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Rated: E · Fiction · Tribute · #2194580
Two ways to do something small and make it great - positive/negative
Maria Santiago stood in bright sunlight on the western steps of the United States Capitol next to Senator Juan Rivera as he spoke from the lectern. A broad brimmed straw hat flopped about on her head in the warm Sprint breeze. To the crowd of 4000 below, the florescent yellow road worker's vest she wore turned her thin body into a 5 foot light house.

Senator Rivera spoke into the cameras and microphones with a confidence of years speaking to crowds such as this. He was supposed to be introducing her. But of all the introductions in the last year, whether in a small town's council meeting, a rural school’s assembly program, or a large city's baseball park, Maria thought his was the winner for the longest one. What a grand-stander. She wished he would stay focused on her purpose, her issue instead of describing her journey. But she also knew people were paying attention today because of her walk from California to Washington D.C. She thought it was a small easy way to attract attention really. Lots of people went on long walks. Thousands had hiked the Appalachian Trail. To her mind walking across mountain peaks was a much harder task than walking down the shoulder of a highway. She might be 67 years old, but she could put one foot in front of the next and turn one step into a great journey.

Maria's inspiration Doris Haddock had walked a similar route at the age of 89. Doris was 90 when she walked up these very steps on February 29, 2000 after walking 3,200 miles to advocate for a major issue of her day. If Doris could do it at 89, then Maria knew she could do it too.

But it had turned out to be a lot harder than Maria expected. The days of perfect walking weather were rare. The rain soaked her. The wind chilled her. The humidity suffocated her. The ice made each step a hazard. But the people coming out to see her along the way cheered her on. Some of them even joined her for a few miles. They fed her supper and invited her to spend the night in their guest room. People on social media said such wonderful encouraging words.

Looking back towards the Washington Monument spire, Maria noticed a drone flying over the crowd. She hoped whoever's toy it was would be careful with it. It was bigger than most of the toy ones she'd seen. Hopefully, the operator was not using it for the first time today.

Startling her Senator Rivera held out his arm toward her. "Maria Santiago, you are a beacon of light and an inspiration to us all." The crowd went wild cheering for her.

Toward the back of the gathering near a stand of cameras and reporters Josh Madison had a 3D printed pistol in a bag. He had come to kill Senator Juan Rivera. Actually, he didn't care who he killed just so long as they were famous. That old lady with her bright vest made an easy target. But he didn't think killing her would bring him the fame killing a senator would. He didn't know much about Rivera, and he didn't care. They were all scum. He hated that word. Why did he use that word? Because Pa had always called him that. Pa said he was a good for nothing- piece-of-dung. He said Josh would never amount to anything. He'd end in an early grave. His tombstone eroding away to some tipped over broken marker of a nobody. Well he'd show Pa today. His name would go down in the history books.

Josh noticed the drone. Maybe it would film him shooting the senator. Heck, why stop there. He could give them a major snuff film. Yeah, he'd shoot the old crone next, and then fire into the news stand, then the crowd around him. He'd walk through them mowing them down. He felt exhilarated and powerful. He'd be on the TV news for weeks. For years people would refer to his shooting. No one would ever forget his name. His one small act of using a plastic gun would propel him into greatness.

Steve Powell flew the drone in closer to the news camera stand. The drone camera tipped him off to an anomaly. A man was looking around paying no attention to the speech. He didn't seem to be part of any news team either. Was he holding a bag? Yes, he was. Steve flipped on his security intercom. The ear buds of all Washington Mall police officers heard, "Attention, Capitol police monitoring the west steps. There is a possible threat on the southeast corner of the news stand. Man is wearing a khaki jacket and red baseball cap."

"What the hell," Josh exclaimed. He'd been bumped into with enough force to make him stagger a couple of steps forward to get his balance.

"Sorry, pal," said a tall, body builder of a man next to him.

Josh tried to shake off the iron grip the man had on his bag arm. "Let go!"

The huge man continued to hold on, and said, "I want to make sure you're not going to fall down. Are you okay?"

Josh felt another hand grip his other arm. "What is this?" he demanded looking around to see a second large man.

"Come with us." The two men spun him around and pulled him away from the crowd to a waiting group of uniformed police.

One of them stepped forward and took his gun bag. "Let's see what we have here."

Senator Rivera still had his arm stretched out to Maria. She hesitated for a moment distracted by the drone. It was flying awfully close to the ground. She hoped it wouldn't strike anyone. That's all she would need for everyone to forget her issue and focus on an accident instead. She scolded herself. What a selfish thought. Her issue was all about helping others. About doing whatever you can however small to make things better.

Maria stepped to the lectern. She hoped she could connect to those watching her via the cameras. If she couldn’t her campaign would disappear into obscurity. Surely some in this fellowship of supporters would organize now and carry on the fight. Or now that her walk was over, would they melt away, and forget her mission. If America only saw her walk as an amazing and curious endeavor by an old lady, then she would have achieved nothing. For the first time she realized her journey was not over yet. She would need to continue giving speeches and news interviews. It was not time to rest. Her journey would continue on but take a different form. It was time to start. Maria spoke. She spoke with passion. She spoke about her concern, about her issue, and asked for everyone to do something, anything, no matter how small and make a great difference.

Word count - 1165
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