We left Chapter 19c with Casey the Cardinal and Cousin Eddie the Raven wreaking havoc in the long hallway of the Sacred Pub from the front seat of the remote control patrol jeep. They were both quite drunk, as you might suspect, and dear Caesar Emeritus, the Baloo-eyed Akita, and Ptolemy, the gentle Boxer were unable to stop the remote control patrol jeep, despite the two canines running on all fours. At one point, even, Cousin Eddie managed a clever 180 on a dime beneath dear Caesar's belly, and zipped back down the other way. Crowds had gathered along the walls of the hallway to see what the commotion was, but I remained hopeful the situation would soon be resolved since The Groove Grooves were due to perform in the banquet hall any moment now. I placed my hands on my kids' shoulders and pulled them closer, and Weasel noted that the Groove Grooves were gone from behind the table. "It must be very close to show time," I told them.
When I saw Casey the Cardinal stripping down and removing his flare gun from the utility belt while hood-surfing upon the patrol jeep, I lost all hope for a quick and painless resolution. And rightly so, for the monacle was now in place and Mr. Feathers from Brightly had arrived...complete with flare gun held high as his wing could reach. You might guess that Mr. Feathers fired that flare gun, and you'd be right. If you read Chapter 19c you might guess that it turned out okay though, since Cousin Eddie made him empty out all his flares, and watched Olga the bartender fairy put them safely away. You'd be wrong about that. Whether on purpose or by overlook, there was a single flare left in the chamber. A single flare that was soon wedged into the boards of the rafters of the Sacred Pub, as we all looked on stunned, and the roof caught fire. The remote control patrol jeep finally came to an abrupt halt, and Mr. Feathers went tumbling across the floor. Cousin Eddie stepped sheepishly out of the driver's seat, dropped the servo upon the floor with shame, and looked up at the rafters in disbelief. The hallway fell silent...until Olga the bartender fairy entered and brought hell's fury with her--in the form of words I can't repeat here.
Let me just say, we all would have been 86'd from the Sacred Pub then and there had Andrew not emerged from the dressing room in a fuzzy bathrobe and entered the long hallway. He extended his index finger so that Olga could hop upon it, and he placed her gently upon his shoulder, and smiled, and charmed her, and assured her he could fix this with no trouble at all. He was so charming, in fact, that Olga even left the hallway while her roof was on fire, and she retrieved two flagons of After Ale--both flagons for Mr. Feathers of course--who was soon to be Casey the Cardinal once again. Thank Olympus! [After Ale, may the reader know, is Tick Tock Doc's least popular product in Interterrestria, for it is seldom requested. Most inhabitants view it, in fact, as something to be used only in an emergency, though I've always found that a bit unfair. It's actually very pleasant on the palate. After Ale's purpose, of course, is just as the name would imply: it's meant to be drunk when one has drunk too many other beverages, and has become drunk. It's not an energy drink, nor quite a coffee or a tea, though the secret ingredients do seem to have effects similar to those experienced from the consumption of caffeine. After Ale does actually contain trace amounts of alcohol, I'm told, despite its intended purpose. It is called "After Ale," after all. I just stumbled on to a wonderful slogan for Tick Tock Doc, I believe! "After all, it's an After Ale." Yes, Tick Tock Doc will like that. I digress. Back to the story]
While Mr. Feathers was downing his After Ales and returning to his Casey the Cardinal form, Andrew called for Really Groove and her magic drumsticks. Really Groove appeared in the long hallway and first created thunder--and then lightning--with her magic drumsticks. My kids and I looked on in wonder, as did everyone present, and I told Butterfly and Weasel that it seemed the show had already begun on accident. They smiled at me and seemed to agree. A ways down and to the right, I saw that Cousin Eddie, my lovely gatekeeper Raven, sweet Madeleine, dear Caesar, and gentle Ptolemy had formed a huddle, and Cousin Eddie was in its center trying to convince them he shouldn't be blamed. My lovely gatekeeper Raven responded by handing Cousin Eddie a flagon of After Ale and insisted he drink it all down. He did, of course. I couldn't see from my angle, but I'm quite sure my lovely gatekeeper had also distributed a patented blank stare or two. Olga the bartender fairy confiscated the remote control patrol jeep, and its servo, drove it back behind the bar and locked it away in a cabinet.
Andrew then called for Crazy Groove, who promptly appeared and tossed some magic seeds into the flaming rafters. The magic seeds almost instantly grew into thick layers of ivy which continued to fatten and expand horizontally until the entire roof above the long hallway was thoroughly covered. The flames were very soon after completely extinguished, and everyone present cheered. I knew, of course, that Andrew could have extinguished the flames by himself, but I adored that he gave The Groove Grooves a chance to show off their powers. Andrew then called for Casey the Cardinal to hop upon his shoulder, winked at my kids and I, and disappeared back into the dressing room. I told the kids that was our cue to head into the banquet hall. Weasel volunteered to round up the rest of our family which was still huddled further down the hall, and he proudly did so. Very soon after, all of us--even dear Caesar and gently Ptolemy--were gathered right in front of the stage, awaiting another great show. And none too soon! Critters began flooding the banquet hall en masse, many of them now wearing The Groove Grooves t-shirts, hats, and bandanas.
My lovely family and I huddled closer in front of the stage as the banquet hall filled and the air became thick. There was a lovely sequinized purple curtain as a backdrop behind the stage, only a single keyboard and separate microphone stand visible in front of the curtain. The last of the Eagles songs faded completely into the moon-greeting, and the lights began to dim. Unanimous excitement swelled, and all voices fell into a hush as smoke breathed softly and crawled down from the ceiling (not from flare gun flames, thankfully!). My kids and I smiled at one another, and sweet Madeleine and I exchanged pleasantly knowing winks.
A beautiful melody began to play, presumably from the keyboard on the stage, though no one could be seen playing it. Andrew drifted slowly to the center of the stage, adorned in striped leggings that left less than little to the imagination, a low-cut soft purple pirate shirt, sparkling gloves, and a faux fur cape draped elegantly over his shoulders. Then Andrew began to sing "As The World Falls Down," and many hearts melted, and many fairies fainted and fell to the floor. There was not a single eye in the banquet hall that didn't rest upon him. While Andrew was singing, he removed a banana and two lemon wedges--from where I did not see--and began juggling them and balancing them in strange ways upon both sides of his hands, slowly and gently, in a mesmerizing fashion. Weasel and Butterfly looked at me just long enough to see that I was mesmerized too, then all our attention was directed toward the stage after that.
When the song ended, Andrew called for a spotlight, held the banana and lemon wedges in one palm, and spoke much louder than was necessary for a room that size, "Good evening fabulouses and fabulousettes! How are we tonight?!!!"
The entire forest shouted and shook in the most beautiful of ways.
Andrew lowered his voice and continued, "Tonight, good, people, is a very special night. Am I the goddess of love fire, babies? Yes I am, but not tonight, no, no, no. No...tonight, lovelies, I am your love-master of ceremonies--straight down from Olympus--the beloved Glo-blin King." Then Andrew raised his voice to a shout again, and lifted his palm to the sky, "Can you hear me, good people?!!!"
All hands present lifted up the imaginary sky, and the forest shook beautifully. It was so beautiful to see Butterfly and Weasel raise their hands to the sky so enthusiastically. They didn't even look back to see if I had also raised my hands to the sky (I had, of course).
Andrew lowered his voice again and spoke almost softly, "Some of you might wonder why your beloved Glo-blin King entered the stage with a banana and lemon wedges." And he held them up into the spotlight for emphasis, and went on, "I might even wonder that myself. And I just might suggest that we ask the fine and sometimes clever ladies that are here to play tonight."
The hush of the audience became a bit more than a hush--perhaps a soft, inquisitive murmer, and many heartbeats in the banquet hall became audible. Andrew asked the audience if he should ask The Groove Grooves about the banana and lemon wedges, and the crowd agreed unanimously that he should, though the forest didn't shake this time.
"Show yourself, Bella Groove!" Andrew shouted, and the lovely river otter magically materialized behind the keyboard, and waved awkardly at the audience. Andrew spoke softly as he could--which is not so soft--and continued, "Lovely Bella Groove--keeper of the most fabulous keys--I'm told you would know something about this banana...and these lemon wedges." Then he removed the peel off the banana, bit the end off of it, and balanced it upon her keyboard, sticking straight up, and placed the lemon wedges on either side of it. Bella Groove was visibly blushing, but Andrew wasn't quite finished. He went on, "I know very well your band has a song called 'Banananade,' and, to be honest, this seems a bit suspicious to me. What have you to say for yourself now?"
Belle Groove stuttered and stammered a bit before squeaking out, "Well, we thought it would be fun. A silly prank, you know."
Andrew smiled softly, embraced Bella Groove, and kissed her upon the cheek. Then he glided to the center of the stage, and the Glo-blin King spoke more loudly to the audience, "Pranks have consequences, now don't they?" The audience agreed, but the forest didn't shake. Then Andrew shouted, "Fabulouses and fabulousettes, I am happy and proud to bring you the musical talents of...(he paused to listen to myriad heartbeats, and for the curtain to rise) The Groove Grooves!!!"
The room exploded and all of Interterrestria shook. Andrew glided off to the side of the stage to reveal the band that was now huddled in the middle of the stage in a perfect circle. As the crowd shouted in anticipation, The Groove Grooves placed their paws and wings upon each other's in the circle's center, then flung their paws and wings into the air in an explosion (that I later learned is called "the Power Bloom"), and the entire banquet hall was filled with flowers and glitter...much to the delight of everyone present. In seemingly no time at all, Really Groove was behind her drum kit, clicking her magic drumsticks together making thunder and lightning. Betta Groove blew a kiss at the audience as she strapped on her paisley Les Paul, then kissed the sky and entered her classic Flaminga pose. Pretty Groove emitted quite a light show from her magic Rainbeau Leopard spots while she finished fine-tuning her guitar, and Crazy Groove tossed magic seeds into the crowd. Bella Groove was back at her keyboard, not liking the phallic reference that stood upon it, but knowing well she dare not remove it. A few kicks from Really Groove's bass drum, and all the banquet hall was entranced in a wonderful and powerful groove. Yes, of course they opened the show with "Banananade." After that, The Groove Grooves went into "The Grow," "Empathy Flex," and "Fertile Valley," all songs enjoyed by all present. I noticed Butterfly and Weasel pointing at the stage a couple times and discussing with each other what they were experiencing, but mostly they were just enjoying an incredible show. Sweet Madeleine and I exchanged smiles and knowing winks a couple of times, but mostly we were just enjoying the show too.
After The Groove Grooves finished their song "Glambeau," the Glo-blin King glided back to the front center of the stage, and began to speak. "I'm sorry to interrupt this wonderful performance, my lovelies, but we have with us tonight a few special guests this moon-greeting that we must honor." Crazy Groove and Really Groove held down a very soft and quiet groove as the Glo-blin King continued, "Captain Leo the Starmapper, beautiful Butterfly, and most handsome and clever Weasel...if you'll kindly groove your sweet little butts up to the stage!" The room cheered but did not shake. Butterfly and Weasel looked at me as if to ask if it were okay, and I laughed proudly and waved my arms toward the stage to hurry them along. Bella Groove added some soft accents from her keyboard, and Pretty Groove silently tuned her guitar again in the background, as Captain Leo and my children hopped up onto the stage. The Glo-blin King lined the three of them up in front of him, and Butterfly and Weasel smiled proudly at me, just as Captain Leo did at my lovely gatekeeper--his space helmet proudly tucked in his arm. Sweet Madeleine used the opportunity to draw closer to me, and I was glad for that. My hand very subtly held the tip of Madeleine's wing, and dear Caesar and gentle Ptolemy seemed to be discussing the technical aspects of the stage's arrangement and lighting.
Once the Glo-blin King had said some kind words about each of them, and presented them with special gifts, Butterfly and Weasel returned to my side, and Captain Leo returned to Raven's side. Then it was time for Casey the Cardinal and his flare gun, which we all prayed would start no more fires. Casey stood subtly off to the side, to the left of Bella Groove's keyboard, so as to be noticed by only a very few present critters. "Before The Groove Grooves resume their fabulous performance," The Glo-blin King almost shouted, "I believe it's time we all knew them by name." And then he did shout, "Don't you agree, good people?!!!"
The room cheered loudly, and the forest shook.
"On the drums!..." the Glo-blin King began, then Casey the Cardinal fired a flare center stage--a safe fireworks display that took the shape of a Rainbeau. "Reaaaaaalllly Grooooooove!" the Glo-blin King announced, and Really Groove played a short drum solo. Weasel seemed to pay particular attention to that. And the audience cheered. Next was "Prettyyyyy Grooooooove!" with a safe lemon wedge fireworks display, and she played a short guitar solo. Butterfly seemed to pay particular attention to that, and the audience cheered. After that was "Craaaaaazzzy Groooooove!" with a beautiful iris-shaped safe fireworks display followed by her fabulous bass solo which I seemed to pay particular attention to, and sweet Madeleine seemed to pay particular attention to the fact that I had paid particular attention to it. "Bellllllllaaaa Groooooove!" followed with a banana-shaped fireworks display, and she played something kind of like the Phantom of the Opera as her short keyboard solo...and the audience cheered of course, though they also snickered a bit. The Glo-blin King concluded with "Bettttttaaaaa Groooooooooove!" and the band went straight into their song "Blending Machine Yarn." The audience roared and grooved carelessly in a state of bliss.
Fabulous songs continued well into the very special moon-greeting, and The Groove Grooves were certain to be a hit in the Xanadu Forest for ages to come.
To be continued in Chapter 19e in the near future.
Thank you all for being out there, and for being a fabulous part of a fabulous journey. Let's rock!
Lovely of lovelies.