Those that have read the previous chapter may recall the beginning of this most unexpected romantic tension, inside the county clerk's office as Madeleine (the albino peacock) and I were finishing up our work for the day. After Cousin Eddie the Raven and Caesar Emeritus had left to complete their mission of refunding the pumpernickel property tax payments, Madeleine sat next to me while I finished hooking up the vintage audio gear in our office. I told her many stories of fun and absurd times had at the Sacred Pub, hoping to ease her anxiety toward going there with me later in the evening. I even reminded her how her uncle Eddie the Peacock (my former boss at the county clerk's office) honed his fabulous comedy skills on the stage there, much to many critters' pleasure. I ended many of the stories I told her with "But it's hard to explain; it will make more sense when we go there tonight." At some point, I had finished setting up our stereo system, and tested it out using a Van Halen record that Cousin Eddie had conveniently left on the file cabinet.
Madeleine seemed more curious than confused as she fidgeted with the tips of her wings and eyed the costume closet. "You know I've never gone to a place like this. I don't even know how to pick out what I should wear, or how I should greet people there."
The stereo worked perfectly, and I continued playing the record album at a low volume as I grabbed a chair for myself and sat in front of Madeleine. "Surely you went to prom back in Atherton? In some ways it's not so different than that."
Madeleine laughed a hearty laugh, and seemed to relax a bit, saying, "No, of course I never went. Those things were silly and such a waste of time! When I was at Atherton I was focused on my studies, as a person of intelligence should be."
I got up and retrieved some make up and brushes out of one of the boxes Cousin Eddie and Caesar had brought in earlier, and asked her, "Would you have gone if someone had asked you to go with them?" Then I sat back down in front of her and edged a bit closer.
"Honestly, I've never thought about it. But you are correct, no one ever did actually ask me. I believe people that knew me well enough knew better than to ask me; they would have known well that I thought such things were silly and a waste of time," she replied, her wingtips fidgeting a bit again. "And just what are you doing with that makeup?" she asked.
I opened one of the foundation compacts and dabbed the brush a bit as I told her, "Well, sweet Madeleine, we're going to play with makeup. Your uncle Eddie and I used to do it all the time." Then I began applying some of the nearly white powder to Madeleine's cheeks and continued, "It's fun to be fabulous, you know. In fact, it was your uncle that taught me that." Madeleine seemed to be a bit hesitant, but she didn't stop me as I grabbed another compact that contained a pale yellow blush and another brush. Before I applied the blush, I added, "For what it's worth, Madeleine, throughout my life it's always been the strangers--the people that I didn't really know--that led me to bigger and better things. I've always been more stubborn with people that knew me we well for whatever reason. I can't help but wonder how you would've reacted if a stranger had asked you to the prom."
Madeleine seemed to relax as I spoke, and I put away the compacts and brushes. She sighed softly and said, "It's an interesting thought. I hope you don't think you're turning me into an imbecile like you and my uncle. I'm only letting you do this out of curiosity."
"Perfect," I said gently, as I unzipped a pouch and fumbled for glittery silver eyeliner and the softest of sea green eye shadows. "It always begins with curiosity," I added, and applied the eyeliner. And I continued, "No, sweet Madeleine, I would never think you could be an imbecile like your uncle and I...you are far too intelligent for that." I applied the last of the eye shadow and added just a dot of glittery white just to the outer side of each of her eyes, and brushed it upward a bit with my fingertip. Then I zipped the pouch shut and tossed it back into the box.
Madeleine stiffened a bit, and straightened her posture. "So are we finished now?" she asked.
I stood up and dug a small velvet pouch out of the box. "Almost," I replied, and I loosened the strings of the pouch. "This is the last part. Close your eyes now." Madeleine squinted them shut tightly and I sprinkled her entire body with a handful of very fine rainbow glitter. "You can open your eyes now," I said, took a few steps back from her, and slid my chair out of the way. "Stunning, sweet Madeleine--you are simply stunning! So fabulous! So very, very fabulous. Your uncle, my fellow imbecile, would be so proud!"
Madeleine seemed genuinely excited as she stood up to look at herself in the full length mirror. Once she saw her reflection in the mirror, she seemed to be contemplating something deeply, and looked deeply into her own eyes. She adjusted her pose a few times and shifted her wings in semi-formal ways. "I can't say I dislike it," she said, somewhat coldly. And she posed some more. I smiled peacefully as I watched her discover her own fabulousness. Just as Madeleine was about to remind me she still didn't know what to wear, Cousin Eddie and Caesar Emeritus entered the county clerk's office--catching us both off guard. She sprang sideways, and up and down, and as she spotted them--oh, how her feathers unfurled! Words cannot adequately describe the majesty that befell us.
Caesar, Cousin Eddie, and I stood gazing in wonder upon Madeleine for what felt like several moments, though I imagine it was much less than that. Madeleine looked toward me beautifully, as though she had just emerged from Olympus, and I said, "See, sweet Madeleine, you are a beautiful albino peacock! Your wonderful feathers are your garments; you need nothing else to wear--you needed only to unfurl your feathers to blossom." I do believe Madeleine blushed a bit, and all of us were smiling for sure.
Cousin Eddie told us that him and Caesar Emeritus had refunded all the pumpernickel property tax payments to the citizens and that they were heading to the Sacred Pub. I assured him that Madeleine and I wouldn't be far behind, and thanked him for their lovely efforts. Madeleine curtsied Cousin Eddie and Caesar Emeritus as they left the county clerk's office.
Madeleine and I were in for quite a surprise as we approached the swinging doors of the Sacred Pub, for there was a large poster displayed that said "Prom Night at the Sacred Pub hosted by Thrustin' Howler III." She looked at me suspiciously, and I shrugged my shoulders, honestly not knowing anything about this. I reached out my arm toward sweet Madeleine, and she wrapped her fabulous wing around it as we entered. That was a proud moment for me. There were quite a few more critters inside than I had imagined would be! Of course my sacred garden family were all present--even Edwin the Bee, who rarely frequents the Sacred Pub. But there were many others present as well--some I had never seen before in the forest. What really caught my attention though is that there were fairies serving Tick Tock Doc's famous Minute Mead to many happy patrons. If you have read previous chapters, you know that the forest fairies had all fled the Xanadu Forest long ago in search of more happening places, and only Olga the bartender fairy still dwelt among us. But not tonight. I counted at least a dozen forest fairies present.
A particularly joyous Cousin Eddie greeted Madeleine and I before we reached the bar, and he laughed something about trying to teach Caesar Emeritus how to play darts, and he pointed his wing toward the right hand side. Madeleine and I looked over, and sure enough Caesar Emeritus was standing upon a table trying to pluck darts from a ceiling fan that was still in motion. No, dear reader, Caesar had not mistakenly thrown the darts into the ceiling fan--Cousin Eddie had thrown the darts into the fan quite intentionally, and had told poor dear Caesar Emeritus that retrieving the darts was part of his training. Cousin Eddie laughed a hearty laugh when I suggested it seemed more like an initiation than it did actual training. Then he raised his flagon high as his wing would allow, and downed his Minute Mead in a single gulp.
I could feel that sweet Madeleine was feeling a bit overwhelmed at all the revelry, so I squeezed her glittery wing knowingly and guided her toward the far end of the bar as I saluted Cousin Eddie and bid him to carry on. Edwin the Bee and my lovely gatekeeper Raven were there at the end of the bar selecting songs on the jukebox. I tapped my lovely gatekeeper on the shoulder and she smiled and hugged sweet Madeleine. Madeleine and Raven engaged in seemingly pleasant small talk, while Edwin turned to face me and explained that yes--it could always be magic--as he tapped another button on the jukebox. Oy vey! Thankfully Olga the bartender fairy arrived just in time and supplied Madeleine and I with a flagon of Minute Mead each. I guided Madeleine's wing up a bit higher so that we could toast properly and tried to explain that clinking our flagons together was customary.
Moments went by, and I could feel sweet Madeleine relaxing more and settling into the atmosphere. It was a pleasant and warm feeling. We smiled at each other knowingly without words several times while Raven and Edwin returned their attention to the jukebox. As Madeleine and I toasted and drank our second flagons that Olga had brought us, rainbow lights started flashing and we saw all the other patrons scurry toward the banquet hall, which is where the main stage is in the Sacred Pub. We finished our Minute Mead, threw our hands in the air, and decided to follow the others.
Like the Sacred Pub stories I was telling Madeleine earlier while we were in the county clerk's office, this was another one--a new one--unfolding before us that would be hard to explain, but would make more sense if you were to be there. There was a person on stage, singing the blooze along with an invisible and possibly imaginary backup band. I suspected a hidden karaoke machine somewhere, but I had no way of being sure. And the blooze singer was dressed in possibly the worst fat squirrel from Walnut street costume I had ever seen (in all honesty, it's the only fat squirrel from Walnut Street costume I've ever seen, but still it was awful). I looked around the room and chuckled when I discovered the irony of there being some actual fat squirrels from Walnut Street watching the performance. Then it hit me! This must be the Thrustin' Howler III listed on the poster posted on the outside of the Sacred Pub! And then I recognized the voice! Of course! How could I have been so dense?! It was Andrew, in full on fat squirrel from Walnut Steet regalia! I began laughing so hard that tears were streaming down my Glampire face and causing my makeup to run. Madeleine started laughing along with me, her wing wrapped round me--though I'm certain she didn't understand why. Her makeup didn't run, by the way.
Olga the bartender fairy brought us two more flagons of Minute Mead, and sweet Madeleine proudly led the toast this time. We had barely downed half of our flagons when Thrustin' Howler III finished a song, the room feel silent, the spotlight scanned the audience, and eventually stopped on sweet Madeleine. Thrustin' Howler III called her to the stage, and she looked at me wondering what to do. I let go of her fabulous, glittery wing and told her to get up there. She felt a bit hesitant, but I smiled bigger at her, and she went. It was just a moment later that Thrustin' Howler III proclaimed sweet Madeleine as the queen of the prom, and a forest fairy zipped in and dropped a lovely tiara upon Madeleine's smiling head. Everyone in the room applauded, and sweet Madeleine blushed.
Then Casey the Cardinal cruised into the banquet hall--unexpectedly--in his remote control patrol jeep, crashed into one of the table legs, and tumbled out, landing on his back. Then he stood up, as we all looked on in silence, and he hopped up onto the stage, firing his flare gun into the ceiling and shouting "Tora! Tora!"
Oh, what a beautiful night. A night I won't soon forget.
And yes, tonight was a beautiful super moon as well--my cousin's time to shine.
Lovely of lovelies, thank you for being there.