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Adam and Jonner sat on the barrier at the edge of the circus ring, hastily sketching in yet another colour scheme for the proposed backdrop. So far Julian, the director, (also in his interior designer mode for the first time in years) had rejected both the red and the purple, and had now decided to go for gold. Adam looked up to find Hillyard walking towards him across the empty ring, looking uncharacteristically morose.
"I've had enough", he announced, as he neared Adam "I can't work for him anymore. Julian's a worse dictator than Father Gabriel!"
"His enthusiasm gets the better of him that's all", said Adam, soothingly "The problem is we still have rather a lot to do if we're to get his show on the road in the next few days. We have to forgive him if he's being a little ... er ... strident".
"Strident!" said Hillyard "He's a nutcase!"
"Oh Hilly", Adam groaned "Surely you can put up with it? Is he really being any different than normal?"
"That's not saying much!" Hillyard shoved his hands in his pockets and kicked the barrier "He treats me like a pack-horse. He expects me to lug heavy stuff around all day, and I don't get a word of thanks for it. Honestly Adam, I feel like leaving home".
"Don't be silly, you haven't anywhere to go".
"I'll find somewhere".
"Nonsense. Julian's being no different to usual. I can't remember you threatening to leave when we were sailing round the world, and Jules was far more bumptious then".
"I was trapped on the Indigo then that's why!" Hillyard retorted "Oh watch out, here it comes".
"Hillyard!" Julian walked across the auditorium, clasping his riding-crop to his side like Erich von Stronheim "I thought I told you to get started on painting some of those props. Why are you standing around gossiping?"
"I'm having a smoke break", said Hillyard.
"You don't smoke".
"I'm seriously thinking of starting!"
"We have exactly three days to get this show on the road", said Julian, with forced patience "We have a heavy influx of visitors due to fly in on Friday, and I've already had Bengo bending my ear today because all the props aren't ready for a full dress-rehearsal. You are letting the side down".
"You've had me working like a slave", said Hillyard "Morning, noon and night you've had me humping things around. I'm working far harder than some of our lot. Look at Kieran, what the hell's he doing? I'll tell you, nothing!"
"He will be when I finally catch up with him", said Julian "Now come along, the whole town is working hard. I can't be seen to show any favouritism. Go and get started on those props".
Hillyard walked off reluctantly. Julian turned his attention to the two artists.
"How's it coming along?" he asked.
"I think the gold will work much better", said Jonner, presenting a finished sketch done in wax-crayon.
"I don't agree", said Adam "You need a contrast to the sawdust. I think red myself".
"Gold is more showbizzy", said Jonner, persistently.
Julian was spared from having to exert the wisdom of Solomon by Ransey walking across the ring as though on a Sunday stroll.
"Shouldn't you be setting up the box-office?" Julian snapped.
"It's done", said Ransey, smugly "I've got a well-trained workforce you see. All I have to do is give Joby an instruction and he does it. I don't have to chase around the entire site looking for people, unlike some".
"I think I'll go backstage and see how Lo-Lo's getting on", said Adam, not only as a means to excuse himself diplomatically, but to get away from Jonner, who was beginning to seem like the class swot in Adam's eyes.
The site of the Toondor Lanpin Festival was being erected on the outskirts of the town, as the Little Theatre was too small to house it. The central ring was a lot larger than the stage at the theatre, and situated at the very centre of the site, with the audience benches around three sides of it, and the entrances to the wings and dressing area at the back.
The dressing-rooms were wagons, such as the Indigo-ites had once lived in long ago, and these were to serve as temporary homes during the course of the week-long show, which was to run continuously without any break in performances.
Glynis came towards Adam, looking sensational in a figure-hugging silver-beaded evening gown, with Finia scurrying along behind dripping pins.
"Give me your honest opinion", Glynis shouted above the sundry noises of hammering and yelling from all around "Does it suit me?"
"You look divine", said Adam "But I have just one small criticism, do you think the sponge-bag really goes with it?"
Glynis looked askance at the article in her hand, and then let out an almighty guffaw.
"You're as bad as Joby", she cried "He asked me if I kept my teeth in it!"
"Be careful", said Finia "It's crazy, Adam. I'm gonna have to sew her into this before each turn of hers, and tear her out of it afterwards".
"How very sexy", said Adam "Rather like Marilyn Monroe".
The others looked puzzled and Adam gave a deep sigh of "oh never mind".
Lonts walked round one of the wagons after Glynis and Finia had gone, with Toppy hanging onto his t-shirt like a limpit. It was obvious Toppy had been crying.
"What on earth's the matter?" said Adam "Lo-Lo?"
"Take no notice of him", Lonts sneered "Toppy's a complete sissy".
Adam had to admit this was true. Toppy, rather worryingly, didn't seem to be growing out of his childish sensitivity at all. He cried at the drop of a hat, and looked terrified if anyone addressed him directly. Julian had to take some of the blame for this, because of his unreasonable demand that Toppy had to remain pure and innocent. Not that Toppy ever showed any inclination to become otherwise.
"What's happened?" Adam asked.
"Julian's asked to see him", Lonts groaned "You'd think the world was coming to an end".
"I expect he's just a job for you, Toppy", said Adam "And try to be a bit more understanding, Lonts. I can recall plenty of times when you've been scared of a summons from Julian".
"Then perhaps Toppy should have sex with him", said Lonts, bluntly "That's what stopped me being afraid of him".
Toppy looked so appalled by this prospect that Adam had to severely restrain himself from spanking Lonts. Toppy had a big enough hang-up about sex as it was, without Lonts's supremely practical peasent approach to it intimidating him even further.
"Toppy!" Julian bellowed from the entrance to the ring "I've been looking for you all over the damn place. Got a little job for you".
Julian came striding towards him. Over one arm he rather incongruously carried an item of female underwear, made out of black satin.
"Rather sweet isn't it?" he said, holding it up against him "What do you call one of these things?"
"I think it's called a teddy", said Adam, having trouble not spluttering with laughter "Are you getting a part as one of the drag acts, Jules?"
"Don't be absurd", said Julian "It's Natalie's".
"Does she know you've got it?"
"Of course she does, she's just given it to me. Do you think I swiped it from her washing-line or something?" said Julian, indignantly "It's a costume for Tamaz to wear in the sideshow, only he's such a scrawny little runt these days that it needs taking in. You're pretty proficient with a needle, Toppy. Do you think you can manage that? Only Finia's snowed under with doing all the ladies' frocks".
Whilst Julian talked to Toppy, Adam decided to walk Lonts up and down the grass, whilst lecturing him to be more understanding to Toppy. Privately he knew this was a forlorn hope. Lonts had long ago decided that Toppy was ridiculously weak, and although at times of crisis this came out as a protective instinct, at times of "peace" it was hopeless. Toppy was the one member of the family Lonts could bully, and Lonts wasn't going to relinquish this privilege in a hurry.
"You're not being fair, Adam", he said "Toppy is really spoilt. He never got put on a convict-ship like me, or sent to prison, or kidnapped by Vanod, or any of those awful things. And yet he gets away with far more than me".
"No he doesn't, he's nowhere near as naughty as you've been at times".
"Only because he hasn't got the nerve", Lonts mumbled "He's a coward".
"That's quite enough, Lo-Lo", said Adam, sternly "Toppy looks up to you, although I haven't the faintest idea why! You're simply awful to him. Look at the other day for example. I told you to change all the sheets, which does happen to be your job, and I walk in later to find Toppy doing it!"
"Toppy offered to, he enjoys doing housework", said Lonts "He's weird".
"Can't blame Lonts for that, Ad", said Joby, walking round on a break from the box-office "They didn't have sheets where he came from. Relied on the dogs to keep 'em warm!"
"If you had to choose between me and Toppy as a lover, Adam", said Lonts "You would always choose me. No one would want Toppy, he'd keep his socks on".
"That's got nothing to do with it", said Adam, trying not to smile.
He found in the end he had to content himself with threatening dire misfortune to Snowy, unless Lonts made a concerted effort to be kinder to Toppy. The toy bear had proved to be a godsend in recent times, as it was no longer always necessary to threaten Lonts with a hiding to get him to co-operate.
"Trouble is, he's got a point", said Joby, after Lonts had gone back to his duties "Toppy must seem like a fairy-cake to him, after all Lonts has been through in his life".
"Yes I know", Adam sighed "What are we going to do with Toppy? Lo-Lo was a doddle to bring up compared to him. All he needed was a lot of affection and a bit of discipline now and again, whereas Toppy ... I confess I don't know what to do with him. I was sensitive as a child, but by his age I was having to deal with Julian all by myself. I had to grow up quick, unfortunately I didn't get tough enough to cope with him at times. It's not even as if Toppy is very spoilt. Although he's the youngest, it's still very much Lo-Lo who's the baby of the family, everyone's pet".
"Perhaps we need to find Toppy a girlfriend", said Joby.
"I don't honestly think that's going to work", said Adam "Toppy is already showing signs of being one of life's perennial fussy bachelors, rather like that rich friend of Hillyard's".
"I think we've just gotta give it time", said Joby "Look at Ransey. We never thought he'd ever get off the starting-block, and the next thing we know he's married Finia behind our backs. And look at me for that matter! All that angst I had when I was younger, couldn't come to terms with me feelings. You can't tell me Toppy's any harder to deal with than I was!"
"Oh yes I can", Adam slipped an arm round his shoulders "I always had this feeling deep down that you and Patsy would get it together eventually. Why do you think I used to harp on about it so much?"
"And I used to think I'd never get a look in between you two", said Joby.
"I had to look after him until you came to your senses, old love", Adam smiled.
"Yeah", said Joby "And then Lonts came along for you".
Adam looked across at one of the wagons, where Lonts was making a splashy show of scrubbing the wooden sides of it.
"He certainly did", he said.
Back at the saloon on the Indigo that evening Hillyard finished stuffing Tamaz into the black satin number, a task much easier said than done as Tamaz was having one of his unresponsive days, content to stick his finger in his mouth and stare vacantly at the floor.
"I hope he's a bit livelier when the show starts", said Hillayrd, getting up from his knees where he had been struggling to do up the crotch buttons on the teddy.
"So do I", Julian barked "The public will be paying to see a dangerous demon, and at this rate they'll be getting a drooling village idiot!"
"He'll come round I expect", said Hillyard "He has phases, like the moon. Changes every so often".
"Where the hell has Adam got to with that tea?" Julian bellowed, above the thumping din of Bengo and Bardin practising a new routine on the part of the poop-deck directly overhead.
"I keep thinking they'll come crashing down on us", said Hillyard, glancing towards the ceiling.
Julian went to the galley, where he found Adam looking through a selection of sketches on the table.
"I thought you said you were making some tea, Ada?"
"It's brewing", said Adam, absently "Jules, about the colour of the curtains ..."
"Oh never mind all that, it's settled", said Julian "Persephone dug out some midnight blue material which Finia and Toppy are going to sew silver stars onto. It'll be perfect".
"That's alright then isn't it!" Adam exclaimed "What on earth is the point of Jonner and I being the art department if we're not consulted on anything!"
"I didn't have a chance to tell you", said Julian "You were on the other side of the site. Short of somebody reinventing the mobile phone, I was a bit stumped as to how to tell you immediately it happened".
"It's not been my day at all", said Adam, tetchily "You've messed me around no end, and Lo-Lo informs me just before he went to bed that Bardin's offered him a part in the show. They haven't had a chance to tell you about it yet".
"Doing what?" said Julian, in disbelief.
"You know that little mime sequence he's doing with Glynis, whereby he seduces her and then strangles her on grassy hillock?"
"All good clean family entertainment", Julian sighed.
"Well he wants Lonts to be the 'simple peasent boy who witnesses his crime'", said Adam "Lonts has to rush up to him at the end and point at him accusingly as the lights go down".
"It all sounds straightforward. What's your problem with it?"
"He wants Lonts in solely to titivate the audience", Adam snapped "He's going to dress him up in some skimpy little fur briefs and nothing else".
"Good grief", said Julian "Not so much simple peasent boy as the Missing Link from the sounds of things!"
"Ever since Bardin mentioned it Lonts has been completely stage-struck. If I try to voice reservations I get accused of being mean".
"Then let him do it! He's not going to come to any harm, and the punters will certainly enjoy the sight of Baby Lonts in a skimpy costume, and it's not as if he has to learn any lines, which is just as well as his reading skills are basic to say the least..."
Julian broke off when he espied Fradie trying to slink past the door without being noticed. He was clutching his typewriter under his arm, and his shirt-tails flapped around his bare legs, which were rather comically thin and hairy.
"Where the bloody hell do you think you're going?" Julian bellowed.
"I said he could sleep in the saloon for a few nights", said Adam "Jonner will be in there, as it's more convenient than him having to keep going across the river every night".
"What's wrong with the deck all of a sudden?" said Julian.
"Fradie needs a good night's sleep if he's going to churn out some decent scripts", said Adam.
"Fradie needs surgery before that can happen", Julian snorted, unimpressed "Bengo hasn't been too impressed with the quality of them so far".
"It takes me a while to find my voice", said Fradie.
"That's all very well, but we haven't got a while", said Julian "If you don't start churning them out soon, the whole bloody show's going to be in mime!"
"We appreciate the pressure you're under, old love", said Adam hastily, to mollify Fradie's feelings "I'm sure once you've had a decent night's sleep without Tamaz's presence nearby it will all come pouring out".
"Like vomit", said Julian.
"Can I go on through to the saloon then?" said Fradie, wistfully.
"Sure", said Adam "Tamaz is in there at the moment, but Hillyard will be putting him back in his cage soon".
"I'm surprised we have any cast and crew left", Adam continued, once Fradie had gone "With your obnoxious attitude, Jules".
"People work best under pressure", said Julian, unrepentant.
He next espied Kieran, who also tried to scootle past the doorway in a guilty fashion.
"Get in here, Irish!" Julian thundered "I've been trying to get hold of you all day".
"I'm very much in demand", said Kieran, brassily.
"You don't seem to be doing very much for this Festival", said Julian "I appreciate that your practical abilities are non-existent, so you are completely hopeless for the production team, and neither do you possess any entertainment skills ..."
"Ah now that's where you're wrong you see", said Kieran "I've devised a real knockout of a routine for meself and Tamaz".
"I'm all ears", said Julian, dryly.
"Well you know the old sideshow bit's going to be a tad dull, compared to the action in the main ring", said Kieran "Just everyone sitting around being asked boorish questions by the general public. Well I thought to titillate everyone's morbid curiosity me and Tamaz could occasionally do a rolling-skating routine. Just dance around a bit frenzied like. How about it? The Vanquisher of Evil and a half-demonic being roller-skating together!"
"It's certainly different", said Adam "But is Tamaz going to be up to it?"
"Bengo can give him special coaching", said Kieran "Anyway, I'm not expecting Fred Astaire on wheels, he just has to get a bit of speed up and try and out-race me in a circle that's all".
"He'll get far too excited and then anything could happen", said Adam, dubiously.
"We'll take precautions", said Kieran "I won't do the routine unless Julian's there with his whip, or Ransey can take a rest from the box-office whilst we're on. Tamaz rarely plays up in front of him".
"It's a bit dodgy, Pats", said Adam.
"But that's the point!" said Kieran "The punters are going to love the thrill of the unexpected about it, the element of danger. But we'll keep on our side of the barrier all the time".
"Even so, it's a huge risk", said Adam.
"Exactly", said Julian, suddenly "So let's do it!"
The next couple of days passed in a frenzy of activity. Bengo was a nervous wreck because they were having to have a dress-rehearsal without a completed script and finished backdrops. He let loose childish remarks that more attention was being paid to the freak show than the ring acts, which wasn't true.
Julian was determined to kick everyone into shape, and stormed around the Indigo at dawn, banging a spoon against the bottom of a saucepan to wake everyone up.
"Ignore him, he'll go away", said Kieran, with his head on Joby's chest.
"He never has yet", said Joby, with feeling.
Later that morning Joby was strolling around by the wagons, and was disconcerted to find Tamaz at large. He was wearing his black satin costume underneath a faded wrap that had been donated by Persephone.
"What are you doing walking about on your own?" Joby snapped.
"Why?" Tamaz smiled "Think I'm a danger do you?"
Joby noticed that some of the cast and crew were glancing nervously in Tamaz's direction, so he bundled him into one of the empty wagons.
"You're supposed to stay in here unless one of us comes to get you", said Joby, firmly shutting the little door behind him "You were told that in plain language".
"I'm not going to do anything", said Tamaz, irritably "So I don't see why I can't walk around. It's crazy the way you lot treat me. Angel was far worse tahn I am, and yet Kieran gave him total freedom".
"Yeah and much good it did us", said Joby "We never knew a moment's peace with him around".
"Admit it", said Tamaz "I'm nowhere near as bad as him. I bet you wouldn't have dared risk being alone like this with him".
"I wouldn't have wanted to be!"
"Look, why can't you all forgive me?"
"Because you're a murdering little thug that's why", said Joby "A simple matter of Gorth and you stabbing him with a poisoned hat-pin to start with".
"It's not as simple as that", said Tamaz, sitting down on the bunk "I married Gorth because I knew the Ministry were plotting to get rid of me. I was scared. They'd had what they wanted out of me and now I was nothing but an embarrassment to them. You think I wanted to go to bed with a replusive old man, and put up with him pawing me in his fumbling way? And Kieran's guilty about all that. It was his idea after all, that I should be impregnated. He feels as guilty as hell about it, that's why he spared my life".
"What about that time in Thetislog though?" said Joby "When you were gonna have us all executed at dawn. Remember that do you? It's not very nice being told you've only got one night to live! You're a bit more humble these days now your Ghoomer friends are no longer in sight".
"I wouldn't harm you now", Tamaz pulled Joby towards him by his t-shirt.
Tamaz lay back on the bunk and Joby collapsed onto him. Tamaz grabbed one of Joby's hands and rubbed it along his bare legs.
"Shame I don't have stockings on isn't it?" said Tamaz "But I expect the others dare not risk that, it might inflame you too much, and then the little blonde guy wouldn't know what to do".
"Do you know something?" said Joby "I don't think you're evil at all. Open your eyes wide and look at me".
He grabbed Tamaz's face roughly in his hands and jerked it round so that he could stare directly at him. Tamaz's eyes were that strange marmalade colour unique to him, but they weren't dark and bottomless and threatening as Caln's had been for instance. Joby had never forgotten standing on the stairs at the 'Moon and Stars' in Marlsblad, staring down into the vampire's face. He had looked at pure evil there, at a creature who had destroyed life because of a bestial need, or sometimes simply for its own amusement. Joby had been in the company of primitive evil enough in his life to know that he wouldn't want to be lying on a bunk with it playing games, as he was now!
"You're weak and spoilt that's all your trouble is", said Joby "You destroyed Gorth because he'd started refusing you things, and you set that nutter on Lonts that time because you were jealous of his popularity with the public, and you kdinapped me because you were jealous of Kieran having someone who loved him, unconditionally".
"So you should feel sorry for me", said Tamaz, stretching his arms above his head, which caused his small breasts to perk upwards.
Joby suddenly felt a great urge to laugh and roll about with Tamaz in a playful way. They had had some horribly intense times together in the past, but Joby was tired of re-living them, and he had to admit to himself that he often felt excited and aroused by Tamaz in a way that sweet, kindly Glynis hadn't been able to achieve.
A shaft of daylight fell across them. Joby looked up and was appalled to find Kieran standing there, looking decidedly unamused.
"What the fock is going on here?" he roared, kicking the door shut behind him "And don't tell me it's not what it seems!"
Joby jumped to his feet as best he could. Tamaz was giggling in a shoulder-shaking way worthy of Dick Dastardly's Mutley.
"You've never complained before", said Joby, employing the masculine device of twisting the blame round 180 degrees.
"No sooner do I stop you screwing one trollop than I find you're after another!" said Kieran.
"Glynis is not a trollop", said Joby "I won't have you talking about her like that".
"He is though!" said Kieran, pointing at Tamaz "I've always known Englishmen had strange tastes, but you take the biscuit Joby, you really do".
"I must, mustn't I!" Joby retorted "I fancy you for a start! If that's not strange tastes I don't know what is!"
Joby pushed past him and headed out of the wagon.
"Is it your idea that we skate for him then?" Tamaz simpered "Winner takes Joby".
"NO!" Kieran thundered "Joby's not up for auction, so get that out of your thick Ghoomer skull!"
Outside the wagon Joby had bumped into Lonts, who had stripped down to his underpants and was swilling his perspiring body with a hose.
"Did Kieran find you then, Joby?" he asked, innocently "He was looking for you and I told him you'd gone into the wagon with Tamaz".
"Why don't you try doing a bit of colonic irrigation with that hose, Lonts!" said Joby.
Kieran emerged from the wagon, picked an orange out of a basket of fruit set aside to stem dehydration backstage, and lobbed it at Joby, catching him on the side of the head.
"Watch out!" Joby shrieked "You could've knocked me fucking head off!"
"What's colonic irrigation?" said Lonts, in exasperation.
Tamaz migrated to a nest of straw bales near the wagon, where Finia was perched, repairing and altering costumes. Finia was wearing his bikini, and because of the heat had jettisoned his wigs in favour of a white kerchief tied round his head.
"Are you in the freak show too?" said Tamaz, plonking himself down on the bale next to him.
"I'm wardrobe mistress, not exhibit", said Finia, haughtily.
"They could put us up as a matching pair", Tamaz sniggered "Me with everything, and you with nothing".
"What do you mean by that?" said Finia.
"I have breasts, prick and cunt", said Tamaz "You have none of those. You might as well be made out of plastic, or be a stuffed toy like that stupid bear the Kiskevian's always carrying about".
Finia forebore to reply, instead he jammed his needle into Tamaz's thigh. Tamaz gave a shrill yelp.
"Don't worry", said Finia, sweetly "Unlike you I don't put curare on the end of my needles!"
A few bales further along Adam and Jonner were looking through their sketch-pads, and deciding which pictures could be refined and turned into paintings. This would be for a small exhibition to be held in the town immediately the Festival ended, "a pictorial celebration of Toondor Lanpin's cultural achievement".
"That would make a most effective study", said Jonner, pointing across at Finia and Tamaz "Those two sitting side-by-side".
"Yes it would", said Adam "Why don't you get started on a quick preliminary sketch of that? Then I can do an extra one of Claudia and Gloria. It's frightening how little time we have".
He was distracted by Bengo rifling through the discarded pictures in a noisy and indignant manner.
"This is just typical", Bengo shrieked "Most of these concern the sideshow. That bloody exhibition's getting all the attention! I wouldn't mind, but all they have to do is sit around all the time. Whereas us genuine performers are knocking ourselves out with effort".
"Shut up Bengo, you sound like a brat", said Adam "And for your information those pictures are ones we've rejected, so stick that up your singlet!"
"Bengo!" Bardin appeared "Come over here, I've got something to tell you".
"Good, take him away", said Adam.
"What?" said Bengo, going over to join his colleague.
"I've just heard some news", said Bardin, excitedly "It's rumoured there's a talent-scout from the City coming in on the first air-buggy".
"Oh yeah, of course there is", said Bengo, sarcastically "When I was in the Cabaret of Horrors that rumour flew round at every Saturday performance. It was never true".
"Well I believe this time it is", said Bardin, sulkily "Or aren't you interested, is that it? Lost all your ambition have you?"
"No", said Bengo, defensively "I want to be the best in my field, I'd call that ambition! It's just that I don't wanna work in the City".
"Why not? It's still the only real place to get on".
"Because I like it here".
"There's no future in working in Toondor Lanpin", said Bardin, impatiently.
"I don't agree", said Bengo "Adam was telling me the other day that they had big festivals in his time, and some were so famous that people from all over the world flocked to see them every year. I don't see why the Toondor Lanpin Festival can't be that famous. We're already predicting a sell-out for this year. Who needs the City whenn we can do it ourselves down here?"
"I want to work in the City though".
"I'm not stopping you. It's not as if you can't get another partner. Take Glynis with you, after all she seems to like working with you".
"Glynis is just an ingenue, not a clown", said Bardin "What if this talent-scout wants the two of us, as a complete package? He might not be interested in a solo performer. Clowns on their own are too hard to market. He'll want us both, I'm sure of it".
"As I said, get yourself another partner. Shouldn't be too hard".
"He'll want you. You're the one with the famous legs", said Bardin "Some fucking friend and colleague you've turned out to be. My one chance of getting to the City and hitting the big time, and you don't want to know. You've gone soft that's your trouble. Don't want to leave your precious Indigo. I might've expected this from you. After all, not many true performers would abandon the stage to stowaway on a tugboat like you did".
"This is daft", Bengo protested "We don't even know for sure there is a bloody talent-scout flying in, and even if there is he might be happy with just you".
Bardin though refused to be mollified. He stamped away across the flattened grass, and turned and yelled "BASTARD!" before disappearing into one of the wagons.
"What's the matter with him?" said Joby, walking over.
"Getting uptight about everything", said Bengo "A showbiz partnership has all the disadvantages of a love affair and none of the advantages sometimes".
"Not so easy to kiss and make up I spose", said Joby.
"He gets jealous of me having any life outside the stage", said Bengo "Accuses me of putting my home life on the Indigo first. Trouble is, I suppose he's right. Perhaps I have lost the blood-lust to succeed that you need if you wanna get on in our game".
"You always seem pretty dedicated to me".
"Yeah, but only as long as I don't have to leave the Indigo, which is what he wants me to do", said Bengo.
"I can't advise you what to do", Joby sighed "But take it from one who knows, the City's nowhere near as wonderful as it's cracked up to be".
"I wasn't very impressed with it from the brief bit I've seen", said Bengo "And I think I'd get lonely there. Bardin's no company, I'm just a necessary stage-prop as far as he's concerned. I don't think I can stand the thought of starting all over again on my own".
"Then don't", said Joby, abruptly "It's your life, not his. If he's that anxious to be a big star, let him do it in his own way like all the other big stars have to. He hasn't got any right to use you to do it".
"He doesn't see it that way though", said Bengo, sadly.
Bengo's misery was increased later that day by the unexpected arrival of some of his colleagues from the Cabaret of Horrors. They had heard about the Festival and had taken nearly a month to sail up from the Village of Stairs in order to join the cast. The other Indigo-ites were pleased to see them, as extra performers were always welcome, particularly when headed by Ully, the ageing drag queen and an old friend from way back.
The rag-bag troupe of clowns, acrobats and dwarves were hard on Bengo though. Instead of admiring his brave decision to jack in his job and follow Kieran, they saw him as a traitor, as though he'd disowned the stage and everyone that went with it. That this was complete nonsense made no difference to them. As far as they were concerned he had left the elite circle, and when he tried to coach a troupe of dwarves in a dance-routine they responded like a class of bad-tempered children under the guidance of a timid teacher.
"They can be such nasty little brutes", said Adam, taking bacon rolls and coffee from the refreshment stand over to Julian earlier that evening "Poor little Bengo ..."
"Adam, if you utter those mawkish words one more time I shall set about you with my riding-crop", said Julian "I've heard nothing but Poor Little Bengo from you since that lot turned up".
"I can't help it, Jules", said Adam, sitting down next to him "We forget all too easily that Bengo has feelings too, and it's not right. He's the most amiable one out of all of us, and he tries so hard to please everyone".
Julian gave a non-commital grunt as he bit into his bacon roll.
"Why can't you help him a little?" said Adam "You should, seeing as most of the time you treat him like an insignificant member of your harem".
"Well I like that!" Julian spluttered "I let him sleep in my bed for a start! If I didn't, he'd have to sleep on the floor. And you lot seem to forget I allowed him to stay when he smuggled himself aboard the Indigo".
"Only because of intense pressure from the rest of us", said Adam "Left to you he'd have been dumped in the swamp!"
"But he wasn't was he?" said Julian, testily "And I've been like a kindly uncle to him ever since".
"Kindly uncles go around rogering their nephews do they?"
"It's not exactly against his will! May I remind you that it was him who put himself in my bed, completely to my surprise I might add".
"Joby told me that Bardin's putting pressure on Bengo to go to the City to seek fame and fortune", said Adam "What have you got to say about that?"
"He won't go", said Julian, confidantly "Bengo's not materialistic, and he'd rather stay at the Little Theatre where he can have everything his own way, than start again at some huge anonymous place".
"I do hope you're right", Adam sighed.
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