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Indeed the protagonist of the story suffers from actual coulrophobia (fear of clowns) and tries to brave his fears only to be confronted by a psychotic clown that attempts to strangle him to death before being overpowered by the protagonist's uncle.
It is later revealed the Clown was a mentally ill individual known to the authorities, who had attacked several people before - having taken to dressing as a clown for his own amusement.