Thank you all for the positive feedback and the request for a sequel! I did take your thoughts to heart and finally wrote it on my flight to Germany. What a way to kill nine hours stuffed in a plane! So enjoy as an after season story!
Did I Hear right? Part II
"Are you ready, man?" Charlie's voice penetrated Don's thoughts. Not that he was thinking that intensively, apart from desperately trying to coming up with a plausible excuse why not to go tonight.
"Oh, hey buddy." Don looked up. "I didn't hear you coming."
"Are you ready?" Charlie repeated his question patiently.
"Don't know, Charlie." Don sighed. "I just don't think I can make it … with all the paperwork and reports…"
"No way, man!" Charlie interrupted louder than intended, which made the heads of Megan and Colby pop up curiously from their cubicles.
"You are not weaseling yourself out of this!" Charlie whispered urgently. "We are stuck in this TOGETHER!"
Don tilted his head. "Come on, Charlie. You'll have them eating out of your hands with your puppy look. You'll be fine…"
"No, Don! YOU are coming with me. I am not facing this alone – especially not Dad!"
Don winced at that, but then smiled as assuringly as he could. "You can make it on your own, Charlie."
Charlie just threw his arms up in exasperation, and with that, dropping his bag with a loud thud on the ground.
"No, Don! You ARE COMING WITH ME TO THE..."
"Shhh!" Don urged him. "Keep your voice down. Not everybody needs to know where we are going!"
"You are not trying to budge out of your commitment, Epps, are you?" Megan's voice floated over to them.
"Oh, yes! He is!" Charlie nearly yelled.
Don just rolled his eyes and turned to Megan. "Don't you have some reports to write?"
Megan just shrugged her shoulders. "Not at the moment. I'm on coffee break."
"Coffee break?" Don's eyebrows arched up and, trying to sound authoritative, he said, "Since when are we having official coffee breaks?"
Megan just smiled. "Since now. David is just coming over with some coffee."
Don looked over his shoulder and saw David approaching with two steaming coffee mugs. He handed one to Megan, but was making no effort to return to his desk.
"What's up?" David asked, looking expectantly from Don and Charlie to Megan, who just said, "It's time!"
"Oh!" Grinned David.
Don shot him a questioning look, which David dodged innocently as Colby shouted from his desk.
"Don! It's your Dad!"
Don just cringed.
After listening for a moment, Colby's grin widened.
"He says and I quote: 'For your own good, you and Charlie better be on your way'."
Don just shook his head. "Yeah, tell him we already left." But he made no attempt to move; instead he turned to Charlie. "I don't know… We are already late and I don't really know where to go…"
"Don't worry, "Megan chimed in. "I already programmed the directions into your board computer. Just punch in 'choir'."
Don shot her a menacing look. "Does everybody know? Can't a man keep a secret around here?"
Megan's smile just broadened. "Not with your father! He made sure we all know…"
David nodded. "Yeah, man! You better hurry! Your Dad made it quite clear that he won't be impressed if you guys don't show up."
Don just raised an eyebrow. "Oh, yeah? What's he gonna do? Ground me?"
David shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know, man. Your Dad is still … pretty impressive … I wouldn't wanna cross him!"
"Oh, no, you wouldn't!" Charlie added quickly.
Don hesitated for a moment, then grabbed his jacket. "Okay. Come on Charlie!"
After what seemed a way-too-short drive to Don, he pulled the car into the parking lot of the community hall. Turning off the engine, he just stared ahead, showing no intentions of leaving the vehicle.
"Don?" Charlie asked tentatively.
Don looked over to him. Charlie looked as miserable as he felt, himself.
"We really have to go in there, don't we?"
Charlie sighed. "I guess so, or we have to face the wrath of Dad." A weak smile flashed over his face.
Don laughed half-heartedly. "Yeah. Right." Then he straightened himself. "Okay! Let's get it over with."
Charlie just nodded and jumped out of the car. For a moment they walked silently towards the entrance, then Don put his hand reassuringly on Charlie's shoulder.
"You know, for you this should be a piece of cake."
Charlie stopped in his tracks and looked at Don. "And how did you figure that?"
"Well, you're used to speaking in front of your classes with lots of people staring back at you," Don smiled, clapping Charlie reassuringly on the shoulder.
"That's completely different!" replied Charlie indignantly.
"Well, it's more than I have to deal with on a regular basis," admitted Don.
Charlie studied him carefully, then smiled. "Well, just look at it as tactical OPS training in unknown terrain with undefined variables."
Don smiled back at him. "That's just how it feels."
"Boys!" Allan's voice boomed over from the entrance. "Hurry up! We are about to warm up!"
"Warm up?" Don voiced to Charlie questioningly, who just shrugged, then replied as cheerful as he could master. "Hi Dad."
"Come on, now!" Allan ushered them down a hallway. "I'll expect you two to behave yourselves worthy of an Epps in there…." Allan was about to start a lecture, but Don and Charlie just moaned in unison. "Dad!"
Allan just gave them a stern look. "Is that understood?"
"Yessir!" Don and Charlie replied in mock salute.
"Glad that's understood," smiled Allan warmly. "Don't worry! You'll have a great time!" But he just received dubious looks from his boys. Allan laughed and pushed them into a room full of cheerful ladies chatting loudly.
"Allan! You brought your sons!" cheered the conductor. The chatting stopped abruptly and all heads turned towards the newcomers. Don and Charlie stopped dead in their tracks, so that Allan nearly bumped into them.
"Just as I promised, Eleanor. Just as I promised!" Allan beamed proudly.
"Ladies! Welcome Allan's sons …" The conductor trailed off with a question mark.
"Don and Charlie," Allan supplied happily.
"Welcome Don and Charlie!" the conductor repeated, which was followed by a cheerful echo from the ladies.
"…They have kindly offered to support our baritone and tenor voices," concluded the conductor as the ladies cheered again with enthusiastic applause.
"But Dad…," started Charlie, "we said just this one time …"
"Yeah, Dad!" whispered Don between clenched teeth. "What on earth did you tell them?"
"Oh, hush now," Beamed Allan, laying a hand on each of his son's shoulders and marching them through the ladies to the back of the room. Don flashed a smile left and right as he accepted the ecstatic welcome from the ladies, while Charlie beside him turned from white to crimson red.
"Great to have you here," a jolly lady in her mid 70's chimed, tapping Don's cheeks, who rewarded her with his most charming smile.
"So good of you to come!" Joined in the lady next to her, as she snagged Charlie by his arm. "You must be a tenor, my dear!"
"Well… I don't know…" stammered Charlie.
"No problem, my dear! Just follow me. The tenor ladies are right over here." And with that she led him away. Panicked, Charlie looked over his shoulder to Don who just shrugged, before being pulled away by his father.
"Here you go, Son. You are right with me and the other baritone," explained Allan, pushing Don between himself and a massive, middle-aged man, who grinned widely. Sandwiched in between his father and the huge baritone, Don realized he had no way of escaping. His back-up plan had just collapsed. Wryly, he smiled left and right, before trying to make eye contact with Charlie. Charlie looked wretched, flanked by two matrons smiling at him motherly. Don tried to send him a reassuring look, only to be reminded by a not-so-soft blow from his father's elbow to focus his attentions elsewhere.
"Ow!" mouthed Don, feigning hurt, but Allan just gave him a severe look and pointed to the conductor.
"Oh, yeah," Don mumbled, focusing on the front. I am never gonna live through this, thought Don, as he heard the first warm-up tones of unintelligible lalala's and mmmhmmmh's. Rolling his eyes upwards, he pretended to mouth the syllables, eyeing Charlie at the same time. His brother seemed to have accepted his fate, following the warm-up sounds under the guidance of the ladies around him.
Again his father's elbow connected with his side, bringing Don's focus back to the main objective. Rubbing his side, Don looked scornfully at Allan, who was mouthing the sounds, motioning Don to follow him. Reluctantly, Don gave in and let the first
"Mimmi Mimmi Hach Hach Ha," roll over his lips and earned an approving look from his father. Don grinned back and was about to sing out again, when the conductor stopped them.
"Let's go to the first song." She smiled. "And since we have new support in the male voices—thanks to Allan…"
Another round of cheers and applause followed and Allan bowed good-humoredly.
"…Let's begin with Beneath the Mistletoe"
"Oh, no," groaned Don under his breath, while his father handed him the music. Instantly, Charlie's head shot around to Don, looking for a means of escape.
"Break time!" mouthed Don soundlessly, giving Charlie a reassuring look. His brother nodded weakly and turned to his music.
The ladies started out with gusto. "Look at him … he is standing right beneath the mistletoe..." This was followed by giggles and laughter, while they were eyeing the newcomers. "Oh look at him… I am gonna kiss him tonight..."
At this moment the men boomed in answer. "Here I am! Here I am – right beneath the mistletoe… waiting for her and it could take all night….'
Don could so not believe it. I am in the wrong film! he thought. This can't be happening to me, can it?
Again the ladies answered. "Look at him… I love him so… oh woauh woauh woauh. Why can't he be a present under the Christmas tree, instead of beneath the mistletoe? Woauh Woauh Woauh."
Allan quickly pointed to the next part, and before Don knew it, he was singing.
"There she is! Standing right beside the mistletoe. I am gonna kiss her tonight!"
The ladies roared with laughter and so missed quite a few notes. Don felt himself grinning in return as he suddenly realized, This isn't so bad. And seeing his father's excitement just made it so much more fun, as he continued in unison with the ladies.
"Tonight is a wonderful night… for kissing and hugging her tight… The feeling I am feeling is right… I am gonna kiss her tonight!"
Don bellowed, hardly able to contain his own laughter. This is actually fun, he thought, as he caught Charlie's look, who was grinning himself. This might not be as bad as anticipated,Don thought as he winked at Charlie.
"See, boys," smiled Allan as they entered Charlie's house, "that wasn't so bad, was it now?"
Don looked at Charlie and shrugged. "Not really."
Charlie nodded. "It was definitely different, Dad!"
"Oh, yeah! That is was!" grinned Don, then he turned to his father. "Thanks for forcing us!"
Allan looked proudly from one to the other, then smiled warmly.
"See, I told you so!"