Special Agent Kandy Fontaine shook her head with vehemence. “I just can’t believe it. I grew up with Dr. Huxtable. He’s an icon of my childhood. Showed us all that a…”
“That a black man could display middle class family values, yes. I don’t mean that in a racist way, of course. Maybe I came off a bit crudely, but yes. The Jello Puddin,’ the cigars. William Cosby, Doctor of Education. The sweaters.”
“Right? As a father figure, there was none better. You could trust him. Hey, if you couldn’t trust Dr. Huxtable, the world would be a scary, scary place. But as it turned out, the world of Bill Cosby is a scary, scary place indeed.”
Director Steve Gustaffson passed the file over the desk. Fontaine picked it up and thumbed through. It was weighty and packed with incriminating evidence, surveillance photos, black and white glossies marked with red Sharpie ink: a figure in a patchwork gown standing over the limp figure of a young actress, on the card table a glass of wine drained to a dregs composed of chalky residue.
“Cosby was onto Rohypnol long before the rest of us. He even joked about it on a comedy album he made in the 60s. The ‘Spanish Fly’ routine.”
“You know, I didn’t put that together until just now. But now that I think about it, it’s chilling, actually.”
“It’s a matter of cognitive dissonance, I think.” Gustaffson cut the end off of a cigar and, twirling it, took a few quick puffs. “Now that’s a good cigar. You don’t mind if I smoke, do you?”
“No, Sir.” Fontaine’s eyes began to water and she reached in her purse for a tissue. “I’m sorry, I don’t think I followed your point. About cognitive dissonance.”
“It’s the inability to see danger in a familiar context. For example, an authority figure, such as Cosby, seems absolutely trustworthy. The brain has a hard time putting him together with serial rape and sexual abuse. A bit like clowns.”
“Ok, I see what you’re saying. Because we associate Cosby and people like him with values we hold dear, or hope we are perceived to hold dear.”
“Exactly.” Gustaffson snuffed out the cigar on his desk, cut it open with a six-inch, serrated blade and filled it with a composite of hash and cannabis, then sealed it up with another layer of tobacco leaf. “Care for a hit?”
“Oh, okay, I see what you’re doing.” Fontaine smirked. “Irony and all that. But seriously, Director, I want to nail this guy bad. If he’s really out there without any sort of constraint, drugging and banging girls under the mask of a lovable, wholesome Doctor of Education, he needs to be brought down. So what was all that about clowns?”
Fontaine opened the file and spread the documents on the Director’s desk. She looked up. “Clowns, Director?”
“Let me explain. That file is just a drop in the bucket. We have an entire library of evidence on Cosby, going back to his early comedy career. We even found backward masking on his Jello Pudding spots.” The Director clicked on a sound file and Fontaine listened with astonishment as Cosby directed children to “worship the Prince of Light, the Lord of this World.”
“I thought that was just, you know, gibberish,” said Fontaine finally. “Clowning around.”
“Bingo,” said Gustaffson.
“Take a look at the documents in the manila envelope at the back of the file.”
“Oh?” Fontaine eased open the envelope and added the contents to the documents that now covered the Director’s desk. As soon as she registered what she was looking at, she dropped the envelope and scooted back her chair.
“There’s two of them,” said Fontaine in a hushed voice, as though speaking to herself.
“Bingo again. Clownsby and Cosby. They were separated at birth. Clownsby had a terrible time. He struggled to make a living while his identical twin brother soared into celebrity status. You see, Clownsby was hampered by two things. One, he is an angry obsessive with a borderline personality disorder, which led him into the world of clowning. Two, Tourette’s Syndrome. Shit cock motherfucker, that kind of thing.”
“I only caught a glimpse,” said Fontaine. “But some of those photographs are…really gruesome.”
“Taken at the scene of the crime, some of them by the man himself. The placement of the bodies in ritualistic fashion is a hallmark of the Clownsby style. Note the balloon animals stuffed down the victims’ throats—that was by design. He wants us to know who did this. He shows in every instance signs of both careful planning and, in the actual attack, blitzkrieg overkill. There must have been something that set him off—something the victim said or displayed. A trigger. We aren’t absolutely sure what that would be, but we have some ideas.” Gustaffson clicked open another sound file. “This was obtained from surveillance. We dusted it off and filtered out the ambient noises.”
Fontaine scooted back to the desk and planted her elbows, listening intently.
First came the voice of a young woman: “Wow, Mr. Cosby, I want to thank you again for offering to help my career. I’ve only just begun. A few local commercials and that sort of thing, but I really, really want to break into the big time, you know?”
There was a muffled grunt.
“Mr. Cosby, where did you go?”
“I was just changing into something more comfortable, doncha know.”
“Wow, okay. A little informal, but…okay! That’s a nice dressing gown. Hey, you’ve got some really neat pictures here. Is that you and Bozo the Clown?”
“Why yes it is. I took that a few years before he died. Bozo and I were tight, ya know.”
“I didn’t realize you knew so many clowns.”
“M’kay, clowns and circuses make me feel happy, give me that good feeling in my tummy like a Jello puddin.’ Would you like some?”
“Jello pudding? Now? Well, I guess.”
“It’s wholesome and nutritious. Everybody loves the puddin.’”
“It’s so…creamy and…salty. Salty?”
“Yeah, that’s the extra special ingredients I add because flibberty woberty zappo!”
“Um, Mr. Cosby?”
“Yes, honey? Would you like some more, because it looks like you wolfed all that puddin’ down in a squiffy jiffy…hold on, I’m just goin’ to the kitchen to get some more of that special ingredient.”
“Mr. Cosby? I, uh, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I feel kind of woozy.”
“Why don’t you just relax and maybe take off all your clothes, I’ll be there in a flashety wamputty.”
“Something’s wrong…I don’t think I heard you correctly. Take off what?”
“While I put this big ole puddin’ pop in your mouth so you can taste all the chocolatey goodness m’kay. Let me just shrug off these pants and I’ll be inside you nice and tight. You won’t remember anything because of the Spanish Fly, I control the vertical and horizontal doncha know. Heh heh.”
“How do you…shrug off..pants…please no…stop…so sleepy…” The woman’s voice trailed off.
There was silence, followed by loud thumping sounds. Then grunting, panting, escalated breathing and a bloodcurdling scream.
“Mr. Cosby! What are you doing?”
“You are supposed to be asleep, young lady. I assure you that nothing improper is going on, nor could it possibly be going on. I’m a Doctor of Education.”
“Please let me go! You’re hurting me!”
“Oh it’s nothin,’ just a little bit of fun and play with the puddin’ pops doncha know.”
“No! It is not okay. I should have known when I saw those pictures…the clowns. It’s all coming back now. I…I can’t stand clowns! I hate them, and I hate you! You’re not at all what you seem to be. You’re a monster!”
Gustaffson paused the sound file. “This part is crucial. We think it’s the trigger—where he crosses the line. Loses the plot.”
“Ok, you know what, you’re right. I am a clown. A fucking clown. A fucking clown who is going to fucking rape you. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Who’s going to believe you? What are they going to say when you come to them with some crazy-ass story about Bill Cosby being a rapist clown?”
“Please stop…please stop! I won’t tell a soul, I promise. It will be our secret. I swear.”
“Young ladies like yourself shouldn’t swear, m’kay. Nobody should fucking swear. If there’s one thing I can’t fucking tolerate, it’s swearing. Comedians who work blue. And clown haters. Oh, I am going to fucking rape you like a fucking rapist…”
Gustaffson stopped the audio. “It escalates from there. The body was dismembered and the pieces were placed in plastic garbage sacks, scattered around the city.”
“That’s Clownsby for you.”
“So what happened to Cosby?”
“He keeps Cosby in a drugged condition, moves him around. When you see him appear on TV, have you ever noticed that he seems a little out of it?”
“Yeah, I thought that was just age.”
“That, and animal tranquilizers. He’s on a short leash, and by this point has brain has pretty much turned to mush. But if we find him, we’ll find Clownsby. And put a stop to these killings, once and for all.”
“Where do I come in?”
“We have intelligence that Cosby is doing a one-off benefit show at a club in Hollywood. Big security, hand-picked audience, of course. It’s going to be tough getting past the muscle, but we know he’s a sucker for a breathless ingénue. That, of course, would be you.”
“Naturally,” said Fontaine, batting her eyes at the Director and crossing her legs high enough to show her lacy panties. “And when is this all going down? So to speak.”
Gustaffson cleared his throat, gathered the documents from the desk and placed them in his lap. “Next week.”
“I’m sorry, who did you say you were looking for?”
Kandy Fontaine lowered her eyes and gazed up imploringly at the desk clerk. “Um, Bill Cosby?”
The clerk cleared his throat. “Mr. Cosby is not a guest at our hotel.”
“Oh, I must have made a mistake.” Kandy fished in her purse for the business card she had been given and placed it on the counter. The clerk picked it up and examined it closely. He held up a finger. “Excuse me, one second.” He dialed a number and muttered something into the receiver, nodding several times. “Ah yes, I see. Hold one just one moment. Ms…I’m sorry, what did you say your name was?”
“Philips. Marion Philips.”
“Right, right, Marion Philips.” He spoke once more into the phone, then placed the receiver in the cradle. “If you’ll wait right here, a representative will assist you further.”
“Ok.” Kandy took a chair in the lobby and crossed her legs, idly glancing through a fashion magazine. Ten minutes later, a man in a black suit exited the elevator across from the lobby and moved towards her, a walkie-talkie pressed to his ear. “Would you please come with me, Ms. Philips?”
“Are you the representative for Mr. Cosby?”
“I cannot confirm or deny any association with Mr. Cosby, Ms. Philips. I’m just here to facilitate.”
“Oh.” Kandy summoned her inner dumb blonde. “That sounds complicated.”
“Hold on.” The walkie-talkie chattered. “Roger that.” The man pulled a digital camera from his shirt pocket. “They’re asking for photographic proof.”
“Cool,” said Kandy. “Oh, you needn’t bother with that, I can take a selfie.” She plucked a cell phone from her purse and held it over her head at an angle. “Does Mr. Cosby like cleavage?” She opened two buttons on her blouse and tugged down her bra, squeezing her breasts together and smiling dopily into the lens.
“I’m afraid…Ms. Philips, I will have to confiscate your phone.”
“Oh, you don’t need to do that, I can send you the pic.” She raised the phone again.
The man’s voice grew an edge. “Ms. Philips, please. My client is a very busy man. This is just standard protocol.”
“Your client, Bill Cosby?”
“Lower your voice, please!” he barked.
Then he whispered. “Mr. Friendly. I represent Larry Friendly. Ok?”
Kandy giggled. “Cool. Like a code name.” She winked broadly. “This is fun!”
“Yes, like a code name. And Mr. Friendly will need to put your belongings in his safekeeping, for the time being. Security measures. You understand.”
The man smiled despite himself.
“Is he waiting for us?”
The representative raised his camera. “Could you take a few steps back, and not smile, please?”
Kandy evacuated her expression. The camera flashed. “All right, I’m sending this in for processing.” He pulled out the disc and inserted it in a laptop. “I’m sorry, I’m going to have to ask for some privacy.” Kandy sat back on the chair as the rep’s fingers raced over the keyboard. “Good. Now if you’ll step this way…” The man pointed down the south-facing hallway.
Inside the elevator, he withdrew a blindfold from his jacket pocket.
“What’s that for?”
“I’m going to have to blindfold you until we get to Mr. Friendly’s quarters. It’s part of the security measures.”
“Right, right!” Kandy smiled brightly. “You can handcuff me too, if you like.”
“Well, you know. Back in Idaho, my boyfriend used to…well, he handcuffed my hands behind my back and then he would…take this lube, I think it’s called, and put it down there. “ She patted her ass.
The man blushed. “Oh…oh no. Nothing like that. The blindfold is only a precaution. “ He fastened it around her eyes and put up three fingers. “How many fingers am I holding up?”
The rep walked Kandy down a hall on the third floor, knocked the door of #314 and waited until his charge was inside the room before removing the blindfold. “Mr. Friendly, she’s all yours.”
The room was dark except for a single lamp on a nightstand well inside the room. Kandy peered in and moved hesitantly towards the light.
Then she was a familiar figure sitting on a sofa beside the nightstand. When she got closer, she saw a man in a brown sweater over a white dress shirt, wearing khakis and Italian loafers. It was the face that threw her—puffy, even bloated, dark bags beneath the eyes, a five o’ clock shadow.
The man broke into a broad grin. “I hope you’ll forgive the inconvenience, Ms. Philips. Reporters, lawyers, the wife…you understand. And feel free to call me Bill. Would you care for a Jello pudding?”
“Sure, I guess.”
Cosby rose stiffly and loped over to the mini-fridge. “Let’s see now, where did I put the pudding? Oh yes, here we go.” He brought the cup over and placed it on a coffee table alongside a napkin and a plastic spoon.
“Aren’t you going to have any, um, Bill?”
“Oh no, I’m fine, I’ll just watch you eat m’kay.”
“Ok.” Kandy pulled up a chair and sat with her legs crossed, pretending to dip into the pudding.
“I don’t have much of an appetite these days, but don’t let that hold you back, Marion. If I can call you that.”
“Marion is fine,” said Kandy. She put down the pudding cup. “Wow, that was great. I haven’t had Jello pudding in ages.”
“It’s good for little children and grownups too,” said Cosby. “Don’t worry, I’ve got a whole bunch in the fridge. Please, finish the cup.”
“I will,” she said. “Mr. Cosby, can I be open with you? I’m an actress. Or, rather, I want to be an actress. I’ve had a few small parts in repertory theater back in Boise, but people always told me that L.A. is where the real action is, you know?”
“Mmm, m’kay, yes Marion.” Cosby pressed his palms together and moved his chair closer to her until he was six inches away. “Los Angeles is a great place to meet people and yes, m’kay, find that talent that might slip away if jibbly joo.”
“Jibbly joo daddle wumpkus. It’s just a little language I like to play around with, with the dealyhoo and such.”
“Right, right. So do you think you might be able to help me? I’m not asking for a part, please, I don’t want you to think I’m just some bimbo. I studied acting in college. All I need is a break. A little break. I’ve made the round of the studios, gone on auditions, but nothing, and now the rent is due and my paycheck at the Burger King goes only so far and…”
“Oh there, there, there,” said Cosby, patting Kandy on the back. “You don’t need to fuss and folderol. Of course I can help you, just relax and have a little more puddin’ for old Bill.”
“Sure,” said Kandy. She reached for the cup and slid the spoon into the pudding.
“Now go ahead and swallow it like a good girl,” said Cosby.
“The…you mean the pudding, right?”
“Oh yes, I only mean the pudding, I never mean anything but the pudding, ‘cause it’s nice and nutritious and just fills your belly like a bealybobber.”
Kandy paused. Cosby nodded and gestured towards the spoon. She brought the pudding to her mouth and swallowed a small portion of the chocolate dessert.
Despite the speed capsule she had ingested an hour previous for just such a contingency, Kandy immediately felt the effects of the powerful sedative. Acting quickly, she squeezed the panic button set in her vagina. Cosby glowered over her, his hands squeezing her breasts, his eyes filled with lust.
“Mr…Mr. Cosby, what are you doing?”
“Now just you relax and lay back,” he said. “You had too much puddin’ and you’re feeling a little sleepy weepy. Come lie down on the sofa and rest up. There you go.” He lifted her up and carried her across the room.
Barely able to keep her head up, Kandy focused her will on staying conscious until backup arrived. She reached for Cosby’s face and found a flap near his ear. With all her remaining strength, Kandy pulled.
The mask peeled away, revealing the face of a clown: stars streaking from the eyes, a bulbous red nose, a leering mouth.
“Oh my God!” she screamed, adrenaline rushing through her system. She was suddenly fully alert. “You’re…”
“Yes, m’kay, my name is Clownsby. Ya see, we’re twins.”
“Put me down at once!”
“What’s the matter, honey, you don’t like clowns?”
“I fucking hate them! Ever since I was a little girl…the greasepaint, the fake nose, the big puffy hair…”
Clownsby dumped her on the sofa. “You hate clowns? Hate is such an ugly word for a pretty something something like yourself.”
“It’s…it’s not personal.” Kandy was now fighting real terror, the flashbacks of that day at the circus coming quickly. A day she thought she had buried so deeply within her that it would never return to haunt her mind again.
“It’s not personal, but ya see, being a clown, I tend to take clown hating very personally, doncha know.”
Kandy began to scream. Clownsby clamped a white kid glove against her mouth.
“I take clown hating so personally that any clown haters that hate me get the raping, ya see. ‘Cause that’s what happens to the haters.”
Kandy was now dizzy with fear. She pretended to go limp; then when Clownsby relaxed his hold, she tumbled off the sofa, gripped the lamp and bashed him over the head. He staggered backwards, a stream of blood from his forehead running together with the makeup. “You bitch! You whore!” he screamed.
Just then the door burst open and three agents rushed into the room. “Don’t fucking move, Clownsby!” said the agent on the far left, motioning for Kandy to get behind him. She darted towards the door and pressed against it, trembling.
“I’ll rape all of you!”
“Not today, Clownsby,” said the second agent. “We’ve been tracking you for a while now. You’re in deep shit. Don’t make it any worse for yourself.”
“You’re forgetting my ace in the hole,” said Clownsby. “The whereabouts of a certain beloved TV icon.”
“Wrong again, clown. Bill Cosby is safe now and recovering at a secret location. Now just come quietly.”
“Not a chance!” shouted Clownsby, reaching for his cherry nose.
“What’s he doing?” said the first agent.
“We need to all get as far away as possible,” said the second agent. “On my signal…run.”
The four rushed through the open door and down the hallway. “Please remain in your rooms,” the second agent told guests who were sticking their heads out, curious about the commotion.
“You’ll never take me alive!” roared Clownsby, detaching the nose and releasing the supply of weapons-grade Jello mix into his bloodstream. A few seconds later, smoke began to plume from his ears and nose hole. Then he started to vibrate.
For the next several three days, a team of operatives were picking clown parts out of the ceiling and carpet. Kandy decided to take an extended leave from active duty to seek help for the clown-related trauma re-activated by her encounter with Cosby’s evil twin. And ingénues everywhere breathed a sigh of relief.
The real Bill Cosby eventually returned to television, but it was never quite the same. At last he retired for good, his reputation cleared but his career in as many pieces as Clownsby scattered across Room #314 at the Hollywood Hilton.