Read Send in the Clowns, a Detective Mike Bridger novel Online

Authors: Mark Bredenbeck

Tags: #thriller, #crime, #murder, #detective, #clowns, #circus, #scary clown, #circus thriller

Send in the Clowns, a Detective Mike Bridger novel

BOOK: Send in the Clowns, a Detective Mike Bridger novel
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Send in the
Clowns

A Detective
Mike Bridger novel

 

By Mark
Bredenbeck


 

Copyright
2015 by Mark Bredenbeck

Book design
by Mark Bredenbeck

Smashwords
Edition


This book is
a work of fiction. Names, Characters, places, and incidents either
are the product of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or
dead, business establishments, governments, events or locales is
entirely coincidental.”


All rights
reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any
form without permission. The scanning, uploading, and distribution
of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the
permission of the author is illegal and punishable by law. Please
purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not
participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted
materials. Your support of the author’s rights is
appreciated.”

 

 

 

 

Otago Witness,
Issue 1266, 4
th
March 1876

 

 

 

 

Part
One-

 

-The
Acrobat

Chapter One

 

The trumpets’ sounded and
the noise of the audience died away to an excited hush. The mixed
scent of candyfloss and animals permeated the air. The canvas,
surrounding the crowd, flapped quietly in the breeze. All around
was darkness, broken only by the insensitive glow of the occasional
cellphone, but no one cared. The children were on the edge of their
seats, the adults’ attention drawn between the darkened ring and
the look of exited wonderment on their child’s face. The sounds of
the trumpets’ became urgent, building to a crescendo, but were then
silenced by the stabbing beam of the spotlight, piercing the
darkness and shining down from high above. A booming voice echoed
in the bleachers.


Ladies and
gentlemen, boys and girls… Welcome… to the Big Show”

The crowd erupted into
applause as the Ringmaster stepped into the small circle of light
with a swish of his red satin cape. Carnival music, piped through
the speakers placed above the wooden bleachers, adding to the
atmosphere. A child started crying.


Tonight, we
have a veritable feast of entertainment, brought to you from far
and wide… You will gaze in wonderment at the exotic creatures…,
laugh in merriment along with the Jesters…, and gasp in awe at the
daring exploits of the trapeze artists… So…, for now…”

The Ringmaster stood in
the dead centre of the spotlight, surrounded by his darkened
audience, arms held wide, revelling in the moment. The carnival
music died away, leaving silence. No one dared speak.


Ooh-Gah’,
the sound of the old-fashioned car horn broke the hushed
anticipation. The Ringmaster gestured towards the noise with
another swish of his cape.


Send in the
Clowns…”

The ring lit up with
flashing lights, the music returned in frenzy, and a child size car
ambled onto the sawdust-covered circle in the middle of the Big
Top. Four colourful heads with painted smiles swayed back and
forth, as the little car careered around in figures of eight. The
old horn was blaring out its merriment and the Clowns clung on for
dear life.

The Ringmaster stayed
where he was, watching the Clown Car with practised amusement. The
Clowns were shooting water guns into the crowd as they moved around
the ring, the noise of the small 50cc engine drowned by the squeals
of delight thrown out from the darkness. One of the Clowns fell off
his precarious seat, rolling head over heels, as the little car
turned sharply. The other Clowns laughed silently at him and made
their escape as fast as they could. The stricken Clown tripped over
his large shoes and rolled again as he gave chase to his callous
chums. The laughter from the crowd grew, the music played
on.

Outside the tent and
unseen, restless animals, stomping irritably in their cages, waited
for their turn in the spotlight. The generators under their cages
providing power to the concession booths were belching diesel
fumes, adding to their confined agitation. Further away, on the
roadside, silent objectors stood motionless, their faces anonymous
behind masks. The silent protest vigil ignored by the majority,
only there for the spectacle, not the morality. Back inside the
tent, lithe bodies dressed in tight sparkling spandex climbed rope
ladders into the darkness above.

The Clowns tired of their
amusement and tried soaking the Ringmaster with a bucket of water.
The children loved it.


Away with
you… we have no time for your shenanigans”
The Ringmaster brushed off the Clowns with another swish of
his cape, and they retreated with mock admonishment like chastised
schoolboys. Turning back to his audience, he raised his
hands,
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and
girls… please turn your attention skyward and prepare yourself to
be amazed.”

The lights turned up,
illuminating a muscular man and a petite but strong woman standing
high on wooden platforms either side of the ring. They were looking
at each other across the darkness between them, a seemingly
impossible gap. A slight nod of their heads, a trust passed between
them, the crowd fell silent again. The dull thud of a drum bounced
like a heartbeat around the bleachers, slowly building intensity,
the crowd stamping their feet in approval. The drums stopped
leaving an eerie silence in its place. The man swung out across the
ring, thirty feet in the air. The crowd drew breath as he dropped
from his perch and expertly caught the cross bar with his knees,
swinging back towards his side, upside down. Carnival music
returned to the bleachers.

Holding her own swing,
the woman leapt gracefully from her platform on the opposite side
and then swung towards the now returning male. It was a practiced
move, delivered for the audience hundreds of times. It was a simple
jump and catch, no need for a net… She let go with
confidence.

The crowds’ collective
breath held… There was no meeting of hands, no strong arms to grab
her and take her to safety. She was tumbling in front of the
shocked audience, watched by the male as he swung away helplessly.
A child screamed…

The sparkly spandex clad
woman landed with a dull thud at the feet of the stunned Ringmaster
and then lay still. The carnival music played on…

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

Two shadowed figures
walked through the quiet empty carnival, the shutters closed on
five-dollar amusements. An animal’s agitated snort came from
somewhere in the darkness, making them jump. Laughter and music
floated out from caravans dotted around the edge and the smell of
exotic cooking teased at their nostrils. Both felt the shallow
prickle in their spines as large unseen eyes followed their
progress in the dim light from behind the steel of cold cages.
Before the prickly feeling became too much, the darkened tents and
cages gave way to mobile living arrangements, the eyes disappearing
back into the darkness. Caravans of different sizes betrayed the
occupants’ private interactions through millimetre thick aluminium
walls. Raised voices became apparent from one of the larger
caravans near the back. The bigger of the two shadows motioned to
the other. They both stopped and listened.


I’m telling
you, the ropes were shortened.”


Why would
someone do that?”


You know
bloody well why? It is obvious that they are jealous, anyone can
see it”


Jealous…? Of
what exactly? You are all in the same business…, as am
I.”

The angry voices were
audible from inside the thin walls of the caravan. Gillian Holler
looked at her partner. Steve Kirkland just shrugged his shoulders
in the darkness and knocked on the thin door.


Police…, can
we come in?”

The voices silenced and
the door opened. A red-faced male stood in the opening; his satin
jacket was unbuttoned revealing a slightly damp white chiffon
shirt. Behind him stood a smaller male, he was wearing a sparkly
spandex suit that complemented his more muscular build, with
features that had aged well. With the look on both of their faces,
it was obvious they had not finished the particular conversation
they were having.


Come in.”
The red-faced male said, standing too one side. “It’s good of you
too come; maybe we can get this sorted now.”


Yes, maybe
we can. It’s about time we did,” the other male said, as he moved
further inside the caravan too allow the Police officers space too
enter.

The interior of the
caravan was relatively luxurious, although on a small scale. There
was a leather lounger on one side of the visible living space,
facing a large flat screen television. A small glass topped table
sat to the side of the lounger. Gillian noted two tumblers on top
of it, each with at least two fingers of the Scotch from the bottle
sitting open next to them. Smoke curled lazily from a cigarette
resting on the side of an ashtray.


My name is
Sergeant Gillian Holler and this is Constable Steve Kirkland,” she
said, by way of introduction, before inadvertently looking back at
the Whisky.


You will
have to excuse us, Officers, we are both pretty on edge, as you
would expect. The Whisky is just helping us relax… Would either of
you like one?”

Gillian looked at the
red-faced male and wondered just how many he had already had that
evening. Twenty odd years as a Police officer had given her a good
sense of when someone had a bit of a drinking problem “No thank
you, Mr…?”


Wilson…
Michael… Irish Mick too my friends.” He looked at his companion as
if for confirmation. The man in the spandex suit just looked back,
expressionless. “And this is Anthony Gonzales, our high ropes
expert and performer extraordinaire.” The theatrical gesture with
his hand did nothing for his partner’s obvious mood.


Don’t forget
‘Partner’ in this godforsaken venture,” Anthony Gonzales pouted
slightly as he spoke.


Quite right
Ant…, Anthony is also my business partner…, we run the Circus
together.”

Gillian took in the sight
of the two men standing before them, still dressed for the show,
unless they dressed like that all the time. She had no idea about
the lives of Circus performers. “So Mr Wilson, are you the ‘Wilson’
in ‘Wilson’s Circus’? I saw the big sign out the front with that
name on it.”


That’s
right; there has been a Wilson in this Circus ever since my great,
great grandfather Cyril Wilson. He began performing with his
animals back in the late eighteen hundreds. They used to set up
across the road from where we are now, on the Market
Reserve…”

Gillian could detect a
small amount of pride in his voice as he spoke. She heard Anthony
clear his throat before Michael Wilson continued.


Of course
there was a Gonzales at the beginning, but until Anthony, we have
not had any other members of his family in the intervening
years.”

BOOK: Send in the Clowns, a Detective Mike Bridger novel
9.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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