Three of the primary characters are introduced.
Coming into Power
Chapter 1: Prologue: Introducing the lead characters:
Helen sat at her desktop computer, composing new music using her audio tool program. I hope Slim gets here on time to drive us to our performance tonight.
At the sound of a knock on the front door, Helen saved her composition, glanced at the time displayed in the bottom right corner, and jumped up to run to the door, leaving her computer running.
When she opened the door, she saw Slim holding up a t-shirt with a message on it. "I made you the t-shirt that you wanted."
As she took the t-shirt, she read the message on it. "Being altruistic is the best thing you can do for yourself." She then rushed over to the nearby couch to pick up her purse and drop her new t-shirt on it. "Thank you very much, but we had better be on our way because it's getting late."
Slim hesitated, then asked, "Did you see the joke in the message?"
Helen raised her eyebrows. "No, I see only the true statement in it."
"The joke is that you are being altruistic in order to benefit yourself."
"Oh. I see. I saw that, but did not think it funny. I thought it true, but not relevant."
They walked out to Slim's white camper truck. Helen climbed into the passenger door side and picked up the flyers that Slim had left on the bench seat, and placed them on her lap. As Slim slid into the driver's seat, she asked, "How quickly can we get to Geova's house?"
"Ha-ha. You ask that almost every time. Usually it takes between five and seven minutes."
As they pulled up to the apartment building where Geova lived, they saw him sitting on a bench near the front door. He waved to them and quickly ran over to get into the camper truck. Helen slid over to make room for him.
Moments later, Slim made a sharp right hand turn around the block and Helen fell toward him. "Slim, remind me how you got this truck."
"I inherited it from my grandfather. Didn't I tell you that the first time you saw it?"
"Oh, yes. I remember now."
Helen turned her head to address Geova. "I sent my friend Melody a recording of our last performance. She told me that you are the best fiddle player she has ever heard. It surprised me that she thought Slim's guitar music was computer generated because it was too perfect." I am so lucky to have Slim and Geova be my music gig partners.
None of them had any way of knowing about the bolt of energy that would soon dramatically transform their lives and which was now at a distance approximately equal to six times the distance to the orbit of the planet Neptune.
She held their performance advertisement flyers on her lap. Slim had done a really good job when he designed this one. Their name, "Vocal Strings", almost seemed to jump out. She liked the way he used musical notes to make up each of the letters. Below their band name were pictures of the three of them. In the picture, she stood between her two friends, Slim, the slim guy on her left, and Geova, in her own opinion, the more handsome of the two of them, stood slightly behind and between them. She ran her fingers over the three figures in the picture, tracing out Geova's yellowish wavy hair, Slim's curly black hair, and her own long straight light brown hair.
When she had first met Slim and Geova, she had asked them about the origin of their names. Slim had said, "My name reflects a distant past. In Holland, it means that I am smart." He smiled as he said this.
Geova had laughed and said, "I thought that your name meant that you were slender. And indeed, you are slender, so you are well named. I also admit that you are very smart. About my name... In Italian, it is a name of God. It is funny because I don't even go to church."
As she thought of the music they would play this evening, she decided to ask Slim to change the station from his favorite Indie Rock music so she could catch her friend Melody's classical music program which had started about half an hour earlier.
She had once asked Slim what was the reason he liked Indie Rock so much. He had replied it was because he felt the mathematics in it.
"Slim, can I change the radio station? It's not that I don't like your Indie Rock music. I do. However, I love classical music even more."
Slim divided his attention. While part of his mind focused on driving the three of them to their concert performance, other parts of his mind focused on how much he appreciated her always musical voice and on answering her question.
"You sure can. I even give you permission." He turned his head slightly so he could alternately see the road and her reaction.
She laughed then said, "I'm sorry I told you about my fifth grade English teacher and her 'may I' game, and I never got out of the habit of using 'can I' to ask permission." She reached forward and swiftly punched the button needed for her favorite music station on the truck radio.
As classical music began to play on the radio, she leaned back and closed her eyes as the music relaxed her.
Suddenly, the music was overlaid by a shout, "Melody, Look out!" Then they heard only static.
"What!" Helen shrieked. "What happened? Is Melody ok.?"
Slim turned his head slightly so as to view her without losing sight of the road. "There is not any way we can know right now. Tomorrow you will know what happened. I suggest you not think about it now, but wait until tomorrow."
Geova laughed. "Slim, we all cope with anxiety differently. Helen worries. Not everyone can be as rational as you."
"I don't want her to worry. I'm trying to explain why she shouldn't worry." He shifted into his objective-mode voice. "Look. Either your friend is okay, or she is not okay. If she is okay, then you don't need to worry. If she isn't okay then you can't do anything about it, so why worry about it? We should worry only if it will help us solve the problem we are worried about. So, why don't you distract yourself for now? Besides, I believe everyone can and should be completely rational."
Geova shook his head. "My friend, you don't understand emotions yet. Emotions motivate our responses to perceived situations. After we become aware of our response we can choose whether or not we should follow through with it."
Here we go again. How can I get through to them? Slim meditated silently for a moment before speaking. "People can and should learn rational emotions. Your emo - "
Helen interrupted. "Geova, you two will never settle that discussion. So, don't argue with him now. Instead, tell me what you think happened at the station."
"Well, I can't. We only know that the broadcasting failed. That implies something went wrong with either the transmitter or with their music equipment. Let's think about other things. Think about our walk on the beach tomorrow evening. Think about how well Slim harmonizes his guitar playing with your singing."
She glared at him for just a second, but then laughed. "We can at least check the station after our concert performance. I need to know if Melody is ok and what the problem was."
She paused, then continued. "I know, Slim, you'll just say it's so I can decide what I should feel. Well . . . I can't help it. I have to know!"
A grin popped onto Slim's face as he thought of a way to distract Helen from her worry. "You know me very well. But that's not what I intended to say. I'm curious about Melody. Tell me how you know her."
"Melody and I were in the same music classes in High School. We always sat with each other at lunchtime, and after school, we would listen to music together. Sometimes I would go over to her house, and we would lay on her bed while listening to her music recordings. We also talked about the things we liked while listening to music."
"And sometimes we would talk about our personal problems. How come her boyfriend pays more attention to me than to her? What caused her neighbor to rob the convenience store? Will her dad be fired when a new company takes over the one he is working for? Can her uncle's pancreatic cancer be cured? How can my aunt Sue get everything she needs?"
Memories of Melody brought a wide smile to her face. "Did I ever tell you about the time we started a high school club to work on elimination of student cigarette smoking? The famous inventor, Grant Richardson, heard about us, and sent each of us, without our having to ask for it, the sounder box that I use to test auditoriums for acoustics quality. It also tests for cigarette smoke in the air. That is the reason he sent it to us. He is also very concerned about smoke pollution."
Geova said, "I'm glad you and Melody got along so well. You know, if I were you, the first thing I would have said to Melody is that I liked her name."
Helen looked puzzled. "Why?"
Geova grinned. "Aren't you telling me all the time how much you like melodies?"
Both Helen and Slim laughed at this.
"Thanks, guys. I do understand that you are trying to make me feel better. I'll try to pull myself together." Glancing out the window, she added, "We must be close to the concert hall. Oh, there it is!" She pointed straight ahead through the window.
At that moment, the radio came back to life.
"Sorry about that interruption. We had some drama here which caused us to lose power for a while. We are on short term battery power now so this station is signing off early to avoid another unexpected power failure by the batteries running down. By tomorrow our regular power should be restored."
Helen's voice showed her relief.
"That's Melody's voice! Thank goodness. Later I will call Melody to find out what happened. I was so worried. Now I can focus better on our performance tonight. I want to do well tonight."
Slim made a sharp right turn into the parking lot. "Plan on doing better. You'll keep getting better and better until you perform perfectly almost every time."
Geova spoke up then. "But, if you don't do better tonight, please don't let it bother you."
Minutes later, she leaned against the heavy door of the large concert hall, causing it to squeak as she slowly pushed it open. Once inside, she flipped on the lights and looked around the room. Pulling a small black sounder box from her pocket, she pointed it at the far walls. Slim, following her in, very carefully placed their beloved instruments on the floor next to her.
"How does it look?"
"It looks good, Slim. My sounder box tells me that we'll have great acoustics."
Slim nodded and pointed to his right. "There's their stage. It's perfect. We walk up only two steps and we are on stage across the room from the doorway. Where's Geova?"
"Right here. It's not easy to keep up when I'm lugging this heavy archaic sound equipment, and you guys only have to carry one double oh eighteen-sized guitar, my fiddle, and the basket containing the donation jar and flyers."
Slim turned to Geova. "After we get rich, you could buy some ultra-light quality modern equipment. That is unless you are having fun showing off this hundred-year-old stuff that you inherited from your ancestors."
"Well, I'm only keeping it now for sentimental reasons. Besides, it's better quality than anything we can afford."
She tapped Geova on his arm to get his attention. "Well, Geova, although all three of us are taller than average, you are the tallest and strongest of us. I thought it made sense for you to carry the heavy stuff." Her admiration clearly showed in her smile.
Geova looked directly into her blue-gray eyes. "Is zat so? Well, I may be strong, and a smidgeon taller than both of you. But I'm no Superman. Which reminds me; I have in my truck the Superman comic collection you loaned me. Remind me after the concert about them."
Slim laughed. "Geova, you too? I knew that she gushed over Superman, but I didn't know you cared. Did you try to fly when you were a kid too?"
"Huh! Well. . . Before kindergarten, I jumped over a log trying to levitate. Because of that, I got a grass reed stuck in my throat about a finger-width from my windpipe."
"Slim, don't you ever dream of flying?"
"Sure. One time I dreamed I built my own airplane and flew it all over town, and people looked up and said, 'Look! Up in the sky. It's a plane!' "Slim grinned in spite of his intention to look serious.
Laughing, she said, "I never said I thought I really could fly. It's just that when I'm asleep I forget it's impossible."
Slim shook his head. "I see." He briefly clapped his hands twice. "Well, enough of this. We need to set up."