Frannie watched as her father walked out from backstage and crooked his index finger at Baby with a smile, all the while walking toward her. She watched as her parents executed a flawless version of the last dance at KellermanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Mountain Lodge in 1963. The ooohÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and ahhhÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s never failed to appear every time this scene was shown. This was the first time, however, that she experienced this particular scene in person.
And she was enjoying it until Johnny left Baby and jumped off the stage. It was a shorter stage, lower to the ground than the original ballroom stage, but she still couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help herself.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Pop,Ã¢â‚¬Â? she cried, standing up.
Johnny glanced her way once and when he did, she could see a huge bright smile on his face. He loved this.
He turned to Baby as if he were seeking her approval. He waited until she smiled and answered his silence by nodding her head. He turned and looked for his eldest daughter, motioning for her to come join him. She shook her head no, but Johnny wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t taking that for an answer. Baby, meanwhile, had gotten her out on stage. Johnny reached up for her, took her into his arms and brought her down to the floor.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There you go,Ã¢â‚¬Â? he said, putting her down. Frannie looked at him a little concerned.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Go on,Ã¢â‚¬Â? he said, waving her away, Ã¢â‚¬Å“you know just what to do.Ã¢â‚¬Â?
She nodded and moved to the back of the room to join the other dancers. Johnny had combined the old and new dancers together to form the dances troupe of his dreams.
Johnny got everyone going, exactly as he done thirty-six years ago, doing that Cuban rhythm soul dance that they had worked hard on all summer, the one Neil had told him not to do. He led them down the aisle and each of them had executed the dance steps with precision and grace. Johnny now stopped in the middle of the aisle while the dancers parted around him, heading for the stage. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s where they stopped.
Johnny moved forward a bit and looked at Baby with a silent question. He seemed to be asking, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Are you ready?Ã¢â‚¬Â? and Baby nodded enthusiastically.
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s when Johnny brought his arms above his head. Baby stepped back onto the stage and ran forward, taking a flying leap across the room, arms and legs outstretched, heading straight for those two hands reaching toward the ceiling.
Everyone held their breath, including Frannie.
Her mother made a perfect landing, right into those hands. Johnny held her up and Baby balanced perfectly. He held her for a second or two before releasing her and pulling her into his arms. They both laughed and hugged each other, a job well done. They had a moment alone before all the dancers crowded around, congratulating them on a job well done.
Frannie sighed with relief as the rest of the dancers crowded around them. She was just as happy the last scene in the show was over. The dance and the lift came off perfectly. She couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do a better job as if she had done it herself.
Frannie was about to walk away when she heard her father call her name. She looked over and the sea of people had parted. Johnny and Baby held their outstretched hands toward her and she ran into them, feeling as if she were a little girl again.
Frannie looked around at the empty stage. She couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t believe the show that she had worked on all year was finally over. Pay Per View was gone, having wrapped up their equipment earlier that morning.
She looked around and picked up her bags. She, Kevin and Cody were leaving on the next train back to New York City, where another job awaited her, that of a housewife and mother. She hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t taken the Hollywood job, it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t meant to be. She would help Kevin for a while and mind Cody. She needed a break and here was her perfect opportunity. SheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll get something else. Her father had been right all along.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Frannie?Ã¢â‚¬Â? She looked up, and saw him, his eyes sparkling and grinning from ear to ear. Speak of the devil.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You were wonderful out there, my little girl,Ã¢â‚¬Â? Johnny said, taking her in his arms and squeezed her tight.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“So were you and Mom,Ã¢â‚¬Â? Frannie whispered, releasing him. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ The two of you were sensational.Ã¢â‚¬Â?
Johnny grinned. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have never felt better, Frannie.Ã¢â‚¬Å“
Ã¢â‚¬Å“And you looked the part,Ã¢â‚¬Â? Frannie agreed, smiling.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“So the three of you are going back to New York?Ã¢â‚¬Â? Johnny asked.
Frannie nodded her head. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Of course, Daddy. You know I quit the California job. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be helping Kevin for a while until I can find something on my own.Ã¢â‚¬Â?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“And you will, Frannie,Ã¢â‚¬Â? Johnny whispered, Ã¢â‚¬Å“believe me, you will. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t rush it.Ã¢â‚¬Â?
Frannie smiled and nodded her head.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“When are you coming back?Ã¢â‚¬Â?
Johnny shook his head. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know Frannie. We still have some renovating to finish, and we have to build a new ballroom. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be there for Thanksgiving and Christmas, count on it.Ã¢â‚¬Â?
They both smiled and hugged each other. .
Kevin walked out holding little CodyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hand. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Goodbye, Johnny,Ã¢â‚¬Â? he said holding his arm out in the gesture of a handshake. Ã¢â‚¬Å“See you soon,Ã¢â‚¬Â? he picked Cody up turned around to go.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Leaving so fast?Ã¢â‚¬Â? another voice called. Baby walked out of the shadows and reached for her.
They hugged each other until they couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t anymore.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I love you, Frannie,Ã¢â‚¬Â? Baby whispered. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You know this. You will be living in our building. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be a stranger.Ã¢â‚¬Â? She hugged Kevin next, then Cody.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t, Mommy,Ã¢â‚¬Â? she said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you worry.Ã¢â‚¬Â?
She turned around to leave when she remembered something. Frannie turned toward her parents again.
“Don’t forget my car,” she called out and the two of them nodded and waved. It was actually their car that she had brought up, not hers. But they always returned it to her.
And the three of them parted. It had been a wonderful reunion, Frannie wrote in her diary. She heard a scream, followed by laughter. When she looked up, she noticed Kevin and Cody playing in the seat opposite her. Then she turned to look out the train window. It had been a wonderful reunion, one she would not forget anytime soon.