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"The Star"

He sang the closing bars of the song 
and the audience roared their appreciation. 
He could hear them rising from their seats 
for the standing ovation, 
but he couldn’t see beyond the stage lights. 

At first he had been elated at the enthusiasm 
coming from the darkness in front of him, 
but now he was beginning to wonder about it. 

He’d opened the show with his latest country record, 
and had done two songs since. 
Each had evoked whistles, shouts, 
and standing applause. 
At least it sounded like they were standing up. 

He looked back at his band for support, 
but there was just a sequin curtain behind him. 
Where the hell were those idiots? 
And where was his backup music coming from? 
He hated canned music, 
especially since he was paying them damn good money. 

He had always paid his band and road crew top dollar, 
because that entitled him to the power he deserved. 
After all, he was the star. 

If he wanted to get high and make out with one of their wives, 
why not? 
And who says he doesn’t have a perfect right to yell at them, 
on stage or off. 
A little humiliation in front of the crowd kept them in line. 

You had to be tough 
to handle a bunch of ignorant pickers on the road. 

He said into the mike: 
“Well, folks, 
they had a livestock inspection at the state line, 
and I guess I lost my whole band.” 
Laughter washed up from the dark like a tidal wave. 

He didn’t think the joke was THAT funny. 
Was somebody pulling a practical joke on him? 
Maybe his own damn wife put ‘em up to it. 
She was probably still mad 
over that little black eye he’d given her. 
My God! That was over a week ago! 
And she had deserved it for sassing him back. 

He was paying all the bills, 
and it was his damn show! 
They all better get used to it. 

What was the next song? 
They were causing him to lose his place in front of his fans. 
That was unforgivable. 
He’d make them pay later. 

He strummed a chord on his guitar, trying to think. 
The crowd went wild! 
What the hell? 
One chord brings the house down? 

He said, 
“What’s going on folks? 
Is this some kind of a trick?” 
Quiet now from the dark. 
Just a cough from somewhere way back. 

“Look, I’m a star with gold and platinum records 
all over my bathroom wall, 
which is bigger than your whole house! 
You yokels better not screw with me”. 

Quiet again, 
except for a child softly crying. 

A tall man in a dusty looking tux came out on stage, 
and said, “Isn’t this a great show, folks?” 
The applause was louder and wilder than ever. 

The strange emcee started to walk off. 
Bobby Lee grabbed his arm and said 
“What the hell is going on here, pal? 
And I expect the TRUTH!” 

The emcee turned and looked at him 
with eyes so deeply set that they were just shadows. 
He said, “It’s exactly what you’ve always wanted, Bobby.” 

Bobby Lee yelled: 
“What do you mean ‘what I’VE always wanted’?” 

The shadow-eyed master of ceremonies said this: 
“Complete control.” 

The crowd roared again... 
if that was really a crowd out there. 

Copyright © September 2, 2003 Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. 


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