A Day In The Sun
By Thomas Mc

Chapter 3: Strange Encounters

On their own for the time being, Catherine and Vincent stopped at one of the clusters of food courts for lunch. While they were eating, several people came by to get a closer look at Vincent and Catherine. They all acted and talked as though Vincent was exactly what he appeared to be. However, their emotions reflected amusement, amazement, curiosity, and, particularly among the young children, awe. Even though he knew it was all pretend, there was something so liberating about the way he was treated. Even the jokes about his appearance only served to amuse him because they were meant in harmless fun.

It was about a half-hour after their meal and by now Vincent had completely relaxed to the situation. Vincent and Catherine were strolled the grounds looking into the shops and taking in the sights. He was enjoying the unique experience of walking among crowds of people in broad daylight and feeling totally accepted. He had even managed to come up with a half dozen humorous and/or medieval appropriate comebacks for comments about his leonine appearance. The one that got the best response was, "My lord father always claimed that my mother was a real wildcat."

In one of the shops Catherine spotted a gorgeous blue and black leather outfit of vest, pants and hooded cape matched with a cream-colored buccaneer style shirt. With some serious wheedling, she pushed Vincent into trying it on. While he was changing, the shopkeeper showed her a matching outfit of a black and blue leather vest-like top, matching knee-length leather skirt, identical cream-colored shirt, and blue cotton leggings. She told the shopkeeper to set the outfit aside for her.

Vincent came out of the dressing room looking magnificent in the new outfit. Catherine and the young woman waiting on him both stared in open mouthed appreciation.

After a couple of seconds the shopkeeper recovered her wits. "That is a perfect fit for you sir." She enthused. "The colors are a perfect compliment for the color of your fur and the leather is the best quality. Tough enough to be very claw resistant."

Though Vincent could feel the humor within the shopkeeper, he also could sense that she was serious about the fur and claws comments. It was as though she simultaneously knew he was in makeup and costume yet she believed he was real. He was thinking that it was the same type of disjointed acceptance he seemed to be encountering all around him today.

Several other customers in the shop also came over and complimented Vincent.

Catherine was looking at Vincent, thinking how incredibly sexy he looked and how great they would look in the matching outfits at the next Winterfest. After Vincent returned to the changing room, Catherine spoke to the shopkeeper. "I'll take both of them." She handed the shopkeeper her credit card.

"A very good choice, my lady."

When Vincent came out, the young woman took his outfit and packed it up with the one Catherine wanted.

"That is an awful lot of money for two sets of clothes." Vincent said quietly to Catherine. With his hearing, he had been aware of everything said, even while he was in the changing room.

"It's worth it to be able to see you in it and to remind us of the fun we had today. Besides, I think we will make quite a splash at the next Winterfest."

The shopkeeper handed Catherine back her card and gave the bundled package to Vincent. Because of the warming afternoon air, Catherine's mask was becoming a bit uncomfortable so she removed it and placed it in the bundle with their newly purchased clothes. Then, arm in arm, Vincent and Catherine exited the shop and rejoined the throng wandering the faire grounds.

A minute later Vincent came to an abrupt stop as he stared in surprise at what appeared to be a cross between a human and a six-point buck standing under a tree at the edge of one of the two main common eating areas. The antlers and the fur covering his torso looked so real. The creature had been scanning the colorful crowd when he noticed Vincent. His attention seemed to lock onto Vincent with a puzzled expression.

Vincent blinked. The eyes of the man-buck blinked almost as though in response. Then his eyes widened in surprise.

"Vincent? What ..." Catherine's voice trailed off as she glanced over in the same direction that Vincent was staring and caught sight of the man-buck. For several seconds the three of them stood staring at each other across the open area.

A young woman wearing a barbarian hunter's costume complete with longbow and carrying two cups of some amber colored liquid, trotted up to the man-buck. She glanced over at Vincent then did an almost comically perfect double take and he caught just a hint of recognition from the woman as she made some comment to the man-buck. The man-buck said something to the woman and her head snapped back around toward him and she stared in surprise. Vincent felt a strong sense of surprise, confusion and disbelief coming from the outlandish couple. The man-buck said something else to the barbarian woman and she dragged her gaze away from Vincent then gave the man-buck one of the two drinks she was carrying. He took a sip from his drink, linked his arm with hers and, with a nod the two of them, turned and disappeared into the crowd.

After a few more seconds, Vincent shook off his stunned paralysis and looked at Catherine. She was gazing back at him with a bemused look on her face that perfectly matched the emotions he felt from her over their bond. He had seen several examples of fantasy creatures and man-beasts since he and Catherine had arrived at this Renaissance Festival, some more successfully executed than others, but this was the first time he had found himself wondering if it was real.

Catherine was the first to speak. "Either that was the best example of movie makeup I have ever seen in my life, or you are not the only physically unique individual that is hiding in plain sight at this faire."

"You don't really believe that was real do you?" Vincent's eyebrows rode up in surprise.

"Didn't you wonder? I can sense your emotions as well, you know. You saw the same thing I saw." She shrugged her shoulders. "If I had seen you here seventeen years ago, I would not have believed you were real." She shook her head. "But meeting you has shaken many of my certainties from that time."

They gazed at each other for a moment then they both shook their heads. "Naw." They both responded.

With another shrug, they both continued on their way and soon became engrossed in a shop that specialized in statues of dragons and other fantasy creatures. After looking around for a while, Vincent sensed the attention of the man sitting in the corner behind the counter. He noticed that the man kept glancing over at him while scribbling furiously on the artist's tablet he was holding. He decided to ignore the man and, after several more minutes, they moved on to the next shop.

~ o ~

An hour later, Catherine and Vincent were near one of the stages at the far end of the field. Catherine was drawn in by the barker style patter coming from the two men dressed as Spanish conquistadors. They were hawking their comedy sword fighting show that was about to start. Just as she and Vincent took their seats, Joe and Sammy showed up and sat next to them.

"Some of the shopkeepers recommended this show." Sammy chimed in.

"We were told that this show is as popular as the Merlin show." Added Joe.

Chris and Sharon came up and joined them. Chris commented. "Several people recommended this show to us."

Soon the show started. It seemed to consist of a lot of impressive swordplay mixed with a lot of jokes with double entendres thrown in. They brought two young men up from the audience, supposedly to teach them sword fighting. They gave the two volunteers foam swords that were not quite stiff enough to stand up under their own weight. They then proceeded to have some fun with the two young men including several jokes about not being able to get their weapons up.

After the volunteers returned to the audience the two entertainers did some impressive tricks with whips.

The two swordsmen announced that they were going to do 'Something difficult'. The crowd responded "ooooh!" Then they were going to do 'something dangerous'. The crowd responded "aaaah!" Finally they were going to do 'something stupid'. The crowd responded with a very enthusiastic "yea!" Obviously many were familiar with the routine.

The shorter of the two swordsmen entered the audience looking for a volunteer. He reached the point where Vincent and his friends were sitting. The way they were seated made it obvious how they were coupled. "What's wrong with this picture?" He asked as he noticed how mismatched each couple was. "Looks to me like they've been playing musical dates."

He began to flirt with Catherine then the taller swordsman on stage commented. "I don't know about difficult but, based on the looks of her escort, messing with that particular fairy might be classified as both dangerous and stupid."

The shorter swordsman eyed Vincent a moment. "I got an idea." He bounded back up to the front and disappeared backstage. A few seconds later he reappeared and bounded back out to where Vincent and Catherine were sitting. "You look like you could use a manicure." He then pulled out a giant oversized file.

Catherine glanced at Vincent who looked down at his claws as the rest of the audience started laughing. Vincent looked back up at Catherine then shrugged. The deadpan look on his face, along with the ludicrous image in her head of Vincent trying to use that giant file on his claws, combined with the amusement that she could feel bubbling up inside Vincent, over their bond, was too much for her. Catherine started cracking up.

The rest of Vincent's friends also lost it. Finally, Vincent, unable to hold it in any longer, also cracked up.

The swordsmen commented. "I never thought we would get a chance to use this prop." Then he moved on and finally selected a young woman in shorts and tee shirt to take up to the stage. There were several more humorous references to Vincent's claws, the oversized file and the three mismatched couples throughout the rest of the show.

After the swordplay show was over, Catherine left a generous tip in the hat as they left.

~ o ~

As they were crossing the central area of the faire grounds Vincent was startled by the sight before him.

In a small enclosed arena Charles and Jacob were sword fighting with foam padded swords while Elizabeth and Linda cheered them on. All three sets of parents stopped to watch the spectacle.

Apparently for a small fee they were each given a padded sword and padded head gear. They were taught some very basic sword fighting moves then they were turned loose to practice on each other for five minutes. At that moment Lawrence and Jennifer arrived from the other direction and stopped over by the girls to watch the fun.

After the boys were done they all joined up and headed across the grounds to the next destination.

~ o ~

The next stop was the glassblower's pavilion where they had originally planned to meet up with the children. Jenny and the youngest twins were already there. Nancy and Paul showed up about five minutes later. They all found seats to watch the demonstration. Vincent was fascinated by the exhibition of the art of glassblowing. After the demonstration was finished, they looked over the shop's wares and purchased a few items as gifts for some of the people of the tunnels. Catherine also purchased a dark blue and silver vase and a matching serving platter that struck her fancy for the parlor of their brownstone.

It was getting late and they all decided that they wanted to go watch the Jousting Tournament so they all headed to the back part of the grounds where the jousting field was located. By the time they arrived, the crowd had already swollen to impressive proportions.

Vincent glanced around at the field and at the stands on the far side where the king and queen were taking their place along with their court. Vincent was reminded of all the stories from his childhood of King Arthur and his knights. The trumpets sounded their call and soon the tournament had begun.

The preliminary events consisted mostly of various tests of skill on horseback. The performers were in light leather armor and were riding standard size horses. The preliminaries were soon over and there was a short break that was filled in with a short duel between two performers that acted like they had both had a bit too much mead. After the humorous duel the field was cleared. The trumpets again sounded and the knights came out in full plate armor and riding on their great war-horses. Vincent was surprised at how large the warhorses were. He had seen pictures and videos of them but the reality was far more impressive. The horses with their knights were led around the arena as a brightly clad person stood in the middle of the field, loudly introducing them. Then, as the two knights took up positions at opposite ends of the field, the crowd was divided into two groups and assigned the knight that they were supposed to cheer for. Vincent and his friends were in the group that cheered for the knight dressed in yellow and green.

As the joust began, Vincent felt the ground rumble against his feet as the horses thundered past. He felt a visceral tingle shoot up his spine to match the vibrations that traveled up his legs from the ground. He felt the thrill as the lances shattered against the opponent's shield. He felt the emotions of those around him wash over him as they watched the spectacle. He glanced to his left at Joe and Sammy and beyond them to his sons and their girl friends, all cheering wildly for their champion. He glanced over to his right at Chris and Sharon and beyond to the rest of their friends. He glanced at the rest of their children arrayed in front of them. Finally, he glanced at Catherine to see her smiling back at him as their arms went around each other. It hit him then that this whole day was all real and he was, actually, here experiencing it all with his family and friends. Once again he marveled at the way Catherine was always finding ways to give him experiences that everyone else 'knew' he could never have.

Vincent thought about all the times that Devin and he had gone on those imaginary adventures to Camelot as children. He would have a lot to write about, both in his journals and to Devin, once they had returned home.

Vincent tightened his arm around Catherine and felt her response, physically and emotionally. Then his attention was again draw to the spectacle as the two knights made another pass.

On the fourth pass the black and red knight was unhorsed. The green and yellow knight dismounted grabbing his sword. At the same time, the black and red knight stood up and retrieved his sword. Both knights were soon engaged in battle and a wild spectacular sword fight ensued. Vincent was fully engrossed in the show as he loudly cheered his knight to victory. Then the show was over and it was nearly time for the faire to close.

Tired and happy, the entire group made their way to the front gates. All the way out to their vans they talked and laughed about what they had seen and done during their day at the faire.

~ o ~

As they were packing all of their equipment and treasures into the back of the vans they established that they were all hungry and were discussing what to do since it was getting late and no one was really interested in cooking. A passerby overheard them and suggested that there were several fast food places up where the county road crossed the highway.

"But we're not exactly appropriately dressed for eating out." Catherine objected.

The stranger chuckled. "This time of year those places are used to getting all kinds of outlandishly dressed customers."

When they reached the highway Joe led them into the parking lot where most of the restaurants were located. After a bit of discussion they chose a hamburger place and all went in to get takeout. The stranger had been right. The place was full of people fresh from the faire and the workers behind the counters barely gave them a second look. Once everyone had their orders they all piled back into the vans and were soon back at the lake.

They all sat around the fire pit and ate their food while talking about what they had done at the faire.

After they had finished off the meal, everyone was so tired that they all headed straight to bed and were soon sound asleep.

~ o ~

The next morning everyone ended up at the lake where they fixed a breakfast of omelets. The rest of the day was spent playing in the lake with breaks for lunch and dinner around the fire pit.

Nancy, Paul and Jenny left immediately after dinner. Jenny had to get her car atNancy's and head home. Paul had an early morning at work the next day.

Immediately after sundown the three Vans were loaded up and they began the two hour trip back toNew York. That night Vincent drew Catherine in close as they settled into their own bed and thanked her for giving him such a wonderful weekend.

The End

'Beauty and the Beast' and its characters are owned by Witt-Thomas Productions and Republic Pictures. No infringement on copyrights is intended. This story is presented merely for the enjoyment of fans. Original concepts and story elements may be used by other authors as long as appropriate credit is given.