Chapter 1: Prologue: The Repetition
A SWINGER'S WISH
By J.E. Smith
LEGAL STUFF: The Country Bear Jamboree is owned by the Walt Disney Company. All songs featured in this story are copyright to their respective owners.
Please note that at several times throughout the story there will be switches between first and third person. Whenever this occurs, the first person segments will always be told from the villain's POV.
PROLOGUE: THE REPETITION
LATE NOVEMBER 1984
"Y'all come up and see me some time, ya heah?"
"Yeah! Soon as I find a ladder I'll be right up! Mmm, hmm!"
It was the same old routine. Teddi Barra gave a brief sigh as her swing ascended back up into the hole in the ceiling to her dressing room on the second floor of the Grizzly Hall Theater in Walt Disney World, near Orlando, Florida. The audience, which consisted of only a few people, didn't even applaud. It was always like that on the final show of the day...
Teddi, now all the way back up in her dressing room, began to hear the familiar sounds of an untuned guitar coming from below.
"There was bloooood on the saddle…" Sung a deep, bellowing voice.
Ah, Big Albert. He's on cue, as always, thought Teddi. Looking up, she saw a six-foot tall black bear standing above her. He was sticking his paw out, offering to help her up.
"Oh, Rufus! Y'all are too kind for offering to help me up, but no thank you. I'm just gonna stay here and wait. There's no use in me gettin' up, since I'm gonna have to go back down there anyway, y' know."
"What do ya mean, Miss Barra?" Rufus asked.
Rufus was a high-tech sort of bear who usually spent his time snoring the day away in his cave over at Disneyland in California, which was due in part to the fact that he worked all night as a maintenance worker around the area of the park near where his cave was. Teddi had briefly met him twelve years ago when the bears went down there to perform for the Californians. However, the bears didn't seem quite as popular over on the West Coast, so they returned to Walt Disney World. However, Rufus had gotten lonely and recently asked Henry Taylor Bear, the Master of Ceremonies of Grizzly Hall, if he could come over and help them out. Henry agreed and hired him as a stagehand. One of the jobs that Rufus was now responsible for was anchoring up and lowering Teddi's swing in each performance. In fact, this was his first full day on the job; thus he didn't know what went on from day to day.
Teddi rolled her eyes. She knew that Henry would come out to sing next, and Big Al would interrupt him and try to steal the show by repeating his "Blood On The Saddle" song over and over, which would prompt Henry to call Teddi and the rest of the bears out on stage to try to drown him out. She thought that Rufus would have had caught on to the pattern by now.
"Two words, honey: Big Al," she replied.
"...and a great big puddle of bloooood on the ground," Big Al "sang" from below.
"Aw, he ain't gonna interrupt Henry this time!" Rufus said.
"Ruffie hon, once you've been here for a few days y'all will realize that nothin' new happens here. It's the same ol' way, day in and day out."
Though I wish something new would happen for a change..
"Born on a mountain top in Tennessee..." Henry sang below.
"Listen, Henry's startin' to sing. You better get ready to lower me, Ruffie. "
"It ain't gonna happen!"
"Hey gang, hit it!" Henry shouted a few moments later.
"Told ya!" Teddi said with a smile. "Now quick! Lower me!"
Rufus grumbled to himself and did as he was told.
"He's big around the middle and he's broad across the rump, runnin' ninety miles an hour, takin' thirty feet a jump!" sang the entire cast below.
C'mon Rufus! Get me down there!
"Ain't never been caught an' ain't never been treed..."
Teddi sighed as she began to make her descent.
I'm not gonna make it…
"…some folks say he looks a lot like me!"
Teddi had then descended completely, at the same old point in the song as she always did. She never made it down during the first verse. She hoped that Rufus would have gotten her down earlier than usual. She looked down below at her fellow Country Bear Players, who like her had been doing the same exact routines every day for the past thirteen years. First off to the far right of the stage were Henry and his singing coonskin cap, Sammy. To the far left of the stage was Big Al, who continued to perform his song, ignoring the other bears while they sang "Ol' Slew Foot" to try to drown him out. All the bears began to whoop and holler, but Big Al just kept on singing...
"...and bloooood all around..."
Next to Al was Terrence the "Shank Shaker", whose melancholy growl could please any crowd. Below her on the center stage was the wildest country and western group in the wilderness, the Five Bear Rugs, made up of Zeke, Zeb, Ted, his brother Fred, and a bear named Tennessee.
"High on a mountain, tell me what do y'see?
Bear tracks, bear tracks, lookin' back at me…"
Directly below Teddi on center stage left was "The Wizard of the Piano", Gomer. Next to him were those three perky young cubs; the Sun Bonnets Bunny, Bubbles, and Beulah. These triplet sisters had outstanding singing talent for their age. Teddi always thought that Henry had made a smart choice when he had brought them on board. Next to the Bonnets was Henry's best friend Wendell, the overbearing baritone who could fracture any folk song within the key of C.
"Better get your rifle boy, before it's too late..."
Behind her and out of her view next to Henry was that grand Miami Serenader, Liver Lips McGrowl. Last but not least, attached to the far right wall of the theater, were Buff The Buffalo, Max The Stag, and Melvin The Moose, three stuffed animal heads that would never stop talking, even after they had lost their bodies. Teddi could still remember the shock she had when they first came alive on her.
"Bear's got a little big, and he's headed through the gate! He's big around the middle and he's broad across the rump, runnin' ninety miles an hour, takin' thrity feet a jump!"
Not on stage were Ernest "the Dude", a general slacker type whom Teddi didn't care for much, and Trixie, the Tampa Temptation, a rather large woman who was an old veteran when it came to show business.
"Ain't never been caught an' ain't never been treed…"
It would be just nice if one of them would join us for once, she thought. But Ernest is too lazy and there's no room for big ol' Trixie down there. It would be a welcome change, though.
"Some folks say he looks a lot like me!" The bears concluded.
Everything then went dark as all the spotlights went out, and Teddi was lifted back upwards.
"OOOF!" Big Al groaned as he tripped on his way backstage. This was followed by the sounds of glass shattering as he took his usual tumble...
"There! Thanks, Ruffie, "she said in the voice she used to taunt Henry after Rufus helped her off her swing. "Now, would y'all be so kind and leave so I can get ready to go?" She said as she kissed Rufus on the cheek. Rufus felt light-footed and love struck, like anybody would after one of Teddi's coy acts.
"Anything you say, Miss Barra!" he said as he began to go down the stairs that led backstage.
Teddi grinned as he left. She could hear Buff, Max, and Melvin sing "Come Again" below as the people exited the theater. It was time to call it a day. She slipped off her fedora and feather boa and put them in her closet, where she always kept them for the night. After slipping on her coat, Teddi make her way downstairs. After she reached the bottom, she went toward the backstage exit. She was exhausted from performing, and she was famished. She wanted to get home, eat, and get some rest. But first she had to wait and get word that all the people were out of that area of the park. She looked around and see if she could speak to anyone, but all the other bears were off somewhere else, packing up their instruments and getting ready to leave.
As usual, she thought. It gets lonely waiting around for a while.
At least there wasn't total silence; she could still hear the "Come Again" music playing.
"Ah! There you are, Teddi!" Said a familiar voice that came up from behind her.
"Oh, Henry!" She said as she turned around. "I didn't know you were there!"
"You did a fine job today, as usual," he said.
"Oh?" As if I didn't know already. "Well, thank you! Say, Henry?"
"There's still a few people out there, would y'all like to stay and speak with me till I can go?"
"Why, sure I..."
"Henry!" Bunny shouted from another room. "We're ready now!"
"Oh, th' Sun Bonnets! Sorry Teddi, but I have t'get 'em to their folks! See you in th' mornin'! Bye!" And with that, he walked off.
Just then a Cast Member (A Disney park employee for those of you out there who have never been to a Disney park in your life) came into the room and approached her. "Excuse me Miss Barra, most of the people around the area have left now. Your transportation is ready," he said to her.
"Oh, thank you," she said. This always happens. I hardly get time to speak with anyone! At least Rufus will be up there with me for a while, it was gettin' pretty lonely up there all by myself! Well, better get goin'.
Teddi then exited the building and proceeded to stroll down the deserted streets of Frontierland. The first stretch of the street was well illuminated by the lights coming from the buildings. After she walked passed all of them, the only lights from that point on came from the lampposts and the full moon. She glanced over at the moon's shimmering reflection in the Rivers of America before she proceeded to the backstage exit behind the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster, where a limo awaited her. "There you are, Miss Barra!" said the chauffeur as she walked up. "Are you ready to leave?"
"Yes. Take me home please," She replied as she got in. The car then drove down several service roads before it reached Floridian Way, passing by the construction of the Grand Floridian resort and the Magnolia and Palm Golf Courses before turning down World Drive. After driving a mile or so, the car turned down Buena Vista Drive and down a private road behind the EPCOT Center Park before it came to a stop.
"Well, here we are! Have a good evening, Miss Barra!"
"Thank you again. I'll see you in the mornin', Jennings."
Teddi then walked up to her house, which was located in the Canada area of EPCOT's World Showcase, hidden on the top floor of the Hotel du Canada, a building that resembled a French Gothic mansion. She went through her own private entrance behind the building, out of the public's sight. When Teddi had been invited by Henry to perform in the Jamboree, she had requested that she had her own private accommodations. Even though Henry had already arranged for her to have her own room on the second floor of Grizzly Hall, she refused. Teddi wanted to have a more luxurious place to stay so she insisted that she have her own private house instead. Henry really wanted her to be in his show, so he met her request by having one built in a beautiful, scenic area away from the Magic Kingdom park, the inside of it being fancy and elegant which was fitting for someone of Teddi's demeanor. A decade later, the Walt Disney Company began to build EPCOT. Teddi's home was within its construction area, and it was required for it to be demolished. However, to make up for it, they reconstructed the interior of it on the top floor of the Hotel du Canada building. At first, she didn't seem to mind. In fact, she liked living in EPCOT, because she had many new dinner options at the World Showcase, and she loved the beautiful view of the lagoon the building overlooked. Unfortunately, a few weeks after EPCOT had opened they started having shows every other night over the lagoon. Though she enjoyed listening to these shows at first, she soon grew weary of them, for they kept her awake on those nights when she wanted to sleep early. And this was going to be on of those nights, unfortunately.
Teddi sighed. She wanted to have her dinner later so she wouldn't be bored later that evening waiting for the Laserphonic Fantasy show to end, but she was so hungry she couldn't wait that long. Plus she had already ordered her meal earlier before she performed the last show at the theater. She had no choice anyway; the World Showcase restaurants would be packed with guests at this point, and it would have raken forever for her meal to be cooked. A knock then came from the door. She went over and opened it, knowing it would be her food.
"Your salmon soufflé, Mam'selle Barra."
"Thanks. Set it by the table, as usual."
She then ate her soufflé, one of the things she didn't seem to get tired of during the course of the two years since EPCOT was built. Since she alternated through each of the different World Showcase pavilions and the different restaurants every day, the food was one thing she never seemed to get tired of. After she had finished and had the table cleared away, she went in to the bathroom and started drawing water in the tub. A bath would pass the time away until the lagoon show was over. After slipping her coat off and getting into the tub, she laid back and relaxed, thoughts racing through her mind. She thought of Henry, how he seemed to back away every time she spoke to him. "I'm busy, Teddi", or "I can't speak now, Teddi", would usually be his response whenever she tried to talk to him about anything else besides her performances. At first, she wanted to talk to him about quitting the show. Teddi wanted to try her paw at becoming a drama actress, something she wanted to do all her life. But whenever she auditioned for a part in a play, she was always rejected. Later, she was discovered by a talent agent for the Big Time Swingers, a famous group of female bear performers that had been founded way back in 1900 by Helene Bear, the wife of Henry's great-grandfather Ursus H. Bear. Ursus was a famous bear, for he was the first one who practiced human characteristics and later founded Grizzly Hall.
Teddi was somewhat glad that the Swingers had selected her, for she had become one of the most famous members in the troupe. Teddi found many new friends during her stay, her best friend being Georgette LaBruin, who was also one of the other well known Swingers. Unlike most male bears that only liked Teddi because of her looks, and other females who were jealous of her talent, Georgette was one of the few who liked Teddi because of her personality and dreams. Those were the good old days, where Teddi and Georgette performed without a care in the world. There were even occasions where they would perform together in special theaters that put in two swings so they could have both of them perform at once . Teddi enjoyed her life at that point, thinking that nothing could end her career with Georgette. That soon changed when Teddi started to hear news of several Swingers in other parts of the country beginning to have tragic accidents.
The girls started to fall off their swings, or the swings would suddenly detach themselves from the ceiling and the girl would either suffer serious injury, or if the swing was high enough, death. Some of the superstitious girls in the group thought that these accidents were caused by the ghost of Ursa, another female bear that wanted to marry Ursus, but was angered that he chose Helene as his mate instead of her. Thus, Ursa wanted to get revenge on Helene by trying to eliminate and the performing group that she had founded. Both Teddi and Georgette saw this story as a result of the superstitious members' paranoia and thought that the accidents were just a coincidence. Time passed, and more and more Swingers began to have "accidents". Many other Swingers became scared of the news, and simply retired from the group. Teddi and Georgette didn't let this affect them, though and kept on performing, even when it had gotten to the point that they were the only two Swingers in the group that were left. Then, the horrible day happened. The two were performing together one night. The act seemed to go on perfectly, until suddenly, without warning, Georgette's swing suddenly detached and she fell. Unfortunately, the distance to the floor was too great and…
Teddi couldn't finish her thought. She didn't want to remember the image of Georgette as she laid still on the floor…
The loss of Georgette convinced Teddi that the myth may have been true after all, and fearing that it could happen to her, she planned to quit the Swingers. It was that very day that Teddi got the notice that Grizzly Hall was reopening after a long period of time of being closed down and Henry needed a Swinger to be in his new show. Seeing that Teddi was now the "Last of the Big Time Swingers" (As Henry called her in the show when he introduced her), she decided to be kind and do a few shows at the old theater. However, the show had become really popular, and she decided to stay with them to this very day. Plus, there was something about Henry that kept her going on. Sometimes she wondered if Henry had a genuine crush on her...
No, it can't be. It's been thirteen years now, he would've said something by now!
Since the thirteen years had passed without anything out of the ordinary happening, Teddi thought that she was safe of having the same fate as the other Swingers. Just then, an explosion came from outside, breaking her out of her thoughts.
Ah, the fireworks from that Laserphonic show. Nothin' to worry about.
Teddi knew the show was nearing the end, so she rinsed the soap lather out of her fur and pulled the stopper. After all of the water had been drained, she stood up in the tub and shook as much of the water off her as she could, and then got out and used a towel and hair dryer to finish drying. She then walked back into her den, towards the east wall which had many pictures of her and Georgette hanging from it, with some placed on her vanity table in the corner. Most of them were individual pictures of them performing, snips from newspapers and several posters from some of the places that they had performed at. The final two portraits, however, were a group portrait of all the Country Bear Performers in front of Grizzly Hall that was taken the day before the first performance, and one of her and Henry on the porch that was taken later on the same day. She put on her nightgown, and then went over to the table, opened her jewelry case and pulled out a velvet box.
Inside was a special locket that she treasured a lot, for it was given to her by Georgette as a gift shortly before her final performance. It was beautiful, made of sold gold with a red ruby in the middle. She took it out of its case and put it on. Even though she wore it in her early days at Grizzly Hall, she later decided that it was too precious to wear at the shows, and from then on rarely took it out of her house out of fear of it getting broken or lost. The only time she wore it was while she was asleep and on special occasions. Teddi picked up a romance novel and sat on her bed. The show outside was over, but there was still the sound of the people speaking to each other and music playing while they were exiting, so she read while she waited for them to clear out and everything to be silent. Teddi always dreamed of having a romantic affair with one of the other bears, but almost all of them were married. The ones who weren't married weren't exactly what she was looking for in a male. The only one who she had an eye on of course was Henry, who was too busy running the shows to speak with her, and whenever he did it was always about business. It was a shame he didn't seem interested, it would have made her life so much more worthwhile.
After it had finally gotten quiet outside, she slumped down into a comfortable position. She closed her eyes and started to sleep, but a few minutes later she found she couldn't. She got up and looked over out onto her balcony window. The full moon was still out, and was shining brighter than it had earlier that evening and its light kept her awake. She got up and peeked out her window at the now deserted area. It was such a beautiful night, so she decided to open the window for a moment and stared at the lagoon that her house overlooked.
Usually it was crowded with boats taking park guests back and forth across it all day, and on the nights that Laserphonic Fantasy played the edge of it would be packed with guests around the area watching it. But now, with the park closed and the area around her deserted, the lagoon area was peaceful and calm. The lagoon itself looked beautiful with the moon's reflection shimmering off it. Teddi loved nights like this. Sometimes it was a relief being away from the packed houses of foot-stomping crowds at Grizzly Hall and in this peaceful silence. She looked up and noticed several shooting stars in the sky, and thought of the old story that if one made a wish upon one that it would might come true. And she had several to make. But she knew that it was just a children's story and it wouldn't happen anyway.
Still, anything's possible. Heck, I'll do it for fun. Feeling somewhat childish, she clutched her locket with her paws, closed her eyes, and softly said, "I wish that someday I will have a major change in my life. Just somethin' that will make it more worthwhile..." Teddi opened her eyes and smiled, feeling a little bit better. She shut the window and slipped back into bed, and then drifted off into a dreamless sleep.
"Bingo, there she is," I say to myself.
I put down my binoculars in success. I've finally found her, after so long. I begin walking from my vantage point at the entrance to the World Showcase, quickening my pace to the Canada section. The job itself, though I don't really want to be a part of it, should be simple. All I have to do is find my way into that large mansion and do the deed before that bear realizes what's going on. I should be able to sneak in, get my job over with, and get out before anyone notices. Just before I reach it, I suddenly feel something clasp down on my right shoulder. I turn and see one of those park workers grabbing on to me.
"Excuse me miss, but the park is closed. You'll have to leave now," the idiot tells me. I'd take him out, but that would draw too much attention to the other guards. I can't afford to give up my disguise.
"Oh, sorry," I tell him in a stupid sounding tone, "I guess I lost track of time."
"And your sense of direction as well. The exit's on the other side of the park."
I have no choice but to turn around and leave. Curse my luck! I walk all the way back to the monorail station, the worker following me the whole way to make sure that I actually go there. I board an empty monorail car that's headed to the Contemporary Resort where I'm staying. During the ride, I ignore the recorded spiel playing over the speakers and lose myself in my thoughts as I look out into the night sky. Upon returning to the hotel I head to our room, where the old man is waiting for me.
"Back so soon?" He asks. "Did you already take care of her?"
"Unfortunately, no. While I was able to locate her, there weren't any suitable spots in the EPCOT park for me to hide. One of the guards spotted me and forced me to leave."
"As I had expected. Well, we'll just have to go with the indirect option then. I've been studying the maps for the Magic Kingdom park where Grizzly Hall is located, and I've discovered a possible place for you to hide out."
He lays out a map of the park on the table, and directs his finger over to a river in the upper left corner. In the middle of the river is an island.
"According to the park guide, this island attraction closes at dusk. Your best bet is to go into the park tomorrow and survey it for a possible place for you to hide, and stay there until the rest of the park closes. Then, you can swim back across and then infiltrate Grizzly Hall. You know what to do from there..."
"Remember, we only have the five days we're staying here to carry this out! But if all goes well, that Swinger lady will take the fall when you're through with her! Finally, our family will have its revenge..."
Chapter 2: Part One: The Preparation
Please forgive the lack of formatting in this chapter for the moment. When I imported this story from FF.Net, it displayed the prologue again instead of this one! I'll add the bold print and italics back in later...
PART ONE: THE PREPARATION
Teddi awakened the next morning by the chimes of her wall clock at her usual time of seven-thirty, so she would have enough time to get herself ready and make it to Grizzly Hall before its nine o'clock opening. She returned her locket to its case, got dressed, and went to have breakfast at the Good Turn Restaurant at the Land pavilion over in the Future World area of the park as she usually did. It was just as she was about to leave when she heard a knock at her door. That's strange. Who could be visiting this early? She opened it and was surprised to see….
"Rufus! What are you doin' here?"
"Sorry to come unexpected Miss Barra, but Henry said he wanted you at the theater right away…"
"This early? It won't even be open until more than an hour!"
"I know, but he said he has a important announcement to make and he wants everyone there."
"He didn't say anything about it. He just told me a few minutes ago to pick you up immediately."
Actually, he did tell Gomer and me everything about it, but he told me not to tell anyone else, Rufus thought to himself.
"Well, we better not keep him waitin'. Let's go."
Teddi and Rufus then went outside, got into the waiting car, and drove off.
"I know my car ain't as luxurious as that limo ya normally take but this was the best we could do on such short notice, " Rufus explained on the way. "We tried gettin' yer chauffeur but he pulled an all-nighter and didn't get to bed 'til like two in the mornin', and so he had one heckuva a fit when we woke him up so early. And all that cussin' he made over the phone! He screamed so loud, we had to plug the four cub's ears!" Rufus chuckled, but he noticed that Teddi didn't seem to be paying attention. "Uhhh…Miss Barra?"
Teddi looked up at him. "Huh?"
"You were just starin' out into space! Anythin' wrong?"
"Oh no, Ruffie. I was just lost in thought. I'm really curious about this annoucement, after all."
Taking the usual roads, they soon arrived in the Magic Kingdom, taking the service entrance behind Frontierland. Henry was there waiting for them. "Ah, there ya are now!" Henry said as Teddi got out of the car. "Now everyone's here! Now, let's hurry and get on down to the Hall!"
"Henry, why did you have me come over this early? I didn't even have breakfast yet!"
"Oh, really? Sorry about that! Well, you'll be able to go back home and get it after the announcement."
"What do y'mean go back home after?"
"Whoops! Didn't mean t' say that! Sorry, Teddi, I can't say anythin' else or I'll give the announcement away!"
As they began walking to the theater, Teddi wondered what he meant by "after". After all, both parks would open in less than an hour, and she wouldn't have time to go back home because she would have to perform…
As they approached Grizzly Hall, something caught her attention. In front of the building was a sign that said, "SORRY FOLKS, WE ARE CLOSED FOR REFURBISHMENT."
Her eyes lit up in surprise. The bears never usually closed the theater for routine maintenance at this time of year, nor did Henry inform her of any upcoming rehabs. For what reason was the Hall closed? "Henry, what in the world is going on?"
"You'll see," he said as he untied the rope that was tied across the center of the porch to keep people from entering the closed theater. "Ladies first," he said as he stood aside to let Teddi through so he could tie the rope back behind him. Teddi walked up to the door, but found she couldn't open it.
"Door's locked, Teddi. Give me a second and I'll be right with 'ya." He said as he and Rufus finished tying the rope back. "Thanks, Rufus. I always have a heckuva time gettin' this thing back on tightly."
He then walked up to the door he then pulled out his key to Grizzly Hall. "Ladies first," he said to Teddi after he unlocked the door. Teddi then went in and passed through the turnstile. She walked into the center of the room, then realized she couldn't get through the automatic doors that led to the theater. She turned and saw Henry by the entrance, who bended over onto the Cast Member's podium and flipped the switch which opened the doors. "You can go through now, Teddi," Henry said as he picked up the microphone attached to the podium and spoke into it. "Remember, no eatin', no drinkin', no smokin', no flash pictures, and absolutely NO hibernatin' durin' this presentation, please," he said with a chuckle.
Teddi laughed as she made her way to the now open door. She then turned her head and noticed Henry going out, closing the door behind him. "Ain't y'all comin' in, Henry?"
"Course I am! Rufus and I are just gonna go in the back way!"
Teddi was then puzzled. "Then why didn't we go through there in the first place?"
"I had to make sure you went through the front, 'cause goin' in through th' back would've spoiled part of the announcement for you! Anyway, y'all better get in the theater before th' doors close an' get settled. See ya in a few moments!"
"Okay, then," Teddi said as Henry shut the door and locked it back before going outside with Rufus so they could reach the hidden backstage entrance behind the theater.
Teddi walked through the lobby doors, walked down the ramp and entered the theater, where all the bears were sitting in the audience seats.
"About time 'ya got here, "Zeb Zoober, the fiddle playing member of the Five Bear Rugs said to Teddi as she took a seat."We were wonderin' when ya was gonna get here!"
"Yeah, we've been waitin' for about a good thirty minutes!" added Tennessee O'Neal, who was another member of the Bear Rugs who played "The Thing", which was his custom made one-string instrument.
Teddi then noticed that two of the bears were missing.
"Hey, I don't see Ernest or Gomer. I thought Henry said everyone was here."
"Really? Well, Gomer I don't about, but if I know Ernie he's probably slackin' off somewhere."
"Then I guess that means Henry finally decided not to put up with Ernest's laziness anymore."
"Yeah, that'll teach that lazy ol' city-slicker a thing or two about bein' late!"
The rest of the bears sat patiently, eager to hear what Henry had to say. And for once, Buff, Max, and Melvin were actually quiet. The bears expected them, or at least Buff, to yell backstage for Henry to hurry. Suddenly, Melvin suddenly began shaking his head and squinting his eyes. "Oh c'mon, hurry up. I can't wait any longer!"
"Well, it was nice while it lasted…" Trixie grumbled to herself.
Buff looked at the quivering moose head, surprised that it came out of Melvin first and not him. "Oh, Melvin, what's wrong with you?" asked the buffalo head.
"Do we have to stay here and wait?" Melvin whispered to Buff. "I gotta go to the bathroom!"
Buff rolled his eyes. He knew Melvin was stupid, but this?
"Oh, Melvin," he groaned. "You don't even have the, uh, vital stuff to do that!"
"Plus, you can't even drink anymore, Melvin," added Max. "In fact, you haven't even eaten or drank anythin' for about fourteen years!"
"Oh, yeah!" Melvin said. "I forgot! Thanks fer remindin' me!"
"Your stupidity never fails to amuse me, stuffin' for brains." Trixie said to Melvin.
"Duh, thanks!" replied the moose head, taking it as a compliment. Suddenly, Henry came out from behind the curtain and walked on the main stage.
"Okay now boys, that'll be enough of them comments," He said to the heads.
Me breakin' those three wall-hangers out of some kinda chit-chat then turnin' to the audience. Why does this seem familiar? He thought to himself as he turned toward the bears.
"Now, I know you're all wonderin' why I gathered y'all here this way."
"Yeah, Henry!" shouted Zeke.
"What's th' big news?" Added Liver Lips.
"My fellow bruins," Henry started to speak, "today is a exicitin' day for us. Something I have been waiting for since the day we started performin' here has finally occurred."
Henry then walked back to the curtain, poked his head in behind it, and said,"Okay Rufus, bring him out!"
A pajama-clad, half-awake Ernest then walked from behind the curtain.
"Today, Ernest has finally woken up from…."
Buff suddenly laughed out loud, interrupting him. "You gathered everyone together an hour earlier just so you could tell them that Ernest woke up! And here I thought that Melvin was dumb!"
All of the bears started to shout and complain at Henry. Teddi couldn't believe this. She knew Henry wouldn't have dragged her here so early just for this! Then it hit her. She knew what the announcement was about. She needed to break up this commotion so Henry could finish. She stood up on her seat and yelled, "QUIET!" All the other bears stared at her, surprised that Teddi could raise her voice that loud.
"Sorry for that, but I don't think Henry was finished. Buff, y'all should be ashamed for cuttin' in on him like that. Okay Henry, you may continue."
"Thanks, Teddi. Now, as I was tryin' to say before I was interrupted," he said as he eyed Buff. "I guess I should explain before I continue. As y'all know, my great-grandfather Ursus H. Bear wanted to be as much like the humans as possible. That's one reason why he founded this theater in the first place. But it still wasn't enough for him. He wanted to experience one thing that seemed to please the humans the most: the holiday known as Christmas. However, one thing stood in his way: hibernation. Several years after foundin' this place, he decided to try to resist hibernatin'. A lot of other bears thought Ursus was being extremely foolish in doin' this."
"Um, Henry," interrupted Bunny. "Sorry for interruptin' you like this, but didn't they also think that when Ursus first tried actin' like a human?"
"And foundin' this here theater?" added Bubbles.
"But eventually saw somethin' in all of it and helped him out?" asked Beulah.
"You three are exactly right," Henry replied to them. "Yes, some other bears saw Ursus' dreams and gave him a hand, some of them bein' y'all's kin. If it weren't for their help, I don't think this theater would even be here and we all would probably be out livin' in the wild. Unfortunately, when Ursus told 'em all of his idea of skippin' hibernation, they thought that he had completely lost his mind! Now, mind y'all, this was back when bears went through life without even hearin' of Christmas. But even if a bear did know about it, they usually thought it was just some stupid legend or some other sort of flim-flam. But Ursus knew it was more than that. However, he learned that it took several years for his body to get completely adjusted to the changes. Unfortunately, he passed away before he succeeded. Bless his dear soul." Henry said as he looked up at Ursus' portrait that was hung above the stage with a tear in his eye.
"Anyway, after his passin', no one else attempted to skip hibernatin'. No one of course, until me. After findin' out about our success after we first started performin' here, I decided to carry on my granddaddy's dreams. Bein' of his kin, I felt that I had to do so. I'm sure y'all rememberin' me tellin' y'all years ago to lay off hibernatin', so we could perform more. All of ya agreed, and I thank y'all for all your support and helpin' me with these things. I think I couldn't have had a finer bunch of bruins to work with than y'all. And I'm sure y'all have experienced Christmas enough to know what a great season it is..."
They all nodded in agreement, for they really enjoyed the Christmas season. They always had some time off performing near Christmas to go off and experience wonderful things. Teddi had completely forgotten about the whole hibernation deal. Not falling asleep during winter had become second nature to her. She too had fond memories of going off to ski during the Christmas season as well as all the beautiful songs. She was too involved with her thoughts last night that she forgot all about them! She turned her attention back to Henry.
"Which brings me to the real reason I called you here. Ernest, you picked th' right year for finally bein' able to skip out on hibernatin', because we're goin' to be startin' a new tradition around here. Okay Rufus, open th' curtain."
The curtain opened to reveal something the bears couldn't believe. Instead of the usual backdrop of several signs, there was now a huge green card. It had two ribbon borders that said the words, "SEASON'S GREETINGS." In the middle of the card was a picture of a snow-covered valley, with a cabin with a smoking chimney, with two cubs building a snow bear.
The bears began to whisper to each other. Teddi smiled. It was just as she had guessed.
"Y'all ready down there, Gomer?" Henry yelled down below the stage.
"Uh-uh," came Gomer's voice from underneath.
"Then start playin' that song I told ya to play."
Gomer then came up to the stage on the elevator he used to get both him and his piano up on stage.
The bears were all surprised when they saw Gomer come up, who was wearing a huge blue overcoat, and oddly enough, sunshades. His piano was covered with tinsel and ornaments, a miniature Christmas tree was on top of it, and a small stocking with Gomer's name stitched into it was stuck to its side.
"Well, ain't he a sight fer sore eyes!" joked Max.
"Well, he sounds a lot better than the way he looks, that's for sure!" Buff added.
Ignoring the stag and buffalo heads, Henry started to sing.
"It's beginnin' to look a lot like Christmas, yep!
Soon the bells will start,
An' the thing that'll make 'em ring,
Is the carol that you sing,
From right within your heart. G'hawhawhaw!"
"Yes, my fellow bruins," Henry spoke as Gomer continued to play the song. "Startin' this year, we'll be performin' a special Christmas celebration, right here at th' good ol' Country Bear Jamboree! We'll be closed for a few days to prepare. I want y'all t' pick any Christmas or seasonal song y'all would like, and dress in somethin' that reflects th' season, like Gomer here! Expect for them sunglasses. Gomer, why did you put those on anyway?"
"So I could look like my favorite and fellow piano player Ray Charles!" Gomer replied.
"Oh. Huh-hah! I see!" Henry said. "Well, I want y'all t' think of yer favorite things at Christmas to get in th' mood, things like snow softly fallin', stocking's bein' hung, or the smell of a Christmas feast of turkey and yams comin' from th' kitchen!"
Hmmm, I like the sound of that! I think I'll use it for my openin' speech to th' audience!
"Mmmmm, mmmm!" A lot of the bears went, licking their lips at the thought.
Henry smiled as he continued singing,
"But the prettiest sight to see,
Is the holly that'll be,
On your own front door!"
"Well, my friends, that's it for the presentation! Like I said, we only have a few days to get ready, so here's how our schedule will go. Zeke, you and the Bear Band will stay here, so we can start workin' on an openin' ditty followin' what I just sung. I recall y'all writin' a few winter songs a couple years back. I need ya to come back here and think of a good one to use."
"Sure thing, Henry," Zeke replied. "OK, boys, let's get backstage and get started!"
"Ernest, I need you to do two things," Henry said to "The Dude".
"Please change out of those silly lookin' sleepin' clothes, and when you go back up to your room, don't you even think of fallin' back to sleep on us, ya hear?"
"Yeah, yeah okay. Whatever..." Ernest grumbled as he went off stage.
"Bunny, Bubbles, Beulah," Henry said as he turned his attention to the three cubs. "Rufus and I will need some help decoratin' this place. I'm sure you three would like t' help, wouldn't you?"
"We sure would!" Bunny answered.
"Oh, Teddi. I almost forgot. I need t' get y'all back to your place 'fore the parks open…"
"Why do I need to leave?"
"You have th' day off. Plus, all your stuff is down at your place. You gotta go pick out what you want t' wear in th' show." Henry then realized something. "Uh-oh…"
"I forgot t' get someone t' drive ya back home! Both Rufus and I have t' stay here and get things ready. Oh, what t' do…hey, wait a minute! Oh, Wendell!"
"Could you could do me a favor and drop Teddi off at her house?"
"Why sure, Henry! C'mon, Teddi, let's go!"
"Wait a sec," said Henry, "Teddi, do y'all have any extra Christmas decorations at y'all's place?"
"I think I have a few ornaments, holly, some lights, and some other things packed away somewhere. Why?"
"Well, we're runnin' a little short on decorations here. Could you loan us a few things?"
"Good! Teddi, give a few of those things t' Wendell. Wendell, you can deliver 'em back here, can't ya?"
"I don't see why not," replied Wendell.
"Thanks. And remember Wendell, when y' get back home, find some winter related duds and work on a song!"
"I know of a good'un. It's that one me and th' Bear Rugs wrote a few years, remember it?"
"Oh yes, it was called 'Oh, What A Christmas', right?"
"That's th' one!"
"Aha! That'll be perfect!"
"I'll have t' work on it here though. Ya have t' remember that Margaret and muh cub still hibernate..."
"Yeah, I know."
"Ahem, boys…"Teddi said behind them. "Sorry for breakin' up y'all's gossip, but it's almost 8:30…"
"Oh, sorry 'bout that, Teddi! Wendell..."
"Already on muh way! C'mon, Teddi!"
"See ya tomorrow, Teddi! Remember t' have a song ready!"
"Don't worry, Henry, I will! Goodbye!" Teddi said as she left the theater with Wendell.
Teddi couldn't believe it. A new show! She was so excited she couldn't wait to get back home so she could go through her things. There were so many different Christmas songs racing through her head. Which one would she sing? Teddi then remembered the wish for changes she had made the previous night. Was it possible that it…? No, she thought. This is just a coincidence.
Shoving the thought from her mind, Teddi then resumed thinking about her song as she and Wendell continued to her home.
As soon as they arrived, Teddi's hunger was starting to overcome her and she needed some food. She glanced down at the clock on the dashboard.
"Oh dear, it's 8:40. I'm not gonna have enough time to walk over to the Land, eat, and get back here before that place is open to th' public."
"I was hopin' I could go to that place and get some grub muhself."
"You missed breakfast as well?"
"Yeah. With Margie sleepin' the winter off, I hav'ta improvise and join Henry and the Bear Band over at Pioneer Hall near where we live and have breakfast there. Unfortunately, I got up late and didn't have time to after Henry came over and told me 'bout the announcement."
"Actually, I'm going to call them and see if I can get them to deliver the stuff. If y'all want anythin', I'll be happy to get somethin' for ya."
"Yer kind for askin', Teddi, but no thanks. I gotta get home an' get somethin' I wanna use in muh part in th' new show, and then I gotta go back to th' theater with th' stuff yer about to give me and then rehearse!"
"It's no trouble at all, Wendell…"
"Nah, I couldn't…"
"At least let me get you some coffee…"
"Well, I haven't had anythin' this mornin'…aw, heck, I think I might as well get somethin' quick. Does that place have muffins or anythin'?"
"The Farmer's Market part of it does. Corn, bran, or blueberry?"
"Ooh, boy! I'll take a couple of all three!"
"All right then," Teddi said with a laugh. "Come on in and I'll put in th' order!"
"Sure thing, Teddi!" Wendell said as he followed her through the back entrance of her house.
Inside, Teddi slipped her coat off and went directly to her phone.
"Hello, Good Turn Restaurant? This is Teddi Barra…yes, I know I didn't show up at my usual time. I had to get to a meeting over at th' theater. Listen, I have th' day off, and since it's too late for me to get there, I'm wonderin' if y'all could be so kind and deliver my breakfast over here? You can? Good! I'll be havin' my usual. Oh, can you add another cup of coffee to that? Can you also have the Farmer's Market deliver, um, about two of all three muffin varieties? Perfect! Thank you!"
Teddi hung the phone up and walked over to Wendell.
"The food's on the way, Wendell. Why don't we get those decorations while we wait. They're back here in th' closet..." She then noticed Wendell was just standing a few feet from the door, just staring around the room. "Uh, Wendell?"
"Whoo-whee…" Wendell said as he looked around Teddi's elegant home in awe. "I always wondered how fancy they made this place, Teddi, but I never woulda guessed that it was this purty! Y'all are one lucky gal!"
"Yeah, but livin' here has its disadvantages…"she said as she made her way to her closet and began to rummage through it.
"What are ya talking about?" Wendell asked, his mind still on Teddi's home. "Ya call all them restaurants they put in two years ago disadvantages?"
"That's not what I was talkin' about… ah, here we are!" Teddi said as she dragged several boxes out. "It's been a few years since I got all this stuff out. Oh, better get this box of Christmas records out of here. I'll need those later. Anyway, there should be plenty of stuff in there to decorate the Hall. Take a look!"
"Wow…" Wendell exclaimed as he looked through the boxes of Christmas decorations. "All these little wreaths, these lil' pine trees and lights…how'd ya get all this stuff?"
"I ordered several of those from shops around the area. An' I got some of them from a few places I visited on those winter breaks we used to have when we first quit hibernating. And I'm glad Henry talked us all into it. As you can tell from this stuff I got, I've grown to really love this season!"
"I'll say ya have!" said Wendell. "Hey, why did ya stop puttin' 'em up?"
"I got overworked over th' years and I just didn't feel like draggin' them out. Especially after th' night shows over that lagoon you can see out th' window started playin'. Those kept me from sleepin' well! I was just so tired I just didn't have the time."
"So that's what ya meant by disadvantages. But it's still a purty nice place, and…hey!"
Wendell then turned to the east wall of Teddi's den. Something seemed to have caught his eye. "Is that you and Georgette LaBruin?" he asked, looking at the pictures on the wall.
"Why, yes. Y'all have heard of her?"
"Course I've heard of her! She was the greatest Big Time Swinger from what I heard!"
"We were both the greatest. That's why I got to perform with her."
"Yeah, I heard from Zeke she passed away. Such a shame."
Teddi's eyes started to tear. "Yeah…I know. Poor friend."
"You were friends with her?"
"We were really close."
"It must have been sad hearin' her kick the bucket…"
Wendell must not have been aware of the whole story. Teddi didn't feel like describing it to him.
"Yes...yes it was."
"Well, I better load this here stuff up into muh truck before th' food gets here."
A knock then came from the door. "Looks like it's a bit late for that," said Teddi as she went to answer it.
"Your order, Miss Barra," said the Cast Member as he wheeled in a tray of food. The smells caused Wendell to lick his lips. "Oh, are you having company, Miss Barra?" The CM asked as he noticed Wendell.
"Oh no, he just dropped by to pick up a few things. By the way, where's that extra cup of coffee and those muffins?"
"On the bottom shelf of this tray."
"Ah, there they are. Here you go, Wendell!" said Teddi as she handed the bag of muffins to him.
"Hoo, boy!" Wendell said. He pulled a corn muffin out and took a huge bite. "Mmmmmm…"
"Will that be all?"
"Yes. Tell the folks over at The Land they've done a great job, as always."
"Enjoy!" the CM said as he left.
"Mmmmm…these muffins are th' best I've had in a long time!" exclaimed Wendell. "I gotta start goin' to that place y'all go to, Teddi. Maybe after Margie and Lil 'Bart wake up next spring, we could start meetin' each other at breakfast!"
"That would be good. Me and Margaret could catch up with each other," Teddi said as she sipped her coffee. "Just why does she still hibernate, anyway?"
"Ah, she thinks all this stuff we're doin' is, well, as Henry would say, 'a bunch of flim-flam'!"
"Why? Haven't you told her anythin' about what goes on this time of year?"
"Yeah, but she don't seem to care about that. She believes that a bear should spend th' winter sleepin', instead of bein' up an' about an' all. I mean, she's a good ol' gal, but she can get a lil' hotheaded at times. I wish we could be like Liver Lips and Onionia, loving each other with a true heart and without havin' an argument whenever I do th' smallest thing wrong!"
"It must be tough on you sometimes."
"Ah, it don't bother me none at all! Well, I'd better get a move on. I'll just take these and eat on th' road!" Wendell said as he took the bag of muffins. "Oh, better get that box as well."
"I'll lend ya a paw, Wendell. My food can wait," Teddi said as she got up.
"Oh, I think I can manage…" Wendell said has he tried to lift up the box. "Uhhh…this durn thing's heavy!"
"You'll strain yourself, Wendell. Here, let me help," Teddi said as she walked over and helped him lift up the box. "There, now keep a good grab on it."
"Gotcha there! Now, let's get this thing loaded up!"
After overcoming some difficulties getting the large box through the door, the two bruins loaded it in the back of Wendell's truck. After loading the rest of the boxes and going back in to get his coffee and bag of muffins, he was ready to leave.
"Well, I'm on muh way back, Teddi! See ya tomorrow!"
"Bye, Wendell! Can't wait to hear what song you pick for th' show!"
"You too!" Wendell said as he drove off. Teddi watched the truck until it went out of sight before heading back in to her breakfast.
The Five Bear Rugs headed up the stairs to the second floor of Grizzly Hall. They and Henry had just finished their first rehearsal on the song they had chosen for the second number of the show, a nice piece that they written a while back called "Tracks In The Snow." They needed to work on it some more, but Henry gave them a small break so they could rest and so Rufus could change the backdrop behind them and put some fake snow on their bandstand, and they would work on it later that day. But now Henry had told them to take care of something else for the time being.
"That lazy bum better not be slackin' off in there," said Tennessee as they approached Ernest's room.
"He probably is. Henry told him to come up an' just change outta them sleepin' duds", said Fred. "It's been almost a half an hour, and he hasn't come out yet!"
"An' now Henry wants us to get him outta 'thair," added Ted. "How'd you get us helpin' that slacker in th' first place, Zeb?"
"Hey! How wuz I supposed to know he wuz a lazy good-fer-nuthin' bum? He acted like an honest bear who just needed some music lessons…"
"Yeah, a whole lotta music lessons," said Tennessee. "He still hadn't learned nuthin' by openin' day an' we had ta help th' ol' bum out in th' show!"
"Yeah well, I don't call him a born loser while he sings for nuthin', ya know!" said Zeb.
"Enough with this," said Zeke, who then banged his fist loudly on Ernest's door. "Hey, Ernest! Get off yer big lazy butt this minute! Henry wants t' see ya front an' center, right NOW!"
"Yeah, yeah, in a sec…" Ernest said from behind the door.
"I'm gonna count t' three, an' if you ain't out by then, I'm gonna have big Fred here break th' door down!"
"You are?" asked Fred.
"Shush, I'm just threatenin' him!" he whispered to him. "C'mon out, Ernest! One…"
"Just gimme a durn minute!" yelled Ernest viciously.
"Oh no, ya ain't foolin' us that easy! Two…."
"I'm almost ready!"
"Uhhh…two an' a half!"
"No, wait, that ain't gonna do…gimme one more minute!"
"No! Two an' three quarters…."
"Yer stallin', ya know that?"
"That does it! Three! Okay Fred, bash it down!"
"Uh, no," the large bear said.
"Oh, why not?" asked Tennessee.
"Henry said nuthin' about usin' force. I ain't gonna be tearin' down his doors!"
"Oh, fer…" said Tennessee.
"OK then, we'll do it this th' non-violent way. Ted, go down and get Henry, and have him bring his key!" said Zeke.
"Alright, boss," the skinny bear said as he rushed down the stairwell.
"Yer in fer it now, Ernie!" said Tennessee.
"Almost done…" said Ernest.
"With whut? Takin' a half-hour snooze? Ya better get out 'fore Henry comes up!"
"ERNEST!" Henry yelled as he came up the stairs. "I thought I told ya not t'go back to sleep!"
"Oh, too late! Now you'll get it, ya slacker!" said Tennessee.
Henry stormed towards Ernest's door, carrying his special master key to Grizzly Hall.
"Okay Ernest, that's it! I've had it up t' here with yer slackin' off!" He said as he inserted the key and unlocked the door.
They found Ernest standing in the middle of the room, wearing a blue toboggan and a blue sweater.
"What th...!" exclaimed a surprised Henry. "What are y'all doin' in that get up, Ernest?"
"Why, this is what I'm wearin' in th' Christmas show! Ya did say to dress in somethin' seasonal, didn't ya? Well, I got me here this cozy warm sweater, perfect fer goin' out in the winter weather."
"Oh, muh gosh…well, I shoulda known it would take you more than half an hour to find somethin' t'wear, especially with that huge wardrobe of yours!" said Tennessee.
"That ya hardly even wear, I might add," said Ted.
"Actually, I pulled this out a few seconds after I came up," said Ernest.
"Oh, so ya slept after all, then?" asked Tennessee.
"Actually, my dear Tenn, I wasn't asleep. I did exactly what Henry said. I changed outta my pajamas, and I didn't fall asleep."
"Well, whut have ya bein' doin' then?"
"I've been busy writin' this!" he said, as he picked up a few sheets of paper off his table. "My song for the Christmas program!"
All the bears stood there, looking over the papers, which was actually sheet music, their jaws hanging out. "YOU wrote a song!" they all asked at once.
They couldn't believe it. Ernest, a bear so lazy that he had only bothered to learn to play just one song, "If Ya Can't Bite, Don't Growl", actually put effort into writing one of his own!
"Now," continued Ernest. "I've told y'all that story about that time when I was twelve, when me an' my folks were trapped in a cabin that wuz covered in snow…"
"Yeah, for nine days without food, too scared and starved to hibernate, yeah, we've heard that ol' story 'bout a thousand times!" said Tennessee.
"Well, that's what my song's about! Since were dealin' with winter, I decided to turn that horrible moment into what I think will be th' song of th' show! Just listen!"
Ernest grabbed his violin and started to play. Unfortunately, because he had thrown writing the music together in just thirty minutes, it sounded pretty horrible…
"The wind is a howlin' and thrashin' the treeeeeessssss!" Ernest sung in such a bad manner that would even make Big Al seem like a professional singer.
'Muh babbbbyyyy is growlin' and scratchin' her fleeeeeasss!
Can't open th' doooor, 'cause there's ten feeet a' snow,
And th' food is all gone an' it's forty-bellloow!
Ohhhhh, I'm hungry, I'm hungry,
I'm hungry as a bear,
If you come round muh cabin,
Ya better beware!
Cause I'm hungry! Yes, I'm hungry,
I'm hungry as a bear!
Got a mouth full a' teeth,
And a belly full a' airrrrrrr!
Ernest then stopped playing.
Ah, good. He's done with that horrible song! Tennessee thought with a sigh of relief.
Unfortunately to Tennessee Ernest then continued to sing, but without music.
"This Christmas dear ol' Santa,
won't show up, I bet..
If he comes down muh chimney,
he might just get et!"
"Well, what'dya think?" asked Ernest.
"Well Ernest, that was actually purty good..." said Henry, even though he didn't really mean it.
"What! You call that piece a' jun…" Tennessee started to say before Henry clamped his paw over his mouth.
"Shhhh!" Henry said to him.
"Actually Ernest, it could a lil' fine tuning. Let the Bear Rugs help ya rehearse it!"
He then turned to Zeke and whispered into his ear. "Please help him with this one. Th' lyrics are all right, but th' music needs a lot of work. Hopefully by openin' day it'll be enjoyable to listen to!"
"Okay, Henry, whatever ya say. Alright, boys, let's give him some help," he said.
"Well, you are all too kind!" Ernest said. "Maybe I can use ya to make this actually sound even better!"
"Yer danged right about that," Tennessee said under his breath.
"I'll leave you boys in here while Rufus takes care of everythin' downstairs," Henry said as he closed the door to Ernest's room behind him.
"Thank goodness that's over with," Henry said to himself as he walked back to the stairway. "I just hope that th' boys can make that song enjoyable beforehand, otherwise, th' show'll be wrecked! I'm not gonna let anythin' mess this up!"
"Hey, Henry," Liver Lips said as we walked up from behind.
"Oh, Mac! Have ya decided yer song yet?"
"Well actually, that's what I want to talk t' ya about. Though I'm a bit worried that ya won't like what I have in mind…"
"Oh c'mon, Mac! How bad could a simple song be?" As long as Ernest didn't write th' music to it, he thought. "Whatever it is y'all are worried about, just tell me!"
Wendell pulled up to his house in a secluded area in the Fort Wilderness campground area near the Magic Kingdom. Originally, he had lived on the second floor of Grizzly Hall. After he married though, his bride Margaret wanted a better place to live. Henry, who lived away from the Hall himself in his own private cabin that once belonged to Ursus H. Bear, thought it would be best for Wendell to move out, especially after they found that Margaret was going to have a cub. Still, it wasn't lonely living out there, because the Five Bear Rugs lived out there as well, because they preferred the backwoods nature of the place. Zeke, Ted, and Fred stayed in one cabin, Tennessee and his wife Dakota stayed in another, and Zeb, his wife and their cub Oscar in the last one. There was also a small medical center that was built just for the bears in case they needed any medical attention. The only bear couple who didn't live there were Liver Lips and his wife Onionia. They didn't think of having a cub of their own nor did they need a really fancy place to stay, so they decided to just live in their slightly larger room at Grizzly Hall. Wendell didn't know why, because he always thought this area was a great place to live.
He tiptoed up to the door, opening it carefully so he wouldn't wake his slumbering family. He sneaked into his room, looking through his clothes as quietly as he could be. After finally finding and boxing a snowcap and hunting jacket, he made his way downstairs, towards his trophy room. It was there that Wendell kept his trophies from the days he used to go hunting for game with the Bear Rugs so many years ago.
Now, where'd I put muh old rifle gun? It's been years since I last used it, and I can't remember where I put th' dang thang! He thought as he looked through the room as silent he could be. He then looked up and saw it hanging over the mantle. Ah, there it is! Oh, why'd I put it so high? I'll hav'ta get muhself some steps…
Being as quiet as he could be he got a ladder and propped it up by the rifle. Wendell had to be careful not to knock over any of the small trophies off the mantle as he reached out to get the gun. He gently removed the rifle from where it hung, but lost his balance. Oh, no…He then toppled off the ladder, knowing his impact on the floor would wake his family. Thankfully, Wendell lucked out, and landed on a conveniently placed footrest, breaking his fall. Close call! He thought as he sighed. He then noticed the rifle falling to the floor, and when it hit, it fired off a shot.
Oh, no! There must have still been some ammo in there I forgot to unload from last time!
As Wendell picked up the gun , he suddenly heard footsteps rushing down the stairs. He quickly left the trophy room, but as he did something hit him in the head, causing him to fall on the floor. He recovered quickly, and noticed Margaret standing above him clad in robe and curlers, with a rolling pin in her hand, and an angry look on her face.
"Oh it's you, honey! Ow…muh head!" he said, feeling the newly formed bump as he rubbed his aching noggin. "Ya whacked me purty good there, Margie!"
"Serves ya right, Wendell! What do you think you're doin', shootin' that gun off while me and the cub are asleep!"
"Hey, Ma!" said Bartholomew as he came down the stairs. "I heard that gun go off, is there a burglar in…oh, it's only Daddy."
"Now look what ya did!" Margaret growled at Wendell. "Ya woke the cub up! That's it Wendell, gimme that gun!"
"But dear, I needed to get muh shootin' iron out so…"
"If you and those Bear Rugs are goin' off on another huntin' trip, forgot about it. I'm puttin' this thing up an'…"
"Why no, darlin', I'm gonna be usin' this ol' thang in muh new act over at th' theater!"
"Oh, so Henry finally decided for you two to play somethin' else besides those two folk songs that you do? Took him long enough…"
"Well, we just got used to likin' them two songs, we just never thought of doin' any others! Besides, this is just gonna be done one month a year from now on…"
"Oh? Why is that?"
"It's a winter and Christmas-themed show…"
"Oh, not this Christmas stuff again!"
"Oh c'mon, Margie, stay up this year for a while so ya can at least see the first performance!"
"No! I don't think it's right for a bear to stay up durin' hibernation! You're too influenced with that Henry…him and his grandfather's old crazy ideas on likin' silly human customs! Even though I like bein' able to speak and live like a human does, I've gotta stay to my natural bear roots somehow! If only I knew you'd be doin' this before I married you!"
"It ain't silly! And I wuz gonna give ya a warnin' that I'd be resistin' hibernatin', but muh body wasn't adjusted to it yet, and I didn't think it would even work at first! That an' th' fact that you were th' only thang on muh mind at th' time…"
"You were thinking about me? Gee, I thought you were thinking more about Henry!"
"Hey, I still had to work fer a livin'! And Christmas ain't a silly thang! Ya gotta come outta here at least once and see everythang fer yourself, dear! And think whut a good experience it would be fer the boy! Think of all th' fun he could have! Th' music, th' Christmas cheer an' good will, an' Santy Claus…"
"Yeah!" exclaimed Bartholomew. "I've heard about him from the other cubs. He's the human who comes down chimneys and gives the kids toys and presents, right?"
"Yew betcha, son!"
"Is he fer real?" asked Bartholomew.
Before Wendell could answer, Margaret spoke before him. "I've told you before, Bartholomew, he isn't. He's just a silly legend made up by the humans! And even if he were real, I wouldn't want some fat human sneaking into the house through the chimney while we're asleep! See what I'm talking about Wendell? You're influencin' him with all this nonsense! He won't want to sleep after hearing all of this! Besides, he's too young and he'll tire out if he doesn't hibernate. He needs his rest!"
"Oh dear, I forgot all about that. Well anyway, I'm way due back at th' Hall, and I still gotta get ready for th' show! Well, see ya in spring, I guess."
"If you insist, Wendell…"
"Hey, wait here fer a sec," Wendell said as he went outside, carrying his rifle and winter clothes with him. "I think I'll get somethin'…"
"Now what are you doin'?" Margaret asked as she looked out the door, watching Wendell rummaging through a box in the back of the truck.
"Thought I saw somethin' in here…ah! Here it is!" He said as he pulled a beautiful wreath out.
"What did you think you're going to do with that?" Margaret asked as Wendell walked back up.
"Why, I'm gonna do this!" he said as he hung the wreath on the door. "No harm in puttin' up just one lil' decoration up! Well bye, muh darlin'!" he said as he kissed his wife. "Bart, ya better do whut yer mother says…"
"But Daddy, I wanna stay up like you do!"
"Ya have to go t' bed, Bart," Wendell said as he looked over at the scowling look on his wife's face. "I'm sorry, but there's nuthin' much I can do. Like she says yer too young to start to resist hibernatin'! See ya in th' spring."
Margaret stood by the door, watching Wendell walk away to the truck, and pulling out of the drive. She watched until he was out of sight. She then looked at the wreath. It was so beautiful looking, with delicate red ribbon with gold trim around it. She did admit to herself it was beautiful, but it didn't matter to her. She needed to take it down.
Meanwhile, Bartholomew sat up in his bed, thinking about all the wonderful stuff that his father had told him about Christmas. He wanted to see it all himself! But his mother wouldn't let him. It wasn't fair! His father got to stay awake all winter ever since he was born and enjoy everything. It all wasn't fair! The young cub laid back, thinking of a way to sneak out. Tonight, he thought. I'll run out to the Hall and see everything tonight!
Over in his room at Grizzly Hall, Liver Lips sat patiently as Onionia finished styling his hair the way that he had requested.
"Well, I think that should about do it. Here, see if it's the way you wanted it," she said as she handed him a mirror.
Liver Lips looked at his reflection pleased at the way his hair looked. "Ah, you got it just right, darlin'!" He took of the cape draped around him, wearing a pair of red pants instead of his usual overalls, and got up from the chair. "Now, let's see how it looks with the suit!"
"Let me help you in to it so you won't mess up your hair, Liver dear," she said as Liver Lips walked over to where the shirt to his outfit hung.
"Sure thing, my sweet dear," he said as she walked over to him. She then carefully helped him pull the shirt over him. He then slipped a large black, Santa Claus-style belt on to help hold his shirt together.
"There! So, how do I look?"
Onionia gazed at her husband's appearance. The wild red-sequined suit he now wore, along with the Elvis Presley hairstyle, made him look exactly like the way he wanted too: a bear impersonating Elvis dressed as Santa Claus. Even though it was true that he was mostly a folk- singer, Liver Lips started his singing career as an Elvis impersonator. Even though he was good at it, he also had taken a liking to doing folk songs as well, and he was more commonly known as a singer of heart-renderin' songs instead of his impersonations of the rock n' roll legend. After all, it was his popularity as a folk-singer that got him performing at Grizzly Hall in the first place.
"You look rather wonderful."
"Thanks, darlin'. It's been a couple years since I wore this, and it still fits me."
"Really? You've had that Elvis Santa suit for only about ten years."
"Yeah, now I remember. That was when I started usin' those winter breaks to go back to Miami where I could do my Elvis stuff again. After I learned more about the holiday season, I picked up this old outfit and started doin' Christmas songs."
"Ah, yes. I remember all that."
Liver Lips cleared his throat and began singing in an imitation of Elvis' voice.
"I got my bag of presents and I'm in your neighborhood,
I'll be droppin' down your chimney,
'cause I know you've been extra good!
I'm your Rock n' Roll Santa, baby,
Your Rock n' Roll Santa,
Oh baby, that's me. Huh-uh!
Ya better put on yer purty red dress, darlin'
You're goin' cruisin' with me!
You better take out those curlers, honey!
I got a reindeer V-8 special
And a fuel-injected sleigh,
We'll be flyin' cross th' rooftops
To my North Pole hideaway!
I'm your Rock n' Roll Santa, baby
Your Rock n' Roll Santa,
Oh baby, that's me. Uh-huh!
I'm the fat guy with the presents,
I'm gonna shake your Christmas tree!
Baby, that's me!"
"Ha! I still got it!" Liver Lips said in his Elvis voice.
"I say you do, dear," said Onionia as she applauded. "That was really lovely!"
"Yeah, honey. But I still gotta get some practice in on it, y'know?"
"Yes. But what I can't believe is that you actually convinced Henry into lettin' you do this."
"Yeah, I know. I caught him totally off guard when I told him I wanted to do it, he fainted for some reason! Well, seein' that it's only gonna be for one month a year he decided to let me do it."
"You sure it won't wreck the mood of the rest of the show?"
"Sure I'm sure! Besides, I think it'll give it a little twist!"
"If you say so, my dear."
"I'm lookin' forward t' this. Hey, I gotta get my special git-tar!" He said as he walked over to his closet and pulled out a guitar case, in which he took out a Christmas tree-shaped electric guitar.
"Wonder if it still works," he said as he gave it a soft twang. "Ah, still does!"
"Looks like you're all set," said Onionia.
"Ya better believe it, my darlin' Onionia," Liver Lips said as he kissed his wife on the check. "Guess I better start rehearsin' now," he then said.
"Are you sure it won't bother the others?"
"I don't think it will. The Bear Rugs and Ernest have been makin' all that racket for a while now, so I doubt they'd even hear me."
"Then let's hear ya, Liver."
"I got my bag of presents…"
Henry looked up at the new backdrops Rufus had just finished putting up. They consisted of several scenes of woodland or mountain areas covered in a blanket of snow. The mountain area one was really just a winter time version of the regular mountain backdrop that was behind the Bear Band whenever they played. After all the bears, excluding Ernest, had adapted to staying awake during winter, Henry had these backdrops made so they would be ready to use when they were finally ready to perform the holiday show.
"Ah, good! Perfect! Nice work, Rufus!"
Just then Wendell walked in through the back, talking to himself.
"Whoo-whee, was it hard to get through them crowds…oh, hiya Henry!"
"Ah, Wendell! Is that th' box of Christmas decorations?"
"Sure is! Take a look! Teddi's got some real nice stuff in thair!"
"I'll agree with y'all on that!" said Henry as he looked at the decorations. "These Christmas trees could go on the sides of the main stage, we could wrap these lights and garland around th' bottom rim…"
"Great idea, Henry!"
"Let's go get th' Sun Bonnets. They're outside rehearsin' in th' gazebo."
The two made their way to the backstage exit, out to a small, secluded garden outside that was boxed in between Grizzly Hall and the neighboring Enchanted Tiki Room attraction. In the middle of the garden was a gazebo, where the Sun Bonnets were rehearsing the song they had picked for the Christmas show, which was "Sleigh Ride." Henry and Wendell stood back for a moment and listened as they sung the last verse.
"…Our cheeks are nice and rosy
And comfy, cozy are we,
We'll snuggle up together
Like two birds of a feather would be!
Let's take the road before us
And sing a chorus or two!
C'mon, it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride…"
They then sung the phrase "Jing-aling, jing-aling, jing-aling-aling" three times in time with the music of the song before concluding with…
"A sleigh ride together with you!"
Henry and Wendell then stepped forward towards the girls, clapping.
"Ah, that was lovely, lil' ladies!" said Henry.
The girls then turned over to the two bears standing behind them.
"Oh, Henry!" said Bunny.
"Wendell!" said Beulah.
"We didn't see you comin' up from back there!" said Bubbles.
"Sorry, 'bout that," said Wendell. "That wuz some mighty good singin' comin' from ya'!"
"Why thanks, Wendell!" said Beulah.
"You as well, Henry!" added Bunny.
"Your three are welcome. We came t' tell ya that Wendell has brought th' decorations. Are ya three ready to help decorate th' main stage?"
"We sure are! Can we rehearse our song a little while we decorate?" asked Bunny.
"Why, I don't see why not! Of course, y'all have t' do it a bit softly, 'cause th' others are rehearsin' or restin' up!"
"Okay, Henry! Let's go, girls!" said Bunny to her sisters.
The three then dashed back inside Grizzly Hall, with Henry and Wendell following suite.
"Before I do anythin', Henry, I'll need t'slip muh winter duds on and get out muh prop!" Wendell said as he picked up his rifle case and clothes for the show.
"Sure thing, Wendell," said Henry. "Ya better slip your stuff on in th' washroom so's ya' don't disturb anyone."
"OK, Henry! Be out in a sec."
"By the way, Wendell, do ya want to perform as th' second act as usual?"
"Of course I do!"
"All right then. I'll be in my office while ya get ready. Just come get me when y'all are done."
"Gotcha!" Wendell said as he went towards the washroom in the back.
Henry entered his office, where Sammy greeted him. "Hey there, Henry! How are things goin' on out there?"
"Pretty good, Sammy. Gotta check off Wendell for his song," Henry said as he picked up a clipboard with various notes he had written about the Christmas show, one of which being the order in which the bears would perform and the songs that they would sing. On it said:
COUNTRY BEAR JAMBOREE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL
1. HENRY & GOMER: IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS
2. HENRY & FIVE BEAR RUGS: TRACKS IN THE SNOW
Henry added "OH, WHAT A CHRISTMAS!" next to Wendell's name.
5. LIVER LIPS : ROCK & ROLL SANTA
7. BUNNY, BUBBLES, AND BEULAH: SLEIGH RIDE
8. ERNEST WITH BEAR RUGS: HUNGRY AS A BEAR
10. BIG AL:
11. FINALE: CAROL MELEDY
"Still some blank spaces t'fill, " said Sammy.
"Yeah, but they'll be filled in soon. Trixie and hopefully Al will let me know about their songs before th' day is through. Also Terrence went back to his place over on Tom Sawyer Island and see if he could check in on some things, and he doesn't know if he'll be able to make back across here today or not. If he doesn't though, he'll let me know tomorrow."
"And what about Teddi?"
"I sent her home t'rehearse her song, so she also won't be back 'til tomorrow."
Ah, lovely Teddi, Henry thought as he gazed at Teddi's picture in his office love struck, I know whatever song that sweet gal will choose will be beauty-ful.
Henry continued to look at the picture, still love struck. From the day he had first met her, he always thought that Teddi was the loveliest bear he ever had laid his eyes upon. To him, Teddi seemed sweet and charming. There was something about her, her voice, her personality that made her special to him. But, for some weird reason he never could bring himself to admit it in front of her.
"Hey, Henry!" Wendell called. "I'm ready! Ain't ya' comin' out here? I'll be waitin' for ya on stage!"
Henry put his mind back on his work. "Oh sorry about that, Wendell! I'll be right there!"
He then headed for the stage area, the clipboard tucked under an arm. He went over to the second of the five stages where he usually sat when the two performed. Sure enough, Wendell was standing in his usual spot on the center stage dressed in his snowcap and hunting jacket, and was holding what appeared to be some sort of prop gun. Hmmm, wonder where he got that? Henry thought. Henry looked down at the Sun Bonnets, who were wrapping strands of garland underneath the stages. "Oh, girls, Wendell's gonna try his act out. Try not to bother him while he does."
"OK, Henry," said Bunny. "We'll just start on the other side of the stage until he's done."
"Good idea, Bunny," Henry said. "Okay Wendell, let's hear ya."
Wendell cleared his throat and began to sing his number.
"On the first day of Christmas,
I said to muh mate,
I'm a-goin' a-huntin',
And I might be home late.
The next day of Christmas,
Seems I lost muh way!
And I ain't seen muh cabin,
Since dawn yestorday!
Oh, what a Christmas!
I'm lonely and lost!
I'm a-shakin' and a-sneezin',
And covered with frost!
I fell in th' river,
And lost all muh food!
Don't sing me no carols,
'Cause I ain't in th' mood…
Next year at Christmas,
I'll think I'll use muh head,
An' spend th' twelve days of Christmas
In muh bed!"
As Wendell concluded the Sun Bonnets, who couldn't help but giggle some during the song, sung out, "Next year stay home!"
"Huh-hah! That was wonderful, Wendell!" Henry said.
"Much obliged, Henry!" Wendell said. He then looked down at the Sun Bonnets. "An' girls, I like that line you added in there at th' end!" said Wendell. "Hey, why don't you sing it from off-stage when I do it in th' show?"
"We'd love too!" said Bubbles.
"Looks like that's settled then," said Henry. "By th' way Wendell, where'd ya get that gun on such quick notice? Looks purty real for a prop."
"Oh this ain't no prop, Henry. This is muh old shootin' iron from home!"
"What! That thing is real!"
"Oh don't worry, I haven't used it in a long time. It ain't even loaded no more. Look, I'll show ya!"
Wendell then pulled the trigger.
A shot fired off, breaking the stage lights. The Sun Bonnets leaped back and screamed. Hadn't the lamps over the doorways been on, the room would have been pitch dark.
"Okay, maybe I shoulda actually checked t' see if there weren't any bullets left in here…" Wendell said nervously.
Henry sighed. "Rufus," he called backstage, "Please get up there an' fix them lights…"
Suddenly, the exit doors underneath Buff, Max, and Melvin opened, and several Cast Members poured into the room.
"What's going on?" one asked. "We heard gun fire and screaming coming from in here!"
Oh great, thought Henry, they must be from the Café next door! I guess that gunshot must've scared a bunch of folks over there half to death!
"Hold th' phone there and calm down folks. I'll explain everythin'…"
Trixie, who had completely ignored the loud shot from next door, was dancing around her room and rehearsing her song to herself with glee. Her song, "Hibernatin' Blues", was one she wrote years ago. In reality, Trixie was the one bear who didn't hibernate even before she joined up with the bears at Grizzly Hall. She wrote the song many years ago, when she waited for her (now former) husband to wake up one winter so they could skate.
"Oh, the lake's all frozen over
got my skates an' I'm ready to go
And I'm waitin' for my honey,
'Cause I can't skate
If he don't show…
But he's in his cave just snorin'
I hear ya in there, baby,
And don't think I don't!
While my broken heart's just freezin'
Out here in the snow….
I got the hibernatin' blues
The hibernatin' blues!
Without by furry baby,
Springtime better come real sooooon!
If you'll come and out
An' skate with me,
I'll be real nice.
But, baby, if ya stay inside
I'll be cold as ice!
I got them aggervatin', keep me waitin'
It had been years since Trixie had performed the song, and she needed to rehearse a little so she could remember the tune. She smiled. But it wasn't the fact that she remembered how to perform the song that made her happy, it something else was on her mind. She walked over to her the portrait of the bear she admired, Henry. She had been without a love for so many years, and she was determined to make Henry hers. However, there was one problem. Henry was secretly in love with another, Teddi. Trixie was jealous of the Swinger, and every time Trixie attempted to show her interest in Henry to him he would try to ignore her, which caused her to be upset. She was so desperate to find a lover she would try anything. She went to her drawer and pulled out some mistletoe. Yes, she thought, tonight, I'll sneak this somewhere. Then, I'll lure him under it! Then I'll give him the kiss of his life and then maybe he'll forgot all about Teddi and be mine!
She knew this was a bit sneaky, but she was so desparate…
Well now that I have my song in place, I better go over and tell Henry. It's only a matter of time now…
"Well, that was a bit suprisin'…" Ted said as the Bear Rugs made their way back up the stairs. "Who'da thunk that Wendell forgot t' unload his ol' squirrel gun after all these years…"
"Yeah, of all th' dumb things…" Said Fred.
"An' all that ruckus it caused!" exclaimed Zeb. "At least I got Oscar calmed down now. That gunshot sacred him half t' death!"
"Well," said Tennessee, "At least Wendell got us outta helpin' Ernie with his so-called song for a lil' bit!"
"Now Tenn, be nice," said Fred. "It sounds much better now than it did before."
"Yeah, 'cause we're now singin' some of it! Huh, huh, huh!" said Tennessee as Fred groaned. Tennessee then glanced over towards the back of the second floor den and noticed Big Al sitting down, staring off into space. "Hey, look who sat through th' whole thing like nothin' happened!"
"Don't surprise me none th' least," said Zeke. "To think that someone could actually not react t' hearnin' someone shoot off a gun without warnin'! Well boys, we still got some work to do, so let's quit standin' around here and git to it!"
Big Al watched the Bear Rugs walk away, completely unaware of what was going on. He didn't just ignore the gunshot, he hardly even heard it, for he was a bit hard of hearing. He didn't even know why the other bears where rushing up and down the stairs all worried. This was one of Al's problems; it was why he always interrupted Henry and Sammy during the show, and why he never seemed to pay attention when the bears sang over him. He always thought it was the audience yelling to him to give an encore. This troubled Al, because he was always frustrated at this, because it always led him to that nasty tumble he always took backstage when he was done. He was also troubled for the fact that it didn't give him a good reputation with the other bears. Sure, he was the favorite of the audiences, but it didn't matter. In fact, Henry was really annoyed by all this that he almost kicked Al off the show after their first day of performing. Al sometimes was sad at this, for it was because of him that Henry never got to finish singing "The Ballad of Davy Crocket."
He peered over to the jug that was sitting on a nearby table. The contents of the jug were probably another reason behind his problems. Despite the Magic Kingdom's "No Alcohol" policy, Al had his own stash somewhere, and he always seemed to have a drunken stupor. Al thought for a moment (the first time he had in a few years). It may not help much, but maybe if Al spent the whole month without drinking out of his stash, maybe it would decrease his chances of interrupting the Christmas Show. Besides, he knew Henry had his heart set on it, so the very least he could do was not mess it up. Al took the jug off from the table and got rid of it.
Now, Al thought, I think I better git t'workin' on a song. Now, which carol should I sing…oh, I hope it don't take me years t' think up a'one…wait a minute, that's it! Years! I wonder…
Al then got up and walked downstairs. He needed to talk to Henry…
Teddi laughed with success. After spending some time searching through her Christmas albums, she had finally found the song that she had been looking for. It was her personal favorite, one that sounded lovely, and to her, had the most spirit of the season in it. Teddi then looked at herself in the mirror, looking at the outfit she had on. She wore a beautiful derby, with a red rose in it, a white scarf, and her coat. She thought that they suited her well enough for the Christmas Special. She turned on the record player, and sat back in her recliner, tilting back and forth, similar in the way she did on her swing. She then sung along to the music, and rehearsed:
"Chestnuts roastin' over an open fire,
Jack Frost nippin' at your nose,
Yuletide carols bein' sung by a choir
An' folks dressed up like eskimos
I'm offerin' this simple phrase
To kids from one to nintey-two
Oh, it's been said many times, many ways,
Merry Christmas to you…."
Teddi turned off the record player. She had always loved that song, it gave her a feeling of warmth whenever she listened to it. It was a feeling she liked whenever she was up in the Appalachian Mountains on a cold winter's night, warmth so great it even surpassed the warmth her thick winter coat of fur gave her. But at that moment, Teddi had another feeling inside her, a feeling of hunger coming from her belly. She looked over at the time.
"Goodness gracious! It's two o'clock! No wonder I'm hungry!" she exclaimed to herself. "All this excitement's given me an appetite!"
She walked over to her dresser and pulled out a menu that had every selection that all the EPCOT restaurants had to offer. She flipped through it wondering what would satisfy her.
So many selections, so little time, she thought. I've never had to eat two meals from World Showcase in one day! Then again, it sure beats trying to race to the Grizzly Hall kitchen before everyone else eats everything or putting everyone at the Crystal Palace into stress tryin' to get my meal all the way from there to the theater! Now, let's see….ah, heck, I think I'll go easy right now and just get a bowl of Cheddar Soup from Le Cellier. I'll have a bigger meal tonight!
Teddi walked over to the phone, placed her order, and then continued to rehearse her song a little more before it would arrive.
"There! That should do it!" Beulah said as she tied the last bow on the rim of the fourth side stage.
"Fine job, Beulah!" Henry said as he, Bunny, Bubbles and Oscar held on to the ladder that she was on. "Now, y'all can come on down now, but be careful!"
"Okay, Henry," said Beulah, "Be sure to hold on to the ladder really tight!"
"We will, sis!" said Bubbles.
"Yeah, you've got nothin' to worry about!" added Bunny.
Oscar, who was too shy to speak, simply nodded in agreement.
Beulah then carefully made her way down the ladder. After she had reached the bottom, they all looked at the decorated stage area.
The cubs had placed the strands of holly over all the exit doors, with the exception of the two beneath Buff, Max, and Melvin. They had also put some strands on the bottom of the four small stages. On the rims of the stages were strands of garland , with bows and ornaments on them. On the sides of the main center stage were two miniature Christmas trees, decorated with small teddy bears along with the traditional lights and ornaments. On the rim of the main stage was a garland strand like the ones on the other stages, but was much longer due the length of the stage. Another strand of garland was also wrapped around the bottom of the main stage as well, and also had Christmas lights strew around it.
"My, my, does this place look lovely!" said Henry.
"Very lovely!" said Max.
"You three did a wonderful job!" said Buff.
"Yeah!" said Melvin.
"Thanks, Henry!" said Bunny.
"Much obliged, boys!" said Beulah to the heads.
Oscar simply gave a big grin as thanks.
"Oh, Henry", said Bubbles. "There are a few decorations that we didn't use."
"I see," said Henry as he looked into the box of decorations, which only had a string of lights and some garland left. "Well, maybe if you get here a bit earlier tomorrow mornin' 'fore the crowds show up, you can hang what's left of th' garland around th' windows in th' lobby."
"Sure thing," said Bubbles. "But, what we do about the lights?"
"Hmmm...well, I can't think of anywhere else t 'put 'em…."
The girls then picked up the lights and looked at them for a moment. Then they looked up at Melvin. Or to more specific, his antlers. The three looked at each other with mischievous grins, as if they were all thinking of the same thing. Bunny walked over to Henry.
"Oh, Henry," she said to him. "I think we know what to do with them."
She then whispered into Henry's ear. Henry then looked up at Melvin, and the same grin that was on the girls' faces appeared on his.
"Oh, Rufus, "called Henry. "I've got a lil' job for you…"
The hours had passed away and night had fallen upon the World. After eating a huge dinner and learning that Laserphonic Fantasy was not going to be performing that night, Teddi was ready to settle down for a long sleep, eager for the events happening the next day. No sooner than she had slipped into her bed, her phone began to ring. Though this annoyed her a little since she was about to sleep, she went and answered it.
"Hello? Oh hey there, Henry! So, how did things go today?"
"Purty good," Henry said on the other end, "But yer not gonna believe all th' things that have happened here today!"
"Like what?" Teddi asked. Her mouth suddenly hung open when Henry told her about Liver Lips and Ernest's songs.
"What? You're going to let Liver Lips do his Elvis impersonation? And Ernest actually took the time to write a song? I can't believe it!"
"If you think that's wild, wait 'till ya hear this. Big Albert came up t'me late in th' afternoon, and ya won't believe what he's gonna do."
"And what is that?"
"He's gonna try to lay off the drinkin' for a while!"
"I know, I can't believe it muhself! But, this is great! If Al really goes through with this, this means th' show won't be messed up by anythin' at all!"
"That sounds wonderful! What kinda Christmas carol is he doin', anyway?"
"Actually, he isn't doin' a Christmas song. He had a song he wrote a long time ago that had somethin' t' do with New Year's, and since that's right after Christmas, I'm lettin' him do it."
"By the way, Henry, how'd y'all do with my decorations?"
"Oh, those were beauty-ful, Teddi. Y'all should see how lovely the theater looks now. Oh, I should tell ya a lil' story that happened about a few hours ago. The Sun Bonnets had finished up decoratin' th' place, an' all that were left were a couple a' strands a' garland and some lights. Well, th' girls decided to have a lil' fun with 'em. You'll just have to see what they did when you come by tomorrow!"
"Oh? Well, alright then," Teddi said.
"One more thing, Teddi," Henry said. "While I'm still on th' line, have ya worked out your song for th' show?"
"Of course I have!"
"Well, could ya tell me now, please?"
"Sure, Henry. It's 'The Christmas Song'."
"'The Christmas Song', eh?" Henry said as he added it to his notes. "That's a fine choice. Can't wait t'here ya sing it tomorrow!"
"Same here, Henry!"
"Well, Teddi, I guess that's all I wanted t'say. See ya in th' mornin'!"
"Okay, Henry! Goodbye!"
Teddi then hung the receiver back on the phone.
My, my. All those changes happenin' in the theater…I think I'm gonna like this! Maybe my wish is comin' true after all! Who knows, maybe one day I'll leave the Hall and become a drama actress, and find that special bear! But now I should just enjoy what's gonna happen tomorrow.
She then remembered that she wanted to get to the theater a bit earlier in the morning, so she set her clock an hour earlier. She had already let the Land know about this, and they would have a few people out to serve her, and her chauffeur was ready to pick her up early as well (he promised he wouldn't have an all-nighter like last night). She then got in her bed, and, even with all her excitement, fell to sleep.
Wendell pulled into his driveway, a bit irritated. He had been scolded many a time by most of the bears after his incident with the gun earlier. Thankfully, Henry stood by him in case anyone got really angry at him and threatened to whup him if it happened again (Ernest did do this, but that was expected of him). Good old Henry, he was a true friend to Wendell. Throughout his life, Henry had always looked out for him. He was a friend that Wendell was thankful for. Of course, Henry did give Wendell orders to get rid of his ammo, and that was something he had already taken care of. He had now put it all behind him, and all he wanted now was to have a nice, long rest. As he entered, he saw Margaret standing in the middle of the room, waiting for him. A look of concern was on her face.
"Why, Margie! This is a surprise! Whut made you…"
"Come with me, Wendell," she said.
They went up the stairs, and went into Bart's room. Wendell was suddenly nervous, for his son wasn't even in there! His bed sheets were tied down to make a ladder, which went out the window.
"Oh muh gosh! Bart…"
"I got a call from Dakota an hour ago. She said she saw him sneakin' past her place. According to her, he looked like he was heading in th' direction of your theater."
"But, why would he do that?"
"Probably cause y'all influenced him with all that Christmas stuff that's goin' on there. He'll probably get lost! See what you've done to him, Wendell!"
"Well, I wouldn't worry, Margie. The night watchmen'll probably find him."
"And so will you."
"You talked him in to this, Wendell. Now, you're gonna go out there and find him. You ain't steppin' foot into your bed until you do!"
Wendell sighed. "Okay dear, if ya say so. I better call up th' boys then, I'm gonna need their help," he said as he went downstairs to his phone.
Bart dashed through the woods, around the edge of Bay Lake, trying to remember which way it was to Grizzly Hall. Even though he wasn't sure where he was going, he pressed onwards, not knowing he was headed the wrong way…
Minutes later, Wendell and the Bear Rugs were on his trail. Tennessee had brought along his old hunting dog to help. Even though the dog was old and didn't have any teeth, it was still pretty good at catching the scent of something. And even now, it was Tennessee's dog who was keeping the six bears on the cub's trail. They ran a mile or so along the edge of the lake at a steady pace. They suddenly came to a halt, for a tall fence was blocking their way. Zeke shined his flashlight on the sandy ground in front of them. "Well, Bart's prints stop right in front of that wall. Where did he get to?"
"Actually, from the look a' things, I'd say he jumped on that tree near the fence and climbed up over it," said Tennessee.
"That means he's near th' ol' swimmin' hole, "said Zeb.
"Then let's head around to th' entrance and ask th' night guard to let us in!" said Wendell. "C'mon boys, let's go!"
On the other side of the wall was the River Country Water Park, or the "ol' swimmin' hole" as the bears and many others called it. A part of Bay Lake that was known as Bay Cove was the heart of the park, with rope swings above it so guests could cross over or jump on in to the lake, along with various water slides and flumes. After being let in by the security guard, the six bears continued their search. A few minutes later, they found Bart trying to move across one of the rope swings.
"There he is!" said Zeke.
"I'll go get him!" said Zeb. He then dashed towards the rope and leapt up to it.
"No, Zeb! You're makin' it sway!" said Fred. What Fred had said was true. Zeb's sudden weight had caused the rope to sway back and forth. Bart suddenly quivered in fear, for this had caused him to lose his grip on the rope. Zeb saw this, and went across to Bart as fast as he could. Unfortunately, he was also making the rope sway even quicker.
"Zeb! Watch out! Yer gonna-" yelled Wendell. Suddenly, both Zeb and Bart could no longer keep their grip, and both fell into the water below, "-fall."
Zeb and Bart emerged from the water and walked up on shore, both completely drenched.
"Are you guys all right?" asked Wendell.
"Brrrr…" Said Zeb as he shivered, "A little on th' drenched an' chilly side, but…Ah-chooooo!"
"Goodness gracious, Zeb!" exclaimed Zeke. "Looks like y'all are comin' down with a cold!"
"Oh, muh gosh," said Wendell. "Bart, yer okay, ain't ya?"
"Of course I am, Daddy, I…ah, ah, ah-choooo!" Bart said with a sneeze.
"Oh, no! They're both comin' down with somethin'!" said Wendell. "Quick, we better get him back home 'fore they get worse!"
The bears then quickly wrapped Zeb and Bart in towels so they wouldn't catch cold, and went straight on towards their houses.
"Bart! Yer all soakin' wet!" said Margaret when she saw him when they got in. "What happened?"
"Well, I was goin' as fast as I could to see all th' Christmas things over at Daddy's theater, and I got lost and I…I…" Bart stopped in mid-sentence and sneezed. "I fell down in th' ol' swimmin' hole…"
"Bart, you had me worried! You run away and then catch yourself a cold! You get upstairs this minute, mister!"
"Yes, mother…" said a disappointed Bart as he headed up the stairs.
"Don't worry, Bart," said Wendell, "one day I'll take ya down to th' theater muhself an'…"
"You'll be doin' no such thing, Wendell," Margaret said, "Not only you've made the cub run out in th' dead of night with all of your talk of Christmas, but now you've gone an' made himself sick!"
"But Margie, it ain't that bad. He'll be feelin' better in no time!"
"Well of course he will, 'cause he'll be sleepin' th' whole winter! Look Wendell, you've done enough trouble with all this Christmas hoo-ha. He can stay up th' whole winter when he's older, but for now, please just leave him alone so he can get his hibernatin' in?"
"Yeah, I guess so. After all, Oscar was Bart's age when Zeb tried to get him through winter without hibernatin'. Oscar was plain tuckered out from not sleepin' that he could barely stay awake when spring arrived! It wasn't until a few years later 'til he got th' hang of it!"
"I know. I suppose Bart can start that when he's older, but for th' next few years he's just gonna have to sleep th' winter. Now, do we have an agreement?"
"Yeah, I suppose. Listen, Margie, I'm sorry fer causin' all this trouble. I just got carried away with everything were doin'…"
"I forgive you, Wendell, "said Margaret. "Now, let's just go to bed and forget about all this commotion now."
"Yer right," Wendell said with a yawn. "After all that's be goin' on today, I'm completely bushed!"
With another yawn, Wendell and Margaret headed upstairs into the bedroom, where Margaret resumed her hibernation, and Wendell began to rest up for the next day.
I stand on the darkened street of Frontierland in front of Grizzly Hall, completely drenched. It has taken a lot out of me to stay in this park after hours. I had succeeded in finding a hiding place on that island attraction out on the river and stayed there after it had closed to the public at dusk. After that, I relied on all my stealth skills and instinct to avoid all the guards wandering around who were making sure everyone had left. After the rest of the park had closed later on, I made my move. Right before I could dive into the river, I was almost spotted by one of some snaggle-toothed Country Bear wandering around the island. I quickly dove into the river, and swam back to the mainland. I hope that bear didn't see me. But I can't worry about that now, I have to get inside Grizzly Hall.
I begin to climb the poles on the porch, making my way up to the roof. I then lift myself up to the balcony, where the marquee for their show was hung. My ears pick up a sweeping noise, and I look down to see a custodian cleaning the streets. I quickly fall and lay down out of sight behind the Country Bear Jamboree marquee. The custodian passes right by, not noticing me. Good. I then climb towards the top of the roof, and then notice a small gap in-between Grizzly Hall and the Tiki building next to it. I climb down from the roof and landed in what appears to be some sort of small gazebo. I then find the backstage entry door. I pick the lock, and hope that I don't set any alarms off. I don't. Perfect.
I find myself backstage, looking for a stairwell. I suddenly hear voices coming from behind the curtains. Why would any of those bears be up this late? I peek through a curtain and notice a large, fat female bear climbing up a ladder, holding some mistletoe in her paw. I then hear a snicker from somewhere in the theater. Funny, I don't see anyone. Then, something catches my eye. I look across to the right of the room, at the heads of the buffalo, deer, and moose that are hanging on the wall. The buffalo head is gazing at the fat bear, chuckling to himself as she climbs. This suprises me. How could they still be alive? This doesn't make any sense. I continue to look at the fat bear, as she hangs up the mistletoe on the rim of the stage, perfectly blending in with the holly around it. As she climbs back down, the taxidermied buffalo keeps laughing to itself. The fat bear looks over at him, and walks to him after she gets down. She then starts whispering to him. My hearing is beyond excellent, and even from my distance I can hear everything they say perfectly.
"And just what are you laughing at, Buff?" The fat girl asks.
"Oh, I was just thinkin' of somethin' funny," replies the buffalo.
"And what's that?"
"I was amazed at the fact that you were able to climb that thing without breakin' it," The buffalo says with a wink. I keep from laughing. I completely agree with him.
The fat bear becomes enraged by this. "Will you cut out those comments?" she asks. "You've been joking about me ever since the first day I walked into this theater. I've had enough of it! Can't you be nice to me for once? You three don't have any Christmas spirit, y'know that!"
"Hey, can't break tradition," says the buffalo.
"And just why were you hangin' that mistletoe up there anyway, Trixie?" The deer asks with a grin. "You tryin' to play a prank on someone?"
"You might say that…"she says back to him.
"I see. I bet you're gonna lure someone under it, and point it out to 'em before they find out about it and then smooch 'em!" said Buff.
"What a sneaky trick, Trix," says the moose.
"Yeah, and I like it!" says Buff.
As much as I like to eavesdrop I need to get back to my work, and so I leave from my spot from behind the curtain and look around the backstage area and resume my search for the stairs. The first thing I see is a cracked door with snoring coming from it. I peek through the door, and see that all there is in the room is a black bear resting on a bed. I go away and see another door next to it, and check that one…it leads to a bathroom. I continue searching through every other door until I finally locate the stairs. I quietly head up to the second floor, being careful in case any of the other bears were sleeping up there. I find myself in what appears to be some sort of den. I can hear some commotion going on between the Heads downstairs as I look around the den, reading the nameplates on the various doors in the nearby hall. "The McGrowls", "Ernest", "Big Al", "Teddi Barra"…there it is!
Since I know the Swinger doesn't sleep in there, I can go in there without fear. The bickering downstairs starts to get louder as I walk into Teddi's dressing room, going over to the swing in the center of it. I grin as I spot a wrench on the floor, which I make a grab for. I positioned myself underneath the swing, and one by one I loosen its bolts. My work is finally finished. I just want to leave now. I defiantly don't want to be around when the girl performs and falls. I just wouldn't be able to live with myself…
Suddenly, I hear various noises coming in from the rooms around me. I quickly swing out of the room to investigate, and then realize that the Heads' argument downstairs has grown louder, and has woken up the sleeping bears. I quickly try to get back into the dressing room to hide, but the door next to it opens. A bear with big Mick Jagger sized lips stumbles out of the room, half-awake. I quickly run out of the hall and enter the kitchen area, ducking underneath the table. Good, he didn't notice me. I stay under the table as he goes down stairs. Just I'm about to get out of under the table, another bear comes in, one wearing fancy pajamas with the words "The Dude" sowed into the left side of it.
"Well, as long as I'm up, I guess I'll have me a drink…" he says as he walks over to the fridge, and pours him some cider. He then swallows the whole thing in one gulp. He then sways around the room like he was drunk, gives out a belch, falls face first on the couch, and immediately goes to sleep. I wait a few moments underneath the table, putting up with the slob's snoring. Well, the bum's not waking up anytime soon, so I get up out from under the table. I then bump into it, causing a glass that the bum had left there to tip and roll over off the table. It shatters as it crashes to the floor. I freeze in place as the bum sits up, halfway opening his eyes. He looks over and me and gasps and starts rubbing his eyes. I quickly dash back underneath the table.
"Huh? Where'd she go?" I hear him say.
Dang it! I've been discovered!
A rather ugly old bear then enters into the room, and speaks to the bum.
"Huh? Oh, it's just you, Onionia…"
"Just look at the floor! You're such a careless oaf!"
"Th' heck are ya yabberin' about, woman?" The bum looks at the shattered remains of the glass I broke. "Hey, what happened there?"
"You're what happened, Ernie! You came in here and snuck yerself a swig of brew, and clumsily let the glass break as you went to doze off on the couch all night!"
"Never mind that right now! Did you see that girl before you came in here?"
"That slim she-bear that was standin' over there near th' table!"
"Oh, Ernest, you and your stupid dreams…"
"What's this racket goin' on up here, Onionia?" asked the large lipped bear as he came back from downstairs.
"Ernie came in here, snuck himself some cider, left it tippin' over th' table, and let it fall while he dozed off, and said he saw a she-bear standin' over in here!"
"What? Ernest, that's gotta be the dumbest cover up I ever heard! What'd this girl do, knock it over to annoy ya?"
"I don't know! I wuz just wakin' up as I saw her…"
"Probably just another one of your stupid Playbearish dreams, Ernie…"says the old bear.
"I guess yer right," says Ernest. "There's no way a bear could get THAT slim!"
Humph. That's what you think, you bum! I nearly starved myself to death to get thin enough so I wouldn't have the round figure of a bear! It's the only way I could get my human disguise to be more effective!
"Let's get to bed, now, shall we?" says ol big lips. "Everything downstairs has been taken care of. Rufus shut those guys up."
"Good," said Onionia. "Let's get back to bed now."
"Sounds good," said Ernest.
The three then return to the rooms, and I'm relieved. I prepare to get up and head downstairs until I hear another bear coming up the stairs. Am I ever going to get off this place? I dive back down to my hiding place under the table and watch as the black bear I saw earlier enter the room. I then notice he has a tool belt slumped over his shoulder. He grumbles to himself as he grabs some drink and honey from the kitchen. He then goes away into the…Swinger's dressing room! Oh, no, he better not notice the work I did! Why is he eating in there, anyway? I'm guessing it's because he must be too tired and lazy to go back down to his room, and he doesn't want to wake anyone by making any noise in this main room! He eats his snack, and then notices the wrench I left on the floor. He picks it up and…No! Don't look over there you nitwit! Oh dang it, he's noticed the loose bolts! No, no, don't even think about it...shoot, he's tightening them back in!
He slips the wrench back in the tool belt after he's done. So, he must have been the one who left it there. He must be the maintenance worker around here. He's looking mighty drowsy now, and, oh, no, he's collapsed to the floor and has fallen asleep! Just great. Now what do I do? If I try to go in there and do it again, that black lug will wake up and spot me! I've already been caught once, and I can't risk it! And if that black bear is the maintenance worker around here, it would be foolish to loosen the bolts again. He would just keep re-tightening them. But I can't just give up and go back to the hotel now! It's then I realize something; if the black bear is sleeping up here, than that means the room he was sleeping in earlier is unoccupied now! I dash downstairs and go into that room. I close and lock the door behind me. I notice a small closet in the corner of the room. If I hear anyone come, I'll wake up and dash in there. I take my wet clothes off and throw them next to the bed before climbing into it to rest up. What's important is that I'm inside the theater, and the plan can still work!
All I can do is wait for the right opportunity to strike…
Chapter 3: Prologue: The Repetition
PART TWO: THE ACCIDENT
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…
Chapter 4: Part Three: The Debut
PART THREE: THE DEBUT
PART THREE: THE DEBUT
Terrence paced around his cave, trying to be patient. A whole day had passed after he had called the studio for an arctic animal, and they still hadn't sent anyone over yet! He then heard a knock on his door. Ah, finally! He thought as he ran to answer it. As soon as he opened it, a small penguin rushed into the room. "Ah…nice and cool…" He said as sat down before looking over at Terrence. "Oh, sorry about that. Forgot the introductions! I'm sure you know us penguins, we burn up easy and all."
"I understand that. Name's Terrence Curvit, but y'all can just call me 'Shaker.' Almost everyone else does!"
"All right then, 'Shaker'. My name's Oswald. So, you're the guy who hired me, right?"
"Yep. I heard you were the best singer out of all th' penguins at th' studio. Took them a while t'send ya here, didn't it?"
"Sorry about that. I was visiting family up in the Arctic and I only came back last night! And what they said about me is all true," said Oswald, "We penguins don't really get to sing much in those movies this company makes, provided that we actually get into one! In fact, my grandfather was the only member in my family who got to sing! You've probably seen him in it!"
"Oh, really? What was he in?"
"He was a waiter in Mary Poppins."
"On second thought, I haven't. Ya know, I've been meanin' t'see that movie."
Oswald stared at Terrence for a moment. "You've NEVER seen that? What kind of rock have you've been hiding under?"
"This one probably," Terrence said with a laugh. "I don't go to the movies that often, ya see. I'm so attached to my work on the stage that I don't get out all that much!"
"I see. Well, I appreciate that you're giving me a chance to finally do some real signing! Say, what am I going to do in this show of yours, anyway?"
"You'll be doing a duet with me. And…" Terrence stopped his sentence when he realized something. "Oh my gosh, we're gonna be late for rehearsal! Come on!" He said as he grabbed his guitar and some music sheets and rushed for the door.
Oswald blinked for a moment. "Uh, how exactly are you gonna get me there without me burning up?"
Terrence stopped. "Whoops, I almost forgot." He grabbed a bucket that he had filled with ice. "Here, leap in this. It should keep you cool enough until we get to th' theater."
"Whatever you say, bud," Oswald said as he jumped into the bucket. "Now, let's get going! The stage awaits!"
With Oswald in tow, Terrence quickly ran over to the dock and set sail on the raft. They had gotten halfway across when the raft suddenly came to a halt. "Hey! What's goin' on here?" asked Oswald.
"Oh, no," said Terrence as he looked over at the raft's engine. "What a time for th' engine t'die out on us! It'll take us forever t'flag someone down…"
"Ah, don't worry about a thing, Shaker. Tie that rope we got over me and I'll get us over there in two shakes of a sea lion's tail!" Oswald said, pointing to a rope that was used to hold the rafts to the docks.
"What good will that do? How can you carry this whole thing over there fast enough…"
"Just tie it on and watch me, bud."
With some reluctance, Terrence grabbed the rope and tied it on over Oswald.
"I still don't see how this is gonna help…"
"Just hold on to somethin' 'Shaker', 'cause here we go!"
Oswald then dived in the water, towing the raft at high speed, almost causing the unprepared bear on board to topple into the water. In no time at all, the raft had reached the other dock.
"So what do ya say now, 'Shaker'?" Oswald asked as the raft was taken in for repair.
"I say that's a mighty fine trick ya have there! I plum forgot that penguins were such quick swimmers! Guess there were a few things I forgot from my studies at Nashville…"
"Well, that's nice and all, 'Shaker.' Now, where is this theater I'm singin' at?"
"It's just a short walk from here. Come on!"
After Oswald hopped back into the bucket, Terrence made a mad dash over to Grizzly Hall, just in time.
"Ah! It's warmer in here than it is outside! How do ya expect me to perform in these conditions?" The penguin asked after they walked into the music hall.
"Ah, don't worry about that, Ossy! I already went ahead and took care of that! Here, I'll show ya!" Terrence replied as he made his way upstairs. After greeting a few of the bears and having a few remarks about Oswald, they went into the upstairs bathroom.
"I talked about this with th' others," Terrence said as he started to fill the bathtub up with cold water and ice, "It's fine with them as long as you leap out for a sec whenever they have to make use of the place, if y'all know what I mean."
"Well, that's helpful. It's good knowin' I won't burn up around here after all!"
"Thanks. When we actually perform, you can hop in the bucket and stay cool for the moment that we're on, then I'll put ya back in here for a few moments before we head out for th' finale."
"Ya know, Shaker, ya never did tell me those songs we're gonna do."
"Almost forgot about that! You know the songs "Blue Christmas" and "Winter Wonderland" don't ya?"
"Well, kinda. It's been a while since I've actually done those, but I'll give 'em a shot."
"Alright then. We also gotta work on th' timing and all, so if you hop into th' tub, we'll get started!"
After Oswald had done so, Terrence handed him the sheet music. As they discussed the details of how their act would go, they were interrupted by a knocking at the door.
"Whoops! Hold that thought for a moment, Ossy," Terrence said. "It looks like we'll have to step out for a moment!"
"'Shaker'! Get out here quick!" Came Beulah's voice. "You've gotta come down for this!"
Terrence opened the door and answered, "Down for what? It can't already be time fer my rehearsal…"
"It's not that! Henry's about to bring her back in!"
"Bring who…oh, OH! You mean to say…"
"Yep! Quick, get downstairs, and bring that penguin thingy of yours with you if you want!"
"Right! Thanks, Beulah!" He quickly grabbed the bucket and went over to Oswald. "Hop in quick, Ossy! We need to get down, fast!"
Even though he didn't understand, Oswald hopped into the bucket. "For what? What was she talkin' about?"
"She's back! Teddi's back!"
Downstairs, some of the bears crowded along in the basement near the entryway to the Utlidors, shoving each other out of the way. "Step back, folks," said Rufus, trying to break up the mob of bears. "Henry an' Teddi will be comin' through here now, and she'll need all th' room she can get so she can reach the lift without too much trouble!"
The bears stepped back, looking down through the open door, watching as they saw Henry pushing Teddi through the tunnels in a wheelchair. No sooner than they arrived into the Hall's basement the others started gazing at her and started bombarding her with thoughts and questions.
"Please, please!" said Rufus, "One at a time! She's been through enough!"
As the bears stepped back again, a crashing noise came from the stairs. Everyone looked over and saw Terrence lying on the floor, with Oswald looking down at him.
"Hey, bud! Watch where you goin'!" He said.
"Ohhh…this darn scarf, I tripped over it!"
"Oh dear," said Teddi. "Are you hurt, 'Shaker'?"
"Only my dignity. Geez, we've sure been accident prone these last couple days, haven't we?"
"At least you didn't get banged up like Teddi did," said Henry.
"Speakin' a'which, Teddi, I heard what happened to y'all. It must be tough goin' through all this. How are ya feelin'?"
"My leg may still bother me some, but I can get by everyone's help, or so I've been told," she said as she eyed Henry.
"It's true," said Rufus, "I'm gonna be sure of that!"
"So that explains that weird do-hickey y'all were puttin' on th' stairs yesterday," said Terrence.
"By the way 'Shaker', Henry told me what happened to you th' other day. It looks like you and I are both going to look a little bit differently on the outside for a while, you with your fur and me with my cast."
"Yeah, but it doesn't bother me a bit. You'll be back to normal eventually and I can just die muh fur back when we get back to doin' the regular show. Although Teddi, I must say you're a true performer, not lettin' this injury get in your way! Ya know what they say: 'I can get knocked down, but I'll get up again, they're never gonna keep me down'!"
"Why Shaker, thanks for those lovely complements!"
"Y'all are welcome, Teddi."
"Say, Terrence," said Henry, "What in th' world is that lil' bird with ya? Looks like a black goose ta' me."
Terrence chuckled for a moment and then said, "This ain't no goose, Henry. I'd like ya t'meet Oswald. He's a penguin, a bird who lives up in th' Arctic. He's th' one who'll be joinin' me in my act."
"Ah, so he's th' one th' studio sent to ya, eh? Does he know the words well?"
"Well, we're workin' on that right now. But I know we'll get it after a couple of tries!"
"I hope so," said Henry. "This is th' last day we've got of rehearsin'…"
"What? But, do you think we'll all be ready by then?"
"All of us seem to know th' songs purty well by now," said Henry. "I mean, I really want to open the show on schedule, but I can push th' date back if I have to…"
"Oh, Henry," said Teddi. "You don't have to worry about that. I'm sure if we all work hard today, I'm sure we can pull it off."
"I hope so too, Teddi," said Henry. "We better start movin' along then. Oh, Terrence, it'd be wise if you, your Arctic goose, and everyone else in here head back upstairs now before we load Teddi on to this thing."
"Gotcha, Henry," said Terrence. "We'll head straight back up and start rehearsin' again. Come on, Ossy."
"Yeah! Break it up here, folks," said Rufus.
Henry looked over at him and said, "Thanks Rufus, but I think they already got th' message."
After every other bear had gone upstairs, Henry and Rufus placed Teddi and her chair on the lift platform and rose up to the stage. As they made their way towards the stairs, Trixie approached from behind.
"Hey, Teddi! Nice to see you back again!"
"Why, Trixie! Haven't heard from you for a while. How have you been doing on your number?"
"Pretty well, Teddi. In fact, I was just about to go out and rehearse it!"
"Well, good luck with ya, Trixie!"
"I wish the same to you, Teddi. I hope you heal up soon!"
"All right, Trix! Thanks!"
Trixie then walked out on stage, and Rufus pushed Teddi over to the stairs. Before they were half way, Teddi said, "Whoa, Rufus, stop me here for a moment."
"Well, I haven't heard Trixie sing her song clearly yet. I don't think it'll hurt if I stop her and listen to her, wouldn't it?"
"I don't see why not," Rufus said as he parked Teddi near a space she could hear Trixie clearly.
On stage, Trixie thought as she danced and sung on the main stage. Now that Teddi was back, it would be the perfect time to do her plans. All she needed to do was call Henry out and do her deed on him. As soon as Teddi gets wind of it, she would think that Henry was through with her, and he would be all his! She danced around the stage as she sung, knowing that it would definitely catch Henry's attention.
After she had finished, sure enough, Henry came on stage to greet her.
"My, my, that was great, Trixie! But you know y'all can't do all that dancin' durin' the actual performance!"
"I know that. Henry, you know that discussion I wanted with you? Well, c'mon over here, and I'll start discussin'!"
"Oh, Trixie," Henry said as he walked over to her, "You know we don't have for this! What's so important about it anyways?"
Trixie smiled as Henry walked right close to her. She now had him right where she wanted him.
"You'll see. Take a good look up there above you, along the rim of the stage."
"Uh?" Henry said as he looked up. "There ain't nuthin' there but holly…"
"You're standin' under th' mistletoe, Henry…"
"What mistle…"He then spotted it and gasped. "Oh, my gosh…"
"And you ought to know what you have to do when you stand under the mistletoe, don't you?"
Henry then gulped as it kicked into him. He then noticed Trixie coming close to his face.
"Oh my…oh, well gee, Trixie, I...uh…"He said as he started to sweat. "Can't we talk about this?"
"Oh, c'mon Henry, don't ya have any Christmas spirit?" asked Max.
"What's wrong? Got cold feet?" asked Buff.
Backstage, Teddi was overlooking the whole thing. She was wondering for a moment why there was mistletoe up within the holly. She didn't recall having any in the box, or owning any at all for that matter. Trixie must've set it up there herself, She thought. Oh well, she doesn't know about the deal with Henry and me yet. I guess one little peck on the cheek wouldn't do any harm…
She overheard Henry say, "All right Trixie, ya got me in your little joke. Y'all can just kiss me on th' cheek and get it over with…"
Teddi peeked through the curtain and watched as Trixie gave Henry a small smack on the cheek. Trixie then looked at Henry for a moment, but still kept him in the bear hug.
"Um Trixie, if ya don't mind, could ya please let me go now? I've got work to…"
Right as Henry said the word "to", Trixie suddenly put her face at Henry's and kissed him hard on the lips. Henry was completely caught off guard by this, and tried to break out of it, but with Trixie holding him down it was to no avail.
Backstage, Teddi was shocked at what she saw. What did Trixie think she was doing? A simple kiss on the cheek was acceptable, but this…
She just wouldn't let Trixie get away with this. She noticed the Bear Rugs standing near the curtain, watching the sight between Henry and Trixie. An idea popped into her head. She quickly called Zeke over to her…
Onstage, Henry still struggled to get out of the kiss. Had he not had his first kiss with Teddi the night before last, he may have actually enjoyed this one. He hoped that if didn't kiss Trixie in return, she would stop. But Trixie kept going and going. How was he going to break out of it? Suddenly…
The Bear Rugs yelled out as they came on stage unexpectedly and began to play, completely startling both Henry and Trixie. Trixie was so caught off guard she lost her balance, toppling off stage.
Henry had immediately caught on at what the Bear Rugs were up to. "Whew! Much obliged there, fellas!" He said as he wiped his brow and dashed backstage.
"Deck th' halls with boughs of holly…"sung Zeke.
"Fa,la,la,la,la,la,la,la,la…"The others sung as Zeb sneezed…on Zeke.
"'Tis th' season to be jolly…"Zeb sniffled.
"Fa,la,la,la,la,la,la,la…"They sung as Zeb sneezed on Zeke again.
Oh, you owe me fer this, Teddi…Zeke thought. He then turned to Zeb and yelled to him, "Stop sneezin' an' let's hear ya, boy!"
"Follow me in merry measure…"sung Tennessee.
Zeke then ducked, expecting Zeb to sneeze on him again, but this time he didn't!
Great, he didn't sneeze! Zeke thought.
Trixie finally got back up on her feet, and after realizing what had happened she jumped on the stage and angrily ran over to the Bear Rugs.
"Heedless of th' wind an' weather…"
As Trixie ran in rage towards the band, Zeb started to sniffle. "Huh, uh…"
"LA!" The Bear Rugs concluded. Just as Trixie was about to get to the Rugs, Zeb let off a powerful sneeze.
The force of the sneeze was so great it knocked Trixie over and caused her to roll backstage right. She continued rolling until she had went all the way back to the door to her room in the back of the Mile Long Bar. She rolled into the wall next to it, her girth causing her to bounce off it unharmed. She got up and walked into her room, pondering about things. Henry didn't even try to kiss her back. Well, maybe he wasn't in the mood first. Perhaps this was going to be harder than she had expected…
"Well, that sure was a strange incident," Henry said as he walked over the stairs. "What in th' world was Trixie thinking? Talk about gettin' carried away!"
"Just be lucky I saw how she tricked you with that mistletoe!" said Teddi. "Otherwise, I would have thought you were the kind who cheats on her lover!"
"Me? That ain't my style," said Henry. "Besides, that kiss she gave me didn't even compare to yours! I think she was tryin' too hard."
"By the way Henry, Trixie never tried to slap you, didn't she?"
"No, she's never tried! Then again, she was raised by a more modern family, so I guess she may not know about th' ol' customs!"
"Good thing she doesn't," said Teddi.
"It's a good thing th' Bear Rugs decided to break it up," Henry said.
"Mmm, hmmm," said Teddi. Yep, and I told them to keep doing that if Trixie tries to pull that mistletoe thing ever again, just to be safe…
"Anyway," Henry said as Rufus then walked over to the stairs. "This is a really good contraption Rufus worked out. I'll let him explain."
"Thanks, Henry," said Rufus. "I've spent all day installing these to all the stairwells." He pointed to a railway that was along the bottom side of the stairs. "It's a motorized belt. We attach your wheelchair to the side of the belt and up the stairs you go! It'll really come in handy, at least until they get Teddi into a walking cast. I figured it was time to make this place a bit more accessible in case anyone else ends up in her condition."
"Aren't you just somethin', Rufus? I really appericate this!" said Teddi.
Henry helped Rufus attach the wheelchair to the side of the belt, and it carried her upwards. Once they got to the top and got Teddi of off the belt, they approached Teddi's dressing room. "Take a look at what we've done with it, and see if it's what ya had in mind!" Henry said as they entered. Teddi then looked and noticed how her dressing room had been converted into a bedroom. Some of her belongings from home such as her wall clock had been placed around the room, and a small bed had been placed in the corner. She and Henry had decided that while her leg was broken, it would be easier for her to just stay at Grizzly Hall and to save her the troubles she would experience from trying to get back and forth to her EPCOT house. This way, she would also have support from the other bears.
"Oh, good," said Teddi. "You brought everything I wanted. This should be fine until my leg heals up."
"Good," Henry said as he moved Teddi over to the bed and helped her onto it. "Are ya comfy enough?"
"Pretty much," Teddi said as she laid down.
"Well, you're all set here, Teddi. Remember, if y'all need anythin…"
"I have only to buzz you, Ruffie, or anyone else. Got it," said Teddi.
"Good, y'all just rest up here for a while," said Henry. "After lunch, we'll see how you fare getting on yer swing."
"Hopefully I won't have much trouble," said Teddi.
"Me too! Well, I'll go downstairs and check up with everyone else. I'll check back with ya later! And remember, Teddi, just…"
"Buzz if I need anything. I got it!"
"Alright then," Henry said as he went downstairs.
Teddi laid back and sighed.
Well, living here may not be as bad as I imagined.. I better do as he says and rest up, we've got a lot to do later!
"Can we hurry up all ready, 'Shaker'? The stage is calling!" Oswald as he fidgeted in his bucket.
"Ossy, I can't believe you already want a stage rehearsal," said Terrence as he walked towards his stage. "We've only practiced several times! Boy, I thought I was stage struck back in my ol' greasepaint days…"
"I already have everything memorized. This oughta be a piece a cake!" Oswald said as the curtain opened.
"Well, well," said Max as they noticed Terrence and Oswald, "If it ain't our grizzly gone albino! And what is that thing you've got in the bucket?"
"This Max, is a penguin," said Terrence. "His name's Oswald."
"So, that's a penguin?" Buff asked. "Looks more like a goose wearin' a tuxedo to me."
Oswald, ignoring the comment, took a look at the heads and said, "Hey, that's a good trick there, Shaker! How do you do it?"
"Um, what are ya talkin' about, Ossy?" Terrence asked.
"Those talking trophies, of course! What, are they mechanical?"
"Well," said an offended Buff.
"I'm sick and tired of people thinkin' that about us," said Max.
"Yeah, I resent that!" said Melvin. "We are not mech-animals! Well we're part animal of course, but I know we're not anythin' mech! I think…"
Terrence groaned at Melvin. And to think he was th' one who gave me th' idea fer Ossy…He thought.
Oswald looked up at Terrence and gulped. "You…you mean to say that…"
"Yep," said Terrence. "They're flesh an' blood, or flesh an' stuffin' to be more correct."
"But...but how?" asked a puzzled Oswald.
"I'm not too sure muhself," said Terrence. "It's best not to worry too much thinkin' about it. Anyways, we gotta rehearse now!"
"Yeah, that's right!" said Oswald. "Let's hit it, 'Shaker'!"
"All right then," said Terrence. "Anyway, before I begin, I'd like to dedicate this to you, Melvin. After all, you're th' one who gave me th' idea fer this!"
"Really? Well, thank you, 'Shaker'! T'weren't nuthin'!" Melvin said.
"Nothin'?" Buff said. "Oh, you didn't do nothin', Melvin!"
"I did? Err, what did I do then?"
"You actually used what little brain they left in you for once."
"Uh, boys," said Terrence. "May we start now?"
"Err, yeah, of course!" Melvin said. "C'mon Buff, pipe down fer once! He dedicated it to me, an' I wanna hear it!"
"Alright then," Terrence said. "Ready, Ossy? A-one, a-two, a-three…"
Terrence and Oswald then sung through the song, just like they had rehearsed, with Oswald honking along as Terrence sang it, Melvin enjoying it all. Buff and Max, however, looked at each other and whispered to one another. When they had finished, Buff began to say something, but before he could, Terrence spoke, "If what you're gonna say is a stupid joke about us, Buff, don't even say it."
Buff winced at him. "Oh, you ain't no fun, 'Shaker'," he said.
"Yeah! All he was gonna say your penguin sounds like a car horn…"
"Max!" yelled Terrence.
"Hey! I said no makin' fun of them!" said Melvin. "Never mind them, 'Shaker.' I think it sounded wonderful!"
"Glad ya liked it, Melvin," Terrence replied.
"Yeah, Melvin. Thanks a whole lot…"said Buff sarcastically.
"That was defiantly something that only you would like," said Max.
"Well Ossy, I think ya did well," said Terrence. "We'll work on it some more, and later we'll practice our timing for the finale!"
"Got ya, 'Shaker'," said Oswald as they left backstage.
After they left, Melvin spoke to Buff and Max, "Why, thanks for those words, guys! I guess that means you'll not make fun no more?"
"Oh yeah, sure…"said Buff. One of these days that moose will have to learn about sarcasm…He thought.
"Now Beulah, be easy when you sign it," Teddi said while the cubs signed her cast. She was sitting up in her chair near the dining room table. While she had been eating lunch, several of the bears, the Sun Bonnets included, came up to her and asked if they could sign her cast. Of course, Teddi agreed, but only until after she had finished her meal.
"There! All done!" Beulah said as she put the lid back on the marker. Teddi looked down at her cast at where she had signed, right next to her sisters' names.
"Thanks, you three" Teddi said, looking at the various signatures from all the bears, from Big Al's child-like printing to Ernest's show-off cursive.
"Well, well, gettin' autographs from everyone?" Henry said as he came in to the den.
Teddi gave a chuckle and said, "First time anyone's asked me if I would let them give me their autograph for a change."
"How many do you have?" Henry asked.
"About almost everyone, and even some from a few CMs. They asked real nice, so I let them," she said. "I guess everyone who heard about my little incident the other day stopped by. News travels real fast amongst them!"
"Yeah, and of course they've been out front tellin' people that we're closed 'cause we're gearin' up for this Christmas thing! It's buildin' up th' public interest! We're sure to get huge crowds from all those curious people who are sure t'show up!
"I sure hope so, Henry," said Teddi, "By the way, is it almost time for our rehearsal?"
"In a couple minutes. You ready?"
"As soon as I get over to that swing, I will," said Teddi.
"Well, I'll head over there now. See you in a couple minutes, then, Henry."
Teddi took her crutches, and slowly got up. She had found she didn't to be on the wheelchair the whole time, her leg wasn't bad enough for that. It didn't bother her when she had to travel small distances. It was getting up or down the stairs that was her biggest problem. She then slowly hobbled over toward her room to get ready, and to put the rest of her outfit on. She had already had part of it on, the pink coat and white scarf she had on the day of her accident. But, she had decided to change her headgear.
The previous day, she had discussed with Henry to try to make her leg seem not as noticeable to the audience. She didn't want people think she was clumsy for falling off, so she would cover it by appearing as a skier for the show. When Henry had to leave, he said, "See you later, my chanteuse of the ski slopes." Somehow, the name seemed to stick with her, and Henry decided to introduce her with this nickname, which was okay by her. While the coat and scarf would go with her skier guise, her derby obviously did not, and she had replaced it in favor of a toboggan and a skier's visor. After she entered her room, she slipped them both on without much trouble. She then grabbed several props Henry had sent for her, a small pair of skis and poles, which complimented her outfit really well. She had Rufus hold on to them as she hobbled over to her swing, and handed them to her after she had gotten on her swing in a comfortable position. While she had done all this, Henry had been over the P.A. announcing finale rehearsals in a few moments. She was more than ready for it…
SEVERAL HOURS LATER…
"I don't think I did as well as I thought…"
Oswald put his head down in shame as Terrence brought him up the stairwell. At every rehearsal for the finale they had that day, most everyone agreed with the Heads' comments about him sounding like a car horn, except for Henry and Teddi who knew Oswald was trying well to sound well but just in his own way, and the Sun Bonnets who were curious over him. But most of the others, especially Ernest and Tennessee who were both the criticizing types, thought he sounded bad.
"Aw, don't let those guys get to you, Ossy. A lot of people criticized me during my days as an actor. Some folks used to call me an ol' snaggle- toothed fowl-up that would never amount to anythin'. But I didn't let that get to me! I kept goin' on and took up bein' a singer, an' look where I am today! Just wait 'till tomorrow, the crowds 'll love ya!"
Oswald looked up at him. "Ya really think so?"
"Of course! Just stick with me, and you'll do okay!"
"All right 'Shaker', whatever ya say! Now, how's about we get a good night's rest?"
"You said it, Ossy. Just let me set ya in the tub here first," Terrence said as he turned the knob to the upstairs bathroom door...to find it locked, causing him to bump into it.
"OOOF! Oh...I shoulda knocked first..."Terrence said, "Who's in there, anyway?"
"Shaker? I'm in here," said Teddi from behind the door. "I'm takin' a bath in here. Didn't you see the note?"
"Ummm, Shakes," said Oswald as he pointed to a piece of paper on the room. "I think that fell off when you slammed into the door."
"Errr, let's see here," Terrence said as he picked it up. It said "BATH IN USE. DO NOT ENTER."
"Whoops," He said. "Well, sorry about that, Teddi." Something then hit him. "Hey wait, how can you bathe when you have that cast on your leg?"
"I have it propped up with a plastic bag attached to it. Keeps it from getting' wet."
"Oh, I see. 'Bout how long will ya take?"
"It might take me awhile, Shaker. I just got in, and I have to take my time getting out because of my leg."
"Oh. Sorry fer botherin' ya, Teddi," Terrence said as he walked away.
"Great, now where am I gonna sleep?" asked Oswald.
"Hmm...let's see," said Terrence. "Can't stay in my place 'cause I can't adjust the temperature th' same way. Hey wait, I got it! Come with me!"
"Where are we goin'?" Oswald asked as Terrence took him downstairs.
"The best place fer you…"
"Ah-ha! This is great, 'Shaker'!" Oswald said as he entered the walk-in freezer in the back of the Pecos Bill Café.
"I should have thought of this sooner!" Terrence said. "This is the coolest place in the whole area! You'll have no problem with burnin' up in here!"
"Thanks, 'Shaker'," said Oswald. "I think I'll take a rest now…"
Oswald crept himself into a shelf in the corner of the freezer and made himself comfortable.
"Good. I'll get ya in th' mornin' then!"
"Okay. See ya then…"Oswald said with a yawn.
Terrence then prepared to close the door. He then took a look at the bucket he had been carrying Oswald in. The ice in it had almost completely melted. Terrence thought to himself for a moment, and then got an idea.
Instead of just refillin' th' bucket later, I could just stick it in there an' let it freeze overnight!
Terrence crept in and set the bucket in the freezer, next to where Oswald was resting. He then turned and shut the door quietly. "Good night, my lil' friend…"
Terrence then walked out of the Café and towards the dock. Back in the freezer, Oswald twisted and turned as he slept with dreams of stardom. As he did, he carelessly rolled off the shelf and splashed into the bucket below. Because of his Arctic nature, the temperature of the water didn't wake him. He continued to sleep, unaware of the water freezing around him…
Teddi opened her eyes as she heard her chimes go off the next morning. She slept really well the previous night. By the time she had finished her bath, all the night entertainment and crowds were virtually gone. I'm startin' to like it here already…Teddi thought as she sat up. Of course, with my leg it's difficult to enjoy it…
A knock then came from her door. "Is that you, Onionia?" Teddi called.
"Yes, Teddi. I heard your chimes go off. I take it you're ready?"
"Sure," said Teddi.
Onionia entered and helped Teddi to her wheelchair. "Thanks, Onionia," Teddi said as she took her locket off. "Now, would you put this back in its case for me, please?"
"Of course," Onionia said as she took it from her. The previous night, after Onionia had helped Teddi into her room, she had told Onionia to help her with her locket. After she had noticed it, Onionia had asked Teddi where she had gotten it and why she only chose to wear it to sleep. Teddi then explained most everything about the locket to her, so Onionia understood why the locket was so precious to her. After returning the locket, Onionia pushed Teddi towards the den, towards the dining table. Liver Lips was setting plates of hotcakes, bacon, eggs, and grits in the middle of the table. Ernest was sitting at the table, about to stab a fork into the hotcakes. "'Bout time, Liver Lips! I'm starved!"
Liver Lips then swatted Ernest's paw with a spatula. "Hey! Keep yer paws off! You wait until the girls get to th' table!"
"Ow! Hey, ya hurt my arm! I'm gonna sue ya fer that, Liver!"
Teddi glanced at them as she was wheeled towards the table.
"Oh, don't mind them," said Onionia. "They bicker like this most of th' time."
"I hope y'all are hungry, Teddi," said Liver Lips.
"Oh, I am," said Teddi as Onionia wheeled up next to it. She craved a piece of the hotcake and chewed.
Liver Lips and Onionia looked at her as she did. After swallowing, she commented, "Mmmm! Now that's pretty good! My compliments to the chefs!"
"Why thanks, Miss Barra!" Said Liver Lips. "Those happen to my specialty!"
"Oh, it shows," said Teddi in between bites "These are excellent!"
"It's nice to get a compliment, Teddi" said Onionia, "especially since we don't get any from ol' city slicker here." She looked over at Ernest, who was tearing in to his food.
"Yeah, I know," said Liver Lips, "He ought to, though. It's not every day I fix 'em, after all. Besides, I made them especially because of you, Miss Barra. You're gonna be our guest fer a while, so I wanted to show a bit of hospitality."
"Oh, ya didn't have to go through all that trouble just for me, Liver," said Teddi.
"Actually, I think it did some good," said Onionia, "It got Ernest up early anyway."
"It did?" Teddi asked.
"Yep. He woke up and dashed in here the minute he heard me fry up the griddle," said Liver Lips. "He was so hungry I had to keep him from eatin' the batter!"
"I can see why," said Teddi as she continued her meal.
"There's plenty more where that came from," said Liver Lips. "Though the others will be joinin' us in a sec. Everyone else is gonna come up and eat here soon."
"Ha!"said Ernest. "Better keep Trixie outta here then, 'cause they're ain't gonna be anythin' left if she eats!"
"Ernie!" said Onionia.
"Oh, Ernie, you're startin' to sound like Buff!" said Teddi.
After that comment, the bears continued to eat their food until they couldn't take another bite! Teddi had gotten full at just the right time, as the rest of the bears had arrived to take in the meal. Teddi was scooted out of the way to make room, but remained to take in the conversations with the others. The home-cookin' and company was something she didn't have her breakfasts at the Land. Near the end of the meal, Henry got up and rose his mug of coffee, and called for everyone's attention. He declared a toast to the success of the new show. Teddi remembered that they had done the same thing back when they had first opened. She joined in with her own mug as the other bears followed suit. "To the new show!" All the Country Bears said together. A few moments later, most of the bears headed downstairs to get ready. Terrence however, stayed in the kitchen and went over to the fridge. After getting some small fish out, he then started to cook them.
"Getting a last minute snack, heh?"
Terrence looked over and saw Rufus walking in from behind. "Oh hey, Rufus! Nah, this ain't fer me, it's fer Ossy."
"Ossy? Oh yeah, that penguin that ya had with ya yesterday. Why wasn't he up here for breakfast?"
"Oh, I let him sleep in. I'm gonna go on down an' wake an' feed him. Say, you're just th' bear I wanted to see. Ya wouldn't happen to have a pick or a chisel or somethin' like that with ya?"
"I think so. Why?"
"Come on with me then an' I'll show ya…"
"…you left the penguin in th' freezer? That's a smart idea," Rufus said as they walked behind the Café. "But that still doesn't explain why ya need my chisel…"
"Oh, you'll understand perfectly when you see it," said Terrence as he opened the freezer door. "Oh, Ossy! Rise an' shine, my lil' Arctic friend! Ya ready for the show?"
No response came. Terrence waved the fish above him. "Hey, Ossy! Wake up! I got breakfast for ya!"
There still was no response. "Ossy?" Terrence went into the freezer, searching around. "Oh c'mon, Ossy! This ain't funny! Ya know we gotta do a show today! Oh, don't tell me you're a heavy sleeper, an'…AHHHHHHH!"
"Shaker! What's wrong?" Rufus asked as came in to the freezer. Then he saw what made Terrence scream. He gasped. "What in Ursus' name?" Terrence was holding up the bucket of water, which of course had frozen over…with Oswald frozen solid inside it!
"H-how did this happen?" Terrence said.
"Shaker, where was he sleeping at when you left?"
"On this shelf over here…" Terrence then frowned, "Right near where I placed the bucket. It was full of water…"
"And he fell in and got frozen soild! What were you doing with it, anyway?"
"I was just tryin' to reuse the bucket's water and have it freeze over…"
"And shatter it to little ice bits using my tools. I see now," said Rufus.
"It seemed like a good idea at the time. But look what I did! I…I killed the lil' thing! Oh Ossy, we hardly knew ye…"
Suddenly, the bucket started to shake violently in Terrence's hands. "Hey! What in th'…? Ossy! He…he's still alive in there!"
"I guess he can take the chills!" said Rufus.
"Oh Rufus, this is great! All ya have to do is take yer tools an' smash him out!"
Rufus took a look into the bucket and shrugged. "It ain't gonna be that easy, 'Shaker'. I just can't stick my tools down straight through the middle without drivin' through Oswald by accident. I'll have to pry the frozen ice out of the bucket, and then slowly chip away the ice until we get him free."
"How long will that take?"
"A good amount of time, and with showtime comin' close, that ain't somethin' we got a lot of."
"Oh, gosh! Ya think ya get him out in time?"
Rufus took a deep breath. "I don't know if I can Shaker, but I'll try. Come on, we gotta hurry!"
With the frozen Ossy in tow, the two then quickly headed back to Grizzly Hall.
After several minutes of waiting, they finally open the gates to the park. About time, another minute of standing with all these people and I would go nuts! But that's not important anymore. I heard from the park workers that today is the day when the theater finally reopens. Though my main reason for coming here is to see if the Swinger has returned or not, I also want to see what kind of entertainment those bears are providing. I then proceed towards the theater. As I near it, I notice that they've hung some banner over the marquee to advertise their new show. It says, THE COUNTRY BEAR CHRISTMAS SPECIAL. I walk into the lobby with a crowd of people and wait…
"How is it goin', Rufus?" Terrence asked as he went back into the den.
"I managed to slip the ice out of the bucket, and I've started chiselin' as easy as I can. He keeps shakin' around in there! At this rate, it could take hours to get him free!" Rufus said as he continued to chip away the ice with his chisel. Like Rufus had said, Oswald was still conscious in the ice, and he had a "Get me outta here!" look on his face. Just then, Henry came into the room.
"Ah, there ya are, Rufus! I need you to do a final check on th'…" Henry stopped in mid-sentence when he noticed the frozen Oswald. "My word Terrence! What happened to yer penguin buddy?"
Terrence glanced at the frozen ice block. "Long story."
"Well, I'll hav'ta hear it later. Rufus, it's almost showtime. Is everythin' in workin' order? The lightin', the curtain controls, Teddi's swing?"
"I checked it all before I went down with 'Shaker'. Everything's a-okay. You know, you seem nervous fer once, Henry."
"Nervous? Me? What gave ya that idea?" Henry asked.
"Well, yer actin' exactly th' way ya did the first day we opened. I recall ya were late getting on stage…" said Terrence.
"Which led to them wall-hangers' bickerin' for th' show t' start. But I ain't gonna let that happen this time!"
"It will again if you don't hurry. It's only a minute 'til showtime, ya know," said Rufus.
"It is? Oh great, I must've lost track a'time! You two get ready. I'm goin' down now."
Then in a rush, Henry dashed downstairs. In a matter of moments, Terrence and Rufus, along with every bear in the theater, overheard Henry on the P.A. for everyone to take their places. A moment or two afterwards, Terrence and Rufus heard a buzzing sound.
"Hey, what's that mean?" Terrence asked.
"Oh dear, Teddi must need someone to help her get on her swing! Shaker, try and ask Onionia if she'll attend to her!" Rufus said as he frantically chipped away the ice.
"Right, Rufus," said Terrence as he ran off. I just hope you pull this off for me, Rufus, he thought. Talk about cuttin' thangs close!
"Hey, ma'am, will you stop holdin' us up? Didn't ya see the doors open?"
I take my eyes off the portrait of the Swinger in the theater lobby and look over at the people behind me. I then look over towards the back of the lobby and notice that the doors to the theater have opened and everyone in front of me has already entered.
"Whoops, sorry," I say as I proceed towards the doors. I walk in and seat myself in the back of the house. Now I just need to wait…
All right, I've made the final announcement. Time to head out. Hope everyone's ready, Henry thought as he clicked off the PA. As he walked out towards the stage, he heard Max and Melvin arguing.
"Look Melvin, I'm the deer, I got the red nose, so I get to sing…"
Oh, great. Melvin must've tried to sing that reindeer song again! Henry thought as he walked behind the curtain and sat on his barrel. Guess I'll have t'break it up…
"Ain't we go through all this before?" Buff asked as he cut in.
"Well, I don't see why he always gets to sing…" whined Melvin.
"Hold th' phone there, boys!" Henry said as the curtain opened. "Where's yer Christmas spirit?"
He then looked over at the audience. "Sorry folks," he said as he cleared his throat. "Gomer, let's show 'em how it's done!"
With that, Gomer rose up, playing the introduction music, and then Henry welcomed the audience and sang "It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas".
All right, this is it, Henry thought after he had finished, Time to really kick things off!
"Ladies and gents," Henry said as the curtain on the center stage opened, revealing..."The Five Bear Rugs!"
"When th' snow begins a-fallin' and yer gun begins to freeze, it's time to stop and holler! And slap yer hairy knees…"
"So hand me down my banjo," Zeke sung as he joined in, "I think I'm gonna sing…"
"Th' time for sittin' idle's in th' summer or th' spring!"
Zeke then ducked over to avoid one of Zeb's sneezes, and they all began the chorus.
"We're makin' tracks in th' snow! Everythin' is rosy…"
"No more hiberatin', boys!" Henry said.
"We're up on our feet!"
"Just makin' tracks in th' snow, getting warn an' cozy, shiverin' and shakin' to that good ol' country beat."
"Sing it out, Henry!" said Zeke.
"I like a cozy fire on a cold dark winter night, "Henry sang solo.
"When th' windows are a-ramblin', an' th' stars are shinin' bright."
"Muh feet up on muh huntin' dog, mah arm around mah wife," sung Tennessee.
"They may be old an' toothless…"
"But I've had 'em all mah life!"
Henry chuckled as they went into the chorus again.
"We're makin' tracks in th' snow, an' everythin' is rosy…"
"No more hibernatin', boys…"
"We're up on our feet!"
"Just makin' tracks in th' snow, getting warm an' cozy, shiverin' an' shakin' to that good ol' country beat…"
"Yes sir!" said Zeb.
"Shiverin' an' shakin' to that good ol' country beat!" They sang as they held on to the final note. Following another sneeze from Zeb, the curtains closed and the audience applauded.
Wendell then rose up and sang his song, concluding with the Sun Bonnets signing background from backstage.
"You be careful with that squirrel gun, now Wendell," Henry said as he appeared on stage.
Wendell glanced at the prop gun he held. "Aw, heck, it ain't even loaded!" He pulled the trigger, and a bright flash erupted from it.
I look as the bear sinks back under the stage, saying "Sorry." I can't believe that they would still let him carry that gun with him after what happened, thanks to me! The next thing I hear is Henry calling out for that Rufus guy to change the lighting. Well, if they keep this gig going they'll run their budget on new lighting! After a sec or two, the lights come back on and Henry introduces…oh, it's that fat ol' Trixie! She starts singing something about hibernation interfering with her love life. Humph, I wish I had a love life! With all the troubles my family had, and with all the things my grandfather forced me to do, I never had the time to experience one…
I turn back to watching the show, the talking taxidermies commenting on her singing. As she finishes up, Henry comes back out.
"That was mighty purty there, Trixie."
"Why thank you, Henry! Oh Henry, why don't you come on over and try out this here mistletoe, hee hee hee?"
I look over at Henry as the ol' blimp says this. Judging from the look on his face, I don't think he wants to go along with it. He tries to protest, but the heads cut in on him.
"C'mon Henry, where's your Christmas spirit?" says the deer.
"Yeah!" says the moose.
"What's the matter, got cold feet?" says the buffalo.
Henry then tries to protest again, but then those Bear Rugs come out again and break it all up. This scares ol' Trix off stage, and then she starts to cry over the whole lousy thing. As her curtain closes, I notice she stupidly dries her eyes with her gloves. What did she think she was holding in that paw, a handkerchief? I turn back to the main stage and listen to the Bear Rugs' drunk sounding version of "Deck The Halls", while the banjo player avoids getting sneezed on by the fiddler. The act seems so rushed, like they never rehearsed it. It makes things so ridiculous it's almost funny!
They sing one verse of the song before the curtains close on them. I wonder what's next? Acck! No! Not an Elvis impersonator!
"Terrence! Liver Lips is up now, ya gotta head down now or you'll miss yer cue!" Henry said as he rushed up the stairs.
"Oh, great! We're not even halfway through breakin' Ossy out!" Terrence said as he looked over at Rufus, who was frantically chipping away. The ice around Oswald was now in the form of a block.
"You're gonna have to go on without him, 'Shaker'!" Rufus said. "I can have him out by the end of the day if we're lucky…"
Suddenly, the block suddenly started to shake. Inside Oswald was making angry squawking noises, a look of determination on his face.
"Hey, what the…?"
"Ossy! Rufus, it looks like you've broken away enough ice for him to speak through and move some! This is great! We can still do the performance together!" Terrence said as he grabbed the ice block and his guitar and zoomed downstairs.
"Wait a sec, Shaker!"
"Too late, Rufus. Looks like he's long gone. Well, I better be headin' down myself. Be ready with the projector for the Sun Bonnets' number and then lowerin' Teddi afterwards, okay?"
Rufus sighed for a moment. "All right."
Downstairs, Terrence had arrived behind the stage just as Liver Lips had finished, with just barely enough time to set the frozen Oswald down and get himself into position.
"All right, Ossy," Terrence said. "This is your big moment! Be ready to sing!"
The curtain opened, and Terrence began singing.
"I'll have a blue Christmas without you. I'm so blue, just thinkin' about you…" It was at that point that Terrence noticed that Oswald had missed his cue. He looked over at him and whispered, "Hey, help me out here!" Oswald then tried, but his muffled squawks could barely be heard through the ice block. Terrence then quickly continued on his own, "You'll be doin' alright, with your Christmas white! I can't hear ya!" He said as he whispered to Oswald again. "I'll have a blue, blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas…brrrrr!" Terrence looked over at Oswald. "I thought you wuz gonna sing!"
After the curtain closed, Terrence picked up the frozen penguin. "Oh Ossy, I'm so sorry about that! Looks like we need to thaw you out a lil' bit more!" As he made his way back to the stairs, he glanced back behind his shoulder for a moment. That girl in the back row looked awfully familiar. She looked like that one I thought I saw on the island the other night! Hmmm…
Well, that was a weird act the ol' snaggle-tooth had! I'm hoping he didn't see me or recognize me if he had spotted me the other night! If he did, then things will be even harder tonight, provided Teddi is present! I keep my view of the stage, listening to the audience chuckle at the slide show that plays as the three girls on stage sing "Sleigh Ride". After that the other bear that spotted me, the "Dude", appears. He and the Rugs sing a somewhat amusing song about getting snowed in. That last line about them eating Santa actually makes me crack a smile. Whoever wrote that is okay with me! Henry then comes out again, probably to introduce whoever's next. "Here is she, that charmin' Chanteuse of the Ski Slopes!' Swingin' Teddi Barra!"
She returned after all! I notice the cast on her leg, the result of my previous attempt. Her being cripled will probably make my troublesome job easier. I listen to her as she sings "The Christmas Song". I never knew she could sing so well! I almost get choked up as I hear the brief duet between her and Henry at the end. I sigh as she begins her ascent back up. Such a talented girl...it's a shame with what I'm going to have to do with her...
I then turn my attention over to the heads on the wall, who've begun a new spiel.
"I'm sure lookin' forward to th' New Year!" says the deer.
"Yup, ain't nothin' like a brand new year to lift your spirits!" says the buffalo.
Then I hear a guitar, which is playing "Auld Lang's Syne" in the background. It then strikes a wrong note.
"Of course I could be wrong…"
Then, I see a Trixie-sized male bear appear on stage…wearing nothing but a huge diaper and a party hat, singing pretty lousy. The whole audience just erupts with laughter at the sight. Ah, so I guess this must be that Big Al bear I've heard so much about, the supposed star of this show. I sort of see why people like this guy so much. I have to admit that I find the fat lug so darn funny!
After a brief number, he disappears and then Henry comes out with yet another talking taxidermied animal on his head, this time a raccoon. He encourages the audience to join in with him before the two begin singing "Let It Snow". The two eventually are joined in by the triplets who close the song for them. Then, the deer starts singing that Rudolph song the moose tried to sing before the show started. He doesn't get real far as the moose interrupts him, and soon ol' Snaggle-tooth comes out and begins another song, "Winter Wonderland." Soon, the rest of the bears join in, and eventually the song closes with that little Wendell guy shooting his gun off and busting the lights again, scaring everyone off stage. I can still hear that Al guy stupidly singing in the dark as Henry calls for that black bear to get the lights back on. A moment later they do, and Henry and his talking headgear speak once more.
"G'hawhawhaw! Well folks, I guess that about does it fer our show. Now bundle up, stay warm…"
"And come back and see us real soon!" The raccoon says.
"Happy holidays, y'all…"
The curtain then closes, and the usher tells everyone to grab their stuff and leave. Of course, I do plan on coming back really soon, though I wish it were on better terms. Well, I have a whole day to blow now. I guess I should enjoy this park while I can and then get to the island before dusk to hide. It's going to be a really long night…
As the day went on, the bears' crowds started to grow and grow. The lines were long, with people waiting to see the new show. The audience reactions varied, from the rate they clapped along in time with the music, from their laughter, from their applause, it was a different experience each show. By closing time, it felt just like the first day they had performed. As the day ended, Rufus was finally able to bust Oswald from his ice block. After the park had closed, they headed back towards the island. As they were on the raft, Oswald noticed the disappointed look on Terrence's face.
"Hey 'Shaker', what's wrong?"
Terrence sighed. "Oh, Ossy, I'm so sorry about today…"
"Sorry about what?"
"You getting frozen in that ice, that's what!"
"What's to be sorry about? I kinda liked it in there…"
"Yeah! It was all nice and cool in there. Hard to sing in it though…"
"So…you actually liked it?"
"Sure! It was better than staying in that bucket. Anyway can you freeze me up like that again?"
"I think I can. But you know Ossy, you know it'll be hard fer ya ta sing an' move…"
"Ah, we'll just make the ice block a little bit thinner next time! We'll keep tryin' to get it just right until the audience can hear me!"
"Hmmm…well Ossy, we'll see," said Terrence as they reached the island and stepped of the raft. "I'll try to manage it like that. Shouldn't take me long to figure out how to get it right. "Here, let's head to my cave and I'll start trying to…"
"'Shaker'! Look out around you!"
"What?" Terrence said as he jumped back. As he did, he saw a slim woman leaping out from the bushes near the dock, charging towards him. As she dashed by him, she slashed at him with her nails. He suddenly felt pain in his arm where she clawed him.
"OW! He lady, I don't know what's going on, but you ain't supposed to be here! The park's closed! I'll have to go get a…"
"'Shaker'!" Oswald said. "Look at your arm!"
Terrence looked down at where the lady had scratched at him, and was shocked when he saw that there were three cuts on his arm! He quickly clutched the wounds with his other hand.
"Hey, what in th'…! I don't know about you, ma'am, but y'all better get yerself a manicure 'fore ya go an' knick someone else, an'…"
Terrence then gasped as he took a better look at the woman. She had a human face, but her right hand, the one that she had scratched him with, was a bear's paw. A bear's paw with long claws.
"Hey, what th' heck! Are you really a bear under that getup?"
"Well, the cat's out of the bag. It's just as well. I don't need this disguise anymore anyway," said the woman. She then took of the glove on her left hand exposing her other paw, and then peeled her face off, revealing it as a latex mask and wig. Underneath it was the head of a bear. She gave a chilling stare at him with hazel eyes. She looks familiar. Could she be…? Suddenly, it hit Terrence.
"Hey, now I remember! Your that girl I that I saw fer a sec th' other night! That was th' same night Ernie thought he saw a slim she-bear sneakin' around th' Grizzly Hall den! That was also the night before Teddi had her accident! I'm startin' to get the feelin' that you might have had somethin' to do with it, didn't ya?"
The girl glanced at him. "Guilty as charged," she said to him. "Too bad for you that I no longer care about being caught or not!"
"Being caught…what does that mean? Does it have anythin' to with what you did to Teddi?"
"The Swinger…where is she anyway? At the theater still? If she is, you better tell me Snaggle-tooth, or otherwise I'll do something drastic! And you wouldn't want me to do that, now would you?" She said she flashed her claws off to him. Though I don't really want to do anything to any of them…She thought.
Terrence gulped. Boy, this girl means serious business! Now what? If I tell her that Teddi's still at the theater, she'll do who-knows-what to her! And if I don't, she'll do that to me! I'm a peaceable bear though; I don't want to harm anyone or anythin'…
"No way! Leave us alone!" Both Terrence and the woman were surprised when they saw Oswald rushing towards them. In one quick motion, the penguin leaped at the woman, and did a flying headbutt into her stomach. The woman stumbled back towards the railing at the edge of the island. She lost her balance, causing her to topple over it and into the water.
"Ha! Take that!" Oswald said as Terrence stared at him.
"That was good work Ossy, but next time let me know when you're gonna sneak attack someone like that!"
The woman quickly got her bearings and went to top for air, and then began to swim as fast as she could.
Oh, forget it! I shouldn't waste my time with them anyway! I've got more important matters to settle! I'll just to the theater and find out for myself!
"Look, 'Shaker'! She's still at it!"
"She's headed to the theater! Quick, we better warn the others! C'mon!"
"But, what about your arm?" Oswald asked as they ran.
"Oh, it's just some minor scratches. Nuthin' serious t' worry about. I'll just slap on some bandages when we get back and check with th' doc later fer safe keepin'!"
As soon as Terrence got to his cave, he immediately grabbed his phone and called Grizzly Hall.
"Henry? This here's Terrence! I've got somethin' important t' tell ya…"
I keep on swimming, not stopping an inch until I've gotten to the other side. Now that Snaggle-tooth has found me, I've got no other choice but to hurry. As soon as I make it to shore, I don't hesitate in rushing towards the theater and climbing up the posts in front. This time instead of breaking through the back, I pick up a good-sized rock off the ground and hurl it at one of the windows, shattering it. I reach through the broken window and unlock it. I quickly crawl through the open window, and find myself in what appears to be a large storage room; some of the items here appear to be old antiques and books that once belonged to Ursus H. Bear. I've got no time to look around, though. I bolt through the door, and find myself in the den again. I spot a rifle next to the door, the same one that little Wendell guy was carrying in the show. The same one that was responsible for Teddi ending up with a broken leg. The same one that was responsible for giving Snaggle-tooth his white coat. I pick it up and hear voices coming from Teddi's room.
"Hey Onionia, did you hear that shattering sound a moment ago?"
"Yes I did, Teddi. I was just about to go see what it was."
Ah, so she is here after all! I dive under the table again, and wait for the old Onion lady to leave. I don't want anyone to witness what I'm about to do. After she leaves, I take a deep breath, and walk over to her room. It's time to get this over with. I bust in through the door, catching her by surprise. She's lying on the bed, and with her broken leg, she's totally helpless. She gasps. "What in th'…!" She then screams for a moment. "Who are you?"
"I'm afraid I'm the last person you'll ever see, Miss Teddi Barra," I say, pointing the rifle at her, trying not to let my emotions choke me up from doing this. Suddenly, I hear someone's footsteps rapidly approaching the room.
"Teddi! I just got a call from Terrence! He says that there's this crazy gal comin' after ya, and…oh, no!" I hear Henry say as he dashes in and see what I'm doing. Hmmm…with him here, I can kill two birds with one stone!
"You!" I yell at him, motioning him with the rifle. "Get over there with her!"
Teddi looks over at Henry, with a scared look in her eyes. Henry however, just looks at me and shrugs. He looks calm despite having a gun pointed at him.
"Well, if it's th' way it has t' be…" He says as he walks over to her.
"Henry! What are you doin'?" The Swinger asks as he takes a seat beside her.
"I'm sorry I have to do this to you two," I say. "But you two have caused havoc amongst my family! Or should I say your ancestors."
Well, while part of this is true, these aren't my own words. It's what he wanted me to say to them when he forced me to do this for him.
"Believe me, I don't really want to do this, but I've got no other choice," I say as I begin to choke up. "I just wish there was another way…goodbye."
With that, I close my eyes and fire.
I hear Teddi scream at the exact same time. I wonder if I should open my eyes or not and look at them…
Suddenly I hear a chuckle, coming from Henry. I open my eyes and discover that the two are still alive and unharmed! Teddi looks down and gasps. "What? Oh my gosh…we're still alive! But how?"
"That…that's just what I like to know!" I stutter with a puzzled look.
Henry chuckles some more. "Silly girl…what do ya think y'all are doin', tryin' t' shoot us with blanks?"
"Yup, what y'all are holdin' is nothin' but a prop gun Wendell used in his act today! You see, Terrence called me several minutes ago. I knew you were comin', so I planted that gun in the den. I knew you would try to use it!"
I stand there, stunned. I should have known all along that the gun wasn't real…
"A prop! Grrr…why you…"
I charge at Teddi, raising the gun as a club. After I've been through trying to carry out this job, I don't want to fail! Well, part of me does, anyway. Before I can strike her, though, someone grabs the gun from behind me, and swipes it out of my paws. I look over and see that Big Al guy standing behind me holding the gun, with Rufus standing at the door shaking his head and finger in a "Uhh, uh, uh," way. Al hands the gun off to him. I growl out of frustration and anger. "Well, I don't need the gun! I still can do the job with these..." I say as I bear my claws. Before I can react, Al reaches over and grabs me in his arms, pinning me against his chest. I struggle, but his strength is too great.
"Good job, Albert! Rufus, you go downstairs and watch for the po-lice, and direct 'em up here, OK?"" Henry says. "Gotcha, Henry," Rufus says as he walks away with the gun. But one thing doesn't make sense...
"But if the gun is fake, how did the lights break in the show today?"I ask aloud.
"All that stuff with the lights goin' out was all part of a planned act, with Rufus turnin' them off and playin' sound effects," said Henry. "You really don't think I'd let him bring his real gun anymore after what happened t'e other day, did you? Though of course now I know it wasn't really his fault," He says as he eyes me with an angry stare. "So Terrence was right then! It wuz you all along who was behind Teddi's accident!"
Teddi then looks at me and gasps, then looks at me with the same angry look. "I get it now! When Wendell went to clean his gun, you must've reloaded it! Why, you no good…you ought to be ashamed! Just what did you think you were doing? What led you to it?"
Oh, no, they have me! As they remind me off all the evil things I have done, in their angry tones, I begin to feel guilty. I start to break out in crying. Henry glances at me with a stern look, with his arms crossed.
"Feelin' guilty now, are ya? Admit it, gal! I don't know who y'all are, but you must have been crazy tryin' to pull off a scam like that here! I'll have y'all know, I had Rufus dial the po-lice earlier, and they should be here any sec now. I wonder how many accounts of attempted murder we should charge against you?"
I then glance at Teddi. She's been eying me for a while. She then has a sudden look on her face, as if she had just realized something…
"Forget attempted murder, "she says, "I wonder how many accounts of successful murder we should charge?"
Henry looks over at her. "What do y'all mean by that, Teddi?"
"Henry, think about this. All this time she was tryin' to get rid of me…a Big Time Swinger. Rufus told me the other night he found the bolts to my swing loose, the night before I broke my leg!"
"That was th' same night Ernest said he saw a slim she-bear in the den!" Henry said as he takes a look at me. "That pretty much matches y'all's description, don't it gal?"
I gulp as I start to sweat. Now they're really on to me! I just hope they're not thinking what I think they're thinking…
"Y'all were gonna try to rub Teddi out by makin' her swing unhook, weren't ya? Now, that sounds a lot like somethin' that happened t'many of th' other Swingers…"
Oh dang, they are thinking that! Teddi looks at me with another angry stare. "All those poor ladies," she says. "Many ended up like me, or paralyzed for life, or worse! Now I know why we lost so many, why the number of us dwindled down over the years, and how I lost Georgette…"
I look into her eyes, which are filled with rage…
"It was you all along! Why, if I could get up, I'd…"
"No! Please! I'm…I'm sorry for your suffering! But, I never did those things…"
I say as I start to tear up. "Please believe me…"
"Why should we?" Teddi yells at me. I look as Henry stares at me for a moment, stroking his chin.
"Hold on, Teddi, she may have a point," He says. "I mean, she doesn't look a day over eighteen! All those incidents with the Swingers happened many years ago! She would have been too young for that…"
I sigh for a moment. Henry's taken the hint, but Teddi doesn't appear to. "So? How do we don't know she's covering her age up? She could be usin' makeup to make herself look younger you know!"
"I don't know, Teddi, we'll see. When the cops come get her, we'll get everythin' out of her!"
At this point all I can do is cry. Sure, I that I've made Teddi suffer, but would they really understand the suffering that I've been through? The whole reason I'm doing this is foolish anyway, it's because he forced me into this! That does it; I'm just going to turn myself in and do what I should have done from the start…
I sigh. "You're right, Henry H. Bear. I will explain everything, but it's a rather lengthy story…"
Suddenly, Rufus and several park security guards rush up the stairs. "She's over in there," Rufus says, pointing towards me.
"So, she's the one then?" One of the guards asks. I take it he's the head one. "All right, lady, you're under arrest for the following charges: trespassing in the park after hours on two occasions, attempted murder, and judging from the broken window outside, breaking and entering."
"She broke a window? Oh thanks a lot lady, now that's another late night job I'm gonna have to do! Grrrr…" Rufus says as he storms off towards the storage room.
"Okay Al, you can let her go now," says Henry. Al does as he's told and I collapse on the floor after he releases me. The guards then all haul me up and restrain me as they handcuff me.
"You have the right to remain silent…" One of them says.
"I know my rights," I say. "But before I shut up, I need to tell you one thing. Go to the Contemporary. Room 23, third floor. There you'll find the real madman behind this. He forced me to do this! I swear…"
"Who might that be?"
"My…my grandfather…" I say sadly. I turn over to Teddi and say, "Miss Barra, I hate to say this, but he's the one who got rid of your friend…"
Teddi looks at me again, startled. I wonder, though, if she believes me…
"We'll search there, then," says the security chief. "Thomas, you and Paul go over there and check that out."
"Okay, chief!" The guy he was talking to says.
"He may be under disguise like I did, so check him as soon as you get there…" I say to them.
"We will then. Okay boys, take her away," The chief says as we leave the Hall.
"Wait, one more thing," I say. "Henry, if they'll let us, I need you to come over to whatever jail I'm going to tomorrow night. There I'll tell you the whole story behind me. It kind of ties in to your past so you might find it interesting…"
"I see. Is it all right if we do that, sir?" Henry asks the chief.
"I'll see if they can let you come in on her interrogation, Mr. Bear," the chief answers. We then leave the Hall, and I'm taken towards the backstage entrance behind the Thunder Mountain ride to a police car. I look up into the night sky, and give a brief smile. Hopefully, if they catch my grandfather, maybe it will finally put an end to our families' cycle of hatred…
"Henry," Teddi said. "Do you actually believe that woman?"
"I don't know, Teddi. But, I pity her if her granddad really did misguide her into doing it. I'll have to hear her story and see," Henry replied.
"Well no matter what she says, I'm coming with you. If that story has anything to do with Georgette and the Swingers, I want to hear it," Teddi said. "I assume we'll leave after the park closes tomorrow?"
"Yep. I need t'go look fer somethin' in th' storage room, Teddi. I assume y'all are goin' t'bed now?"
"I'll try, but after all that trauma I just faced, it won't be easy."
"Well, try to get yer excitement down. We've got a lot to do tomorrow. Good night, Teddi."
"All right, Henry," Teddi said as Henry left her room.
Henry then entered the storage room, where he saw Rufus replacing the window the she-bear had broken, grumbling to himself. "Somethin' wrong, Rufus?"
"Yeah, I was hopin' I could get a good night's rest tonight. I've had to stay up doin' small jobs for th' past few nights, an' I've hardly gotten any sleep. This won't take me long though."
"Keep at it then, Rufus. After you're through, take a long break. You deserve it."
"Thanks, Henry. What are ya doin' here now, anyways?"
"Just popped in t'get somethin' from in here. Now where did I see it last?" Henry said as he searched through a few drawers in an old cabinet. "Ah, here they are!" He said as he pulled out several old documents. "That girl mentioned something about my past, and I think I've got an idea about what she's talkin' about."
"Really? About what?"
"One of the most mysterious cases of my great-grandfather Ursus' life, Rufus. And if I'm correct, I just might be able to get th' answers t'both it, and what happened to th' Big Time Swingers."
Chapter 5: Epilogue: The Revelation
EPILOGUE: THE REVELATION
EPILOGUE: THE REVELATION
"Miss Jone? They've arrived," The guard said to the female bear.
"Finally," She said as she slumped in her chair in the interrogation room. It was a relief to get out of her cell, she had been getting really bored being cooped in it all day. Henry entered, carting Teddi in on her wheelchair. She still didn't trust her attacker. "It was nice for you two to take up my invite."
"I've actually been lookin' forward to this, Miss…um, we never did get yer name, did we?" Henry asked.
"Sorry. My name, Mr. H. Bear, is Delilah Jone," The slim she-bear answered.
"All right Delilah. By the way, y'all can just call me Henry," He said.
"Got it. So, where should we start at?"
"Well first off, I heard about what happened to yer grandfather last night when those guys tried to turn him in last night," Henry said. "I heard it took them a long while, but they captured him. However, they say he was more dangerous than y'all tried to be, in fact they had ta' shoot a tranquilizer to stop him! They stuck him in a more secure place, one that's more safeguarded than this one. So anyways Delilah, how did he, ya know, get ya in t' doin' this?"
"Well Henry, as I said last night it's a long story…"
"Well, we've got plenty of time t' hear it! Go ahead!"
"Well then, I'll start by saying that my grandfather as put me through hard labor and training for the past several years of my life. His goal was for me to take you out, Miss Barra."
"But why did have to do that to you?" Teddi asked. "If he indeed got rid of Georgette, then why didn't he ever try to go after me himself?"
"I'll get to that shortly," Delilah said, "But first it's best that I explain why he wanted to get rid of the Swingers in the first place. He told me it was because of something that your great-grandfather, Henry."
"And what would that be? Continue on," Henry said.
"He told me that his great-grandmother, Ursa, was the fiancée to Ursus H. Bear. However, he told me that Ursus suddenly started being mean to her, and had some other bears working for him send her far away so he could start an affair with another girl named Helene! Now Henry, don't you think that was a bit rash?"
Henry, who looked a bit disturbed when Delilah spoke of his grandfather like that, simply shook his head and said, "I'll keep my comments on that to muhself until after y'all are finished with yer story."
Delilah sighed and said, "Very well. After that, my stepfather told me that Ursa tried to get back at your grandfather. After he had constructed that theater of yours, she tried to get rid of Helene and destroy Grizzly Hall, but of course we all know she had no luck in that. She was exiled yet again, and she promised that someday, her descendants would get revenge on the children and followers of both Ursus and Helene! Well, all of Ursa's children led unhappy lives, and they blamed it all on Ursus. Following Ursa's wishes, they decided to get rid of anything that was part of Ursus and Helene's heritage, their children, the Big Time Swingers which Helene founded, Grizzly Hall and all who worked there. Fortunately, there were no successful attempts against Grizzly Hall, especially after Ursus' grandson George Henry Bear passed on due to natural causes…"
"He was my father, ya know," Henry said.
"I had the feeling he was," Delilah said. "Well, they just gave up trying to destroy Grizzly Hall since it was abandoned after his death, figuring the wooden structure would eventually rot and collapse since it was out in the middle of the swampland back then."
"Yeah, it was in purty bad shape when Wendell and I came back to it when I decided to take it over! Fixin' it up was real difficult at first, but when them Disney folks bought the land to build their park they helped with the reconstruction things went quite smoothly!" Henry said.
"Yes," Delilah said, "Grizzly Hall got off easy, but sadly the Swingers had no luck…"
"I get it now!" Teddi said. "You and your grandfather are descendants of Ursa! He must have somehow managed to sneak in during the Swingers' performances, and unhooked their swings! We realized that it might have been someone linked to Ursa all along, but no matter how secure the theaters were, they would sneak in and loosen the swings! They must have been trained to be stealthy, like you were! And here along I thought it was just a stupid myth!"
"Yes, sad to say. Thankfully the majority of the Swingers ended up with broken limbs, which scared a lot of the others and forced them to retire…"
"I know about that!" said Teddi. "But you still haven't said anything about Georgette…"
"All right, I'll get to that. He and my father were planning to get rid of the two of you during that show you did together. However, they had finished loosening only one swing, and then heard someone coming near the area. They quickly retreated and didn't have another chance to get back up there. Apparently, no one double-checked it before showtime, and I assure you know what happened."
Teddi shivered in fear as Delilah spoke this. She hated being reminded of it. "Well, as they were escaping my father slipped as they were trying to climb down from the roof of the building, and fell to his doom. My grandfather manged to retrieve his body before they were caught, and ended up burying him himself. He then came and took me away to his house hidden away in the mountains, where we stayed for several years. He figured that getting rid of one of you would probably drive the other one into retirement and thus would spell the end for the Big Time Swingers, so he decided to leave the survivor alone."
"And I would have resigned too, if Henry hadn't requested for me to be in his show!" Teddi said as Henry nodded.
"I know. Unfortunately, my grandfather got really angry once he found out you hadn't retired, and he got even angrier when he found that Grizzly Hall had reopened! He wanted to take out everything, the theater, you two, and all your friends. However, he also found out that you were now part of the Disney World complex, and he knew that it would be more difficult to pull off with all the added security. So he decided to leave the building alone and focus on getting rid of the two of you, the Last Swinger and the grandson of Ursus. However, he discovered he was becoming a bit crippled in his old age, and couldn't be as quick and cunning as he was in the past. Heck, he nearly killed himself when he was fleeing from the LaBruin incident, so he knew he couldn't do this on his own. He decided train me to be vicious and to help him carry out his plot, just as he did my father."
"So he dragged y'all into this!" Teddi said. "You poor thing, it must've been terrible being raised by…by that monster!"
"It was! He was really hard on me as he forced me to train through blood, sweat and tears! He was hoping that he would have convinced me to be as ruthless and vicious as he was. What he didn't know, is that I had developed a sense of justice, and I knew in my heart that what I was being taught to do wasn't right!"
"But if you did know it was wrong, why did you stay with him?" Henry asked.
"I tried running away from him once, but he found me, and severely punished me. Punishment isn't the correct word though, he tortured me until he felt like I had learned my lesson. I was really scared after that, and I never questioned him again, fearing he would do even worse things to me…"
Teddi gasped in horror, while Henry was stunned. "I…I can't believe that! I just can't believe that! It's bad enough with what he did what he did to the Swingers…but, treatin' y'all like that when you were young Delilah, it just ain't acceptable! No one should ever treat their kids like that, no matter what th' purpose is! And from judgin' y'all's slim appearance, Delilah, I say he didn't feed y'all that much either…"
"I'm afraid you have that right, Henry. When my father came up with the plan to sneak into the Disney area without too much trouble, he decided that the easiest way was to disguise me as a human tourist. That way, I'd have easy access to get to Grizzly Hall. However, my bear figure would give it away in an instant, so he needed to find ways to camouflage me. He started to cut back on my meals a lot so I would lose weight, so my slim figure would look more like that of a human's than that of a bear's. He also came up with the other factors that would make it work, and you've already seen them all; the latex human mask, the gloves, the blond wig, everything that would make the disguise look reasonable. I have to say that he did succeed at it, though, because I was in public for a long while in that disguise and no could tell I wasn't really human. It worked so well I was able to land myself a small job…"
"Which is where y'all got the money to pay fer th' trip!" Henry said. "Well, at least ya got it honestly. I would have thought yer stepdad would have had ya rob a bank or somethin'…"
"Unfortunately Henry, he ended up making me rob one when he decided I wasn't going to make the amount of money we needed fast enough. Besides, we wanted me to have a field test of my skills anyway before heading over here. I guess that's another offense I'll be charged with. Anyway, we used the money to book a long stay at the Contemporary, and I assume you know the rest…"
"So that's y'all's story huh? Well Delilah, I fell really sorry fer y'all bein' forced through all that! I have to say though, yer stepfather did lie to ya a bit on my grandfather's history though," Henry said as he walked up to Delilah and handed her several sheets of paper. They were dusty, worn, and looked like they were decades old.
"These old papers I hold in my paw happen to be a couple of pages from my great-grandfather's journals. I'm read them over many times, and I know them by heart. Accordin' to them, Ursa was a wicked lady who caused a lot of trouble for Ursus. It all started 'round May 1896. Ya see, after a long negotiation, he finally managed to get an agreement from a small town in Louisiana for him and all th' bears who followed him to create their own entertainment establishments. It was there where Ursus wanted to build Grizzly Hall, a saloon, a store, and a shootin' arcade, all to be run by him and his friends. It was his dream for bears and humans to work and interact with each other in a social society."
"Yeah, every bear knows all about how he accidentally ran into a theater and saw humans performing when he was a wild cub, had a dream about bears doing the same thing one hibernation, which inspired him to start actin' human. Yeah I know all that! But, what did Ursa really do to get him relied enough to send her away?" Delilah asked.
"Well ya see, Delilah, as I said before, Ursa was really wicked at heart, abusing her human abilities. The things she did were really horrible, so bad I don't want to talk about 'em. You can read about them right here, Delilah if you wish, but I must tell ya, it ain't real pretty!" Henry said as he handed her the page.
"All right. Where do I read at?" She asked.
"Right here," Henry said as he put a finger over the text.
Delilah then read over the page before gasping. "Oh, my goodness, Henry, you were right when you said she was wicked! I can't believe that she would lure the human children alone in the woods with her, go wild, hunt them down, and then…"
"Please, don't mention it," Henry interrupted. "Like I said I don't want to be reminded of all that stuff she did. And ya know what makes me angry about it? Ursus believed she actually enjoyed doing all those terrible things, that they gave her pleasure! That is just plain sickenin'!"
"Yeah, I think I am gonna be sick after readin' that! So what happened when they found out about it?"
"She blamed Ursus on it, that's what! Said that th' whole idea was his! Well, y'all can imagine what happened, the agreements Ursus made with the townspeople were off, and Ursus and all the bears with him found themselves chased out of the town! Which makes me really angry, Delilah, because it was Ursus' dream that all bears would use their new found intelligence wisely, and would use it to live in peace with the humans. Well, thanks to Ursa's actions, Ursus' dream was shattered, and it would be years until humans and bears lived in peace. I guess he must have known that, though, for after he had Ursa sent away he went ahead and built Grizzly Hall anyway two years later in the Florida swampland. He also managed to get the saloon in as well, right next door to the theater. It wuz durin' the construction is when he met up with Helene, one of the bears in Florida who wuz interested in Ursus' ideals. She too wanted to be a great actress for humans and bears alike. They got along together real well, and it wasn't before long that th' two started to become an item, and they were married a few days just before Grizzly Hall's openin'. I'm sure y'all know what happened after that…"
"Yeah," Deliah said. "Helene would go on and found the Swingers, which would later become a famous nationwide group of bear performers. Oh Henry, I'm so sorry about what happened to your grandfather. If I had known that Ursa was like that, I would have ran away from Grandfather and would have gotten help from the authorities! The main reason why I didn't was because I was angered by losing my father, and because I was taken away from my friends when my grandfather took me into isolation with him! I wanted to take my anger out on someone, and due to the lies my granddad told me I wanted to take it out on you! . But, after hearing the truth from you, I blame both him and Ursa for all of this!" Delilah started to sob. "Oh, if only I hadn't been so stupid…I wish I could just go back and fix everything. Oh, if only Ursa didn't go and mess everything up, Ursus' community would have worked out, there would have been no quarrel between the bears and humans, and I would have never ended up in this mess. Even though the Swingers would never have been founded if Ursus hadn't gone to Florida and met Helene…"
"I'm sure they probably would have anyway, though," Henry said. "But don't feel sorry, lil' lady. It may have taken a while, but Ursus' dreams eventually did come true. I mean, th' quarrel between the humans had eventually died down, shortly before Ursus passed away. And we've been entertain' thousands of humans every single day, just like Ursus had dreamed!"
"Yeah, but what about that complex Ursus wanted? That never got made," Delilah said.
"Funny y'all should say that. Shortly after our big success back in '71, the Disney folks wanted us to perform over in that Disneyland Park over in California. They even planned to dedicate a small area of the park to us! Well, bein' that th' opportunity wuz there, I helped them Disney folks design the area, includin' the areas Ursus wanted, a saloon separate from the theater, a tradin' post, an arcade, and a restaurant. Although they wouldn't exactly be completely operated by bears, I made sure that they would be at least maintained by one, and so I hired Rufus fer that. But th' point of th' matter is, Delilah, almost everythin's worked out fine, and I think I might be able to work everythin' out fer you as well."
"Judgin' from yer past few words, I take it that y'all are sorry fer y'all's actions. I'm puttin' muh trust in y'all, and even though y'all will have to do some time in jail no matter what happens, I just might be able to help y'all get a better life."
"But how? After all those things I did, I'll be in for a rather long time in there, won't I?"
"I'll try to pull a few strings, and help y'all in yer trial. Hopefully I can get 'em to shorten yer sentence. I'll also be in the trial fer that evil granddad a'yers. I'll make sure they'll give that creep what he deserves! You won't have anythang to worry about after that. Although, y'all are too young to go out on yer own. So, once y'all have done all yer time, I'll be yer guardian fer a while. I'll give y'all a temporary job, as an assistant to Rufus, doin' some small work around the Hall. We'll need a little help after Rufus heads back to California when the Christmas season is over. Then in a year or so, I'll set y'all up at a nice lil' place of your choice in the country. There, y'all can settle in, and enjoy a peaceful life. Who knows, ya just might find everythin' you've been wantin' in yer life, maybe even a lover. It still ain't too late to find someone that's right fer you, Delilah. You'll have yer full life ahead of you!"
"You're doing that all for me? Why, why thank you, Henry! You don't how much it means to me…" She then sobbed with joy as she wrapped her arms around him.
"I understand very much," said Henry.
"Excuse me, Mr. H. Bear," The officer in the room said, "I'm afraid your time is up. I think we have enough info from her."
"No, wait, Henry, can't you stay here any longer?" Delilah asked.
"I'm sorry, Delilah," Henry said. "I know y'all are afraid of being here alone, and I wish we could keep ya company, but it's all outta my paws. Look, I'll be at y'all and yer stepdad's trials. Don't worry, though, everythin' will work out in the end."
"Your right, Henry," Delilah said. "Even if I have to stay in prison for a while, it'll be well worth the wait. And Henry, I've said this before, but…"
"What is it?"
Henry smiled and nodded back as he pushed Teddi out of the room and Delilah was returned to her cell, wondering what she would do when she was finally out and free…
Several weeks had gone by. The number of full houses the Country Bears had each day had skyrocketed as the weeks until Christmas dwindled down. Both the trials of Delilah and her grandfather had come and gone. With Henry's aid, both trials seemed to go in their favor. Henry went true to his words, and managed to get Delilah's sentence shortened down to a few months. As Delilah had said earlier, she wouldn't mind the few months she would have to spend in jail, and thanked Henry for getting her through everything easier. The same couldn't have been said for her grandfather, however. Something about a cold day in a warm place suggested as to how long his sentence would be. Delilah was really grateful to hear this, knowing he would never harm anyone again. The one thing she had to regret though was not being able to spend Christmas with the bears, though Henry promised her she would be able to the next year, not wanting to make her feel bad about it. For that reason, he didn't tell her about the plans the bears were making for Christmas Day.
First off, the bears of course would take part of the day off of performing, so they could have time to relax, and be with their families and each other that morning. Besides, Henry had figured that the park would have little crowds that day anyway. After all, who would want to spend their Christmas morning in a theme park? It was Henry's opinion that everyone should spend the day with their family and friends. Late in the morning, the bears gathered at Grizzly Hall, to have a huge brunch. Afterward, the Performers and their families got together to sing carols. Not just the medley the bears performed in the shows, but many other classic holiday songs and hymns.
It was a time of great joy for them all, something that would become an annual event each Christmas day. Even Gomer joined in the singing. Even though he wasn't much of singer like the other bears, it didn't matter since they weren't concentrating on vocal talent, it being just a group sing-a-long. All that mattered was the joy and company. After that was done, Henry and Teddi left for a while to visit Delilah. Henry just wouldn't let her spent the entire day alone, and Delilah was really delighted for their company. It was just the thing she needed. When visiting hours had ended, Henry and Teddi returned to Grizzly Hall just in time for the bears' Christmas dinner. After the bears' stomachs were full (especially after eating a few pumpkin pies), they spent the rest of the evening performing for several crowds. The park was open really late into the night before it would close, so the bears did quite a few shows before they were able to stop. It didn't bother them none, though, for the huge crowds they had made it all worthwhile…
After the park had closed, and the bears finally managed to settle down, all of them finally ready to call it a night and have a good night's rest. All of them except Henry and Teddi that is, who went out to have a small moonlight stroll along the Rivers of America. They walked a slow, easy pace obviously; since Teddi was in a walking cast they kind of had no choice. The slow pace was fine with them though. The two walked down a wooden walkway over the river, and stopped in the middle of it to gaze out into the moonlight sky.
"Such a beautiful night, isn't it?" Teddi said in a small tone. Henry glanced at her for a moment and smiled.
"Not as beauty-ful as you," He said with a wink as she blushed. "Well, Teddi, it's been a big day…did y'all get everythin' ya wanted fer Christmas?"
"Even more than I wanted," She said as she kissed him on the cheek. As Henry chuckled, an all-too familiar half-awake female bear was watching it all from one of the front windows of Grizzly Hall. Trixie felt like throwing down her binoculars in anger, but she didn't want to wake the others, so she then quietly stormed out of the room, one thing on her mind. She didn't know when, she didn't know how, but someday she was going to tear that Swinger away from Henry, and one day he would be hers. Just someday…
As Henry and Teddi stood close together side by side next to the river, she looked down at her locket, and then gazed up into the sky. She wondered, did all of these events happen because of that wish she had made that night a few weeks ago? Or was it all just plain coincidence? A lot of changes did occur to her right after that. However, she knew that most of the new things that had happened would soon go back to the way they were. She knew that in a few days the Christmas Special would end and the bears would go back to performing the old Country Bear Jamboree show just like always, and they would go back to doing the same old songs they had done for fourteen years. Terrence would start dying his fur back to its original color, and her leg would eventually heal up and she would go back living at her house in EPCOT, eating at the same old places that she always had. All and all, things would be just the same, as they always were(until winter of course). But, for the first time, Teddi wasn't bothered by the same old routines. There would be something new among it all, Henry's love. Sure, she knew that by staying at Grizzly Hall, she pretty much forfeited the chance of becoming a drama actress. But with Henry's love making it all worthwhile, it didn't matter to her. All she wanted now was to stay and perform there, to be with him. It was that, she realized, the whole reason she had made the wish in the first place. Something that would make her life worthwhile. And now she had it.
As she continued to look the night sky, she rested her head on Henry's shoulder, with a hint of satisfaction in her smile. Her wish really had come true after all. Henry then glanced at her. He judged that Teddi must have been getting tired about now. Come to think of it, so was he. He felt like saying something to her along the lines of, "Are y'all tired? We better get a move on or we'll be out here watchin' the sunrise!" But he looked at her with her head placed on her shoulder, all peaceful and calm. He knew she was enjoying it, and decided not to break the mood. The two stood there for a while longer, watching the star-lit sky in the silent twilight…