Chapter 5: Celebration
All I can hear is continuous chatter. The San Howel South High School is filled to the brim with animals, gathering for the grand graduation. I get asked for autographs occasionally and others are looking at me, knowing me as Rosita Vendera, the Broadway Pig.
And the pig that lost her husband to that very reason. After Norman left, I cleared the Broadway stage, left Rosita Smith behind and became Buster's assistant.
Gunter shouldn't have followed me. He was loved just as much as I was. He could have made a great solo career. But, he left the scene with me, helping me through the divorce, helping me with the kids and just generally being there. Gunter has always had my back. He always will.
Ash snorts two seats down from me.
I look up from trying to work this video camera. Ash has her phone glued to her ear so she must be calling Mathias. "What?" I ask.
She nods down the row. "Look who's in the third row." I look and gasp. Through the many animals, I see Norman, on his phone, while his new wife talks his ear off. "It's Mr. I-don't-have-to-pay-childcare- because-I'm-not-rich-like-you. What a joke. Hi, honey! Yes, I'm at graduation…"
Ash goes into conversation with her husband while I stare at Norman and sigh. I still don't understand. I got a job, a great one at that. What did I do wrong? I could've sworn I did everything right…
"Don't pay attention to him, Rosita," Buster says, sending his long text message off to Moon Records," He's not worth it."
"Yeah," Gunter says as he squeezes he way between two seats and plops down on my other side," He doesn't know what he's mizzing. Rosita Vendera is on top! And where is he? On bottom."
I force a laugh," Thanks, Gunter. Really. Thank you."
I set my hoof on his arm. Gunter beams and settles into his seat, a big grin on his face.
The band starts playing and we all stand. There are two hundred and seventy-five kids graduating today, including all twenty-five of mine.
This is going to take a while.
The crowd is getting tired of clapping. We've been here for a pure hour just listing off names. The other hour was for the long speaker.
Mr. Moon looks almost dead next to me. "I don't remember my graduation being this long."
"That's because our class was smaller and our speaker never showed up," Eddie whispers behind me.
Principal Hawk of San Howl High School is getting irritated. His voice is scratchy as he calls out," Adam Smith."
I howl and stand to start recording my children's walk on stage.
The group around me stands to cheer. "Jerith!" Ash screams, reaching over Johnny to poke the sleeping turtle, standing up as she does so.
"Jerith, wake up!"
Johnny jerks out of his sleepy daze when he realizes what's happening and Jerith jerks to his feet, yelling and clapping, "Go, Tigers! Wait…what am I cheering for?"
Ash slaps her forehead," Oh, Jeri."
"CONGRATS, SMITH KIDS!"
The whole room twists to the back of the gym. I smile. Norman would never be able to beat this.
"YES!" Casper howls from the stage.
The gym gasps. It's not every day nine superstars and a famous producer walk into your kid's graduation ceremony.
Jerith cheers at seeing Leonardo while the crowd takes a million pictures of Phantom and the Ninjas, Mike Liddel, and Kitster Shultz, air horns going off everywhere.
"HEY," Raphael shouts," Sit down! This is a graduation. Not a red carpet. Continue."
Principal Hawk stares for a moment, then turns back to the kids," Um…right…um…Brenda Smith…"
After the last pair of students exit the gym, Moon Theatre, Eddie and Fearless march to our friends. Moon grabs Shultz paw and shakes it," I thought you guys weren't coming in until tomorrow."
Jerith slaps his hand into Leo's, then hugs him while Leonardo says," Well, we knew it was graduation, so we decided to drop in early."
"Wow," Ash mutters, poking Mike's gut," getting tall really made you chubby."
Mike swats her hand. Once Mike had enough 'dough' he made himself and Rachel tall, like other rodents in Higher Up. Ten years later, he's as chubby as a chipmunk.
"Where's Rachel?" Meena asks. I notice we've split into different sections by now. I'm here with Meena, Ash and Mike. The turtles, Jerith, Karai, Usagii and Johnny are hanging about, and Gunter, Buster, Eddie and Shultz are by the door, talking. Amazing how fast we separate.
Mike shrugs," At home with the quadruplets. They are one heck of a handful."
"Do you got anyone helping her?" I ask.
"Well, yeah. I'm not that dumb as to leave my wife alone with four babies."
I turn. The turtles are laughing and Johnny's smiling. Jerith points to Leo and says," Do you believe this guy could drive a motorcycle."
I shrug," I don't know. Why?"
Leo smiles," I'm learning to ride Raph's bike."
Raph snorts," More like crash it."
"Please. I'm getting it. And soon, I'll be a great motorcyclist. I'll drive that bike and it'll be the best day of my life."
Jerith snorts, "Watch, you'll end up breaking your own neck."
Mike speaks up," Say, Leonardo, I watched the new Phantom of Zootopia the other day. Why didn't they cast you to be Phantom?"
Leo shrugs," I was already cast for Difurgent and they needed a deeper voice. Besides, I think Raph represents us perfectly."
The younger turtle snorts," Bull crap."
That's when Moon intervenes with everything. "Guys, Hello. We have a graduation party to attend. And we have the whole summer to spend together. So let's go get the Smith kids and head for Moon Theatre."
"Aye, aye, Mr. Moon," We all say and laugh.
"Alright, then let the summer of Moon Theatre begin!"
We cheer and head for the door. My thoughts or Norman and any doubt I've had today completely dissipates.
"Celebrate good times, come on!" Johnny sings out happily.
We laugh, then Eddie says," It's time to celebrate."
I sigh happily. This is going to be a long summer.
"Everybody now," Shultz shouts out.
We laugh, then all of us sing out," CELEBRATE GOOD TIME, COME ON!"
Celebration by Kool and the Gang