Chapter two the Convenient Rock Star
What the fuck? I'm so confused right now. I tried to reach my doctor but I can't get through. I called my therapist and she agreed to talk to me right over the phone. I heard that funny sound in her voice. So I knew right away that she must have heard about me.
I don't think I'm going out. Ever. Today was full mindfuck-clusterfuck. First of all, the lawyer? He is some guy from Albania or something. This is so fucked up. Part of me is thinking that this is really some kind of scam. That, somehow, the whole world is in on. As crazy as that sounds. It feels like I have walked straight into a surreal dream. Like that Ed t.v. movie. Is this a joke? It's a really fucking mean one, the fucking worst and cruelest thing.... to do.... to me. I don't like people. Especially fake people which seems to be about 90%.... just watch a commercial (I don't) they are my gauge toward evil. This is what stigmatizes cultural attitude because it's repeated and reiterated like a mantra that becomes everybody's expected belief systems; commercially produced; forget the hammer and the sickle. That is a world so foreign to me and I like it that way. Like Greta Garbo, I totally get that. That would be me.
So all this is insane....it seems I am being sued. If I wasn't so scared I would be thinking this is totally ridiculous. Before I actually was laughing thinking about it. Like, this is such a stupid dream. Does this not sound like the most obvious scam: There is some weird prince in some improbable place who is holding me responsible for maligning the throne. I feel paranoid as I actually look at the faces of my two roommates later to see if they would go so low as to do something like this to me. Not as a joke but because they thought it was a fun idea to be in a reality show. But they just never let me in on it. And maybe I am not supposed to know. I almost hate them now. Because I could see them doing something like this.
So now I feel like I can't trust them. Why would they do this to me? They know I'm shy and I'd never want to do something like this. I didn't know they could be this mean. It was the obvious explanation. I can't trust anyone. They both work for people who know people and work for people who are people.
I don't know. I mean, why would my therapist be in on it? Am I a political pawn or or ….. I'm feeling like fucking Neo or something. But I'm sure if this was someone else they would think it's cool because everybody wants fame, right? Get your fifteen minutes. Only not me. Unless it was for something I did and not about me; like a work of art or saving a civilization; finding a cure for a deadly decease....
I can't believe it. This is all getting so crazy. I'm in the bathroom, sitting on the floor with my back against the door even though the door is locked. This is really scary. The media.... like --CNN and BBC-- ! .... they are all taking this seriously. So I find myself in that fearful, terrible place of.... being some kind of.... of-what? a Monica Lewinsky or Amy Fisher or I don't know; the thing that becomes the trash you see on the ground that people step on …. wearing muddy boots.... you look down and there it is as you step off the subway; the headlines that are trash ….I am very freaking out. I'm so nauseated. There's been this taste in my mouth all day, like I licked a tin can or something that keeps making me want to vomit. And have twice.
I went to that Law office. Near Park. I was sitting there at the lawyer's desk and he's sitting there in front of me with all his stupid papers and I just want to say 'fuck off' and walk out. Only.... what's with the bruisers standing there all around? They all have accents. Not local.... you know? The lawyer, the one who they say is representing me-- only I don't remember hiring a lawyer.... he says in this 'comrade' like way, with a kind of chuckle,
“they just need you to sign this and agree to the DNA testing.”
He said it so casual.
“what are you talking about?”
He actually looked embarrassed. Only I can't figure out why. He shrugged and said,
“your father is insisting on it.”
So, I'm like,
But then he gets up and leaves.
“Can I go now?” I'm asking, but nobody seems to be in charge. I start to leave, walking to the door but some other guy in a white suit grabs me and turns me around. He's a doctor in a lab coat and he shows me his badge. Mount Sinai, blah, blah.... would I even know if this is real?
“what do I have to do for the test?” and Dr. Levinstein says,
“you already did that,” he reaches for the glass I have been sipping from, “this signature is to consent to the test.”
“But you already did it,” I argue and I feel myself becoming hysterical. Outwardly, I pretend to be calm. But I'm really shaking which I hide by putting my hands in my pockets.
“Just sign the paper then we can send it to the lab and the whole thing will be over,” he says. His glasses are so thick, they are like the glass on an old time watch; like the kind a hypnotist uses for his act.
“If I sign it, can I go?” I ask. When he says, “yes,” I do it and they let me go. They let me go into the elevator by myself. I am still shaking when I reach the lobby and head out the glass front doors of the building. And then it's so cold out when I walk past the door, the air is frozen knives right away and the wind is making everything blow around. It was hard to walk down the street. I go straight, trying to rout my way out of here but I hear some voice say, “it's that girl in the hat with the red hair....”
I don't know why but this moment among everything else that's been happening stands out the most to me. Pivotal; like you believe it is possible to go back from such a point. And I don't know why but in that second I knew this should be a clue to me. I got that creepy feeling. And it made a chill down my neck. I had that chill another time recently and maybe that is instinct that heralds the warning. It was when I was with Nic. When the photographer took that picture of us.
….. and it hits me now.... shit.... it all feels.... like a warped reality .... like I've stepped into a wormhole.
I pass a line of parked trucks and then after the clear it is only then when I see the road is in chaos. There is a traffic jam being caused by vans with network logos. Instinctively, I know I have to get out of there and start to run because now I hear my name being called from every direction. When I turn I see down the block that there are about five people running towards me; I'm being chased. And then I heard this weird disembodied screech in my ears, something like an insane banshee .... which turned out to be me but then I can't see where I'm going, because my eyes are tearing. So I started to panic because I don't know what direction to go. And also, I'm fast reminded that I can't run for shit as I run across the street. Or had meant to, but instead I fall right in the middle of the street. And hit my head really hard.
I lost my favorite hat. I don't think I lost consciousness, but he did seem to appear out of thin air. One of those Mercedes limos. Black and shiny.
“You're Electra.” I see just his hand at first. It pulls me up. He is still talking, “they're after you, aren't they? Ha! Look at those idiots tripping over themselves. You better come with me, they're getting close.”
It's only when I'm up that I see who it is; tall, ghost pale, sharply pointed teeth with a shaved head. He's wearing a long leather coat. Obviously part of the dream. It's too incredible to actually think that I am really face to face with a rock star icon. I watch his head inflate as he sees me look at him with recognition. With time elapsed understanding his words trickle in and we both look at the open door of the limo he just got out of. We both run for it as the vans close in.
We slide across the seats and he slams the door as he's shouting to the driver to go, pointing out narrow streets.
So he tells me with a wink,
“Bruno is good, he used to drive those tester cars and never knock down a cone.”!
I remember thinking that was no comfort to me. And this is getting more surrealer and maybe it was the concussion that made me like this but I looked up at the ceiling of the limo and began wondering where they hide the cameras.
I mean who the fuck can I trust?
And then the fairy-god mother always says, “come with me.” And so you go. Because it is a way out....
So he is looking at me oddly, I remember.... Sean-fucking-Connel is looking at me oddly, before he says,
“holy fuck-shit! Bruno! We need to get to a fucking hospital. Her head is bleeding.”
Which explains the loud throbbing.
I don't think I want to relive that part of my life. Nine stitches in my head. I think, now, I will always hear Sean Connel's music differently than I ever had before this from this. I mean, it is weird to be bleeding all over the hospital stretcher sheets and having my head sewn together on its own.... but with a rock icon telling me to focus on his eyes as she did it.... it was intense, oddly –a bonding moment actually; a total stranger who befriended me in one fortuitous second from a crowd of descending vultures.... and that would have been enough but then he held my hand through the whole head-sewing ordeal.
The people at the hospital told him I had to stay awake. So we went out for coffee. And talked. He told me he was jet lagged anyway and was still on some other time. Not being able to sleep only made all this even more surreal. Nobody bothered us. I thought that was strange too until later when I noticed his entourage of inconspicuous friends who were all over six feet and were intimidatingly big with some noticeable hardware.
Bruno took us to Sean's hotel.
We go up to his suite and then he asks me,
But then I take too long as I consider his question. I was trying to remember my last meal. I could only remember the quesadillas. Some time after that, and it seemed surprisingly fast, room service arrived.
“So, is it weird for you?” he asked me. His non sequitur threw me. This question could be referring to so many things, especially as he was lighting a joint and handing it to me.
He laughed at me,
“you have no idea because it hasn't really sunk in.”
In hindsight, he was right. At the time, I had no idea what he was talking about. But I started to get one when he took out his phone and showed me the CNN headlines. It said something like, 'Electra-shock rattles a principality.' I don't know why but it made me laugh. Oh, it had to have been the ganja. I was saying to him, “I know, these weirdos dragged me into some 'esquire's' office and …. that guy in the picture--? he was really pissed off about something-- like at me!” (and he was mumbling something like “I'm sure he was,” under his breath) “....what a psycho! I've never seen him in my life. You know, don't you? None of this is true and they're all fucking crazy believing his bullshit.”
This made him laugh. I get it now why. I mean, now I do. I think he must have thought I was some bad ass. Instead of some complete ignorant of anything going on in the news. But he was talking and telling me about this little tiny country.... where is it? I don't know, I think he said it was in the Mediterranean or near it or was it Greece? no idea and I never heard of it. But they had a principality. I forgot what that was so later after I got home looked up what that was. But then he didn't say anything more. He kept looking at me as if he wanted me to say something.
I remember that all I could think of to say of any relevance was,
“to be honest, it was invasive how they just picked up this glass I was drinking from and told me they had to do a DNA test on me. Don't you think? I mean.... do they have that right?”
I remember his expression was so odd. I really never saw anyone look at me that way. It wasn't pity, or stupidity.... no, it was something else.... maybe concern-- but it moved me.
He sat next to me and checked on my head wound. He said,
“you know, it's going to be all over the headlines that after I took you to the hospital you came back to my hotel with me.”
It didn't seem worthy of remark to reply.
When I got home I went to sleep. It was OK to by then.
The phone rang. Which is what woke me up. I have no idea what time it was. It was Nic's tone. Without hesitation, I answered it. Maybe I should have taken a moment.
(Why was he asking if he dialed me),
“yeah? Did you dial the wrong number?”
“No. I've been trying to reach you, didn't you get my calls?”
I look at my phone. Wow. I missed a lot.
“Why didn't you ever tell me about yourself?” he is asking.
“About what? I did tell you. But we only just hung out for the first time.”
I hear him sigh heavily. Then he is completely silent
“What?” I ask.
“It's just that.... did you not trust me enough to tell me?”
“Tell you what?”
“Who your father is.”
Only, it's not his words only, it's the sound of his voice.... you know. You know the sound when you hear it. You know. It feels like I just got stabbed in the stomach.
“What?” I say again.
“Electra! Shit.... you know that part I tried out for? Well, I got it.”
“Is it? Do you know why I got it?”
“Because they liked you?”
“No, because of that picture they got of us walking down the street.”
I feel the concussion suddenly.
“Electra? Are you there?” he asks.
“Yes,” I say.
“I'm sorry, I can't breath.... I'm having an anxiety attack.” Because I was. I'm very familiar with them.
I hear him take a deep breath and then there is a pause. Then he says,
“I'll be right over.”
He got the part he wanted because of the picture....and he needed a job. That he's not happy about it opens a venue of wonder …. maybe a prequel to my enlightenment. I am deep in the thick of it when I hear a creepy tapping sound at my window.
He texts me,
“it's fucking freezing, let me in. I had to go around the bushes.”
He taps urgently, so I open it. He stays with me, he is silent. I feel the departure inside his arms even as we lay in bed. He is no longer with me. The knowledge of this hurts. And confuses me. I don't understand what I did. But his chest is warm against my lips and I need something to hold onto. I feel his fingers in my hair.
After an hour, I ask,
“do you think it's true?”
“What they're saying.”
“What do you mean?”
This is followed by more silence. He shifts. Then tightens his arms around me. I feel him relax as he draws me to him,
And I know when someone sounds like that, when someone dreads telling you something. Only I don't believe it. I look at him,
“Why?” And it is more than just the obvious why. But then I say, “do you believe it?”
“Oh God,” he turns his face away and shakes his head before he slowly exhales, “OK, this is the way I got the news: 'congratulations, Nicolas, you got the part. Do you know you joining our cast will be the best publicity for our humble little theater!'”
I don't answer. Why do I feel guilty?
Then he says,
“And I don't know what they're talking about until....I catch it on the news when I get home as its blasting from the living room because my roommate is fucking deaf.... and then I hear your name --so I'm like, what the fuck? and when I stand there watching this! There's a whole fucking story about you on CNN and an interview with the guy who performed your DNA test! But I'm sure you've heard and know all about this,” and there is that unmistakable note in his voice. I hear it. It's like he is saying: I didn't sign up for this.
It is after three a.m. And I can't sleep. I feel like I've been staring into space for days. Feeling stunned by everything. So vacant that it hurts. So aware of how alone I really am.
I've been playing this song all day, like it's the only thing keeping me sane, you know, the sound of it. “80 Windows” on repeat.... it feels like it has become the soundtrack of my life. Because it feels like my world is crashing. And I'm falling down with it. The walls are falling and I am falling with them into a pile of bricks. Laid out in a broken pattern.
I don't know what's going on. Or what I'm doing …. I feel myself spinning... in seaweed and quicksand. On repeat. Swirling in spinning lights like a giant whirlpool. Sucking me in.
The thing about New York are all the lights at night; the City. But sometimes—or all the time, like for me-- they can make you feel sentinel... like feeling you are the only human in a microchip world. You can even taste the metal. Like right now looking out through a crack in the blinds from the living room. A tiny dot in the universe.
I think of myself as an artist. But my strongest art is words. I think of myself as a modern day poet. I spend all day in a world of words. But I'm dyslexic, so often the words have subtle misinterpretations creating the happy accident. But I can't get my words to go beyond my cave. And I don't know if that's good or bad. Until I stumble across the garbage out there impersonating as thought provoking good literature.
I just can't put myself out there. I mean, I don't want to. I would do it if I really wanted to. Ideally in my perfect world what would happen would go something like this: hand printer-press copies of my writings, like an organicly produced, Bloomsbury trade paperback, somehow scatter across a subway. Subterranean followed. Anonymous. Eventually shelved in a library, dusty on the shelves next to C. S. Lewis, long after I'm dust. That's perfect.
It's not just shyness-- it goes beyond that. As I've said, I don't like people but I especially don't like people in crowds. Social situations. Meeting new people. Holding conversations. And it's not even something I want to change because I know how to do it, I just prefer not to. I don't really care that I can often not be noticed because this is exactly my intention. Don't want to be seen. I like to watch people and write about what I see in faces. I see these stories. I write all these stories. When people find out that I do this they all tell me to try to publish them. Sometimes I thought about doing that. But it became a quagmire of double negatives in my mind. Like, would that not only make me noticed? I like to be alone. So that I can write. And quietly watch people. From afar. Even as a kid I would write for eight hours straight and then sleep all day. Sometimes I have gone days never seeing another human. I can't wait for all this to be over. I need to be alone. I need to withdraw. I don't want anyone to come near me.
There are times in my life when my mind goes back to someone I once knew, a musician in a band at school where we met. He was my first love. They eventually got signed. We broke up a long time ago but our last year at college we lived together and a few years after. And so, I think of him now.... and find a CD of his that I've kept for years. His name is Michael. We both grew up not in the U.S.; I grew up in Belgium and he grew up in Paris so when we met that was the first thing that bonded us. He's from a literary background—both his parents are professors. So, there was always something about him that was sharply honed. Not just intelligence, something deeper that came out when I would hear him play. And I would listen to him for hours.... writing songs. The sound of his guitar and his voice.... when we first met I didn't know anything about New York. Michael ....taught me everything. His family spent a lot of time there while he was growing up, they owned a brownstone and while we were going to the university, we spent a lot of weekends there before we moved in together. We used to go everywhere together so.... everywhere I ever go I still see him in my mind.
It was a mutual break up. And painful. But his band started to tour and it looked like their popularity was building. I guess sometimes you let go because you know you have to. Not because you want to.
We said we'd stay in touch. But excuses get in the way of promises like that.
I have not seen Michael in years. I miss him. We were once so close and.... you're supposed to move on. And so he went on to be the amazing song writer I knew he was..... and last I heard he was dating some DKNY model. By now maybe have kids.
I have the impulse to search for him. Like I have had so many times. And talk myself out of it. Like I have so many times. I look out into the darkness through the blinds of my window and silently ask, where are you? Like I have so many times.... and then I notice a flash in the dark on the other side of my window. And recoil.
All these people are in my face now. I don't know who they are. They say they are with some such and such newsmedia. Yesterday (or is it the day before now? I'm confusing my days now), I really thought some disaster had happened when I first saw those people. I just wanted to walk down the street and go home. It really is so stupid. When the media smells a story....but there really is more to the story than they will ever know