The Piano Woman
Months ago, Frances Kane awoke after having been impersonated by a being called the Phoenix for nearly a year as part of an attempt to gain the power of the Starheart, and she’s been trying to get her life back in order ever since. Thankfully she has the help of a good friend in Obsidian of Infinity Inc.
It was eight o’clock P.M. on a quiet Saturday in a Kansas City coffeehouse frequented mostly by a clientele of local college students. The fact was that most of the young people now there either had no other plans or just wanted to avoid the hustle and bustle most other places had at that time. They quietly sipped their beverages and munched on their sandwiches and baked goods.
Soon they heard a couple of taps on the microphone that stood on the tiny stage in the corner. The place’s owner, a graying, middle-aged, bespectacled man named Arthur Meddings, used that rather intrusive silence breaker to call attention to the stage.
He cleared his throat, then made an announcement to his patrons. “Hello! We’re so glad to have you here in this fine establishment,” he said gleefully. “For your entertainment, we have a very talented young woman who lives in this area. Her name is Frankie Kane, and she’s here to sing and play some piano for you.”
A few of the young men in the audience couldn’t help but notice how striking she was, with her pretty, long blonde hair, blue eyes, and delicate but rather serious facial features.
“Hey!” one shouted. “I didn’t know we’d have a knockout playing the piano! Whatta treat!”
Frankie sighed quietly, and Mr. Meddings then tapped her lightly on the shoulder, both to reassure her and cue her that he was ready for her to begin. She was thankful she had chosen to wear a demure pale pink blouse and knee-length brick-red skirt. She was sure that if she had chosen something less modest, the cat-calling would likely never end.
She began playing the piano and started off by singing a couple of her favorite Carole King songs, Jazzman and I Feel the Earth Move, then continued her set with other soft jazz, country, and pop classics.
The sound of her pretty voice and graceful piano-playing quieted those around her. They listened attentively as they continued enjoying their food.
Her show lasted about forty-five minutes. After it ended, she was greeted with some subtle cheers and quiet but awed applause.
A tiny coffee place with room for only about thirty people at full capacity wasn’t anything like performing in a huge arena or theater, but this was what she preferred.
She figured that if she was meant to lead a loud, obvious life, she wouldn’t be crooning behind a piano, she’d instead be running around in silly, brightly colored tights with a bunch of similarly dressed allies, using her magnetism abilities to save cats in trees and the like. Frances Kane chuckled quietly at that thought. Imagine her being a super-hero. Yeah, right.
As Frankie prepared to leave, she’d thought there was no one she knew in the audience. So when someone gently tapped her shoulder, she figured it was just Mr. Meddings wanting to thank her for a good performance.
But as she turned around, she was startled to see a more familiar face. It was Todd Rice Scott, her friend. But what was he doing here, of all places?
A few months ago, he and his family had helped her as she recovered in the hospital after being injured in an unfortunate incident where a mystical doppelgänger called the Phoenix had impersonated her and had tried to destroy Todd’s family from within by pretending to be a long-lost sister. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: Jade and Obsidian: I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Green Lantern: Total Eclipse, Green Lantern: Ascension, Green Lantern: The Emerald Guardians, and Green Lantern: Lanterns and Flame.]
Considering all that, she was grateful to have these good people as her friends, when it surely would’ve been easier for them to keep her at arm’s length. They even helped her find a new apartment to call home after she left the hospital and sold her old family home.
“You must have your choice of gorgeous women to be going out with,” she said with a start. “So why be stuck here, with the bored and the boring?”
“Geez, Frankie, you keep that up, and the membership of your fan club will skyrocket,” Todd replied with a wink. “I came to see how you were doing since you left the hospital. Your replies to Jen’s and my letters and phone calls were kind of brief.”
“Oh, sorry,” she said. “I just didn’t want you to worry about me. I’m doing all right.”
“That’s good,” he said. “And I brought you these, to congratulate you on that bravura performance.” Todd handed Frankie a bouquet of pink carnations and white daisies.
“Thanks a lot, Todd! They’re really nice,” said Frankie, giving him a quick peck on the cheek.
“I know it’s kind of late to ask this…” he said a bit timidly.
“Yes?” she replied.
“But have you had dinner yet, or…?” he continued.
Frankie then cocked an eyebrow and replied, “Are you asking me out to dinner?” She knew Todd had been dating Stephanie Harrigan for the last few months, but she still liked to tease him by making it seem like he was asking her out on a date.
The young man nodded his head, feeling that movement was easier than saying words he suddenly seemed to have difficulty finding. It was true that for nearly a year Todd had believed the Frances Kane impostor to be his older sister, but he had also grown to enjoy her company. Getting to know the real Frances was very important to him.
“I’m all yours,” she said happily.
A nice dinner out with a good friend certainly beat sitting home alone and reading, which she’d planned for the rest of her night.
Frankie then said farewell to Mr. Meddings, confirmed her check would be in the mail next week, and walked out of the coffeehouse, hand-in-hand with her friend.
As they left, the two men sitting at the table nearest the window looked past the couple, eyeing the young woman longingly.
“We had Joanie Mitchell — right here!” quipped one, shaking his head. “And we let her get away!”
“I don’t suppose that guy is Peter Gabriel in disguise,” his friend replied with a grin.