A Good Place 49

a good place beach 3 Chapter Forty-Nine

From the moment that Matt and Luke finished their song the whole atmosphere of the night changed, which, I have to say, really surprised me. Spirits were lifted and the previously rather reserved crowd began to let their hair down a little.

‘Okay then, who’s next,’ Matt called out, while offering the microphone to anyone who was brave enough to have a go.

In the end the baton was passed to two of their old friends, Dwayne and DJ, who reluctantly stepped up onto the stage, after considerable goading from both Matt and Luke.

They looked to Guy, who was the man controlling the console and the screen which displayed the song choices and the lyrics, and he brought up a list of songs which were in the system, only to have the two of them shake their heads time after time.

Eventually they settled on the old Ben E. King classic, Stand By Me, and ended up making a pretty fair job of it I thought, even if a little off key in parts. When they were finished the crowd clapped and cheered, but they still made a hasty retreat from the stage, apparently just happy that the experience was over with.

Samantha came out of the house just after that second song had finished and sat at the edge of the crowd with Ben and Tim while the next victims, who I didn’t know, flaunted their wares, singing YMCA, by the Village People.

I sat with Aaron, Paul and Damien, having already told Luke that there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that I would be getting up in front of everyone to sing, and as the night wore on we listened to numerous renditions of many of our favourite songs, both old and new, and both good and bad.

Even Mike and Carol were kidded into getting up to have a go, singing something that was apparently quite new, which I, of course, had never heard of before. I might add, though, that they looked good together, and I couldn’t help but let my mind wander a little with a case of the what if’s.

I noted, however, that we still hadn’t heard from either Sam or Tim, so I knew that the night wasn’t done yet.

Not to be outdone by the new kid on the block it was Kevin and Jason who stepped up next, dragging Jonathon with them, who was an old friend of Tim and Guy’s, and also theirs I presumed. When they finished belting out a rather inebriated version of Cold Chisel’s Khe Sanh (or Last Train Out of Sydney as some folks know it) it seemed like we had finally exhausted the supply of willing singers.

That was when someone finally offered the microphone to Samantha.

Although I had never actually had the privilege of hearing her sing in person I had seen the tapes of her performing on many occasions, and to say I was looking forward to this part of the night, well, that would be an understatement. Judging by the quiet that fell over the party goers as she made her way to their stage I had a feeling that almost everyone else was feeling the same.

There was something about her that was captivating. She was a woman in her late twenties, the mother of three gorgeous children, and a woman who had an undeniable inner beauty about her. Now, with the lights behind her and shining through the loose fitting blouse and skirt she was wearing, she had us all in the palm of her hands . . . and she hadn’t even uttered a word as yet.

Glancing sideways at Guy I noticed her nod just slightly, then Guy pressed a button and the music began. I instantly recognised the introduction to one of my favourite songs, then Samantha started to sing, giving us a beautiful version of a song that seemed quite fitting, given the composition of the audience tonight.

‘You with the sad eyes . . .
‘Don’t be discouraged . . .
‘Oh I realize . . .
‘Its hard to take courage . . .
‘In a world full of people . . .
‘You can lose sight of it all . . .
‘And the darkness inside you . . .
‘Can make you feel so small . . .

‘But I see your true colors . . .
‘Shining through . . .
‘I see your true colors . . .
‘And that’s why I love you . . .
‘So don’t be afraid to let them show . . .
‘Your true colors . . .
‘True colors are beautiful . . .
‘Like a rainbow . . .

‘Show me a smile then . . .
‘Don’t be unhappy, can’t remember . . .
‘When I last saw you laughing . . .
‘If this world makes you crazy . . .
‘And you’ve taken all you can bear . . .
‘You call me up . . .
‘Because you know I’ll be there . . .

‘And I’ll see your true colors . . .
‘Shining through . . .
‘I see your true colors . . .
‘And that’s why I love you . . .
‘So don’t be afraid to let them show . . .
‘Your true colors . . .
‘True colors are beautiful . . .
‘Like a rainbow . . .

‘When I last saw you laughing . . .
‘If this world makes you crazy . . .
‘And you’ve taken all you can bear . . .
‘You call me up . . .
‘Because you know I’ll be there . . .

‘And I’ll see your true colors . . .
‘Shining through . . .
‘I see your true colors . . .
‘And that’s why I love you . . .
‘So don’t be afraid to let them show . . .

‘Your true colors . . .
‘True colors . . .
‘True colors . . .
‘Shining through . . .

‘I see your true colors . . .
‘And that’s why I love you . . .
‘So don’t be afraid to let them show . . .
‘Your true colors . . .
‘True colors are beautiful . . .
‘Like a rainbow.’

When it was over, which was all too soon, everyone clapped and cheered, like they had never done before. It took a few minutes for things to settle back down again, but then Sam looked across at Tim and said, ‘It’s your turn now,’ while reaching her hand out toward him.

Jonathon gave him a bit of a push, sending him forward, then he crossed the short distance to the steps up onto the decking, accepting a microphone from Guy as he went, then joined Samantha, giving her a kiss on the cheek, while the audience gave them a few whistles.

Most of us knew what was coming, but for those who didn’t, they were about to be treated to something truly special; a rendition of Come What May, from the movie Moulin Rouge.

‘Are you ready?’ Sam asked Tim, while speaking into the microphone so that we could all hear.

‘As ready as I can be,’ Tim replied.

Once more Samantha gave Guy a nod, but before he could manage to press the button to start the music Ben rushed onto the makeshift stage, waving his arms about and saying, ‘No . . . no . . . no! That’s all wrong. You’re not standing in the right spots!’

Looks of bewilderment came over a good many faces, but those who were in the know could only burst out laughing.

‘Now, Guy is over on that side . . . so at least he’s in the right spot . . . but Sam has to be facing away from him . . .’ he said, while pushing the two performers about on the stage to get them standing just right. ‘Now, I’ll go stand with Guy, and Tim has to be looking at Guy and me. That’s how we did it. Right?’

It was obvious that he’d had a bit to drink, but it was still quite amusing seeing him fuss about and set everything up so they were just how they were when the song had been performed for their high school musical.

‘There, that’s better,’ Ben finally announced, then he staggered off the stage to stand with his friend, Guy, and with his arm draped around Guy’s shoulder, much to the amusement of most of the crowd.

‘What the heck was all that about?’ I heard someone ask.

‘Ask them when it’s over,’ was the reply they received.

Finally Guy was given the nod by Sam and he pressed the button to start the music.

Tim took Samantha’s hand in his, then opened his mouth and let the words flow.

‘Never knew I could feel like this . . .
‘Like I’ve never seen the sky before . . .
‘Want to vanish inside your kiss . . .
‘And every day I love you more and more . . .
‘Listen to my heart . . .
‘Can you hear it sing . . .
‘Telling me to give you everything . . .
‘Seasons may change . . .
‘Winter to spring . . .
‘But I’ll love you until the end of time . . .
‘Come what may . . .
‘Come what may . . .
‘I will love you . . .
‘Until my dying day . . .

Samantha pulled away from him at that point and turned around, taking a few steps away from Tim, before then returning to him.

She was smiling, and seemed to step slightly to the side, which gave Tim a clear view of Guy, who was standing at the side, with Ben’s arm wrapped firmly around his shoulders, and grinning madly. Sam then started singing her part to the song, and when it was time, Tim joined back in as well, gazing not into her eyes, but across the stage and into Guy’s.

‘Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place . . .
‘Suddenly it moves with such a perfect grace . . .
‘Suddenly my life doesn’t seem such a waste . . .
‘It all revolves around you . . .
‘And there’s no mountain too high . . .
‘No river too wide . . .
‘Sing out this song and I’ll be there by your side . . .
‘Storm clouds may gather . . .
‘And stars may collide . . .
‘But I’ll love . . .
‘I love you . . .
‘Until the end of time . . .
‘Come what may . . .
‘Come what may . . .
‘I will love you . . .
‘Until my dying day . . .
‘Oh come what may . . .
‘Come what may . . .
‘I will love you . . .
‘Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place . . .
‘Come what may . . .
‘Come what may . . .
‘I will love you until my dying day.’

The pair of them sang their hearts out for those last few verses, and as they finished, their audience erupted into a loud applause, although out here in the open, it seemed to be carried away quite quickly on the slight breeze.

I made a point of checking out Mike’s reaction, and judging by the look on their faces both he and Carol were more than impressed. They were clapping wildly and both of them were whistling and carrying on like a pair of rock star groupies.

It was then that someone started yelling, ‘Encore! Encore!’ which soon started to gather strength as other party goers joined in the chorus.

Tim and Sam looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders, before Ben finally got behind the pair of them and pushed them forward, while at the same time saying, ‘They’d love to!’

*     *     *

After Sam and Tim’s encore performance had finished, and they had been congratulated and received their well deserved kisses and slaps on the back, I noticed that it was starting to get quite late. A few of the guests had said their thanks to the guys for a great evening, along with their farewells, and had headed off into the night to where they had parked their cars, some still quietly humming the songs they had heard, which amused me greatly. Some others had started to wander away from the main party and moved down toward the bonfire, which was still going strong, with the Sarge having thrown a fresh log on every now and then.

I looked down and noticed that apart from the Sarge and his wife, I could also see both Matt and Luke’s parents standing there, along with Mrs. Hamilton and a few other figures whom I couldn’t quite make out, as they were on the other side of the flaming pile.

Gradually more and more people started heading in that direction, and before long there were people sitting and standing all around the fire, talking, laughing and just relaxing in the company of old friends.

Aaron came up to me and took my hand, then we wandered down in that direction as well, taking up a spot at the edge of the action, leaning against our vehicle and just sitting back and watching everyone.

‘I think someone has made a big impression on your brother,’ Aaron chuckled. ‘Maybe I was wrong about them earlier?’

‘Yeah, so I noticed. I hope he knows what he’s getting into there. I think Carol is one very smart and very driven woman.’

‘He’s big enough and ugly enough to be able to look after himself, though. Isn’t he?’

‘Only time will tell, babe,’ I replied, as I pulled him closer and kissed the side of his head.

Looking around I noticed that there were quite a few little groups engaged in conversation. Every now and then some laughter would ring out into the night, or someone would become quite animated as they told stories or jokes or whatever it was they were talking about. I also noticed that Jess and Kellie were sitting with Samantha and seemed to be deep in conversation. Jess looked across at me at one stage and saw me looking her way. She offered a little wave and a smile, before turning her attention back to whatever it was that Samantha was saying.

Content with the knowledge that I had at least been partly instrumental in bringing all these people together for the night, I turned back to Aaron and whispered something into his ear. He looked at me and smiled, then quietly he led me away from the bonfire, hand in hand, slipping around our vehicle unnoticed, and heading down the sandy path toward our favourite beach.

Walking through the trees and the scrub in the moonlight, with soft dapples of light showing us the way and patches of sand almost glowing, was something of a surreal experience.

The full moon had risen above the horizon and was reaching up into the night sky, bathing the country with light.

The sounds of the party, quieter now than they had been earlier, were being left behind us, slowly being replaced by the growing sounds of the rolling surf. With our arms around each others’ waists we carefully picked our way along the sandy path, doing our best not to stumble when presented with a tree root or a branch crossing our way.

The farther we went, however, the louder that another noise seemed to become, and we soon realised that the Australia Day celebrations were also still in full swing in Thompsonville, just across the low rise to our right. The music was really pumping and I could just imagine all the activity going on down beside the lake.

‘Hey, didn’t they say there would be fireworks tonight?’ Aaron asked as we finally reached the beach.

‘Yeah, and they also said the party would be kicking on until late.’

‘How about we head up onto the point and see if we’re not too late?’ When I hesitated he added, ‘Please?’

‘Well, I know that wasn’t quite the fireworks show I was hoping to see tonight, but how could I refuse a request like that?’ I replied.

In the moonlight I could see him grinning at me.

‘No real reason why you can’t get to see and have it all,’ he teased. ‘Come on, I’ll race you to the path.’

For a couple of strides he tried dragging me along with him at a run, but I have to admit that I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as him about running in the dark and our hands soon separated. He was laughing as he turned to face me, running backwards in shuffling steps, while goading me on, but it was soon my turn to laugh when he stumbled on a piece of driftwood and was sent sprawling backwards into the sand, laughing.

For the second time tonight he picked himself up and brushed himself off. I quickly pulled him to me and hugged him, taking care to brush my hands across the firm cheeks of his arse, in the pretense of helping him brush off some sand, then while he was still trying to right himself, I gave him a playful shove and took off, running along the beach in the moonlight.

‘Come on!’ I called back over my shoulder.

‘Hey! No fair!’ I heard him call out, then in a heartbeat it seemed, he was running alongside of me.

I knew of course that I had no chance of beating him. I may have been slightly taller, but he was the one with muscled, work-hardened legs, and the one who was used to physical exertion.

When we hit the end of the beach he was a mile in front of me, but he didn’t stop there, as he continued running up the path toward the picnic area on the crest of the ridge, while I was soon struggling, out of breath and with legs that were beginning to feel like jelly.

‘You’re a bastard!’ I said to him when I eventually caught up with him at the picnic area, sitting as cool as you like on the stone retainer wall that ran part way across the hill. I leant against a metal pole with a sign attached to it and started sucking in air.

‘You were the one who cheated!’ he admonished.

Yeah, he had me there, I thought.

It was just then that we heard an explosion come from the vicinity of the town and we both looked down to see a white ball of fire shooting hundreds of feet into the air, before exploding in a brilliant burst of white light, which illuminated and reflected off the lake, giving the illusion that that there was far more than just the one which had been fired skywards.

With the lake well lit it became apparent that they were setting off the fireworks from several barges in the middle of the lake, which was instantly confirmed when a succession of further explosions sent three more fireworks, all brilliantly coloured this time, hurtling into the night. They rose to a height of several hundred feet, before they too shattered into a million coloured stars, which would eventually fall harmlessly into the water.

Even from where we sat we could hear the sound of the crowd as they cheered the show, only to have them quickly drowned out as another series of fireworks were let off, one after the other after the other.

The range of different colours and styles was quite amazing, from those that shot straight up into the air, to those which seemed to be sent up spinning almost out of control right from that first explosion. There were white ones and green ones and red ones and purple ones. There were those which shattered into a million stars, then there were those which blew apart into four or five smaller stars, only to have each of those then shatter and spread their fire over a much wider area.

The show must have gone on for about ten minutes, during which time Aaron and I crossed over to the town side of the picnic area and sat on a grassy slope to watch them. Aaron sat between my legs, his back against my chest and my arms wrapped protectively around him.

As the show started to wind down and the fireworks started to slow, all of a sudden these three large windmills of sparks started up out on the water, one on each of the three barges we could see floating on the lake.

The windmills spun at a great rate, with all three burning a brilliant orange, then when they were almost exhausted there was one last hurrah as three single fireworks shot upwards, higher than anything else had reached. They seemed to hang there in the night, three stars burning bright, but then each of them exploded into a dozen pieces. We watched as those pieces started to fall, then were amazed when each of them exploded themselves. A veil of brilliant white light started falling to earth, dense and bright, and all of a sudden it was daylight once more, glowing strong and bright spreading the light out far and wide.

That lasted but a few seconds before darkness returned once more. It was certainly a spectacular show, and with Aaron in my arms it was a fitting end to a fantastic day.

 To be continued . . .

 

Stand By Me – performed by Ben E. King
Songwriters: Clarence Fountain, Roscoe Robinson, Anthony E. Beck.
© Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, IMAGEM U.S. LLC

YMCA – performed by The Village People
Songwriters: Henri Belolo, Jacques Morali, Victor Willis

Khe Sanh (Last Train Out of Sydney) – performed by Cold Chisel
Songwriter: Don Walker
© Universal Music Publishing Group

True Colours – performed by Cyndi Lauper
Songwriters: Billy Steinberg, Tom Kelly.
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Come What May – from the movie soundtrack of Moulin Rouge
Performed by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor
Songwriters: Kevin Gilbert, David Francis Baerwald

 

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