All through dinner, Jenny chattered excitedly about Mystic Magill’s Big Top Carnival. The embedded phrase, “best place on Earth” routinely peppered her end of the conversation. Opening night festivities were set to being in just a couple of hours and she could barely contain her enthusiasm. Her cousins seemed doubtful and repeatedly tried to convince her that they had much better thing to do in the city than go to a silly old circus.
Sam’s thoughts were preoccupied, drifting to the other side of town and awaiting good news. When the text message came through, it was what he had expected but he couldn’t help feeling just a little disappointed.
Searched circus -no sign of Sands.
Bugs set in perps tent. So far so good!
Bugs set in perps tent. So far so good!
Mike’s cryptic, choppy message pulled a tired smile across Sam’s face. He imagined Mike tapping it in with one finger in the “hunt and peck” method the older generation often used when attempting “new fangled” technology. In spite of his disappointment, Sam tried to make the evening pleasant for Jenny’s sake even when she won out and they were all heading to Mystic Magill’s Big Top Carnival. While Jenny and her cousins were in line buying the tickets, Sam made a quick phone call to Mike.
“Look, I know you’re super busy but... Jenny got her way and we’re all over here at the carnival. She’s going to convince your girls to go to Maven’s show. What do you want me to do?”
Mike muttered a curse under his breath and then there was silence. Eventually, he told Sam to keep quiet but not to let those girls out of his sight. He just hoped none of them were given tickets to the “private” show. On second thought, Sam’s brain cried out, if we can score enough tickets, we can send in undercover officers. After a quick text back to Mike, he agreed. It seemed like a long shot but if they could fake being under Maven’s spell then it could work.
We have Maven’s ego on our side. He believes in his ability so much that he’d never imagine anyone could fake him out.
Sam had watched the audience closely and he believed he could give pointers on how to appear under the spell. He also had a good idea of the “profile” Maven looked for in his private show audience. As fast as his fingers could move, Sam texted a description of the “look” that would draw Maven’s eye. Thirty minutes later, a small group of undercover officers dressed exactly to Sam’s specifications arrived at the main gate. While Jenny and her cousins played games and took an elephant ride, Sam was giving a crash course to the officers. They picked up the gist easily and from that point on, they were to have no more contact with Sam.
“They might remember me so I don’t want to risk tainting your cover by being seen with me. Between now and the private show, I don’t exist to you, got it? Just remember, if you’re call on stage, no matter what… you can’t hesitate to do what he tells you, no matter how embarrassing, you gotta do it.”
Sam wished them luck as they scattered off, attempting to blend in with the crowd.
As expected, Jenny dragged them all to Maven’s tent to see the show. Her excitement proved contagious and even the cousins waited in line with anxious enthusiasm, hoping at least one of them would make it on stage. As they moved up the line and closer to the entrance, one of Maven’s assistants eyed Sam warily.
“Do I know you?”
“Hey! How’s it goin’?” Sam replied, cheerfully extending his hand. “I didn’t know if you’d remember us. I’m the knuckle-head private detective who accidentally set off all your equipment. I’m still embarrassed about that! My girlfriend had such a great time she insisted that we round up her Philly cousins and head on out to see the show again. I’m all clear this time….I promise.” Sam raised his arms in the air and stepped right up to the security wand. "This time I’m off duty and I’ll be able to enjoy the show.”
The security guards spent extra time waving their detection wands over every inch of Sam’s body. When they finally determined Sam was clean, they allowed him to pass through. Giggling, Jenny smiled and winked at the men scanning her. As they took their seats, Sam casually looked around the tent for the undercover officers. They had followed his advice and sat exactly where he’d suggested. He earnestly hoped his plan would work; Sands’ life just might hang in the balance.