DISCLAIMER: Rizzoli & Isles and its characters are the property of Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro and TNT television network.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To wellred666[at]yahoo.co.uk

Who's Laughing Now?
By British Isles


Chief Medical Examiner, Dr Maura Isles entered the classroom discretely and stood by the door. She gave her friend, Homicide Detective Jane Rizzoli, a reserved wave.

"Okay everyone," the medical instructor was saying. "This morning you did Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care. We looked at adult and child choking hazards. You should all have completed your written test on each of these subjects. This afternoon you've watched the video on various emergency situations and learned how to utilise CPR and AED skills. Now it's time to put it all together in the practical test; on each other. In order to qualify for your medical certification which is valid for another two years you will need to pass this final test." He looked around the room at his fifteen or so students. Many of them were from the fire and police services. "Let's take five."

Jane sidled up to Maura and took a swig on a water bottle. "Hey, Maura," she whispered. "You're early."

"Yes, it's a slow death day."

"At least you don't have to brush up on your first aid skills. I hate having to retrain."

"It will keep you up to date which is a good thing," Maura said to Jane without looking at her. She was grinning at the tall blond fire-fighter in a tight t-shirt that said 'Boston Fire Department.' "Six foot four and well proportioned with firm gluteus maximus," Maura noted. "Firm buttocks to you," she added.

"I think gluteus maximus was one of my ancestors."

Maura frowned. "Oh, was that one of your jokes?"

"Hello, Italian-American," Jane said as she looked at the blond spectacle of manhood. "Do you think the examiner would mind if I paired up with him for the resuscitation test? I wonder if he'd mind if I just licked him."

Maura grinned. "I don't think that would qualify as a pass. Well, not to get medical certification."

Jane tilted her head. "Wow, Maura that was a good comeback."

"I must admit that my humor has improved thanks to our friendship." She glanced at her watch. "Do you think we'll have time to get back to your apartment to change before the theatre starts?"

"Who knows? If this instructor ever encounters a real crisis his patient would have time for reincarnation before he begins CPR." Jane quipped. She noticed the class getting back to work. "There's a place to get coffee down the hallway. You could wait for me there."

"Fine, I wouldn't want to distract anyone."

"Okay, people, let's get this show on the road." The instructor clapped his hands. "I need two volunteers to demonstrate the CPR technique. After that each of you will take it in turns to practice what you've learned over the course. You will be marked." He glanced around the room. "You two," he pointed at Rizzoli and Isles.

They looked askance.

"Us," Jane said in an alarmed tone. "She's not in the class. This is Dr Isles, she's waiting for me."

"Yes, I'm waiting for the detective to finish so that we can go to the theatre," Maura explained calmly.

"Perfect." The instructor said. He addressed the class. "It is always a good idea to practice on the most unlikely of subjects. That way you'll be prepared." He looked at Maura. "Take off your shoes, lose the purse and lie on the floor."

"You won't get an offer like that again in a hurry," Jane whispered.

Maura straightened her skirt, took off her shoes, carefully and lay on the floor.

"Couldn't I resuscitate him?" Jane asked and pointed at the friendly fire-fighter. "I mean he could get hurt in a fire."

"No," the medical instructor said adamantly. "He is going to practice on Amy."

Amy fluttered her eyelashes at the fire-fighter. She was the medical instructor's sister.

"You told us that Amy had every first aid badge and certificate in existence," Jane complained. "She could bandage you from head to toe before you could say The Mummy Returns. Isn't she a fully qualified paramedic?"

"Detective Rizzoli," the medical instructor said getting back to the matter in hand. He pointed to Maura. "You have a badly injured stranger; she's been shot."

"Where have I been shot?" Maura asked as she lay prostrate.

The instructor thought for a minute. "I don't know; outside the Sports Museum."

Jane sighed. "She meant where on her body has she been shot?"

"Ah," he said and thought a little more, "in the chest."

Maura nodded and lifted herself up on to her elbows. "In that case CPR would be futile the..."

"Hey," he said to Maura. "Lie down and shut up. You are unconscious and your heart has stopped."

He turned to Jane."What do you do first?"

Jane was rooted to the spot and staring down at Maura.

"Don't be shy," he said. "Valuable seconds are being wasted. What do you do first?" he repeated.

"Call 911," she whispered.


She knelt by Maura's side."Check vital signs." She lifted Maura's wrist and leaned over her, listening for the sound of breathing.

He nodded. "Good. Check for vital signs," he said to the class.

"Loosen clothing," she said as she sat back up.

"Go on then," the instructor cajoled. "Loosen the blouse."

Jane gingerly undid the top two buttons of Maura's blouse.

The instructor was talking to the class. "Call 911 first. Check for restrictions of the airway. Check mouth for choking. This is important if the victim is unconscious. They could be choking on their own blood or tongue. Listen for breathing and check for a pulse. If there is no pulse start CPR. Keep it up until the paramedics arrive."

"Can't I just pretend to kiss her?" Jane asked.

"Jesus H Christ, Detective," he said, exasperated. "This is a medical class not an orgy." He addressed the class. "You should be able to perform CPR on anyone of any sex."

"I thought there were just two," Jane whispered under her breath.

"No," Maura whispered. "There are at least three sexes. Haven't you heard of the third sex?"

Jane shoved her gently. "Shut up, you're supposed to be unconscious."

"Actually I'm dead," Maura corrected.

"Detective," the instructor said turning back to Jane. "Your patient is losing the battle for life with every second you delay treatment."

She nodded and shook herself inwardly as she leaned over Maura's body, preparing for the kiss of life. She kissed Maura on the mouth, pretending to blow into her lungs. She tenderly placed her hands between Maura's breasts and gently began CPR. She kissed her on the lips again and repeated CPR. It continued that way for a couple of minutes until Detective Barry Frost came into the class.

"Sorry," he said to the instructor as he unravelled a bandage around his head. "Detective Rizzoli, we have a possible homicide."

She blushed and got to her feet. "Sorry, Mr Saltzman," she said to the instructor, "murder calls." She gave Frost an icy glare. "Don't say a word. Not a word."

Maura's cell-phone went off in her purse. Jane helped her to her feet. Maura pulled down her skirt and answered her call while putting on her shoes. She nodded a couple of times. "I'll be there in fifteen minutes."

"Same homicide?" Frost asked.


He nodded.

"You will be required to finish this class Detective Rizzoli," the examiner said to Jane's back. "Call to reschedule."

"Sure," Jane waved her hand dismissing his concerns. Frost held the door open for the women and all three left the room.

"Coco the Clown has been murdered."

"Frost," Jane chastised. "That's a little disrespectful."

"No, really, it was the guy's name."

Maura nodded. "He's right. Clown's have particular names which can be protected under commercial copyright or intellectual copyright. They also have specific makeup that no other clown is allowed to wear in quite the same way. They use the clown-egg registry. Every painted egg is an egg-xact match to each clown's face."

"Was that a joke Dr Isles," Frost grinned.

"Well sort of," she gave an insecure smile. "However, I am serious about commercial theft. Clowns can be very aggressive when it comes to protecting their livelihoods. Their costumes and face makeup can be the difference between working for the large successful circuses or obscure travelling shows."

"Dear God," Jane said as she collected her clothes from a locker. "How the hell would you know that?"

"My mother's brother owned a Russian circus. Whenever we were in St Petersburg we used to visit them. I was quite fascinated by the bearded lady."

Jane huffed and put on her jacket. "Yeah, well by the time you hit sixty you'll be one."

"Are you doing a medical class, too?" Maura asked Frost. "I noticed you head was bandaged as you came in."

"Yeah," he said. "I had a keen medical student. Luckily I got the call before she could finish the job and give me a full turban."

"You two could do a double act, the over-informed mystic and the snake charmer," Jane gave a sarcastic grin. "Let's just get to the circus."

They entered the Big Top. Above them was the high wire. To the right was the clown arena. It comprised of a mock fire-fighter's tower made out of scaffolding and painted boards. The clown car was to the right of the tower. Homicide Sergeant Vince Korsak and a few other police officers were checking over the clown area which was the crime scene.

Jane avoided looking too closely at the dead clown who lay on his back at the base of the tower.

"Are you okay, Jane?" Korsak enquired as she and Maura approached. "You look almost as white as the clown's face."

"I'm okay, really, I just don't like the circus that much."

Maura looked at her friend with a concerned expression. "Jane, are you afraid of clowns?"

"Of course not," she said without conviction.

"Really, it's nothing to be ashamed of," Maura said.

Jane glared at her. "I am not ashamed."

"Is it a childhood thing?" Frost mocked. "Did Dandy the Dorko scare you when you were a little kid?"

"Frost would you like to stand closer to the dead body," Jane said emphasising the last two words. "Really I know they make you queasy but, hey, it's nothing to be ashamed of."

"It's called Coulrophobia," Maura explained.

"What is?" Jane asked.

"A fear of clowns," Maura clarified. "It is usually brought about by childhood trauma."

"Thanks for that," Jane said in an irritated voice. "Do you think we could get back to the case?"

Maura looked at the body of the clown. He wore the big red shoes, a yellow vest with a flower through the button hole; blue pants and a red nose. He was wearing white gloves. He was lying on his back with a bright yellow fire hose jammed in his mouth. He was lying directly beneath the fire tower. At the top of the tower was a window. A cannon ball lay close to the body.

"We think the guy fell or was pushed from the window or maybe he choked on the fireman's hose?" Korsak speculated.

"Choked by a big fire hose," Maura said without looking at Jane. She knelt by the body and began to examine it.

"So do we have any witnesses?" Jane asked.

Korsak shook his head. "Squeaky Chalk over there found the body." He pointed to a sad looking clown in oversized red suspenders sitting on the edge of the ring.

"Does he have a real name?" Jane asked looking at Squeaky Chalk.

"John Middleton."

Jane walked a couple of paces over to the sad clown. "Mr Middleton, I'm Detective Rizzoli." He grinned which made her take a step back. She averted her eyes as she spoke to him. "Can you tell me what happened?"

"Like I told the other detective," he said is a tired voice. "We," he pointed to Coco, "were practicing for the show tomorrow night. It's a fire theme show. He runs me over in the comic car. Smoke billows out of the car and I run up to the top of the fire tower, grab the hose, stick it out of the window and turn the water on him. I soak him instead of the car. It's very funny; kids love it," he added.

"Yeah, hilarious," Jane said in a bored voice. "Do you have any idea who would want Coco dead?"

Before he could answer a voice answered for him.

"Clearly you haven't seen his act," said the new voice.

Jane turned around to see a tall woman in a flowing dark blue gown. It had a repeating pattern of stars and crescent moons. "And you are?"

"Madame Ansur, palm reader and Tarot expert." She smirked at Jane. "I could read your future for you if you like detective."

Jane gave her a blank stare and turned back to Mr Middleton. "Did you see anything suspicious?"

"Nothing, I said I'd meet him here after lunch to iron out a few problems with the sequence of events. He was already lying there when I got to the Big Top."

"And when was that?"

"About two-thirty this afternoon," he said after consulting his oversized fob watch.

"Thank you, Mr Middleton. An officer will be along shortly to take your statement," Jane explained.

"You're contaminating a crime scene, Ma'am," Frost said to Madame Ansur as she approached the dead clown.

Jane walked over and stood in front of her with her back to the murder victim. "What do you know about Coco the Clown?"

Madame Ansur shrugged. "Most of the men hated him. He was a womaniser and was always flirting with the females in the company. It didn't matter if they were married or not. I heard he was kicked out of every circus he ever joined for ruining marriages and leaving a wake of pregnancies."

"So you hated him, too?"

"I did not like him," Madame Ansur said flatly. "I did not kill him, if that is your next question."

"Do you know who did?"


"I don't think he died from choking," Maura was saying. "He has blunt force head trauma. Maybe he fell or was pushed from the window?" She said repeating Korsak's theory.

A middle aged man appeared. He bore an air of importance about him. He wore a white shirt, black pants and shiny leather knee length boots. "I am Carlos Moreno, Ring Master. What the hell happened here?" he looked at the dead clown and at Squeaky Chalk.

"We don't know yet, sir," Jane stated and went through the usual questions; did you know the deceased very well; do you know why anyone would want to kill him; did you do it?

The Ring Master looked highly agitated. "We have a show to put on tomorrow night. What am I doing to do without my clown act?"

"Improvise and try hiring someone funny," Madame Ansur suggested.

"Please, this is not your concern," the Ring Master said to the fortune teller.

"It looks like his chest has been crushed," Maura said, more to herself than anyone else.

"Do you have elephants in the circus?" Korsak enquired.

"No," the Ring Master said.

"We only have elephants in the room, don't we?" Madame Ansur said enigmatically.

"Is this the only performance area?" Korsak asked.

"I am sure you must have seen the two smaller tents as you entered the park," the Ring Master said sarcastically.

"It's a regular three ring circus," Madame Ansur huffed.

Jane spotted a woman watching; she tried to hide behind a curtain. "Ma'am," Jane said as the woman took off. She turned to the fortune teller. "Do you know who that woman was?"

"She's one of the Russians; Svetlana, the human cannon ball. She works the act with her husband Viktor." Madame Ansur said in a bored voice. "Only now it's the human cannon ball and ball bearing."


"She is pregnant."

"Was she having an affair with Coco?" Korsak asked, butting in.

Madame Ansur shrugged.

"Where you having an affair with the deceased?" Jane asked Madame Ansur.

"Please, I never date men who wear more makeup than me."

Jane repeated the mantra that an officer would take her statement.

"Will we be able to perform tomorrow?" The Ring Master fretted. "Business isn't that good in this economic downturn as it is. My staff must be paid. Will this reach the media? Are we to be ruined?"

"We can't control the media," Frost admitted. "And whether you open on time depends on whether forensics have finished with the crime scene or not."

"I think we should bring Svetlana, the human cannon ball, in for questioning," Jane said. "Let's find out if the cannon ball is hers and if she was having an affair with Coco."

Detective Rizzoli entered the autopsy room as Dr Isles was finishing off her tests on the dead clown.

"Anything interesting?" Jane asked Maura.

"Coco received a blunt force trauma to the back of the head," she stated.

"So someone zapped him from behind?"

"It looks that way. He also had massive trauma to his internal organs due to thoracic cavity compression."

"And what does it mean for us ordinary people?"

Maura gave Jane a disapproving glance. "His chest is crushed; all his ribs are broken and his heart and lungs all but flattened. He was either squashed, perhaps against a wall or something heavy was dropped on him from a reasonable height."

"And a reasonable height would be the fire tower window?"

"That would be compatible with the injuries sustained."

"So is it possible that the he was either rendered unconscious at the crime scene or taken to the fire tower and a cannon ball dropped on him from the tower's window?"

Maura nodded. "It would be consistent with the injuries. I did find something interesting on his yellow vest." She led Jane to the microscope on the workbench.

"What am I looking at?"

"A synthetic black hair."

Jane straightened up. "From a wig? Neither Coco nor Squeaky Chalk wore black wigs. What about the other clowns in the circus?"

"That's where your interviewing skills come in," Maura said. "There was also a chemical substance on the hair but not enough to draw a conclusion."

"Make a guess?"

"No," Maura was adamant. "I could be wrong."

"Heaven forbid you might be wrong."


"Okay, thanks Maura," Jane said. "Korsak and Frost have been making background checks so I'll get back to you if they find anything interesting." She paused at the door. "Any prints off the cannon ball?"

"Only those of Svetlana and Viktor Putin," she said. "That doesn't really mean much as one would expect their prints to be there and the murderer could have been wearing gloves."

"Thanks, Maura."

Back in the squad room there were raised voices. As Jane entered she saw a detective from the Narcotic Department bantering with Korsak.

"It's that time again, Korsak," the loud overbearing detective was saying. "You're going to lose again."

"No, we aren't," Korsak was obstinate.

"Sure you are, you're department have lost three times in a row," the offensive detective was saying. "Let's face it your department haven't had a good idea for years. The Narcotic Squad wins every time."

"Yeah, thanks to your psychedelic trips," Korsak mocked. "We will win this year, O'Reilly."

The detective laughed. "No, you won't. But, if you want the humiliation again, the theme this year is 'the most interesting kiss.'" He handed Korsak a piece of paper. "Rules are all there. See you next month when you can hand over all your fundraising to our department," he grinned and puffed out his chest. "We will, once again present the check, with departmental pride, to the Boston Police and Fire Department Retirement Charity." The detective left.

Korsak was irritated. "That guy ticks me off."

Frost nodded in agreement. "It would be good to cut the Narcotic Squad down to size. "

"They're just feeling good because they broke a drug ring last week," Korsak reminded himself.

Maura caught the tail end of the conversation as she came through. "What was that all about?"

"Detective O'Reilly," Jane explained. "Every couple of years we have a fundraising benefit. It is an evening of talent and variety put on for retired police officers and fire fighters; it helps supplement their pensions. The Charity also offers help to the widows of those killed on duty. It's a show open to all departments."

"You have to put on a show?" Maura asked in an interested tone.

"It's our way of expressing our respect to those who gave their lives looking after the City," Korsak said. "Narcotics have won for the past six years. O'Reilly loves rubbing our noses in it when they win the 'best performance.'"

Jane nodded. "Yeah, the best three minute performance gets all the funds from all the departments and the winning team get to present the check to the Mayor."

"The department who wins get a cup, too." Frost said in a deflated voice. "It's not much but it is a morale booster."

Maura looked from one to the other. "So put on a great show."

Frost shrugged. "That's easier said than done."

"We'll think of something," Jane said. "Let's get back to business. Did anything come up from the background checks?"

Frost pressed a button and the computer screen in front of him came to life. "We ran checks of Coco the Clown. His real name was Paul Olson before he legally changed it. He came up on the police computer for DUIs and fraud. It looks like he had a gambling problem and was arrested in Las Vegas at least three times. He did two years in prison for trying to rig the casino system in his favour."

"A few of the circus ground crew have criminal records," Korsak glanced at his notes. "Nothing major and nothing stands out."

"Do any of the other clowns wear a black wig?"

"Nope," Frost stated.

Police officer Frankie Rizzoli Jr, Jane's younger brother poked his head around the squad room door. "Mr and Mrs Putin have arrived."

"Thanks," Korsak said as he and Jane headed to the interview room.

Seated at a table in one of the interview rooms were Svetlana and Viktor Putin. She was a petite woman showing the early signs of pregnancy. He was a large man with a walrus moustache and a head of thick dark wavy hair.

"Thank you for coming in," Korsak said as he and Jane sat opposite the circus couple.

"What can we do for you detectives?" Viktor asked.

"We were wondering how your cannon ball got on to the clown's fire tower?" Jane asked.

Viktor shrugged.

"Normally we only use the cannon ball to test the cannon," Svetlana offered. "After we use it we keep it by the cannon. Anyone could take it."

"Maybe they were practicing a new act?" Viktor suggested.

"You mean like a clown trying to catch a cannon ball dropped from the tower window?" Jane mocked. "It's a once in a lifetime show."

"I see what you mean detective," Viktor said. "But you could ask the new clown they are breaking in. He might know who took the cannon ball."

"I'm almost afraid to ask," Jane said. "What's his name?"

"Rainy Mac."

"Of course it is," Jane sighed, "and his everyday name?"

"I don't know," Viktor admitted. "He works with the ground crew but has always wanted to be a clown. He told me once when we talked about ambitions." He leaned forward. "He is not a very good clown. He is not very..." he thought for a moment as he twisted the ends of his moustache. "He is not very ha-ha," he said and held his ribs for effect.

"Funny," Korsak offered.

Viktor pointed his long index finger at Korsak. "Not funny."

"So who was teaching him to be a clown?" Jane asked.

"It was Coco but he was not pleased about it," Svetlana cut in. "I often heard him arguing with Geraldo the Ring Master.

Jane nodded. "So it was the Ring Master who suggested Rainy Mac was to be taught clown craft?"

"I cannot be sure but I heard them arguing," Svetlana said.

Korsak took over. "Did you know that Coco was a womaniser?"

Viktor tensed. "We all did."

"Did he hit on your wife?" Korsak asked.

"I warned him off. I did not kill him."

Jane turned to Svetlana. "Are you pregnant?"

Svetlana glanced nervously at her angry husband.

"We go," Viktor stood to leave.

"Did you kill Coco because he got your wife pregnant, Viktor?" Korsak asked.

Viktor grabbed his wife's hand. "I did not kill Coco but sometimes I wish I had."

"Please, Viktor!" Svetlana urged. "If we don't tell them all we know we cannot get on with our lives."

Viktor looked tired. "Coco had affair with my wife," he admitted. "It is his baby but I will treat it as my own. I cannot give wife child." He looked at his wife. "I did not kill Coco. We had a fight and I gave him a black eye and punch on mouth when I found out. I told him to keep away from my wife. I trapped nerve in my back in the fight so cannot do usual act. My wife cannot be fired from cannon because she is pregnant and so we are ruined. We will go back to Russia. "

"You can't go back until we have finished our investigation," Korsak stated coldly.

Svetlana looked alarmed. "How long will that be?"

"Could be months," Jane suggested. "You can go for now but you can't leave town."

Viktor shook his head as they headed to the door. "See what affair has done?"

Svetlana began to sob. "I didn't mean to hurt you Viktor, but I want baby." She was silent for a moment and before the door closed she said in a raised voice; "You had an affair with elastic lady in Baltimore!"

"Contortionist," Viktor said, irritated.

"Contortionist, yes," Svetlana said angrily. "I know you still like her," she sobbed.

"I do not."

"I see you looking at her act of Facetube."

"Youtube, Svetlana. How will you get along in America if you don't know what anything is called?"

"I don't want to know. I hate it. The clowns are being killed; it's unholy. "

"Mr Putin," Jane called after them. "Can I take a strand of your hair?"


"To test it against a sample of hair we have. It could exclude you from further investigation," she said baiting him.

"Take some, I have plenty."

Jane took an evidence bag and tugged out a strand of Viktor's hair. "Does Rainy Mac have a red or orange wig?"

"No, his wig is black."

With that the door slammed shut.

"I thought you said the hair Dr Isles found was synthetic?" Korsak asked.

"Yeah, but I thought asking for real hair might upset Viktor. If it was him he might think a strand of his hair was somehow left behind."

"Right," said Korsak.

"I think we need to find Rainy Mac and see what he knows," Jane said in a tired voice. They headed into the office. "Frost, would you do background checks on the Ring Master, Geraldo?"

"I'm on it."

"Why not?" Moira was asking Jane.

"No." Jane sat at her desk and pretended to shuffle case notes.

"It'll be fun and it's for a good cause," Maura said in a friendly tone.

"No, it's just not me."

"Come on Jane, we could win all that money for the fundraiser," Korsak joined in. "Maura thinks it's a good idea. She's not fazed by it."

"I went to an all girl boarding school," Maura said matter-of-factly. "It happened there all the time."

"We would do it," Frost said adding his voice, "but no one wants to see an overweight bearded guy and a handsome young man doing it. They want to see you and Maura. Think of the money we will make for the charity."


Maura heaved a sigh. "What's the problem? Are you afraid of what others might think?"

Jane raised her eyebrows and stared at Maura. "And you aren't? You're willing?"

Maura tilted her head and thought. "I don't see why not."

Jane seemed surprised. "Have you done it before?"

Maura gave a sheepish grin. "I loved drama when I was at school. My favourite Shakespeare play is The Tempest." She explained. "I was Ferdinand and Felicity Fitzpatrick was Miranda. It was quite beautiful and definitely not sordid."

"God, I wish I could have been there," Korsak said wistfully and then realised what he'd said. "Purely for the culture and did I mention I love Shakespeare?"

Frost smiled.

"Well, I am not a thespian," Jane said. "The answer is still no."

"In Shakespeare's day it was all men who were actors," Maura explained.

"Gee, was it?" Jane mocked.

"It is quite acceptable nowadays," Maura ignored the sarcasm. "According to recent studies at least ten per cent of people..." Maura looked at the unconvinced Jane. "Let me put it to you another way. Ten per cent of people are left-handed. Less than one hundred years ago it was considered evil to be left-handed. It was considered sinister and children were punished if caught writing with their left-hand. Today people know that such an attitude is silly and ridiculous and wrong."

"There!" Korsak said. "You're left-handed. Ten per cent of anything makes it a natural part of the human experience."

"So is indigestion but I don't like it. No and that's final," Jane said and stood up. "Can we go now? We have a job to do."

"I'll work on her," Maura whispered to the men.

"I'd like to see that," Frost commented.

Jane stared at him. "I bet you would and that's the problem."

"Hey," Korsak interrupted. "It could be very tasteful."

"Good choice of words, Korsak," Frost beamed.

"We'll just have to think of something else," Jane suggested.

At that moment Jane's brother, police officer Frank Rizzoli Jnr came into the office followed by Viktor Putin.

"Mr Putin," Jane said, surprised.

Viktor smiled and his walrus moustache almost met his eyebrows. "I knew I would find you here. I know the round officer," he looked at Korsak who seemed insulted. "He said we could not leave America until this case was solved. I wish to give you help." He handed her a plastic bag.

She glanced inside.

"The discs are all the footage I have from the surveillance cameras I set up around the circus. I have been recording events for the past two months," he said.

The detectives all looked at him. Jane handed the bag to Frost.

"I did not tell you of it earlier because Svetlana was with me and she knows nothing of the tapes. I suspected her of having an affair and set up cameras around the circus. I used to work for Kremlin security firm back in Russia," he clarified. "I was right she was having affair with Coco so my suspicions were correct. Now I know I don't need to spy."

"Well thank you, Mr Putin," Jane said in a friendly voice.

"Do you know what is on all of the footage?" Korsak asked Viktor.

He shook his head. "I only watched up to where my wife and the clown kiss. I didn't laugh at that! I can tell you, no!" He seemed genuinely upset. "Coco told her they were going to run away from the circus."

"Run away from the circus?" Korsak repeated. "That's different."

"I persuade her not to go with him. I knew he was seeing other women when he was seeing my wife. He needed money to pay for gambling. He had a loan shark after him. He was bad man. He was stealing from women; using them. He was trying to give the drugs to people to make money."

The detectives suddenly turned in. "Are you saying Coco the clown was a drug dealer?"

Viktor seemed confused. "He gave drugs out, yes."

"Do you know who gave him the drugs to give out?" Jane asked.


"Okay, thank you Mr Putin," Jane said and escorted him out of the office. "If we need you again we'll let you know."

He nodded. "The circus leaves at the weekend we would like to go with them and then back to Russia."

"We'll see," Jane said.

"Nobody is going anywhere until this is sorted." Korsak said. "I'll take a visit over to O'Reilly in narcotics and see if he can shed any light on this business."

"I am so sick of the circus," Jane commented. "I'll see if we can find any loan sharks who are circling the Big Top. See how much Coco was in debt."

"Well," Frost said. "We know the Ring Master wasn't the murder as he was in downtown Boston drumming up business when Coco was murdered. We have him on CCTV."

"So who is Rainy Mac?" Jane asked.

Korsak walked into the viewing room with three coffees. "Thought you might need a little pick-me-up; it's been a long night."

"Thanks?" Jane said rubbing her tired eyes. "He must be one jealous husband. We've been through a lot of surveillance footage."

"It's amazing what those trapeze artists can do with their..." Frost was cut short by Jane.

"Drink your coffee," she said.

"It's a shame there's no audible on the footage." Korsak noted.

"We've thought about that and a lip reader is coming in," Frost looked at his watch. "She should be here any time now."

"Anything from O'Reilly?" Jane asked.

Korsak reached inside his jacket and retrieved his notepad. "Get this. It seems that the Ring Master, Geraldo is none other than Geraldo Moreno, cousin to Ricardo Gonzales."

Frost looked surprised. "The Columbian Drug warlord, the Widower, famed for the number of murders he's arranged?" It was a rhetorical question.

"Yeah, that's the scumbag," Korsak said. "He's moving east and trying to muscle in on the action. He's already got a foothold out West. "

"Interesting," Jane said as she sipped at her coffee. "Putin said Coco was dealing drugs and didn't you say that he had gambling problems in Nevada?"

"From what Putin said Coco was back gambling big time," Frost said.

"Yeah," Korsak agreed. "I checked the loan sharks around the circus and one name kept coming up; Lenny the Loan shark."

Jane raised her eyebrows in mock surprise. "I thought he was inside?"

"Was till four months ago," Korsak said consulting his notes, "early parole."

"Well the parole board won't think he's such a good boy when they get a load of what he's been up to at the circus," Frost noted.

"Let's suppose that Coco has a gambling problem and maybe Geraldo the Ring Master is helping out his cousin. Now suppose Geraldo discovers that Coco is in deep financial trouble. Lenny wants his money and so Coco does a little dealing to clear the debt." Jane theorised.

"It would be a great operation to have a circus dealing drugs for you. It never stays in town for long enough to be a problem but deals can be done and contacts can be made." Korsak said. "Maybe Coco and Geraldo argued and the Ring Master murdered him?"

"Only problem with that is that the Ring Master was in downtown Boston when the murder was committed." Frost stated.

"What about Lenny?" Jane asked.

"Or Rainy Mac," Frost added.

"We got one interesting piece of evidence," Jane said to Korsak. "Look at this. Here we have the unidentified Rainy Mac and the Ring Master."

On the screen was the Ring Master arguing with the clown Rainy Mac. The clown was in full makeup.

"Is that a black wig I see before me?" Korsak said. "That's the language of Shakespeare."

"Wouldst thou shut up?" Jane said without looking at him.

"They seem to be arguing," Korsak noted.

"The Ring Master looks like he's trying to persuade Coco to do something," Frost noted.

Korsak nodded. "Does that tape have time and date?"

"The day of the murder and two hours before the murder," Frost confirmed. "Enough time for Geraldo to get an alibi."

"What about Rainy Mac's alibi?" Jane asked. "We need to find out who this guy is and fast."

"Maybe we'll know more about the argument when the lip reader gets here."

They watched the tape.

"Wait, go back," Jane instructed. "There, slow it down."

"I don't see anything?" Korsak peered at the screen.

"Look at the way the Ring Master is holding his hand."

"Yeah, she's right," Frost said as he pressed the pause button. "It looks like he's faking a sneeze."

"Is he blowing something into Rainy Mac's face?" Jane asked.

"But what, I can't see anything." Frost squinted.

"Here's the lip reader," Jane said and went to the glass door to let the middle age woman in.

She introduced the woman to her colleagues. "This is Christine she works with the deaf and is also an expert lip reader." Jane turned to her and smiled. "You even do work for the newspaper when they want to know the pep talks of the basketball coaches during half time, eh? You'll have to give me the lowdown on the Celtics game plan for the final."

"I'd never work again," she laughed. "How can I help?"

"We'd like you to watch some footage relating to a crime," Jane said. "If you can, we'd like to know what is being said. Sorry about the quality."

The lip reader got out her pen and pad and sat on a chair waiting for the tape to begin.

Frost played the first clip of Coco and the Ring Master arguing. The lip reader watched and replayed and watched and replayed and watched. Finally the first clip was done. "Obviously I have no idea what the clown is saying as he is not facing the camera sufficiently to see his lips.

Geraldo the Ring Master is saying:

They played the final tape with Rainy Mac talking to Geraldo.

The Ring Master was talking at a slower pace.

Jane looked carefully. "Rainy Mac is shaking his head and then we have the fake sneeze."

The lip reader continued: "The Ring Master is saying:

He put his arm around the shoulder of Rainy Mac and they turned their backs on the camera.

"Damn, it's not enough." Korsak said. "We could bring Rainy Mac in for questioning followed by the Ring Master."

Jane thought. "Sure. Maura said there was some chemical on the hair fibre she got from Rainy Mac's wig. Maybe we could get the wig and it will tell us what was blown into his face?"

"First we have to identify Rainy Mac," Frost noted.

"Yeah, and we want to find Lenny the loan shark," Jane added. "Thank you, Christine, we'll be in touch."

Frost came into the homicide squad room. "Korsak has just called in. There's been another murder at the Big Top."

"Who?" Jane asked.

"The message was just that there is another body there."

"I'll tell Dr Isles," Jane said

It was early morning and the circus Big Top was busy. A police officer led them to the body.

Detective Frost lifted the tarpaulin covering the body. "Lenny the loan shark," he said.

Maura crouched down and began her examination.

"Who found the body?" Jane asked.

"This guy did," Korsak pointed at a young man.

"I did," he confirmed and stepped forward. "My name is Samuel Jones."

"Otherwise known as Rainy Mac," Korsak said.

"We've been looking for you," Frost admitted.

He beamed. "You've heard of me already?"

"For all the wrong reasons," Jane said. "So do you want to tell us what happened?"

"I came out of my trailer and noticed the water was spilling out of the barrel. I took a close look and he was floating inside," Jones said as he pointed to a barrel of water.

"Maura?" Jane asked.

"He shows signs consistent with drowning."

"So do you think he drowned himself?" Jane asked Jones.

"I don't know."

The Ring Master appeared. "This is terrible, just terrible and we open in eight hours."

Maura watched as the forensic team rolled the body in a body bag and took it away. She turned to Jones. "Mr Jones, can I see your clown costume?"

"Must you do that now?" the Ring Master asked, irritated.

Jane frowned at him. "We must."

They were led to Jones' living quarters. He entered the mobile home and they followed him inside. It was cramped and cluttered.

"My costume is here," he pointed to a brightly coloured large suit hanging over a window above his unmade bed.

"And the wig and makeup, where are they?" Jane asked.

He opened a drawer under the bed and handed them to her. She snapped on a pair of rubber gloves and took an evidence bag offered by Maura. "Drop them in here please."

"How long will you have them for?"

"Until we have examined them," Jane stated. "We will also need you to come into the precinct for a chat."

"Sure," Jones said. "I have nothing to hide."

Jane entered the autopsy room. "So are you going to let me in on your theory or not?"

"That would turn a theory into a guess and I don't guesswork, it brings me out in hives," Maura explained. "However, I have an analysis of the chemical on Rainy Mac's wig."

Jane waited.

"It has traces of the drug Scopolamine. A very potent drug which comes from the Borrachero tree commonly found in Columbia and other South American countries."



"So what is Scopolamine?"

"It has been used to treat heroin and cocaine addiction. It is occasionally used as a recreational drug because it causes hallucinations but many of them are of the horror kind so it never really took off. It can be taken intravenously or in a drink rather like the date rape drug, Rohypnol. It is odourless and tasteless. In Columbia it is known as 'Devil's Breath.' It comes as a fine white powder and is often used to commit rapes and robberies by blowing into the victims face. The person loses all inhibitions and has no will to resist. They are at the mercy of their attacker and will do anything they are asked to do. It is also known as the zombie drug."

"You mean it could force someone to do something against their will?"

Maura nodded. "The victim is unlikely to remember a thing about it."

"So Lenny the loan shark could have been told to kill himself?"

"It's possible." Maura thought for a moment. "That would not apply to Coco the Clown given his injuries."

"Yeah," Jane noted, "but the murderer of Coco the clown could have been told to kill him and remember nothing about it."

Maura nodded.

"So if that stuff gets on the streets of any major US city it could cause death and mayhem and no one would know what they had done?"

"If it got into the water system in large enough doses it has the potential to be devastating for millions of innocent people," Maura confirmed.

"So this drug was found on Rainy Mac's wig?" Jane asked looking at the tiny packet of powder.

"Korsak did a thorough search of his living space and found a bag of it."

"That's very convenient," Jane said to herself. "Especially as it was the Ring Master who blew it in Rainy Mac's face not the other way around."

Maura nodded. "What are you thinking?"

"That is was planted to make us believe that Rainy Mac killed Coco the Clown."

"He may well have done," Maura noted. "Only he won't remember a thing."

"I think we need to have a little chat with Mr Putin again," Jane said.

"What about Rainy Mac?"

"Him, too," Jane said enigmatically. "I have an idea."

It was just past midnight and the Big Top was winding down from a successful opening night.

"Can you hear me Mr Putin?" Korsak was saying.

"Yes," Viktor whispered.

Korsak was sitting in Viktor's trailer which was close to the Big Top. Frost was with Jane hiding in the shadows of the circus folk's living quarter out of the way of the main entrance.

Viktor had arranged to speak with the Ring Master close to his trailer.

"Here he comes," Frost whispered. "Are the cameras working okay, Korsak?"

"Ten-Four," Korsak whispered.

"Now we wait," Jane noted and she and Frost remained hidden.

The Ring Master looked around. "What is it Viktor it has been a long night."

"I want to return to Russia with Svetlana and I want to go by the end of the week."

"So go," Geraldo said coldly.

"You know I cannot until I get my wages."

"That won't get you far, you've hardly worked."

"I know which is why I must be more forceful."

The Ring Master stared coldly at Viktor. "What do you mean?"

"I know you got Rainy Mac to kill Coco the Clown and that you got Lenny the Loan shark to kill himself."

The Ring Master laughed sadistically. "How did you arrive at such nonsense?"

"Well," Viktor began. "You know my wife was having affair with Coco?"

Geraldo nodded.

"I put up discreet surveillance cameras all over the circus to catch them out."

The Ring Master became very still. "Go on."

"I have you on tape instructing Rainy Mac to kill Coco."

"You're lying."

"Will you take the risk?" Viktor cajoled. "Shall I take my evidence to the police?"

"You're lying, you don't have any evidence."

"I thought you might say that and so I brought something along for you to see." Viktor held up a handheld camera for Geraldo to see. Viktor pressed play. Geraldo went whiter than clown's face makeup. He was instructing Rainy Mac to surprise Coco.

"How much do you want?" Geraldo finally asked when he had seen enough.

"So you admit you killed the clown?"

"I didn't kill anyone," Geraldo said.

At that moment Rainy Mac appeared, looking suitably horrified. "Viktor showed me the evidence. Tell me I didn't kill Coco!"

"You did it, not me!" yelled the Ring Master.

"You blew Devil's Breath into my face and I did it for you, didn't I?" Rainy Mac screamed.

"That's ridiculous," Geraldo tried to laugh it off.

"Oh yeah," Rainy Mac said hysterically as he reached for the bag of Scopolamine and grabbed a pinch between his fingers. "We'll see. I am going to make you go to the police and admit you made me do it."

Geraldo raised his hands and tried to convince his assailant not to blow in his face.

"Admit it!" Rainy Mac screamed. "You made me do it! Admit that you made Lenny want to commit suicide!"

Geraldo looked shocked. "How do you know Lenny?"

"He loaned me money," Rainy Mac was convincing. "He loaned everyone money!" He went to blow the dust into Geraldo's face.

"Please, no!" Geraldo screamed. "I admit it, I made you kill Coco. He was going to the police about the drugs coming into the country through my cousin's network. He wanted nothing to do with it. I thought shoving a fire hose in his mouth would be a warning to Lenny to keep his mouth shut."

"What about Lenny?" Rainy Mac hissed.

"He bankrolled the operation. He got greedy and wanted more than his share. He threatened to go to another drug gang with information. I was given orders to have him killed."

"Thank you, Geraldo," Jane said as she and Frost came out of the shadows.

"Did you get all that Korsak?" Jane nodded. "Geraldo you're under arrest."

"Blow it in their faces!" Geraldo said to Rainy Mac. "I'll make it worth your while."

Rainy Mac blew the powder into Geraldo's face; he screamed. Rainy Mac laughed.

"Flour," Frost smiled as he handcuffed Geraldo.

The officers led the accused away.

It is the night of the fundraising benefit. It is being held at the Rotary Club. Jane is seated between Korsak and Maura. It was a full house; row after row of police officers and fire department colleagues. They had brought with them their families and friends. The Homicide Department sat through the talent show and waited for their section with its theme 'the most interesting kiss.' The fire department's attempt at a three minute 'kiss' was so banal as to be out of the running. The Narcotic Department's attempt a kiss was tedious. The Homicide Department's offering was on last.

"Nervous?" Maura asked Jane.

"I'm thinking of taking some Devil's Breath so I forget it all."

Frost was quietly confident their three minutes of fame would win. He leaned forward and turned his head to address his colleagues. "I think ours is the best."

As he was speaking stage scenery was removed to be replaced by a large white film screen. The lights went out and the screen was suddenly filled with sepia-tinted images from a bygone era. The Homicide Department had opted for a three minute silent movie. Most of the department detectives were dressed as Keystone Cops.

The film began. The title was:

Tongue in Cheek

It was a simple story.

The landlord (played by Korsak, replete with a walrus moustache like Viktor Putin's) wants the month's rent from the poverty-stricken innocent played by Maura. She looked very feminine and vulnerable in her early nineteenth century dress and shawl. Her ringlets and thick eye makeup were courtesy of Madame Ansur.

Korsak as the villainous landlord is willing, for a sexual favours, to forgo rent collection. The subtitles explain to the audience that he 'likes' Maura. On the screen Korsak is twisting his moustache in the manner of every dastardly landlord made famous by the silent movies. He flashes his eyes at the camera; his amorous intention made clear. He makes a grab for Maura. She resists and throws her hand up to her forehead, feigning a swoon. He grabs for her again and she resists his advances;

"Don't touch me!"

Korsak takes a melodramatic step back and points his forefinger at Maura.

"I will be back. You will pay or out you go!"

The scene cuts to Maura in the same tiny hovel with her love interest played by Jane; she is a police officer. She looks cute and surprisingly feminine in an oversized Keystone Cop uniform. Maura is explaining her predicament to her loved one. Jane frowns and shakes her nightstick with great theatricality. The audience of police officers and firemen applaud wildly. There a couple of wolf whistles and lewd comments about truncheons. The audience is entering into the spirit of the movie.

In the next scene Korsak wearing a top hat and scarf is about to commit a robbery. He holds up a jewellery store (a cardboard cut-out of a store front made for them by the circus clowns). He rubs his hands together gleefully and steals some plastic jewellery. He is pleased with his haul and intends to seduce Maura with a necklace.

"She will want me now!"

There follows a car chase with many of the Homicide detectives hanging off the police car's footplate. They are waving their truncheons and are pointing at Korsak. The chase is accompanied by upbeat Italian music representing Jane. The sad Irish music is reserved for Maura. The music helps to set the tempo and emotional content of each scene.

Korsak is running. It is obvious he is running on a treadmill. The scenery behind him is clumsily moved forwards and backwards to give the illusion of movement. Korsak looks behind him and fires his fake pistol which explodes with a cloud of smoke. He holds up the necklace possessively.

In the next scene Korsak is with Maura in her hovel. He offers her the necklace and makes a grab for her; she resists and yells.

"Save Me ~ Help !"

Korsak grabs her and tries to kiss her; she pushes him off. He is furious. He curses;

"50 Shades of Puce!"

He points the pistol at Maura.

"If I can't have you no one will."

She clutches her Bible to her chest and closes her eyes.

"The Police Will Save Me!"

More cheers from the audience. The music changes from syrupy Irish to frantic Italian.

Korsak shoot Maura; she falls to the floor, apparently lifeless.

The music becomes melancholic Italian.

In storms Jane and sees Maura prostrate. She wrestles with Korsak. The gun accidentally goes off and Korsak clutches his chest and falls down dead.

Jane rushes to Maura's side. She kneels down and looks skyward:

"I must perform the kiss of life!"

Jane repeats what she learned in the two day course she attended. Half of the audience are silent the other half cheer.

Maura comes to life; the Bible saved her from the bullet. She is elated to see Jane.

Jane helps Maura to her feet:

"Give Me and Interesting Kiss!"

Jane and Maura embrace passionately. The theatre where the fundraiser is being held erupts with approval and howls of delight.

"The End"

The lights come up and the Homicide Department stand and bow. The audience applauds loudly; the Homicide Department have won.

The judges declare the Homicide Department the winners and all departments hand over their fundraising money. O'Reilly begrudgingly hands over the Narcotic Department's fund to Korsak.

"That was the best fundraising show ever," said the chief of the fire department as he chats with the Keystone Cops. He looked at Jane and Maura. "Pretty damn brave of you girls to go through with it; it could have gone real wrong and ruined careers."

"Thankfully we are all mature people," Maura smiled.

Just call me Lilian Gish," Jane fluttered her eyelashes.

At the end of the proceedings Korsak sidled up to Maura. "How the hell did you get Jane to kiss you?"

"I just made sure she couldn't refuse me."

Korsak looked worried. "You didn't blow any of that Devil's Breath her way did you?"

Maura laughed. "Please, how could you think I would do such a terrible thing!"

He shrugged. "Sorry Maura, only Jane was absolutely adamant that she would not kiss a woman."

At that moment Jane appeared and hugged Maura. "Thanks again, Maura."

"Why are you so happy? I thought you'd be a little tense from the reaction of the guys," Frost said.

"Who cares," Jane said happily.

"So how did Maura persuade you to change your mind?" Korsak asked.

"All I will say is the Celtics and front row seats."

Korsak's jaw dropped. He turned to Maura. "You got her tickets; front row tickets for the NBA final?" He shook his head. "They're like gold."

Jane smirked. "Yes, they are."

"Hell for tickets to that game I'd French kiss a moose," Korsak said.

"Maybe when the next fundraiser comes around we might take you up on that," Frost said.

"Korsak, for those tickets I'd flip and turn gay," said Jane.

"Well, now there's no need, unless you've discovered something new about yourself and you like kissing women," Maura said.

"Don't push it," Jane said calmly. "And it wasn't women it was a woman ¯you." She beamed confidently and changed the subject. "It's official, I am over my fear of clowns."

"So how about we celebrate our successful evening over a drink?" Frost suggested.

"Sure," Korsak nodded. "O'Malleys?"

"Do they serve a good wine?" Maura enquired.

"Maura, it's a bar," Jane said wearily. "They don't serve chateau blah. They are more likely to let your pet turtle, Bass, in than serve a fine wine."

"Tortoise," Maura corrected.

Jane sighed. "Well, whatever it is, it's a thing with a shell and it looks like a turtle."

"It's a bit like you two," Frost noted.

"What do you mean?" Maura quizzed.

"Well you look like a couple of thespians but you aren't," Frost said jovially.

Jane smirked. "Or are we? I mean we could be acting now."

"Yes," Maura teased. "What you saw in Tongue In Cheek may be the real us."

"Thespians or bestbians, maybe yes, maybe no," Korsak said in a tired voice. "I don't care what you are I need a drink."

"Korsak, have you been reading that urban dictionary again?" Jane turned to Maura. "Come on before he looks up another word that we can't explain away."

The End

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