The crowd grew restless as Maven slogged through the beginning of his act. Sam wondered if boredom helped put the more susceptible in a ‘better frame of mind’ for the next segment. He chuckled softly at his own pun; all the while wishing Maven would just get on with it. Eventually, Maven switched gears and proceeded with his relaxation method for putting the crowd under his spell. Sam played along, biding his time and ever so carefully glancing over at Jenny and her cousins. If any of them appeared to be slipping into a trance, Sam would find a way to break their concentration: a perfectly timed bump with his foot, a muffled cough, an offer of gum, a jab to the ribs, whatever it took to protect the woman he loved and her charming family. He had been so busy watching out for the ladies, he’d forgotten to keep tabs on the undercover officers. He was both thrilled and nervous when a few of them were selected to go up front and join Maven on stage. It was hard to tell whether they were truly under Maven’s spell or they were faking. Sam decided that if they were faking it, they’d missed their true calling as prime candidates for an Academy Award.
Soon the audience was being entertained with outlandish antics inspired by Maven’s depraved mind and boredom was a thing of the past. Despite her disappointment in not being selected again, Jenny laughed and cheered along with the rest of the audience as the participants obeyed their puppet master’s bidding. When the show was over, Jenny apologized to her cousins, insisting it had been a better show “the last time”. The spell seemed to be broken and Jenny no longer regarded Maven’s show as anything spectacular. Sam took that as a good sign. As they all waited in line for an ice cream cone, Sam received another text.
Good news! 4 undercover officers got golden tickets. They r not under Maven’s spell so if he’s got Sands, we’ve got him.
Finally, some good news, thought Sam. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll catch him this time.
While he was busy reading texts, the girls decided they’d had enough of the circus for one night and they were working on plans for the rest of their evening.
By a stroke of luck, Sam was able to worm his way out of the girls’ plans and Mike invited him for a “ride along”.
“This was your case and you came up with the ideas. The least I can do is bring you along when we nail this prick,” was Mike’s reply when Sam tried to thank him. “I wish I could let you taken him down personally but…rules are rules. You’ll have to sit in the car but at least you’ll be there.”
With hours to kill, Mike and Sam headed back to the main gate of Mystic Magill’s Big Top Carnival. The entire department was on edge waiting for the private ticket show to begin.
For hours, Officer A.J. Sands had been trying to break through the binds on his wrists and ankles but his captors had emptied his pockets of anything sharp and the trunk was void of anything useful. He was hungry, thirsty and had no place to void his bowels and bladder. For the first time, his smell actually matched his disguise and Sands felt his nose wrinkle in disgust. When he finally heard noises and human voices just outside the trunk where he’d been entombed, he was feeling lightheaded and queasy. When the lid finally popped open, A.J. was temporarily blinded by the harsh light.
“Whew! The stench on this guy is brutal,” one of A.J.’s captors complained. “Aw man, he took a dump in here. Who’s gonna clean my friggin’ car?”
“Quit your bellyaching,” his buddy chimed in, angrily. “Unless you’d like to take it up with the boss man.”
The complainer clammed up at the mere mention of his boss. He heaved the smelly man from his trunk and shook his head in disgust.
“Don’t worry, man,” one of the captors muttered, patting A.J. on his shoulder. “It’ll all be over soon.”