It was the balloons, red and yellow and white bubbles rising up and scattering into the blue sky over a rocky seascape, that led Matthew Roving. In search of someone who could teach him how to survive a duel, Matthew had sought the man known as The Fight Master all over Newport. Apparently he had no fixed address, this Shoddy Cutts—"look for a little brown car the size of a muffin tin," the chubby Roddy Soard had said. "Look for picnics, fairs, and festivals." Circling the listings in a free newspaper, then pedaling The Quaint Misbehaving Home for Wayward Salt's rackety 10-speed bike for hours, Matthew had nearly exhausted his possibilities, not to mention himself, when he saw the balloons. And followed them. And found a middle school fair at Brenton Point State Park.
Strolling amid the concession booths and games, Matthew came across an enclosed grass area, empty except for a folding chair and an umbrella stand filled with colorful soft-foam sabers. "Beat Zorro," said a sign. "Three Minutes for $3."