They would congregate along the rim of the open-air theater in the city park at night. Before the sun dropped below the tall buildings, they would come in pairs, as small families or larger clans. Some slowly danced to silent music, others performed wild, acrobatic feats of wonder.
Colorful, haphazard quilts were spread out in an eclectic checkerboard. Toddlers crawled across the kaleidoscope field, sticky hands and faces covered in honey comb, as infants, latched to their mothers’ tits, mewed their satisfaction.
A bazaar was set up across the amphitheater, where crafters offered woven shawls and tunics, wooden toys, fresh-baked goods, and mason jars filled with homegrown fruits and vegetables. A few vendors toiled over small charcoal grills, cooking savory smelling vittles for their fellow Bohemians. The aroma of ganja and curry filled the air.
When the day had faded, and the air had chilled, the drums would begin.
Gone were the joyful rhythms of spring, and renewal. The rata tats, sharp and crisp, skipping across the stretched skins. Gone too, the driving staccato ricocheting over battle snares. The drums are low and mournful, a heartbeat slowing until it is no more.
Sacred cadence, honoring the dead and dying. The drum circle is all that is left. The last of remnants of humanity. They played music in an extinction chord, a dirge, a funeral march. Frightened toddlers crawled back to their parents and infants whimpered in response.
The dances became maudlin and the acrobats folded themselves into smaller and smaller bits until they completely dwindled away.
Into the night the drumbeats pounded, hammering at despondent hearts, trying to restore an extant spirit. The circle closed in, huddling together for warmth until the drums fell still. And, they waited, the quiet deafening.
A faint beat was heard in the distance, then another, steady and growing stronger.