Redwood Littlefolk Brings the Funk
By: Walter G. Esselman

Lena, the receptionist at the Morgan and Fine Group, did a double–take as a tall man leaned down to fit his Afro under the door. Her breath came shallow as he glided up to the desk. Lena tried to speak, but she could not get the words out.

Suddenly, the man noticed Lena's glazed eyes and became very self–conscious. He stood back.

"Oh, sorry about that," rumbled the man.

And just like that, Lena could breathe.

"Sometimes the fey charm turns on, all by itself," said the man apologetically. "My Mom's worse."

The man's apology had given Lena a chance to recover. But her sky blue dress still felt too tight.

"I take it you're part fairy?" asked Lena in what she hoped was a normal voice.

"Name's Redwood," replied the man. "And you might not want to throw around the word 'fairy'. Some of the older fey get upset about that. Never bothered me though."

Even with the charm turned off though, Lena had to admit that he was still impressive. He was tall with mahogany skin, and a large Afro that seemed to defy gravity. But most of all, his bright blue eyes were kind and gentle.

"I didn't know that 'fairy' was a bad word," said Lena.

"Well, I mean we are 'fairies', but there are so many different groups," admitted Redwood conversationally. "Like, my Mom is a Forest Goddess, but Grandpa was a Jack–In–Irons."

"How many kinds of fair…fey are there?" asked Lena.

"More than anyone can count," laughed Redwood, and then he seemed to remember himself. "But I did come here on official business."

"Oh! Can I help you?" chirped Lena, a little too loudly.

"I'm here with 'Dance Attack Corporation' for Winston Fine," said Redwood.

As Lena looked down the list, she spoke. "Dance Attack?"

"We bring music into a setting, be it office or classroom, for a surprise dance party, which has been set up by a responsible party ahead of time," explained Redwood as he intoned the corporate line. He lifted up his snazzy boom box. "Mr. Fine's team is stressed, and he thought they could use some Funk."

Lena called up, and then she announced that Winston was rushing right down.

"Do you only do Funk?" asked Lena curiously.

"We play everything," replied Redwood. "I went to a classroom earlier today because the teacher's class needed to calm down before they took some big exam. I used some Vivaldi there, and the Four Seasons brought a deep calm. Those kids'll be okay."

"Is it just the magic?" asked Lena.

"Well…I do drop in a bit of Charm too," admitted Redwood, but then he added quickly. "Within lawful limits."

"You can't use your Charm for evil? Is that it?" smiled Lena.

"There would be…trouble," said Redwood.

"I didn't think the cops watched that," replied Lena.

Redwood rumbled like a amused storm cloud. "That would be the least of my worries. No, the Fey…well, they keep their own in line."

"I didn't know that," whispered Lena.

Redwood just put his finger to his lips.

"I can do that," said Lena.

"Thank God you're here!" cried out a voice from the elevator. Winston burst out of the elevator and bustled up to Redwood. "You're from Dance Attack? Aren't you?"

"I am sir," smiled Redwood warmly.

"Thank you for fitting us in. My team is having a really bad day," said Winston. "The team loved—LOVED—the original pitch for this account, but it got shot down. So now we need a new idea by 9am tomorrow morning. But everyone is just so scattered…demoralized."

"I understand," nodded Redwood thoughtfully. "In that case, we'll start with a little Bootsy Collins first. Then build from there."

"How long will it take?" asked Winston.

"Since time is an issue," said Redwood. "We need this done—soup to nuts—within fifteen minutes, twenty would be pushing it."

"That'd be great," said Winston in relief.

Winston led Redwood away quickly.

But Redwood did look back apologetically as he was shuffled into the elevator.

Four minutes later, Lena's lunch relief arrived.

"Thanks for covering me Tammy!" said Lena as she bolted up.

Tammy eyeballed her wearily. "What're you up to?"

Lena tried to look innocent. "Me?"

"You know, you still look really guilty," observed Tammy.

"I'll tell you later," smirked Lena.

"I want details!" demanded Tammy. "Preferably smutty ones!"

Lena went up to the tenth floor and heard the music right away. She peeked around a corner. Through an open door, she could see Winston's team deep into the groove. They seemed gleeful, and they were moving without abandon. But she could not see Redwood.

"They definitely needed a music break," rumbled a voice from behind her. Lena managed not to jump, and that cheered her. Trying to look casual, she turned back to Redwood. His gray Polo shirt, with its "Dance Attack" patch over the breast pocket, was stretched tight over his chest.

"So that's what you do?" asked Lena.

Redwood shrugged his massive shoulders. "Started as a side job, bringing people a small measure of joy during the work day. But it snowballed."

"And you just bring music, and people dance?" asked Lena.

"Only if they want to dance," insisted Redwood. "But the good cheer helps the non–dancers too."

"And you use your Charm?" whispered Lena conspiratorially.

"Just a little at first," shrugged Redwood. "The tension in them, it's like a toxin, and the good cheer helps to work it out. Like a fever breaking."

Turning back, Lena watched the people move joyously, and then she glanced back to Redwood.

"I get off at six," smiled Lena.

"I'll be here," said Redwood earnestly.

"See that you are," said Lena.

And Redwood grinned.



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