When everyone else had cleared out, the clown pulled a knife.
“We ok, pig?” the clown asked.
“We can be,” Molton said.
Molton raised his hands palm up away from his body. He looked around, past the overturned fruit crate littered with syringes, through the narrow scrub pines and bristly undergrowth, to the squat little car that jutted nose first into the clearing. It looked no bigger than Molton’s thumb.
“You’re holding the knife. I’m here because you wanted me.”
Molton couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman beneath the caked makeup. The figure was slight and the painted grin lopsided. Maybe the narrow feet gave a clue, but it didn’t matter much if the clown could get him to Terri Meadows.
“I’m doing this because it’s the right thing to do. Nothing else,” the clown said.
“No questions, I got that. Now what?”
“We get you to the girl and no one sees you. At the widow’s house.”
“I drive you.”
“It’s a clown car.”
“You’re a real clown?”
“It’s a real clown car.”
“And I’ll fit?”
“You ever see how many clowns come out of a clown car?”
“I figured there were trap doors and stuff.”
“You’ll fit. Let’s get going.”
“You can put the knife away.”
“Something is jammed and I can’t get it started. Can you fix it?”
Molton figured the clown must be a girl. A real clown would know how to fix a stalled clown car. They must be technical that way.
He lifted the front hood. The boot opened into the cockpit through a black-lined chute.
“Engine is in the back,” the clown said.
“I know,” Molton said. “I just wanted to see how stupid an idea this was.”
“Get used to it quick. It’s your only way to the girl,” the clown snapped.
Molton closed the top. He’d been in tighter spaces, where worst things could happen, in stranger places. Never with a clown, he’d have to admit. But never with a better choice either.