The evening was going rather well, despite Frankie's absence. Every now and then, Tommy would wink over at Francine to make sure she wasn't too torn up over Frankie not being here. He was a tough-guy, but when it came to Francine…Tom was a softy. It was getting late, and the end of the evening was finally approaching.
"And now, ladies and gentlemen- the last song of the evening, 'December 1963'- OH, WHAT A NIGHT," the announcer called.
"Shit," Tommy exclaimed quietly to Bob as the crowd applauded, "Who's gonna do Frankie's part?"
"Too late for that now," Bob replied hastily, "I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it:
Oh, what a night, late December back in '63
What a very special time for meeeee
As I remember what a niiiight!
Oh what a niiiight,
You know I didn't even know her name
But I was never gonna be the same
What a lady, what a night!"
'Oh, boy,' Nicky thought, 'I guess if nobody else is gonna-'
"-Oh, Iiiii got a funny feeling when she waaaalked in the room
Aaaand Iiiii, as I recall it ended muuuuch too sooooooon."
"Look, hun- it's Frankie Valli!"
"Frankie Valli-in person!"
The crowd cheered and applauded as Frankie Valli-in person- walked onto the stage singing his part, uniform on and all! His band mates couldn't believe their eyes! Where did he come from? Bob was so excited; he forgot to sing his part! They all smiled and laughed as he took the stage. Frankie winked to them and then began searching the crowd to find his little girl smiling at him from the first table on the right, next to a very astonished Mary. He waved to them and then gave the signal back to the band to cut the music.
The crowd chattered curiously, and before Frankie could do what he set out to do, his crew surrounded him.
"Frankie, I- who- what- huh?" Bobby babbled confusedly.
"What are you doin' here," asked Nicky.
"Yeah," Tommy added smacking Frankie's arm, "Ya' sick, numb-nuts!"
It was true-Frankie was still sick, and it showed. Though he had messily thrown on his uniform before walking into the room, his eyes were tired, his face pale as the moon and his knees were knocking so hard, he thought that somebody was going to answer them! But, still- he smiled.
"How do you feel?"
"You still got a fever?"
"Hold it, hold it," Frankie laughed gruffly, "Before I got no voice left, I gotta thing ta do."
With that, Frankie walked casually up to the front of the stage. He waited for the feedback of the microphone to die down before he spoke. The lights were, as they usually are, blinding, and, of course, hot as Hell. However, Frankie had to do this…for his little girl.
Just as Frankie was about to speak, a surprise sneeze snuck up on him;
"I-eh, Hxch'oo!" Frankie tried, but failed, to stifle his sneeze into the crook of his elbow, "*sniff* Sorry about that," he said, apologizing to the audience for that embarrassing display.
Tom, Bob, and Nick all cried, "Salud!" at the same time, as the audience laughed, and some even blessed him! Some applauded, and others (like Francine) just smiled.
"Well, at least now you see why I wasn't here the whole night. Now, -ahem-before I completely lose my voice, I just had somethin' very important to say to a very important person here in the audience. Tonight, a very special little girl has just turned five-years-old…and that special little girl-is my little girl."
'Awws' and applause filled the room, and little Francine was enjoying every minute of this.
"Francine," Frankie continued, "Honey, I know I'm not around much for you and Mommy, and I know that work gets between you and me a lot…but please know this, honey, that I love you and Mommy so much that without you two in my life, I'd be nothin'. In fact, you two are the reason I'm here tonight: otherwise I'd be at home, getting' drunk off of Nyquil."
As the audience laughed, Francine hopped off her chair and ran up on stage to hug Frankie.
"Daddy," Francine began, "When Uncle Tommy told me you couldn't come tonight, I was real sad. But then- I remembereded that song: and that 'big-girls-don't-cry'," just then, Francince started sniffling, "But –sniff- but then you came, an-and I got so happy, and…Daddy, is it okay if I cry now?"
"Why honey," Frankie asked, muffling a sneeze, "Why do you feel like crying?"
"Because," Francine said quietly, "This is the biggest, most bestest present ever."
Frankie looked into his daughter's glowing eyes. He smiled as a tear streamed down his face, and replied with the last of his voice he could muster, "It's your birthday, isn't it?"
Francine smiled as the tears came streaming down her face. Frankie got down on one knee and embraced his little girl. Nothing could bring him down now- not when he was holding his baby. The audience cheered and applauded, but Frankie didn't care: all that mattered was his moment with little Francine. Even after the audience left the room, he and Francine were still in their little moment of happiness.
"Francine, honey," Mary called, "Time to go home, birthday girl." She approached Frankie as he pulled away from his little girl.
"Bye Daddy," Francine said, giving him a kiss on the cheek, "This was the best birthday ever!"
As Francine scurried away, Mary called after her, "Francine, wait fah me at the car! Wait fah- oiy," she sighed. Frankie laughed as he watched Francine run off.
"Just like you, she is," Mary added, getting Frankie's attention, "You would know…if ya saw her more often."
Frankie looked deeply into his wife's eyes-something he had not done for a while. Same as Francine's: that beautiful shade of brown. He smiled as he stroked his hands through her hair. He was so captured by Mary's beauty that he almost didn't hear her when she spoke.
"Butcha know…ya did good, Daddy. Ya really made her birthday… special."
It wasn't often that Mary did this: she never had much of anything positive to say when it involved the group. Suddenly, Mary began unloosening his tie and smiled at him with that "look".
"And now," she said, getting closer to him, "It's Daddy's turn to get something special…"
Just as Frankie and Mary were about to kiss, Frankie turned his head just in the nick of time and let out a "hah'Ishoo!" into the crook of his right elbow. Mary laughed and handed him a hanky.
"Oh-hokay," she giggled, "We'll try that again after you're better. Now-" she said, fixing his tie back to the way he had it before (Bob, Nick, and Tom watching them now), "Go home, get plenty of rest, and take it easy! Do ya hear me, Castelluccio? If you die on me, you got NO idea how pissed I'm gonna be, so take good care of yehself. Nod if ya understand me."
Frankie nodded and laughed, and turned around to find Bobby, Tommy, and Nicky nodding as well.
"We'll take good care of him for ya, Polly," Tommy called, using the nickname she loathed.
"Ugh," she smugged as she straightened Frankie's jacket, "And another thing, try not ta spend too much time with Devito, okay?"
"I HEARD THAT!"
"YOU WERE MEANT TO!"
Just then, Francine ran into the room next to Mary, "Mommy, are you coming?" she pried, pulling on her skirt.
"In a minute, honey," Mary replied, kissing her husband on the head, "Ooh, Frank-yeh burnin' up," she said as Frankie cleared his aching throat. Francine took notice of the pained look on her Daddy's face.
"Daddy…if you're so sick, why didn't you stay in bed?"
Frankie looked at his wife, and then back to his daughter. He got down on his knees, cleared his throat, and said, as loudly as his voice would allow him, "'Cuz it would spoil the big surprise."