This is a tale of the singer Manikine Leonardo Breckenridge. This story reminds us to never stop trying.
Manikine Leonardo Breckenridge came from a military family. His heritage reached all the way back to our revolutionary war. Now the Marine Corps discarded him like they would a badly damaged tank.
“I’m no quitter,” Leonardo told himself, “I will never quit. I did my job in Iraqi, and now the Corps has no further use for me. The Iraqis couldn’t kill me—though they sure tried hard enough. I will pick up the pieces and make a new life. I always wanted to be a singer. If that’s all that I can do, I’ll sing. I’ll play the cards that have been dealt to me. I’ll hire a voice instructor and become a professional baritone singer like my great uncle Clemontone Sylvister Breckenridge.”
Hendrix Barnard Lininsky III
Hendrix Barnard Lininsky III came into Leonardo’s life on a cold winter day, almost like the Ohio River wind that slams into Pittsburgh. He actually stumbled onto the spirited Marine as they fought the icy blast that came off the frozen Ohio River and threatened to carry Hendrix off his feet.
Life being stranger than fiction, they met again a week later in a music store. “Hello young man, I see that you are interested in music. Do you sing? I can see that you can’t possibly play most instruments. When we met before, I was impressed with your strong resonant voice. I sincerely hope that you are a practicing baritone. Please call me Hendricks”
“I teach at the Carnegie Mellon and I think you would fit well with our program. That is if you are passionate about singing. We can teach you how to project that voice of yours to the far corners of the room. With your voice, you can make a grown man cry and you can make the ladies swoon. We can show you how to do it.”
Practice Practice Practice
Leonardo was ecstatic. And he practiced as diligently as he had with his beloved machine gun. “There wasn’t a better machine gunner in the Corps” He told himself. “I will be the best baritone ever.”
With endless hours of practice and the fine tutelage, he could tell that he was getting good. “I can just feel the powerful emotion coming from my body. Just wait until I get a chance to prove how good I can be.” He literally jumped up and down in anticipation.
A Great Surprise
One day Professor Hendrix came bounding in and thrust an envelope at Leonardo. Leonardo thought, “With a thrust like that, he would be deadly with a bayonet,”
“I put my prestige on the line and got you a place on the German National Talent of The Future, television program. There’s a plane ticket to Luxemburg, Germany. You leave at seven P.M. tonight and you will appear at the stage at six-fifty-five PM tomorrow–not one minute before, not one minute after. The timing is important, don’t mess it up—please.” He turned and walked out–Leonardo never saw Hendrix Barnard Lininsky III again.
Entering The Stage
The aloft stage door man said “Good evening sir. We must hurry. You only got squeezed in because Mr. Lininsky has strong contacts. You are number seventeen on a program of sixteen. Please hurry along. You are on in one minute. Good luck sir. You seem to have enough bad fortune already.”
The maestro, Wharloning Harmoninski, nearly dropped his microphone when Leonardo rolled onto the stage, but he quickly recovered his composure and announced; “Mr. Manikine Leonardo Breckenridge will do his baritone rendition of an old English ballad from the Crimean wars. Sir, you have 120 seconds. Please begin.”
The Performance Of A Lifetime
Leonardo took a long moment to prepare for this terse occasion and then he belted out with a powerful voice that enthralled the audience, as it reverberated off the ceiling,
Harroo, Harroo, the enemy had guns and drums and drums and guns. Harroo, Harroo.
You hadent an arm, you hadent a leg, Johnny dear, you look so queer. The enemy nearly slew ya.
Harroo, Harroo, the enemy had guns and drums. The enemy had drums and guns. Harroo, Harroo.
With his remaining eye, that could still see—about three feet ahead—Leonardo saw the conductor approach and drop the purple ribbon over his head.
He couldn’t see the audience stand up. When they let loose with thunderous clapping, Leonardo only felt the chattering machine guns coming at him again. He did what he had always done to save himself—he dove for cover. One wheel of his chair slipped off the stage and he landed upside down on the concrete. The noise he heard was the big incoming one —with his name on it.
Someone heard the dyeing man’s hoarse whisper; “Damn, what a way to go. After all that I’ve been through.”
He never heard the audience when they solemnly shuffled out.