Excerpt from Chapter 22 - The Show

While Charlene was screeching, Stella roused Oz and together they strolled over to Pedro who was still holding the microphone. She gently peeled his fingers from their tight grip and took it into her possession.
    Stella held the mike right next to her mouth and hissed into it low and loud, “CHARLENE!”
    The screeching ceased.
    Stella pulled the mike back a bit and continued in a more official tone, “You need to stop right now! You are diggin’ a hole deeper than I ever saw. I mean I have heard of diggin’ a hole clean through to China but I ain’t never seen a hole that deep till now. It’s amazin’ how you hear about somethin’ that don’t seem possible and the next thing you know you are lookin’ at it! And, aside from diggin’ yourself the deepest hole in the history of the world, you are buildin’ the tallest pile of bull crap I ever saw and that ain’t includin’ the part where you say I paid the judge. That right there deserves its own special place in the giant book of world record bull crap piles!”
    There was an audible chuckle from the crowd.
    Stella turned towards them. “I suggest we all chip in and buy Charlene here a ticket back to Europe so they can tell her exactly how they feel about her insultin’ their good nature.”
    Mick recovered from his incredulity long enough to walk over and take the mike from Stella. “OK, thank you, Stella. I think we get the gist of your words of wisdom. What we need to do now, is get on with the show. This has been an unforeseen and unfortunate interruption that will be handled elsewhere, between the parties involved. There’s no need for it to take up any more of our time. I suggest we all take a ten-minute break and then get back to the reason we’re all here. Claude and I will be excusing ourselves for obvious reasons, but I will see you all at the dinner tonight. Meanwhile, Margaret and the rest of the Board of Directors will be available to handle any concerns you may have.”
    He dropped the microphone from his mouth and looked over at the gaggle of board members who yet again looked to be searching for a way out. What a bunch of jokers! It was no accident that he immediately handed the microphone back to Stella. As he walked back to the club tent to collect his things, the irony of it made him chuckle, painful though it was.
    Margaret had gotten up and whisked by him, her hair flying through the air like it hadn’t done since her mother had pulled her from the swing at age eight. “Margaret, you look just like a little witch on a broomstick with your hair like that! Only little girls who are pretty can have long hair and let it down. That’s not for you, Margaret. How many times do I have to tell you this! Don’t ever take the rubber bands out again or we’ll just have to cut it all off. You simply cannot afford to let anything come undone with what God gave you!”
    Stella smiled as Mick handed her the microphone and walked away. The whole world saw it, clear as day. The president of the ABC had handed HER the microphone. He didn’t hand it to any one of the board members who were standing nearby, but to her. It was one of those signs from God that she counted on, on occasion. She put one hand on her hip, loosely holding Oz’s leash, and calmly lifted the microphone to her lips. “OK, now Pedro here is…”
    That’s when Margaret whisked up and grabbed the microphone—hair be damned!
Stella took a step back, not recognizing Margaret at first. She’d seen her with her hair down before, but only once and that was when Margaret was hunched over the bed in her hotel room, crying. She hadn’t seen her with her hair down while standing upright and with a blaze in her eye like she’d never seen before.
    She snapped at Margaret as the microphone left her hands. “What the hell is wrong with you?! Goddamn, you scared the shit outta me! You need to rethink what you’re doin’ here, Margaret—that is YOU, ain’t it?—’cause you might just scare the crap outta all these folks. Now, I don’t scare easily, but you just shook me clear through and out the other side. What do you think…”
    “Stella, I’ll be damned if you’re going to take over MY show. Now you better back off and let me deal with this!” Margaret stepped briefly outside herself and took a look back. I am magnificent!