I dismissed the thoughts as I pulled on my head. I was ninety percent certain that Shannon was the culprit which meant I could relax. No one would be trying to off me today. I could walk freely among the children and not worry about anything more than getting food on my outfit. The darlings tended to have their hands full when they wanted to hug me and would through their arms around me ad nauseam without thinking to pass along their booty to their beaming parents first. Consequently, at the end of the day, I became a walking billboard for the park’s menu. I usually ended up smelling like I’d been dipped in a vat of hot oil, and it wasn’t pleasant. However, I was so ecstatic not to be the target of someone’s venom, I didn’t mind the thought of all those spoiled children ruining my day. Much.
I got up and reluctantly left the sanctuary of the green room. Hundreds of screaming brats greeted my ears. Even though they were muffled by the giant head I was wearing, I could still hear more than I wanted. I would like to wear earplugs as I worked, but I couldn’t risk missing a request from one of the kids while I was off in my own world. I had tried it once when I first started working, and Eddie had caught me at it. He reamed me out but good and threatened to fire me if I ever did it again. At that time, I valued my job too much to do anything that smacked of insurrection. Now, however, I couldn’t care less; I’d have to think about bringing my earplugs tomorrow.
“Mommy! It’s Maisie. She’s back!” A towheaded boy with his front teeth missing raced towards me, cotton candy in one hand, a hot dog in the other. He flung his arms around me, nearly knocking me backwards. He was pretty strong for a small fry, and I had to dig in my heels so I wouldn’t fall over. “I missed you, Maisie! Do you remember me? It’s Ryan Wheeler. I came here five times last year.” He let go of his death grip but kept his hands on me.
“Ryan Wheeler,” I said in my high, rodent-like voice. “Of course I remember you. How could I forget?” The little tyke was smearing blue raspberry cotton candy down the front of my costume with one hand while patting me on the back with the other—most likely spreading mustard while he was at it.