Monday, November 27, 2017

Power Plays...

He had been a "go getter" in life. Which he liked to joke was a "go get her" as well. He had built his empire on a life style idea. That men should have the best and shiniest toys, the fastest cars, the priciest art work, read the best books, have collections that made other men envious. And that women were obviously a part of those collections. He published his magazine as a paper altar to the god he worshiped. An idealized version of himself. The cosmopolitan man. Women wanted him, men wanted to be him. That was his creation. And he would tell everyone that he was a self-made man.

She had spent her life as a symbol. And what she symbolized varied from person to person. Was she the struggling ingenue? Was she the hot sex symbol? Was she a savvy business woman or a hapless in love, drug addict? She was whatever people wanted her to be. But she made that self-made man what he was. 

When asked about the pictures that launched his magazine she said, "I never saw a dime. He made a fortune selling something he had no right to own. He never asked permission from me. I never even got a thank you call."

See she was his first cover girl. His first "all nude!" centerfold. The pictures had been taken years before she was famous. Before she even had her name. Yet another man who saw her not for herself but for what he needed from her. She had been young and trusting. He wouldn't sell those shots. He was practicing for some art shows. He would never do anything to hurt her. And besides, if she helped him with those pictures he would give her the head shots she needed for free. She trusted him.

Later when she had her new name and was "somebody" the photographer sold those photos to the "go get her" for a song and he built his empire on her body. Without even a thank you call.

But most people didn't care about that. They assumed she got what she deserved by posing for those pictures in the first place and he got what he deserved by being smart enough to buy them. And, well, didn't we all win by being able to see them? After all she was beautiful and what harm did it do?

When she died, drug overdose or CIA murder, again, take your pick as to how you wanted to see her, she was buried in a mausoleum. Shelves of bodies in eternal storage. One of her ex-husbands had flowers delivered to her grave twice a week until he died. It was said he never got over how their marriage had ended and he had never stopped loving her. His last words were supposedly that he would finally see her again. Romance or guilt, you could take your pick.

The "go get her" man bought the space next to hers to be buried in when he died. "This way I can be next to her for all eternity." He loved to show people the paperwork. "When people visit her, they will see me. When people visit me, they will see her. We will be tied together forever. It's perfect." Again, nobody had asked her what she wanted. 

When she died her legend grew. But she became even more of a blank canvas. She was a tortured genius. She was a hot mess. She was a star. She was a whore. She was what you wanted her to be. But she was always beautiful. She died too young. Nobody knew who she would have become.

He lived a long time. Past his prime. He outlasted his empire. He outlasted the time where women wanted him and men wanted to be him. He lived long enough to be ridiculed for both ideas. His playground revealed in the bright light of day to be something you regretted touching in the darkness of night. He lived his final years as a caricature of himself.  But when he died all of that washed away and people remembered the decades past. The lifestyle. The glamour. The endless miles of young flesh he peddled without consequence. And then he was buried next to her. Without asking.

When he awoke to the bright light shining down on him, he wasn't surprised. After all he had lived a charmed life. Why wouldn't his afterlife be just as bright and shiny? He was greeted by a woman in a white lab coat holding a clip board. She had a few things to show him and to go over before he was released to live out his eternity. He wasn't surprised at this either. Bureaucracy would follow you everywhere. 

He was surprised at the tour. It was lovely. He had spent his entire life selling a lifestyle of perfection and only now did he realize how far short he had fallen in imagining what that was. The art on the walls was so beautiful it moved him to tears. The music he heard was so powerful it made his very being move with the melody. The air smelled like nothing he could describe. Fresh bread and fresh flowers and the forest and ripe strawberries and yet none of these things. Just air that made you happy to breathe it. That's what it was. Everything was filled with joy.

The people that they passed who smiled at his tour guide and looked at him with curiosity. They were filled with joy. The sights, the smells, the sounds, it was all reverberating with joy. And he knew that this was what his eternity would be. Filled with the joy that he had tried to imagine on earth but had not come close to. Not even in his wildest days had he understood this feeling. Even when the triplets were sharing his bed had he felt such peace. Even when they came to him for their spending allowances and told him how wonderful he was, none of that made him feel like walking behind this woman with this clipboard seeing these walls made him feel. This was paradise.

They came to a stop at the end of the hallways and she opened a door, motioning for him to go inside. She told him to disrobe and wait for his inspection. 

He knew what this would be. The time where he would be given his perfect body. He had noticed that everyone they passed on their way here had been perfection. All different ages, and shapes, and colors but still they radiated perfection. Any earthly damage would be taken away and he would exist in perfection and joy. He wished he could go back and tell everyone what it was like. What they really had to look forward to.

He disrobed and waited. The lights flickered and then the walls turned to viewing screens. Scenes from his life flickered past. The magazine. The mansion. The women. The men. There it wall was in technicolor glory. He smiled. It had been a good life. Then his smile faltered. There was the mansion again but the party was not joyous. It was dark. A woman was screaming no but no one was listening because, after all, what had she expected to happen after she posed for those pictures and went to that party and swam with that man? There were the triplets playing rock, paper, scissors, deciding who would have to go in and flatter him to get their money. There were the men who idolized him who were taking their own pictures of women. Of girls. Of very young girls. The room got darker. And then there were the pictures of her. The ones that had launched his empire. Her beauty filling up the walls. Then her dead body on the floor of her bungalow. The quote from him weeks later after he made his purchase, "I bought the space next to her because the one on top was already taken."

The room went dark. Then the lights were back on. Bright. Unforgiving. Standing in the middle of the room he looked down at his nakedness and he was ashamed.

He called out that he was sorry. He understood now. He appreciated the lesson. And now he was ready to leave this room.

He heard her voice over the loud speaker, "Nobody asked you."

And the videos started again. 

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