Waiting in the wings, dressed in his fancy lion-tamer outfit, loose white shirt and tight black pants, a red scarf around his waist, Jerin gasped along with the crowd as Mr. Moon sawed his partner, and possibly lover, though they never said anything, in two, and then in three. the boxes fell apart, revealing the air between the boxes. Yet Maria had remained alive, and Moon had put her back together. Then it was time for more danger.

Jerin ran out, waving as the ringmaster announced him. He grabbed a special whip from the rack and lit it on fire, timing his swinging for dramatic effect. Nearly invisible in the gloom of the still smokey interior from Moon's trick, a net descended from the ceiling, a net made of chains. Hidden in the smoke, stage hands pinned it to the ground, leaving Jerin trapped and alone in the ring as the big cats were released. There was always a gasp when this happened.

Boss came out first and stood on the highest tiger pedestal, Prime, the biggest lion came and stood on the highest lion pedestal. Their females, the tigers; Dusk, Dawn (twins), Tatiana, and Septibah, and the lions; Massai, Savanah, Deliah, and Alexandra, circled around three or four times before coming to rest on their pedestals. Still waving the flaming whip, Jerin deftly lit the single large ring hanging from the ceiling. Signaling to the cats, he stepped back, extinguishing the whip. Boss and Prime both leaped at the circle at the same time, Boss leaping over Prime through the flaming hoop. Then each of the females did their own tricks. Tatiana somersaulted through, Savanah went through tail first, and so on, till the ten big cats had completed that part of the act.

Then, taking a deep breath, Jerin signaled for the "bounce" which was his new part of the act. He lept onto Boss, grabbing onto his decorative collar, which had special hand-holds built in just for this purpose. Then, the cats began leaping all over the ring, even onto the chain net, which caused several shouts of fright, but the cage held. Jerin jumped off Boss when he came to a stop, and slightly weak-kneed, he signaled the final signal, and the cats all bowed in unison, sitting and putting their noses in their paws and rising again. Then they made a dash for the open gates, ready to go back to their pens and yowl about what a great performance they did, at least, thats what Jerin thought. He followed the cats as a slower pace, breathless from the speed of that last part of the act.

"Wow, you did so great!" Alliana bounced as soon as the crowd recovered enough to clap and cheer and otherwise cover up the noise behind the scenes.

"Thanks Alliana, you did too," Jerin returned, wishing his ears didnt turn red so easily. "In both your acts, now shh, the knife throwers are next."

The End

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