Charles & Claire Ch. 29bySchuppinzigh©
By Richard King aka Schuppinzigh
(The Italicized portions of this BOOK, bordered by the #sign, occur approximately Twenty Years in the future.)
This is the Third book of a Pentalogy; Five Books with a continuing theme surrounding Charles & Claire.
We’ve now come to the third book in the Charles & Claire Pentalogy. In ‘The Next Step,’ Charles & Claire formed a very deep, almost spiritual bond between the two of them. They became more fully rounded, both as dancers and physically, with their Mothers by their sides. Along with ‘The Sparkling Kalista’ - Everywhere they went; as their popularity grew… so did their love for one another!
This next adventure, subtitled ‘Journey Across America,’ tells the story of their trek, this time from Maine to Hawaii, Florida to Texas to Oregon, and many points in between.
“Charles, our trip to Orlando was so wonderful, I remember every moment of it, as if it happened yesterday,” my wife said to me.
“Well, Sweetness – I liked the break we had from practicing dancing all of the time; being around you, Kallie and our Moms, making me feel so important.”
“You’ve always been important to me and Claire, Daddy?” Kalista said, rubbing my feet.
“I know Princess, but our time together as dancers fills my head with memories, many that I’ll… never forget.”
“Speaking of filling your head, Charles, I’ve good news for you?” Claire said, on my lap and grabbing me by my face.
“I’m PREGNANT,” she whispered.
“What the hell?”
“Go ahead with the story, we’ll talk about this later?” Claire said, giving me a kiss.
Kalista didn’t freak out, so she must not have heard us.
We all started out the next morning on schedule. Dayton, here we come! Since it was only ninety minutes away, we found and booked the Crowne Plaza Hotel, which is right next to the Dayton Convention Center. That’s one of the places we won a Competition at last year. To make things even easier, there’s a raised walkway between the hotel and the Convention Center.
We got side-by-side rooms, each with two queen beds in them. We stopped on the way out of town, at an Apple Store picking up an additional Apple Laptop, so I could peruse my music, while Sarah and Annie can shop, book hotels or whatever else, on theirs.
Dayton actually went quite well… almost as well as Columbus had. We were going to sometimes get two days between cities and sometimes even three full days. After Dayton, we traveled to Cincinnati, where we stayed at the Cincinnati Marriott, getting a large suite, using Charles & Claire’s name and we got a nice rate, using Sarah’s cleavage discount.
Again, Cincinnati seemed to love Charles & Claire, and we were quickly on our way to Louisville, Kentucky where we stayed at the Embassy Suites Hotel. The nicer places had free dry-cleaning as a perk, so when we stayed at one of them, two of us got everything cleaned, so after every three stops we had all of our clothes cleaned and ready.
At this point we’d now been gone for almost 10 days on tour, everyone seemed to still be in good spirits. I gave each of my girls, some of my time each day, with Claire getting the most, for obvious reasons.
I took a look at poster sales; I hadn’t since we started on tour, and we were approaching 900,000 total sold, having earned over $1 million dollars in profit so far. My god, that’s amazing! Even splitting it five ways… that’s $180,000 each. When I looked to see which poster was doing best, it was Kalista’s original pose in the red dress, but the Sarah single poster was also doing quite well. I’d expected that.
We were fast approaching our Florida swing, and when we got to Tallahassee, I had Sarah check on our Disney Plans. They wanted to put us up at the Contemporary Resort, which had the Monorail running through the middle of it. We’d arrive there right after our Tour stop in Miami, so we had two full days to spend there. Kalista will love that!
It was on the long leg between Mobile, Alabama and Tallahassee that Claire and I were in the back seat, while Kallie was asleep just behind Annie and Sarah, who was driving.
We talked in hushed tones.
“Claire, honey – I want to talk to you about something?”
“This sounds serious, is everything OK, How’s your back?”
“I’m fine, I want to talk to you about Nationals, coming up in March?”
“What about them, my future husband?” she said giggling.
“I want to skip them, and just stay on the Tour with Michael,” I remarked.
“What’s your reasoning behind this, or is this a foregone conclusion and you’re just telling me?” she said with a marked change in her tone.
“No, no - no Claire, we’re having so much fun, and it’s so satisfying to dance in front of people who love you and have paid to see you dance. I see the look on your face at the end of the night. Both you and Kalista are wired, and happy! We would need more time than Michael might want to give us to get some new music together and learn six brand new routines.”
“Why don’t we just use six routines from the Tour?” Claire reasoned.
“What we’re doing now, wouldn’t get us past the first round, because we’ve morphed into ‘show dancers.’ I love you so much that I am asking you, if it would be OK, if we skipped Nationals the next two years? We could came back after we were married. We’d be so ready to start; winning every Competition we entered again,” I explained.
“And then we’d be dancing as Charles & Claire Newman, wouldn’t we?” Claire said, with a super-sized smile on her face.
“So, you’re OK with this, Beautiful One?”
“You don’t have to butter me up… but it helps,” she said, again with her patented giggle.
We moved up to the seats right behind Mom and Sarah.
“Hey Kids,” Annie said. “What’s up?”
I looked to Claire and she said, “Charles and I’ve decided, to not go to Nationals the next two years.”
“So, this is a joint decision, you both want to stay on Tour instead?” Sarah asked, with an astonishingly languid tone in her voice.
“Yes, Sarah,” I said, “This is too much fun to take a week or more to get ready for a competition. I figure that we’ve got until Labor Day, year after next to make all of this money dancing, selling posters and just enjoying ourselves. It’s very satisfying when the people applaud. The girls are so good, and my two Moms are so pretty, that when we’re done… we’re done.”
“We’ll start back at school, and Cotillion, and focus on the professional competitions that we can get to easily. We’ll be old enough to drive by then, so we wouldn’t have to bother the both of you as much as we do now,” I continued.
“Just… a minute there, Charles,” Sarah interjected, “Who says we want to stop taking you to Competitions and Cotillions? Your mother and I’ve both invested ourselves into driving you and watching you mature, not only as dancers, but also as a young couple in love.”
Claire and I were smiling real big at Sarah, who realized that we were pulling her chain. She started to laugh real big, which then Annie now understood what was going on as well, starting to snort. Claire and I joined in, which awoke Kalista who asked, “Why is everybody laughing?”
Claire and I explained to her what we’d decided. After hearing it all, Kalista said something very mature, “I can’t wait for all that. I’ll finally have my boobies by then.”
We all cracked up as we were stopping for gas. Annie pulled into the station as all of us kids got out to stretch our legs, and go to the bathroom. We got some candy and snacks. The girls behind the counter kept looking at me, and then Claire, and then back to me.
“Aren’t you… Charles & Claire?” one of the girls asked.
She was a very cute blonde of 17 or 18. She pulled out a rolled up poster and said, “Could I have your autograph please? I just got my posters and nobody will believe me, that you were in here, unless you sign your autograph.”
“Sure,” I said, smiling real big, noting her Alice nametag. “If you have a camera phone, Claire and I would love to take our picture with you. Annie, take our picture with Alice here, please – using her phone?”
“You’d do that for me, Charles?” Alice said.
“Absotively, Posilutely,” I said, seeing a big grin appear on her face.
After fumbling a bit, getting her phone out of her purse, we all posed with Alice and Celia, as Annie took the picture. We paid for everything and left on our way to Tallahassee, now less than two hours away.
After our Tour event in Miami was over, on October 14, we went straight to Lake Buena Vista and pulled up to Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The second we got out of the Suburban, we were treated like royalty; one person took all of our stuff out of the SUV, and another person drove it to a VIP Parking Lot.
Never having seen anything like this before, we all felt like we’d walked into a spaceship, the shape of the Resort is really unique… and, the Monorail runs straight through it, like a raised subway car, but a lot more beautiful than the tin can look of most subway cars.
We walked up to the Counter and a very pretty brunette, named Alicia said, “Hello guys, welcome to Disney’s Contemporary Resort, we have a beautiful large suite for the five of you, with five beds. If you’re hungry right now, we have the World Famous Chef Mickey’s to your left. We can get your stuff up to your room for you if you’d like. I’ve been told that all food and beverage you desire, while staying with us, is completely taken care of.”
“The only thing your money is good for, is souvenirs, and we can have them taken to your room, so you never have to spend time trudging back and forth. Here are five room keys, and five Golden Oak Guest pass and food keys. You have free reign to go anywhere on Disney property until 2am. Walt Disney World covers 47 square miles. Any questions?”
“Yes, Alicia,” I said, “We only have two days to spend here; our next Something Special Tour performance is in Orlando in three days. Could we please get a Tour Guide to walk us around and guide us to those things that are off the beaten track? Excuse me Alicia, my fiancée is kicking my leg.”
“What is it, Claire,” I said turning and talking quietly.
“I can tell you want to flirt – go ahead?”
I love her!
“Thank you, dear – where were we, oh yes, we only want a Tour Guide at least as pretty as you are, Alicia. As you can see, I’m use to having beautiful women all around me?” I said, gilding the lily.
“Aren’t you the charmer, Mr. Newman?” Alicia said.
“Call me Charles, or we’re moving to the Grand Floridian, Alicia?” I said with a chuckle.
“Certainly, Charles – my best friend, Sandra is coming up behind you; is she pretty enough?”
We all turned around and there was a 19ish year-old girl with remarkable green eyes, red hair, and a smile that reminds me of the girl I’m holding hands with.
I said, “She’ll do.”
Everybody busted up laughing, including Alicia and Sandra. Claire and Kalista, nearest to me, both slapped my shoulders, causing another round of laughter.
In a wonderful southern accent, Sandra explained, “Hello, y’all, my name is Sandra, but you can call me Sandy if you’d like. Does everyone have on comfortable shoes?”
We all responded, indicating assent. “Sandy, I think we’re going to eat first, then probably go to our rooms for the night. How early can we start in the morning?” I voiced.
“How about eight am – we can meet here, and then do whatever it is y’all want to do. My understanding is that you’re performing tomorrow at three pm in the Magic Kingdom, so why don’t we spend the day there, and the day after tomorrow; we all could go to, maybe EPCOT Center? How does that sound to y’all?” Sandy asked.
“Sounds like a lot to do in a day, but you’re the one leading the way, so eight am it is, and your ideas sound great, so see you then, Beautiful?” I said, forgetting myself for a moment.
My remark made Sandra blush, so Claire said, “Sometimes his mouth writes a check, that his butt can’t cash, Sandy – I usually keep him on a really short leash, these days.” Kalista giggled at that.
“Did I hear you say that you two are engaged; to be married?” Sandy asked, with a bit of hesitancy.
Grinning from ear to ear, Claire said, “Yes, we’ve been engaged for 11 days.”
“10 days, dear?” I corrected.
“Charles, a girl knows how long she’s been engaged, OK – It’s 11 days, Sandy.” She showed off her ring and Sandy took her over to Alicia and they oohed and awed over the ring together.
Sarah came over to me, and whispered, “Don’t sweat the details Charles – Remember the payoff in 24 months.” Annie looked at her, having heard her and just shook her head in amazement.
“OK, ladies. Let’s go eat, I’m hungry enough to eat a flying elephant!”
They all looked at me like I had grown a second head.
“I’m kidding, OK - Sheesh, you guys.”
We all got up the next day, well rested, with comfortable shoes, per Sandy. I reminded the girls to bring dance shoes of some kind. I assumed we were providing our own music, so I had Mom put about 20 or so songs with routines, starting with ‘For Good,’ on two CDs. Bringing the whole bunch would’ve just made a heavy purse for her.
We started the day with a complete circuit of the Monorail. Kalista was giggling so much, that Claire had to calm her down a little. Sandy started her spiel.
“The Walt Disney World Monorail operates over a span of 14.7 miles, with around 50 million Disney guests traveling on the monorail each year. The Monorail has been a part of Walt Disney World since the day the park opened on October 1, 1971.”
Kalista, Claire and I were in the front cab, just behind the ‘pilot’ as Sandy called him. I asked him how long he’d been a ‘pilot’ for Walt Disney World and he said that it’d be 18 years in a week. The girls and I congratulated him for his service to his company. He shook my hand and said, “Thank you, son.”
We spent the next four hours, on a walking tour of The Magic Kingdom, which looks a lot like Disneyland in California, but I realize there must be a number of differences, I just didn’t notice.
I asked Sandy, “Exactly where are we performing at three pm?”
“Didn’t I tell ya? I’m sorry… y’all are performing in front of Cinderella’s Castle. That way the most people can see you. We’ll be putting up a 30 x 30 dance floor. Starting around one pm, there’ll be announcements all over the park, to bring as many people as possible to see Charles & Claire. Do you have the music y’all want to dance to, with you?”
Mom had it ready to hand to Sandy. I gave Mom a hug, turned back around to say, “Yes, Sandy – here’s our music. A list with the order is on top. I don’t know how many numbers you folks want us to perform…”
“Whatever y’all want to do, Charles? One, or four, or more; we want you to enjoy yourselves while at Walt Disney World, so y’all tell me, how many?”
“If we fill the plaza in front of the Castle, how many people can fit?” I asked.
“The first four thousand would be able to see y’all quite well, after that the views are more elusive, maybe another three thousand?”
“Wow,” said Claire.
“Yeah, Charles – Wow,” reiterated Kalista.
“Sandy, could we add an additional performance in front of the Castle, later in the evening, or is there enough light to do that?”
“Gosh, Charles, y’all would do that? Another one? We can get some additional lights out here, how about eight pm?” she was grinning from ear to ear.
“That’s a beautiful idea, Sandy… almost as beautiful as you are?”
Turning to Claire, Sandy asked, “Is he like this all of the time, Claire?”
“Unfortunately, yes,” she said, causing Mom to snort and the rest of us to laugh and giggle.
“Sandy, lets cap the performance at three pm at four total songs, starting with ‘For Good,’ OK?” I said. “Is that all right with you ladies?”
They both agreed.
“And the performance at eight pm, we can do ‘For Good’ again, for those who missed it the first time, and then do the next six dances on the list, after that?”
“Great, I’ll be back in a moment,” Sandy said.
A ‘Cast Member,’ as the employees of the park are called, came up to Sandy and after they spoke for only a moment, the Cast Member was whisked away.
I turned to the girls and reminded them that we may get a ton of autograph requests, so be nice to everyone. We resumed the Tour and after a bit, we heard an announcement.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, and Children of All Ages – Walt Disney World, with the association of C-Cask LLC, is proud to announce that three very talented youngsters, known as Charles & Claire, along with the Sparkling Kalista, will be appearing in front of Cinderella’s Castle at three pm, and again at eight pm this evening. We have their posters on sale all over the park, so bring them with you and when they’re done, they’ll sign them for you.”
“Holy Crap,” I said, “That was amazing!”
Kalista was beaming and Annie and Sarah were as well. Sarah gave me a nod, telling me she’d provided the information necessary for that announcement.
“The… Sparkling Kalista?” Claire repeated.
“I thinks it’s a marvelous description of my Princess, don’t you Sandy?”
“Charles, if I answer that, I won’t be kicked off Tour Duty, will I?”
“Of course not, Sandy,” I said. Claire was gripping my hand a little tighter.
“Well,” Sandy said, “I think Kalista is just about the cutest eight year-old I’ve ever seen?”
“I’m nine years old, Sandy – today,” K said, with a bit of sassiness.
I saw Sandy make an un-necessary motion with her hand, and suddenly, their were nine young male dancers all around us, as a group of singers started to sing, in perfect three-part harmony,
“Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You,
Happy Birthday, Princess Kalista, Happy Birthday to You.”
The dancers all danced around Kalista during this, and each one of them handed her a White Rose, and gave her a kiss on the cheek. I’d never seen a white rose before. Kalista was on sensory overload, and was suitably overwhelmed by all of this. I turned to look at the Mom’s and applauded them.
The crowd of singers and dancers disappeared as magically as they had appeared.
I suggested, “Why don’t we eat gang? It’s a little past one pm and we perform in just under two hours, so let’s get something to eat.”
Everyone agreed, so I asked Sandy what’s close by that waits on you? She told us that the Plaza Restaurant is only a hundred yards away, so she led us there. We had a chance to get off our feet for an hour or so; we sat down and were waited on by the wonderful staff.
Sandy went up to them and they came to us, giving us menus and ideas for lunch. We each ordered and just watched the people strolling by, which I’ve begun to enjoy doing lately. Our food came and after we were finished, we were asked about desert. Claire and I shared an Original Banana Split, Kalista had a Root Beer Float, and Sarah and Annie shared some New York Style Cheesecake.
Sandy had gone outside to help people who were walking by and needed help getting somewhere. I wouldn’t doubt if she was also deflecting people from us, so we could eat in peace. Claire saw me admiring Sandy and nodded to me, mouthing, “Give her a hug.”
I mouthed to her, “Are you sure?” and she mouthed back, “Yes!”
I went out to Sandy… she turned to me and I walked into her and just gave her a hug and whispered to her, “You’re being so wonderful to us all, thank you.” She whispered back, “You’re welcome,” and we separated, smiling at each other.