he said. “She hangs around here because people coming out of the laundromat give her their extra change. Then she buys the ingredients for her special porridge. She makes it every day and brings it here to feed the birds all winter long in old Starbucks cups. She’s getting older and a bit absent minded. I thought she might need some help.” The police sergeant shook his head. “But the Clown Revival needs you.” Jesus Woodstock took the arm of a sixteen year old boy and brought him into the circle. “This is Henry. I saw him hiding something in the dryer vents out back. Turns out it was a couple of automatic weapons. Henry is feeling desperate and thought shooting up his school would take away the pain.” Jesus Woodstock shrugged. “I thought he might need some help.”

“Grab your tools and come with us,” the sergeant commanded. “We need to keep the Clown Revival going.” Jesus Woodstock shook his head. “I can’t. I sold them all so I could buy this laundromat. Why should I shoe the horses just to keep a circus going?” And he stayed where he was. If you happen to find the Jesus Woodstock Laundromat, just look for the guy with the brown lunch bag on his head. If you’re not sure, check behind the building. I’m told that he keeps a sorrel pony in the back lot.

Words are magic and writers are wizards.