The Adventures of Vulpecula | Serial | Episode One: “The Grand Illusion” | 2 - Mishmashers Mishmashers

The Adventures of Vulpecula | Serial | Episode One: “The Grand Illusion” | 2

While Vulpecula knew very little about theater, he had heard of the Magnets, a traveling troupe composed exclusively of Acera-born performers that specialized in various forms of entertainment. He recalled them being described as over-the-top, excessive, and bizarre in many of their methods of showmanship, oftentimes capitalizing on the spectacle of shock-value. Evidently, McKinley Halls is where they liked to perform most often. Before even being given the chance to attempt and see if the front-entrance door was unlocked, they were welcomed in by a doorman wearing an overcoat and top-hat. The suited penguin politely let them into the building and said that they had been expecting them.

They were swiftly introduced to a unique and small stature fellow with an ensemble which featured minutiae in its confines. He wore lavender dance shoes with noticeable sparkling silver on the laces; he wore an elegant-looking bright-red coat that had sigils and emblems scattered about, giving him the look of somebody of royalty. His leggings complimented the coat nicely in-color, but up-close, Vulpecula could see for certain that they were spandex, meant for easy maneuvering. With this, Vulpecula was easily able to assume that he was in the presence of an actor.

Upon inspection of his facial-features; the puffy-eyes of exhaustion emphasizing lack of sleep, an unkempt mane and the fact that his coat was messily unbuttoned helped Vulpecula realize that this lion went by the name of Eric Leon, the very same which had emailed Apus asking for help.

The fact that the doorman introduced him as Eric Leon might have also helped Vulpecula in making this assessment.

“Welcome,” Eric said in a raspy voice, “I am happy that all three of you could come.”

However, his voice indicated that he was feeling anything except for happiness. “I don’t suppose that I can offer any of you a beverage before we start?”

I would prefer it if we could get on with what you need help with,” Vulpecula answered coolly.

Very well … I suppose that we should make way to the stage before we begin, I have no doubts that the scene will be invaluable to you.”

Eric Leon turned his back to them and began to lead the way, the inside of the building looked exactly as Vulpecula imagined it would when he realized it was a theater. There was a counter to his right to buy tickets, food and refreshments. To his left, there were posters hung up on the walls for several different plays, some of them had dates for when shows might be, and some had ribbons pinned on with the names of awards that they had received. Eventually, as they continued following him, the rows of posters ended, and instead, there were doors with numbers on them, each leading to a different theater to watch a specific show be performed.

Why don’t you tell us what’s up?” Lacerta asked rather abruptly, taking Vulpecula out of his thoughts.

Eric didn’t answer him for a while, not until he opened one of the doors, this one had a big, red number “3” written on the top of it and walked inside. Vulpecula, Lacerta, and Apus followed him and were given the opportunity to behold one of the theaters. It wasn’t enormous, capable of seating around one or two hundred people, but not enormous, medium-size, which made Vulpecula wonder about whether the other rooms varied in size. Between all the rows of chairs was a walkway leading to the stage which had a large, red curtain dangling over it.

“Two nights ago, … one night before I asked for your assistance, we were doing a play called The Blood Lane Starlet, I needn’t go in-depths about the play’s contents, but I will tell you that the lead part went to a female named Molly Louise, a snow leopard that played the role of the starlet in her rise to fame.” Eric Leon stopped momentarily, as if anticipating himself to become emotional. “She was kidnapped before the end of the second-half.”

So, what, somebody came and took her from her dressing room or something?” Lacerta inquired confusedly.

“No, they kidnapped her during the play!” Eric Leon announced.

Vulpecula may have only been listening halfheartedly before, but as those words escaped from Leon’s lips, he had his complete and undivided attention.

“Elaborate,” Vulpecula instructed plainly.

“While doing one of the scenes, she accidentally walked over one of the stages’ trapdoors and triggered it. There was no scene in the play that called for the trapdoor, and so, obviously, she shouldn’t have come down. A lot of the performers were taken aghast by this, as were the audience, however, nobody was in a frenzied panic. The audience thought it was nothing more than part of the act, whereas the performers thought it was a flub by the crew. They lock the trapdoor whenever it is not being used, so these kinds of things don’t happen, but it didn’t seem like a big deal. Molly would fall safely on a cushion, laugh it off, and we’d carry on, but she didn’t come back.”

Vulpecula felt his mouth becoming watery but didn’t bother inspecting why that might have been. A kidnapping for Vulpecula to solve! It might as well have been his birthday, and while he succeeded at refraining from dancing the boogie-woogie in-response, he did notice his foot tapping graciously to the beat of his operatic enthuse. Eric Leon didn’t notice, but Apus poked at V with one of his sharp nails to show his dislike for the gesture.

“Did you have a search-party for her?” Apus asked.

It was a question with an obvious answer, Eric Leon wouldn’t have bothered requesting their help if he hadn’t exhausted all other means. However, Eric Leon didn’t point that out to him and instead, he only offered a nod as an answer.

“We informed the police, but they couldn’t find anything, they are doing searches for her now, and promise that they’ll find her, but I felt like there was more that I could be doing.” Eric Leon walked up some of the steps leading to the stage and disappeared behind the curtains momentarily. Vulpecula found himself fidgeting with one of the theater chairs, rocking it back and forth for no reason at all whatsoever. Seconds later, Eric Leon revealed himself once more by opening the curtains with a braided rope from behind them. “And that’s why I came to you.”

“What was your relationship with Molly Louise?” Vulpecula asked.

“She was my partner.”

“And does your partner have a family?”

“Yes.”

“Where are they?”

“I haven’t heard from them.”

“Why is that?”

“She never really talked about them much, that’s kind-of why she’s a stage-performer. This life-style fits hers, and I mean, we’d always talk about one day being able to join the Magnets, that’s a troupe for stage-performers. They say that it’s like a big family there, and it just seemed like a way to get away from it all.”

“Are you saying that she has no ties whatsoever with her family?”

“Yes,” Eric Leon answered simply before elaborating. “She is from Hardan, and that is where her folks are. She hasn’t spoken to any of them in years.”

Vulpecula couldn’t help learning more and more about Eric Leon with every word that he spoke. His disposition carried a certain eloquence and poise, but it wasn’t enough to hide his roots. He looked and talked like a showman and tried to sound it, however, his scrambled composure clarified to Vulpecula that he was from the country. Of course, this by no means meant that he was lacking eloquence, but rather to say that he hid the accent he likely inherited from living on the outskirts of Acera.