For $25 Rolando the Clown would come into a home, donned in colorful billowy clothes, a giant red nose with matching lips topped off with large orange eyebrows and hair. He was a large man who dwarfed the kids he was paid to entertain and on a good day he’d get some laughs, but mostly the kids stared at him, wondering if anyone so big might be dangerous, especially since he reeked of tobacco.
Rolando always noted valuables in a house: objects of art, TVs, cameras, silver candlesticks, etc. After a gig, he’d go home and write down the name and address of the “client” and the corresponding items he’d observed.
After 10 years of clowning, he had compiled a 100-page inventory of other people’s possessions in a binder kept in a closet next to his giant clown shoes. On Sunday evenings he’d retrieve the thick binder and admire it like a fine cigar about to be lit while offering his mantra: “Judge O’Brien, this is for you.”
Years before he became a clown, he was caught shoplifting eight bars of soap and a bottle of shampoo. The judge took a liking to Rolando’s smile and struck the charges in return for a solemn promise that he’d never steal again.
“Get a job where you can use that smile,” the judge had said. And Rolando certainly did what the judge wanted. The list, on the other hand, was an ongoing record of what he hadn’t taken, for Rolando believed that as long as he wrote down what he didn’t steal, he wouldn’t.