As the final song fell to a fading ring, the lights unfaded and revealed a room filled with pale smoke, all hues of glitter, and all types of flowers. I wondered briefly who would be responsible for cleaning it all up, knowing well that Olga the bartender fairy would not stand for it being left in this condition. Betta Groove came out of her final Flaminga pose, and the other Groove Grooves joined her for a bow and the most sincerely grateful expression of gratitude. Really Groove's magic drumsticks thundered and lightninged one last time for the entranced audience, and the Xanadu Forest shook one last time that moon-greeting. Really Groove hopped down off the stage and asked my son Weasel if he would help her to take down her drum kit and load it into their van. Before I could give him permission to do so--and before his sister Butterfly could get jealous and angry for not also being asked to help--Pretty Groove also approached us and asked Butterfly if she might help her take down her guitar equipment and load it into the van. Both of my children looked at me and smiled as I nodded at them and warned them to be careful with the equipment. And just like that, they were off to help and learn.
It wasn't long after that, Andrew emerged and set squadrons of his adoring fairy fans to work on cleaning up the banquet hall. He was no longer the Glo-Blin King, but was casual in his glittery purple jumpsuit, hi top sneakers, and faux rabbit fur coat. He approached me and asked if I might meet with him for a bit in the dressing room. I looked over at sweet Madeleine for approval, and she said that dear Caesar and sweet Ptolemy were ready to walk her home to the county clerk's office anyway. Madeleine and I embraced and pecked our cheeks, and I followed Andrew to the dressing room. My lovely gatekeeper, Cousin Eddie, Casey the Cardinal, and Captain Leo headed toward the hallway and waited patiently for me at a picnic table in the main barroom.
I can't share much of what Andrew and I spoke about in the dressing room, but he was mostly checking up on me. He wasn't what I would call 'concerned' about me, but certainly he felt the need for me to know he was still watching me...that he was there with me all times, even during times I couldn't feel or see him. On a silly note, he referred to himself as "Weezie" at one point in our discussion (as in Louise from the TV show "The Jeffersons), but he gave me no indication why. When our conversation had ended, he removed his star-shaped glasses and faux rabbit fur coat, and put them on me, and assured me that I would see him again soon. And that all would be much more than well.
By the time I exited the dressing room, and Andrew had vanished, my children had reappeared and spoke excitedly and proudly about all the great things they learned while helping The Groove Grooves tear down and load the van. Weasel air drummed with his drumsticks that Really Groove had given him while he taught me how drum kits really work. I so enjoyed their enjoyment as I placed my hands upon their shoulders and guided them down the long hallway to join the rest of our family at the picnic table. The others stood, as if to leave, when my kids and I arrived at the table, but I convinced them all to sit down for one more After Ale with me...and one last Second Soda for Weasel and Butterfly, of course.
And it's good that we did stay for one more After Ale, because Crazy Groove appeared and also joined us for one. She told us what wonderful helpers Butterfly and Weasel were, and wondered if they might join them for one more show at Cygnus-X the next moon-greeting. Captain Leo spoke up and explained that the rocket was ready to go, but that the children needed to return to their studies. Butterfly and Weasel immediately looked at me pleadingly, and pleaded excessively. It was an awkward moment for me, for I didn't want to step on Captain Leo's toes, since technically they were under his command now. I looked over at my lovely gatekeeper for guidance, but she just shrugged her wings and sipped on her After Ale. I knew well that I could override him since I was their father, but I wasn't sure that I should. Ultimately I ended up discussing it with Captain Leo, and we decided that it would be okay so long as it was only one more show, and it could technically be on the way to the academy where they would resume their studies. Butterfly and Weasel cheered once they realized Captain Leo and I had reached our decision, then fell into silence once they realized it would mean they were leaving and that I'd not be going with them.
I assured them it would be just fine and told them we should get going so they could gather their things and Captain Leo could get the rocket warmed up. My heart was heavy, of course, and I'm sure they could feel it, but I refused to mention it, and did my very best to not show it. Crazy Groove exited the bar with all of us, and we all thanked and hugged Olga the bartender fairy on our way out. Olga gave extra hugs to Butterfly and Weasel, of course, and told my lovely gatekeeper that Cousin Eddie could return to claim the confiscated remote control patrol jeep the next moon-greeting. "Just to be safe, you know," Olga explained. No one argued.
Crazy Groove, the Fabul-Ibis, rushed off to join her band mates in the van as soon as we exited the Sacred Pub, and she blew us a kiss and told the kids she looked forward to seeing them at Cygnus-X. And then my lovely gatekeeper, Raven, did something that really surprised me. [It must be known that my lovely gatekeeper dislikes any sort of childish bathroom humor, and in fact generally despises it] While we were walking away from the Sacred Pub toward the garden, Raven noticed my children had stopped to look at the poster on the outside of the pub's door (the poster that read, "A Farewelcome Party With The Groove Grooves...") Raven placed her wing upon Weasel's shoulder in the most gentle and loving of ways, and told him, "I know you really want to. Just this once, we will say that it's okay. Go ahead."
Weasel smiled at Raven and thanked her, then smiled at me, removed the black marker from his spacesuit, and jetted off to the Sacred Pub's door.
And forever more, that moon-greeting was remembered in my family's lore as the moon-greeting of "A FarTwelcome Party With The Groove Grooves..."
I want to thank my beautiful family first of all, in every way imaginable. It is Love...and beyond. You are my forever home.
I would also like to thank @thedeaddeads (yes, that's their Twitter handle) for kindly allowing me to use them as a fun and lovely parody throughout Chapter 19. I so adore this band and the wonderful music they make. In case any readers of these stories would like to know, here is a translation of all the parodies they allowed me to use:
The Groove Grooves = @thedeaddeads
Crazy Groove = @mmtortuga
Really Groove = @tamachick
Betta Groove = @tishimon
Pretty Groove = @betty_dead
Bella Groove = @helladeadxx
For Your Glitter Nation = For Your Obliteration
Glambeau = Rainbeau
Banananade = Lemonade
Fertile Valley = Murder Ballad
Glambeau = Rainbeau
Blending Machine Yarn = Vending Machine Gun
Empathy Flex = Sympathy Sex
So thank you once more to The Dead Deads...not only for letting me parody you in these stories, but also for the wonderful music you make and share with us. And mostly for truly treating your fans like family, and for bringing so many of us together. The #DeadCorps loves you always.
And thank you to anyone that happens to read these stories. As much as I enjoy writing them, and hope that you can find at least some small pleasure in reading them, ultimately I write them in order to keep going. They are very much my therapy. And the characters contained in them (most of them completely fictional) have truthfully become my home and family. Lovers and beloveds that can never leave me. For they ARE me. It means a ton to have you all along for this journey. I love you. All of you.
Lovely of lovelies,