Excerpt from The Harlequin Doll S.K Munt
The entire room seemed to shift to watch a girl in a sexy red corset, French knickers and blood-coloured leather boots run onto the mat, her Betty Boop eyes wide with anxiety on her powdered face. ‘Mr Harlequin! You can’t start the show yet!’
‘What?!’ Jarrah’s bark made half of the room flinch, Elle included. The fury twisting his features was as authentic as Elle’s father’s retraction-request face. ‘Why ever not?!’
The girl, who looked like an extra from Rocky Horror only sexier, leaned on the Ringmaster’s side and waved her fingers to the house. There were a few chuckles and quite a few more wolf-whistles when she faced the front and revealed the fact that her corset only reached her ribs, and that her voluptuous chest was bare above it. Elle’s hand went to her lips. Nudity in the first minute? Were they going to have an orgy for the finale?
‘It’s your brother!’ she cried, holding up her hands comically. ‘He’s supposed to be on after Amelia’s knife-throwing act, but he’s getting a blow job out the back from some groupie, and told me to tell you that she’s a virgin, has no idea what she’s doing- and that he may need an extra fifteen minute buffer to get her on track!’
The laughter was slow to start, but those who laughed did so heartily while those who realised they’d underestimated the term ‘Risqué’ on the bill stared at the stage; silent and agog.
‘I don’t care if he’s got the Dallas Cowgirls back there- you tell him to get backstage and warming up, or I’ll throttle him!’
‘I’m not doing that!’ The girl stepped back, shaking her head. ‘No way!’
Jarrah looked fit to be tied. ‘What? I’m your employer!’ His acrylic fangs affected his voice with a slight lisp. ‘You’ll do as I say!’
But Shelby put her hands on her hips and lifted her ski-bump nose primly. ‘Archer is my employer as well, Jarrah… and he just offered me the promotion of a lifetime if I stall for him.’
‘And that would be?’
Shelby pressed her folded hands to her cheeks and smiled dreamily out at the crowd. ‘He said that if the virgin can’t learn on her feet, that he’ll let me finish the job!’ She cocked her hip to the laughing audience and shimmied sexily. ‘Don’t you just love overtime?’
Beside her, Anya groaned and buried her face in her hands, but Elle couldn’t help but giggle at the bawdy, fluffy banter. She was about to lean forward to hear what Jarrah’s response was going to be over the resounding laughter, when the ringmaster reached out, took the girl’s neck in his massive hands- and wrenched it until her head snapped sickeningly to the left and beyond. The crack was so loud in the stunned silence that Elle thought she was going to black out, and when the ringmaster released her body, letting it slump lifelessly to the ground beneath his feet, bile rose in the back of her throat.
What? What? WHAT? That was FAKE right? By why is her head like that? Oh god, is she holding her breath? She actually looks dead!
‘Like I was saying…’ The ringmaster motioned to the two leather-clad clowns waiting on the edge of the ring and they rushed forward and began to drag the body away by the feet after their boss had grandly stepped over it. ‘I don’t like it when people ignore the rules, and I don’t like being interrupted.’ He tilted the brim of his hat to the crowd with the chrome carved skull at the end of his walking stick, and winked to his astonished, captive audience. ‘So don’t smoke, don’t touch anything, don’t molest the staff, don’t take photographs and whatever you do… don’t offer my brother sexual favours because you never know where he’s been and if you did, you wouldn’t like it,’ he lowered his stick. ‘Oh and turn your cell phones off people- no one on Facebook actually cares about you.’ He swung his walking stick and grinned. ‘Now… Enjoy the show!’
The lights went out again and this time, chills crawled across Elle’s skin. One blink, one flicker, and the stage was there again and Jarrah Harlequin had vanished into an actual puff of smoke.
Okay no seriously… HOW?