That day, they came to town, and this time, Rowland was ready. He remembered when they had come the year prior. They had unfolded their wagons into a stage in the middle of the village square and put on a production of Macbeth. It was wonderful. Rowland told his mother that it had been the best performance yet, just as he had every time they came to town for the passed 15 years of his life.
But this time was different.The Theatre De Pénombre arrived in their caravan of color, their wagons and horses decorated in every imaginable hue. They danced and twirled and cart-wheeled in full costume down the main road to the village square. Their costumes covered their entire bodies, never revealing an inch of skin. Stopping next to the fountain in the center of town, they poured out, all 36 members of the troupe. Blowing their horns, plucking their lutes and lyres, shaking their tambourines and swaying their hips, they played and danced a jubilant song.
Rowland was napping in the barn on a pile of hay with his cat, Puppy. Puppy was a black, lanky cat, that followed Rowland around everywhere like a dog, which is how she gained her name. They both awoke instantly at the sounds that poured through the barn door. Rowland jumped up with a smile. Grabbing his sack from the ground, he sprinted out the door, Puppy following close behind. Rowland arrived just as they began their second song. He had to stand on his toes to see the performance over the crowd that had quickly gathered. He reached down and Puppy climbed up his arm and perched herself on Rowland's shoulders. Rowland grinned as he watched the dancers and acrobats flip and spin around on the walls of the concrete fountain.The second song came to an end and the crowd cheered and whistled. A tall male performer, dressed as jester in red and black checkered clothes stood on the shoulders of two other performers.
"Thank you for your applause!" the jester yelled happily. "You are too kind. Please be sure to come back tonight at sunset for the Theatre De Pénombre's presentation of Titus Andronicus! And bring your friends!"
The jester took a bow, bent his knees and back-flipped off of the other men's shoulders, landing, with a graceful splash, in the water of the fountain. The crowd cheered once more and slowly dispersed. All except Rowland and Puppy. They found a set of stairs nearby and watched the troupe go about their busy work, going in and out of wagons and setting up their stages in preparation for that night's fateful performance.