Charles & Claire Ch. 36bySchuppinzigh©
The next evening I suggested, "Let's go to Excalibur and try to get into the Tournament of Kings?" Sarah got us a cab, using her great legs, and he took us to the entrance of Excalibur. When we got out, Sarah went to pay the cabbie, he said, "It's on the house folks... Now, I can say I carried Charles & Claire."
I glanced at his license and said, "Thank you Sylvester, you didn't take us out of the way, you just did your job."
He replied, "The main trouble is there are too many people who don't know where they're going, and they want to get there too fast. You nice folks are the reason I got in the cabbie business, 'bye."
We hustled a little to get to the ticket counter to buy tickets for the seven pm show. We'd heard just in front of us they were sold out. Suddenly, I heard a shriek; the employee put up the sold-out sign, but motioned for us to follow her.
We were being taken to a special location usually reserved for big-named celebrities, she told us. We passed some of the actors putting on the last of their hardware. One of them stopped, kneeled and said, with his hand over his heart, "It is the fair maiden Kalista and the magnificent Charles & Claire of the kingdom of Columbus." They all kneeled, performing the same gesture, us as we passed by, with all of my girls giggling incessantly. I heard Sarah give a growl.
We were escorted to a table, and a quite beautiful brown-haired woman, dressed somewhat provocatively said, "I am your wench Katherine tonight, what you need I can bring you. Your first portion of dinner will be dragon's blood. Does my lord and ladies want anything specific to drink?"
I couldn't take my eyes off this woman; Claire had to hit me on the shoulder saying, "It seems my Lord is taken withee wench. Since he appears unable to speak at the moment, could we all get a flagon of water?"
"A lady who speaks to the commoner like me, is truly beautiful both inside and out, when your lord can speak, remind him of this, fair lady.," and Katherine left.
I got my composure back, although they were all laughing at my behavior.
"Where's the silverware?" Kalista asked looking around.
"Everything they give you to eat, you have to eat using your hands. All we get to start is our Dragon's Blood and our drinks. They put on a show that I've only ever read about. At a point during the proceedings they bring out the meal. After the meal there is a... kind of tournament; The Tournament of Kings," I said with something of a flourish, just as Katherine the wench brought out our Dragon's Blood, along with our drinks.
"It appears your young lord has regained the use of his tongue, by expositing the events that are upcoming this night, and a handsome lad he is as well. Who are these wonderful looking wenches you have with you Lord Charles?" Katherine asked as she set our drinks down.
"The young wench on this end is the fair Kalista, with beauty of face and terpsichore extraordinaire, next to her, my fair Lady Claire also fair of face and heart, to whom I am betrothed, next October hence. On the far end, is my wench and concubine Sarah, whilst next to me is thine own mother, Queen Antoinette of Springfield. From wherest thou is the fair wench Katherine?" I said surprising everyone, including myself with my Elizabethan exposition.
"Alas Lord Charles, I am a wench from Antebellum in the land of South Carolina." We all snickered at her pontification.
She left as we all started to drink our Dragon's Blood, washing it down with water. After a moment there was a musical flourish and a large poof of smoke, and someone looking like Merlin the Magician appeared seemingly out of nowhere. He started to walk around watching us watching him. After some set dialogue between him and the jester who appeared as well, he walked up to just under us and said, "My Ladies and Lords, we've visitors here tonight who have taken a long journey from the land called Ohio, in a kingdom called Columbus." This got quite a laugh.
"I believe it is Lord Charles and Lady Claire and the fair Maiden Kalista who wait your approval to continue our affairs of the evening. Please stand and see all that you can see, Lord and Ladies?" Good adlibbing, I thought.
I got up, raising Claire to stand and then walked over to Kalista, placing them on either side of me. The roar of the people was quite impressive, in part, due to the heavy curtains behind everyone. We waved to everyone as Merlin stopped and let us enjoy this moment. We stepped away and sat back down. Katherine slipped in and very quickly gave me a peck on the cheek, saying, "You certainly know your stuff young man. I'll be back with your food in a moment."
Next, King Arthur is introduced, along with the knights aboard galloping horses, with each of them adorned in beautifully colored regalia. As they pranced about the stadium, a large wooden table is dropped into the middle of the arena.
Katherine appears with our food, along with another 'wench in training,' and they quickly gave us all of our food. They topped off our drinks and took away our Dragon's Blood vessels. I pulled Katherine to one side and said, "We never paid?"
"Excalibur is taking care of you tonight, enjoy the food and the competition, Lord Charles." She bent over deeply, showing serious cleavage as Claire pulled my attention back to the stadium.
We each got a roasted Cornish game hen, steamed vegetables and a plate of biscuits to share. I watched K try to figure out how to pick the hen up to eat it, so I got her attention and just placed my hand on either end of it and dug in. K smiled and did her best to emulate my style of eating.
The knights were eating as well, sitting around 'the round table', talking boisterously and clanging their vessels in toast after toast. After they were done eating, they decided to hold a competition to determine who's 'Best of the Best.'
The competition is interrupted by the evil Mordred, who attempts to steal the entire kingdom from Arthur. Real good dialogue and action sequences alongside the special effects made for exciting story telling as the evil Mordred is defeated and vanquished as the knights unite to save the Kingdom.
Katherine brought each of my ladies a scarf to give to their favorite knight. I mouthed 'thank you' to her as she left. The knights were fighting for position as the ladies thoroughly enjoyed this obvious improvised portion of the evening.
First, Sarah had a yellow scarf as the knights fought for it as it was dropped from about 15 feet above them. The young man, who got it, smelled it and put it to his heart and stepped away. Sarah came back to the table, grinning.
Next, Annie had a purple scarf, the remaining knights looked like they were really putting some effort to make this look real, the one who caught moms, blew her a kiss and she plucked it from the air, as the crowd was eating this up.
Following Annie was Claire, who had a bright blue scarf and pointed at me to come over to the edge, so the audience could see her put it around my neck as she pulled me toward her and we kissed a real nice kiss and the knights moaned below us.
We all stepped away leaving Kalista alone... with her red scarf.
She realized the game and started to let go but didn't, inciting the knights and the crowd. She saw the knight who had spoken to her when we first arrived at the hall and pointed to him, causing the other knights to walk away, acting disgusted. She dropped her scarf to him and he took it and kissed it and crawled up the wall to get a kiss from her. Sarah was ready in case he tried anymore then a peck on the cheek. He got up and over the precipice, and kneeled.
Kalista gave him a kiss on the cheek. He hoisted her upon his shoulder and the crowd was in a frenzy. Sarah whispered, "She's nine years old."
He responded, "I know Mom, this is just for show. We only do this maybe once or twice a year." While he was talking to Sarah, he was still waving at the crowd as the spotlight went off him.
Merlin started speaking in the background as this knight walked through our area, saying to me, "You've hit the proverbial jackpot without even gambling, Lord Charles." He turned and said, back in character, "Fair maiden Kalista, until we meet again," and he left.
With the same flourish he appeared, there was a poof of smoke and Merlin was gone.
Katherine returned with sweet pastries for desert for everyone. She had a great big smile on her face as she was serving us.
"What's making you smile so large, wench Katherine?" I asked.
She whispered out of character, "The knight who won Maiden Kalista's scarf is my boyfriend. The knight who climbs to reach the Maiden or Lady gets a big bonus."
"You mean besides being your boyfriend?" I flirted quietly as well.
"What would this have cost us if we'd paid for it?" I added.
"About $65 dollars a person... Why do you ask?" she responded.
I reached into mom's wallet and took out a hundred dollar bill and folded it and carefully placed it between Katherine's hefty bosoms saying, "You were the best wench I've ever had, Katherine."
She started to tear up a little. I pushed her out saying, "Go to him and tell him you love him."
Our 'wench in training' came and got us and took us back to the entrance where we started, 80 minutes ago.
I had Claire on my arm with Kalista in front of us and Annie and Sarah behind us. I quietly asked Sarah for some pens, which she had at the ready.
People were exiting the stadium, wanting autographs, quickly surrounding us. The three of us did a lot of autographs very quickly and then started to move along to not block the entertainers exit. We had people smiling at us, telling us their favorite number, many liking 'For Good' but just about as many liking 'Marry You.'
The crowd finally started thinning as a number of folks walked out of the entertainer's area and joined the throng, each wanting an autograph of their own. Many of them had our posters in their hands. One gentlemen who wasn't familiar to me like the rest, came up to me and said, "You were quite the showman yourself tonight, young Charles," he said in his Merlin voice; he was probably only 25; Wow!
After everyone else was gone, one last couple walked up to us. She had flaming red hair and a red scarf around her neck and he looked like a professional athlete. She handed me my poster and I wrote, "A Wonderful Knight and a Wonderful Wench, Love Charles Newman." She asked to see Claire's ring up close while he knelt in front of Kalista and said, "When we have kids someday, I want a little girl just like you."
Kalista remarked, "You've gotta marry her first, Charles told me you're supposed to be married to have babies."
What a shock to our group of people as Annie and Sarah started to giggle, snort and gasp.
"You know Kalista, you're exactly right?" The young man said.
He stood up, grabbed something from his pocket and kneeled again, this time in front of Katherine and said, "Mary Katherine Powers... Will You Marry Me?"
Before he could put the ring on her finger, she started to jump up and down, screaming and crying. My girls surrounded her and they all congratulated her. He was still on his knee and asked, "Does that mean yes?"
"God yes, I've been waiting for this slug to get off his butt and ask me to marry him for two years?" Katherine said.
"Oh, my name is Daniel Majors, Katherine and I met and fell deeply in love, here at Tournament of Kings a little over two years ago, and we kept putting off doing anything, because of money. Kalista choosing me earned me a great big bonus tonight, so now we can afford to get married. Thank you all very much, especially you Kalista. Charles is absolutely right, a couple is supposed to get married - then have babies, not the other way around. We plan to buy a full set of your posters, so we can come to your wedding."
"Sarah, hand me two discount cards please?" I asked.
"Yes sir, Mr. Newman," she said rather smugly.
"Daniel and Mary Katherine, there is a code on each of these that'll get you each a free, complete set of our posters. You are the first two people I've given one to, and you certainly are the most deserving couple I can hope for. You both played your parts quite well tonight, both on and off stage. Wait until Labor Day to order your posters... Oh, how soon are you planning on getting married?"
"Probably tomorrow, you're all invited?" Katherine said.
"We have to practice tomorrow, so the best of luck to you both; you two deserve to be married. To say to you what has been said to Claire and me more times then I can count, 'Your children will be very beautiful,' Goodnight," I said.
We all hugged each other and then parted. We walked out and Sarah hailed a cab.
Amazingly, It was Sylvester. We got in asking to go back to the Flamingo Hotel. Once again, he refused payment and told us he was going to go ice-skating - He said it made him feel content.
Getting back to our rooms, we all changed into sleepwear and went straight to bed, although it was only 10:30 at night. What a whirlwind of memories that I'll have from this evening, I thought, as I fell asleep the moment my head hit my pillow.
Waking up the next day feeling quite rested, the girls and I stretched before we went off to the convention center. First thing, we showed Michael our 'Grease number', explaining we would swap it back and forth with 'Feeling Good.' The practice went well and Michael kicked us out at 5pm. We went back to the room, and I called a C-Cask meeting.
"We need to discuss what'll be on the 'Wedding Ticket' and if we're going to limit the number of tickets any one person can buy, along with how many we want to allot each day in sales. Anybody with something to say about what should be written on the ticket?"
She remarked, "Charles, I'm something of a traditionalist. Something like, 'Antoinette Newman and Sarah Rollins would like to invite the bearer of this ticket to see and enjoy the wedding of Charles Xavier Newman to Claire Tiffany McArthur.'"
Sarah chimed in with, "In lieu of presents for the couple, please contribute to any of the following; your local public library, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Habitat for Humanity or..."
"The Boy Scouts of America," I added.
"That's a great sounding list," Claire said.
"Great, you guys - brainstorming works with the five of us, since we all seem to share a brain," I said.
They all laughed at that.
"OK, limiting how many any one person can buy - should we worry about scalping or not?"
"Charles, what's that?" Kalista asked with an anxious look on her face.
"No dear, it's not literally scalping. That's what it's called when a person buys tickets and then tries to resell them making a profit in the process. It's allowed some places but most of the time it's frowned upon or outright illegal."
"Since nobody has an opinion about this, we won't worry about it. Next up, my original idea was take our 110,000 tickets and divide that by 365 days which comes out to just over 300 tickets a day; we could cap daily sales to guarantee there will be tickets every day to sell," I said.
"But that sounds like people getting tickets in the last couple of weeks might have trouble finding a place to stay last minute. Remember, these people will be flooding the greater Columbus area looking for hotels, flights in and such?" Sarah mentioned.
Annie asked, "Why not raise the sales per day to 400, then how long would that take to sell out Charles?"
"275 days, Mom," I replied.
Claire said, "That's scary how quickly you can do that math, honey-buns."
"That would mean if they all sold as quickly as we hope, they would all be sold in just over 9 months, giving the last people 3 months to make plans. If we went to a 500 limit, that would give us a sellout in about 7½ months. The last people to buy, no matter what, will have a tougher time booking flights and hotels, but that also gives them more time to make alternative plans of some kind," I said.
"Let's try it from a different direction Charles," Claire said. "If we wanted to sell them in six months, what would that make our cap?"
"Every day, 601 tickets. You think we could sell that many a day, Claire?" I asked.
"Charles, the last time we talked about it, you said we had sold almost seven million posters, and that's only been since when?" Claire asked.
"About 9 months ago, so 7 million posters in 270 days is around 26 thousand a day. Crap. Without a daily cap we could sell out in less than 5 days, conceivably. I like Claire's idea; 600 a day, any not sold would roll over and be available the next day. If we sell them all, we make $11 million dollars, and have a technical sellout. If they all show up, we have a physical sellout and Columbus gets a kick in the economy, like they hadn't seen since Ohio State used to win all of their games."
"OH, jeez - Ohio Stadium doesn't have lights, did we negotiate for lights at our wedding Sarah?" I asked, suddenly sweating.
Sarah got up and came over and sat in my lap, much to the consternation of Claire, who giggled as she got out of the way.
"Charles (kiss) do you think (kiss) that I would let my daughter (kiss) marry the young man of her dreams (kiss) and not have any lights?" (kiss on the mouth)
Pulling from the suction she was causing, I said "Sorry Sweet-Lips. I think you just broke my lap?"
Everybody laughed at that as Claire pulled her mother off me, not for the first time either.
Kalista brought up, "Do we need to put the address of the stadium on the ticket, or would that already be on it?"
"Kalista, that's bloody brilliant sweetheart - you're absolutely right. Make a note of that somebody. Does that conclude all we need on the ticket?" I asked, looking around at each of them.
Sarah said, "To confirm, it comes with aisle, row, and seat number already on it. We're adding to that what Annie and I suggested, and now the address. We're getting the tickets in gold, do we want a map to the stadium on the back of the tickets themselves? I negotiated a ticket with data on both sides."
I went over to Sarah and got up on her lap, giving her a great big hug, with Claire being ever watchful of the two of us.
I got up, turning back towards the group. "What time should we open the place up to cars?"
"What time do we want to get married Charles? How about dusk?" Claire asked.
"Sarah the computer, please?" I asked. "Thank you."
"Sunset on our date is at 6:52pm, so an 8pm ceremony with any and all other performers starting no later than five pm, figuring how long it'll take for all of the people to arrive and get settled. Hmmm, we should suggest people start arriving around 10am. It's a New Moon starting around noon that same day. Sarah what do you think?"
"Everything you just mumbled matched perfectly with what the stadium people told your mother and I. It's impressive how you did that massive calculation in your head, so 'Gates Open at 10am' should be on the ticket as well, anything else Loverboy?"
"Sarah, go ahead and mock that up at your earliest convenience, so we all can proof it before sending it into them, please?" I said.
"Anybody else got anything to say about anything at all?" I asked, stifling a yawn. "I'm tired, I'm taking a nap, but could someone give me a back massage first, my sore spot is back."
Looking over at Kalista, I suddenly realized, "Sarah, please add that The Sparkling Kalista Rosemary McArthur will be the Maid of Honor.
That caused Kalista to light up like a Christmas tree.
"I'll give you your back rub," said Claire. "After I rub him, I'll probably lay down too."