Our first guest, a favorite local singer-songwriter of mine, is—uh, one moment.” Urgent words explode in my earpiece. Damn, a sudden illness? I glance at Brendali, who reacts by stiffening her posture.
· 28 ·
We don’t need Murphy’s Law tonight but what can I do about this? Nothing. “I’m told we have a last-minute replacement. I don’t have his name. Come forward, sir. Surprise us all.”
Only a few hands clap for the security guard who comes onstage.
Like me, the others probably wonder why he’s worthy of a televised interview. No explanation comes from the control room.
The guard’s close-cropped silver-gray hair, pallid doughy complexion and undefined jawline give him an instantly forgettable countenance. He takes the empty seat to my left without acknowledging us or the audience.
Brendali leans toward our guest. “Sir, we’re at a loss. Please introduce yourself.”
“Worshipers of your many faiths call me by various names, Señorita.” Something in the timbre of his sonorous voice demands our complete attention. “These include God, Allah, Elohim, Brahman and Yahweh, amongst many others. All are incorrect. You may address me by any name you prefer.”
What the hell? I’ll call him Mr. Con-artist. “I don’t believe you.”
Loud boos from our audience support my opinion.
Brendali’s open mouth, flashing eyes and taut posture add up to an unspoken rebuke. “Sir,” she says after the crowd reaction subsides, “it’s impossible for our creator to appear on a television show. What do you expect to achieve by lying to us?”
Should I call security? He’s done nothing to warrant expulsion.
Wouldn’t we make the wrong kind of news if we use force to eject our first guest on live television? It’s better to abbreviate this segment and get to our next guest early.
“I understand your doubts,” he replies. “May I prove my bona fides?”
Brendali’s dismissive hand flourish says more than her “go right ahead,” but she’s reacted too fast.
I’m tempted to countermand her but decide against it. After all, we’re a team.
Our guest points to a water glass on the circular mahogany coffee table in front of us and flexes his finger. The glass rises in slow
· 29 ·
motion and floats to his hand. He breathes on it without sipping and releases his grip. The glass sails right under our noses. From the cherry-earthy aroma and deep color, the water’s now Merlot. Not a drop spills when the glass settles on the table.
Brendali’s eyes widen, her head tilts and she covers her mouth for a moment. “The sleight of hand trick’s kind of neat, sir, but it’s a pretty weak proof of your claim,” she says in a hushed tone.
I turn my puzzled gaze away from the glass to assess the guard’s reaction. His arms are raised to shoulder height and held out to each side. With clenched jaws and eyes shut tight, he’s too busy concentrating on something to acknowledge her.
Before long Ping-Pong ball sized orbs stream from his cupped palms and hang suspended in the air above us. Most are forest green with gold Christian cross icons, sky blue with silver Stars of David or rose red with sandstone Muslim crescents. More muted colors display Hindu Omkars, Buddhist lotus flowers and Shinto Torii icons. Occasional Sikh Khanda, Baha’i nine pointed stars and Taoist Taiji symbols show up on pastel colored spheres.
The orbs wiggle and pulse like a cloud of kinetic energy until they morph into one shape after another—a computer screen, satellite, globe. In a final rearrangement three dynamic columns form, hover and spin before an explosion launches the entire tableau through the ceiling. The columns branch left, right and straight up.
The ceiling remains intact.
The audience masks my inadvertent “what the f--k?” with loud oohs and aahs. Granted, everyone loves pyrotechnics, but how’d this happen? Are the orbs visible outside the building? Where’d they go?
Brendali’s glassy eyes meet mine, her face pale. I give her a halfhearted shrug. She covers her mic and leans toward me. “This is crazy, no?” she stage whispers.
Our guest drops his left arm to his lap. Like a laser beam, semi-opaque marble-sized orbs streak from the palm of his right hand into the lens of the main camera.
“When I lower my arm your show will appear worldwide on all
· 30 ·
audio or visual electronic devices. Anyone within the sound of my voice, except those in this studio, shall hear the entirety of our discourse in their native tongues.”
What the hell? Who is this guy? Brendali’s quizzical expression suggests she’s asking herself the same questions. From the audience buzz I guess they are, too.
The guard leans back and beckons for his wine glass, which lifts and floats to him.
Sudden deafening static in my earpiece causes my hand to jerk to my ear. My posture shifts ramrod straight. Brendali also bolts upright, her clasped hands darting from lap to chin as her mouth opens in a wordless “oh!”
Our guest’s calm, nonchalant pose conveys the notion he’s done nothing unusual. He gestures as though raising a toast. “I have altered your satellite and electronic communication systems. The widest possible audience will now hear my unfiltered, undistorted, unabridged message. First, I am not the god portrayed in your holy books. Those cherished texts—”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish