Chapter Three: Intro
Two days in to the practice, Keith and Laurie were downright exhausted; their legs and arms ached in ways that they shouldn't ache. In fact, both Keith and Laurie had been so busy learning steps to this stupid dance that they couldn't rehearse with the rest of their family, and with their final concert coming up in two days they needed to rehearse; they needed to, but the way Keith's arms felt he doubted he could even hold his guitar let alone strum any strings.
"How are you two holding up?"
Suppressing a yawn Keith looked up with tired eyes to find his mother standing there in the doorway that separated the living room of the suite with the small hall that led to the bedrooms. Keith and Laurie were both seated on the couch; each at opposite ends, and each had their shoes in hand.
"Don't ask." Keith grumbled. He was tired, sore and more than anything he wanted to pack up and be on his way. He never thought he could hate a state as much as he was beginning to hate Oklahoma!
"Aching feet...aching arms and hands. Mom, I don't see how we'll ever be able to sing and dance on Sunday." Laurie moaned.
Shirley felt sorry for her eldest children. It really must be bad if Laurie herself was moaning and complaining because Laurie usually tried to find the best in everything she did or committed herself to.
Moving over to the couch, Shirley sat down beside her daughter, placing a loving hand on Laurie's back, just so Laurie would know she was there and that she supported her efforts.
"What are they having you do?" Shirley asked.
Laurie shrugged her shoulders. In truth she had the 'easy' work; Leon and DJ were the ones working Keith...more or less...to death.
"Twists and turns; one backflip...oh...and Keith's going to have to lift me..." Laurie replied sullenly. Lifts...she hated absolutely hated being picked up; she had never even ridden piggy back on her father's shoulders when he had been alive! And now she was expected to have her brother...her freaking brother pick her up and do a slow 360 spin with her in the air before placing her back down on her feet.
Shirley glanced at her son who had finished putting on his shoes and was now rubbing his hands as if he were an old man. He had a look of...Shirley wasn't sure. It wasn't anger; she could see that, it was almost like a look of depression. It pained her to see that look on his face. He needed to be strong in order to get through the next two days and if he was already depressed, how would he be in two days?
"Keith?" Shirley asked.
She rose, walked two steps and sat down beside her son, placing her left hand on Keith's shoulder. Slowly his hazel eyes lifted from the floor and fixed themselves on his mother. When she looked in to his eyes it was very clear to Shirley that Keith was run down in both body and spirit and that wasn't good...nope...not good at all!
Concerts...especially that European tour they had done; it had been very taxing on everyone; especially Keith because he was the front man for the group. She had seen the look on his face then; the look of defeat and utter exhaustion. Thankfully Keith had muddled through the final performance without actually collapsing but now...seeing that same look on his face...Shirley couldn't help but worry about her son.
"I'm alright mom." Keith replied; though his eyes told his mother that he was lying. Squeezing her son's shoulder, Shirley shook her head.
"No you aren't. You are exhausted. You need to slow down." Shirley replied, feeling tears coming to her eyes.
This charity event was actually tearing Keith up in more ways than one. What would be left of her son when it was all said and done? What if...what if Keith wouldn't want to do anymore concerts after Sunday? That would tear everyone up, especially the rest of the family and their fans, and there would only be one person to blame if Sunday was the Partridge Family's final appearance...ever...Mr. Dodson!
Shirley was mad at Mr. Dodson...couldn't he see what this was doing to her son? Obviously not or he would have released Keith from the contract...right? Surely he wouldn't let Keith dance with the dancers if he thought that Keith was sick or becoming sick.
"Well I can't...can I mom?" Keith replied. He tried to place some anger in his voice but he was too tired to, so his comment sounded more like a plea for help than anything else.
Rising from his seat, Keith looked at Laurie who stood up as well. "Come on Laurie, we need to go or else we'll be late. DJ and Cammie are waiting for us." Keith said softly.
Without a word he turned and left the suite, not even bothering to see if his sister was following him.
Keith sat and stared down at his lunch. He and Laurie had been at the dance studio since 7 that morning; their mother had found them at 6:30 that morning; and ever since then they had been working their butts off. While even DJ and Camille admitted that they were improving and could possibly be ready for Sunday, neither Keith nor Laurie bought it. They were too tired to see that they were actually improving and were starting to look like dancers.
Keith eyed his meal; a ham sandwich with mayo, tomato, cheese and fresh lettuce, Red Delicious apple slices, and some peach tea; all compliments to his mother for bringing it over to him. Laurie had gotten the same thing and while she had picked the sandwich apart, eating only the lettuce, cheese and mayo covered bread, she had drunk the tea and ate the apple slices. Keith himself, while his brain told him he was hungry, his stomach was telling him 'don't eat, don't eat!'
Feeling thirsty he grabbed the glass of peach tea and took a sip, closing his eyes in delight as the cool, sweet beverage hit his tongue. His mother knew...she knew how to make good tea; everyone always complimented her tea, it was a thing of legend...almost.
Hearing his voice echoing from the dance floor, Keith stood up, leaving the untouched food on the table. He carried his glass of peach tea to the doorway and looked in. He saw a record player going in a corner; one of the Partridge Family records so obviously being played. Keith was grateful that the dancers; DJ and Camille included were practicing with a record; glad that they didn't have to be singing live in order for the dancers to practice. Apparently Reuben had brought in some records the day Keith and Laurie started, and apparently a song had been chosen and a routine worked out.
The song was 'On the Road'; a slow opening but when the chorus hit it became upbeat enough, Keith guessed.
Keith watched the boys and girls dance, staying close to each other as they moved in time to the intro. It was more ballerina work at first; turns, holding hands, the boys hands poised just inches from the waists of the girls, more turns, jumps complete with the splits...then things got interesting when the chorus hit. Running jumps, lifts, slides along the floor...
It was really amazing; the choreography that DJ had come up with for On the Road; it truly was! When the song ended, Keith had finished his peach tea and had thrown the disposable glass away. Walking on to the dance floor, Keith shook DJ's hand, forcing a smile on his face.
"That was great DJ. To be honest I had never imagined that you could do that with that particular song. The routine came out great!" Keith said.
DJ smiled at the compliment, knowing that Keith meant what he said. "Well I'll tell you man, it wasn't easy. Just had to take it one beat at a time." he replied.
Keith nodded his head and sighed, knowing that lunchtime was now over. He moved to the middle of the dance floor while DJ went to cue up the appropriate music but seconds before the music was to start a loud screech came from the lunch room.
Keith and DJ looked towards the room that was practically adjacent from the dance room. The scream had been Laurie's; that much Keith was sure about, but why did she scream? Did she see a mouse on the floor or something?
Leaving the dance floor, Keith entered the lunch room to find Laurie on the floor, cradling her knee; more specifically her ankle; tears running down her face.
"What happened?" Keith demanded to know, dropping down on to the floor beside his sister. He wasn't a doctor; didn't even pretend to be but even he could see that his sister's ankle was beginning to swell up. Well...that was it for her dancing career! It didn't take a genius for Keith to figure that out. Great...not only was he now alone he would be assigned a new dance partner...just two days before they had to preform it.
"Slipped on the...on that puddle...by...the trashcan." Laurie said; her lip trembling in pain. It had been no ones fault but her own that she had slipped, and yet Keith couldn't help but feel anger at the situation.
"Hey it's okay, you are going to be fine." Keith said. He watched as Leon came in, an ice pack in hand. He had Camille apply the ice pack to the swelled up area of Laurie's ankle while he and Keith helped her to stand. Gently they guided her outside to Leon's car; a trip the hospital being necessary. An x ray needed to be taken at the very least to see if Laurie had actually broken her ankle or if it was just a severe sprain...even so, Keith knew that his mother wouldn't be happy with the turn of events...man...Shirley Partridge would not be happy!