First Time for Everything (2-24-18)

[WP] You have super-human beginner’s luck, the first time you try something you’re the best at it. But only the first time. [Link to post.]

“I know it sounds crazy when you hear it,” I stared out at the gathered crowd while I spoke. “But I can prove it.” The crowd of strangers stared up at me, and they hung on my every word. It was my first time speaking publicly, and I needed to make it count. I’d been planning this for almost a year now, and here I stood in the park on a public stage. I didn’t pre-write my speech though. My luck always worked better if I flew by the seat of my pants. 

“A couple of weeks ago I asked for suggestions to demonstrate, and a lot of you voted on them. I picked out the top three that I’d never done, and will demonstrate today.” I pulled some note cards from the inside of my suit jacket and looked through them. I looked at a note card and then spoke to the crowd. It’d grown larger in the last few minutes. 

“Larry Johnson? C’mon up here Larry.” The crowd cheered and an older man with grey hair approached the stage. Once he climbed the stage he joined me at the podium, giving me a nervous smile. I shook his hand then addressed the crowd again.

“Now, I know most of you here know him. But, for the folks watching at home let me introduce him properly. Mr. Johnson here is known as the best banjo player on this side of the Mississippi. Reminder for everyone watching abroad, we’re on the big side here.” The audience applauded their local celebrity. 

“Mr. Johnson has challenged me to a duel, and I can safely say this is my first time dueling banjos.  It should be a piece of cake.” I smiled while a crew member rolled out a cart. Two beautiful banjos rested on the cart facing the audience. One white, one black. Mr. Johnson rolled up his plaid sleeves and waved at the audience. I took off my navy suit coat, then hung it over a corner of the podium. I rolled up my sleeves too. Larry had already chosen the white banjo by the time I was ready, and he began tuning it. I picked up the black banjo and held it at the ready. Idly strumming while tuning it would count as “playing it”. Mr. Johnson looked at me, and I nodded that I was ready. 

“Start us off, Larry!” I said. The crowd clapped as he started off slow with a single strum. I followed suit, then he went again. We went back and forth a bit, he got faster each time. Within seconds we were both strumming our banjos relentlessly. He was faster than me, but then it felt like he began to slow down. My fingers moved like arced lightning across the strings, then Larry fumbled. He tried to find his groove again, but he couldn’t find a spot to jump in. After a few more seconds he stopped completely and applauded me. The rest of the crowd cheered, and I stopped playing. I could practice for the rest of my life, but I’d never play that well again. 

“Mr. Johnson, thank you for being here with us today. As a token of gratitude, I insist that you please keep both of these beautiful, one of a kind banjos.” The crowd chuckled. It was a small, simple joke; everyone knew both banjos were his. He made his way off stage with the rolling cart. 

“You guys believe me yet, or do we need another demonstration?” I asked. They cheered for another. 
I lifted the cards from the podium and moved to the next one. “Leah Green? C’mon up Ms. Green.” I spotted her short spiked green hair moving through the crowd, before I saw the rest of her. The crowd parted to let her approach the stage. She climbed the stage and walked to stand next to me. I turned to the audience, the crowd appeared to have doubled from when I started with Mr. Johnson. 

“Ms. Green had an interesting suggestion, and I’ve never done it before. She has a spectacular fire-eating act that she does.” I turned back to her. The crew had already set her up, and she held her torch ready to go. “She’s gonna show us what she can do.” I clapped and the crowd followed suit. Ms. Green did her act for about five minutes, then the crowd cheered.

“I’ve never done fire-eating before. For my first attempt I’ll try to do her act better than she did.” The crowd roared. I chose this stunt specifically for the cool factor. It was my first day on the campaign trail, and I needed to make as big a spectacle as I could. It was my first time running for president, so I knew I had it in the bag. Even though I didn’t really have a platform other than, “I’ve never been president before.” I knew this would get more eyes on me. I grabbed the thin torch, then the lighter. Ms. Green began to give me some safety tips, but I turned to her and winked.

“Don’t worry, It’s my first time.” I performed the act flawlessly. Her big finale was to breathe fire, and I was ready. I took a big swig of the alcohol. For a second I forgot myself and thought I was taking a shot. I caught myself before I swallowed it completely and ended up coughing the rest out over myself. Habit forced me to use the back of my right hand, where I held a lit torch, to wipe up the flammable liquid dripping down my chin. Panic forced me to forget that my other hand held the alcohol. It was not the bottle of water I thought it was when I poured it over my face to put out the small fire on my chin. 

While I screamed I had a fleeting thought. This was going to be the first time I burn to death. 

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