Chapter Seventeen: 1999

    The year 1999 was an eventful year in the lives of the "Denton" gang.  Month after month, the Denton regulars bumped into each other in New York City.  Some had already met each other in New York before, so it wasn't a surprise, but others were very much surprised.
    One night, Bert Schnick got off work and headed home.  He passed by a loud biker bar - which turned out to be a lesbian bar - and suddenly one of its patrians walked out, nearly colliding with Bert.  It was Bert's old wardrobe mistress from Denton.  They were both very shocked to discover each other in New York City (of all places).
    And one day, in mid-March, Neely walked into a television studio office for a job interview and discovered two people she knew from Denton: her old crew (one black guy and one white guy) but it had been so long ago, she couldn't remember their names.  Both of them seemed very nervous to be discovered.  They had fled Denton after they struck Oscar's drummer from the band back in '82.  They heard that he had died, so they fled and ended up years ago in New York City, after several strange twist of fates pulled them there.  Now, here in 1999, their old boss, Neely Pritt had found them as they worked at their new job in a New York City television studio.  The three of them talked for a few minutes and Neely's old crew realized that Neely did not suspect them at all -- so they relaxed.
    Macy, who ended up sleeping with her boss for a promotion (and continued to be romantically linked to him) left work one night in August and discovered Emily Weiss getting out of a cab.  Apparently, Emily realized over the years that she needed her husband Harry in her life.  She regretted getting involved -- or perhaps "obsessed" is a better word - with TV game shows.  She was having a very difficult time avoiding that new show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire."  Macy said she had seen Harry recently and that she would help reunite Emily with her estranged husband.
    In September, Bert left his home and discovered a bum sleeping on the sidewalk.  The bum was actually someone he knew from his past: Brad Majors.  Surprised, Bert asked if it was him.  Brad said, "Yes," and proceeded to tell him that he has been miserable without Janet...but he refuses to give up looking for her.  Bert offered to give money to Brad because Brad was in bad shape, living life on the street as a bum.  Brad politely declined, but agreed that if ever he was starving, he would come to Bert for help.  Bert noticed that Brad was wearing a beautiful ring on his finger - one that looked exactly like Nation McKinley's ring.  Brad caught his glance, and said, "You like the ring? It's yours.  I came across it recently, hoping it was worth a lot of money.  But I'd gladly give it to you if you let me have dinner with you whenever I'm feeling a little hungry.  What do you say?"  Bert thought it was odd, considering Brad could easily pawn it for some easy cash, but in the end, Bert took the ring, and invited Brad to eat with him whenever he wanted.  It would be the start of a new found friendship.  Brad eat a meal with Bert once a week for the rest of the year, and often found themselves discussing old times and new times.  By the end of the year, Brad had cleaned up.  By the star of November, Brad was doing so well, he no longer visited Bert...which left Bert feeling a little concerned.
    Ralph Hapschatt did not die from his attacker's stabbings.  However, he did end up in a coma for the entire year, inside a New Jersey hospital.  By October, the doctors who watched over his condition wondered if he would ever come out of the coma.  Those close to Ralph Hapschatt talked with the police often, but the police had no lead as to who would have done such a hideous crime to Ralph Hapschatt.
    Around Halloween, Oliver Wright sat on a park bench, as he needed a rest on his daily walk.  He was still searching for Betty, and he knew that she was somewhere in New York City.  He would not give up searching until he found her.  On this particular day, a young man named "Tom" (who secretly was also looking for Betty to revenge her putting him in jail) sat down on the same park bench as Oliver.  Over the next 20 minutes, the two gentlemen talked, and Oliver revealed that he was in New York City to find the woman he loved, Betty Hapschatt.  This intrigued Tom, and although he never revealed the real reason he was in New York City, Tom decided to keep close to Oliver -- just in case Oliver found Betty first.  Tom smiled and continued to listen to his new "friend" Oliver.
    In November, the floor manager (from DTV studios in Denton) stood inside Don's Donut Shop, talking to his sister (long-distance) on the phone.  She had been worried about him ever since he was released from jail for being in the country illegally.  Luckily for him, he was released when a woman came forward and claimed to be his "wife" (which, of course, was a lie - considering he had never married).  When he left the jail, his "wife" shipped him off to New York City where he continued to live there with her.  She (much to his surprise) had a marriage liscence that proved they were, indeed, married.  He never questioned how she did it, but was grateful, and they have lived together in NYC for all these years.  On this particular day, talking to his sister on the phone inside Don's Donut Shop, he assured her he was happy and this seemed to relax her.  He said goodbye, and hung up the phone.  He looked over at Farley and gave him the A-OK sign with his fingers and smiled.  Farley smiled back.

    And so, that is what happened during the year 1999...

    ...oh, and one other thing: In early December, all the Denton "Regulars" received a special invitation to a New Year's Eve Party - sent from a "friend."  They were asked to bring in the New Millinium together with old Denton friends - that they would NOT forget the evening...this was a promise.

    The time was ten minutes 'til midnight on New Year's Eve.  Bert Schnick got out of the cab and faced the building which, from the outside, seemed abandoned and dark.  Looking at his invitation, he verified that he, indeed, had the correct address for the special party he had been invited to on this millinium changeover.
    Bert stepped forward and noticed a man standing outside the main door of the building.  It was Brad Majors, looking very nice, in a suit none-the-less.
    "Brad, you clean up well!" Bert said to him, smiling.
    Brad seemed surprised and said to him, "Bert! What are you doing here in New York City?"
    Bert laughed Brad's remark off and said, "You're such a kidder, Brad! You know I live here now!"
    Brad stopped smiling and said, "How long have you lived here?"
    Bert answered, "Quite a while.  But we've already talked about this."
    Brad asked, "We have?"
    Bert replied, "Yes, over several dinners in my apartment here in New York.  Don't you remember?"
    Brad shook his head no, and said, "I've never had dinner with you."
    Bert stopped smiling, and felt nervous, as though he had entered some kind of weird twilight zone.  Why doesn't Brad remember any of this? What is he - brainwashed?
    Brad said, "I'm here in New York to find Janet.  But tonight, I'm going to this party."
    "Yeah," Bert said, "Me too.  Perhaps Janet will be there."
    "That's what I'm hopin' for.  The invitation said it's a reunion with all of the 'Denton Regulars.'"
    Bert walked past Brad towards the main door and opened it, saying, "Well...let's find out, shall we?"
    Together they entered the building and stepped into a long corridor, full of several doors on each side.
    "The invitation says it's the 2nd door on our left..." Brad said.
    The two of them went to the second door on the left and could hear people talking behind it.  "This must be it," Bert said, opening it.
    They stepped inside to a dimly lit warehouse.  There, inside, stood everyone they knew front Denton, including Macy, Neely, her crew, the floor manager, the make-up artists, Oscar Drill and most of his bits -- the list of guests went on.  Everyone of them were from the old days back in Denton, specifically during the Faith Factory Show scandal.
    In the back of the warehouse, there were three rectangular boxes, upright and tall, covered in sheets.  They were each about 6 feet wide and about 10 feet tall, practically to the ceiling.  The mystery of what lay underneith the sheets was unknown.
    Everyone in the room was standing around (there were no chairs), talking to each other.  When Brad and Bert entered, everyone greeted them individually.  Minutes later, they involved in reunion chatter with each other.
    "Have you seen Janet?" Brad asked each of them, but no one had heard from her.
    Neely said to Macy, "I wonder what's behind those sheets?"
    Macy said, "I wonder who threw this party?"
    Ricky approached Ansalong, and said "Hello.  I've missed you."
    Ansalong smiled, and said, "Me, too."
    Harry Weiss stepped up to Emily and said, "I made a mistake.  A big one.  I need you in my life.  Forgive me?"
    Emily started to cry, and then embraced him, saying, "Oh, yes, Harry.  I'm sorry, too!"
    Oliver looked across the room and saw Betty, who was approaching him.  She smiled when she was a few feet from him and said, seductively, "How'dy old-timer.  What took you so long?"
    Oliver hugged her and said, "I hope you don't mind being seen with an older man."
    Betty smiled, laughed, and said, "Why, Oliver! Maturity is something I look for in a man!"
    Suddenly, the floor manager shouted, "Hey everybody! Listen up! It's almost midnight! And there are plenty of surprises in store for tonight! We've got about two minutes before the new millinium starts!"
    Without missing a bit, Oscar Drill walked over to the first of the three covered "boxes" and made a loud announcement: "If I can have your attention! Everyone!"
    Seconds later, the room became quiet.  Brenda Drill walked to the door of the room, and locked the door with a padlock that was there.  Everyone was trapped inside.
    Before anyone could respond, Oscar continued, "Brad Majors, step forward please! This bud's for you!"
    Nervously, Brad stepped to the front of the group and said, "Yes?"
    "Still lookin' for Janet?" Oscar asked.  Suddenly he pulled the sheet away to reveal Janet, tied to a chair, which sat inside a large wooden frame box.  Her mouth had silver masking tape on it, preventing her from talking.  Oscar Drill went up to Janet and pulled the tape off in one quick pull, saying, "Say hello, Janet!"
    "BRAD!" Janet screamed.
    "Janet!" Brad yelled, starting to run to her.  However, policeman Vance Parker pulled out a gun and stopped Brad in his tracks by pointing it at him.
    "Not so fast, Brad," Vance said.
    Brad saw the gun and stopped.  In the back of the room, one of Neely's crew members tried to open the locked door but it was no use: they were trapped.
    Oscar shouted, "Sorry guys.  This time around, nobody's ba-da-da-da, ba-da, breaking out!"
    "This is outrageous!" Harry Weiss said, "You can't hold us prisoners!"
    "Emily Weiss! Step forward!" Oscar shouted to the group.
    Nervously, Emily stepped forward through the crowd.  Harry tried to pull her back, fearing harm would come to her, but she insisted.
    When she was up front, Oscar said, "You're the game-show-queen!  What do you say? Do you like what we revealed behind door number one?"  He pointed to Janet, who looked like she was ready to cry.  Oscar continued, "Or would you be willing to trade it off for whatever -- or whoever -- is behind door number two!"
    At that instant, Oscar Drill pulled the sheet off the wooden frame that formed the second box, revealing...
    The drummer from Oscar's band!
    Only he wasn't dead -- he was alive!  Tied in a chair, just as Janet was.  Oscar pulled the silver tape away from his mouth.
    The drummer from the band shouted, "That's impossible!  He's dead!  He was hit by a van!  I went to his funeral!"
    "Yes," Oscar said, "We all did!  But I assure you, he's quite alive.  Say something for the crowd..."
    The drummer opened his mouth and tried to form words.  What came out was hoarse whispers, unintelligible.
    "My God!" shouted Brad, "What is the meaning of all of this?  Who's behind this?"
    From behind box # 3, Farley stepped out, appearing for the first time.
    "I should have known," Brad said, frowning at his brother, "You made this all happen."
    Farley stepped up to Brad and said, "Always blaming me for your mistakes, huh Brad?  Well, sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not responsible here."
    The floor manager shouted, "That's right.  In fact, the person responsible for you all being here wife!"
    The group of Dentonvalers looked at each other in confusion, some of them mumbling, "he's married?"
    Brenda Drill said, "Hey guys!  It's almost midnight, just 10 seconds left!"
    Farley said, "What a grand entrance she'll make!  At the stroke of midnight!  Come on everybody.  Let's meet his wife, what do ya say! Let's count down!  5.... 4......"
    Only a few people counted with Farley.  Brad suspected those that counted were either working for Farley or brainwashed.
    "3.... 2.....1...!!!!!!"
Suddenly stepping out from the dark shadows (had she been watching this entire time - not even seen?) was:

    Queen Andoria, from the now destroyed planet, Transexual.

In the next chapter, our host explains why everyone has been drawn together... and offers a few surprises as well.