You know how mysteries work—the main character, after a series of unlikely circumstances and odd coincidences, stumbles across a dead body. This same character has already seen or heard something important but doesn't realize it, comes to a couple of wrong conclusions in the middle chapters, and finally solves the mystery on the second to the last page, thanks to the fact that he or she happens to be precisely the right person in the right place at the right time.

There are some who would debate the notion of my being the right person at any particular time or place. But there is no doubt that I found the body, that I saw and heard something that I didn't, at first, realize, and that I drew mostly erroneous conclusions and yet more or less solved the mystery.

I am not particularly fond of carnivals. They're loud, crowded, and dirty, and the food is even worse than what Aphrodite cooks at the cafe. Rides hold no attraction for me; being flung upside down at great heights and even greater speeds is not my idea of a good time.

Unfortunately, this carnival was set up in the vacant lot just west of our trailer. With the dust and noise sifting in continually from the time the rides were fired up until the last shrieking teenager was sent home, it was just as cool, quiet, and comfortable outside in the heat and dirt as inside covering my ears.

So, I wasted some off-time seeing the shabby sights of Hamilton Bogner's International Extravaganza.

There is every possibility that I would have been somewhere on the grounds, nibbling sticky cotton candy, safely off center stage at zero hour. If I had been, I could have clucked like everyone else, feeling sorry for the dumbshit who spotted the body.

Actually, I do feel pretty sorry for the dumbshit who spotted the body, since I was the sweating fool in the third turn of a low-rent fun house maze, bored with seeing a zillion shorter, fatter reflections of myself multiplied around and disappearing into infinity, who looked up into the closely spaced stainless steel girders of the ceiling of the semitrailer.

Once I did that, I had no choice but to see her up there, crumpled into a dark crawl space above the mirrors so that only her face peeked over the edge, tendrils of greasy blond hair partially covering the wide surprised eyes and open mouth. No choice but to see her sad, still, dead face and the cheap turquoise cross necklace, whose chain was looped loosely around her closed fist.

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