PART TWO: THE ACCIDENT
Terrence yawned as he walked out of his cave on Tom Sawyer Island and gazed at the morning sky. Even though most of the bears he knew had opted to live in houses, he was closer to nature than them, and preferred living off the land like most bears in the wild do. Living on the island gave him an advantage; it gave him the opportunity to walk around freely without being seen. He did this every night, and he always woke up early so he could have a calm, morning walk before going to perform. However, today he had overslept for once, and was a bit miffed a little by it. He blamed it on himself, though; he had spent the previous day and night wondering what song to use, what he would wear, and the style in which he would perform. His song troubled him the most, he didn't have a particular favorite and it wasn't until he took his nightly walk around the island until he thought of one.
Perhaps it was getting some air after being cooped up in his cave all day, but he had finally thought of the right song for him. He had decided on "Blue Christmas", because it complemented his song "How Long Will My Baby Be Gone?" really well. After all, both of which were about a man being sad of being without his loved one. As he returned to his cave, he thought he had seen a woman on the island for a split second, but he wrote it off as him simply seeing things since the park had closed by then. Later, he spent all night rehearsing in his cave, and it wasn't until sometime after midnight until he had finally dropped for the night. Getting something to wear was also a problem, because Terrence didn't own any winter clothes of his own. His winter fur was thicker than the other bears at the Hall, so thick that he could go about on even the coldest day wearing nothing but the straw hat he usually wore. He had it all under control, though, he had asked Fred and Ted after the announcement if he could borrow some earmuffs and a scarf from them, and they had agreed. Terrence continued to walk down the path, his guitar case in paw, towards the island dock. He boarded the lone raft there, going across the river and returned it to the dock on the other side. Terrence made a dash for Grizzly Hall, accidentally bumping into Teddi on his way, almost knocking her down. Teddi managed to hold her balance by grabbing a post, dropping the bag she was carrying.
"Oh Teddi, sorry about that! Oh here, let me get your bag up…"
"It's okay, 'Shaker'," she said as she referred to him by his nickname, "I was in a rush to get to the theater early, and I didn't pay attention to where I was goin'!"
"Caught up in all th' excitement, ain't ya?"
"You could say that," said Teddi. "I guess I'm not the only one who's on their way early."
"Early? I thought I was gonna be late! Guess I didn't oversleep after all!"
"You, oversleep? That'll be the day!"
"Yeah, I guess it would be. I'm a regular early bird bear, y'know!"
"Yes, but it wouldn't have surprised me if you had anyway, with all th' things that have been goin' on recently."
"Like what? Pardon me for askin', Teddi, but I don't know what yer talkin' about."
"Didn't Henry call you last night?"
"No, not that I know of. Then again, I was out wanderin' around th' island last night, so maybe I missed him if he did."
"Oh. Well, you'll see for yourself what's been goin' on when we get there," she said as the two made the short walk to Grizzly Hall. As they were passing by the main entrance to get to the backstage entrance, Terrence peered over to one of the windows in the front of the building and stopped.
"Shaker, what's wrong?" Teddi asked.
"Just a moment, Miss Barra, I thought I saw somethin' goin' on in there," he said as he walked over to the window. He took a closer look inside, then he smiled and waved at it. Teddi took a few steps closer to see what Terrence was waving at. She then noticed one of the Sun Bonnets, waving back at him from the other side. She then left, and in about a moment later, Henry walked up and opened the main entrance.
"Ah, good mornin', Terrence, Teddi!" Henry greeted them. "Looks like y'all came here at th' right moment!"
"I say we are!" said Teddi. She then turned over to the Sun Bonnets and noticed that they were hanging the garland around the windows of the lobby. "Is that my garland you're hangin'?"
"Sure is! It's the last of it, too!" Said Bunny.
"Sounds like you made good use of everything. Say, Henry, what exactly did you do with those lights you said you had left?" Asked Teddi.
"Oh, yes, that's right!" Henry said as the Sun Bonnets giggled. "Come with me an' I'll show ya…"
"Um, excuse me, "said Terrence," but I've got no idea what y'all are talkin' about."
"Oh sorry, Terrence," said Henry. "We're just discussin' somethin' that we talked about on th' phone last night…speakin' a-which, I tried callin' ya last night Terrence, but ya never answered. Was somethin' wrong?"
"Oh, so ya did call me," said Terrence, "Sorry, I must've been out when you did. What were ya tryin' to ask me about?"
"Oh, I just wanted to know what your song is gonna be. So, what will ya be singin' for us, 'em?"
Terrence told Henry that he was performing "Blue Christmas", and Henry noted it on the clipboard he was carrying. "Well, are y'all ready?" Henry asked.
"Of course!" said Teddi.
"I'm with ya right here, Henry!" said Terrence.
"Well, let's get started! Bunny, may you do the honors?" Henry asked.
"Sure thing, Henry!" Bunny replied as she flipped the door switch. The doors then swung open and the five bears headed into the theater.
"Wow…" Teddi said as she saw the decorated theater. She then looked over at Buff, Max, and Melvin. She then burst out laughing when she saw them. For dangling from Melvin's antlers, were the last of her Christmas lights. Not only that, but Max had some sort of red light bulb strapped to his nose, and Buff, the old sourpuss, had a Santa Claus hat on his head.
"So that's what y'all did with th' lights!" Teddi said after she managed to calm down. "That was a fun idea, you three."
"Thanks, Teddi," said Bunny.
"Well, I think it was a great idea, too," said Melvin. "At least I get to dress up for th' holidays!"
Teddi then noticed an electrical outlet next to Melvin, in which his lights were plugged into. "Hey, wait a second. I don't remember that outlet being there!" She said.
"Rufus stuck that there," said Henry. "He is such a genius, y'know. He was able to install that outlet in no time flat!"
"I see, "said Teddi. She looked up at the glowing red "nose" on Max. "And why do y'all have that on ya, Max? Pretendin' to be Rudolph?" She asked as she raised an eyebrow.
"You've got that right on th' button!" said Max. "I've been listenin' to the story of them flyin' reindeer a'Santa Clauses, an' I was thinkin' that I could make muhself look like one during this show! And I really like that song about him!"
"Me, too!" said Melvin. "Uhhh…Rudolph Duh Red-Nosed Reindeer, had a very shiny…"
"Stop, Melvin!" Max interrupted. "We've been thru all this before! Who's the deer around here?"
"Oh, boy, here we go again…"Buff said under his breath.
"Uhh…you!" Melvin replied.
"Good, now, who has the red nose?"
"Correct! So, who gets to sing the song?"
"Wrong! Look, Melvin, let's get this straight! I'm the deer, and I'm the one with the red nose! So that makes me the only one qualified to sing that song!"
"Hold on here, you two," said Buff. "Can't you give this a rest? We've been through this all night!"
"All night?" asked Terrence. "What happened?"
"It started right after Max got that bulb hung around his nose. He couldn't stop singing that song! Well, after Melvin heard it a few he then wanted to sing it too, but every time he tried Max kept interruptin' him, arguin' like he owned the song!" Buff explained.
"Yeah, and their arguin' kept everyone upstairs awake!" Henry added. "Everyone kept callin' an' bombardin' me with complaints so much that I had to straighten everythin' out muhself."
"What did ya do?" asked Teddi.
"I had Rufus muzzle Max and Melvin. It was the only way everyone upstairs could get some shut eye!"
"I think you should've kept them on 'em," said Buff.
"I will again tonight if those two don't straighten out by then!" said Henry. "So you boys behave yourselves today, understand?"
"OK, Henry…"said Max.
"Whutever you say," said Melvin.
"Well, this talk is interestin' and all," said Terrence, "But we have a show to rehearse! I'm headin' backstage and see if th' Rugs got th' clothes I asked 'em to lend me."
"I better be headin' back muhself," said Henry. "I gotta get everyone organized back there!"
"Yeah, we better get goin'," said Teddi.
"Right. I'll see you in a little while, Teddi," said Henry, who then turned to the Sun Bonnets. "Girls, you better head downstairs and be ready on th' lift when your rehearsal comes up."
"OK, Henry!" said Bunny as she and her sisters scampered backstage to the stairs leading into the basement. Teddi smiled as they ran off. Before she followed Henry and Terrence backstage, she turned up to Buff and asked, "Say Buff, out of curiosity, just what led you to wearin' that Santa hat?"
"Uh, well, I…"said Buff."Well, these two got decorated for the holidays, so I didn't want to be left out!"
"I see. Well, that's a change of personality for you!"
"Didn't you say ya just wanted it to keep yer head warm?" asked Melvin.
"Shhh! Quiet! That ain't true, Melvin, and you know it!" said Buff.
"No, you clearly said…"
"Never mind what I said!"
"Now hold on there boys, that's enough of that," said Teddi, "let's not get into another argument now. Just settle down, and enjoy everythin' that we're doin'!"
"OK, Teddi," said Max.
"We'll calm ourselves down," said Melvin.
"But with these two, it probably won't last long," said Buff.
Teddi giggled. "Just keep outta trouble while we get ready, okay? Well, I better get backstage and change."
"Hope the rehearsals go well, "said Max.
"So do I," said Teddi. "Well, I guess y'all will see me later!"
Those wall-hangers and their arguments, she thought. I guess that there are some things that will never change…
While Teddi was making her way to the backstage, Terrence was searching for the Bedderhead Brothers so he could get his costume. Not finding them downstairs, he headed up to the den. Sure enough, he found Fred, Ted, and the rest of the Bear Rugs along with Wendell there.
"Hey, look who's comin'!" said Fred as he saw Terrence walking up.
"Well, guys, I'm finally here. Ya have the stuff I asked?" Terrence asked.
"We've got 'em right here, "said Ted, "here's my scarf."
"And here's my earmuffs," said Fred as they handed them to him.
"Thanks boys," Terrence said as he took them. "But what are you gonna wear since I have your stuff?"
"We got that all worked out, 'Shaker'," said Fred. "We're wearin' what we usually do."
"Plus these," said Ted, holding up a Santa hat.
"You got lucky, lil' brother," said Fred. "You got the last big Santa hat they had! And I got stuck with this puny thing…" Fred then showed Terrence his Santa hat, which was extremely too small for him.
"Whoa, Fred, how'd ya end up with that?" he asked.
"Well, a certain bear in here, who shall remain nameless," he said as he looked over at Ted. "Was supposed to get two Santa Claus hats for two Bedderhead Brothers, but only got one! By the time I got to the Costuming Department, this is all they had left!"
"Well, I think that small hat suits ya very well, Fred", said Terrence.
"Yeah, it'll make things comical!" said Ted.
Fred grumbled to himself. Suddenly, a huge sneeze filled the room. "BWAAA-CHOOO!"
"Whoa, who was that?" asked Terrence.
"It was Zeb, from over there," said Fred, pointing over to a chair in the den. There sat Zeb, his nose red, and his feet soaking in a tub of hot water.
"Zeb, what happened to you?"
"I…I…had a nasty tumble in th'…Ah, ah, CHOOO!"
"I think I better explain," said Zeke, who told Terrence about their whole ordeal from the past night.
After Zeke had finished explaining, Wendell got up and spoke. "Look guys, I'm sorry about all this. Now, thanks to me, Zeb has t' sit out of th' show!"
"Not necessarily," said Zeb with a sniffle. "Mah cold ain't as bad as Bart's is, so I think I can still get through th' show without too much troub…troub...AHH-CHOOO!"
"Well, at least I won't do any damage today," said Wendell. He then held up his gun. "I've made extra sure that this thing's been unloaded, so we don't have a repeat of what happened yesterday."
"What? What happened yesterday?" asked Terrence.
Wendell, along with the Rugs, then recapped the whole gun fiasco. "Well, it seems you've caused a whole bit of trouble, haven't ya, Wendell?"
"Yeah, I know. But nothin' like that'll happen today! I'm sure of it!"
Just then Henry's voice came over a loudspeaker in the room. "May I have everyone's attention, please. If everyone is ready, we'll begin dress rehearsal. Everyone take your places."
"Well you heard him, guys," said Zeke. "It's time!"
"Oh. Well, guess I better get my things on then," said Terrence, "Say, someone should get Albert. I doubt he heard Henry's call."
"Actually, I think I saw him camped out near his stage when we came in," said Wendell, "You should see th' get-up he's wearin'!"
"I will then," said Terrence. "Good luck with your act, Wendell!"
"You too, 'Shaker'!"
After Wendell left, Terrence then quickly changed. He did this pretty quickly, of course, for all he did was slip the scarf around his neck, take his hat off and slip on the earmuffs. He then grabbed his guitar case and ran down.
Teddi sat in her dressing room, putting the last of her make-up on. She approached her swing, ready for her number. The excitement tensed through her, waiting to sing her song in the theater. Of course, she was more eager to sing during the first performance rather than rehearsal. Henry had found some sheet music to her song as well, and would provide the music for her. She sat on her swing and waited.
Downstairs, the rehearsals were off to good start. Henry and the Bear Band were in the middle of singing "Tracks in the Snow" again, this sounding better than they had yesterday. Henry had a little trouble on his solos then, but his timing had improved since. Then came Wendell with "Oh, What A Christmas!" without shooting the lighting fixtures out. Next, Trixie came out to perform her "Hibernatin' Blues". When she had finished, Henry came out and spoke to her. "Wonderful! That was some mighty fine singin', Trixie."
"Lovely, lovely, lovely!" said Buff.
"Mighty nice!" added Melvin.
"Why thanks, Henry!" Trixie said with a giggle. She smiled. Now was her chance. "Say Henry, after rehearsal is over, can you meet me on the main stage? There's something I want to show you, though it'll have to wait until then. Can't slow down things because of lil' ol' me, right?" She asked, trying to get him near where she had hidden the mistletoe. The Heads of course knew what was going on, but decided to have some fun and go along with Trixie's gag.
"Well if it's important to ya, Trixie, I'll meet ya here tonight while everyone's leavin'."
"All right, then! See ya then!" Trixie said as she walked off stage, happy that she was about to get what she had always longed for. Still on stage, Henry called out for the next bear. "Alright Mac, you and Gomer are up."
Gomer then rose up, playing the intro and background for Liver Lips. He still didn't know why he accepted when Liver Lips asked him to help him with his song. Gomer wasn't all too fond of rock music; he preferred classical and western tunes. It was all part of helping his fellow musician, Gomer had guessed. Besides, Liver Lips needed someone to play background music for his song. Then came Terrence, and then afterwards the Sun Bonnets began. As they sang, a slide show shown on the screen on the main stage. It showed a comical story of Henry and Teddi trying to take a sleigh ride, but they end up taking the wrong path and crashing into the Bear Rugs' cabin before plunging into an icy lake. Buff, Max, and Melvin, who had grown fond of the song after hearing the Bonnets sing it repeatedly while they were decorating, got into the spirit and began singing "jing-a-ling" in the background while the girls did. After them came Ernest and the Bear Rugs with "Hungry As A Bear", who still had some trouble with their timing (Part of this was due to Tennessee having trouble getting along with Ernest). As Ernest (semi-) performed, Henry spoke over the intercom into Teddi's dressing room.
"Teddi, Ernest an' th' boys are almost through. Get yourself ready."
The time had finally come. Teddi gripped the handles of the swing tightly with eagerness. Rufus was standing by on the swing's operating control, keeping a sharp ear out below, waiting to hear Ernest's final words. Below, she could hear Ernest say: "I'm powerful hungrified." That was it. Rufus pulled the lever and Teddi began her descent. She could hear Henry beginning to play. She began to sing while the image of snowflakes appeared on all the walls of the front of the theater, another one of Rufus' great ideas. Teddi sung through her song perfectly, and as she got to the final words, Henry, in a soft voice, joined her.
"Although it's been said, many times, many ways,
Merry Christmas to you…."
They together held the note down as Henry played the final few notes. Their combined voices had a feeling of warmth and set the tone of the song perfectly. It was such a feeling that words could not describe.
"That went wonderful, Teddi. I sure do love it when I get th' chance to sing with y'all!"
"Thank you, Henry! You did a good job yourself with the music."
"Huh-haw! Well, I have t'admit that I'm not perfect at this one yet. I still have t'practice it a bit more so I can play it by heart! Why don't we give things another try later on today?"
"Of course, Henry. See y'all later, unless y'all decide to come up here an' see me before then…"
"One of these days I'll hav'ta find a ladder long enough t'get up there…"Henry joked as Teddi giggled."Oh, Teddi, have you seen Big Al any today?"
"No, I was in a rush to get ready. Why?"
"You'll see," Henry said, "Keep your eyes over here on your way back up…."
Teddi could hear Al's guitar play "Auld Lang's Syne" behind the curtain. For once, Big Al was actually playing perfectly! Guess even Albert can play decently after all, She thought. Then, the guitar hit a wrong note. Or not. She kept her eyes on the stage, seeing if she could get a glimpse of Al. The curtain then opened and Al appeared, singing in his usual, deep tone.
"Another New Year, wouldn't be quite as hard,
if you'd only come back or at least send a card…" He started to bellow.
Teddi took a glance at him right before she re-entered her dressing room. Her eyes widened and her mouth hung open for a brief moment. The moment Teddi got off of her swing, she burst out in laughter. Below, Buff, Max, and Melvin were controlling themselves from laughing their heads off (It was the only thing they could laugh off anyway) when they saw Al's get-up. For all he was wearing was a party hat, a sash that read "Happy New Year", and a huge white cloth wrapped around him like a giant diaper. Yes, as part of his act, Big Albert had dressed up as Baby New Year.
"Another New Year, and I'm lonely and low,
Since you stole mah hearrrrrrrrrt, and muh truck, and…mah…dough…"
"Oh no, not his truck…." Buff said in a sarcastic manner.
Inside his office, Henry chuckled at the joke from outside before speaking into the intercom.
"All right, everyone take your places. We'll be rehearsing the finale medley in a few moments. Every bear assemble out to the stage. That is all."
He then turned over to Sammy and slipped the living coonskin cap over the upper part of his top hat.
"Are ya ready, Sammy?" He asked.
"I've got all the songs memorized, Henry! I'm rarin' to go!"
"Good t'hear it! Here we go then!"
Once they reached the stage, Henry and Sammy began,
"Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
Though the fire is so delightful…"
Right on cue, the Sun Bonnets rose up on their lift platform and continued:
"….And since we have no place to go,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow."
They, in unison, they yelled, "LET IT SNOW!" Henry chuckled. Now, it was Gomer and Terrence's turn to begin the next song. Gomer was to rise up just as the Sun Bonnets finished, and Terrence would follow suite. However, Rufus popped in from behind Henry and told him that Gomer had misplaced his sheet music, and was currently looking for it.
"Well, I guess we'll have to sit here an' wait for him…"said Henry.
Max then decided to take this opportunity to sing his own song…
"Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,
Had a very shiny nose
And if you ever saw it…"
Suddenly, Melvin broke in and interrupted…
"You would even say it glows…"
Max stopped and yelled, "Melvin, how many times to we have to go through with this? That's my tune!"
"Oh yeah, sez who?" asked the moose head.
Buff sighed. "Oh, are we starting this argument again?"
Thankfully, any argument the Heads may have had was broken up as Gomer rose on stage, playing a few notes before Terrence joined in.
"Sleigh bells ring…"
"Are ya listenin'?"
"In th' lane…"
"Snow is glistenin'!"
Then came Liver Lips. "A beautiful sight, I'm happy tonight!"
"Walkin' in a winter wonderland!"
The Bear Band then appeared, and Teddi descended, singing a solo:
"In the meadow we can built a snowman,
and pretend that he's a circus clown…"
"We'll have lotsa fun with Mr. Snowman…"sang Henry.
"Until th' other kiddies knock 'em down!" Sang everyone.
Then Al emerged, bellowing: "When it snows…"
"Ain't it thrillin'…"
"Though yer nose…"
"Hey, we'll frolic and play, the Eskimo way!" Wendell sang as he came up on his platform.
"Walkin' in a winter wonderland!"
"All together now!" Henry called.
"Walkin' in a winter wonderland!"
"Hand in hand!" Henry said.
"Walkin' in a winter wonderland!"
"Yahoo!" yelled Wendell.
"That was really good, gang!" Henry said. "'Though we need a little more practice, we sounded great for th' first time through! Everyone take a break for now, and we'll try again later!"
The bears agreed to this, and after commenting and complementing each other on how they did they went off to rest their voices. "Say, Teddi," said Henry before she began rising back up. "Your voice isn't tired out, is it?"
"No," said Teddi. "Why do you ask?"
"Well, I was thinkin' we could get a little bit more practice in with your song in a moment or two, if you ain't tired out that is."
"I don't see why not."
"Okay then. I'll just go back and get my git-tar and we'll work on it in a minute!"
"All right, Henry. Just let me freshen up a bit and I'll be right back down!"
As Teddi made her way back up and Henry made his way backstage, Wendell had made his way upstairs and was snacking with some of the others in the den, his rifle propped nearby. "That was pretty nice stuff y'all had goin' on," Wendell said to the Bear Rugs as he slathered honey on his biscuit.
"You did a fine job yerself, Wendell," said Zeke.
"Thanks," said Wendell, "I was really surprised at Zeb, too! Even through sickness he did well himself!"
"Hey, Ah told you I could still pull it of...Ah…Ah…"
"Uh-oh guys, hit th' deck! He's gonna blow!" said Tennessee as all the bears ducked for cover.
"BWAAA-CHOOOOO!" Zeb gave a mighty sneeze so strong, it blew the jar of honey on the dining table clear across the room. It landed and shattered right on Wendell's rifle.
"Oh, Zeb!" exclaimed Zeke as Wendell looked at his sticky, honey-covered gun.
"Sorry…" Zeb said with a sniffle.
"Ah, it ain't too bad, Zeb, "said Wendell, "I'll just go downstairs to th' washroom and clean it. I still got some time before we start rehearsin' again."
"Ya better hurry," said Ted. "I think I can hear somethin' goin on down there."
"Yeah, I do too," said Wendell, "It sounds like Henry and Teddi are sneakin' in another rehearsal. Oh well, I still got plenty a'time. I'll be back up here before ya know it!"
Wendell quickly made his way downstairs and laid his gun near the washroom door.
"I'll just set muh gun here and wet muhself a cloth," Wendell said to himself. He then went in, shutting the door behind him.
On the main stage, Teddi and Henry had just finished another rehearsal. "Well, how'd I do that time?" asked Henry. "You're getting really good at playin' it, Henry," said Teddi.
"Why thank ya, Teddi! I think if we go through it one more time, I think I'll be able to play it by heart!"
"Why don't we then? It's best to keep on tryin' while the tune is fresh in your head!"
"You're right, Teddi. But ain't you tired or anythin'? We've went through it several times now already."
"Not all at all, Henry."
"All right, then. We have time to do it once more."
"Ready when you are," said Teddi.
As Henry began to play, Teddi began to swing faster. She was so excited she just couldn't slow down, her mind focused on nothing but the show and singing her duet with Henry...
A booming gunshot came out of nowhere, catching the both of them off guard. Henry was shaken up so much by it he fell backwards off of the barrel he was sitting on. Just as Henry struggled back up he heard Teddi scream. He looked over just in time to see her fall off of her swing and slam right onto the floor below.
Henry quickly leapt off the stage, running over to where Teddi laid on the floor. He started to get nervous as he slowly approached over to her. She wasn't moving an inch. Henry froze still.
This isn't happening…Henry thought. This just didn't happen…
He walked closer to get a better look. He was then relieved when he saw her breathing. She then slowly opened her eyes. "Teddi! Oh, thank goodness y'all are okay! You must've blackened out there for a mo..."
Before Henry could finish his sentence, Teddi screamed in agony as she felt an excruciating pain in her left leg.
"Teddi! What's th'…?"
"Henry…my leg!" Teddi groaned. "It hurts…really bad! I think it's…it's broken…"
"You've must've banged it hard against th' side of th' stage when you fell! Oh, my gosh…"
Suddenly, the doors underneath Buff, Max, and Melvin opened and a Cast Member dashed in. Henry spotted him and shouted, "You! Get over here! We need help, now!"
The CM looked over and saw Henry over by the moaning Teddi. After a moment of surprise, he quickly ran back into the Café to call the paramedics.
"Hang on now, Teddi. Once you get down to th' hospital everythin' will be alright!"
"Henry, what about the gunshot? Who could've…"
Just then Wendell walked from behind the curtain, holding his rifle. "Hey, guys! I was cleaning muh gun backstage an' fer some reason, it went off again. I'm sorry Henry, but I broke a hole in th' ceilin'…"
"That ain't all what ya broke, Wendell," Henry said in a gruff tone.
"What are ya talkin' about? Hey, whut in th' heck happened to Teddi?"
"She fell off her swing and broke her leg because she got startled by yer rifle blast!"
"Oh, my gosh…" Wendell said in disbelief. "Henry...I…I…"
Henry walked away from Teddi for a moment. "Wendell, I'm afraid you can't bring that thing around here anymore. Yesterday, you shoot out th' lights and make everyone next door think that there wuz a gun-totin' maniac 'round here, and now this!"
"Henry…" Teddi groaned, "Don't take it all out on Wendell. It's also partially my fault. If I hadn't been swingin' so fast, I would have been able to hold on to my balance. This wouldn't have happened if I did…"
"This shouldn't have happened anyway," said Wendell, "I swear I unloaded this thing! I just know I did…"
"I'm sure you meant to Wendell, but that ol' gun's nothin' but trouble. However, because of our friendship I won't kick you off or suspend you. Just don't bring that thing around anymore, okay?"
"Alright, Henry, whutever you say."
Henry nodded at Wendell and then went back to Teddi's side, and Wendell walked backstage. A moment or two later, Wendell came back with the first aid kit and helped Henry make a splint for Teddi's leg. It was the least he could do to help. A few minutes later, the paramedics had arrived. To get Teddi out of the park without the public noticing, she needed to be moved down to the basement and out through the Utildors, a series of underground tunnels underneath the park. They set Teddi down on a gurney, carefully moving her up to the stage. They then laid her down on one of the lift platforms, and lowered her down into the basement. The rest of the Country Bears who were upstairs had heard of the news of what had happened, and had all rushed downstairs to watch her being carried away through a passage out to the Utlidors.
They pushed Teddi down through the tunnels, towards the outside backstage exit. An ambulance had pulled up, waiting to take her down to the medical center in the bears' community outside Ft. Wilderness. Henry watched as she was loaded on to it, and stayed there as it drove off into the distance. With a sigh, he walked back through the tunnel to Grizzly Hall alone. Why did this have to happen to Teddi? She never did anything to deserve such pain. Even though he had to stay behind and help direct rehearsal, he couldn't keep his mind on the Christmas show at the moment. The only thing he could think about right now was Teddi's injury. If only he hadn't been shaken up by that blasted gun, he would have leapt off the stage in an effort to catch her. But no, he had to have fallen back and just watch the whole horrible thing. He just didn't know what to do anymore…
As he approached the doorway leading to the Hall's basement, he stopped to think.
Gotta get a grip on muhself! I just gotta calm down and relax. I'll just go through the rehearsal as planned, and after it's all over, I'll go over to that hospital and check in on Teddi. I've got a strong will, I'm not gonna let anythin' make me lose control over muhself!
Henry walked up the stairs and headed back on stage, staying confident. He wouldn't let anything break his will!
Just then, Buff said, "Ah! He's back finally!"
"Is Teddi gonna be all right?" asked Max.
"Well, they just dragged her off to the hospital. I'll go over there tonight and check on her."
"Well, I hope she ain't out of commission for too long. That song of hers was beautiful!" said Max.
"Yeah, you could say she really went out and broke a leg on that one! Heh, heh, heh…" said Melvin.
Melvin stopped laughing when he heard Henry, Buff, and Max groan at him.
"Whoops. Sorry, guys…"
"I'll pretend I didn't hear that, Melvin," said Henry. "I've got more important things t'worry about right now…"
Just then, Zeke ran onto the main stage from behind the curtain.
"Henry! There you are! You've gotta come quick and help us here!"
"Whoa, Zeke, what's th' matter?"
"We have a problem, Henry, or to be more specific, 'Shaker' does. You gotta take a look at this!"
"What's th' matter with him?"
"Well, when Wendell's gun went off, th' bullet came up outta th' upstairs floor an'…"
"What? Did Terrence get hit by it?"
"No thankfully, but th' bullet did a lotta ricochetin' around the upstairs an' knocked over a'lotta stuff, and it didn't stop until it hit this large can up on a shelf and tipped it over. 'Shaker' was standin' right under it, and it poured this white stuff all over him…"
"Oh, my goodness…"
"Take a look for yourself. Okay, come on out here 'Shaker'."
Terrence then walked out on stage, and everyone in the room was shocked when they saw him. His fur, from head to foot, was now completely white!
"Goodness gracious! What is that stuff all over you, Terrence?"
"I ain't got a clue! Th' can it was in was unlabeled! But whatever it is, it won't come out no matter how much I wash it!"
"Have you tried Rufus? Maybe he can figure what that stuff is…" said Henry.
"We can't find him anywhere!"
"Well, allow me to get him." Henry then yelled loudly, "Oh, Rufus!"
Immediately, as if he was trained on command, Rufus dashed near Henry's position, waiting for his instructions.
"What is it you want, Henry?" The handybear asked on arrival.
"Rufus, take a look at Terrence over there. He got spilled with somethin' upstairs, and he's covered with that white stuff! We've got no idea what it could be, but we would have an idea as to what to do!"
Rufus took a brief look at Terrence and said, "Uh, oh. Where did the stuff come from?"
"It came from a large unlabeled can, up on a shelf in the den…"
Rufus shook his head in despair. "Oh, no, I was afraid of that. That can was holding a special formula I made that I usually use for paintin' an' stuff like that…"
"What's so special about it?" asked Henry.
"Um, well, I made it quick-dryin', an' once it does it never fades away or comes off none whatsoever. And I made it waterproof as well, so no matter how much you wash it, it won't come out."
"You what! You mean I'm stuck like this?" Terrence yelled, almost going into a rage.
"'Fraid so," answered Rufus.
"Oh, just great," said Terrence. "Now I'm gonna have to start dyin' muh fur back to its actual color before every show now!"
"I dunno 'Shaker', that white really suits you," said Buff.
"Yeah, and you could pretend that you're one of them polar bears!" said Melvin.
Max looked over at Melvin and said, "A polar bear? Oh c'mon, Melvin, that's got to be th' stupidest…"
"Ya know, that's a good idea!" Interrupted Terrence. "Maybe I can recruit an arctic animal an' put it in my act! I think I'll give th' studio a call and see if they can send a seal or a penguin or somethin'. Thanks, Melvin!"
Terrence then walked off. Henry stood there, stunned. "Oh, I think I'm gonna have to lie down.," he said. "My head's startin' to hurt. All these weird things that have been goin' on are startin' to be too much for me…"
"What's wrong with ya, Henry?" asked Zeke. "Is it because of Wendell shootin' off his gun and causin' pandemonium? Ernest writin' that song? Big Al givin' up his drinkin'? Teddi fallin' and gettin' injured? 'Shaker' turin' all white?"
"No, it's not any of those things, Zeke."
"Then what then?"
"Melvin actually had a smart idea for once," Henry said as he walked off to his office, his head throbbing.
I nervously enter the hotel room. When he finds out I failed again…
"Ah, you're finally back! Why did you take so long?" He yells as at me after I shut the door.
"Well things didn't go as planned, father. Last night I did everything you told me to do, and I almost succeeded. But, a maintenance worker re-tightened the bolts to the swing before I could leave. I just stayed the night in the theater, hoping for a good opportunity to come up…"
"And…?" He asks as he glares at me.
"Well, one of the other bears had a gun with him. Well, it seems he had to clean the thing, so while he went to go get a rag, I dashed from my hiding place, loaded a pellet into the gun, and dashed back into hiding! And when the bear went to clean it, it went off. The Swinger was out on stage on her swing at the time, and it scared her and caused her to fall off."
"Excellent thinking my dear! And what of the Swinger?"
"S-she survived…" I say as as I swallow hard. "All it did was make her break her leg, sir…"
"What? You didn't finish the job?"
"I'm-I'm sorry, sir, but after she fell there were too many people trying to help her! They took her off someplace, but I couldn't follow them! I barely managed to sneak out without being noticed!"
He then stomps his foot down in anger. "You failed again? We only have three days left to carry things out! Enough with this feeble planning! She'll have to come back sooner or later! And when she does, you're going to go in and finish the job once and for all, no matter the price!"
"B-but what if I get caught?"
"I don't care if you get caught or not anymore, just finish her! And while you're at it, get that Henry Bear as well! I don't care how you do it! We will have our revenge on them and their ancestors!"
Teddi opened her eyes and found herself lying in a bed in the medical center, her leg in a cast. Somehow, she had managed to stay conscious for a length of time after being taken from Grizzly Hall. After a while though, she had succumbed to both shock and the overwhelming pain in her leg, and had passed out shortly after arriving at the center. She looked out the window and realized that she had been out for hours, for it was dark outside. She laid back and thought about everything that had happened.
Why did this have to happen to me? Just when everything was starting to perk up it all turns into a huge disaster!
She laid her head to her side and started to cry for what seemed like hours. She then heard a knock at the door.
"Miss Barra? Are you awake?"
She looked up. "Y-yes…"
"You have a visitor here."
'Please, I just want to be alone…"
"Teddi! Are you alright in there?" Spoke Henry's voice.
"Henry?" She smiled for a brief moment. "Come in, please…"
Henry then walked in and shut the door behind him. He walked over and sat down next to her.
"How you feelin'? How's your leg?"
"It aches…" She said as she motioned over to her leg.
"Well, the doctor looked over yer x-rays. They said it should heal up in a few months."
"Looks like I'll be out of the show now…"
"Not necessarily. They said that it wasn't that bad at all, and since all you do is sit down, you can perform if you take it easy when you get around."
"I don't know. Listen, Henry, I've been doing some thinking. I don't think I want to perform anymore…"
"Are you sure about it, Teddi? I mean, I'm not forcin' you or anythin', but if it's about gettin' around th' theater that yer worried about, I can have Rufus rig somethin' up that'll help you get around with no problems…"
"Henry, listen to me. This doesn't have anything to do with my leg. I want to resign from both the Big Time Swingers and the Country Bear Players ."
Henry gave her a long stare. He laughed nervously for a moment. "Yer...yer jokin', aren't ya?"
Teddi looked back at him. "No, I'm serious."
Henry looked at her again, a shocked, worried look on his face, "But, but why?"
"Henry, when I fell off today I saw my life flash before my eyes. I thought I was going to pass away. I'm too scared to go back."
"But Teddi, this is th' only time you've ever fallen before! You can't let that affect your career. It probably won't happen again…"
"And what if it does?" Teddi snapped back. "What if I end up in worse shape than I am now?"
Henry looked at Teddi for a moment. "You seemed concerned with this whole thing, Teddi. Now why do you think this'll happen again?"
"Of all bears I thought you would have known by now…"
"Remember what happened to all the other Big Time Swingers before me, Henry? Most of them fell off their swings and ended up in the same way I am. And some…" Teddi said as an image of Georgette came into her mind, "Ended up dyin'…"
"Oh, so that's why you were the only one remaining when I called for one! Gosh Teddi, I didn't even know…"
"You didn't? Henry, I'm surprised at you. After all, we were founded by your great-grandmother…"
"I know! When I came to take over Grizzly Hall from my father, I learned all about the Swingers' history in Ursus' journals. But I didn't even know you were even still in business until Wendell told me you were!" Henry got up from off his chair and walked towards the window and sighed. "But anyways Teddi, tell me somethin'. What are you gonna do when you leave us, huh?"
"I'm goin' to do what I've longed to do for a long time. I'm gonna become a drama actress. It's been my dream all my life."
Henry turned over to her. "Really? Well Teddi, if that's what's important to you, I guess I have no choice but t'et you go…"
Teddi noticed that Henry was starting to sound choked up. "Henry, I know how disappointing this is to you, but…"
"It's okay, Teddi. It's not gonna be th' same without ya, but I ain't gonna stand in your way. But if y'all are serious about this, there's one last thing I have to say…"
Henry started to walk slowly to Teddi. Well, this is it, He thought as he felt his heart starting to pound. If I don't tell her now, I'll never get th' chance to ever again…
Teddi looked as Henry inched forward and forward towards her. From the window, the moon began to bathe the darkened room with a dim light. Henry approached the side of her bed. He slowly inched his face towards Teddi's ear, and then spoke to her in a small whisper.
"Teddi, I…I love you."
Teddi gazed at Henry for a few moments. Judging from the tone in his voice, she could tell Henry really meant it. She knew there was only one true way to find out. She lifted up a paw, and then slapped Henry hard against the cheek. He reeled back from the force of the blow and fell to the floor. He rubbed the sore place where Teddi had slapped him at and looked at her for a moment in disbelief. Why did she do that for? Henry thought. Then it slowly came back to him. Out in the wild, a bear that was in love with another of the opposite gender would show his or her affections by slapping the one they loved. If the other bear slapped back, it meant that the two deeply cared for each other.
It was a simple old custom that dated back many years. However, the Country Bears, who had spent most of their lives living closer to human customs, had almost forgotten it. Thankfully, Henry knew about it by reading an old article from one of Ursus' old journals stating that was the way he proposed to Helene, back before he started completely living to human customs. And for some reason Teddi seemed to know about it as well. Then Henry remembered a short film that Disney made during the 40s called Bongo that was about some circus bear that ran off into the wild and discovered the custom for himself. That's it then, Henry thought. Teddi must've seen that an' is testin' me with it! Well, there's only one thing to do now… He walked over to Teddi and slapped her in return. After rubbing her check for a moment, she grinned at Henry.
"Oh, Henry, you remembered. You really do care for me, don't you?"
"With all of muh heart."
"I had a feeling that you did. But, why wait all this time to admit it?"
"I don't know. I..I just couldn't muster up th' courage to tell y'all. I was afraid ya wouldn't believe me."
"I didn't at first. But th' tone of your voice, and the fact that you remembered to slap me back, made me realize you were serious."
"Thank goodness you knew about that ol' custom, Teddi. I'd never thought I'd see th' day when I'd have t'do such a thing to ya."
"No harm done at all. Henry, you know what I just said about leavin'? Well, I'm kindin' havin' second thoughts."
"Yes. I don't want to leave now. I thought that I didn't have a reason to stay here anymore. But now I do..."
Henry smiled. "And what reason is that?"
"Ah, Teddi…" Henry said as his face flushed. He leaned down near her and said, "Ya know, there is one thing th' humans have done that I've been longing to do for a long while."
Teddi noticed Henry getting closer to her, almost right in her face. "And that is…?"
Henry then embraced her and then kissed her hard on the lips. Teddi was surprised for a moment, before returning Henry's embrace and kiss herself, completely forgetting about the pain in her leg. It was only a brief, passionate moment, but for Henry and Teddi it almost seemed like it lasted for hours.
After they were through, the two looked at each other smiling. Teddi looked up and asked, "Well Henry, was it everything you expected?"
"Even better," he said satisfied. He then headed towards the door. "Good night, Teddi."
"OK, Henry," Teddi said. "And don't worry about me. I'll be back at th' Hall as soon as these doctors dismiss me!"
"Until then, my honey girl," said Henry, "Until then."
Henry then walked out, shutting the door behind him. Teddi laid back, relaxed. The pain in her leg didn't seem to bother her much anymore. With Henry's love backing her, she was no longer afraid of her fears, eager to get back to work, broken leg or not. Later after she had finished her dinner, she laid back to sleep. She was going to need all the rest she could get. Suddenly, she heard a tumbling crash coming from outside. Teddi jerked up, looking around. What was that? Oh, it was probably nothin'… She thought as she fell back to sleep.
Trixie got up from the place she had fallen and dusted herself off in anger. After Teddi had been injured, Henry told Trixie that their meeting after rehearsal would have to wait until later so he would go up and meet with her. She was worried about Henry spending time with Teddi, so she followed after them. She knew there was a possibility of not being let in, so she brought along a pair of binoculars and snuck into a tree facing Teddi's room to see what was going on in there. The first thing she saw through them was Henry and Teddi kissing, which upset her. After Henry had left, she was on her way down, when the branches she was standing on gave way under her immense weight, and she had fallen to the ground, giving an impact that would have registered on the Richter Scale.
Why, that no-good Swinger! She gets injured and it makes my Henry feel sorry for her! Well, that doesn't matter! As soon as Teddi comes back, I'll lure that Henry under that mistletoe, give him an even bigger kiss that'll make that Barra hate him and leave him for me! You better watch out, Henry, cause you're gonna be mine! These thoughts went through Trixie's mind as she stomped back to Grizzly Hall in the darkness…