"Oh. My. God. They have those damned things down-time too?"

"What things Flo?" Anna followed Flo's icy glare toward a temporary stage erected in the Grantville market. On it, a group of Italian traveling players were performing a broad, ribald and highly improvised show. She turned back to her friend. "Traveling comedy theater? They had them up-time too? I would have thought that with all of the television and movies you had, there wouldn't be room for live theater."

"No. Those-those things. With the face."

"Flo, you're sputtering. They are almost all wearing a kind of mask. I think they call it Commedia."

"No. That face. The white one. The-the-the mime!"

"Mime? Well, the players—"

"Of all the things I thought I left behind, that is one that I haven't missed. Mimes. Ugh. There was a time when they were all over back up-time. You couldn't go to a park in the summer without tripping over them. Pulling on ropes and walking against an invisible wind. They were like pigeon crap. Everywhere. And now they're here. In Grantville. Oh my God."

Anna looked at her up-time friend in amazement. "I always thought they were funny. The Italian players, I mean. Usually it is great fun. You see, they are stock sorts of characters . . . " Anna thought for a moment, and then smiled widely. "Oh, my. They might be able to do the Priest here. I have only seen him one time, and then they got run out of town. But here, they can do all of them as much as they want. This should be good." She clapped her hands together and moved closer to the stage.

"Hang on a second. You mean you like this stuff? Even with a stinking mime?"

Anna stopped and turned to her up-time friend. "I do not understand this 'mime' thing you are talking about. Why is someone pulling on a rope in the wind like pigeon crap?"

"They were always in boxes too. With invisible walls. I always wanted to carry a can of paint to toss it on the wall so they could see the damn thing. Actually to toss on the mime, to be honest about it." Flo smiled a slightly evil little smile.

Anna scratched her head, trying to figure out why her up-time friend was "on a rant." It had been such a nice morning so far, and then, out of the blue, Flo was going on about something . . . . "Flo, what the hell is a mime?"

"That one. The one with the white face and the white costume. He doesn't have a mask." At that moment one of the other characters lifted up a stick about the size of a baseball bat, and began chasing one of the other characters around the stage, swinging wildly, and connecting with almost everything except his target. Each time the bat hit someone, it made a loud slapping noise.

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- The Grantville Gazette Staff