A Gathering of Clowns
Chapter 21 The Circus Has Left Town
…here comes the parade, to start the show
and then the jugglers, with the little they know;
the mighty and vain are there and fierce
but they know their place for
with the sting of the whip
and as the daredevils so careful, arrive,
(for a slip may be fatal, the end)…
they’ll send in the clowns
to gather, and…strange it is,
we’ll laugh at their frowns!
But it’s all show biz, after all;
at least until,
Emily sat in the cell; they called it a holding cell. She had not, her lawyer said before he left, been formally charged yet. As always, he cautioned her against saying anything without him present. They could question her, but she didn’t have to answer without his counsel.
The door opened and Detective Hardwicke came in with a female police officer who unlocked Emily’s cuffs and led her to the table in the center of the room. The officer stood by the door as Hardwicke settled himself in the chair opposite.
“Where’s my lawyer?” Emily asked without emotion.
“He doesn’t need to be here for this; it’s only some information questions.” Hardwicke muttered.
Emily laughed out loud at this, “Bull shit,” she said, looking directly at the man; mid-forties, average height, light brown hair cut short; neatly trimmed moustache; brown suit and brown shoes. A cop.
“I would reconsider your attitude if I were you, Ms. Hawkins. These are murder charges we are dealing with,” he said, authoritatively.
Emily smirked, “And you’ve charged me, have you?”
Her attitude grated on Hardwicke intensely. Rich bitches like this were the worst, to him. He’d resented them as he grew up, a working class kid attending a school with the children of the wealthy. He had dealt with girls like this his whole life, and he wanted more than anything to teach them, and her, a lesson.
“You think you’re pretty hot, don’t you, Bitch?” The officer at the door jerked in response to this, while Emily looked at this man with obvious contempt.
“You wouldn’t know hot if it came up and sucked your pathetic cock,” she responded.
Hardwicke’s face slowly reddened. If he were a cartoon, puffs of smoke would be seen coming from his ears. “Has she been searched, officer?” he asked the woman standing guard.
The officer regarded him with some alarm as she said, “No, because she hasn’t been…”
But he halted her with a raised hand. “Do you have your gloves, officer?” She swallowed hard and nodded her head. “Get them on,” he growled.
If he had hoped this would intimidate Emily, he was mistaken. She simply sat. With a sudden move, he grabbed Emily by her arms and pulled her forward so her torso was on the table. “Ok, get those dungarees down,” he ordered the officer, who came around and gingerly pulled down the grey slacks Emily had been issued. “The underwear,” Hardwicke grunted, and the officer hesitated, then slowly pulled the black lace panties down, revealing Emily’s lovely tanned ass. “Ok, search.” Hardwicke grunted out.
The officer stood and stared. “No,” she said.
Hardwicke looked up at her as he held Emily’s arms, even though she wasn’t struggling, “What did you say?” He asked through gritted teeth.
“I said I won’t. This is wrong. She hasn’t even been charged. You can search her if you want; I won’t.” The officer stood and stared defiantly.
Uttering an oath under his breath, Hardwicke stood, grabbed his folder and stormed out. He knew he had already gone too far and he needed some air. After he had gone, the officer gently pulled up Emily’s panties and pants. “I’m sorry,” she said, simply.
Emily stood and looked at the woman, “Thank you, officer,” she looked at the name tag, “Olesky. I won’t forget that.”
“I need to do this,“ Olesky said, placing the cuffs back on and sitting Emily down, then moving to the door. She looked down at Emily, “If you are a killer, you deserved that and more. But we don’t know yet.” She left and Emily sat alone, tears beginning to leak down her cheeks.
Across town Carman, driving a rental car, came along Prairie Avenue and then pulled her vehicle into the reserved parking space at Hawthorne Muni Airport.
Back at the jail, Detective Hardwicke was madly doing damage control. He had assigned a different female officer to watch Emily’s door; “Make sure no one sees her and nothing happens, are we clear?” he had emphasized to Constable Ruud.
Word came to him then that Hawkins’s lawyer had succeeded in getting her case before a magistrate today. And now it appeared the two young women (he checked his notes, Raisha and Brianna) were telling different stories.
Damn, he thought. He didn’t need more bullshit; he was already up to his neck in it.
Carman left the keys to her rental inside the car, took her briefcase and then walked toward the Hawker 900 private jet that sat waiting on the tarmac. She moved quickly up the stairs and entered, gazing upon the luxurious interior, with its ivory-hued leather chairs.
Folake sat in one of the chairs now, and greeted Carman with a warm smile, before rising and coming to embrace her. They made their way to two opposing seats, separated by a walnut table and both sat.
“So, is it done?” Folake asked, quietly.
Carman looked out the window, calming herself. She nodded, unable at the moment to speak. Folake waited patiently. In the plane the attendant was bustling about, getting things ready, even though there would be only the two passengers today. Finally Carman spoke, “They’ve arrested her, or taken her anyway, so yes, that’s, mmm, done.”
“You don’t fear that will actually go anywhere, do you?”
Carman dabbed her eyes with a tissue and sighed, “No, I really don’t, and I’ve arranged for an excellent lawyer, and Ross is involved as well, but it’s still hard to think of her like that. I saw them putting her in the cruiser; she was hand-cuffed, it was…hard.”
Folake looked on with some sympathy, “She was responsible for two people’s deaths, Carman. She’s not totally innocent.”
“I know.” Carman nodded. “I understand. Still doesn’t make it any easier.”
At that moment, the attendant came around to ask them to fasten seat belts, etc. Calmer now, Carman looked across at Folake and asked, “So, what have you, um we, done with all the money?”
Folake smiled. “I’ve parcelled it into three chunks and put two in the bank in the Caymans and one in the bank in the Bahamas. One hundred sixty million is significant,” she chuckled, “But it’s all stashed away. I moved two million into our account in Cairo….”
“Cairo?” Carman asked.
Folake smiled, “Oh, yes, I didn’t mention, that’s where we’re headed. I have an apartment there, under my husband’s name, and we will be able to lay low for a while, as they say. I think you don’t touch any of the other money for six months; after that I think we, you, should be good.”
Carman nodded, “You are organized; I didn’t know anything about, well, anything beyond your…basics.”
“Ms. Hawkins.” The officer said. Emily looked up with hostility in her eyes, but said nothing. “They’re taking you for a hearing.”
Emily rose. At least something was happening. She hated being in this cell more than she could say.
Folake smiled across at her partner. “Yet even though you really know little about me, you trusted me.”
Carman nodded, “I trusted you. Although I’m still unclear why you continued to give information to Stafford Hawkins?”
They were now in the air and the attendant came to ask them about refreshments. In a few moments they each had a glass of wine and plans to eat later, probably after their first refuel. Folake sighed and then responded. “Mr. Hawkins was my client, I owed nothing to his daughter, whether I liked the man or not.”
Carman sat in thought. “But what of me?” she asked.
Folake reached across the table and touched Carman’s arm. “I would never, never have betrayed you. I only gave Hawkins enough information to maintain his trust.”
Carman smiled, “And in the end we walk away with his millions. Some of his millions, anyway.”
“You walk away with his millions,” Folake smiled.
“We are together,” Carman said, quietly.
Folake nodded, “Hopefully, for a long time. But I have moved the two million for now and that is it. I am a wealthy woman, Carman. My husband left me very well off and I do what I like and have for a long while; and I earn very good money. But I do not need to work. And I do not need your money. Wait six months, and then have fun. I will be with you.” She smiled.
Emily entered the court through a back door. Word of her detainment had already spread and there was a throng at the front. Melanie was in the court and waved to Emily; it was clear she had been crying. Emily smiled back and was brought to stand beside her counsel. She noticed Ross was there as well; he gave her a quick ‘thumbs up’.
Everyone looked up as the judge entered.
After touching down in Hawaii, the plane was back in the air when Carman’s cell phone chimed. Folake looked at her, “I’ve kept it on,” Carman said simply, then, taking a breath, she answered the call. “Hello Emily.” She paused. “I take it you, are out?” She said quietly, then waited as there was silence on the other end.
“Why Carman?” Emily finally asked, her anger apparent.
Carman took a deeper breath. “I did it for me, Em, okay, but I knew you would be…all right…”
“I was arrested, you fucking bitch. I was in a fucking cell. They…oh, shit!” Emily snarled into her phone.
Carman calmed herself, “I knew you would be taken in, and so I got you a top lawyer. I knew there was no way they could hold you, Emily. I’m guessing they didn’t actually charge you…”
“No, but it doesn’t change the fact that you betrayed me, Carman. And you’re a Goddamn thief.” Emily’s voice dripped with bitterness; Downing had informed her of the money transfer; she quickly found that the secret accounts had been emptied.
Carman gathered herself, tears beginning to fall from her eyes. “Emily, you have gotten rid of your father and Tad; you are still sitting on an empire of around two hundred million dollars and you can do whatever you wish. That’s the bottom line.” There was silence, apart from Emily’s breathing, before Carman continued, “I would say I’m sorry, and I…oh fuck, Em…” Carman was openly crying now and unable to say anymore. On the other end, Emily was as well, but she wasn’t going to let Carman know.
Finally Carman was able to at least put some words together, “Mmmm, damn it, damn it, damn it Emily. Damn it! Forget the damn money and what went down. I cared for you Em, I really did, whatever else you think, that’s a fact. That’s a fucking fact!…There.” Carman’s voice had risen and now she sat, breathing hard.
“Goddamn it Carman, why didn’t you ever say anything?” Emily yelled into her cell.
Carman shook her head. “Why Emily? Why? What fucking difference would it have made? You are you and you’ll never change; I was just another stop along the road; I couldn’t stay; you would have destroyed me, and you know it.” Both sides sat quietly.
When Emily began again she was calmer, “So, some of it was real?” she asked.
Carman sighed, “Oh Jesus Christ, Em. All of it was real. I’m not that good an actress.” Silence again.
“And all the sneaking around? You had to have snooped into my devices and shit; that’s pretty gross…”
Carman sighed, “It didn’t hurt you, Emily. Your father’s empire was large enough for the both of us. How much money do you need, anyway?”
Silence followed for thirty seconds, then Emily murmured, “Where will you go?”
Carman sighed again, “Not sure. Will you come after me?”
After a long pause Emily finally spoke, quite softly, “Probably not. Like you said, it’s true, I have more dough than I know what to do with. Daddy-kins was buying a seat on a shuttle to the moon, you know. I’m not fucking kidding. One hundred million bucks it would’ve been; but I have most of that back, or I will have. Christ.” Silence again.
“You’re okay, Em? You can deal with, um, what you’ve…done?” Carman asked quietly.
“Yeah, I’m good, kid. Really. I plan to sleep just fine tonight.” There was another pause. “I hope to see you again, Carman. And not just to wring your neck.”
Carman chuckled softly. “Yeah, that’s good. I’ll never forget you; you know that?”
Then the line went dead.
Folake looked at Carman and smiled warmly, nodding her head. The attendant had waited until the call was over; she now brought their food, a look of concern on her face as she glanced at Carman.
As they enjoyed their meal, food on a private jet being pleasantly different than a commercial airliner, Carman commented. “So, how will it be, with the two of us? Now, I mean?” She asked.
Folake paused in consideration. “Well, our, relationship hasn’t changed, has it? You certainly could do what you want now; do you wish to leave, try other things?” Folake looked at her and tilted her head to one side in a way that Carman had always found agreeable.
“I am happy, very happy, with us.” Carman said, feeling the emotion rising. “Life changes, but I want to be with you. That hasn’t changed.”
“But do you still wish to belong to me, my love?” Folake was focused on her food as she said this.
Carman paused. She really did have the world at her feet, but what did that matter? She trusted her gut and her feelings. She said quietly, “I wish to belong to you, Mistress. I can’t explain it, but I feel, complete. Content.” She considered. “I am just, oh, curious I guess, of your plans. This, relationship, is still new in many ways. Obviously, I no longer need to work; you can take me and do what you wish.”
Folake smiled at this, “Well, I do have plans,” she said, her eyes held a twinkle.
“Anything you want to share, Mistress?” Carman asked, now with a grin on her face. It suddenly occurred to her that she smiled a lot more these days…
Folake took a mouthful of pasta and drank some wine, before continuing. “Well, I do want to take you to a slave weekend. In London, actually. I still have friends there who do that sort of thing.”
“Friends with slaves?” Carman asked, eyebrows raised.
Folake laughed, “Exactly. Most of the people I know in London are in this, em, lifestyle. I have missed it, but for the longest time I have not had a slave I felt proud enough of to share; until now.” She said quietly.
Carman paused for a moment, amazed at the arousal this conversation was producing. How had she lived so long without this? Maybe it was always there, waiting. “And now you…do.” She finally said, her voice husky.
Folake looked back with a loving gaze. “Yes.” She maintained her gaze. “That excites you, the thought that I can now use you as I desire?” Folake asked, a smile on her face.
Carman looked up. Her face showed contentment as well as desire. “It drives me crazy.” She thought for a moment of Candace, why she didn’t know, but carried on. “It, um, slays me,” she said, and laughed. They raised their glasses to each other.
The plane banked, then levelled off. Below them, as far as one could see, was the darkening blue of the Pacific.
(Six days later.)
The police had not proceeded with any charges, and likely would not. Detective Hardwicke had been suspended. Life had moved on.
Emily had now made the decision, not at all difficult, to get rid of her father’s collection; she certainly had no use for it. But rather than just packing it up, Melanie had suggested they get it appraised (I think there’s some, oh, unusual items, Em, she had said.)
So Emily had contacted a firm and they had sent out an appraiser and his assistant, who were currently hard at work and had been for a while. Emily had decided to see how they were doing, and was talking now with a short, be-speckled fellow, who was in charge.
He spoke, “So, this is an amazing collection…” he began.
“Yeah, yeah, right, but let’s cut right to it. What are we lookin’ at?” Emily replied, wanting this done with.
“Well, there are some rare pieces, and then there are the paintings…”
“So, like, where are we…?”
“You do realize there is a Picasso in there, and a Dali?”
“Yeah, sure. Whatever you say. What’s it all worth?”
The man adjusted his glasses and consulted his notes, “If you sold everything individually and got a fair price, well, we’re talking…”
”C’mon, my man, spit it out.”
“Well, possibly as high as; thirty million dollars?” The man looked up, his eyes were large and round behind his spectacles.
Emily nodded her head and smiled. “Yeah, but what if your company just took the whole load?”
“W-well, that is different, I would have to consult the partners…”
“Well, you do that, what’s your name again?” Emily asked. They had begun the walk down the hallway.
The little man, dressed in a spotless grey sports coat and bow tie, hair neatly parted and combed, looked up at her. “Dapper,” he said.
Emily suppressed her laugh, but a smile did manage to break out, “Your name is, um, Mr. Dapper?”
“Yes, Ms. Hawkins, that is correct, why?”
Emily regarded him, afraid any second she would lose it, “Is your first name, um, Richard, by any chance?”
“No, it’s Steven, why?”
Emily looked up, knowing if she looked down and directly at him, she would laugh and probably not stop, “Well, it’s just that if it was Richard, you could be…Dapper Dick, right?” She focused on the man’s assistant, who was measuring one of the brass clowns, stifling a growing guffaw.
“Um, I’m afraid I don’t understand…”
Emily turned and started to walk toward the staircase, the little man tagging along. “Do you, uh, sing, Steven?” She continued.
The man did smile broadly at that, “Yes, I am in a men’s barber shop quartet.”
Emily stopped and looked down at him, before continuing, “Of course you are; and like, um, you know, that’s too bad. I was thinking more of, you know, rap music.” She actually chuckled here.
“Oh no, no, that’s not for me…”
“Yeah, I get that, Mr. D. But it’s too bad, ‘cuz then you could be Dapper the Rapper, hey?”
The man paused, “Well, I don’t really see…”
“It’s ok, Mr. D.” Emily said, hurrying down the stairs. “Talk later.” She needed to get out to the patio. She needed to laugh.
And have a smoke.
(One week later)
“My God, can you believe how much stuff there is?” Melanie asked, as she and Emily stood observing a half dozen workers carry boxes out to the waiting truck. Emily simply shook her head in response, then said, “Oh, look, here comes our little man now.”
Steve Dapper, true to his name, was hurrying toward them. “Good morning, Ms. Hawkins, we should be finished soon and on our way.”
“Great, Stevie Ray Gun.” Emily smirked.
Dapper looked up at her, “Ray Gun?” He asked.
Emily chuckled, “You know. Dapper and Zapper. Zapper is a ray gun, like in the sci-fi movies,” She glanced at him, “It’s okay, Steve; you got somethin’ for me?”
Mr. Dapper smiled and reached into his leather pouch and brought out a check which he brandished with a flourish, “For you, ma’am.” He grinned.
“Thanks,” Emily murmured, taking the check, “But don’t call me ma’am.”
“We’ve made it out as per your request, all certified and everything’s ready to go.”
“Good work, Stevie D. Nice doin’ business with ya’” They shook hands and the energetic fellow bustled off. Emily looked at the check; eighteen million dollars. She snorted.
Melanie came up to her then, “Wow, still can’t believe it’s all going.” She said quietly.
Emily snorted again, “Well, are you going to say it or am I?”
“Say what?” Melanie asked.
Emily looked at her, “Well, the circus has left town, of course…” Emily actually giggled, then handed Melanie the check, which she had requested be made payable to her.
“It’s not really the circus, Em, it’s just the clowns. What’s this?” Melanie asked, staring at the thing.
“That, my dear, is for you.”
“But, um, Em, this is…”
“Eighteen million, I know. And it’s yours.”
“But I can’t take this…”
“Why? Why the Hell not?”
“Look, you’ve earned it; take it, do what you want with it, go wherever you want…”
Glendale, California, 1999
It had been a month since Melanie had moved in, and she and Emily had bonded. Since the little girl had, surprisingly, few toys, Melanie had used part of the meager allowance Hawkins provided to buy a few, and Emily was now sitting on the carpet in her room engrossed in a conversation between two of her new dolls.
Looking up, Emily blurted out a question, “Auntie Mel, did you like my mommy?”
Melanie still got a little choked up whenever Emily talked of her mother. “I, um, never met your mommy, Em. But I know she was very pretty and very nice. I’m sure we would have been friends, little one.”
“My mommy would read me stories,” Emily said quietly.
“I bet you liked that, hey? I could read you some stories, I don’t know why I haven’t. Where are your books.”
Emily walked her two dolls along, like they were going somewhere, “My daddy put them in a box,” Emily said, matter-of-factly.
“Well, I’ll find them, Emily. Or I’ll look anyway. And if we can’t find ‘em, Auntie Mel will get you some more.”
Emily put her dolls down and climbed up on Melanie, laying her face against the woman’s shoulder. She stayed like that, then asked quietly, “When is my mommy coming back?”
Melanie felt the tears and the emotion, but she pushed them down; it wouldn’t help her niece. “Oh, I’m not sure, little one. Don’t think about that, ok. Let’s just have a hug,” which they did.
As they were hugging, Emily spoke into the ear her face was beside, “Are you going to leave me, Auntie Mel?”
Melanie clasped the little girl to her in a mighty hug, until Emily said in a little voice, “I can’t breathe, Auntie Mel,” and Melanie released her and Emily looked at her aunt. “Why are you crying, Auntie Mel?” she asked innocently.
Melanie hugged the girl again, less forcefully this time, “You can have tears of joy, Em. That’s what this is, ‘cause I love you so much. And listen…” Melanie held Emily by her shoulders so she could look right into the lovely, little face, “Listen to me. This is a promise. I will never, never, never leave you. I promise with all my heart.”
Emily smiled, showing the gap where she had lost her first tooth just this month. She held up a little hand, “Pinky swear, Auntie Mel?”
They hooked pinkies and Melanie laughed, a few tears still exuding reluctantly from her eyes.”
Melanie looked at her niece, more like a sister really. “I’m not going anywhere, Em. You know that. I promised you that a long time ago. You’re stuck with me, kid.”
Emily looked at the only person who ever really mattered to her, then quickly looked away as tears stung her eyes. She said quietly, “I know, I remember. I was playing with my dolls…” Melanie took a step forward and the two women embraced, both crying.
After a few moments, Emily whispered into Melanie’s ear. “But, you should still have some fun with your money, Mel.”
“Yeah sure, but we’ll think about that later.”
There was a pause. Emily took a step back, the smirk returning to her lovely face. “I was thinking, you know, that you could hire some like Chippendale dancers, that would be fun.” The smirk grew into a grin. “With all that green you’ve got, you could be stuffin’ cash down their shorts with both hands…” Emily laughed out loud.
Melanie looked at her niece and was about to say something, but in the end, only a single word, as she shook her head gently.
“That’s me, Kid.”
A Gathering of Clowns By LongDarkRoad