My name is Mike Kandinsky and I manage a carnival. We tour the Midwest, mostly, and Canada. It’s a substantial show, and while other carnies are trimming down, and cutting their venues, we just keep on growing. It all comes down to scheduling and demographics. And a nephew in economics at MIT doesn’t hurt.
My sidekick is Maude Lemon, who used to be the bearded lady. We have a kid together–she’s living with Maude’s Aunt Polly in St. Paul. Maudie shaved and changed careers and she now runs several concessions, and things couldn’t be better between us. There’s always room for improvement, though.
Now Maudie has done well and she’s learning to be a team player. But, ever since that Fun House incident she’s been a little shy to come up to the plate at times. Except that time in September when my ex showed up out of the blue. Sheila, left me in Banff one cold and expensive winter. She had her skis when she left and her usual bag of whatnot and so I thought she was going skiing. Never saw her again. She took the car and froze my assets.
But that’s neither here nor there. Satan (my pet name for the ex) comes in my trailer all sweet and looking finer than I remember. She allegedly found something of mine and wanted to bring it to me in person since it meant so much to me. Nope. That didn’t ring a bell. I set Maudie loose on investigating Sheila and what she might be up to. Maudie knows people. I mean “people” who can “do” things. You don’t need to know the particulars.
Now, satan shows me a leather box with a big-ass arrowhead, exquisitely carved and wrapped in satin. Still didn’t ring a bell but I didn’t let on. I picked it up and Satan ran out the door, dove through the passenger window of “my” car and was gone, just like that. I panicked. I called Olivia Meany down at the University–an old friend of the carnival owner. I shot off a photo to her. Turned out it was a priceless artifact that disappeared from a collection in a museum in Italy back in the 1950’s.
Yeah, I was holding an Italian felony in my hands and possible extradition. There would be a murder if I could get my hands on Satan. Then Maudie charges into my trailer and tells me not to take anything from the ex. Day late and a dollar short, darlin’. Maudie asked me to hand over the arrowhead to her “connected friends”, assuring me that by the next night, the artifact would be back at the museum in Italy–no questions asked.
“Are you sure, Maudie? This artifact is a prison sentence. If I go to prison you might as well grow your beard back.”
I’m telling you Maude Lemon saved my bacon. Oh, and Satan? Sheila’s running a little trading post in the Aleutians about as close as you can get to Siberia by water. It’s the little things that make you smile.
Flash Fiction Challenge #33
Word Count: 513
Many thanks to the fantabulous, Ms Thain, for hosting FFC at Thain in Vain