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 (25 page)

BOOK: Send in the Clowns, a Detective Mike Bridger novel
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With the
note, at least they knew who was responsible, but he could not
reconcile the various faces of the P.A.A.I.N membership with what
he saw before him. They were such ordinary people; they just cared
about animal’s welfare. Could their beliefs be that deeply seated?
He knew Reece Coster was all about direct action, but even with
that did it involve murder…? Maybe it was Reece Coster on his own,
a huge step up from the burning of the tent. He looked over to
where Becky and Grant had put Reece in the rear of their police
vehicle. At least he would get to ask him…

Mike… you need to see this…” Gillian’s voice sounded on

looked back from the cage and followed Gillian’s gaze. Less than
ten metres away a silent group of four animal masks stood in a
line, all of them standing with their hands clasped in front. Where
had they come from? The heavy and cold grey cumulus clouds of the
retreating storm hung over them, making it a slightly chilling and
surreal sight.

There was a
large banner unfurled and was lying on the ground in front of them;
he could see it read,
The Circus is for
the Clowns
, in large blood red letters. A
gust of wind lifted it slightly and made it curl on one end before
settling back on the ground.

Kate Atkinson was standing off to one side with a camera; she
was ready to record whatever was going to happen next.

watched, as one by one, the silent animals took off their masks.
They tossed them on the ground in front of them and kept their
heads bowed. When the last mask came off, they looked up in unison,
and the ordinary faces of the killers stared back at him. A bunch
of serious looking emancipated men had just put their hands up to
murder. Looking closely he could not help thinking that there was
something familiar about the group kneeling before them, as if he
had seen them in another time, in a more jovial way… It couldn’t
be... Bridger shook his head at the thought. It made no sense, but
it seemed these four were responsible, no matter whom they

Brian move in behind the group with Steve and Gillian, he could not
hear the instructions given, but he knew there would be some. He
watched as the group all got down on their knees and placed their
hands on their heads. That would be Steve Kirkland’s doing, with
all his armed offender training, a little flashy in the
circumstances, but typical Steve. He watched as the handcuffs
locked onto their wrists and their heads bowed once

It was

Turning back
to the trailer, he stared at the steel side, thankful the solid
wall was hiding the grizzly contents. He thought of the last couple
of days, a lot had happened, people had died, property destroyed,
all in the name of an ancient entertainment form. Could society
really outgrow the right of a child’s wonderment? Maybe the Circus
had had its day, and more instant electronic gratification was now
the new church. At least for this one the story was probably over,
and according to what Kate had told him, that only left

He looked
over to where Kate was standing. She had started moving around the
group, who were kneeling on the ground; her camera was clicking
away, recording her last illustrious piece on the history of
Wilsons Circus, such that it was.



Twenty Five


Sitting in
the enclosed space that served as an interview room, Bridger could
still smell the acrid odour of smoke. He assumed it must be
clinging to the clothes he was wearing, as it was something in
which everybody seemed to delight in telling him when he wafted by.
How is it that other people could do the simple task of laundering
their clothes properly when he could not even figure out which wash
cycle to put the stupid machine on. Maybe he should use the
dry-cleaning allowance he was supposed to have as part of his
employment agreement, but then that would probably mean filling out
some sort of form and he could not be bothered with that. Anyway he
had not even been home since the fire, so what was he to do. Four
men had confessed to the killing of a killer, Maria Staverly had
nothing to do with anything apparently. The Circus, what was left
of it, had closed ranks and moved on, protecting their own as
always. There was only one person left to sort out. He hoped, well
he knew, that he would also clear up the matter of the fire,
releasing the animals, and the unlawful sexual connection involving
an incapacitated Maria Staverly. The media were going to have to
report some good results for once.

Jane Little
was facing him, a small table between him and the sly smile she had
on her pretty face. He looked back at her, trying to gauge the
truth in her eyes. Did she send him those photographs of him and
Kate Atkinson; she had not let on when he had asked her straight,
feigning ignorance. He thought about what had happened after the
lights went out, after he had been in the same room as her. Could
she have slipped him something in the coffee she had handed to him
that had made him feel the way he had, or had it actually been
something more sinister. She would have had the opportunity. What
was her motive? Was it to stuff up his interview with Keith Joyce?
Maybe…, either way, Clowns had never really worried him…, until
now. He took a deep breath, he felt a little pathetic letting her
get to him like she always did, but that was for another

record on the machine to his left, he looked over at the other
pathetic figure sitting on the far side of the table. “So… Mr
Coster, in your own words, from the beginning please.”


Maria was
sitting next to the fat woman who always smelt of cabbage. Her name
was Vivian. She had found out this and a number of other things
that she was not sure just yet whether she cared about, but the fat
woman just kept on talking. Vivian was more than just a cook then.
She let the vibrations of the trucks rough chassis move her about
in the old leather seat. It was something she remembered doing as a
child on the endless road journey of her life.

They were a
long way from Dunedin, travelling in a depleted convoy of
dilapidated trucks and caravans. They were mostly just a misfit
bunch of animals, labourers, and her. There were no Clowns, no
Acrobats…, nothing really. They were all that was left of the
Circus. A sudden sadness washed through her, and she felt alone.
She had no real memory of her early life, but she knew that the
clowns had saved her, then and now. They actually believed in her
and they had proven that they would do anything to protect her. She
did not understand, but they had said it was something that they
owed her. Thanks to them, she knew whom the Clown was that she
dreamed of now. He was no longer a Clown and would never haunt her
dreams again. He was no longer, but that betrayal was something
that would take a long time to forget.

She looked
out the window at the passing scenery. The sea was glistening to
her right and the lush green of native bush was rushing past on her
left. Things had turned out all right really, she could not really
complain. A small insect flew in front of her face and she brushed
it away. The window was down, more to drown out the incessant
talking of the fat woman than to breathe the salt air. She took a
deep breath anyway, she was Maria, Maria Wilson, of Wilsons Circus,
and she was going to take this show to the world…








At the time
of writing this story there are not many full-time Circuses’
operating in New Zealand and the fate of the real ‘Wilson’s Circus’
as written about in the article taken from the Otago Witness in
1876 is unknown. Animals, Clowns, and Acrobatics, however, continue
to be an integral part of the entertainment offered by modern


In 1978, two
Lions, named Sultan and Sonia did escape from a Circus, which was
performing in Lawrence, New Zealand, after someone had mistakenly
left open the bolts on their cage.

It was just
before the evening show began when the two lions made their bid for
freedom and Sonia, believed to have scratched the face of a
six-year-old child while fleeing, created panic.

Three-year-old Sultan, the male lion, actually tried to
return to his cage a short time later but could not get back in.
Due to fears for the safety of the public, the local Police
Constable shot him dead, a decision endorsed by the manager of the

Sonia was
eventually corralled in a local resident’s garage. Unfortunately,
she escaped through a rear door before her recapture was possible
and was later found in the Lawrence Hospital grounds. After two
failed attempts to tranquilise her, she too was shot.

Both Lions
underwent taxidermy procedures and are now displayed at the Otago
Museum in Dunedin.




More in the
Detective Mike Bridger series:


Frailty, a Detective Mike Bridger novel (Book One). Published


Lives, a Detective Mike Bridger novel (Book Two). Published



Connect with
the Author:







Mark Bredenbeck


BOOK: Send in the Clowns, a Detective Mike Bridger novel
8.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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