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To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Expected
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Lisa was out numbered three to one. The Minotaurs approached her in a column at a run, their battle axes raised for attack. Gudrun, the panther, was by her side, snarling, ears laid back, ready to pounce, as soon as Lisa gave the word. “I’ll take the first, and you go for the second, keep an eye on the third, he‘s a little too far behind to be an immediate threat, who ever finishes first takes him on. NOW GUDRUN LET‘S GO,” Lisa yelled, as she ran to engage the large Minotaur.
“For Narnia,” Gudrun growled, as she plowed into her opponent, at breakneck speed, her teeth, and claws quickly tearing hide from bone. The slow Minotaur got only one swing with his ax, and missed. Gudrun had her adversary on the ground, and dead, in a matter of minutes.
Lisa was shorter than her opponent was, but she was stronger, and quicker. With shield, and sword, she parried, attacked, parried, and attacked. This just took a few minutes before she landed the deathblow to her assailant.
The third Minotaur ran to fight against Gudrun. She was set, and ready to pounce, as number three attacked. The Minotaur, abruptly, gave a loud roar, and then slumped to the ground at the point of engaging her.
“An arrow, just like that, with no concern for my enjoyment, you simply shoot the beast in the back with an arrow! You know, you just took away all of my fun! An arrow is so trite! With my strength, teeth, and claws, you simply shoot the bad guy with an arrow! I just can’t believe it!” Gudrun, angrily, spoke, and then started cleaning herself.
“Fine, ok, I’m sorry, next time, I’ll just sit down, and enjoy the show,” Lisa replied, then took a drink from her canteen.
“Thank you, that would be most appreciated, next time. You really know how to take the fun away from a girl,” she continued to fuss.
“Don’t forget to clean your sword, Leese. Aslan always insists on that,” Kenny reminded Lisa in a soft voice, then whistled for Yuri, the Pegasus. “I’m gonna scout ahead, we need to get these people to Cair Paravel, as soon as possible. And you know where there are a few Minotaurs there will be a lot more, and if not Minotaurs, there will be other nasty beasts to deal with.”
Lisa cleaned her sword in the grass, as she watched Kenny fly off on Yuri. “You know, Kenny is a good scout, I don’t think we would have made it this far, this quick, with out him,” Lisa commented, then sheathed her sword, and adjusted her chain mail.
“Aye, he is good. He’s as good a scout, as his big sister is at fighting evil,” Gudrun remarked, flopping down next to Leese.
Kenny surveyed the countryside, and found the quickest path to Cair Paravel. However, there were also creatures, and giants on the way that were not allies of Narnia. With this information, he returned, and told Lisa.
“I see, looks like we’ll have to fight our way through. There is no time to find another route. We have to make it to the castle before nightfall. These people are depending on us, and we are not going to let them down. My plan is that the three Centaurs carry as many of the crippled as possible. The four Fauns and six dwarves will stay with the group, with bows at the ready. Gudrun and I will be the vanguard, taking on all foes that rise up against us. I have some small magic that I can use too. As for you, Kenny, and Yuri, I want you two to fly to castle Cair Paravel, and inform the king of our plight, to send help to meet us. Tell him to hurry, that I am under direct charge from Aslan himself,” Lisa ordered, then patted Kenny on the shoulder.
“By the Lions mane, I shall make all haste, and inform the king,” Kenny said, then mounted Yuri, and sped off.
“Gudrun, are you ready for battle?”
“I’m always ready, just don’t get in my way, or deprive me of my fun,” the, huge, black cat replied, as she vigorously rolled on her back to scratch an itch.
Lisa informed the group of the situation, of her plan, and of their independent duties, and then they were off.
As they slowly traveled south, through the wild woods, to Narnia, and Cair Paravel, they fought many foes. All succumbed to Lisa’s strength, agility, and ability with sword, and bow. An occasional magical fireball, or lightning bolt, she would summon, for larger numbers of evil adversaries.
Gudrun used stealth, strength, agility, teeth, and claws, to overpower her opponents, as she would scout ahead of Leese, and look for targets of opportunity.
Together they formed a formidable fighting unit, as they lead the group onward.
By high noon, they met up with Kenny, Yuri, and the contingent from castle Cair Paravel at the old lamppost. “Kenny you’re a hero, we were exhausted, I don’t think that we could have fought another battle,” Lisa said, then gave Kenny a, big, hug.
The rest of the journey was a piece of cake, what with a portion of the Narnian army as escorts. They arrived at Cair Paravel before sundown, and Aslan himself was there to greet them.
“O, great Aslan, these are some of the people from our world, that you commissioned us to bring. The poor, homeless, crippled, and sick,” Lisa, softly, replied, and then knelt before the great Lion.
“Well done, Lisa and Kenny, well done indeed,”
Aslan then beheld his new subjects. He roared long, and loudly, then spoke, “Welcome to Narnia, here you will no longer be homeless, poor, crippled, or sick. With my roar, you sick were instantly made well, you crippled were made whole. Please enjoy your new home,” said Aslan, and then went to each, and everyone.
Kenny saw Tony in the distance, running around in a field, with a couple of young Fauns, playing tag.
After talking to all, Aslan then beckoned to Lisa and Kenny to come over. “Daughter of Eve, son of Adam, Lisa and Kenny, I task you again. Bring me as many more, as will come that are afflicted in any way.” Aslan commanded, then laughed, as he walked off, exclaiming, “All are welcome. All are welcome. Bring all that will come, to me.”
“Right, then Gudrun, will you, Yuri, and the others be awaiting our return at the same place?” Lisa asked.
“Yep, we’ll be there,” replied Gudrun, as she scratched herself behind the left ear. “And bring me back a flea collar this time, Kenny said that such things exist in your world.”
Lisa and Kenny laughed, as they reached into their pockets for the green rings that would send them back to earth.
Kenny awoke with a smile, and then had to go to the bathroom. When he returned to bed, he slept a peaceful, dreamless sleep, the rest of the night.
Lisa, dad, and Kenny went to an early breakfast, and then to the (8:00 am) Saturday morning mass. Mom slept-in (having come in well after midnight, and having just a tad too much to drink.) The service (mass) was different from their Baptist worship. Moreover, so very few people attended, that Lisa was astonished. Nevertheless, overall it was still a gathering to worship God (no matter how small the congregation.)
After mass, Father O’Gara invited Lisa and Jim to his study with Mother Superior. There they spent time talking, and just chewing the fat. Kenny went to find Tony, and be with the children. As for mom, she finally awoke from the dead, and caught up with them right before lunch.
After lunch, Sister Camille drove Lisa to the studio, for her rehearsal session with Crossfire. “Would you like to go the scenic route, or go directly to the studio?”
“Just straight to the studio, thank you. There’s nothing out here that I’m interested in seeing,” Lisa, softly, replied.
“May I at least show you several of the Churches in the area, it’ll only take a few extra minutes,” Sister Camille asked, then smiled a mischievous smile.
Lisa looked at her, and took a deep breath. “This is gonna be good, right. I mean, what you want to show me is the kind of thing that will probably make my blood boil, won’t it?”
“Yeah, kinda,” she answered, still with the mischievous look.
“Very well then, may we boldly go where I haven’t gone before, make best speed to our destination, Mr. Scott,” Lisa replied, laughing.
“Star Trek,” Sister Camille asked, then started laughing too.
“Yeah, I’ve kinda been brain washed, you see my dad is a big Star Trek nut, and I’ve watched all of the episodes with him over, and over, and over, since I was born.”
Sister Camille then proceeded to carry out her mission, as she brought the old van to life, and then they were on their way.
She gave a tour of several of the, affluent, Churches, in the area, on the way to the studio. The structures were all immaculate, and magnificent. In addition, each one was enclosed in some, very, heavy-duty, security, fencing. One of the, majestic, shrines had its, elegant, heavy duty gates open, so she turned in, and explored the huge parking lot. There were but a few cars there, and no one around. In the Pastors parking space sat a brand new, silver, two-door, convertible, Jaguar. The other cars were new Mercedes, and BMW’s.
“You know, I would like to know the, true, story behind each of these Churches. The people, staff, pastors, how they help, what they preach, their out-reach programs, just everything. I wonder what God feels about these expensive, extravagant, monolithic creations, which exist to, supposedly, worship, and honor him. These Churches just do not look to be user friendly. They do not seem to be calling out to the poor, the sick, the homeless, and the downtrodden; welcome, come on in, have a seat, take off your burdens, and give them to Christ. Just sit back, relax, and hear the word of the Lord.”
“These Churches seem to say; we are wealthy, God does not dwell here, however, there are celebrities here, people of affluence, and people of interest. They almost scream out saying, that some of the people, who attend, are earthly deities, made by the masses that follow them. I just cannot see these churches handing out food, and clothing. I can’t see anyone going door-to-door on Saturdays. I just can’t see such as these having potluck lunch after Sunday morning worship, or anything else like my church does, or St. Agnes.”
“My Pastor and dad do not take any money from our Church. Pastor Lewis is a plumber, and my dad is a high school history teacher. I should not judge, but I just cannot help it. There is something in me, that’s telling me that I’m right, and I just can’t hold back speaking my feelings,” Lisa spoke softly, and then looked at Sister Camille, with a somber expression.
“Aye, tis the Holy Spirit bringing forth truth, and wisdom in you, my dear. Shall we continue to the studio now?”
“Yeah, let’s go, your job is complete. I feel like my blood pressure just shot up fifty points. When I get back to St. Agnes, I have plenty that I want to talk about, with dad, and Father O’Gara. But now, best speed to the studio, Mr. Scott.”
“Aye, aye, captain, best speed it is,” Sister Camille replied, smiling.
Lisa’s blood was still simmering when she met with the band. She thanked everyone for helping and for their contribution to her performance. As she went through her rehearsal, she was still thinking of all that she had seen. She had an adrenaline rush that pumped her strength up just a tad, and she too quickly reacted. She caught John off guard, causing a wide four-inch, by six-inch, abrasion down his right forearm.
“I’m so sorry, I rushed, and over did it that time,” Lisa apologized, and then went over to check out his arm.
“I’m fine, I’ll be ok. I was watching you, and not preparing myself. I know that you are strong, and quick. Listen, please do not make a big fuss over this, I will be perfectly fine. I will be paying better attention tonight. I mean after all, I have been in firefights, and in battlefield situations. This is nothing compared to what I experienced while in the army. So, shall we continue?” John asked, as Ellen sprayed a liquid bandage on his arm.
“I have an idea,” Ellen suggested, “Lisa wait till you hear each one say set, before you continue.”
“That’s a good idea,” agreed Leese.
“You know, I never thought that I would ever be injured doing a rehearsal. I thought those days were behind me, when I left the army, of possibly being injured in action,” John commented, and they all laughed.
After that, the rest of the rehearsal went smoothly. Lisa then had a long serious conversation with them, about next week’s songs, and part of her vision. She told them of Irene, who she used to be, and what she was doing now.
Ellen said that she knew of that name, that her mother still had some of her music. The others vaguely remembered her.
Afterward, Lisa then bid John, Adam, and Keith, goodbye, until show time. Ellen walked with her to the parking lot, giving them a chance to talk alone. As Ellen, freely, and openly, divulged a little bit about herself, Leese was stunned to find out that her family, sometimes, call her “Valentine,” because of her being born on Valentine’s Day.
In her vision, she was to meet, befriend, and motivate a woman, with this pet name. “I would like for you to meet Irene, we have something that you might be interested in.”
“I would love to, and I can’t wait to see what you’ve got,” Ellen answered.
When they arrived at the van, Lisa and Ellen hugged, and then bid each other goodbye until show time.
The ride back to St. Agnes was enjoyable, and filled with questions and answers. What is it like being a nun? What is it like being a Catholic? What is an independent Baptist? What is it like being one? What is it like being a girl, and playing high school football? Question after question mixed with plenty of laughter, and insight.
After their return, Lisa found Father O’Gara with dad, mom, and Mother Superior. A lively discussion then ensued, that lasted for several hours. They talked about the churches that Lisa had seen, about the nights show, and about next week. Afterward, the Raynors had to go pack their bags, as it was getting close to time to leave for the studio.
After a simply delightful dinner, followed by a long, bittersweet, farewell to each, and everyone; Sister Camille drove them to the studio. Father O’Gara, again, gave her permission to stay for the show, so that she could drive them to the airport afterward.
At the studio, they went their separate ways. Lisa went to check in, and then find her dressing room, while everyone else had to go stand in line. As Lisa was looking for her room, she bumped into Marcy.
“Well, if it isn’t Saint Lisa, you’ve been in the news a lot this week. I hear that you are one hell of a preacher now. Oh yes, I must, also, congratulate you on your talk show appearance, and your concert at St. Agnes, it made the news too. You were the main discussion topic at the Hanson Manor, and last night at our singing, and dance class, that you so conveniently missed, again. In fact the powers-that-be think that you’re the one to beat,” Marcy spoke, with jealousy, and bitterness, in her voice. “I suppose I should call you Pastor Ice, now, too.”
“It’s good to see you too,” Lisa replied, smiling, as she continued looking for her dressing room. “I think that I like the sound of that, Pastor Ice.”
Marcy walked with Leese, and finally calmed down enough to carry on a decent conversation.
Lisa’s room was a good distance down the hallway. After arriving at her destination, Lisa stopped, and just stood in front of the door, scowling, with hands on her hips.
Marcy did not know what the problem was. “What’s wrong with you, your name is spelled right, the star is straight, I don’t see a problem,” Marcy said, as she stood with arms crossed, and just stared at the door too.
“You see, Marcy, the problem is the star, there shouldn’t be one there. I’m not a celebrity, I’m not a star, and I, certainly, will never be one.” Lisa then reached for the plastic, five-pointed monstrosity, and pulled it free of the door.
Marcy yelped, and gasped as she watched. “You know, you are in need of some, f@#$%&g, serious psychiatric help. You have taken way too many hits to the head playing football. Your, f@#$%&g, antics last week has already made you a celebrity, somewhat, albeit a, f@#$%&g, infamous one among the real stars.” A shocked Marcy watched, as Lisa then opened the door, and lay the star down on the counter.
“I am not a celebrity, just because I helped a family, or because I defended myself from some playboy thug, that wouldn’t take no for an answer. All I am is an eleventh grade high school student. I go to Church, play football, and workout with weights. Moreover, I am really beginning to wish that I could not sing a lick. I’m trapped for now between this realm, and the realm that I belong in,” Lisa replied, locking eyes with Marcy, and smiling.
“Have you ever been tested for any mental disorders? Incidentally, that so-called thug, as you call him, well, women, and girls, everywhere, would die just for a chance to meet him. And YOU beat the holy s@#t out of him, and, f@#$%&g, tarnished his career.”
“I’ll do more than that, if he ever lays a hand on me again. He has been warned, and if he is smart, he’ll stay as far away from me as possible,” Lisa, softly, responded.
“I don’t think that you’ll ever see him again, and I know for a fact that the word is out to give you a wide, f@#$%&g, berth. I also know that all demographics point to you as being the one to beat, as I mentioned earlier. The powers-that-be in the industry all want to get their hands on you; they want you working for them.”
“Yeah, that’s not gonna happen! I am not working for anybody out here!”
“What happens if you, f@#$%&g, win? You seem to have a fan base, and now the judges do not have a vote. You could easily win this; there are only three, f@#$%&g, shows left after tonight. And you know, as well as I, what the winner will be awarded,” Marcy, lastly, remarked, in ecstasy.
“I’m not gonna win, and I’m not gonna be part of Hollywood. I have my own path to follow, to boldly go where God sends me,” Lisa replied, then picked a grape off the cheese-and-fruit platter.
“I f@#$%&g can’t take anymore of this, you are f@#$%&g nuts, and you absolutely drive me f@#$%&g nuts. Bye, I’ll see you after the show,” Marcy said.
“Bye and good luck tonight,” Lisa wished her.
By being last, Lisa was in no hurry to change, she needed only minutes to dress. Her attire was simple, not expensive or exquisite, as the other contestants. She did not need a hair stylist; her hair would stay straight, and natural as always. She just relaxed, and nibbled from the fruit-and-cheese platter, as she switched channels on the rooms TV (from the A.R.S. show, to a station that was airing her favorite old Scoobydoo cartoons.)
A.R.S. be hanged, she did not care what happened on stage, what the judges did, or what the little celebrities did. Shortly thereafter, the make-up artist interrupted her, where by she, very doggedly, refused any make-up. Halfway through the second Scoobydoo episode, she changed, and then proceeded to the ready room, to wait her summoning.
Through the speakers, Lisa heard, “And now, for our final contestant, I present to you ICE!”
Lisa slowly walked on stage, with hands behind her back, to a hearty round of applause, whistles, and cheers. This time she wore white gym shorts, with black stripes down the side seams. She also wore a white tank top, with black neck, and shoulder seams. She used a white headset, and wore a white headband, that displayed two red dragons on front facing each other. The dragons spewed out fire forming the symbol of yin-and-yang. In addition, she wore her 3rd degree black belt around her waist, and went barefoot.
This time the band would not start playing until she gave the signal. She walked toward the band, and the apparatus (that John and Keith brought out during the commercial break.)
The apparatus was a simple metal A-frame, four feet wide, and six feet tall. At the five foot mark rested an eight-foot, two-by-four, with the word, “POVERTY,” written on it in large black letters. At the four foot mark rested another eight-foot, two-by-four, with the word, “HOMELESS,” written on it in large red letters. At the three foot mark rested an eight-foot, four-by-four, with the word, “SICKNESS,” written on it in large red letters. At the two foot mark rested another eight-foot, four-by-four, with the word, “HOPELESSNESS,” written on it in large black letters.
Lisa nodded her approval, as she quickly surveyed the device, and then nodded to the band. Her song would be “Unbreakable” by FIREFLIGHT, a hard rock Christian song that utilized three guitars, and a drummer.
Lisa walked toward the center of the stage, raised her right arm, and made a fist. She quickly dropped her arm, which signaled John to start playing. He started with a very up beat, hard-driving, guitar riff, then the drums cut in, followed by the other guitars.
Lisa started singing, with hands on her hips, and a defiant expression on her face.
She would flex her biceps during certain parts of the song. During the rest of the song, she would mix in some martial arts kicks, and punches. She extended the short break in the middle of the rhythm section. As the break started, she quickly pivoted, (turning her back to the audience) and walked toward the apparatus.
John and Keith laid down their guitars, and then went to each side of the device. John went to the left side, as Keith went to the right, each one taking a firm grip of the top two-by-four. “Set,” said John, then Keith. Lisa went into a fighting stance, and without any hesitation, fired out her right arm with open palm, forward, and through the beam of wood.
The crowd was on their feet with, “Oohs, aahs, and wows.” The judges and guests moved from their seats to better viewing positions.
Lisa reset her stance, as John and Keith laid their halves of wood down, and then moved the next two-by-four up to the top position. “Set,” they said again. She did the same punch with her left arm this time.
This time they moved the big four-by-four up to the top, as Lisa set herself. “Set,” they said again. Lisa looked at John before she attacked (this is where he had injured himself during rehearsal, by not having a tight grip) John nodded, “Set.” Then with a powerful, quick, high sidekick, Lisa drove her right foot through the wood, shattering it. She then did the same with her left foot, on the last four-by-four.
Lisa made a small bow to the band, then made a quick pivot, and walked toward the center of the stage, facing the audience.
The audience was standing, and going wild.
Lisa again raised her right hand, made a fist, and then dropped it, letting the band know that she was ready to continue. She could see the kids, teens, and pre-teens in the aisles imitating her now, with punches, and kicks, as she punched, and kicked.
At the end of the song, she did her typical bow to the audience. They gave her a long-standing ovation, some calling out “Ice,” while others whistled, and cheered.
Lisa noticed that many of the children (boys and girls) in the audience were wearing her team colors, black and dark purple. Some even had Panthers on their shirts. She decided to mingle with the children for a bit, the judges, and the three little icons be-hanged, after all what could they do - kick her out of the competition? She was so sick-and-tired of this anyway; she still had not bothered learning the judge’s names. Now there were three child stars, two teen girls, and a boy, whom she did not have a clue who they were, or what their claim to fame was.
She walked up to the edge of the stage, and simply hopped off, to the audiences delight. There were four security people stationed strategically in front of the stage. Yellow caution tape stretched from portable pylons (all to protect the precious little stars, from the children in the audience, when they performed earlier.) The closest sentry approached her. With hands on hips, Lisa locked eyes with the young sentinel, as she stood towering over him a good six inches. “I suggest you not say a word, and go back to your station. You and this caution tape are not for me. I intend to go through, and meet the children. If your intention is to stop me, well, you better think again real hard,” Lisa, defiantly, spoke, with an icy voice.
The young sentry’s eyes got very big, as he gazed at Ice’s muscular Amazonian physique, up close. “Yes ma’am,” he answered, sheepishly.
Lisa then went to the caution barrier, and easily stepped over it. The audience cheered, the children swarmed her. “I don’t have time for much, but to say, I’m glad you liked my performance.” She then noticed a young, heavy-set, dark haired girl. She was wearing all black, with a silver prowling panther on her shirt. She was sitting next to the isle, with her parents. Lisa high-fived all the children, as she made her way to the girl.
The girl smiled ear-to-ear, as Lisa knelt down by her, bringing them eye-to-eye. “Hey, what’s your name?”
The girl kept smiling, moved her mouth a bit, but would not, or could not speak.
“Tammy,” her mom answered. “She has a bad stammering problem, and seldom speaks.”
“I see, Tammy that is a beautiful name. Can you and your parents hang here after the show? If you can, I’ll come back.”
Tammy, happily, looked to her parents, who were nodding, and saying yes.
“Great, I’ll be back shortly,” Lisa replied, got up, waved bye, and then jogged back to the stage. She easily hurtled the caution barrier, and catapulted herself onto the stage in one fluid movement. She located her parents in the audience, and discreetly, hand signed her dad to remain.
He signed back, “yes.” (Jim had taught Lisa sign language at an early age. It proved to be useful on more than one occasion at church, and at school, when she encountered the deaf, and was able to communicate, and help.)
She then, expressionless, and nonchalantly, walked toward the desk, hands behind her, with eyes locked on the judges, and young celebrities.
In a mansion close by, the C.E.O. of a large network, and his staff, were staring at his closed circuit large screen TV.
“I can’t believe what I just saw. I have seen people break wood, many times, while using martial arts. However, my God, breaking four-by-fours, and the way she did it, all in less than three minutes. And what a singing performance,” he elatedly commented, then ordered his servant to refill his drink.
“She has proven herself to be quite remarkable, and clean as a whistle too. You have seen the files that our people put together. If she has anything hidden in her closet, it would be a stairway to heaven, or the ark of Moses.”
“Yes, yes, she’s one hell of a high school football player too. You just cannot buy, or create the kind of publicity that she has generated over the past few weeks. Now look at her go down into the audience with the kids. People I want her. How do your statistics show the public voting for her,” the C.E.O., excitedly, asked, as he replayed her performance.
“Our stats and polls show that she is a favorite with the Christian coalition, and Catholics. She appeals to all age groups of children, both male, and female. In fact, she appeals to both sexes of adults, both young and old. We expect her to take over fifty five percent of the vote,” the older, well-dressed, man replied.
“Our industry is based on good family values, and she is it. Our crop of little money makers have become sex crazed, drug users, or alcoholics, or both, and I think that they all smoke. Most cannot speak out in public with out a spokes person standing over them. Then there are the ones who cannot keep their clothes on. And, oh yes, lets not forget the fiasco, with the one that tried to lip-sync, DURING A LIVE CONCERT, FOR GODS SAKE.”
“And there’s the grand failure of our past crop of little icons. We paid them to push abstinence from sex, drugs, smoking, and alcohol. However, they managed to get themselves caught on video, indulging in all the vices. The media had a field day when they screwed-up, making us look like buffoons. I hope our newest young teens are doing better with the abstinence program. My ulcer doubles every time one of the little darlings ends up on the news for the wrong reasons. We’ve already had to cancel two Saturday morning children’s shows, and postpone a movie deal, because of those DAMN CHRISTIANS,” the C.E.O. ranted, with a scowl on his face. “I want her, we do have her and her mom’s signature on everything, Don’t we?”
“Yes Sir, we do. All copies have been signed.”
Lisa slowly approached the desk. The other contestants were standing to the left of the judges table, toward the stage wing. She also noticed that several pieces of the wood now lay on the desk. The big screen monitor at the back of the stage was quietly replaying her performance in slow motion. In addition, Ian Campbell was standing in front of the seated little celebrities, holding a gold star.
Ian, “That was an absolutely remarkable performance.”
“Thank you,” was all Lisa said.
(Through out the competition, in fact through out the years of American Rock Star, contestants would finish their performance, and run up to the judges, and celebrities. They would grovel for approval, or for just a chance to meet, and talk to their idols, their eminences. Lisa, on the other hand, disdained the whole process. She saw the world in a different light. She saw the world as unfair, and unjust. She understood, and got angry at things that most people just ignored, or overlooked. She was, and always had been, a standard-bearer for God. She would not give homage to anyone’s status, or affluence.)
English judge, “It’s so nice that you finally decided to join us. You do know that you’re not supposed to go down into the audience.”
Lisa locked eyes with his, and never uttered a word, only showed a very slight smile.
The young celebrities were staying quiet for now, once they saw this, Amazon, girl up close, and knowing what she could do. After examining the broken pieces of wood, especially the four-by-fours, and the fact that she did not seem the least bit excited about being here, they remained quiet.
Woman judge, “once again you didn’t partake of the events that we held last night. And once again you didn’t go by the song list.”
Lisa averted her eyes from the English judge, to the woman judge. “You’re right, it’s not me, I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t sing what I don’t like. And as far as last night goes, well, I had better things to do,” Lisa answered, without expression, and in a soft voice.
American judge, “Your performance tonight was just plain awesome, and you’ve been in the news a lot lately for many different reasons. I especially enjoyed your sermon, and I hear that you put on one heck of a concert at St. Agnes. Did you enjoy your stay there?”
Yes I did, and thank you for your comments.”
“You had a killer performance, in fact most of your performances that I’ve seen should be made into music videos,” the, young, boy star, finally, bravely, spoke, as he checked out Lisa’s physique.
“Thank you,” Lisa, softly, replied.
“You don’t like any of our music, or dances?” The younger of the girl stars asked.
Lisa walked directly in front of the young girl. “I don’t mean to be insolent, but the songs are not for me, and I don’t dance. I said this last week, if you want to see my style of dance, come to one of my games. Or better yet, suit up against me, and I’ll dance with you toe-to-toe, cheek-to-cheek, with plenty of body contact.”
“What’s the story behind this,” Ian asked, holding up the gold star.
“Well, you see, that star was on a door that it shouldn’t have been on, my door. I play no pretense at being anything but an eleventh grade high school athlete. I say that, to say this; I am not a star now, and I never will be, or desire to be. I will not tolerate any such, false, incursion into my domain at any time,” Lisa, solemnly, answered, as ripples went through her biceps.
“Ok, Ice, no problem, I just wanted to know. You know, I tried pulling one of these off, and could not get it to budge. I even got a stage hand to try, and he couldn’t,” Ian stated.
Lisa smiled, “It comes off easy when it’s applied to the wrong door.”
“Does anyone have anymore questions for Ice, we still have some time before the show ends,” Ian looked from one, to another, of the judges, and child celebrities.
Now the questions started coming from all, and Lisa fielded each question with honesty, and straight-forwardness. She once again answered questions about playing football, weightlifting, and martial arts. Queries also came forth about her escapades from the previous week. There was now no more quietness from the young icons, and of course, the judges had their share of questions too.
As Lisa was going through her Q & A, phone numbers for each contestant were flashing on the big stage screen. In addition, phone numbers scrolled at the bottom of all TV’s tuned in, so the audience and people at home could vote for their favorite singer. Each chair in the audience had a device mounted to it to vote, while the TV audience had up to one hour to cast their vote.
Monica, Russell, and Susan, quickly voted for Lisa. Dad and Kenny quietly, and discreetly, voted for Marcy, as per Lisa’s explicit orders. Back at home, Steve, friends, teachers, coaches, team players, and Jim’s side of the family voted for Marcy too, as per Lisa’s instructions. Back at St. Agnes all abstained from voting, instead of voting against her. For all it was difficult not to vote for her, but all knew that this was really what she wanted, and honored her request.
As the show was ending, Ian announced that the results of the votes would be on the up coming news. The vote tally would also be scrolling across the bottom of the screen on this TV channel, until midnight.
By now, the lights slightly dimmed, and the audience started leaving. While the contestants, judges, and child stars, headed to the exquisite, posh, star lounge, to await the results. Lisa started walking back toward the auditorium.
“Aren’t you coming with us?” Ian asked.
“Not yet, I have something else to do first, but I’ll be there by the time the results are in,” Lisa answered, then continued walking back to her parents.
Monica, Russell, and Susan, got up to go to the guest lounge. Jim, Kenny, and Sister Camille, stayed seated.
“What’s up with you, aren’t you coming with us?” Susan asked, as she, and her parents looked at Jim.
“Leese signed me earlier to remain, and that’s what I intend to do.”
The auditorium was almost empty now, as Leese walked over to her parents. She saw Tammy, and her parents still seated, and waved to them. What Lisa did not know was that one of the remote control cameras was still on, and following her.
“Why are you here? You should be with the others in the star lounge, and what is up with you taking the, f@#$%&g, star off your door? You need to be with them trying to, f@#$%&g, fit in and acting normal, not out here,” Monica spoke, angrily, criticizing her.
“I agree. You need to be socializing with those young stars, not out here, f@#$%&g off. You should at least try acting like a, f@#$%&g, normal teenage girl for a change,” Russell chimed in.
“If you’ll excuse me, I need to talk to dad. And my reason for being out here is more important than being some place that I don’t want to be to begin with,” Lisa, defiantly, spoke in a low voice.
“Lisa you need to…” Jim cut Susan off.
“Let it go Susan, this is Lisa’s call, and nobody else’s. If she says something is important to her, then it’s important to me, and should be important to you.” Jim spoke up, as he looked at Russell, Monica, and then Susan. “You three can go to the lounge. I’m staying here with Leese, what about you Kenny?”
“I’m staying with Leese too.”
“F@#K, come on Russell, Susan, lets go,” Monica growled, then stomped off, with Russell beside her. “Aren’t you coming Susan?”
“I’ll catch up with you a little later. Bye.” Susan then walked up to Jim, and Lisa, looking from one to the other. “I know that you are always going to do things your way. I know that you confide in Jim more than you do me. I also know that you two are, almost, always in complete agreement with each other. Lisa, I have told you in the past that I am going to try to be more like Jim, when it comes to you. So, fill me in, you have my, our undivided attention. And for the records, I know that you two are keeping a secret, this we will discuss at a later time.”
Sister Camille had stayed quiet the entire time, Lisa asked her to join in. She then quickly told everyone about Tammy, and her problem.
“Ok, Leese, we’ll do whatever we can to help, but she likes you, she came to see you. You will be lucky if she says one word though. And you will have to play it by ear, and do a lot of improvising, as you talk to her,” dad suggested. “I’ve had very little dealings with speech impediments.”
“I’ve dealt with speech problems before, it can take years, sometimes, to overcome such a problem,” Sister Camille commented.
After the short discussion, they all walked over to Tammy, and her parents, and then introduced themselves.
Lisa sat on the floor, in the aisle way, deliberately putting herself lower then Tammy. “Would you like to join me down here,” Lisa asked, as she crossed her legs.
Tammy had a big smile on her face, as she looked to her parents for approval, which they gave.
Dad and Sister Camille engaged Tammy’s parents with pleasant conversation, as they hoped that certain facts might arise.
“Ok, Tammy, you can ask me anything, you can whisper in my ear, you can write it down, you have my complete attention. I also want you to know that my little brother, Kenny, sometimes has a problem speaking too,” Lisa spoke in her softest, sweetest, voice.
“Uh huh, sometimes I get scared, and I can’t speak, or even make a noise,” Kenny said.
“Do you have any questions or anything at all that you would like to say?” Leese asked, while watching Tammy, who was in the process of sitting on the plush carpet, and getting as close to Lisa, as she could get.
Tammy looked at her, still with that giant beautiful smile, nodded her head, and moved her mouth a little, but nothing came out. She kept looking at Leese, and more than once at her headband.
Lisa put her arm around her, and motioned for Kenny to have a seat.
Kenny sat on the carpet facing Tammy, in front of Lisa. “When I have problems, Leese says to look at her, and to think about what I’m gonna say, before I say it. And it always works.”
He then reached in his pocket for the tic-tacs that he carried, like Lisa. He politely offered the adult’s one, but only dad accepted, and said thank you. He then offered Lisa one, who accepted, and said thank you, son of Adam. This Narnian reply thrilled Tammy with laughter, (she loved the books, and the movies too) and tickled Kenny. He then offered Tammy one, who slowly extended her hand taking one, and then placed it in her mouth. “Th…ank…u,” she stuttered.
Kenny never gave it a second thought, about her speaking impediment. As far as he was concerned, she was just having a bad day, and just needed a little help, as he did sometimes. He overheard the adults talking about Lisa’s performance; this got him started. Kenny was always a little on the quiet side, but when it came to his hero, “Leese,” he became a never-ending storyteller.
“Did you see Leese break the wood? She sang really well, too. And I liked the way that she punched, and kicked, during the song, it was so cool,” Kenny said, as he punched the air.
“Y…ea…I…li…ked…it…it…w…as…co…ol,” Tammy slowly uttered, then made punches in the air too.
With that short phrase, the adults became quiet; Tammy’s mother gasped.
Lisa, blushingly, watched, and listened to Kenny. He carried the day, by telling story after story, about his big sister. Tammy, carefully, listened, and got braver, and braver, attempting to speak. Her speech was a problem, but neither Kenny, nor Leese cared; they kept encouraging her.
Tammy’s parents were elated, and speechless, as they observed their formerly muted daughter interacting with “Ice,” The singing Amazon, and her little brother, Kenny.
“I’ve seen cases like this before; she needs to be around children that won’t make fun of her. This has probably caused her severe weight gain too. She probably spends a lot of time alone, and eating has been made into a crutch for her,” Sister Camille commented, as she watched Tammy, now bravely struggling to speak, not well, but still trying.
“We did start home schooling her, because of the kids being mean to her at school, and she does spend a lot of time alone with the TV, and the computer. I don’t have the heart to deny her food when she wants it.”
“Where do you live, if I may ask,” Sister Camille asked.
Lisa was paying attention to Tammy, and Kenny, as well as listening in on the adult’s conversation.
“That is only a few miles on the other side of St. Agnes,” Sister Camille said, looking like a person with an idea.
“You could let her meet the children there, and maybe attend some of the classes. And if things worked out, that could be her new school, with plenty of friends, and activities,” Susan suggested, to everyone’s amazement.
Lisa, dad, and even Sister Camille, looked at Susan, as if she had just grown antlers. “That is exactly what I was thinking,” Sister Camille remarked, smiling.
“It is a great idea, I think,” Jim stated, and then gave Susan a hug. “Mind if I ask what kind, if any, of church do you attend?”
“We don’t attend any kind of Church. Will the kids there accept her, and treat her as an equal,” Tammy’s dad inquired.
“Our kids …” Sister Camille started to say, but was cut off by Kenny, who was all excited.
Kenny started telling Tammy about Tony and the kids at St. Agnes, and then got so excited that he started stuttering himself.
Tammy watched with interest, as Lisa calmed Kenny down, and got him talking normal again.
“I think that you would really like it there,” Kenny was finally able to say.
“Would you like to try going there,” Tammy’s mom asked.
“Y…ea… h,” Tammy answered, but kept looking at Leese.
“Good choice,” Lisa said, then reached up, and untied her bandeau. “Do you like my headband?”
“Y…ea…h,” she replied, with watchful eyes.
“I’ll give it to you, daughter of Eve, if you will attempt two tasks for me.”
Tammy nodded her head, and giggled.
“First, keep up speaking; you’re doing a great job. Second, try losing some weight, ok; let your mom help you with a diet plan. You are going to meet some great kids, and teachers at St. Agnes. I think that they will keep you busy enough that losing weight will come easy. By Aslan’s mane, do you agree,” Lisa asked.
“Y…ea…h,” Tammy answered, she then became very still while Lisa placed the headband on her, and gently tied it.
“I have to be going now Tammy, dad will give you my e-mail address, and I want you to stay in touch. In fact, we’ll be at St. Agnes next Saturday, if you want to stop in, and see me.” Lisa looked up at the big screen, and then hugged Tammy.
Tammy looked at mom and dad. “We’ll be there,” they replied, and Tammy vigorously nodded yes.
Susan and Jim looked up at the big screen too, as well, as did Sister Camille, and Tammy’s parents. Dad and Sister Camille bit their lip, and stayed quiet, but mom gasped with jubilation, and covered her mouth, as she looked at Lisa. Tammy’s parents congratulated her on the tremendous amount of votes that she was pulling in, overwhelmingly, outdistancing herself from all the others.
“Well then, good-bye till next week,” Lisa said, then stood, and waved bye. She just shook her head, as she looked up at the big screen that had just proclaimed her America’s favorite by a landslide.
“We’ll take care of things down here, I think that Sister Camille has a couple of loose ends to tie-up, before we go to the guest lounge,” dad commented.
Monica was ecstatic with what she was seeing on the large screen. She immediately called her station to make sure that they were on top of this.
The Star Lounge
“Sir, she has accumulated far more votes in this first week of voting than any contestant in the, long, history of the show. She might even be as, or more popular right now than some of the singers that we employ. She definitely has a larger following than even we were able to calculate,” the staff assistant ascertained, then watched, as the cigar fell out of the C.E.O.’s mouth, and lay smoldering on the expensive, exotic, carpet.
With a big smile, the C.E.O. reached down, and picked up the cigar. “She’ll be mine in three more weeks. I want stats on everything we got that is doing badly. I want to, immediately, be able to plug her in to; sitcoms, kid shows, and don’t forget to create a concert tour for her.” The, elated, C.E.O. ordered, as he leaned back into his luxurious office chair.
Father O’Gara and the rest at St. Agnes were overwhelmed with mixed feelings for Lisa. All knew how she felt, and all knew that she overflowed with pure talent, but only Mother Superior, and he knew her vision. Father O’Gara did not wait to see the out come of the vote. He knew, and he already had his plans for next Saturday morning put in motion, plans that he had discussed with Lisa, if she advanced. If she advanced, he laughed to himself, she so distanced herself from the pack, like a panther out running turtles in a race.
In the star lounge, the band was talking to a, lovely, well-dressed, middle-aged, woman, wearing a, dark blue, business suit, and her companion, a handsome, well-dressed, young man, wearing a, dark grey, suit, and carrying a brief case. The two informed the band who they were, and for whom they worked. They were collecting all the information they could get on Lisa. As they watched the votes tally, they talked, Marcy, and a couple of the other contestants joined in on the conversation. The discussion changed direction many times until it came to her music.
“I’ll say one thing; on account of Lisa we’ve played more religious music than we’ve ever played before. As for myself, I am very picky when it comes to playing for, or just listening to, someone singing Christian songs,” John commented, while swirling his alcoholic mixture around inside his glass, then took a sip. “I would play for, or listen to her anytime.”
“That’s right; you don’t go through a tour of duty in a combat zone, and not become a little, or a lot more religious. I personally like for the one’s that I play Christian music for, or just listen to, to have at least a half-way chance of going to Heaven,” Keith remarked, as he rubbed his left hand. “You know, my hand still feels tingly after holding those wood beams for Lisa.”
At this point, the oldest teen icon, and her older boyfriend came up, and sat at the next table over.
Ellen laughed, while patting Keith on the hand. “Lisa is a, big, strong, girl, and can pack a wallop. You are right Keith; you cannot go around singing songs for God in mini skirts, short dresses, and see through blouses, or tight jeans. Not to mention the expensive cost of some of the attires, and hairstyles, that most wear. If you talk-the-talk, then you should walk-the-walk. For most singers of Christian music, as soon as the last word leaves their lips, they quickly make way to their limousines, to continue their worldly lifestyle.
“Lisa, on the other hand, talks-the-talk, and walks-the-walk, you know what you got when you hear her sing. Playing for, and listening to her is an absolute delight. Not if, but when she goes to heaven, she’ll have her own personnel escort sent by God.” Adam added, as he grabbed some finger food off a platter that a waiter had just brought out. “Working with her each week has actually made me a better person.”
“Amen,” John agreed, then called to his comrades for a toast to Lisa. All four stood, touched glasses, and toasted their rebel girl. The, well-dressed, woman, and man both stood, and joined in on the toast, as the others just looked on. The votes now had Lisa way out front, in a landslide victory.
As the talk continued, the senior waiter made his rounds, making sure everything was ok, checking to see that everyone was being properly attended, and served.
“Get away from me, you f#%, I don’t want any q@##% around me,” the boyfriend said, with contempt, as he lit a cigarette.
The teen celebrity then jumped all over the senior attendant. She, using some very colorful language, threatened his career. She promised that she would have his job, if he so much as approached, or spoke to anyone again. “You know what I say goes. What ever I want I get,” she boasted, as she too lit a cigarette, and took a drink.
“Yes ma’am,” he answered, and then retreated to the bar.
Crossfire, and the, well-dressed, woman, and man, just shook their heads, as they watched the waiter humbly walk off, in embarrassment.
Lisa just smiled, as all on the way to her dressing room congratulated her. There she looked in the mirror, and then put her hands on the counter. She bowed her head, and closed her eyes. “Lord thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Please Lord be with me, and guide me. Please be with, and bless Tammy and her family, please help her. I pray in the name of Yahshua ha Mashiach, amen.” She then changed clothes.
She changed into her black jeans, with her black, short sleeve, football jersey. She also wore her black, cushioned, running shoes. This pushed her height to just over 6’2”; she could not help it, these are her most comfortable, and favorite shoes. As she put her stage clothes into her backpack, she took out her Black Panther cap. She then pulled her gold cross out from underneath her jersey, making it visible. She was now ready to go to the star lounge, then home.
She hoped that this would be quick, she thought to herself. She would walk in, ask for her vouchers from the coordinator, and then off to the airport, and homeward bound. She walked with her backpack slung over her left shoulder.
Lisa strolled up to the two door attendants (or security guards,) and handed them her I.D. pass, but both refused it. “We know who you are, and congratulations,” they both replied, then held the doors open for her.
“Thank you,” she, humbly, replied.
As she entered the large, luxurious, lounge, she surveyed her surroundings. She could smell marijuana, and saw some of the teen celebrities drinking, what looked like, alcoholic beverages. (It seems that celebrity status got you what you wanted, at anytime, no matter whether legal or illegal, and with no thought of age, she thought to herself.) Some quieted down, some clapped, but all looked on, as she walked in. She waved at Crossfire and Marcy when she saw them. However, what she did not see was the A.R.S. coordinator. Great, she thought to herself, this was just great. What obstacles await her now, she just wanted her vouchers, and go home?
Lisa saw a waiter standing alone at the end of the large bar, and decided to go up, and ask him. As she approached, she noticed that his face was all red, and his eyes looked watery. She removed her backpack, and laid it on a stool.
“Hello, my name is Lisa Raynor,” she said, then held out her hand for a handshake.
“I was ordered not to fraternize with any of the guests, or I would be fired,” he, meekly, replied, as he looked at Lisa.
“I see I believe that I approached you, and spoke first. Shaking my hand, that I offered first, has nothing to do with you approaching me, now does it. Now then, I consider myself civilized, and I am, pretty, sure that you are no barbarian. So, do we shake hands like two civilized folk, or, are you just going to leave me hanging? Lisa spoke, with a warm smile, keeping her hand out.
The waiter finally extended his hand, and shook hers.
“Now then, my dear Sir, I’m not letting go until you’ve given me your name, or at least your first name. And are willing to have some civilized conversation with me?” Lisa asked, still smiling, continued the handshake, with some exaggerated motion.
By now, everyone was watching, the room went quiet. The young teen, and her boyfriend, were getting angrier with every second that went by, as they watched Lisa building up the waiter’s spirit.
“My name is Jules,” he answered, with a faint smile.
“Jules, can you tell me who is giving out the vouchers this week? I would really like to be on my way home.”
“I’m sorry ma’am, I don’t know.”
“Fair enough Jules, would you like to enlighten me, as to what is going on in here?” Lisa asked, then let go of his hand, and grabbed a handful of mixed nuts.
Ellen, quickly, came up to Lisa, and asked her to bend down some, so that she could whisper to her. She then told Ice the whole story.
“I see, thanks Ellen. My dear Jules, would it be possible to get a glass of milk?” Lisa asked, in an elevated voice for all to hear, then looked at Ellen, and winked.
“Yes ma’am, it won’t take long at all,” Jules replied, then called for one of the bar tenders to come over.
“I can understand if you had rather not serve me yourself, I’m sorry if I embarrassed you with the handshake,” Lisa said, in a contrite voice, and with a sly smile.
“Ma’am it has nothing to do with you, you actually made me feel better. You see, the problem is that word got out that - I am gay. That is why I may, or will lose my job,” Jules replied, as he looked past Lisa, to the two, celebrity, troublemakers. “If you still want me to, I would be more than happy to get your milk, if you don‘t mind me serving you.”
Lisa looked him squarely in the eyes. “If you would please, I would most appreciate it.”
In short time, Jules had a glass of cold milk sitting in front of Lisa.
As Ellen, Jules, and everyone else watched on, Lisa took the glass of milk, and carefully examined it, holding it up, rotating the glass, smelling it, and then finally taking a sip. “I’m no scientist, or chemist, but in my opinion, this glass of milk tastes pretty much the same, as any other glass of milk that I’ve ever had. So, my hypothesis is, that milk, or maybe even food, can be served by either, straight, or non-straight, people, without the quality being affected.” Lisa then turned the glass of milk up, and killed it. Afterwards, she, slowly, licked her lips.
Most in the room were laughing. Ellen was laughing so hard, that she had bubbles coming out of her nose. Jules had his hands over his mouth, trying to keep a professional demeanor.
Marcy came strolling over, with a drink in hand. “Ok, America’s favorite, what are you up to? He has his orders, and you are not helping any. And besides, being a Christian, as you say you are, aren’t you suppose to despise gays, and lesbians, as other Christians do, ain‘t that in the bible?” Marcy remarked, while looking up at Lisa.
“Some people are just wrong in what they believe, and how they interpret the bible. Some people just look for certain passages in the bible to prove their point; they ignore the context that the verse is set in. Since the birth and death of Christ, we have been in the dispensation of love, and grace. You are to love your neighbor as yourself. You are to do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. This is how we are to treat our fellow human beings. God has, lovingly, given us to our last breath, our last heart beat, to accept salvation, and to be, forever, with him.” Lisa responded, with a touch of anger in her voice, and then locked her, laser like, ruby, eyes on the teenage icon.
This was all that the two stars could take. They approached the bar, and used some rather foul and colorful language, as they informed Jules that he would no longer have a job after tonight. They avoided looking at, or speaking to Lisa altogether.
Lisa looked at Jules, with anger on her face. “Let me see what I can do about this whole ugly affair.” She then watched, through squinted eyes, as the two went back to their table.
“I’m with you; I know a little hand-to-hand combat that I learned while in the army. I got your back if the situation arises,” Ellen whispered, as she looked up at Ice.
“I’ve got, somewhat, of a plan, but I need you to lay low until I need you, Ok? I’m a minor, and can get away with more by myself,” Lisa, softly, replied. With her back toward the lounge, she opened her backpack, and then whispered to Ellen. “The wrath of all in here will soon be upon me.”
“What are you going to do?” A horrified Marcy asked. “Just let it go, this doesn’t concern you!”
Lisa looked at Marcy. “I will not, idly, standby, and watch someone wronged; if there is anything that can be done, I will do.”
She then whispered to Ellen, to follow her lead.
“Yes, this is gonna be great, a, wild, girls-night-out,” Ellen proclaimed, with a smile, as she put her long, bleached-blond, hair into a ponytail.
“A girls-night-out it is,” Lisa replied, smiling, as she played along. She then put her cap into her backpack, and put her shoulder length, snow-white, hair into a ponytail. The last thing she did was take out her video-camera-phone. She turned it on, and set it in secrete, while it was still in her pack. She programmed it to send to two e-mail addresses, at the push of one key. The only one that could see what she was doing was Ellen. Marcy had already walked off in disgust, and fear.
Ellen smiled, an evil smile, as she figured out the battle plan. “A frontal assault, I like that, I will be covering your left flank too. You know, you would make one hell of a Green Beret, if you joined the army, I can always put in a good word for you.”
Lisa smiled, and then finished up. “Let me know when targets are in a favorable position,” Lisa whispered, not looking at Ellen
The wait was not long. “Now,” Ellen, softly, whispered.
Lisa pivoted, and started recording, as the two targets of abstinence, were laughing, smoking, and drinking together. She got some, really, good footage before she was seen recording. She pressed the send key, as the room went into an uproar.
From all directions came shouts of angry rebuke, and threats. Most froze in place with astonishment. Contestants huddled together. Servers hurriedly left the floor, and went behind the large bar.
“NO CAMERAS ARE ALLOWED IN HERE! SOMEBODY TAKE THAT AWAY FROM HER! GET SECURITY IN HERE, NOW!” came from several of the affluent, adult, celebrities.
Most of the language used was very colorful, and thought provoking. Three security, or bodyguards, came running in, but kept their distance. The teen girl and boyfriend left their table, and approached, both demanding that she hand over the device.
John could tell that Ellen was in combat mode. She was itching for a fight, he had been in enough rough spots with her, and he knew that she was ready for battle.
John, Adam and Keith left their table, and went up to the bar.
“Aah, have you two done all the math on this,” John asked, as he looked from Lisa to Ellen.
“Just playing it by ear, now,” Lisa replied, as she stayed close to the bar, using it as a defensible position.
“I see, maybe…,” Ellen, quickly, cut off Keith.
“If we need you, we’ll call you, other than that just stay out of the, f#@$%&g, way. It’s just us girls now,” Ellen commanded, as she moved to cover Lisa’s left flank.
“Yes ma’am!” Keith answered, and then looked at Jules. “My good fellow, Jules, would you be so kind, as to bring us three of your best beers?” All three then pulled up bar stools, and had a seat.
Jules with a horror filled face, looked from Lisa to John. “Yes, I’ll be right back.”
Jules hurried back with the beers. “Can’t you please do something about this,” he begged.
“I’m afraid not buddy, you see, I know what fire power Ellen has. In addition, I know what weapons Lisa possesses. Moreover, well, it is just not wise for anyone, who values his, or her hide, to interfere, when those two girls are this determined, and willing to justify a wrong. It is going to get real ugly in here, if they try to take Ice’s phone from her. Let me put it this way, if they physically go after that camera, you’re gonna see what it’s like when two large chain saws meet human flesh, it ain’t a gonna be a pretty sight. By the way, Jules, can we get some more of those mixed nuts, watching a massacre makes me hungry,” John asked, as he watched Adam finish off the last of the nuts. “My goodness, my boy, are you starving to death? Have you not eaten anything today?”
“You know, drinking makes me hungry,” Adam replied.
“I think breathing makes you hungry,” Keith quipped, laughing, then slapped him on the back.
The, well-dressed, woman was on her phone, feverishly talking, as the situation was developing. The man had opened his briefcase, and pulled out his laptop.
Lisa never spoke a word, as she put her camera-phone into her left pants pocket. She then, nonchalantly, took out her tic-tacs, and popped one into her mouth. Here she made her stand, with crossed arms, and with a feline hunter’s vision locked on her approaching prey. To her left stood Ellen, to her right were John, Keith, and Adam, eating, and drinking, but ever so discreetly, watching their backs, and right flank (While in the Army, John, Keith, and Adam, had been part of a well trained, cohesive, fighting unit.)
The room had quieted down a good bit by now. The lines were now drawn, the two defiant women, made their stand. The girls-night-out was about to begin. Like two old west gunfighters, they waited for their opponents to make the first move.
“NOBODY IS ALLOWED TO VIDEO, OR TAKE PICTURES OF US WITHOUT PERMISSION, NOW, GIVE ME THAT CAMERA!” The boyfriend yelled, as he held his hand out, and advanced toward Lisa.
Lisa, defiantly, replied, “Anyone that enters my personal space will be dealt with quickly, and severely, with all the firepower, and weapons capability that I can bring to bear. I want to make that perfectly clear. I WILL DEFEND MYSELF USING EVERY MEANS AT MY DISPOSAL.” Ice spoke, loudly, in an icy tone, as she moved the tic-tac slowly around in her mouth, she then went into a fighting stance.
The boyfriend (remembering her performance, and had watched her destroy the two knife-wielding thugs last week,) abruptly, stopped dead in his tracks and with fear in his eyes, lowered his hand, and slowly retreated.
“Miss Raynor, you are not leaving here with that camera, NOW HA …,” the security, bodyguard, never finished.
Lisa heard a thud, then looked to her left, and saw Ellen standing over the man with an evil grin on her face, and now holding a handgun. She cocked the 9mm, then went to each, and everyone she suspected of being armed, and disarmed them. She put two into her jeans, and carried the third. “This stops right here, and now. Lisa is going home with her phone, if we have to beat the s#$t out of everyone in here,” Ellen declared, as she patrolled the floor. “Pulling a gun on anyone, especially a minor, is a serious offense. Lisa, I think that you should call 911, it’s time we get the police involved here with these no-good M#$%&@$#@%s!”
“NO! PLEASE! NO POLICE,” came loudly from different directions.
Lisa took her phone out, and activated the recording again, as she panned the room. People were hiding their faces, squealing, and screaming, covering their heads, hiding behind pillows.
She caught Marcy sitting with some other contestants. She cocked her head to one side, then smiled, and took a sip of her drink. As she raised the glass, she extended her middle finger. Lisa smiled, then locked on to the horrified boyfriend, and started walking toward him. He dropped his cigarette, and drink while covering his face, as he quickly retreated, using some very colorful language. He finally fell backwards over a small table, and looked up stunned. “Embarrassing isn’t it?” Lisa remarked, and then was on the prowl for the young, star, girlfriend.
“LISA, YOU WIN! Come back here, and we will settle this now, and you can go home. But please, do not call the police.” The, well-dressed, woman pleaded, and then grabbed her companion’s laptop.
Ellen pointed out to Lisa other items that she needed to video. “Those are illegal substances. And what with alcohol being served to minors, there’s no wonder that no one wants the police involved here.” Ellen then handed over her three weapons to John, Keith, and Adam, who took over guard duty.
She walked with Leese over to the, well-dressed, woman, and seated herself next to her companion, where she could keep an eye on him.
Lisa had a seat right next to the woman, where she could watch, as Lisa played back her recorded video, complete with sound. “Now that you’ve seen what I recorded, I’m gonna send it now to two different addresses.” Lisa then pressed the send key, and within seconds, delivery confirmation appeared.
The woman lit a cigarette, and looked at Lisa. I presume that you have already transmitted the first footage, just as you now did. Anyway, I report directly to the C.E.O... I am here tonight because of his interest in you, and I have been on the phone with him during this whole, f@#$%&g, mess. He ordered me to solve this, and keep you from making public your video. Please tell me what you want,” the woman asked.
“First; Jules keeps his job.”
“Done, and I’ll do even better, I’ll see to it that he gets a promotion, a pay increase, and he can choose from among several places that he might had rather work at.”
“Good. Second; I don’t want to ever see, or hear, any of these young celebrities dealing with, or talking about abstinence in any way, shape, or form.”
“Done, they will be removed from the program immediately.”
“Third; there will be no repercussion of any kind on Ellen, John, Keith, or Adam.”
“Done,” she, quickly, agreed.
“That’s all I want. If you keep your end of the deal, then I will never make public what I have, I promise.” Lisa with ire, and contempt, then locked eyes with the teenage songstress, who immediately looked away.
“That is good enough for me, we know how good you are at keeping promises, and we will keep up our end of the deal. Now let’s give you your vouchers, and you can be on your way home.” The woman then handed Lisa the checks, and opened her laptop.
“These were going to be given out at the party that was planned for later, but I don’t think that you’re interested in being with us. I presume that you will be staying at St. Agnes again next week, and will be handling your own ground transportation. I am guessing that you are not interested in the theme for next week, alternative band, backup singers, dancers, or the Friday night activities scheduled for the contestants. You probably do not want the song list either, I am sure that you have already selected your three songs, and given them to John. If I’m wrong on anything please let me know,” the woman asked, as she busily typed on the laptop.
“You’re correct on all assumptions,” Lisa answered, then got up to leave.
“By the way, congratulations on your huge win tonight. You know, in three weeks you can be the one in our abstinence program, you would be a perfect fit. I, also, suppose that doing an interview with you tonight on your huge win would be out of the question now?”
“Thank you. And no, an interview tonight is not going to happen,” Lisa, coldly, replied, and then, defiantly, walked off.
Jules thanked her, and Ellen repeatedly when they passed by. Leese handed Jules one of dad’s church cards, with her, cell phone, number on it. “If things go wrong, let me know instantly,” she requested, loudly, so all could hear. She then, with a slight smirk, gave the, teenage, celebrity, another stern look. With a win for the good guys, Lisa, Ellen, and the rest of Crossfire, strutted out of the lounge.
“May I ask why you were so enthusiastic about this?” Lisa asked, as she walked with Ellen.
“Bend down, and I’ll whisper it to you.”
Lisa showed no emotion, as Ellen whispered into her ear. When she was finished, she looked up at Lisa. Lisa nodded her head, and looked her squarely in the eyes. “I do have several questions though, if I may ask?”
“Ok, I guess,” replied Ellen, softly, and shyly, biting her lower lip.
“You say that you have eleven tattoos, did you have them all done at once, or one at a time? And, is it painful to have tattoos done?” Lisa asked, with a big smile on her face.
“One at a time, and I was drunk for each one, so I don’t remember any pain,” Ellen answered, and then sighed with relief smiling. “And don’t forget, I’m picking you up next Saturday, for rehearsal.
“And don’t you forget that next week we meet with Irene.”
“Now everybody smile!” Leese, then took her camera out again, and took a picture of her brothers, and sister in arms.
With all laughing, Lisa bid farewells to all, and they parted ways, she then proceeded to the guest lounge.
“Sorry I’m late,” Lisa apologized, as she entered an almost vacant lounge.
Dad knew instantly that something was wrong, when Lisa looked at him, with a look that relayed unspoken and unneeded words. Monica, Russell, and mom, were all over her with hugs, and congratulations. Kenny was asleep in one of the plush chairs, dad, and Sister Camille, just stayed quiet, and out of the way.
“So, you’ve been hanging out with the celebrities, good for you.” Monica said, overflowing with such ecstasy, that she even smiled at Jim.
“I just had a glass of milk, and kinda walked around the lounge a bit.”
“That’s a good start, pretty soon even the stars will recognize you on sight,” Russell remarked, and then gave her another hug.
“Aah, yeah, that could be possible,” Lisa replied, then sheepishly smiled.
When all was said and done in the lounge, The Raynors went to the airport, while Monica and Russell went out on the town gloating.
After a long goodbye with Sister Camille, they boarded the plane for home. Lisa waited for mom and Kenny to fall asleep, before she told dad about her exploits in the star lounge. She showed dad her video. “I just can’t stand the way some people treat others. The quicker I’m out of this, the better.” Lisa then asked for a glass of milk from the flight attendant.
Dad with pride, and compassion, looked at Leese. “I’m proud of you girl, you’re a woman of action. If only it were possible to solve every injustice so swiftly. As for Ellen, well, I would like to meet her, and the rest of the band. For now though, let us keep this between you and me, if you want to, I think that it is safe to tell Steve, but no one else. Mom is a smart woman, and already knows that we are keeping something from her. I think that Monday, when your revelation is revealed, we should fill her in on some of your vision, but only a small bit for now,” he suggested, then ruffled her hair.
Lisa laughed, and nodded her head in agreement, after taking the milk from the attendant, she then reclined, and relaxed for the long flight home.
After arriving at home, Mom made it clear, that since it was so late, she and Kenny were going to stay home, and sleep-in, opting out of church. Lisa and dad, however, never even gave it a thought about missing church. A large attendance was expected, and after church a potluck lunch.
“Maybe,” Jim thought aloud, “Enough money will be donated, this time, to, temporarily, help all of the desperate families.” He then wished Leese a goodnight, as he went to bed.
With only a few hours sleep, Lisa woke, bathed, and dressed. She met dad in the kitchen, whereby they ate a quick, nutritious breakfast of milk, and homemade rice crispy treats.
“Are you sure that you are rested enough, to sing, and meet your fans? Dad asked, as he picked up another rice crispy treat.
“Yeah, I think so. You know, I have been singing at church for years now, and I really enjoy it, but during that time, the church has only grown in small increments. Now that I am on that stupid show, and having, unwanted, success, people come from all around to see what they think is going to be the next superstar. I’m pretty sure that most people who now visit our church don’t come for the teaching, the fellowship, the preaching, or really anything that our church offers, or stands for.”
“My girl, you are absolutely right, but don’t let that get you down. Getting someone to, willingly, hear the word of God, for whatever reason is of the up most importance. And maybe, just maybe, something will remain that the Holy Spirit can use, and begin a good work in.” Dad replied, and then located some chocolate chip cookies, to finish off breakfast.
“I’ll keep that in mind, as long as people come of their own free will, for whatever the reason, it could end up being a good thing. So that means that we can’t just go out, and drag them in kicking, and screaming, and tie them to the pews,” Lisa, jokingly, remarked, and then popped a tic-tac into her mouth.
“Me thinks, that you make fun of your, knuckle dragging, dear old dad.”
Lisa went up to him, and gave him a hug. “Just a little fun, I think that we need to be going though. I want to get there early to have some alone time with Steve.”
“Your wish is my command. After all, you are the star. You can even ride in the back of the van, and I‘ll open the door for you, as you get in, and out,” dad said, then winked at Lisa, who was now giving him a mean look.
The morning was bright, crisp and clear, and not too cold considering how far into fall the season was. Steve arrived early too, as per Lisa’s instructions. The two hugged, quickly kissed, and walked hand-in-hand around the church grounds. Steve caught her up on their time apart, and she filled him in on her past few days. Dad went around unlocking doors and turning lights on, as he brought the church to life.
As expected, a huge crowd arrived, and not only for church service, but also for Sunday school too. With the regular members came a whole assortment of foods, drinks, and desserts. Pastor Lewis and dad had anticipated the outpouring of people, and food. Therefore, Jim put the regular members of the youth group in charge of directing traffic. The sanctuary was to accommodate the food, and become a temporary buffet. The gym was to accommodate the huge congregation, as it had during the past few weeks.
Lisa helped greet, and answer questions, as she was the center of attention. She would move from person to person, and from group to group. She happily gave each and everyone a chance to meet her that wanted to.
The sound system had, unexpectedly, crashed, and died. Therefore, Pastor Lewis had Steve doing repair work on the dead system in the gym, fixing problems that he swore, invisible, gremlins caused.
Finally, Sunday school started, and Jim taught a very crowded classroom. Lisa sat next to Kathy, her best friend on one side, and Chris on her other side. Steve was still out chasing gremlins, and trouble shooting the sound equipment. As the offering plate made its way around Lisa signed her voucher check over to the church.
Dad taught from Luke 6:20 - 24 the “Be” attitudes. “20 - Blessed are the poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. 21 - Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled. 22 - Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 - Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. 23 - Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven. 24 - But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” The lesson was quick, and to the point, after he finished up, he assigned helper and traffic control duties to everyone, for before, during, and after worship service.
“We will eat last, until then we will assist anyone, in everyway possible. And don’t worry if you faint from hunger, I will leave no one behind.” Dad laughed, and then dismissed the class with a military salute. Afterward, he took a chocolate chip cookie out of his pocket, and ate it.
Steve had the sound system up, and going just minutes before Sunday school was over. The Gremlins had turned out to be rats, with a taste for cables. He met Lisa as he headed out. “I’ll catch up with you after church, I need to check the cables in the sanctuary now, then help usher, and then help Grace organize the buffet,” he said, wiping sweat from his brow.
“See you after church then, love you,” Lisa replied, giving him a loving smile, as they parted.
Pastor Lewis welcomed everyone, prayed the opening prayer, and then introduced Lisa to sing the opening song. Lisa started the service off by singing “By your Side,” a song she liked from “Tenth Avenue North.”
Pastor Lewis then preached on Romans, chapter 12, which he entitled “Behave like a Christian.” At the end of the sermon, Lisa sang another song from “Tenth Avenue North,” called “Hold my Heart.” At the end of the song, three came forward to say the sinner’s prayer, and to be baptized. After which, all made way to the grand buffet, and fellowship.
Lisa was constantly surrounded, and engaged in conversation, so Steve, politely, stayed away. He assisted at the dessert table, with whatever anyone needed. He also helped himself, more than once, to the many varieties of cakes, pies, puddings, and pastries.
“Hey Steve, would you mind cutting me a small piece of that, yummy looking, carrot cake?”
“Hey Allison, I would be happy to.” Steve put down his plate of chocolate cake, and served her.
(Allison was one of the, junior, cheerleaders. She was a tall, drop-dead gorgeous, brunette, who knew she looked good, and used it. She always wore her clothes a little too tight; and dresses, and skirts a little too short. She was the type always touching, and brushing up against the boys, at least the ones, she liked. She had started developing early in middle school, and had taken advantage of her looks ever since.)
“Thank you, I was wondering if you would help me with my U.S. History class work tomorrow at school. I can’t seem to access it on the computer, I’m afraid that it may be lost,” she, sensually, asked, and then finished her cake. “May I have some of your drink, just enough to wash down that delicious cake.”
“Sure, and yes, I’ll check the class computer first thing in the morning,” Steve answered, then handed her his coke, as he finished his cake.
She took a long sip, “Thank you Steve, and if you can’t retrieve it, will you help me explain the problem to Mr. Raynor?” Allison asked, then handed the coke back, and held his arm with her left hand, as she stroked it with her right.
“Ah, I will,” he replied, blushing, as he stood motionless, and looking deep into her, sapphire, blue eyes for a moment. He then focused his gaze on the large bowl of banana pudding that was on the table. He waited for her to stop her petting, before he made his move. “Be at school a little early, and I’ll help you with everything in the morning.” Steve then picked up a bowl, and scooped out a large portion of banana pudding, concentrating on the vanilla wafers.
“Great! I will see you in the morning then. I need to be going now. Bye,” she replied, then quickly kissed him on the cheek.
“Bye,” Steve responded, still blushing, then he refilled his coke. (Unaware that Lisa had walked up.)
“Hey Lisa, I’ll talk to you later, I have to be going now, Derek is picking me up. Bye.”
“Bye Allison, have fun,” Lisa replied, smiling.
Steve turned around just as Lisa’s smile turned to a scowl. She stood with hands locked behind her back, and with her laser like ruby eyes locked on him.
“Hey Leese, can I get you some dessert?” He offered, in a soft voice, not sure what was wrong.
Lisa stayed quiet, as he tentatively ate a spoonful of banana pudding. “I, ah, was just talking to Allison, about helping her with an application problem that she seems to be having on the computer in history. It seems that the computer ate her class work,” he said, with a small laugh. He then took a sip of coke, and, slowly, ate another spoonful of pudding.
“I think that you have been doing more than talking,” Leese, solemnly, stated.
Steve was speechless, as he choked down the mouthful of banana pudding. Lisa could not be jealous, not of him and Allison, or him and anyone, he thought to himself. (She would hardly speak to him unless Lisa was around, or she needed something. Allison was not mean, but if a person did not measure up, in looks, status, or money, well, they just did not register on her radar at all, they did not exist. Lisa knew he was loyal; this could not be the problem.)
“You sure you don’t want something. I mean, these desserts are all home made, and delicious. There is banana pudding, chocolate cake, pecan pie, carrot cake, fruit pizza, strawberry cake, coconut pie, peanut butter cookies, and an assortment of pastries.” Steve, softly, listed each, as he looked at a scowling Lisa.
“I can see for myself, and no thank you, I don’t want any. From what I have seen though, you have had more than enough for the both of us. You did not eat a thing off the buffet. You have spent the whole time here at this dessert table. There will be consequences for this, just finish what you have, and we‘ll discuss it later. I think that I have met, and talked to everyone, so we‘ll say our goodbyes and go.” Lisa watched a frozen Steve just stand, holding the banana pudding, with the spoon halfway to his mouth.
“What…do…you…mean…? Consequences…” Steve, softly, asked.
Lisa showed a dark, evil, scowl, as she just glared at him. “If you are not gonna finish that, then give it to me, I don’t believe in wasting food.”
He, slowly, gave her the remains of the dessert, and the loaded plastic spoon, that never made it to his mouth. “Ah, what consequences,” he, sheepishly, asked again; as he watched her, ever so daintily, finish off the pudding.
“This is delicious. I must say that you are an expert when it comes to desserts, and fattening foods. May I have some of your coke?” She handed him the empty bowl, and took the coke. “There isn’t much left, you don’t mind if I finish it, do you?”
“No, I don’t mind, but Leese, please tell me what you mean, why do there have to be consequences, or anything,” Steve, softly, pleaded.
Lisa ignored him. “Let’s go say our goodbyes.” She then threw the empty plastic coke cup into the trash.
“You’re not gonna answer me are you?”
“What part of, we’ll talk about this later, didn’t you understand!” She locked, angry, eyes with his, and then took hold of his right hand, inadvertently, squeezing just a little bit beyond comfort level. They made their way hand-in-hand through the church saying their farewells. At the door, they came to Pastor Lewis, who wanted to shake their hands. Steve was eager to shake hands, just to break Lisa’s grip.
“We’ll be on our way now Pastor,” said Lisa, smiling.
“You two have done an excellent job today. Lisa your singing is heaven sent, and Steve, you are the best when it comes to electronics, and computers. You saved the day with your quickness at troubleshooting, and repairing our sound system. I tell you what, I know that Lisa must be running on empty, what with her long trip from Los Angeles, and only a few hours sleep. You two have permission to skip tonight’s service, and go home, and rest. I have already told your dad to skip tonight. My boy, Steve, you see to it that Lisa gets plenty of rest, and be there for her. With that, I’ll say goodbye, and I’ll see you all later.” Pastor Lewis then held the door open for them to leave.
As they walked toward his truck, Lisa popped a peppermint tic-tac into her mouth, and offered one to Steve.
“Thank you, now will you please talk to me? I know that I should not have eaten only desserts, but I think that I kinda earned it. I missed Sunday school, I missed church, and I tore my new dress pants. I got grease on my shirt, and I worked liked a dog with that rat infested sound system. I was glad that I could get everything up, and going on time. Then clean up the best that I could, and then help with serving and greeting. Why do you have to make such an issue out of what I ate?” Steve, doggedly, persisted, while they walked.
(He rarely had to press an issue with Leese. Their arguments were few, and short-lived.) More so, now, after not seeing her for three days, and being nervous about a recent, life pending decision, that he needed to make, well, he was not in the mood for this.
Lisa had cooled off, and just, quietly, listened, as they walked, she knew something was amiss. He did seem a little nervous this morning, they did not have much time together before Sunday school, and they didn‘t get to talk much on the phone while she was gone. She remained quiet, until they reached the truck. Then, as he reached to open the door for her, she gently grabbed his arm. She turned him toward her, and lightly pinned him, pressing him up against the door, with her body. With her face only inches from his, she said, “Now we talk.”
“I apologize for the way that I talked to you, but not for my concern. You did an excellent job fixing everything. Nevertheless, you know as well as I do, that you are on the border of being a type 2 diabetic. You are a little over weight, and when I saw you eating all that, high calorie, junk, food, well, it just infuriated me. I have been nice to everyone, but I am short on sleep, tired, and probably a little, too, short tempered with you. I love you, and if you gain weight, I will still love you. However, as for the consequences go, when you weigh tomorrow, if you’re so much as one pound over what you weighed last week, I insist that you do light cardio workouts with me each day, as I do my regular workouts. I’ll design a diet and an exercise regimen for you, and if you love me, you’ll do this.”
Lisa then kissed him, with a long, slow, intense kiss. She kissed a kiss, where he just held on to her waist, as he tried to breathe, and kiss back. Leese kissed to the point that both drained him mentally, and physically. Her kiss was of such passion, that it numbed all of his senses. He could barely breathe. She was draining the life right out of him, but God, how he loved this.
Lisa kissed a kiss that she would use on occasion, if she thought that she had been too harsh on him. She stopped her passionate kissing, as soon as Steve got to where he could no longer respond. With a soft smile, she slightly backed off, and looked at him as he tried to breathe and speak.
“Yeah…you…and…that…recruiter…are…right…I…need…to…get…into…a…little…better…shape,” Steve gasped. He had become so entranced by Lisa’s body pressing against his, her perfume, her peppermint sweet breath, the kiss, that he let slip something that he had not intended to, not yet anyway.
“WHAT! What did you just say?” She demanded, looking at him, now with a scowl, with her hands resting on his shoulders.
“Ah, we need to talk. While you were gone, you see, I started thinking, and, well, ah, I came up with an idea, and, ah, we need to talk.” Steve stammered, as he thought that he felt her hands move toward his neck, and tighten.
“Yes we do! What is this about a recruiter! What idea! You know what, just take me home, and we‘ll talk there. I want to change out of these clothes anyway.” Lisa spoke in a stern voice, snorted, then removed her hands from his shoulders, and opened the door herself.
Steve was not quite sure how mad Leese was. She stayed on her side of the truck, but she sometimes did that, when she wore a dress. As he drove, he tried explaining what he had done.
“I was gonna tell you everything, after you had rested, and we were alone. However, you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men. Anyway, you see, I need to start exploring my options for going to college, and for me, there are not that many options to explore. I talked to the school counselor, and she offered a couple of options. The one that makes the most sense is a program that the military is offering right now to juniors and seniors.”
“The Air force program was the most compelling to me. I can still attend the same college that we wanted to. In addition, with my high score on the aptitude tests, that I took Friday, they guaranteed me that they would cover my tuition in full. All I have to do is take courses that they want me to take, and keep my grades up. Their course requirements are almost exactly, what I want to take anyway. All I have to do is have my parents sign the documents that I have in the glove compartment.” He explained, and then watched Lisa open the glove compartment, and take out the brochures and documents.
“Do your parents know about this yet?” She asked, sharply, as she looked through everything.
“No. I’m keeping everything to myself for the time being.”
“At least that’s smart. And did you know that you serve for seven years, after you graduate from college, then four years in the reserves?” She commented, in a concerned voice.
“I know, but Leese, my choices are limited. I do not have a college fund like y…, like some kids. I am lucky that my job still lets me work what few hours that I work. Still that only provides a little spending money, and maybe enough to save for your engagement ring. You know that my dad’s job cut his hours. My mom has to work every Sunday, she has not been to church in six weeks, and she is afraid to complain. She is afraid that someone off the street can easily replace her, for less money. With the economy the way that it is, the partial scholarship program won‘t last, the counselor said. Qualifying for a college loan now, well, is so strict, that I cannot qualify. I really don’t have any other choices.”
Within minutes, they arrived at Lisa’s house. “Well Leese, now you know what I was doing while you were gone. I know that you are tired, so I will leave, and you can rest. You now know the whole story. There is no point in me staying. This is my decision, and I have to make it soon. You see, this program will only last, until the quotas reach their goal. Leese, your vision was vague about me, except for us being married, and having a daughter. For all we know, I could be an officer in the Air force at the time of birth. And you should be happy about me having to get into, and stay in some kind of decent shape.”
Lisa took a deep breath, and replied, “I want you to get out, and come in. No matter how tired I am, I want you with me. Besides, the Pastor said to take care of me, of my needs today. I feel that I am going to be very needy, and we are not through talking by no means. You may be finished, but you haven’t heard from me yet.” Lisa spoke, lastly, in a peppy voice, with a wicked grin, cocking her head to one side. “I’m bringing all of these papers in too, but before we go through them line-by-line, and page-by-page, I have a little nugget of information of my own to share.”
As they walked from the truck to the door, Lisa told Steve, “We’ll have to be quiet, everyone’s asleep. I’ll change while you go down to the basement, there we won’t have to be so quiet.”
Steve went down to the basement, and waited on the couch. It was not long before he heard Lisa bounding down the stairs. She had put on a black tank top, with black cut-off jeans. Leese was looking over the documents, as she approached. She laid the papers on the coffee table, and sat down right next to Steve. She locked loving eyes on him, took a deep breath, and then slowly exhaled. He remained quiet the entire time, looking at her with a quizzical expression.
“You know this quest that Monica and mom bribed me to take. Well, it is time that I tell you why I am doing it. As you know, I am an embarrassment to mom’s side of the family. What with me excelling in football, and lifting weights, just does not sit well with them. You are not normal, or girl like, they have told me many times. In addition, by me not acting the way they want, wearing what they want, seeing whom they want, or traveling with them, they see me as abnormal. Not only do they want me to change, and act according to their way of thinking. They would not mind at all having me as a celebrity, now since I‘ve, unfortunately, did well on A.R.S.; I say that, to say this, they offered me an enticement that I could not pass up. I have told you before, that it was for something that is precious, dear, and very important to me. Well, that is you Steve, and what they offered me for just competing, is a fully paid tuition for you.” Lisa spoke softly, as she held his hands.
“You did this for me! You have hated every minute of it. How am I ever going to make it up to you? Why didn’t you tell me this in the beginning?” Steve asked, squeezing her hands, while his eyes watered up.
“I didn’t tell you because, I know your families situation, I knew that this might be a sensitive issue to deal with, I know you, and didn’t want to infringe on your pride. I thought to keep it a secret until we were married, and say that it was a wedding gift. It never occurred to me that you would be searching for ways to get into college, this early. Now then, I have nothing against the military, and this Air force plan is a good plan, if you are interested in joining. On the other hand, you can stay with my plan, since I have put so much time, and effort into it. And, as for making it up to me, well, we’ll have a life time together for me to keep coming up with ways for that, kinda a never-ending pay-back,” Lisa winked, and smiled.
“I think that I prefer your way,” Steve said, then pulled his hands free, and cupped her face, as he proceeded to kiss her, with long gentle kisses.
Lisa followed his lead, and, slowly, reclined backward into the couch, with him on top. He caressed her face, stroked her hair, and continued with the kisses.
Leese rubbed his back, as she was ecstatically enjoying the moment.
Steve abruptly stopped, and backed off. This was the first time ever that he had initiated any kind of Romantic Movement with Leese. “I’m so sorry! I have never acted this rash before! Please forgive me!” He begged, trying to pull free of Leese, but she would not let him.
“What are you talking about? Do you hear me complaining? I could have stopped you, if I had wanted too. I suggest that you continue at once, unless you want to see how angry I will get. For your information, your payback has already started, and there will be plenty of interest. In fact I don‘t think that you‘ll ever be able to completely make it up to me, but I think that you‘ll enjoy trying.” Lisa remarked lastly, in a sensual voice, as she pulled him back on top.
Without another word, and with a big smile, Steve continued repaying his debt. Later that evening, as the sky changed to twilight, he could tell that Leese was tired. He said goodnight, and kissed her one last parting kiss, then left.
A Revelation Revealed
Lisa awoke many times during the night from a restless sleep. She wondered, what was going to happen Monday that would fulfill her promise. Many times, she reread the notes that she had made of her vision, and Seraphina’s vague answers. What event is going to release her from her journey into hell?
She had already met Irene, the person who had legally changed names twice. Lisa had been shocked that Irene was now a nun; not the wild, partying, worldly woman that she had been expecting. This encounter alone proved that anyone, at anytime, could change, as long, as they have air in their lungs, and a beating heart.
She Knew Ellen before her vision/dream, and was pleasantly surprised that she turned out to be Valentine, another person she would ally herself with.
Leese now knew that God has a sense of humor. All of the people foretold, that she would meet with, were, cryptically, given to her in stage names, pet names, and nicknames.
The last one on her list that she would meet, and start her on her new journey, on the adventure that she had promised Seraphina to take for God, has the nickname of “twizzler.” This one she could not wait to meet.
Lisa struggled with her thoughts, and an imagination that was running wild, as she finally drifted off into a dreamless, peaceful sleep.
Leese arose bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed. A full day of activities awaited her, and she was eager to start. Every class she had, had some kind of test or quiz to take. Then there would be the weekly Q&A from the students, and teachers about her Saturday night performance. She had to place her orders for her, and Steve’s yearbooks, and class rings. (What with Steve and his dads hours cut, and his family pressed for money now, she, without hesitation, decided to pay for him. She encountered some resistance, but Steve finally gave in to Lisa’s logic, reasoning, and barrage of passionate kisses.) She also had to make time to meet with the yearbook staff, and school newspaper staff, for interviews and pictures. After school, football practice would consist of a short walk-thru, watching film of the Rams, then a team meeting. The climax of the day would be her and dad having a heart-to-heart talk with mom.
“If Seraphina’s prophecy is true, then this is the day that I’ve waited for, the day that will let me get back soon to a normal life. I will be able to end this God forsaken adventure, while still keeping my promise, a win-win all the way around,” Lisa said, as she unbuckled her seat belt.
Steve looked at Leese. “Did you at anytime think about breaking the promise, and just saying to heck with it? I have known you forever, and I know how important it is for you, and your dad to keep a promise. But still, this one sent you through events, people, and places that you thoroughly disdained.”
“No, I promised to do my best, as long as it didn’t interfere with football, and I have. The payoff, which you are now aware of, was well worth staying the course. I had just hoped that it would have been over with by now.” Lisa then put her, Amazonian, arms around Steve’s neck, and, softly, kissed him.
“You know, if God doesn’t intervene today, you will win,” Steve stated, after the kiss.
“Maybe, however, I have prayed everyday for a way out, and if things go accordingly, today my prayers will be answered. We need to be going in, your princess will be waiting for you to slay the evil computer, and retrieve her work.”
Steve laughed. “And by lunch Allison won’t even acknowledge my existence, unless she needs me to help her with something else.”
They exited the truck laughing, and held hands to the main entrance, then headed first to the gym. Every Monday Steve would weigh in, and check his weight for Leese. He was relieved that he had actually lost a pound.
Lisa was mildly surprised, raising her left eyebrow. “It could have been more you know, but still, it keeps you from having to endure my training regime.” She gave him a quick kiss, and then they parted ways until lunch.
The day passed quickly, Lisa grew more and more anxious, as she waited for her sign, but so far nothing. Steve’s job called him in, and he left right after school. Now with Steve gone, and plenty of free time, she spent her time between school, and practice, pumping weights, in the training room.
At the practice walk-thru, Coach Morgan changed the defensive scheme from a 5-2, to a 4-3 alignment. In the 4-3 scheme, Coach Morgan, always moved Lisa to middle linebacker, and put Chris in her strong-side cornerback position. The Panthers seldom used the 4-3, because most teams they faced ran the ball more than they passed. This scheme, however, would be much better against the Rams, who passed at least seventy percent of the time.
As they watched film, Coach Morgan explained, and showed how deadly the Rams offense was. They saw a quick strike capability allowing them to score from anywhere on the field. They watched the number one rated passing quarterback in double-A. They observed the number one rated offense in double-A. They studied a team that was undefeated, that massacred their opponents, no game was close. The Rams defense ranked number three, totally manhandling the opposing offenses all year. The film showed a team that all predicted to be, double-A, champions this year.
“Now then, the question that needs to be asked is not how good they are? BUT, HOW GOOD ARE WE? WE ARE THE REIGNING CHAMPIONS! WE ARE THE NUMBER ONE DEFENSE IN DOUBLE-A! WE…ARE…THE…PANTHERS! We will give them a fight, the likes they have not been in all year! ICE, is your defense ready for battle?” Coach Morgan asked, and then motioned for Lisa to come up front.
“YES SIR, WE ARE READY!” Lisa answered, then left her chair, and joined him.
“Ice I want you to lead the battle cry.”
“Yes sir!” With hands viciously clapping, Lisa yelled, “DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE, PANTHER PRIDE!” All echoed her in loudness, and ferocity, and then finished with a loud, angry, Panther growl.
After the meeting, Coach Morgan led his squad to meet up with the rest of the team.
“All of you have seen film, and know what we’re going up against. I promise you that practice will be very severe these next few days. Now, with that being said, I have the outline of events for this Friday’s playoffs, and next week’s championship game.” Coach Pruitt adjusted his glasses, and continued.
“Friday, kick-off time for us will be four o’clock, at Georgia Tech stadium. We will leave school at around two o’clock, giving us plenty of time to arrive, and set up. At seven o’clock, the Chatham County Blue Devils will play the Sumter County Knights. The winners will play in two weeks at Atlanta Stadium. The game will be a Saturday night game, starting at eight o’clock, and broadcasted on PBS. John Madden will be in town for the Pro game on Sunday. He has volunteered to do commentary, and color, for the double-A championship game. Need I say that we had better be one of the teams dressed out, and standing on the field, at Atlanta stadium in two weeks?” Coach Pruitt remarked, as he peered over the top of his glasses at the team. With that said, he then dismissed everyone.
Lisa was ecstatic. God had answered her prayer, or rather, had given her a chance, if they beat the Rams Friday. She ran to the parking lot, found dad, and told him everything.
“You know, now we have to bring mom up to speed on some of your vision, and it’s not gonna be a pretty sight. In fact, I have never seen anyone have a conniption fit, but I have heard of such, we may very well see mom have one. Regardless, we’re in for a long, gruesome night.”
“Yeah, she’s not gonna be at all happy. And Monica will probably turn into a raging demon, when mom tells her.” Lisa then popped a tic-tac into her mouth.
“What do you mean turn into?” Dad, laughingly, quipped.
They were both laughing, as they pulled into the drive. Dad parked the van, and then looked at Leese. They both took a deep breath, and slowly exhaled, as they made their way to the front door, and into the valley of the shadow of death.
“Leese, you know that I’m with you 100%.”
“I know; you always are.”
“And I’ve lived a relatively long and happy life. When mom kills me, I ask that you do one favor for me.”
“What’s that?” Lisa asked, smiling.
“I want you to find a good home for my Star Trek collection.”
“I will, I promise,” she replied, laughing.
They both then entered the house laughing, only to find mom on her cell phone telling a friend about Lisa, and her performance. She continued the conversation for about fifteen more minutes. Afterward, with a huge smile, she hugged Leese, and then gave Jim a long suggestive embrace, and a passionate kiss.
“I’m really gonna miss that.”
“Miss what, what are you talking about?” Susan asked, quizzically.
“Oh, nothing, is Kenny still at Matt’s?”
“Yes, he‘s staying for dinner.”
“Good, so he’ll be gone for awhile.”
“Hmmm, have something in mind, where we might need some privacy.” Susan sensuously whispered into his ear, to keep Lisa from over hearing.
“Ah, yeah, I mean no, ah, Lisa has something that she wants to talk to you about.” Jim then, solemnly, looked at Leese. I will be in the kitchen making dinner, if you need me.”
“No-no-no, I don’t think so! You are gonna stay in here with us, while we all talk.” Lisa demanded with a mean look, quickly grabbing his arm so he could not leave. “I think we need to have a seat before I start.”
Lisa and mom went to the couch, while dad settled into a chair, slightly further away.
“What’s up?” Mom asked, smiling.
Lisa told her the details of the upcoming playoff game, and then let her absorb that information before she continued.
“Ok, you have an early game Friday, so we’ll be able to leave for the airport that much quicker, and arrive in L.A. at a decent time.”
“No, I intend to celebrate with the team, this time, after the game. I think that we can still get an early start though, but I have more to tell you.” Lisa then went into details about the championship game that would take place on a Saturday night in two weeks. “Mom, I will be at that, championship, game, suited up, and leading my defense.”
Mom was not smiling now. “What are you saying? You are just going to quit! You are so close to winning, and you are just going to quit! All, entertainment, news sources have you projected to win! You are America’s favorite, and you are just going to throw it all away, for a stupid game! Do you even consider that you are just three shows away from winning, and crowned the new American Rock Star? You know what happens to the winner! Your ratings are so much higher than any previous contestant ever and you’re just gonna quit!” Susan’s, beautiful, face, now shown distorted, with a mixture of anger, and unbelief, as she looked from Lisa to Jim. She then, abruptly, went to the bar, and fixed herself a strong drink.
“Yeah, mom, if we win Friday, I am going to announce after my last song, Saturday that I’m withdrawing. I will have fulfilled my promise to compete, and do my best, which I have. Monica and you both agreed to the stipulation of the promise. And you’ve known from the beginning that the only reason that I agreed to do this was because of Steve.”
“I couldn’t care less about the fame and fortune. I have no interest in being, or meeting celebrities. If we win Friday, then the only reason that I would even be going back to perform is because of the check vouchers already given to me. Helping Steve was well worth making the promise. I would do it again; however, it has opened my eyes. It has left a sour taste in my mouth, and a view of the world that I will never forget. I am sorry, but I am never going to be normal the way you, Monica, and other family members want me to be. I must live my life the way that I see fit, follow my heart, and be the best person that I can be for God, family, and friends.” Lisa spoke, softly, and then watched, as mom came back with her drink.
“Is there anything that I can say, or do, to change your mind?”
“No, mom, if we win, I will be through with this for good.”
“I see, you know that I’m going to be pulling for the Rams Friday.”
“I understand. There is one more thing though, that I need to tell you about.” She then switched her gaze from mom to dad. Lisa, carefully, told mom of parts of her vision that she, and dad had agreed to make known.
Susan sat, and listened, restlessly, as she took long swigs from her drink. “So, this is the secret that you two have been keeping.
“Yeah,” Lisa answered.
“And of course you two believe in this kind of stuff,” mom inquired, giving Jim a stern look.
“Yeah,” she’s three for three, and you have to take that seriously,” Jim answered.
“And I know that you completely support her in quitting.”
“Yeah, she has a good head on her shoulders, and knows that there is more to life than worldly affluences. I have never pushed, or cajoled her into any direction, and I never will. I love her, and accept any decision that she makes for her life course.” Jim replied, with pride in his voice, as he locked eyes with Susan.
“What about the time you spent with the teen celebrities, this past Saturday, didn’t you enjoy that? You stayed with them a long time.”
“Ah, well, you haven’t heard the whole story,” Lisa replied, and then, took a deep breath, and looked at dad.
“You might as well show mom, and tell her, what really happened,” dad said.
Lisa showed mom her video recordings, and explained what really happened in the star lounge. She then excused herself, to go freshen up.
Susan went very quiet, as she watched, and heard the recording, for the longest she did not move, or utter a sound. Each time she replayed it, she turned a shade paler.
“I don’t like for Leese to be involved in confrontations, but she is a woman of action, a natural leader, and her actions are just. She would have made God a good Nazirite, back in the old days, back in the days of Judges,” Jim said, with a small laugh.
“More so, we were going to keep this quiet, but since you think that she is starting to adjust, I needed you to see what really happened. She is doing something that she does not want to do, albeit for an honorable and noble cause. Her promise has put her in situations, places, and with people, that anyone of true faith, and morality would find abhorring. Fortunately, Leese through her life, has listened to Gods, soft, inward voice, to grow to be of strong heart, mind, and body, giving her the ability to handle the toughest of situations.” Jim spoke in a soft voice, then stood, and walked over to Susan.
Jim continued, “You said that you were going to try to be more understanding. You need to start supporting her now, and forget about what you want, or what you want her to be. There is more to her vision, but you are not ready to hear it yet. When she thinks that, you are ready, when you are willing to give her one hundred percent of your support. When you accept that she marches to the beat of a Christian drum, then she will give you the complete details.”
With that said, Susan, suddenly, stood, and then locked, angry, squinted eyes on Jim. She then let out a stream of curse words that he had not heard come from her, since before they were dating.
Jim absorbed all of Susan’s verbal abuse, then with a soft, loving, voice attempted to calm her down.
Lisa returned to find mom standing, arms crossed, flushed with anger, and with wild eyes locked on dad. Dad stood only inches away, with hands behind his back, calmly speaking. They both turned, as she approached. “I think it’s time that you started dinner,” Susan suggested, through clenched teeth.
“Leese, we need to continue our talk, a kind of mother-daughter discussion now, if you will. I’ll get you a glass of milk, and I’ll pour myself some wine, then it will be just us girls, as your dad prepares his famous tacos.”
Jim took the hint that Susan wanted tacos, and tacos she shall have. He then excused himself, and headed for the kitchen. He began assembling all of the ingredients, and listened, as best he could, to their conversation. He could not hear much, but he could hear, on several occasions, laughter.
Later that night, as she lay sprawled on her bed, listening to “Celtic Woman,” Lisa called Steve, and filled him in on everything.
(By excelling at football, Lisa had obtained a small amount of recognition, power, and influence through out the years. By excelling in A.R.S., each week, she unknowingly had increased her influence and power base tenfold.)
Steve was all excited talking to Leese. He told her about how he was called into the managers office, how they talked about her, and her amazing performances. How the manager offered all of his hours back, and more if he wanted. He went on to say that, the same thing happened to his mom, and that she can adjust her work schedule, as she sees fit.
As for Susan, she had been quiet toward Jim most of the night. As he prepared for bed, she walked up to him wearing her sexiest negligee (Susan was in her late thirties, and still looked as hot as she did when she was a cheerleader.) He went to embrace her, but she stopped him.
“I’m still mad as hell at you, at everything, at everyone, but she is my daughter, and as much as I hate to admit it, you are right. Tonight all you get is one goodnight kiss. A chance to look, and not touch, and if you want to sleep in the same bed, you had better give me the best foot massage that I have ever had. One more thing, a small warning, you had better be sure that your hands stay, well, below my ankles. I wouldn’t want you to lose any body parts.” Susan spoke in her sexiest voice. She then seductively walked to the bed, and slowly, teasingly, positioned herself for her massage.
That’s My Girl
Tuesday’s practice centered on the Panthers 4-3 defense matching up against the offense, who were imitating the Rams, pro-set, passing scheme.
“Damn it Leese, you don’t have to knock me to the ground every time you break through the line. You should at least give me a chance to throw a couple of passes. You have spent more time on top of me today then Cindy (his cheerleader girlfriend) did this past weekend. Another thing, you know that I am an option quarterback, not a drop-back passer. Give me a chance to adjust,” Greg complained, after Lisa helped him up off the ground.
Ice just smiled, and then blew him a kiss, as she sashayed back to her side of the scrimmage line.
Greg Harris, again, walked up to the line, took his place behind center, and surveyed the field. He looked right at Leese, who was inching forward. “MOOSE, STAY ALERT, KEEP AN EYE ON ICE.” He looked over his left shoulder to his halfback. “DOUG, HELP MOOSE, IF SHE BLITZES.” He then positioned himself under center, to call signals. “ALRIGHT, DOWN, SET, HUT, HUT, HUT,” he took the snap, and quickly back peddled. Ice, danced, and jigged, past Moose, and then muscled her way through Doug. Greg pulled the ball in making a run for a seam that he had spied. However, before he could even get back to the line of scrimmage, Lisa ran him down, and tackled him again.
Greg accepted her hand, again, as she helped him off the ground. He looked into the facemask at a smiling Ice. “DAMN IT LEESE, why the hell even bother going back! Why not just stand next to me, then you can just tackle me when I take the snap, it would save time! COACH I HAVE NO BLOCKING! Moose and Doug could not block my grandmother! I have not thrown a single pass yet! I might as well be home doing homework!” Greg yelled, in a loud, angry, voice.
“What’s a girl to do? I’m just practicing different blitzing techniques.” Leese replied, snickering, as Chris walked up.
“Lisa, are you two going steady now, or what. I mean, you have had your arms around Greg all day today. I bet that you haven’t hugged Steve that much,” Chris quipped. “And by the way Greg, I’m tired of running all over the field for nothing. If you’re not ever gonna throw the ball, then I might as well go over, and talk to the cheerleaders.”
Lisa laughed, knowing that Chris was ticking Greg off.
Greg swore at Chris. “I’M GONNA KILL YOU, YOU SON OF A B@#$H.” He then started to chase him, but Coach Pruitt summoned him and Lisa over.
The coaches were laughing, as the two approached. “Ok Leese, from now on, I want you to play a middle zone, so Greg can get off some passes. Greg you are right, you do not have much blocking. We are not a passing offense, so pass protection is almost nonexistent. Our defense just need a little practice against a, pro-set, passing attack. Now then, you do not have to be concerned about Leese anymore. I’ll keep her off your back; she’ll be playing zone coverage now, so bombs away.” Coach Pruitt laughed, as he patted his quarterback on the shoulder.
Greg and Ice (offensive and Defensive captains,) standing only a few feet apart, squared off. Like two old west gunslingers, they faced each other, at close range.
“Now then Leese, I’m gonna burn you good.”
“We’ll just see about that,” Lisa replied, as she stood, glaring, with hands on her hips.
They removed their helmets. Their squinted eyes locked, anger shown on their faces. They slowly walked toward each other. They then, each stuck their tongue out. Afterwards, they laughed, and high fived, before going back to their huddles.
After practice, she rode home with dad (Steve was at work.) At home, she got into her jeep, and visited Bill and Grace. Granddad had told her Sunday, at church, about a huge tree that had fallen in last week’s storm.
Bill looked up, cutting his chainsaw off, as he saw Leese pull into the driveway. “Hey, you lost? You have not paid your old granddad a visit in days. Lately we only get to see you at church, or on TV.”
Lisa gave him a big hug, he was tall, gangly, clean-shaven, and always smelled like old spice, and she adored it. Bill was the exact opposite of Russell. He was a deacon at church, friendly, easy going, willing to help anyone at anytime, and always with a smile. He could cheer up just about anyone that was down, with his arsenal of jokes that he seemed to have always at the ready.
“Sorry about that, but this whole TV business will be over with, when we win Friday.”
“Ah, don’t you mean if you win?” Bill questioned, as he removed his, camouflaged, cap, and ran his fingers through his, short, graying hair.
“Normally I would say that, but with the vision I told you about, I think winning this game will be the answer to one of my questions.”
“Can I play devil’s advocate, and ask you a question?”
“Nope, not until you bring me a chainsaw, and a pair of safety glasses. Then you can ask me anything you want. I‘m gonna go in, and see Grandma for a minute, till you get back.”
“She’s not here, or she’d been out here already, and all over you. Nora (Grace’s friend) picked her up earlier. I think they went shopping. Too bad, too, she’d loved to have seen you.”
“Well, I’ll be here for a while, got that tree to help you cut up. I bet when it fell, it made some kind of noise.”
“Yep, woke us up around two, during that storm. You sure you want to help cut it up?”
“Yeah, why do you ask? Ever since I had you show me how to use a chainsaw, I have enjoyed helping you cut up downed trees. Besides you’re getting close to retirement, and probably should be taking it a little easier.”
“So you’re saying that I’m too old for this kind of work, huh. Well back at you, I think that you’re much too pretty for this kind of work.”
“I see, now you’re beginning to sound more like Monica and Russell.”
“God no, let’s go get that other chainsaw, if I’m not too old, to take it down off the shelf.”
Lisa laughed, “I promise never to mention your age again, if you and Grace promise not to turn into my other grandparents.”
“That is a promise that we can easily make, and keep.” Bill vowed, as they walked into the shed that held his second chainsaw.
“Ok, what is this devil’s advocate question?” Lisa asked, and then proceeded to put her hair up into a ponytail.
“Helping people is your goal, your life’s calling, if you will, and a damn fine aspiration too for anyone, especially a teenager, this day and age. By saying that, I ask this, why not continue, and win the A.R.S., this would provide you with ample money to help the poor.”
Lisa smiled, as she looked at Bill. “By winning, it would provide me with a rather large income to help the poor. However, such an unholy alliance would not be God’s way. As you know, we are supposed to live in the world, but not be of the world. Everything given to me would be at a price, a price that I am not willing to pay. The money would be the devil’s, and tainted. My soul aches now, knowing the commitments that would be demanded.”
“We’re to always help the poor, the needy, the down trodden, but no matter the reason, we are not to seek wealth and riches. When, or if, it pleases God, he will bestow such on whom he sees fit, and then without any strings attached, that faith-filled person would accomplish much. They would know that the money was not theirs, but Gods, and to be used accordingly. God will help people, but he will do it his way. In 1-Timothy, 6:9 it says; but those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. Also in Mark 4:19 it says; the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. I will help people, but it will be a way that pleases God.”
“Good answer Leese, I am so proud of you. Now then, let’s go take on that tree. It ain’t a gonna cut itself up, and afterward I’ll have firewood aplenty. We’ll work up an appetite, and when Grace gets back she’ll whip up a dinner fit for two of the counties best lumberjacks.”
“Sounds like a plan, and I bet that I cut up more of the tree than you.”
“A wager huh, well if I wasn’t getting long in the tooth I would, but someone recently, and I don’t remember who, said that I needed to take it easy because of my age.”
They both had a good laugh at that. Lisa kissed him on the cheek, and then they started their chainsaws.
As the wood chips were flying, Nora pulled up. She and Grace both just shook their heads, and smiled, as they watched Grace’s, precious, granddaughter cutting, splitting, and stacking wood, like a seasoned pro.
Wednesday, practice was intensified, and lengthened. Leese spent as much time as she could with Steve after practice. However, exhaustion caught up with her, and she had to turn in early.
Susan had been quiet all week, keeping to herself, and keeping long hours at her office. Outwardly, she seemed pleasant, when she did speak, but inwardly she was fighting a major war with herself.
Thursday, she visited her parents, and stayed out past midnight. When she finally arrived, Leese and Jim were up waiting. She said very little about her night out, but what she did say involved much colorful language. The gist being, that they had spent most of the time at the country club, and that Monica and Russell were way beyond pissed at Lisa. Susan slurred something about Monica and Russell disowning Leese, as a granddaughter. That if the Panthers won, they would not be going to the show. Susan had arrived home a bit tipsy, and after saying what she said, then decided to go to bed, with all of her clothes on.
Friday, Jim had to use a substitute teacher for his classes. He had to have everything ready for the trip back to Los Angeles. He had to get ready for the evening game, pull Kenny out of school at lunch, and baby Susan, who was moping around with a hangover.
At school, Jim parked behind Steve’s truck, which was in line behind the row of buses that would take the team, and band, to the stadium. He, Kenny, and even Susan went with Steve to the student section, behind the band, where they watched, and waited for the team to come out.
The band was standing on both sides of the walkway, playing the Schools fight song. The cheerleaders had split into two squads; each squad formed a double line for the players to walk through, at the team’s two buses. Within minutes, the color guard came through the main doors. The band switched from the schools fight song, to the theme music of “Patton.” Behind the color guard came the two team captains (Lisa and Greg,) followed by the team, then the coaches, all in military step and formation.
The Panthers would be the visiting team. Therefore, they dressed out in their white pants, with black and purple stripes down the sides. They wore their white jerseys, with black numbers, outlined in purple. Last, were their black helmets; outlined in white, on both sides, was a snarling head of a Panther.
To a rousing ovation, the team loaded, and then the cheerleaders followed. The band continued playing, as they filed into their buses. After embarking, the bus drivers honked their horns, as they departed for Ga. Tech stadium.
At the stadium, the two teams took opposite ends of the field, for calisthenics, and some quick practice sessions. Lisa and Chris watched on, as the Rams (dressed in solid white pants, with royal blue jerseys, and white helmets) were practicing pass patterns with perfect execution.
“Chris, if you let anyone score on you while you’re occupying my position, I’ll wring your neck!” Lisa remarked, with a smile, as she, gently, grabbed his collar.
“Leese, I’ll do my best. However, if that happens, please, all I ask is that you tell Mrs. Brown, Monday, that she has a plastic, pop-up, mouse in her top right hand drawer.”
“You didn’t! She will die, when that thing jumps out at her! You know that she is terrified of mice and rats! You also know that I have her first period Monday!” Leese replied, as she tightened her grip on his collar.
“That’s why I want for you to tell her. If I am dead, I will not be around to see the joke. You see, I was planning to ask her for my test grade Monday morning, before school, which she keeps in that drawer.”
Lisa released her grip, and they both laughed, as they walked to the Gatorade dispenser on the sideline. “You know, I’m gonna have to tell dad about your mouse joke, we can’t terrorize the teachers.”
As the teams took to the sidelines, the referee called for both teams’ captains to the middle of the field, for the coin toss. Lisa and Greg shook hands with the Ram’s quarterback “Kevin” and defensive captain “Sean.”
“You’re a girl!” Both Ram captain’s seem to say at the same time, as they checked her out.
“I do believe so, I can see why you two were chosen to be captains, you’re so very observant,” Lisa replied smiling, as she shook hands.
“Do you actually play? Kevin asked, still checking out her Amazonian physique.
“Oh yes, she plays, but don’t let the muscles fool you, she’s more of a powder puff player, avoids any physical contact, or hitting.” Greg spoke up, laughing, while Lisa gave him a mean look.
As the visiting team, the Panthers were to call the coin toss. The referee tossed the coin high, and Greg called for heads (the Panthers always called heads.) The coin landed on tails, giving the Rams first chance with the ball.
Lisa chose which end of the field her defense would defend. She then walked back to the sidelines with Greg.
“Powder puff, huh, avoids hitting; just wait till our next practice. I will show you how much I avoid hitting.” Lisa, angrily, remarked, as they made their way back, and to the team pre-game prayer.
“I was just using reverse psychology on them.”
“I’ll reverse your head, that way you can see where you’re going when you walk backwards. Besides, you don’t even know what the word means, I’m surprised that you could even pronounce it, much less use it in a sentence.”
“You two having a lover’s quarrel, and after all the time you’ve spent together this week,” Chris quipped, and then ran.
Greg gave chase, but it was too late, he had already acquired safety with Coach Pruitt.
“I’m gonna kill that son of a b@#$h,” Greg swore.
Coach Pruitt called everyone together for the prayer, and a short pep talk. Afterward he sent out the kicking squad for the start of the game.
A great kick-off, and poor return put the ball on the Ram’s seventeen-yard line. Coach Morgan’s instructions to the defense were for all defensive backs to play zone coverage starting out. The Ram’s deployed four wide-outs, leaving no one in the backfield. After three pass plays, they had easily moved to the Panther’s twenty-six yard line.
Lisa saw Coach Morgan frantically signaling her to call time out. She signaled the referee by making a “T” with her hands, and hurried over to the sidelines.
Coach Morgan put his hands on her shoulder pads, and locked eyes with her. “We have to change from zone coverage, to man-to-man, and I want you and David to free-roam. You got it Ice, you two go on the prowl, and put a stop to this. They are picking us apart. I want that quarterback spooked, and fearing for his life. You make him eat grass a few times, and he won’t be as accurate.”
“Yes sir,” Lisa replied, and then went back to the field.
Susan had a slight smile, as she watched the Panther secondary being picked apart.
Bill just shook his head. “Morgan should turn Lisa and the other linebackers loose. They’re gonna get eat alive, if they stay in a zone.”
“I think that’s what he’s telling Leese now,” Jim commented, as he watched Coach Morgan and Lisa talking.
“Steve, you, Kenny, and I, can go get refreshments for everyone.” Susan, happily, suggested, and then took orders from Bill, Grace, and Jim.
While standing in line at the concession stand, Susan over heard several women talking about how pathetic the Panthers defense was. One woman in particular, was bragging about how great her son was (the quarterback.) That he would be meeting soon with several college recruiters.
A heavy-set, well-dressed, man was making everyone in line laugh, by berating the Panthers middle linebacker, being a girl.
“This is going to be a slaughter; we’ll have our second team playing by halftime.” The mother of the quarterback, loudly, predicted, so as all around could hear.
“Mom, their making fun of Leese, and the team, let’s go get food somewhere else,” Kenny pleaded.
“I agree, Mrs. Raynor, we should go to a different concession stand,” Steve also pleaded.
Susan’s smile had now turned to anger, as she confronted the man. Being taller, she looked down at him. She utilized all of the colorful language that she had in her vocabulary arsenal. She informed him, in her own special way, that that middle linebacker was her daughter, and that she was all-state defensive player of the year, last year. She then turned to the woman, and using the same vocabulary, informed her, that her son would be in for a long, painful, day, as soon as Coach Morgan turned Ice loose.
Steve quickly covered Kenny’s ears until the storm was over. Then, during a lull, he was finally able to pull Susan away, before security threw her out. They finally made it to a different food stand, and peacefully ordered, and went back to their seats.
Susan and Steve remained, solemn, and quiet, as they passed out the food. Kenny, however, went into, great, detail, as he ate his burger and fries.
“All I can say is it’s a good thing that I wasn’t there. No one talks bad about my granddaughter. If I had been there, I reckon me and Susan would have both been thrown out for sure, way to go.” With much praise, Grace smiled at Susan.
Susan was still red with anger, mixed with some embarrassment. A small smile though came to her face, as each one responded in kind, to her motherly, defensive, out burst.
The referees stopped the game, right after the Panthers called their time-out. The referees were having problems with the game clock. This gave the Panthers a chance to catch their breath, and regroup from the Rams quick start.
When the game resumed, Bill was the first to notice that the Panthers had a different defensive scheme. “Look, we’re going man-to-man now; our secondary is toe-to-toe with their receivers.” Bill announced, before taking another bite of his hamburger.
Lisa moved up to the line in front of center, and went down to a three-point stance. David, to her left, inched closer to the line from his weak side station. As the quarterback called signals, Lisa quickly backed off, and moved laterally to her right a few feet. The quarterback took the snap, and quickly backpedaled. He saw David blitzing from his position, but still had ample time. He immediately found a close target (his tight end,) then cocked his arm. Before he could launch the ball though, he was harpooned on his blindside, knocking the breath out of him, losing the ball, and hitting the ground hard enough to rattle teeth.
David scooped up the wayward ball, and carried it seventy-four yards into the end zone, untouched, for a Panther touchdown.
Kevin (the Ram’s quarterback) lay on his side, gasping for breath, as he began to fill his lungs with air; he breathed in Lisa’s perfume. He rolled over on his back, and gazed up at Lisa, who was offering her hand. “You’re…wearing…perfume, during…a…game!” He gasped, as he accepted her hand.
“I’m a girl, remember, and I don’t like smelling like a barbarian just because I play football,” Leese answered, and then pulled him up.
“So, you do hit. By the way, did you get a good look at the vehicle that ran me over?” Kevin asked, smiling.
Susan and Grace were on their feet, as soon as they saw Leese plow viciously into the Rams quarterback, causing a fumble. “THAT’S WHAT I’M, F@#$%&G, TALKING ABOUT, THAT’S MY GIRL.” Susan yelled, and then high-fived Grace, who was also standing and yelling. “GO LEESE, GO PANTHERS.”
Steve was clapping, and whistling. Bill was filming the game, and trying to get Grace to settle down, and act her age. Kenny kept asking granddad if he got it all.
Jim turned, and looked up at Susan. “I thought that you were pulling for the R…. Ouch!”
Susan, quickly, bent down, and pinched his ear, then whispered. “That thought that your having, well, if you’re smart you’ll forget all about it, or you’ll be sleeping in the spare bedroom for a very, very long time.” Susan whispered in her sweetest voice, as she then lightly caressed his ear. “Now then watch the game, and the Panthers, with our daughter, as they beat the s@#t out of the Rams.
Except for the rough start, the Panthers won the day 28-10 with the defense scoring two of the touchdowns, and manhandling the Rams. Leese, David, and Greg, all got game balls.
Lisa had seven quarterback sacks, and six tackles. She had an interception, which she ran back for a fifty-three yard touchdown. She had three deflected passes, caused two fumbles, and recovered one.
David recovered the first fumble, and ran it back for a touchdown. He intercepted one of Lisa’s deflected passes. He had four quarterback sacks, three hurries, two deflected passes, and five tackles.
Greg threw a twenty-three yard touchdown pass, and had one hundred-and-seven yards on the ground rushing.
After the game, and much celebrating at the local pizza inn, with enough food to feed the entire high school, Lisa said her goodbyes. She and Jim had been pretty certain of what the out come of the game would be, if the answer in her vision were to happen. Still, there is nothing like winning, especially considering you are the underdog, taking on goliath.
With her parents, and Kenny, waiting for her in the van, she and Steve said their goodbyes, amidst fogged up windows in his truck. “This is it, after tomorrow all Friday nights, and Saturdays will be ours again, to do with what ever we want. You and me from now on, nothing will ever get in my way, or take hold of me again like this has.” Lisa then engulfed Steve with one long final kiss, forcing him against the driver’s side window. She backed off only to give him a chance to breathe, as he was beginning to gasp for air, and had stopped kissing. Afterward she helped him sit up, adjusted his jacket, and gave him a hug, “Bye, see you Sunday morning.”
“B…y…e,” he gasped.
She then, smiling, exited his truck, and entered the van for the ride to the airport.
Upon arrival in Los Angeles, they rented a mini-van (Jim had insisted with Father O’Gara that they do this, this time.) With the hour late, and the Raynors exhausted from the long flight, they finally arrived at St Agnes. Father O’Gara and Mother Superior were up, and waiting for them, with much greetings and hugging. Lisa and family then proceeded to their rooms, and a much needed nights rest.
Early the next morning, Leese met with Irene privately, they talked about Ellen and CrossFire. “You know that this is it for me, I won’t be singing anywhere but church after tonight. Your songs are good, and inspired they should be in the hands of someone that will deliver them with impact to the public. That person is not me, and never will be, you know my calling, and my vision. I will be taking a different journey, a different adventure. I think that Ellen, John, Keith, and Adam, are decent people, and will hold up to whatever fame might come from your songs. I think that they will abide by our stipulations, and grow in their faith.”
“I trust you, your decision, and your vision. I want us to meet with Ellen though, and get her perspective.”
“That will happen today, I’ve already talked to her about meeting with us after mass.” Lisa replied, as she then popped a tic-tac into her mouth.
They met up with the rest of the band of Sisters, for a quick breakfast, and an even quicker rehearsal. The Sisters had been practicing the songs all week, and Lisa just needed a one time run through. They had to be good to go by eight a.m. mass.
During the week, Father O’Gara advertised that Ice, hero and A.R.S. competitor, would be singing at the morning mass on Saturday.
Father O’Gara had received permission from the Monseigneur and Bishop Schulman for an all-singing mass, with Lisa taking charge. After the Father kept going on-and-on about Ice, both were looking forward to meeting, and listening to this sixteen-year-old Herculean-heroine, songstress, and all-state defensive cornerback, and captain of her high school football team.
As mass was about to begin, Lisa stood off stage with the band, as the grand old cathedral filled to the brim. She waved to the children, as they made their way to their seats. She had not had a chance to meet anyone yet, what with her early morning hectic schedule.
Father O’Gara, the Monseigneur, and the Bishop, were all ecstatic at the outpouring of people for a Saturday morning mass. The Father walked up to the podium, and took the microphone, as the other two went to their seats.
“Thank you all for coming this morning, and if you would please find it in your heart to give as you see fit. The more you give, the more we can help others. Now without further ado, I turn everything over to Lisa (Ice) Raynor.”
Lisa walked out to the podium to a hearty round of applause, even from Father O’Gara, the Monseigneur, and Bishop Schulman. She wore a sleeveless sapphire blue dress that draped down below the knees. With the dress, she wore a white one-inch wide belt that hugged her waist, and she wore heelless white shoes. Around her neck, she wore her gold cross, and on her ears, she wore her gold cross earrings. She nodded and smiled at Father O’Gara, and his visitors, as she walked by.
“Wow, you are right, she is muscular, and so much bigger in person, than she appears on TV. Are you sure her biceps are only 18 ¼ inches. I can’t wait to meet her after service,” Bishop Schulman remarked, as he kept on clapping.
The Monseigneur speechlessly agreed, as he just nodded his head, with his eyes opened wide, as if he had just seen a ghost.
Father O’Gara looked at both of them, and started laughing, “She is an impressive young lady, she is.”
Lisa took the microphone, “Thank you, I hope that you enjoy the songs, and I hope that you will donate with a giving heart. And remember that this sanctuary is holy ground, please be respectful of it.”
She started the service by reading the bible verse: Genesis 1:1 - in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and then sang “Awesome God.” Thereafter, before each song, she would recite a verse of scripture that would coincide with what she would sing. She methodically went through the bible, in her allotted time, from Genesis to Revelation. As she sang, she walked among the aisles of the congregation, smiling, and touching hands, when offered. With her next to last song, she recited Revelation 22:12 - and behold, I am coming quickly, and my reward is with me, to give to everyone according to their work. She then sang, “I can only imagine.”
“My final song is “Silent Night,” Christmas is not far off, and I love true Christmas songs. Not the holiday stuff that you hear at stores, on most radio stations, or the so called TV holiday shows.” Lisa spoke from the heart, as she walked to-and-fro on the stage with both hands holding the microphone. “Christmas and the true meaning of Christmas are fading from the face of the earth, like all other Christian ideologies. This, unfortunately, is meant to happen, as time draws to an end, and Jesus returns to claim what is his.”
“In 2-Timothy, chapter 3 verses 1, 2, 3 and 4 it reads - 1: But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. 2: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3: unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4: traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Also in the same chapter at verse 12 and 13 it reads - 12: Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13: But evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
Lisa continued, “We are in a war that we cannot win until Christ returns, we are not supposed to. We are to fight a holding action, put up a defensive front, and bring as many as we can into our camp. We are to look out for each other, and help as many as we can. Our weapons are, faith, endless prayer, and the true study of the word of God, book-by-book, chapter-by-chapter, and verse-by-verse. We are to overcome, and hold on until the day of Christ comes, or we die, and join him in heaven first.”
“I say that, to say this, he came first as a meek, mild teacher, and healer. He will come again, as a warrior king, to fight, and vanquish evil, and take home his people.”
At that point, Irene and Cora started playing “Silent Night,” using a slow tempo, with a sad tone. They had changed to violins while Lisa was talking. As they played, the rest of the band joined in. Lisa then sang the saddest, most tear-jerking version of “Silent Night,” that anyone there had ever heard. By the end of the song, there was not a dry eye in the sanctuary.
Lisa finished, then turned to hand over the microphone to Father O’Gara, but he was in no condition to close the service out, neither was the Monseigneur, nor Bishop Schulman. Mother Superior also had her head down crying, as did most of the Sisters.
Leese did not know how to close out a Catholic service. She looked around until she saw Sister Camille hurrying up to her rescue. She passed the microphone off, and then made her way off stage.
After mass, Lisa, briefly, got to fellowship, before Father O’Gara corralled her, and led her to his study, where the Monseigneur, Bishop Schulman, and her parents were waiting.
She and dad, happily, fielded question after question, but mom remained quiet, only speaking when asked a question. Lisa was queried about her physique, the size of her biceps, about her weight lifting capabilities, her height, her weight, her playing high school football, her Taekwondo training, her singing, her knowledge of the bible, the knife fight that she was in. They kept her for over two hours learning as much as they could about the one that the media had named, “Ice Angel.”
Jim had his video recorder, and offered to show them Lisa’s Friday evening play off game. They jumped at the offer, like a bunch of kids asked; if they wanted candy. Lisa politely excused herself, as her dad was hooking his recorder to the TV. Off to find the children she went, to keep a promise that she had made earlier, of spending time with them.
As Lisa walked out of the cathedral, a handsome, muscular, man dressed in, expensive, leisure attire approached her.
“Ms. Raynor, I’ve been waiting for you, my name is Mason, and I’m the personal assistant to Ms….” Ellen interrupted him.
“Hey girl, that was some service! Even I cried!” Ellen cut in, with a loud voice, as she approached from the opposite side of the court.
“Excuse me please, for one moment,” Lisa asked of Mason. She then went up, and hugged Ellen. “You’re early; I wasn’t expecting you till later.”
“Thought I’d check you out, and damn girl, I’m glad I did. As I said, that was some mass. I have not been to one in years, but the church put out all of those fliers about you doing the service, and well, I just had to come. The best thing is that I did not burst into flames, as I entered the sanctuary. I‘ve been hanging with Irene, and her band while you were gone, they are almost as good as we are. Meeting Irene just blew me away too. She is the one that my mother followed. I just can‘t imagine that someone as wild as she was, turned out to be good, much less a nun.”
“I love the modest yellow dress, with the long sleeves, that cover up your dragons. It really looks good on you, albeit seeing you in anything modest, much less a, conservative, dress is just weird. Thanks for coming out, let me finish here, and then we will go see Irene again. Afterward, I will introduce you to my family, Father O’Gara, the Sisters, the kids, and all the rest that are here today.”
“All right, carry on,” Ellen said smiling. She then stood in a military at ease stance, with hands locked behind her back.
Lisa turned back to Mason. “Ok, thank you for being patient; I did hear all that you said. What can I do for you, or rather her?”
“She wishes to meet with you, and discuss your night’s performance.”
“Ok, I’m gonna be here till I go to rehearsal, which will be around two o’clock. She can come here anytime before then, and we’ll talk.”
“No! She’s expecting me to bring you,” he replied, then looked toward the parking lot.
Lisa and Ellen both looked, as he peered over his right shoulder. They saw a glistening, jet black, Mercedes, stretch limo, sitting in the old St. Agnes parking lot.
Lisa thought to herself, that this was so wrong, on so many levels. A thing like that, and what it stands for, is an abomination to any true house of God. To have this kind of status symbol at a place of God. A place that housed an orphanage, helped the poor, helped the homeless, and brought people to God, just made her sick to her stomach. It was going to take all the control that she could muster, just to keep cool, and stay civil.
“Sorry, I can’t leave,” Lisa, sternly, replied. “You see, I have made a promise to the children here, that I would hang with them, and I do not break my promises. Besides I am more of a Jeep, or truck girl, you know four-wheel-drives, mud boggin, all-terrain vehicles, mountain roads, that kind of stuff. She is more than welcome to come here, but I am not leaving. However, if she does come here, per chance, tell her, that I would appreciate it that she show some respect for this dear old church, and what it stands for. She needs to come in something more appropriate, than a limousine.”
“Very well then, I will give her your message,” he, solemnly, replied, and then, abruptly, walked off.
“Who was that?” Ellen asked.
Leese filled her in on who he was, and for whom he worked.
Ellen let out a long whistle, “Do you know who she is?”
“Nope, I don’t have a clue,” Lisa, not caring, answered, as she popped a tic-tac into her mouth.
“She’s the theme of the show tonight, for the women, and her boyfriend is the men’s theme. I have heard of Mason too, he is supposedly one of the best trained, and among the highest paid bodyguards. You picked a good one to blow off this time. She wields some power, as well as the typical affluences. Most anyone would, immediately, drop what they were doing to join her, if she asked. However, you just scolded her for sending a limousine for you. You are absolutely amazing girl; I think that God has a fireball in you.”
“So sorry, but she can’t just send her minion here, and expect me to drop everything, cancel my plans, or break my promise, just to meet with her. It is not going to happen. I don’t play that. And to top it off, she sends a limo to a poor church, she doesn‘t seem to have respect for anyone, much less God.” Lisa was flushed with anger, crossing her arms, as she watched the limo speed off.
“I need to change,” Leese said. She took Ellen back to her room, where she did a quick change out of her dress into her black gym shorts, and black, Panther jersey.
Afterward, she and Ellen met privately with Irene, in her room. Irene then told her story to Ellen, which she had before told to Lisa. Ellen then watched, as Irene revealed the box of music, to her. She listened, as Irene agreed with Leese, that CrossFire could use these songs, if they agreed to certain stipulations. Ellen looked at many of the sheets of gold, wide-eyed, and amazed, at how good they were. She read songs that covered a broad spectrum of genres, from country, to hard rock. She read music that was all-Christian, but if a person was not knowledgeable of the text, or setting, would consider it just a great piece of musical work.
“I agree to all of the conditions, and I’m sure that the gang will too. This stuff is solid gold, I promise never to reveal from where I got it, or who wrote it. I will honor your request, and keep you anonymous. I will not even tell John, Keith, or Adam, for now.”
“I guess I will be getting rid of all of my old clothes too, except for this dress.”
“If I may, I will only take twelve sheets for now, and come back for more as we need them. Thank you again.”
“Remember our stipulations,” Irene, softly, reminded her again.
“I will, I promise.”
“Especially the language, and the clothing,” Lisa reiterated, with a laugh.
“I will have to work very hard on that, but I promise.”
Next Lisa introduced Ellen to everyone. Mom and dad were delighted to meet her. Kenny and Tony wanted to see her dragon tattoos, which she obliged. She then met Tammy, and her parents. Tammy had bonded with Stacy, another overweight child about the same age, and was getting along well with the other students. Her parents said that she had already lost four pounds, and though still stuttering, she was attempting speaking more and more.
Afterward, they met with the rest of the children, the Sisters, Mother Superior, Father O’Gara, the Monseigneur, and Bishop Schulman.
The day passed by quickly, two o’clock came, and Lisa bid goodbye to all, until after rehearsal. Leese rode with Ellen in her, modified, silver, cobra, mustang, to the studio, via her apartment, for a quick change in attire. As Ellen changed, Lisa looked at all the different types of dragon figurines that she had displayed in her living room.
“I see that you kinda like dragons,” Leese remarked. Ellen came into the room wearing her typical, black, leather boots, and matching, black, leather miniskirt, with a white tube top.
“I’m sorry, but these are all the kind of clothes that I have for now. Before today, I was into skimpy, sexy clothing, and the like. Now that you’ve dropped that, Christian, bomb on me, and only hours ago, I need time to buy, and develop a new wardrobe.”
Lisa was having a laughing fit, as she looked at Ellen, and heard her apologizing for her clothes. “I think God might just understand. I most certainly do.”
“And to answer your question, I’ve always loved dragon figurines, and after spending over a decade in the Army, it gave me an opportunity to collect them from all around the world. My collection isn’t expensive, but to me they are priceless.”
“Do you miss the Army?” Lisa asked, trying to overcome her laughing fit.
“Yeah, but they gave me one hell of a deal to take early retirement, I’m still in the reserves, and can be recalled if needed.”
“What rank do you hold?”
“I’m a 1st sergeant, and I used to be 1st sergeant of alpha company, in the 7th air cavalry. Hell, it was my company that dropped behind enemy lines to rescue John, Adam, Keith, and their squad. The enemy ambushed, and surrounded them, while doing recon. They got themselves caught up into a horrendous, crossfire, firefight. My company had Special Forces training, so we got the call. After we saved their asses, I got to know them, and found out that we all had the same interests in music. They each had enlisted for a one up hitch, and I was a long timer, and a little older, but we all exited within a month of each other. We stayed in touch, met up, and formed Crossfire, John’s idea. Now you know the whole story.”
“So, last week when you said that you had some hand-to-hand combat training, you totally down-played your abilities,” Lisa asked, softly, in a more serious voice.
“Yeah, kinda, I’m actually a master of three forms of martial arts, and I teach them when I’m doing my reserves duty.” Ellen then reached down, and pulled a seven-inch knife out of her right boot. “Most say that a diamond is a woman’s best friend, but as much as I like diamonds, this is my best friend. An Army of one is the slogan of the Army, I lived it, and I believe in it.”
“This day and age, whether in the military, or just hanging around the mall, a person has to stay, vigilantly, on guard against evil doers who are everywhere. I seldom leave home without this knife. In my other boot, I carry four shurikens (throwing stars.) A girl has to know who to rely on when things go bad. You’re doing the right thing by continually training, and improving yourself.” She sheathed the knife, and looked at her watch. “We need to be going; you’re the only one using us tonight. As soon as rehearsal is over, you and I can go work out. I know this all girl gym, and I want to see how good you really are. And right next to it is the best steak place that I’ve ever ate at, I’m buying.”
“Sounds like a plan, but I must warn you, I’m a hearty eater, I’ll give you a chance to back out of paying, after we eat,” Lisa replied, smiling.
“Is that so, I think that I can cover the tab of one, heavy weightlifting, sixteen-year-old girl, this once. And, oh yes, I forgot to mention; all-state defensive captain, and strong-side cornerback,” Ellen said, laughing, as they walked to her mustang.
“Thank you, and thank you for not mentioning singing, or anything relating to that show,” Lisa stated, laughing too.
“Our contract is up after tonight, we’ve been paid well, and I say this for myself, as well as the others; it has been a sheer pleasure meeting you, getting to know you, and playing for you. After tonight, we will perform with these new songs. I think that as we change, our lives will change for the better.” Ellen then fired-up the 435 horses of her cobra engine, bringing it to a rumbling, earth-shaking life.
The ride to the studio equaled that of any ride that Lisa had ridden at any fair. She now knew what it was like to ride in a racecar.
Girls Night Out
At the studio, the two, reluctantly, accepted escort to a private, luxury, lounge, where about a dozen people awaited their arrival. Lisa popped a tic-tac into her mouth before she entered the luxurious chambers. She saw John, Keith, and Adam, talking to several, scantly clad, young women, all with drinks standing in the far corner of the room. Ian Campbell was with a gorgeous, blond-haired woman of medium stature. She was wearing an, expensive, glittering, low cut, short black dress, which left little to the imagination. To her left, was a handsome, blond-haired, young man. He wore, black, tight fitting pants, and a skintight, blue, button up shirt - only partially buttoned. Mason and several other, well-dressed, women, and men finished out the entourage.
Ian walked up to Lisa. Ellen mingled, but stayed close. No one offered introductions; no one was interested in shaking hands. Well, it appears that I am supposed to know all that are here, Leese thought to her self. She was, pretty, sure that the two celebrities were the woman in the black dress, and her boy friend, in the blue, half-buttoned shirt.
“It’s good to see you Ice,” Ian said, smiling.
Lisa with a slight smile, nodded her head once, and thanked him,
“Well Ice, glad you could come here, since you were too busy earlier today to accept my invitation. And by the way, I only ride in limousines when I travel on ground, and as for me coming to you, well, that just wasn‘t going to happen.”
Leese stood a good bit taller than the celebrity did, she looked down, locking unblinking eyes on the woman, and in a soft voice, with a slight smile, responded. “I was very busy this morning, and I had made a promise to the children. I don’t break my promises for anyone, or for any reason, and I don’t think that I will ever be riding in any kind of affluent vehicle, you see, it‘s just not me.”
The celebrity turned red with anger at hearing that, “I see, most would gladly have joined me, changing their plans, if invited.” She spoke with ire, then looked away, taking a sip of her drink, breaking Lisa’s laser like gaze.
“Sorry, I don’t play that, if I say that I’m gonna do something, then I’m gonna do it, and only God, or someone sent by God, can change my mind.” Lisa, defiantly, responded, as she, slowly, moved the tic-tac around in her mouth.
Ian quickly jumped in. “The reason for this meeting, Ice, is to go over some details about your performance tonight. You are the only one using Crossfire, it would be very inconvenient to change out bands for the last performance, which is yours. We were hoping that you would use her musicians instead.”
Lisa crossed her, muscular, arms, and looked at Ian. “No, I’m using Crossfire.”
“What’s the, f@#$%&g, reason for wanting to use them. Our band knows the songs far better then CrossFire. Our dancers, and back-up singers will work better with what they are use to. Even our dance choreographer is here to help you out with the dance routines.” The boy friend replied, as he walked up to Ice, checking out her, muscular, physique. “Besides, they’re already set-up, and ready to go for your rehearsal.”
Leese was determined to keep her cool, and still stand her ground. With a forced smile, and in a soft voice, she replied. “Not meaning to be rude, but I am using Crossfire. I am sorry, but I am not singing any of your songs, and I am not using any of your dancers, or back-up singers. Now then, I would like to get started. Ellen and I have plans after rehearsal.” Lisa put her hands on her hips, as she sucked on the tic-tac.
“WHAT THE, F@#$%&G, HELL DO YOU MEAN THAT YOU’RE NOT FOLLOWING THE THEME, NOT SINGING ANY OF MY SONGS, NOT DOING THE DANCES? Do you have any idea how much money I have made on my songs? Here I am wasting my valuable time this week, with want-to-be singers, common people with delusions of stardom, and you have chosen to ignore my help! What, the hell, is wrong with you! You did not even show up last night for the activities! If not for Ian’s show, none of you would ever have set foot on a stage, or ever have met, or spoken to a true star, such as myself, and you dare not follow the guidelines! You may most certainly be the winner of this, but how dare you to ever consider yourself an equal to anyone such as myself!” The star fumed, as Lisa just smiled.
“All righty, thanks for the info, but I’m still doing things my way. For your information, I am an athlete, I am not a singer, songwriter, artist, dancer, or anything the like, heck, I am not even enjoying this. As for me winning, don’t count your chicks before they hatch; or in your case, don’t count your money before you deposit it into your Swiss bank account. Now then, Ellen, are you, John, Keith, and Adam, with me tonight, or what?” Lisa now with a scowl locked her, unblinking, ruby eyes on Ian.
“We’re with you, if you want us, you got us,” Ellen answered back.
“FINE, do it your way! I’ll go clear out the rehearsal room now! Tonight we’ll go to a long commercial break, while the bands swap out!” Ian replied with anger in his voice, as he looked up at Ice. “The public made it known last week that you were their choice by an overwhelming vote. This is the only reason that I’m giving in to you.”
With the exception of Crossfire, the entire room was livid with Lisa, berating her. The star demanded a cigarette from Mason. The boyfriend exclaimed that he had had enough of this bull s@#%, and stormed out. He deliberately shouldered his way through a well-dressed young man, and Lisa; or he at least tried to.
Ice saw what he did with the man, and guessed at what he was going to do, as he approached her. She set herself, and at the last second raised her right arm. She absorbed his impact, and then, quickly, countered with a strong, aggressive, forearm block of her own. She surprised him with her strength, and quickness, and by not giving way to his majesty. She, unintentionally, knocked him backward, through people, through furniture, over a chair (ass over head,) and rolling into one of the scantly clad young dancers, where by they both ended up on the floor stunned, and injured. He sprained his ankle, and she twisted her right knee (putting them both out of action, for performing later on that night.)
“HEY! GIRL STANDING HERE!” she yelled. “And for your information, I do not yield to bullies. Also, I play against guys who are bigger, and stronger than you, and they can’t just plow through me!” Lisa, angrily, barked out, as she went toward the two downed individuals, to give them a hand up.
Mason, who was busy getting her majesty a cigarette, only saw the part where Ice, fiercely, drove her forearm into the rude boyfriend, knocking him backwards. He immediately assumed the worst, and went to the rescue (his bodyguard duties.) he pulled his concealed 9mm, and then, instantly, fell to the floor unconscious.
All were watching Leese. No one was watching Ellen, as she dropped Mason like a bag of rocks.
Lisa went to help up the young woman first. On the way, she heard a loud grunt, followed by a thud behind her. She looked, as did everyone, and saw Ellen standing over the personal assistant. She was in the process of, viciously, field stripping his 9mm, and throwing the parts on the floor.
All froze with fear at the sight of Ellen’s, quick, stealthy, handiwork. (You see, Mason was renowned for being one of the best-trained bodyguards in the business.)
“It’s good to see that one such as yourself, who constantly preaches against, public, firearm ownership, and is for gun control, provides your bodyguard with the best 9mm that money can buy. That is so hypocritical of you, and all celebrities that speak out like you. More so then being hypocritical, but the clip in this weapon is illegal, holding far more rounds than it should. And another thing, this firearm is filthy; it should’ve been kept clean.” Ellen spewed venom, as she walked toward the songstress, ejecting shell, after shell, from the magazine, and letting them fall to the floor. With the clip empty, she then tossed it onto a nearby table. She looked at John, Keith, and Adam, who were still stunned at what just happened. “Get your asses in gear, we got a rehearsal to do, get moving, and I mean now.”
The room was quiet, and everyone seemed frozen. That is except for the three that she had just ordered to leave.
“Is he ok?” Lisa asked, as she walked up to Ellen.
“Yeah, gonna be awhile before he wakes though. He may be one of the best at his job, but I am much better and for more lethal, if the need arises. And another thing, it just makes me mad that most of these, so called, bodyguards carry, illegally, concealed weapons!” She spoke loudly, and angrily, and then reached down, pulling her knife from her boot. She continued with a sensual walk, as she cleaned her fingernails. Ellen stopped in front of the trembling celebrity, looking down at her, and locking angry eyes. “Your musicians had better be gone by the time we get to the rehearsal room, or there will be hell to pay.” She stated, in a soft voice, and slight smile. “And you know there’s nothing like having the right tool for the job,” Ellen said, and then looked down at her nails, and back up at the frightened star. “Let’s go Leese, nothing here for us, unless you want an autograph.”
“Noooo, I don’t do autographs, that’s definitely not me. I deem no one in high enough standing for that.” Lisa announced in an, icy, voice that all could hear.
The two, sisters-in-arms, then walked toward the door, leaving behind a silent, horror-stricken room. The songstress and now crippled boyfriend kept, sheepishly, quiet. All backed away from the two fierce Amazons, giving them a wide berth to leave.
As they walked, they talked, and Ellen told Lisa that she would give her some Special Forces training, to add to her Taekwondo skills, when they went to the gym.
After they entered the soundproof room, the girls heard John‘s introduction, “And now enter the dynamic duo!” John, Keith, and Adam, then started playing the old Batman theme song.
The girls stood with crossed arms, as they waited for the music to stop. Lisa was laughing, but Ellen still had a bit of an attitude.
“Let me ask you this, are you two gonna make a habit of this every time you get together?” John inquired.
“Last night for me, remember. If I never see another celebrity, star, child star, rising star, superstar, falling star, person of affluence, or any of their ilk, my prayers will have been answered,” Lisa replied, still laughing.
“What we do is none of your, f@#$%&g, business.” Ellen gasped, then immediately covered her mouth with her right hand. “I’m sorry Leese; this is some getting use to.”
“I understand, you’re trying, that counts, and it may take a while.” Lisa then started laughing again.
“What’s up with you two? Ellen has always cursed. She even makes me blush sometimes,” John said, looking bewildered, as did Keith, and Adam.
“We have a lot to discuss later, but now we have a rehearsal to do,” Ellen, meekly, replied. “Dynamic-duo huh, I kinda like that, although I’m more of a cat woman fan.”
The rehearsal went smoothly, with much laughter and horseplay. All there knew that tonight was to be their last, TV, performance together. With the songs she chose, she wanted to go out in style, with all guns blazing, the final hurrah. She wanted to have fun, ending her wretched journey through the world of egos, affluence, and pharmakia.
After rehearsal, Lisa and Ellen followed through with their, girl’s only, evening out. They talked about everything, and got to know each other really well. Ellen impressed Leese with her martial arts skills, and Leese impressed Ellen with her weightlifting, and appetite.
“Why don’t you compete? I mean there can’t be too many girls, or boys, your age that can out lift you,” Ellen asked. All the while watching, as Lisa gracefully inhaled her food.
“I don’t know. I really don’t keep up with weightlifting competition. I have just never had the desire to compete. I do love head-to-head competition in football though. Football is my sport, in it I will compete to the best of my abilities. In it, I will always prove my capabilities against anyone. In it, we win, or lose as a team. It is the sport, the thing that I have always loved since as far back as I can remember. My dad was a star strong-side linebacker for the Panthers, and I have always looked up to him. Weightlifting is just a private thing that I enjoy doing for self-gratification, I compete against the weights. The side effect is that it helps me to play, and excel, in a sport that normally belongs to the boys,” Leese replied, and then killed off her third glass of milk.
Ellen was mesmerized at watching Lisa eat and drink. She watched as Leese finished off her third helping, and then went to the dessert bar for two large servings of chocolate cake, and her fourth glass of milk. “May I ask you some personal questions, Ms. Hulk?”
“Ok,” Leese answered, smiling, and then continued eating.
“Let me see, first, you stand six feet tall bare footed?”
“Yeah,” Lisa confirmed.
“You weigh over two-hundred pounds.”
“Yeah, around 207 now,” she corrected.
“You don’t have an ounce of fat on that body of yours?”
“I run, and work out a lot,” Lisa replied, as she finished off the first piece of chocolate cake.
“And from what you’ve told me, you’re taller, bigger, and definitely stronger, than your boyfriend.”
“Yeah, he also has a light case of asthma.”
“Now then, I know from previous talks that you haven’t had sex yet, and that you’re waiting until you get married.”
“Yep,” Lisa slightly blushed, and then took a drink of milk.
“Now for my last question; are you preparing your boyfriend, Steve, for marriage? I mean, feeding him vitamins, building up his stamina, anything so that he’ll survive the wedding night. With your pent-up passion, you might just kill that boy,” Ellen, jokingly, asked, and then laughed.
Lisa turned even redder, and then smiled. “I will be gentle, and I know CPR. I’ll also make sure that we honeymoon close to a hospital.”
They both laughed, as they finished their meal.
“You still want to pay for my meal?” Lisa asked, and then chugged down her fourth glass of milk.
“No problem, I know a good pawn shop where I can take my mustang to.”
Ellen paid the bill, while Lisa insisted on leaving the tip. Ellen then put her mustang through its paces on the way back to St. Agnes. There they hugged, and bid each other goodbye until show time.
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