A Gathering of Clowns
Chapter 18 Observe The Lion Tamer, With Delusion As A Shield
At home in his office, Stafford Hawkins watched, scrutinized really, the video of the whipping. Ms. Da Costa would be sore, that was for certain and probably angry. Quite angry, he chuckled to himself. He would speak with her, not because he was concerned, but because he couldn’t have her leave…just yet.
But he had learned what he needed; Alvarez had chosen the cane that, while it would mark and certainly hurt, would hurt the least. Her allegiance was to Ms. Da Costa, and he needed to be very careful with any information she gave him.
He was already fairly convinced she had not told him all she knew. Damn them, he thought. He was aware of the treachery of jesters to their kings; it was all too common. Disloyalty. Deceit. Deception.
And tomorrow, no, today actually, it would be his daughter’s turn.
Of everyone, she was still the one who troubled him the most.
Carman’s cell chimed at around ten o’clock. She was up and just relaxing on the couch. Considering what she had endured the day before, she was feeling okay; Folake was a very experienced sado-dominant, and her knowledge and skill showed in Carman’s rapid recovery.
The call was from her office and she answered it, “Da Costa here.”
“Ms. Da Costa, I’m sorry for calling you at home,” it was Carman’s assistant Tia, and she sounded genuinely apologetic, “but Mr. Hawkins has instructed me to reach you and say he needs to see you this afternoon before three. Is that possible, are you feeling better?”
“Thank you Tia, it is okay. I am feeling better and will be in this afternoon. Let Mr. Hawkins know.” After the goodbyes, Folake looked at Carman with one of those looks. “Don’t give me that, mistress, I am not independently wealthy, just yet.”
“What do you think is up?” Folake asked.
“With that man, who knows.” Carman said, heading for the shower.
In a moment Folake joined her saying, “I am assisting you today, my pet, so give me the soap.” Carman smiled as she passed her the bar.
Emily regarded her face in the mirror. Was she nervous? No, excited perhaps. Yeah, she admitted to herself there was some excitement; she had not been face to face with her father in…years.
What were her memories of him? Her last memory, or at least one that arose, was a good one actually and the only one she was able to dredge up. It was of him taking her to the circus, how odd was that, she thought. It was the only place, the only time she could remember, with the two of them going anywhere. She had no memories at all of her and her mother and father together, even eating meals.
Obviously her father had a thing about clowns, but she was unaware of that until now. Perhaps the whole clown thing had triggered this? They had gone to a Ringling Brothers circus; one that still had elephants in it, that’s how long ago it was. She remembered being very close to the ring and looking up at the elephants as they paraded by; she could see that memory clearly; she could remember her excitement.
Of course she remembered clowns, specifically the group of them emerging continuously from a little car. Her father had bought her some peanuts (how original, she thought) but she had emptied the bag in the sawdust for the elephants. But then they had left before seeing if the elephants ate them or not. What the Hell was with the clowns?
Now into the past, for some reason she remembered the day she was sent away to her first school, with Melanie standing and crying as Emily climbed onto the school bus with seven other girls. “You’re coming back in three months, Em, and I’ll be here for you.” Melanie had said as she waved. That’s how it was; most of the memories she had were of Melanie, or school; and those ones were a blur of sameness.
Although now that she had been reminded, she did have memories of roses and a cloudy vision of playing on the grass surrounded by bushes in bloom.
Clowns and roses; her father and her mother. She laughed.
Carman stood behind the line, looking at the back of Hawkins’s blond head as he did something on one of his laptops. Then he spoke. “I trust you have recovered from yesterday, Ms. Da Costa?” Hawkins remarked without apology or emotion, or looking at her directly.
“Well enough Sir, although that was a little excessive, wouldn’t you say?” Carman asked, keeping her tone even but unwilling to just let things go.
Hawkins actually chuckled, “You do have a point, Ms. Da Costa. Please look on the desk there, you’ll find an envelope with your name on it.”
Carman looked and did notice the envelope which she picked up. “You may open it.” Hawkins said. Carman did and removed a cheque made out to her for twenty thousand dollars. “I believe, as I’ve said, that employees who go beyond the expected should be, rewarded. I have never been cheap with my wages. I put you in a difficult spot yesterday and caused you suffering, and for that you need to be compensated. I trust those funds will ease your, anger, perhaps a little.” Hawkins murmured.
Carman considered this. “I appreciate the gesture, Mr. Hawkins. I’m not sure what the point of yesterday was, however.”
“Nothing for you to worry about, Ms. Da Costa; I knew Ms. Alvarez was skillful enough to not do any real damage to you; and I know she has had experience whipping your ass,” he chuckled rudely, “so there’s that. Now, my daughter is coming in today, I know you are aware of our meeting. Any last minute news?”
Carman paused again, taking this in; Hawkins was blunt to the point of rudeness, as just shown, but he was also pragmatic. Carman replied, “She will have questions about money, sir, but you know that. She believes her aunt is still supporting her in any dispute with you, and; she has found her mother’s resting place and knows she had an interest in roses.” She stopped with that.
Hawkins paused. He knew there was more, but he also knew enough, for now. He would need to dismiss Da Costa soon; her loyalties were with his daughter, no matter what she said. But the woman was a good manager so he did not want to act in haste; it was interesting about those damn roses. “Thank you, Ms. Da Costa,” he said, and Carman knew she was to leave.
She headed back to her office and checked her schedule; she had a few minutes of time to herself, so she went into the rogue bank accounts; she had spent considerable time deciding how to deal with these. She decided that Emily’s computer would be the first choice for anything involving this money, if it could be arranged; and for that, she would just need to wait and see what…happened.
Emily arrived shortly before four; Ms. Prendergast greeting and fussing over her, then settling her into one of the leather chairs outside the hallway to Carman’s office and facing the windows of Ross’s office.
In a few moments, her reception phone buzzed and after answering it she came, smiling, to Emily, “Please follow me, Ms. Hawkins,” she said respectfully and the two started down the hallway past Ross’s office and ended at two substantial, imposing oak doors, which Prendergast opened revealing a second, private waiting area.
Prendergast then approached the inner doors, black, likely ebony and opened them, then held one for Emily to enter. The room she had come into was fairly large and circular. There was a desk before her, and then there he was, her father, sitting with his back to her in front of a bank of four monitors. Prendergast closed the doors behind her and Emily forced down a feeling of apprehension.
“Welcome, my daughter. Please come a little closer,” the familiar high pitched voice, which actually sent a chill down her spine, beckoned Emily and she moved several steps forward until coming to an actual line on the carpet. This made her snort and broke the ‘spell-like’ feeling that had crept over her.
“Good day, Father. Thank you for, um, seeing me.” she said to the back of his head. Then, to her surprise, he turned.
The two gazed at each other for a long moment. He thinking it was very wise of him to distance himself from this definitely whorish young woman, off-spring of his or not. Although dressed in a conservative powder-blue jacket / pants outfit, completed with a white blouse, her pure sexuality simply oozed from her being. She would be a perfect candidate for a good paddling on her knees, he pondered.
For her part, Emily was interested that this man’s face still matched her memory. He had never been a handsome man, but when younger there was a rakish attractiveness to him, with the high cheek bones and blond hair he now wore long. But time had not been kind to Stafford Hawkins and certainly illness had played a role.
His face had a meager, fragile quality to it now, despite a definite outward hardness. It was like a thin marble mask, brittle and lacking substance and rigid to the touch.
It was also…menacing. Emily wondered at her mother, confronting this man, much as she did now; her beauty conflicting with his emptiness.
“I see you are not impressed with your father,” Hawkins spoke, with a smirk; they did, after all, share another common trait.
Emily sighed, then gently shook her head. “I didn’t come here to be impressed, Father.” She said quietly.
Within the room there was a hum, perhaps from the computers. It was the only sound right now. “Well, then what have you come for? I am interested.”
She stared at him, then said in her same quiet voice, getting immediately to the point. Why linger? “I want you gone. I’m wondering what it will take to have you give up your shares in the company?”
He regarded her now with renewed interest; perhaps she was more than a simple whore. She had certainly caused him some problems. “Why would you be interested in this, all that I have built? What would it matter to you?”
Emily, right at that moment, would have loved to light up a Lucky Strike; clearly that wasn’t an option. She replied, “I simply want to take what you have, no other reason. You took a life from me that I cannot get back. I guess it would be…revenge.”
He regarded her, his eyes narrowing. “I gave you all the advantages one could have. You have graduated and are pursuing opportunities. You have wealth; and a certain, beauty, I might add. Just what have I taken from you?”
Emily was tempted to just blurt out what she knew, but something held her back, so she changed tracks. “Melanie will vote with me, by the way, despite your threats. We’ll give you a chance to think things over, and then we’ll force you out. In the meantime, stop moving money around until we figure out what exactly belongs to…us.”
Hawkins face hardened more, but within him he felt a grudging appreciation for this human he had, unbelievably, created. Melanie was silly; he would deal with her. But his daughter had a ruthlessness he appreciated.
“You haven’t considered that, possibly, we might work together?” He asked, and there was no smirk.
Emily stared. She had expected several things; comments, accusations perhaps. She hadn’t expected an offer of partnership; but she had a very hard time believing this man was sincere. This was likely another delaying tactic; that was just his way. “A little late in the game for that, isn’t it, Father?” She replied, evenly.
Hawkins grimaced, his stand-in for a smile. “As we say, my dear, business is business; personal issues should be put aside. My sister is not interested in business, we both know that. She is caught in the middle and this could hold us up; shareholders do not like uncertainty. If I had any idea what you really wanted we could reach some agreement; but I will not simply leave. My, um, departure would cause panic, it’s as simple as that, and the millions we three hold in stocks would drop like a stone. That’s bad business.”
Emily looked at him; now was the time to play her ace. She snickered softly. “Actually, you’re right, Father. This has been fun but I’m already bored. Let me think of a number that could get me out of your, blond hair.”
Hawkins now stared. “As easy as that?” he asked, his eyebrows rose in surprise. What was the game?
Emily continued. “But for the next couple of days, stop shifting the damn money around. If you agree to leave things alone for, say, a week, I think we can have a deal.”
“And then what would you do?” He asked quietly.
“Oh, who knows, L.A. is too hot in July. Maybe the south of France. I’ll have lots of dough, right?”
Hawkins snorted; she was as he suspected all along, simply a whore. “Yes, daughter, you will have lots of …dough, as you say.”
With a smirk, Emily turned and left. In her mind she was thinking that things had gone as well as she could have hoped.
Hawkins meanwhile sat in contemplation, the fingertips of his hands pressed together, as if in prayer.
He wasn’t praying, of course. Stafford Hawkins did not believe in any power higher than himself.
Once back in her car, Emily headed off; she had a number of things to look after. In time she was driving into one of the ‘seedier’ parts of town, before parking in an alleyway. She looked around cautiously; this was not a safe place for a woman alone, but she didn’t plan on being here long.
Jumping out of her car, she hurried into the ramshackle building, emerging in a minute, where she moved quickly to the side, and placed something under the fence. Then she was back in her car and gone; it had taken three minutes at most, but her heart was pounding.
Next, after a visit to her bank, she raced back across town for a meeting with Tad the loser. She saw him, sitting on the park bench as she had instructed. She didn’t get out, just rolled down her window as he came, looking tired, haggard actually, to lean against her car. She handed him the envelope, “Look, that’s six thousand and that’s all the fucking money you get until the job is done. Tell those assholes they’ll get the rest tomorrow.”
Tad looked at her and his eyes grew. “Tomorrow?”
“Yes, that’s the new deal. It gets done tomorrow, you get the rest of your dough and we don’t need to see each other again. Everybody’s happy,” she sneered.
“Fuck. Tomorrow. Are you sure everything is ready?”
Emily sighed. “Nothing for you to think about, Tadster, just be at the house as we discussed and it’s tomorrow, so not a lot of time to worry about anything. Have your fucking cell phone with you and the, uh, things I gave you, and it will all be over and you can get lost.”
Tad hesitated and Emily said. “Fuck,” and handed him a packet of white powder. “It’s enough to get you through tonight, asshole. Just. You need to be clean tomorrow morning, are we clear?”
Emily looked at him as he stayed leaning on her car, “And just keep in mind, I’ve hired one of the boys who messed with you before; he will put a fucking bullet in your head if you try to back out now. I’m not kidding, asshole. Get some big dough and blow town or end up in the dessert. Your choice. I will text you tomorrow. Early. Look at me.”
Tad looked, his eyes having little life to them. “I’m good,” he said quietly. “Just make sure you have the money. And you got me a place to lay low?”
Emily smiled, “Yeah. I got you a place. It’s swell. You’ll love it. Now get off my car.” He did, and she drove away.
“Bitch,” Tad said quietly. But he knew he had to go through with this.
He was at the end of this road, and he’d run out of roads.
After Emily had left, Hawkins considered things for a few moments. Did he really need to stall for all that long? He went into his private emails and found the file from the cryogenics people; they needed the next ten million early in August; he only had to stall things for a few weeks.
Clearing out that file, he texted Winters, who was never far away. The confrontation with his daughter had aroused old feelings; he now directed Winters to find him a young blond for tonight, and she needed to meet all the requirements. Thirty minutes later, when Winters notified him that a girl had been secured and would be brought to his office at seven, he called Alvarez.
“I thought our contract was finalized, Mr. Hawkins?” she murmured.
“Quite so, my dear. But this is a new project, one night only, and of course, a new payment.”
Folake Alvarez did not need the work, but she was interested. People’s obsessions always interested her. “See you at seven-thirty, Sir,” she said in her melodious voice.
In their apartment, Carman sat drinking some wine; Folake having now gone out. Carman had received word that Tad had met with Emily today and Carman was fascinated at what might be planned. It was helpful having Emily watched, but being able to hear the conversations would be incredible.
Money was certainly a motivating thing; Carman pondered. Raisha Douak had served Emily, keeping ‘tabs on Tad’, and feeding him drugs, but she was quick to offer her service to Carman; all it took was money. Tad was being groomed for something, and although he wouldn’t divulge it to Raisha, the young woman was astute enough to know it was weighing heavily on the man’s mind. “He’s goin’ fuckin’ nuts,” was her thoughtful analysis.
What, what, what are you up to, Emily, Carman wondered, then thought of the other plan; how to get to the young woman’s laptop. It shouldn’t be too hard, Carman considered. All she needed was probably fifteen minutes.
In his office, Stafford Hawkins watched with fascination as the young woman on her knees before him received another lash from Alvarez’s leather flogger. Alvarez, naked tonight and wearing a pink colored strap-on (my fees double if I’m naked, she had reminded Hawkins, who brushed that thought away like a gnat) looked up at Hawkins. She had been at it for almost thirty minutes.
“Let me see her face,” Hawkins directed quietly from his chair.
Alvarez lifted the young woman’s tear-stained face up for Hawkins to see. Winters had done an exceptional job tonight. The girl looked remarkably like Emily Hawkins. The intense whipping would cost him, but Hawkins did not care. Soon he would not concern himself with money matters at all; soon he would go into a deep sleep, waking (hopefully) fifty years from now, when a cure for his illness would be possible and his daughter (if alive) would be older than him! What a laugh.
“That is good, Ms. Alvarez. Please check the video and then pay the girl. The envelope is there on the shelf. Your check is there as well.”
“Very good, Sir,” Alvarez replied and finished things up; she looked at Hawkins who was just sitting. She didn’t think he had an erection. Why did he do this?
Clearly tonight, this girl was a substitute for his daughter.
Carman looked up as Folake entered. They looked at each other for a moment, Folake weighing the value of truth. She said quietly, “I have been with Mr. Hawkins, whipping one of his…girls.”
Carman gazed back, “He whips other people besides me?” she smiled, ruefully, thinking of her welts.
Folake hung up her coat and began her walk to the couch. “I remember you saying he wanted to punish his older sister?” Folake murmured, sitting down.
Carman turned to her. “Yes, and he did.” She confirmed.
“Well, he’d also like to punish his daughter.” Folake said quietly. Carman was not surprised.
In Downing’s room at the house, Chantico watched as Downing walked; he was getting much better with heels and tonight Chantico had him wearing ones three inches in height.
“Lift your dress, bitch.” Chantico directed with a smile, as Downing stood with his back to her. When he lifted the blue evening dress, his black garter appeared seductively above his bare ass, dark nylons attached.
“Bend forward, slut.” As he did, Chantico thought, not for the first time, that he was actually pretty hot as a woman.
“Lie on the bed.” When Downing had complied, Chantico bound him, wrists and ankles, to the four corners, then put a blindfold on him. She then lifted the dress again and smiled at the erection that stood rigid and waiting. She ran her tongue up and down the shaft, and Downing shuddered. “Does the little pussy girl want to feel good?” Chantico murmured in a wonderfully seductive voice.
“Ohhh, gawwwd, oh, please, please Mistress!”
Chantico laughed and lowered her lovely warm mouth down on the demanding phallus, as Downing squirmed, lost in this enchantment.
In her room, Emily too lay on her bed, unable to sleep. She could see a sliver of moon through her open curtains. The house was quiet, menacing. She knew it was her imagination, but it was there, just the same.
Tomorrow would be a turning point in her life; if Tad did his job. She could sleep lots then. For now her mind was a whirling mass of images and conflicting emotions.
She got up and went to her dresser, finding the book she still kept stashed there, the one from Melanie all those years ago. It was in this book that she kept the fragment of that note. The note that would not give her peace; not until the circle was closed.
She read the note again, for the thousandth time. “only two more days. All My Love, Alex.”
Her mother and Alex had plans, but those plans were ended by a jealous, narcissistic man. Did he ever have regrets? Emily pondered that, and believed that no, she doubted he did. He had removed all the things that had any connection to Sarah; he had even removed Alex. Or had him removed. There was no regret there. And what of Ross; did his conscience trouble him at night?
Well, her father had plans, and Emily had her own to sabotage them. Would she be able to sleep once this was over? She suddenly felt overwhelmed, here alone, with no one to share any of this with.
She dialed a number and Carman answered, with hesitation. “Emily?” she said quietly.
“Hey, sorry for calling so late. I’m being selfish. I can’t sleep.” There was a long pause. “I know I can be a bitch, Carman.”
There was silence on the other end now as Carman battled emotions; Folake lying beside her, listening with interest. “Don’t say that, Emily.”
“What does it, solve? What does it change? You’re too young for, this.”
Emily laughed softly. “No, Carm. You’re wrong. I’m old. It’s like I’ve been alive for a long, long time. But, I can finally see myself, for what I am at least. ‘night Carm.”
“Emily…” But the call had ended.
(End of Chapter 18)