ZOZZABY

At a certain house in Liverpool, the mother of two boys - Thomas and Aaron - telephoned me with a very strange and unsettling story about an unusual apparition which had been seen in her home. One night in December 2002, Thomas, aged 13, and his younger 10-year-old brother Aaron, were sleeping soundly in their bedroom. Thomas was on the top bunk, and Aaron was on the bottom one, and around 3 am, they were awakened by the sounds of someone laughing. Thomas described the laughter as 'echoing'. The boys sleepily glanced over to the source of the laughter, and got the shock of their lives. A partly transparent figure was standing in the corner, near the door to the bedroom, and he wore a cone-shaped hat and a white ruffled collar with a maroon-coloured one-piece suit. It looked like the ghost of a clown, and he was holding his belly with one hand, and pointing to the boys with he other hand as he rocked back and forth roaring with laughter. His face looked very sinister and grotesque because it was not only plastered with too much make-up, the red painted nose was very long and crooked, and the eyes looked like the round black eye sockets of a skull. Surrounding the ghost was a faint green glow that lit up the room.
The boys trembled as they looked at the weird spectre, and they suddenly became aware of a very sweet, sickly aroma which was drifting through the bedroom. Young Aaron started crying and hid his face under the blankets, and Thomas shouted for his mother and father. No one came to his rescue. The laughing clown made a beckoning gesture, and the boys decided to make a run for it. They risked running past the terrifying phantom to get to the door, and as they brushed past him he screamed out laughing even louder. The boys barged into their parent's room in a te state of terror and told them about the supernatural intruder in their bedroom. The father and mother went to investigate but found nothing amiss in the room. However, they both detected the stifling sweet aroma that their children had mentioned. The scent gradually faded. The boys were so affected by the experience, they refused to sleep in their bedroom for weeks. At the end of January, a 4-year-old cousin of the boys named Adam stayed at the house. He had not been told about the clown for obvious reasons. When he arrived at the house, Thomas and Aaron were staying at their grandmother's house, and were not even aware that little Adam was staying at their parent's home. One morning, Adam told his auntie - the mother of Thomas and Aaron - that he had been talking to a 'funny man named Mr Zozzaby'. Adam loved to draw, and he even sketched the man who had allegedly appeared in the bedroom - the same bedroom where Thomas and Aaron had had their terrifying encounter. Adam drew a clown with a big nose. The mystery then deepened, because a man who had lived at the house in the 1950s related a story that reads like a carbon copy of the story told by Thomas and Aaron. He had been sleeping in the bedroom, and his bed was next to his brothers. Both of them had been awakened in the dead of night by a strange echoing laughter, and both brothers had seen a grotesque looking clown in the corner who tried to prevent them from leaving the room.
I looked through the old electoral registers and scanned many old documents in an attempt to throw some light on the mystery, and discovered that in the early 1900s at the very house where the laughing clown puts in a supernatural appearance, there lived a Czechoslovakian circus entertainer named Freddy Zozzaby. The name Zozzaby is derived from the Czech word 'zozabe' - meaning big nose. Fred Zozzaby's trademark as a clown was his naturally overlarge nose.
What did the sweet sickly aroma that invaded the bedroom signify? The person who saw the clown in the 1950s later visited an undertakers when his father died. His father was embalmed and put in an open coffin, and the body smelled exactly the same as that sickly aroma he had smelt a few years before. It was embalming fluid.


©Tom Slemen 2003.