Chapter 4: The Ed Stops Here
Backstage, opening night. Double D slipped in early so that no one would see him come in. He had hoped that in the twenty-four hours following the creation of Eddy's masterpiece, he would become comfortable with the look of it, but the irregular spikes did not fill him with the greatest of confidence. But it was certainly better than exposing what remained of his own hair. And he remembered the hopeful expression on Eddy's face. "It seems to mean a lot to him that I be seen with the hairstyle he gave me." Double D looked at himself in the mirror, and deepened his resolve. "Then I must not disappoint him." He ran a hand through the wig. "Perhaps this coiffure will keep his eyes on me." The show wouldn't start for another hour and a half. He was finally feeling prepared for the show, and for Eddy to be front and centre.
At that moment, Eddy was deepening resolve of his own. He sat on his bed with his arms crossed as Ed knelt on the floor before him, grimy hands clasped together. "Hell no! I ain't goin'," growled Eddy. He had no interest in sitting through an evening of frilly songs and jingly nonsense, not even for Nazz. Seeing the reaction to Double D's appearance did not move him to want to be present either. It was the kind of trick that would be funny for three minutes, and a guilt trip for three weeks.
"Pleeeeeease, come with me?" begged Ed. He had been forced into a sweater vest over a dress shirt, and pants free of mysterious stains, and was distressed that he had been separated from his jacket, filled with all of his prized possessions to keep him in his happy place. "Mom and Dad said I have to go to see Sarah sing. If I don't, they'll ground me and take the stairs down!"
Having only recently been paroled from being grounded himself, Eddy was sympathetic, and he knew that trying to bail Ed out would be impossible. But incentives to go to a choir concert were still not grand enough in scale. "Suck it up, Monobrow."
"Come oooooon!" Ed whined, yanking on Eddy's feet.
"Get lost. Hey, lemme go!" If Ed could not have his lucky fish, Angus, he would carry Eddy with him instead. He scooped up Eddy and dragged him into his parents' van, with Eddy fighting to get free all the way.
Sarah was sitting restlessly, and rolled her eyes as Ed dragged Eddy in. "Mom!" roared Sarah. "Make Ed get rid of his stupid friend!" Sarah was promptly shushed and reminded of her manners, but Sarah did not remember all of her manners and continued to pout as Eddy made smug faces at her while Ed tried to keep Sarah from seeing his laughter. Sure, Eddy had no interest in the concert, but it was worth it to set the brat straight.
The auditorium was beginning to fill up, and Double D could hear the low rumble of conversation on the other side of the curtain as he sat backstage, practicing his music. The backstage was beginning to fill up as well, and bustled as the stagehands moved the decorations and scenery into place. Double D was lost in the buzz of activity, and he was comfortable humming his duet to himself in his own darkened corner."Hmmm-hmmm-hmmm-mmm-mmm." Double D had nearly forgotten his concern about his hair, until he heard an interested voice.
"Far out!" He looked up to see Jonny and Plank looking him right in the eye.
"Good evening, Jonny," said Double D, straightening his posture and adjusting his tie. "Are you exhilarated by the Yuletide festivities?"
Jonny stared blankly. "Say what? I was just looking for the buffet table."
"The buffet may be found in the cafeteria. Please try..."
Double D had barely had time to provide an answer when Jonny interrupted: "But then I saw your hairdo! If Plank and I had great hair like yours, you bet we'd be rockin' it too!"
"Thank you," said Double D, blushing. Wanting to allow as little attention to focus on his hairpiece as possible, he tried to change the subject. "I am glad you made it to the concert.
"I wanted to stay home and watch Pengathalon on the nature channel, but Plank says that Christmas caroling is an enriching cultural experience honouring a centuries old tradition." Jonny gave Plank a confused look. "I don't know what that means, buddy." Then, to Double D, he whispered, "I'm just here for the free snacks. And I heard they got an ice swan! Catch ya later," said Jonny, carrying Plank off to the buffet down the hall.
Well, I suppose it is to be expected that someone would take notice of my change in appearance. It is not unreasonable to hope that no one else will have the opportunity to comment on it prior to the performance. As the minutes ticked away, he became increasingly confident that no one would have a chance to say anything, he would go on winter break, and would return in January with the whole thing forgotten. I do hope that Eddy remembers my performance, thought Double D, happily humming his music.
The music teacher called to the choir to get in position during the last few moments before the show. Jimmy and Sarah joined the youngsters in the front row, wearing their matching outfits that conjured up images of yesteryear. Jimmy looked down at his reflection in his smart patent leather shoes. "I still think that the fashion police should overturn the'no hats' rule. The top hat makes this outfit!"
Before Sarah could respond, Rolf placed one hand on her head and the other on Jimmy's as he climbed to his position in the back row."Rolf is prepared for the reverence of the bovines," he announced as he climbed. His outfit was entirely covered in bells of various sizes and shapes, and these jingled as they bumped the heads of the small children in his path.
"If there was ever a need for the fashion police," said Jimmy, rubbing the back of his head where a dense iron bell had made impact.
"You got that right, Jimmy." Sarah adjusted the off-kilter bow in her hair. "It's a 517-A in progress."
Rolf jingled into place, but looked over his shoulder to make sure that he was not being observed by the imposing-sounding 'fashion police'. "Heap-hop Nazz girl!" called Rolf as Nazz came on stage."Do the guardians of the bells disapprove of Rolf's costume?"
Giggling, Nazz scooted into her place on the edge of the middle row. "No way. That's a really, uh, unique outfit." With the choir nearly formed, Double D crept out to take his place. Nazz had been watching for her partner in song, and she immediately spotted someone slinking onto the stage, but required a second look before she identified it as Double D. "Awesome hair, dude!" Nazz announced, drawing every choir member's attention to Double D. Double D didn't breathe. A sizable portion of the school now had its eyes fixed on the questionable hair experiment.
"Why, this?" he asked, laughing nervously."It's just..."
"Just about the coolest 'do I've seen in awhile!" Nazz interrupted. All the kids' bright expressions indicated that they agreed with Nazz. Even if they didn't, they would have still pretended to, because Nazz's opinion on what was cool was as good as law.
"It resembles the horns of the infinite herd," said Rolf, envisioning a field packed with cattle as far as the eye could see, just as his Nana had described to him. "Rolf reveres it."
Double D stepped up next to Nazz. Amidst the choir's enthusiastic murmuring about Double D's style, the hottest thing since Fad Freaky, Nazz gave a throaty whisper, "I don't know why you've been covering that up all this time." The lights over the stage brightened and the stage hands manned the curtains. Just before the curtains parted to reveal the stage, Nazz added, "Makes me wonder what else you've got hidden."
The curtains opened, revealing the stage, aglow with Christmas. A lavishly decorated tree sparkled with tinsel and stood tall and green in one corner. A backdrop depicted a vintage fireside scene. The choir stood in the centre of the stage, bathed in the light of a chandelier, designed to look like a ball of mistletoe. The Warblin' Cobblers then burst into alively rendition of "Jingle Bells."
The charm of the production was lost on Eddy, whose eyes automatically began to search for Double D to see what had become of the wig. But with Ed sitting next to him, it was a challenge to focus. Without Double Dto correct him, Ed was squirming and reaching under seats to find gum. When Eddy leaned forward, hoping to catch a glimpse of Double D, Ed's elbow swung back and hit him in the nose. "Yeeow! Awww f-..." he stopped himself, remembering that Sarah would destroy him if he wrecked the show. "Hold still, Lumpy," he hissed.
Ed had pulled out several different coloured strands of gum and had wound them together into a cat's cradle. "Look, it's a game!" said Ed, displaying his work for Eddy to see. "I'm giving it to Sarah as apresent. Won't she love it?"
"She'll love it like a hernia." Another spirited song ended, and Nazz stepped out of the chorus and into the mistletoe spotlight. The piano softened, and Nazz began to sing "O Holy Night" in a crystalline soprano. Eddy's expression softened as well; Sarah and her attitude, Ed and his gum, and Double D and his wig were all forgotten. Nazz was the perfect amnesiac. Ed's tie had stuck to the gum, and the harder he tried to free it, the more entangled he became. But Nazz's voice sent him straight to his happy place.
Double D had only heard Nazz practice the song every day for nearly a month, but it made no difference. He only hoped that his practice would allow him to equal, or even surpass her performance. The song ended powerfully, leaving Ed and Eddy gaping open-mouthed and unthinking. That is, until Double D joined Nazz at the front of the stage and the piano picked up again. All the lights dimmed, except for the mistletoe chandelier. The two looked at each other and began.
Rudely awakened from his thoughts of him and Nazz heating up a cold winter's night, Eddy missed the beginning of the song. There stood Double D, looking almost confident as he and Nazz took each other's hands and swayed as though they were a cotillion one hundred years ago. The whole choir joined in the harmonious refrain:
"Will you love me in December as you do in May,
Will you love me in the good old-fashioned way?
When my hair has all turned grey,
Will you kiss me then and say,
Will you love me in December as you do in May?"
Eddy ceased to feel sorry for Double D. In fact, he was now feeling quite sorry for himself, knowing that he had unwittingly equipped Double D with a cool new look. "I'm gonna set him straight. If he thinks he's gonna steal my girl..." But how to get rid of that rug without letting on that he was jealous of his finicky friend?
Ed was oblivious. He was still preoccupied with creating Sarah's gift. "Eddy," whispered Ed, "I wanna give Sarah this after the show. Should I wrap it up in these candy wrappers?" Ed held up some dubious looking candy wrappers he had found crumpled on the floor.
Fighting the churning of his stomach in response to Ed's creation, Eddy hatched a plan. He turned on the slick salesman tone. "Say, I bet she'd think you're one hell of a brother if you went on stage and gave it to her right now." Eddy knew that Ed's enthusiasm would trump his common sense.
"Yeah! Let's go!" Ed led the way out the auditorium doors and galloped around to the backstage entrance. They could hear the song nearing its conclusion. Ed was only interested in locating a path to Sarah, but Eddy grabbed Ed's collar to keep him from rushing out just yet. Timing was everything.