Coming into Power Chapter 2

Helen saw a small table near the stage, and dragged it to the entrance. Using both hands, she picked up the donation jar from her basket and placed it on the table. Next she arranged the flyers that advertised their availability for future gigs. She paused a moment to pick up one of their flyers to admire it. Bob did a really good job when he designed this one. Their name, "Vocal Strings", almost seemed to jump out. She liked the way he used musical notes to make up the letters. Below their band name were pictures of the three of them. Joe, being the blond handsome guy, stood slightly behind and between them. She ran her fingers over the three figures in the picture, tracing out Joe's wavy blond hair, Bob's curly black hair, and her own long straight light brown hair. Sighing, she put the flyer down. She needed to set up the chairs.

"I see you've fixed your broken strings."

"What?" She turned around to see a young man pointing at the flyer. "Oh, you mean our name change. Yes, we are no longer the "Broken Strings." Every few months we change our band name. We'll probably change it again soon."

She walked across the room to get the concert hall's chairs to set in front of the stage. The young man followed her, and together they set the chairs in neat staggered rows in front of the stage. When they had finished, she thanked the young man. "Thank you very much. Could you do me another favor?"

He responded by looking questioningly at her.

"Could you point out the donation jar to new people coming in?"

The young man smiled. "Of course. I'll be glad to do it."

Next, she helped Bob and Joe set up the sound system. While Bob played his guitar, She walked through the rows of chairs, signaling to Joe how to adjust the sound.

During this testing period more people began entering the hall. Some sat down immediately while others congregated in small groups in the back of the hall. She looked to Joe to see if he needed any additional sound checks. Joe signaled the all clear. But unexpectedly, instead of sitting down to play, he followed his all clear signal by an exaggerated pointing at the entrance to the Hall.

She turned her head to look. Two tall men, dressed in very formal suits, had just entered the hall. One of the two wore an unusually bright red vest, while the other distinguished himself by his top hat and fancy sash belt tied to his side.

She quelled the impulse to tell them that they did not need to have such formal dress for this concert. It would probably only embarrass them. As she drew nearer Red Vest smiled and waved to her. She reached them just as Top Hat, addressing his friendly companion, complained. "Cato, they don't even have an entrance fee! It's just a donation. What kind of concert is this?"

She stood speechless for a moment, wondering what she could say to such an insult.

Cato's smooth mellow voice showed his agreement with her feelings. "Will, I think having a donation jar is an excellent idea." He extended his hand to her. "I'm Senator Cato Irving. My irritating companion is Senator Will Bellum. I'm sure we'll both enjoy your performance."

Her eyes opened wide. She had almost insulted an U.S. Senator! Even she had heard of the Senator Cato Irving of the ethics committee. Why were they here? Surely they were not here just to critique her performance? As she shook Cato's hand, she noticed the time on his expensive looking watch. Smiling at Cato, she apologized. "Thanks. I don't mean to be short, but now I have to run. It's time for us to start." As she turned away, she had a second thought. She turned to face Cato. "I'll introduce you after the concert."

As she jumped up onto the low stage, Joe's watch chimed to signal beginning time. He took the microphone. "As senior member of our group, I get to make the introductions. I'm Joe Athens. Sometimes we call the guitar player Bob, sometimes we call him Bam, and sometimes we refer to him as 'just the best guitar player on the planet'." Joe pointed to Helen. "Helen, our lovely singer, the most beautiful lady in the world, also answers to the name 'Hat' Can you guess why?"

Joe paused, then smiled at the audience. "I will give you this hint. Her last name begins with the letter T."

Joe took a firmer hold of the microphone. "Today is Saturday, July first, 2090. Why am I reminding you of this? It's so that when I tell you that today is both Bob's and Helen's birthday, you will remember it. Of course, I'm not permitted to tell you what year she came into the world."

She winked at Bob. They had literally run into each other in the doorway of the music appreciation computer lab. She fondly remembered being helped up by Joe as she and Bob untangled themselves in the doorway. Calling them "The Three Musketeers" expressed only weakly the extent to which their friendship had since developed.

Helen strode forward and took the microphone from Joe. "Before I begin my songs, I want to explain why wehave a donation jar instead of preset prices." She waved herleft hand toward Joe and Bob. "We all decided that we wantedto give everyone, regardless of their money situation, opportunity to hear our music. At the same time, we felt that our listeners were the best judge of how valuable our music was to them. That's why we left a donation jar at the entrance, and left it there during the performance in case any of you preferred to pay your donation after the performance rather than before."

"My first song dates back to the time when almost a third of our population actually smoked cigarettes."
Oh where do you wish to live?
Wish you to live in fresh air?
What are you willing to give,
what are you willing to dare,
For abundant life to live?

Greatly love Sally did Fred.
"I would like to be your friend."
Sally thus considered Fred.
"We will be able to blend,
if your cigs I need not dread."

One day Fred met with his Aunt.
"I would like to with you be."
How Fred was viewed by his Aunt:
"Your cigs I must never see.
On your visit, smoke you can't."

Different type work wished Fred.
"I'd like to work in Sales."
His boss nixed the plan of Fred.
"Any salesman who smokes, fails.
For smokers do our clients dread."

Came the day Fred's health did fail.
"Now what do I need to do?"
The doctor could not avail.
"There is nothing you can do.
Death is standing at your door."

Helen pulled the microphone slightly closer. "This next song is a bit more serious."

Blessed are they who seek wisdom rather than
power for they shall not fear nor cause fear.
Blessed are they who seek good both for themselves
and for their neighbors, for they shall have peace.

Blessed are they who seek cooperation in solving problems,
for they shall know the joys of working together.

Blessed are the trustworthy, for they shall inspire trust.

Blessed are they who ask questions rather than only
give answers, for they shall learn and be wise.

Blessed are they who respect the needs of
others, for they shall have no enemies.

Blessed are they who are open to alternative
solutions, for their burden shall be light.

Blessed are they who understand when apparent disagreements
are really agreements disguised by different use
of language, for their quarrels shall be few.

Blessed are they who prefer several good answers over
the one perfect answer, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are they who seek what is right for all rather than
only what is right for themselves, for they will have many

Blessed are they who do not insist on their own way, but seek
first truth and wisdom, for they will find many good ways.

Blessed are the kind and gentle, for they shall reap what
they sow.

Blessed are they who love for they shall love life.

Blessed are they who are free from expectations
for they shall be free indeed.

Blessed are they who accept others unconditionally,
for they shall be called angels.

Twice blessed are they who enjoy life,
for they know what is good.

Her remaining songs were positive affirmations of her conviction that through your work, and through the friends you love, true happiness will come.

After the concert, the trio took their bow with grace, accepting the audience's enthusiastic applause. She felt warm with pride in her singing today. She glanced over at Bob, and caught his appreciative nod; he'd felt it too.

She reached for the microphone stand with one hand. "Now I'd like to intro. . . Yow!" She crumpled to the stage floor as a monstrous blue spark of light leaped from the direction of the microphone stand to her fingers.

When she opened her eyes many faces crowded her view. She lay on some soft mat and darkness still obscured her vision. A commanding mellow voice filled her awareness. "She's awake! Give her room!"

She felt her head with her hands. "What happened?"

"Some kind of electrical fault knocked you out." Bob, looking worried and concerned, took her hand. "You scared us a lot by passing out like that. How do you feel?"

She looked around. She found herself backstage behind a heavy curtain which blocked most of the light. No wonder she couldn't see very clearly! She began to feel a bit better. "I'll be fine in a minute. May I have a glass of water?"

Joe addressed the crowd around him. "Thanks for your concern, folks. But now we need to pack up our gear and clear the hall."

Except for the young man who had helped her place the chairs, the crowd dispersed. He stood, head slightly bowed, looking at them as if to ask permission to speak. When Joe nodded his head slightly, he spoke. "That electric spark didn't come from the microphone. I saw it come through the window. It flew in a straight line past the microphone stand right into her hand."

When he saw that their only responses were looks of astonishment, he turned, walked slowly away, pulled apart the heavy curtain, and left the hall.

Meanwhile, Senator Bellum and his companion had walked through the exit door on the opposite side of the hall. Senator Bellum spoke quietly to his companion. "She promised to introduce us. She didn't keep her promise."

His companion smiled. "You know, Will, you can be such a jerk."

Will heard the smile in his friend's voice. "Yes. We make a good investigative team for the ethics committee. I jerk the people around, and you look for guilty responses. We've caught more wrongdoers than anyone else has."

"True, but tonight's singer is not under investigation. We came only to enjoy her singing."

"You are right. However, we do need to maintain our reputation."

Helen heard their remarks as a silent voice in her head. She figured the voices must be only her imagination."Those guy dressed in formal dress were U.S. senators. Why do you suppose they came to our concert?"

Joe grinned. "Because I invited them."