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Suddenly the stage area was cleared except for the manager and the podium. An expectant hush fell over the crowd, and the manager looked out at the room of people as if just remembering they were there. After straightening his suit coat, he made his way to the podium, which was so tall that the microphone pointed over his head. He reached up both hands to adjust the snakelike microphone holder so that he could speak into it. However, when his mouth moved, the microphone failed to pick up the sound.Is there a problem with the entire sound system? Sadie wondered. After all their work to pull off this dinner, she would be really, really mad if it all fell apart now. Mr. Ogreski continued to wrestle with the microphone, which seemed to be stuck. He pulled it free from the holder, but the wire, which should feed through the hole in the podium didn’t have much give and he couldn’t seem to hold the microphone close enough to his mouth. After a few more seconds, Mr. Ogreski clenched his jaw, adjusted his grip on the microphone, and yanked it toward him, presumably to free the cord that seemed to be tangled within the wooden podium. It didn’t budge. He took a breath and planted his feet, poised to pull again. Sadie let her eyes drift closed, grateful to give herself up to the chocolate ecstasy in her mouth instead of focusing on what was happening onstage for the moment. There were only a few bites left. In the next instant, a shotgun blast echoed off the walls of the ballroom. Sadie choked on her cake as the people in the room screamed in horror.