The Conductor.

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There once was an aspiring young music stundent. His greatest desire in life was to become a worldknown conductor. He spent 8 hours a day in school, practicing most instruments he could find. He already mastered guitar, piano, bass, violin, oboe and flute fairly well. He spent 3 hours a day lsitening to classical music, analyzing it so he could learn to write it himself. At the tender age of 8 he had learned to read notes fluently.

One day, he saw an ad in the local newspaper: "Conducting classes! For beginners and experts!" it said. The boy was thrilled. Finally, he had found a place where he could learn to conduct. So he went to the community center, to room 213, and was greeted by a rather small group spread out in a room with at least 40 chairs in rows. In the front of the room stood an elderly man, looking like he was passing through his eighties. He smiled a warm smile. The boy carefully made his way through the room. He sat down on a chair in the middle row, which was empty. He counted 13 other people in the room, including the elderly teacher. Most of them were older then he was, the oldest looking almost as old as teacher. "Probably pursuing a choldhood dream", the boy thought.

Suddenly, the teacher spoke. "Welcome!" He said. "My name is Tony Stryker, and I will be your teacher in the conducting classes." He smiled that warm smile again. "Let's first of all try out your skills! I will be sitting by this piano" he pointed at an old, battered piano in the corner, "and pla, and you will all conduct me, one by one! No worries now, you're all here to learn!" He once again cracked into that lovely smile. "So, how about we start with you, young lady?"

The lady he had nodded at rose. She was tall, slender, with a hard face. Probably around her thirties. She walked to the front of the room, and stood in front of the piano. The old teacher looked at her. "Whenever you're ready." He said, and smiled. The woman raised her hands, and started moving her right hand in a motion which looked like an anchor: Down, left, right, up. Then she repeated it. She was steady, and looked straight at the man, who played along in her pace. After a while, he stopped. "Good, good!" He said. "Have a seat. Now, how about... Ah, my fellow senior citizen in the back!" He chuckled a little.

The old man rose, and slowly walked to the front of the room, his fedora a little crooked on his broad head. He stood in front of the piano, and raised his hands. They shook, and there was no way of telling if it was of nervousness, or some sort of disease. Maybe both. He then started doing the same motion as the woman had done, only not so steady in pace and a little slower. The teacher played along acordingly. He then said "Great job, really! Thank you." The man did a little bow, then went back to his place.

The teacher looked over the classroom. His eyes landed on the young boy. "How about you, lad?" He said, and smiled. THe boy stumbled a little as he rose, nervous and excited. He made his way to the front of the room, in front of the piano, and started moving his hands. It felt good. He knew what he was doing. He had watched so many concerts, he had memorized every move. He started speeding up the tempo. Faster and faster. Suddenly, the teacher started to look worried, but the boy paid no mind. He was having so much fun. The tempo roose and rose, until suddenly... Silence.

The teacher was bent over the piano. Someone yelled "Call 911!", others rushed to his side. But it was to late. The old man had had a heart attack. THe paramedics said it was fatal, but necessereily caused by something in his environment. Despite that, the boy was devastated. He couldn't help but feel it was somehow his fault. His parents felt so bad for him, they decided to move from the town, to escape all the bad memories. And so, they fled to New York.

They got a small apartment, where they quickly settled in. The boy still was devastated, however. But yet, he still held on to his dream. He was to become a conductor. For years he practised, tried to perfect his pace and his discipline. Eventually, on his 20th birthday, his parents got him the greatest present of all: The chance to conduct the local high schools rendition of "The Phantom of the Opera". He was overjoyed. The very next day, he went to the school, to meet with the orchestra and the cast.

He talked to them, told them his dreams, and befriended them. Then, it was time for rehersal. Granted, the orchestra didn't play so well, and the cast was just high school students after all, but it was all he wanted. They practised hard, and our concuvtor was very pleased with the result. Soon, it was time for the very first show. All the students parents were also, as well as the staff, and some who just wanted to see a cheap musical. The cast was nervous, but seemed to manage it: The orchetra was worse. All the musicians in the orchestra were having minor panic-attacks, and a few were crying. Our conductor gathered them all backstage, and held a pep talk. After it, all the participants felt inspired, and was calm again. Our conductor was pleased, and so the show began.

But something must have happened, because the moment the first song started, the audience flinched. It sounded awful. It was off-beat, different keys, and the wrong songs. The cast messed up their lines, and the tuba player fainted. A few of the parent walked out at that very moment. Our conductor was devastated: He knew it was his fault. He was nothing more than a bad conductor. He ran out of the school, and took the first train, going anywhere.

He rode it to the end station before he realized where he was: Austin, Texas. He looked aroud, and wondered what he should do. He a little money, so he found a cheap hotel, and immedieatly started looking for a job.

He was amazed when the first thing he found in the newspaper read "Assistant needed at Austin Concert Hall! Prior musical studies a must!". He thought about it, and then stood up. It was his dream. So he marched down to the Austin Concert Hall, and did an interview with the director. A few days later, he recieved a phone call in his hotelroom: He was hired.

He worked there for a couple a months, cleaning, tuning instruments, taking care of some legal forms, when all of a sudden the conductor of the orchestra approched him. " heard you wanted to become a conductor." He said. "How would you like to try to conduct our orchestra, just for fun?" Our conductor was stunned. He didn't know what to say. Of course he did, but who knew what could happen? He said to himself that nothing bad could happen, and told the chief conductor that he would love to try. But still, he walked with heavy steps towards the hall.

Inside, the whole orchestra was assembled on stage. Flutes, Violins, Cellos, Harps, Oboes and percussions, all in one place. It was beautifull. Put conductor stepped up to the stage, and onto the conductors podium... And gripped the Conductors baton. "Okay, guys..." He said, shakingly, "Let's... Let's play Mozart's 5th." He starte moving the baton, and it was glorious. usic was all around him, and he lost himself in it. However, as he lost himself, he also lost grip of the baton. It flew out of his hand, and straight into the mouth of one of the violin players.

She died immediately. Our conductor was charged with manslaughter, and taken to prison. He was sentanced to death, by the electric chair. They gave him his last meal, a last prayer, and put him in the chair. They strapped him up, put water on his forehead, and put on the headpiece. And then, they pulled the switch.

Nothing happened. The staff checked all the wires, all circuits, and tried again. Still nothing. They called in an electrician, who looked at the chair, and stated that nothing was wrong, that it should work properly. Once again, they tried. Nothing. Not so much as a twitch. After a few hours, the director of the prison walked up to the sentanced man and asked "Why won't you die? What is wrong you?!". Our protagonist looked at the director, and said in a tired voice "I suppose I'm just a poor conductor."

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