By the time our attention had returned to the table where we were seated, Betta Groove had already skipped off someplace unnoticed. "Flaminga said she had to find her friends before they started looking for her," Butterfly informed us, and continued, "and she said to tell you she will point special for us during her pose during the show. She's nice. I like her." Then Butterfly suggested we play a board game, since we still had time before the show started. We all thought that sounded like a great idea, including sweet Madeliene, whose response was very closely monitored by both Butterfly and Weasel. With that, Butterfly was off to the bar to have Olga open the board game closet so she could choose our favorite game from years past.
I noticed Led Zepellin songs had begun playing on the jukebox, which caused me to turn and confirm that Raven and her lovely Captain Leo were now enjoying their command of the aforementioned machine. Weasel began laughing and nudged me again, pointing over toward the dart boards. Dear Caesar Emeritus was hunched over one of several fat squirrels that had apparently been knocked down by billiards balls gone astray. The fallen fat squirrels of Walnut Street would have none of Ceasar's sincere apology, however, and instead shouted things I'll not repeat here. The fattest of the fat squirrels of Walnut Street, self-appointed Mayor Reginald III, had entered the scene by then, and threatened dear Caesar with a fine if it happened again. It was then, I believe, Cousin Eddie confiscated the pool cues and suggested they try their hand at a good game of darts instead.
Butterfly returned with our favorite board game, and happily set up all the pieces for us. She placed the pieces quite strategically, to assure that sweet Madeleine would have to move to the other side of the table from me. "Clever girl!" I thought to myself, and I smiled a proud and knowing smile. We were all well into enjoying our board game, when Olga the bartender fairy appeared with fresh flagons: Tick Tock Doc's moderately known Almost Ale for sweet Madeleine and I, and third Second Sodas for the little ones. I told them to enjoy them slowly, for that would be their last Second Sodas for the moon-greeting. As the board game progressed, I noticed Madeleine making a couple of strange plays, suggesting to me she was intentionally keeping herself out of the lead. "Clever lady!" I said to her in my mind when she looked at me and winked. For my part, I showed no mercy at all, but still couldn't find my way into the lead.
Just as it seemed Butterfly was warming up to Madeliene, our game was abruptly interrupted by a lovely Mockingbird with ancient spirals painted over her eyes. She snuck up behind sweet Madeleine and tapped her upon the shoulder, shouting, "Holy crap! Maddie?!!!"
Madeleine jumped out of her seat and embraced the lovely Mockingbird excitedly. "Rockingbird?!!! I had no idea! Just look at you!" Madeleine nearly shouted. Then she adressed my kids and I and said, "This is my old friend Rockingbird. We went to school together at Atherton. Weasel seemed intrigued by Rockingbird's beauty, and Butterfly's expression was a blend of mild annoyance and semi-suspicion. Madeleine convinced Rockingbird to sit with us for a few moments, though Rockingbird explained she had only a few minutes since it was almost time for soundcheck.
Weasel said to Rockingbird, "So you must be one of the Groove Grooves...I saw the ancient spirals painted on your eyes." Butterfly reminded Madeleine that it was her turn to take a card.
Rockingbird smiled warmly at Weasel and said, "Yes, indeed, you handsome youngling! I am the drummer, Really Groove." And Really Groove pulled out a pair of drumsticks--from where I did not see--and air-drummed for a moment as if to offer proof. Then she handed the drumsticks to Weasel and he observed them as though they were precious artifacts. Sweet Madeleine completed her turn, and spoke reassuringly to Butterfly. Madeleine really is such a clever lady! Led Zeppelin songs continued to play happily in the background, and Cousin Eddie was well into explaining the game of darts to dear Caesar Emeritus and Ptolemy.
Butterfly then completed her turn, proudly took the lead, then addressed Really Groove, "So do you do tricks like Flaminga? I mean Betta Groove?" Then Butterfly told Weasel to stop staring at the pretty lady and to draw his card.
Really Groove stood tall, smiled at butterfly, and produced another pair of drumsticks seemingly out of thin air. Rockingbird replied, "Well, I have magic drumsticks...does that count? I can throw them anywhere I like and they return to me like a boomerang. And also I can make thunder. And lightning. And I know when a storm is coming long before it arrives. Is that good enough?"
Butterfly tried hard not to let on that she was impressed, but her guard fell significantly when Rockingbird sat down next to her and held her wing. "I can do telekinesis," Butterfly told her, and continued, "I'm pretty good at it now, but I'm still kind of slow if the objects are really big. Watch." Then Butterfly closed her eyes and concentrated and delivered a rainbow-glitter-frosted sugar cookie to Rockingbird's lips. Rockingbird laughed and took a playful nibble from it without ever using her wings to hold or guide it. She proceeded to eat the entire cookie without ever holding it. We all enjoyed that moment, and Weasel and I even clapped. Butterfly laughed and was genuinely impressed...and proud!
We had all forgotten about our favorite board game by that time, which was a good thing since two more critters with ancient spirals painted over their eyes rushed to our table and harmonized, telling Really Groove they had been looking everywhere for her--that it was time for soundcheck. The two critters politely introduced themselves to my children as Bella Groove, the keyboardist, and Pretty Groove, the guitarist respectively, though it was clear they didn't have much time to chat. Weasel immediately asked them why they were holding a rotten banana and lemon wedges. They both snickered, and Bella Groove struggled to explain. Butterfly correctly surmised aloud that Bella Groove was Betta Groove's sister, since she was also a river otter. Weasel and I discussed aloud that neither of us had ever seen a Rainbeau Leopard before--which Pretty Groove was one, of course--and that we were both honored and happy to have now met one. Rounds of hugs ensued, Rockingbird and sweet Madeleine's the longest, and they agreed to catch up with each other after the show. And just like that, three-fifths of The Groove Grooves were off to the banquet hall for soundcheck. Butterfly reminded us of our board game we had forgotten about, but was satisfied when we all unanimously decided to just declare her the winner.
My lovely gatekeeper and her lovely Captain Leo found themselves back at our picnic table, and Butterfly gave them a full report of everything they had missed...including the fact she was unanimously declared the winner of our favorite board game even though we didn't finish it. I nudged Weasel and pointed over toward the dart boards. "Holy crap!" he exclaimed, and he did his very best not to snicker, not knowing whether or not finding humor in what he saw was appropriate. Weasel's exclamation was sufficient to direct everyone's attention toward the dart boards. I tried my best to hold in my snicker too, since Raven was now seated at our table, and I was trying to be on my best behavior. I failed, of course, and burst out laughing even to the point of tears. I just couldn't help it, even if I might be chastised for it later. The sight was well worth many a patented blank stare, if warranted. I will leave it to the reader to decide if any of the others joined me in laughter, for I am sometimes not so unlike my son Weasel.
You see, quite a commotion had erupted by the dart boards: an extremely angry mob of fat squirrels had now surrounded Ceasar Emeritus, Ptolemy, and Cousin Eddie...many of them having darts sticking out of their fur. One fat squirrel, in particular, Butterfly noted, looked like a voodoo doll. Even dear Ceasar Emeritus, in all his Xanadu Forest naivety, knew their was no point in attempting more apolgies, though Ptolemy continued to hand the wounded fat squirrels bowls of now famous Ptolemy-ce cream--bowls which were summarily slapped to the floor, one by one, of course. And many, many more words were shouted by the fat squirrels which I cannot repeat here. Reginald III, the self-appointed Mayor, of course made his way to the center of the angry mob, and Cousin Eddie didn't argue with the fattest of the fat squirrels of Walnut Street even a bit. You see, Cousin Eddie is a very shrewd Raven (aren't they all?) and knew when it was best to say nothing at all. No, instead Cousin Eddie started slapping slice after slice of pumpernickel into Reginald III's grubby paws, who began distributing the pumpernickel among the wounded fat squirrels. The angry mob subsided almost instantly as the fat squirrels rushed to stuff the pumpernickel into their respective briefcases. Many fat squirrels sat upon one other's briefcases so they could close and latch them. When every briefcase was stuffed and latched, the no longer angry fat squirrels placed their hats upon their heads and happily exited the Sacred Pub. I am grateful for Cousin Eddie all the time for many reasons, and times like this convince me further that the magical Xanadu Forest could never survive without his presence in it.
The exit of the fat squirrels of Walnut Street came none too soon, by the way, as a moment later another mob of critters rushed into the Sacred Pub, and every square inch of space would be needed as it turned out. Yes..fairies...and more fairies...and still more fairies. I knew well this could only mean one thing. Oh, what a night! Indeed the magic of the moon-greeting was to become more magical still.
To be continued in Chapter 19c.
Thank you all for being out there, and for being a part of this lovely journey.
Lovely of Lovelies!