Stephan was by nature a happy go lucky person, gifted with insights others wrote books about but never really achieved themselves. Tonight was to be his crowning glory and as he looked out into the packed auditorium he swelled with pride and a sense of excitement coursed through his body.
The pang hit him like a slight bump not enough to hurt but enough to get his attention, and as he looked at the audience gathered he scanned for the soul who needed his help.
Her name was Marcia and as she nervously looked round the auditorium she wondered how long before someone spotted her sitting there. For left, right and as far as the eye could see was a sea of furs and jewels and there in the middle was a woman who looked as though she belonged on the streets, and that was Marcia.
And if she looked as thought she belonged on the streets it’s because she did. Marcia had no money for tickets especially ones that cost two hundred and fifty dollars each. Marcia hadn’t paid for her ticket she had found it on the street where she slept but she knew this was a sign, a sign she was meant to be there.
Marcia had seen Stephan often, in fact just this morning to be precise but he was always busy helping people and dispensing food, he was always to busy so Marcia never talked to him. But now here she was and she knew her time to connect to Stephan was now, so she closed her eyes and thought.
Bang there it was again, Stephan shielded his eyes from the lights glare and looked out, he saw her crumpled pile in a sea of wealth and for a brief moment their eyes locked. And for that split second every ounce of pain that had beaten Marcia to the person she was today transferred to Stephan and then back to her.
But that was enough Stephan had experienced her whole sad and miserable life there was only one thing he could do, he had to save her.
Whatever Stephan had been planning to say that night was now out the window and a different feeling entered his body and some of the excitement that he had felt earlier had been replaced, Stephan knew the feeling that replaced it, the feeling was fear.
For the brief second their eyes had locked Marcia had felt a totally different person, gone was the shame, the fear, and the pain and in its place had been peace. Marcia had never felt peace before but in that split second she knew that was all she ever wanted to feel again.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, a man who needs no introduction; because if he did you wouldn’t be here.” The audience laughed politely and Stephan stepped forward into the spotlight, the pain hit him again this time with more intensity.
“I had come to talk with you about Empathy, to help you connect with the stranger next to you; I had come to tell you many things but not any more”. “ For among us is a person who has suffered dreadfully, in ways I cannot tell you as they are beyond your understanding, so tonight I am going to help her, not you”. And with that Stephan motioned to Marcia “please step up here” and he gestured to the stage.
The sigh was audible as Marcia stepped forward as were the sniggers and snide comments but Marcia couldn’t hear them, and if she had they would not have registered as Marcia’s pain was way beyond words.
Stephan was smiling as he put out his hand to lead Marcia onto the stage, and there she stood bent and broken a sight so pitiful that to see her would break your heart. But not this night and not this crowd, no one was crying here, there was laughing, jeering, booing, and heckling but no crying. And then a man stood up, a man of obvious power and wealth “I didn’t pay to look at her” he shouted, “I paid to hear you.”
“And so you shall” Stephan’s words were hardly audible above the crowd a trick he had learnt at acting school all those years ago. The crowd started to hush but the man kept standing “get her off, she smells”, the crowd laughed and started to chant “Get her off Get her off”, Stephan put up his hand “ Please” he gestured “ she is the lesson”.
The crowed hushed as Stephen took off Marcia’s filthy coat and as if by magic it disappeared. Which of course it was, magic that is, Stephan had always done magic it helped add drama to a part. The audience clapped their appreciation but the man kept standing.
Marcia looked at Stephan and a sense of trust found its way in, but as with anything for something to get in something must move out. The man standing never felt a thing not mentally physically or emotionally but it was there alright, it was there.
The next piece of clothing to go was Marcia’s jersey, well you could loosely call it a jersey if you could get past the holes that made it up. Flash that to was gone but no clapping that time, this crowd was in no mood for two tricks the same. But the effect on the audience was different this time as they could see Marcia’s arms and Marcia’s arms were a pitiful sight.
Marcia’s arms had had the most horrendous of torture performed on them for they were broken and twisted and scared and covered in open sores. The audience gasped then sprang to their feet “get her off, get her off” they shouted once again Stephan raised his hand, the audience felled hushed.
“I am going to show you something so amazing that it will totally transform your lives” he said “this is not a trick, this will impact you forever.” And with that Stephan covered Marcia’s arms with a cloak. “I want you all to close your eyes and I want you to think about Marcia’s arms, how they look now and how they look when you imagine them to be the most beautiful arms you have ever seen.”
A hush moved over the audience as they closed their eyes but their thoughts were not all the same. The people who tried to heal Marcia’s arms felt a little shiver go through their bodies they smiled inwardly as if they too felt a little better.
Other people had other thoughts, some about themselves some about the twisted woman on the stage but for one man his thoughts were much darker. Stephan felt them all and as he looked the man standing seemed just for a moment to buckle but then he was back.
Stephan waited he kept the suspense until the man standing shouted “what’s the matter scared to move the cloak.” Stephan loved a heckler they were his unpaid helpers “come on show us” he taunted. And then in that theatrical way that Stephen worked he removed the cloak, “Aaaaaah”
Marcia looked down at her arms, and then again, with disbelief she stared at the most beautiful arms she had ever seen. The crowd clapped and cheered but when they stopped the man standing heckled, “I didn’t come to see a magic show I came to have a life changing event, that’s what the poster promised”.
Stephan looked at the man, usually he felt sorry for hecklers, their desperate need to be seen, unable to get their own crowd they steal the crowds others earn. This man was different, it was as if he was being paid to wreak his show, his heckles too well rehearsed. But Stephan’s attention was back on Marcia and he removed her trousers.
You could have heard a pin drop but only for the splitist of seconds then the roar of the crowd came back. The standing man was shouting with rage “how dare you revolt us with this woman’s disgusting image” he spat out, Stephen put up his hands.
“I need a volunteer” Stephen asked but he already had a man in mind, “You sir” Stephan pointed to the standing man “you would be excellent”. The standing man had nowhere to run, he had felt in charge, protected even, by the crowd around him but Stephen had now stripped that away. For a moment a moment the standing man thought about refusing but he feared the ridicule so he moved towards the stage.
Marcia’s legs looked in the same condition as her arms had previously, but maybe the open sores were a little worse. The standing man was trying not to be sick as he stood in front of Marcia on the stage. Stephan went and got a clear plastic sheet and handed it to the standing man “hold this in front of Marcia’s legs please” the man did as he was told.
“Everyone close your eyes and think about Marcia’s legs, remember how her arms were cured by you and you can do the same for legs”, the crowd closed their eyes, except the standing man who was staring at Marcia’s legs. The thoughts going through the crowd this time were far more in synch, everyone believing they were taking part in a miracle. The standing man was having different thoughts; he despised this woman in front of him with her deformities she should have been killed at birth.
Stephen could see the effect on the audience a radiation of love and positive thoughts flowed forth. If anyone had been watching the stage rather than sitting with their eyes closed they would have seen the standing man wince.
Gradually in ones and twos the audience opened their eyes and gasped for there behind the plastic Marcia’s legs had a new look and the attention of every man in the room.
Marcia was crying the dream seemed so real, she pinched herself again, yep the pain was real. Stephen smiled his night could not have gone better, but the standing man wasn’t smiling he hated her even more now, for Marcia had got a second chance and how was that fair no one had given him one.
To wish someone blind is about the worst you can do but that was the thought of the standing man while the rest of the crowd helped transform Marcia. The butterfly emerged and the audience got to their feet as one applauding Stephen and laughing at the transformation of Marcia, they all knew they had been part of something special a miracle some would say,
It may have been a year it may have been more, Marcia looked across at Stephan and smiled she loved how he touched the life of everyone he served and together they had done wonders for the broken and needy.
Marcia looked up and saw standing in front of her a man so twisted and bent he immediately reminded her of her past and a wave of empathy pored out to the man in front of her. “Where’s Stephan” the blind man spoke. “I am here” said Stephan as he stepped forward to take the man’s hand.
“In private” the voice was pure hate.
“What did you do to me” he demanded “I have been living in hell since that night on the stage” Stephan smiled, wishing her blind that had been nasty, even Marcia hadn’t been that hateful.
Stephan looked out over the audience; he wasn’t hard to spot, a man who looked like he lived on the street while all around him a sea of people in furs and jewels.
“Hurry up we didn’t pay to entertain ourselves” Stephan saw the heckler from the corner of his eye, getting to his feet was a man who looked like he was used to getting his way.
Stephan stepped forward. “I had come to talk with you about Empathy, to help you connect with the stranger next to you; I had come to tell you many things but not any more”. “ For among us is a person who has suffered dreadfully, in ways I cannot tell you as they are beyond your understanding, so tonight I am going to help him, not you”. And with that Stephan motioned to the blind man “please someone help him up here” and he gestured to the man standing, “You sir could you please help him to the stage”.