Note: Some information on this fanfic; like dates, places and names, might go against information given in the original show. Keep in mind this is fan FICTION.

"Before We Loved Lucy"

Chapter 1 "Fred"

It was seven o'clock sharp when the 17 year-old Fred Mertz woke up. This was a very special day for him. A vaudeville show had arrived in the city and he had gotten himself an test to join the group. Since he was a child, he dreamed of getting into show business. His whole family told him he sang and danced very well, but his parents never really encouraged him to try something in this field. Fred's dad, Ben Mertz, always wanted Fred to be a lawyer. But now Fred had decided to follow his dream. If the people from the show liked him, he was going to join them.

An hour later, Fred was arriving at the theater where the group was rehearsing the show. Mr. Charles Baxter was the owner of the group. He also did a singing/dancing number.

"So, Mr. Mertz, you're interested in joining us."

"Yes, I am. My dream is to work in a vaudeville group."

"Well, we accept anyone who has any kind of talent. But it has to be something really good."

"I can sing and dance."

"Show me what you can do."

Then, Fred did his number. He danced and sang very well, which impressed Mr. Baxter. Fred had a very pleasant singing voice and he showed a wonderful flexibility when he danced. After he finished, he asked for a glass of water. He sat next to Mr. Baxter and asked if he did well.

"I'm quite impressed Mr. Mertz. Where did you learn to sing and dance like this?"

"I never took any kind of course. But my family always liked to sing and dance in the holidays. And guess I have a natural talent for this."

"You sure do. We're leaving the town tomorrow after our show. If you'd like to join us, we'll put you in one of our numbers."

"Are you serious?!? Of course I'm joining you!"

"The show will go probably until 2:00 a.m. We'll leave at about 3:00 a.m. We're going to Phoenix, Arizona, for two months of shows."

"I'll be here. Thanks, Mr. Baxter. Thank you very much!" Fred said, shaking Mr. Baxter's hands. He left the theater dancing. He had never been happier.

But back at home, he had to break the news to his parents. When he arrived, his mother, Marie, was waiting for him, with the lunch on the table.

"Fred, where have you been? Your lunch has already gotten cold."

"I'm not hungry, Mom. But listen: the greatest thing happened. I was accepted into the vaudeville group!"

Mrs. Mertz was taken aback by that news. She knew that was Fred's dream, and he was going to leave them. She didn't know what to say.

"Hey Mom! Don't you think it's great?" Fred asked, disappointed with his mother's silence.

"Yes, my son. I know it was your dream."

"You don't seem very excited."

"Oh, it's just because I'm going to miss you. But and your father? He's sure not going to like this."

"I don't care, Mom. I don't want to be a lawyer."

Later, when his father arrived at home, Fred told him about the vaudeville thing. Ben didn't like the idea at all.

"Fred, you're crazy. What kind of life do you expect to have?"

"A happy one, Dad."

"You must stay here, go to college. And have a family. Do you want to be alone for rest of your life?"

"Of course not. But I'm going to meet so many people, I'm going to travel all over the U.S. I'll never be alone."

"Alright. It's your life, and you're free to do whatever you want. I just want to warn you not to come back here begging for help when things go wrong."

"Don't worry, Dad. I won't do that. Because I'm sure I'm doing the right thing."

Fred got up from the couch to go to his bedroom and start to pack. Before he left the living room, his father called him.

"Fred. Just one more thing."

"Yes, Dad?"

"Don't spend all the money you earn. Make sure you have enough to have your own business when you're not able to work in the vaudeville anymore."

"Thanks, Dad. I'll do that."

"And... write to us when you have a steady residence."

Fred agreed and went to his bedroom to pack his stuff. The next day, he paced around the house all day long. When it finally came the time to go meet his new family - that's how the people in the group called themselves, he said good-by to his parents and headed for the theater.

While he waited for everyone to pack their stuff and get ready, Mr. Baxter started to introduce him to his new co-workers. Everyone was very friendly with Fred. That night they headed to Phoenix, where Fred premiered at a singing/dancing number. He was an immediate success. After a two years, he had his own number, which he shared with Mark Kurtz. Fred couldn't be happier. He wrote to his parents in Indiana every now and then, and Fred's dad was beginning to accept his son's choice.

One day, ten years after Fred joined the group, he was sitting in his trailer, choosing the clothes he was going to wear that night. It was their last show in Dallas. Fred was there, checking his closet when someone knocked on the door.

"It's Charles. Can I come in?"

"Sure! Come on in."

"I just want to tell you Fred, that we're going to Albuquerque, New Mexico tomorrow."

"We've never been there. Do you think we're going to have a good audience there?"

"Oh, I'm sure. I've got a friend who lives there. He has announced our group in the local newspaper and people were really interested."

"It would be nice if we could find some new people to join our group. After Louise and Jane decided to stay in San Francisco, we haven't got enough girls to do our dance numbers. Also, we could use a new actress."

"You're right. Who knows, maybe we'll find a girl in Albuquerque."

"I hope so."

The next morning, they headed to Albuquerque.