Author's note: Ok gang, Maggie's back again. You know the drill, if you haven't read 'Magic,' 'The Magic Returns,' and 'Magic's Promise,' please go do so now. I'll wait.Disclaimer: Hellboy and Company are owned by someone else, not me. 'My Heart Will Go On' is the love theme from the movie 'Titanic' and is also owned by someone else, not me. 'The First of Octember' was written by Dr. Suess, and since I'm not related to the late doctor, someone else owns it, not me.
"Here you go," she says, returning to the table with a three ring binder.
"What's this?" I ask, knowing I don't really want the answer.
"It's the song list," she answers.
"No," I tell her. "Absolutely not."
"Come on," she pleads. "It's my birthday. You've got to."
"I don't care if it's Groundhog's Day," I respond. "I'm not doing it."
"It'll be fun," she says.
"Sharon, what in the world makes you think getting up in front of a bunch of strangers and singing some cheesy song is going to be fun?" I ask her. "Besides, you know I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket."
"Please," she whines. "Pretty please, with sugar on top."
"You want some cheese to go with that whine?" I retort.
"I'll tell Grandmother that you haven't invited me to the wedding," she threatens.
"I'll tell Grandmother that you dragged me to a karaoke bar," I counter. Considering Grandmother thinks that karaoke will be mankind's undoing, mine's the better threat.
"When do I get to meet Abe?" she asks.
She's been doing this all evening. At random times, throughout the evening, she's been asking about Abe. I guess she's hoping I'll just cave in and take her to meet him. Somehow, I don't think even Grandmother could get this past Manning.
After our little confrontation last month, he's been trying to regain control over Abe. He even went so far as to deny me access to the bureau. Abe refused to eat or talk to any one for three days after that. Luckily, Manning rescinded his order after Hellboy threw a few well placed punches. I understand they're still remolding Manning's office.
Guillermo got most of the flack for Abe getting out last time. Manning even tried to have him deported. Funny thing is Guillermo has duel citizenship, so that plan blew up in Manning's face.
"The First of Octember," I tell her. My mother used to love to read me that book when ever I wanted everything I saw on TV. Dr. Suess was a genius.
Sharon scowls at me and grabs the binder and opens it. She flips through several pages before she finds the artist she's looking for. I sip my drink and watch her.
Sharon has an incredible voice, and I can see why she likes to occasionally strut her stuff, but me? I'd clear the room before the end of the first line. And quite frankly, I'm not really big on being in front of a crowd. I barely passed my speech classes in college as it was. Those were required. Making a fool of myself in front of a bunch of half drunken strangers isn't.
"What about this one?" she asks as she points to a song title.
"'My Heart Will Go On,'" I read. "Pretty song. Have fun."
"I meant for you to sing," she says in exasperation.
"I'm not drunk enough," I reply. "And by the time I am drunk enough, not only will I not be able to stand, I won't be able to see the words on the screen."
She glares at me for a minute and then sighs. Most people would take this as a sign of defeat, but I know my cousin too well. She's only getting started.
"Why haven't I been invited to the wedding?" she sulks. She's trying something new. Great, now I have to think.
"No one has been invited to the wedding," I tell her. "For heaven's sake, Sharon, it's only February. The wedding isn't until June."
"Grandmother should have sent out 'Save the Date' cards by now," she points out.
"It's going to be a small quiet ceremony," I tell her.
"Ok, what is going on with this family?" she demands. "First, Grandmother calls off the wedding without giving any reason and now you say she's planning a small quiet ceremony. What is going on? Grandmother doesn't do small or quiet."
"Abe and I just want a something small," I answer. "He's not really into big crowds."
"And Grandmother is ok with this?" she asks.
"Oddly enough, yes, she is," I reply.
At this point, the conversation is interrupted by people starting to clap. It seems someone else has decided to brave the karaoke machine. I turn and look. I get quite the eye full. A very beautiful woman wearing a very low cut top and a skirt that's so short that if she bends over the world will be her gynecologist is now standing on the stage. I don't think a single man in this place could tell me her hair or eye color if I asked.
"Wow," says Sharon. "She's very pretty."
"Yeah, if you're into big breasts, ample hips, perfect legs and a face that could launch a thousand ships," I respond. Ok, I'm jealous. I couldn't look that good unless plastic surgery was involved.
She laughs and starts to answer. She's stopped by the music starting. A few bars in, and the woman starts to sing. I thought I was bad, but this woman makes me sound like Celine Dion.
Sharon and I cover our ears with our hands. Sometimes it's a real pain having sensitive hearing. That's when I notice something really strange. All of the women in the crowd have a look of absolute disgust on their faces, but the men are staring at this woman totally transfixed. All of a sudden, the men start to leave their seats and start to crowd the stage. It's like they're all sleep walking. They bump into each other and people still sitting. They run into furniture knocking tables and chairs over. I take another look at the woman on stage and I do a little "check."
I grab Sharon by the arm and my purse and start to head out the door. She pulls loose and starts to yell to be heard over the screeching coming from the stage.
"What are you doing?" she asks.
"We need to get out of here," I yell back.
"Why? Because she's so bad?"
"No. Because she's not human."
Sharon stands there staring at me with her mouth hanging open. I grab her wrist and drag her outside. I continue to pull her along until we're around the corner of the building. I grab my purse and start fishing around for my cell phone. Why do they have to make these things so darn small?
"Why is there a garbage truck here?" Sharon asks.
I stop rooting around in my purse and look at her. Then I look to where she's staring and I see an all too familiar garbage truck.