Stephen was excited. This was it. It was almost time for his speech.

He had often imaged how it would go. He would give a rousing talk about how the city needed to be more frugal with its money. He’d address the growing homelessness problem with innovative housing projects that would also deal with the different empty buildings in the downtown area. He would conclude with an authoritative call to arms, to band together for the good and glory of their city.

Stephen knew he would nail it.

He watched from behind the stage curtain as his opponent spoke first. His opponent wasn’t as well known as Stephen, but he sounded surprising professional. Stephen thought the speech sounded familiar when he mentioned the homelessness and a new initsuative for downtown. It sounded like his speech.

Stephen reached into his pocket where he stashed his speech. Instead there was a small note.

It said, “Thanks for helping me out.”

Stephen looked up, hearing the crowd roar in excitement as this opponent finished his speech with a call to arms, to band together.

The stage hand walked up behind Stephen. “It’s your turn, sir.”

Fear overtook Stephen. What was he going to do?