Simon hesitated. The staves dropped lower toward the cobbles than he usually let them get, but the moment passed and he snatched them up at the last moment. The crowd loved it when he made appearances of just barely holding the whirling mess together, but if they had the patience and the mental fortitude, they could spot the patterns.
Except for him. Simon spotted him out of the bustling crowd with an ornithologist's keen eye. He represented what every striving entertainer despised: disinterest. Simon separated out a single stave and shifted the others to his left hand. He parted the crowd with curt gestures, and they flowed around him as he stepped deeper among them toward the subject of his demise.
The poor lad didn't even notice.
Simon tossed the stave high into the air and added it back into the frenzy, leaned back almost as far as his tumbling friends liked to go, snagging one of the longer blades from the back of his calf-high boots. He spun it once, greeting the balance of an old friend, and them gave it a good hard heave.
They always got frightened when he threw something in a direction other than up, and with good reason: his aim was impeccable.
"You have to give me more time than that, Simon!"
"Why? You caught it in time."
"Yeah, but you broke one of my fingers in the process."
"Sprained. You'll be fine. Keep it wrapped up and get your tutelage with the tumblers for the next week or so, to let it heal. And maybe next time you'll spot the sod faster."
"Attaboy, Ems. You'll be a fine jester yourself if you keep to that attitude. Just you wait."