Huey Dusk is a clown, but he’s no joke. In this caper he searches for the murderer of a beloved televangelist and ends up uncovering a conspiracy involving money, greed, government intrigue and a deadly dwarf clown assassin.
Gold streamers decorated the stage. Three spotlights hit the far wall and hopped over each other, dancing back and forth.
Brother Ludnick, a portly man, had a shoe polish pompadour. He wore a silver sequined tuxedo and shiny black leather shoes. He slid across the floor, did a half split and grabbed his back. Then he got up and swiveled his hips as he sung a rockabilly version of the Lord’s Prayer.
Dusk wore a dark gray suit and a blue polka-dotted tie. Black wraparound sunglasses covered his eyes. His green hair was slicked back and combed over his bald spot. A curled plastic cord dangled from the giant earpiece crammed into his ear and disappeared under his collar.
He scanned the crowd and turned to the stage. An old clown in a black tuxedo with a giant black bow tie emerged from a puff of white smoke.
The old clown did a tap routine while holding the hand of a stumpy-legged dwarf clown dressed like a bell captain. The small clown squeaked, singing with the choir off to the side.
“Let’s have a round of applause for the heavenly feet of Pimp Lagreegio and his sidekick, Sudsy Lonegan!” Brother Ludnick shouted.
Pimp let go of Sudsy and shuffled around the stage. Sudsy continued to squeak and clap his hands. Dusk turned away and focused on the crowd, which was standing and cheering. Brother Ludnick handed Sudsy a bucket. Sudsy took the pail and vaulted off the stage into the audience. He extended the bucket and people dropped bills inside.
“Everyone here at Brother Ludnick’s revival cares deeply and our prayers are with you,” Brother Ludnick said.
Sudsy spun around on his feet and continued to work the crowd and collect more money.
“So show your love and drop a dollar in the bucket. You won’t miss it and it will go to help gimpy kids around the world!”
Pimp Lagreegio tapped out a rhythm while Brother Ludnick rapped a song about poor and needy children.
Dusk watched as Sudsy did acrobatics and collected more money. Then he recognized the short clown. Sudsy had done time upstate for armed robbery and was a golden gloves champion in the prison dwarf boxing circuit. This was one bad dude and Huey wondered why Ludnick would have any dealings with this low-life.
He continued to survey the crowd and then saw a woman at the corner of the stage watching Pimp perform. The old clown’s not doing too bad for himself in the love department.
The chorus clapped their hands to the rhythm of the music and they sang even louder. Brother Ludnick turned his back to the stage and shook his butt. The crowd cheered. He turned around and swung the microphone over his head. Dusk flinched when he felt the air stirred by the metal mic whiz by his head.
When the preacher was done, he grabbed the mic with his other hand and held it up to his mouth. “Okay, folks, this is the moment you’ve all been waiting for!”
More white smoke poured out onto the stage and Brother Ludnick started to choke. Pimp put his hand over his mouth and ran off. The crowd started to gag and panic as white smoke came through the vents and filled the room. Dusk covered his mouth as well and his Langley operative training took over.
He shoved people out of the way and headed for the front. By this time, the smoke was so thick and pungent, Dusk could not see the stage. The crowd grew even more restless. The clown jumped when he heard two loud bangs.
Brother Ludnick staggered through the fog and teetered at the edge of the stage. Blood dripped from his mouth. He took another step and then he fell toward the ground. He hit the floor and lay there motionless.
Dusk shoved more people aside and ran up to him. “Get back! Get back!” he shouted, brandishing his gun. The crowd gave him space. He knelt down and put his hand on the preacher’s heart. Dead…but why? Dusk looked around and saw Sudsy with one hand in his jacket pocket and the other gripping the handle of the pail. The dwarf dashed for the exit.
Huey got up and went after the little clown. Then he felt a thump on the back of his neck and everything went dark.