Death at the parking lot carnival

The morning dawned dully over the parking lot. A traveling circus, the embodiment of childlike innocence, was being packed up for the drive to the next town, its assortment of human oddities and animals. They found her in the drainage ditch, pruning in the inch-deep water, discarded popcorn bags obscuring her from view.
The midget was the one who noticed. Guess there’s something to all that “new perspective” shrinko-speak every once and a while.
The coroner said time of death was going to be hard to pin down, since the water affected the way her body temperature dropped once the life had been strangled out of her. It was the ringmaster I smelled looming just off my right shoulder. I could tell by the cologne; only the boss has the guts to wear cologne that awful, and circus folk always worked for their ringmaster.
“We’re scheduled for the foothills starting Tuesday,” the man said, twisting the most stereotypical pencil-thin beard I’d ever seen. “She’d probably been in that drain for days. There’s no reason to hold us up. You aren’t making Wal-Mart close while you pursue your investigation, are you?”

10/4/2006 2:58 AM

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