Armitage Files 02 – The Fortune Teller

February, 1935

With the bloody corpse of the murdered local still steaming at their feet in the trampled snow, the investigators take control of the situation.

John uses his military bearing to ward off the gawping onlookers until the owner and ringmaster, Benjamin Hancock, comes to investigate, strappy roustabouts trailing in his wake.

Jeremy spots the suspect who tried to murder Margaret staring in horror, not at the corpse, but at John flashing his badge. Jeremy runs off in hot pursuit, tackling the man before he can escape into the carnies-only section.

With flashbacks to the murders back in Worcester flashing through her mind, Margaret feels faint. Roy takes her to one side to recover, and when she does, they head off into the crowd to try and overhear vital intelligence from the carny folk.The roustabouts start ushering the public out of the gates to control the situation, fearful of what will happen when the police discover a local has been killed on site. John persuades Hancock he can be trusted to help resolve the situation without the authorities making it worse and they head to Hancock’s trailer to talk.

Jeremy quickly questions the man, Mitch, who babbles about fearing that John is “a Fed” out to get him, before the roustabouts pull them apart and frogmarch Jeremy to the gate.

Roy also is caught up in the general move to eject the public, but Margaret, still disguised as a fortune-teller and wearing a stolen shawl, overhears two carnies worrying that “the curse” Madame Claudia talked about has followed them up the coast and is getting worse.

Meanwhile, John joins Hancock for a couple of stiff drinks in his trailer where he learns there have been three murders following the circus up the coast. The bribes to the police to leave the circus alone have been getting higher and higher. John tells Hancock about Mitch’s murder attempt, so Hancock goes to question him leaving John to rummage through the desk. He discovers a notebook that details the various carnies of the circus.

Hancock returns and they go to where a roustabout has Mitch pushed up against a truck. Through interrogation, he reveals that he is a bank robber on the run from the Clay Gang and that he’d be willing to hand over his stolen money if they let him go. Hancock and John agree and John leaves to rejoin the others.

Margaret, Roy and Jeremy meet up and avoiding the roustabouts go to visit the fortune teller, Madame Claudia. Willing to tell a fortune, she sets aside her Italian copy of The Tempest and deals a hand of tarot cards. She reveals that some soldiers are looking to be healed, and suggests monsters aren’t always as they seem. Taking a shine to Jeremy, but warning Roy to stay away from her books, she bids them farewell after taking her shawl back off Margaret.

They then go and talk with the trapeze artist Letty O’ Fearna, who reveals that Alfie has a slight crush on her, often bringing her possies, but that she would do nothing to reciprocate due to him only being 13, an age that comes as some surprise to those who have met him. She says that he suffered growing up, being raised in a cellar by a rural community before he escaped and joined Merriweather’s a few years ago, and that he often has nightmares about that time.

The three head back to the front yard and meet John. Jeremy wants to have one more look at the dead body when an awful sound like the universe screeching a violin hits their ears, and they hear the sound of Alfie rushing closer shouting “No, no, no, no!” before appearing like a flickering film reel beside the body, his huge body hunched, his hands clapped to his ears, shouting that he doesn’t want to go back, before flickering away.

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