What *Is* That?!
Picture - #17
Disclaimer: Most of the characters aren’t mine, but the story is.
Xena, Gabrielle, and a third rider loped across a long sandy ridge on their horses. Big kettle drums pounded to represent the horses’ hooves and dramatic music played. Then, the music halted as suddenly as it came when the riders stopped and dismounted.
“What *is* that?!” asked Gabrielle. “I mean, we’ve heard it each week for years now and it’s starting to get on my nerves.”
Xena grunted. “Each week, I’m up on a cliff with my sword drawn, practicing moves and all of a sudden, I turn around and smile widely. And then across me, it says ‘Lucy Lawless.’ Who the hell is that and what am I smiling at?”
Gabrielle laughed and poked Xena in the ribs. “I know, and I’m supposed to be someone named Renee O’Connor. How funny is that?”
The third rider interrupted the exchange. “Where’s it coming from?”
“Don’t know,” replied Xena. “Gabrielle, spar with me.” She turned to the third rider as she and Gabrielle got their weapons out. “Listen.”
More music played and loud, faked weapons sounds dramatized the sparring. Xena gave a signal and she and Gabrielle stopped.
“I think it’s coming from way over there,” the third rider said and headed off.
Xena gave another signal and she and Gabrielle sparred again, the music and the intensified weapons sounds starting over. Xena gave the signal to halt, and then she quickly yelled to the sky, “Oh, come ON!!!!!!!!!!! STOP THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
A voice came out of nowhere. “Okay.”
Xena frowned and Gabrielle spoke up. “That’s not one of the gods, is it?”
“Nope. Never heard that voice before.”
Gabrielle gasped. “You don’t think we’re just someone else’s dream, do you?”
Xena rolled her eyes. “Spar with me again.”
The ladies engaged in a mock battle, but there were no weapons sounds at all.
“VERY FUNNY!” Xena yelled at the sky again.
“You said --,” the voice replied, but Xena cut it off quickly.
“Never mind what I said!”
She and Gabrielle got up on their horses and rode as the music started once more. Xena pointed to an oasis. “I think it’s coming from there.”
Xena barely finished speaking before she kicked Argo into a hard run toward the oasis. She did a quiet somersault off the palomino, parted the bushes, and found what she was looking for. “Uh-huh,” she said as the music stopped, the conductor’s hands and his baton frozen in mid-air. She pinned him with an icy stare until Gabrielle arrived.
“You’ve got to be kidding me! An orchestra?” Gabrielle peered into a back section. “And some joker back there who does sound effects?”
“So it wasn’t just us hallucinating all these years?”
Gabrielle strode toward the conductor and put her hand lightly on his shoulder, indicating that they were going to talk. “You have to admit, that was a pretty mean trick you’ve been playing on us for a long time now.”
The conductor nodded, but added, “It was necessary to make things… more entertaining.”
“More entertaining? Almost dying every week isn’t entertaining enough?”
“More dramatic, then?” the conductor said weakly.
“Dramatic? Almost dying every week isn’t dramatic enough?”
The conductor shrugged and shrank from Gabrielle’s touch. She sighed. “Well, okay. It’s just that when you guys are playing full force, especially during battle scenes when we’re trying to concentrate, it can be a little distracting, you know? How about this? How about you guys keep it down just a little bit, okay?” She looked at the brass section. “Especially you guys.” They heard her say “just a little bit,” but they knew she really meant “a lot.” She turned her attention back to the conductor. “For our part, we’ll try not to disturb you. Okay?”
Xena glared at the conductor and the orchestra to emphasize Gabrielle’s compromise and everyone smiled weakly and nodded emphatically.
Gabrielle’s big friendly smile came out. “Good.”
The ladies prepared to leave, but not without Gabrielle’s parting words to the orchestra. “Carry on!”
Story by: THE BARD OF NEW MEXICO
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