An unearthly hissing made the hairs on my neck rise, as the cats in Davie's trailer echoed their master's distress.
"Demon! You could never just be part of the show! You had to have the spotlight all to yourself!" howled Davie.
Dmitry leapt away into ValJohn's arms.
Sweat traversed the angry veins of Davie's forehead. He sat hard in the scrubby fairground grass, dirtying the towel still clutched around his middle.
The commotion brought the other circus performers out of their trailers. Lou the elephant trainer ran alongside Wanda, half of the knife-throwing duo. Earl, the other half of the knife-throwing couple, brought up the rear with Bill, the contortionist. Bill hobbled slowly, hand on the small of his back, still in agony from tripping over Davie's cats.
P. Jaybody clapped a hand on my shoulder, "Brilliant sleuthing! And might I add, excellent timing!"
I began to protest.
Jaybody held a finger up, "Wanda told me there was a circus hopeful, planning to audition, and that she last saw you by Davie's trailer. An excellent device, my friend, for luring me over here to witness the fruits of your detective work! I won't ask how you got the criminal to reveal himself at this opportune moment but I'm impressed!"
"Tsk!" Jaybody interrupted. "Davie! I'm shocked."
Angry tears welled in Davie's eyes. One by one, his loyal cats began to slink out of the trailer through the cat flap. They wore matching little, red bow ties. They pooled around their fallen master.
Wanda said, "Wait. You in the pith helmet and vest? You're a detective?"
"Indeed." Jaybody answered for me, "I hired this sleuth to recover my money, so we could send Zelda the elephant to the wildlife preserve."
Jaybody leaned on his crystal knobbed curtain rod cane. "Davie, why?"
"He thinks he's the whole show," the contortionist said.
Davie snarled, "I am the whole show! And is there any future for a talent like mine in this sad, little, one-tent circus? No! It'd be a gift to the name of showbiz if I'd have left with the money and really hit the big time!"
Dmitry, the rogue cat, leapt from the clown's arms into mine, and deftly fished the small bowtie out of my pocket.
When Davie saw the bowtie he moaned, "I can't believe that cat left it at the scene of the crime!"
"And it was the scent of your cat's perfumed fur that lingered in the air of Jaybody's trailer," I cried, triumphantly piecing the case together, "You had one of your trained cats climb in Jaybody's window - which was locked and only a few inches open. Once in the trailer, the cat stole Jaybody's envelope of money!"
"Tell me something I don't already know!" snapped Davie.
A pause lingered in the night air.
Jaybody looked at his watch, "One hour till the evening show. And we'll have one slot empty."
"Have the auditioning detective fill in," Wanda suggested.
"The audition thing was just a cover," I explained.
"We'll find something for you to do," ValJohn assured.
"Really? I-" I thought of my basement apartment and the job I lost at the meat warehouse.
P. Jaybody patted my pith-helmeted pate, "First time I saw you I saw you had talent."
"I'm flattered," I said.
P. Jaybody shook my hand.
"Welcome to the circus, kid."