XIV - Temperance/Art
"Every person, all the events of your life, are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you."
Richard Bach * Illusions * Messiah's Handbook #14
The balance of power shifted, until one day, April was on top and Chance was on the bottom. He wanted to be out of the limelight, and for the first time in a long time, she radiated. The Texas heat wasn't so bad this year. There was too much to do to complain about the weather. Her birthday was coming soon, but no matter how old she was getting, nothing could mar her mood. Today she felt good.
Life is getting better and better and better . . .
Film crews arrived that morning to cover the making of the Mad Hatter Tea Party & Charity Ball. April performed brilliantly, due in part to the adrenaline, combined with years of performances on the stage.
All kinds of stages . . .
College paid off again. For the first time, she actually used the stuff that they crammed in her head. It felt great, . . . even better than sex. Almost . . .
She counted on her fingers, seven months until . . . The last time she had a countdown, it ended with BABY. Now almost two, Natasha grew everyday, discovering her world. In a way, the Party was April's baby. Her creation, nurtured, now had a life of its own. On the other hand . . . She had more time to worry about it beforehand, but once the Party was over, it was over. Natasha was just getting started.
The fact that we can contemplate the Spirit means that the Spirit exists . . . at least in our minds.
"Where did that come from?" a reporter asked April at lunch, referring to the quote on a painting that she titled: THINK.
It was the head of a man, eyes closed with the top of his head hinged open so that all the thoughts of Man poured forth. No need for words to comprehend the significance of the world around him.
"It has a subtitle: I think I am, therefore I said I was. It's a much catchier name, but I don't create art for its commercial value."
The reporter didn't find the humor, so she stopped talking and waited for his next question. He noticed the diploma from the university. Uh oh, here goes with the quiz.
"So what did you study in school? Let me guess . . . art."
"Quarters and the occult."
"I studied broadcasting some, science, readin', writin', 'rithmatic. I was supposed to anyway. College was the best six years of my life."
"So, you weren't a very good student?"
"Maybe not but I sat near some!"
April watched him squirm uncomfortably, almost ending the interview at that moment. He wasn't having fun and was becoming a real buzzkill. But then she remember how it might look on film, so she tried to soften the mood.
"Okay, I'll stop being funny or I'll start being funny. . . whatever you want."
He leaned back in his chair, "So, when do you announce the participants."
"Announce? Who said I was going to announce anyone beforehand?"
"Don't you think it would help ticket sales to advertise who'll be performing."
She heard this question before so she reiterated, "That's the surprise of the whole event. Surprise! What I mean, it's more important to talk about the money were raising, than about who will be there. Right?"
"I don't believe that your motives are strictly philanthropic."
"What do you mean?"
"What is you real reason for doing all this?"
Uh, oh . . . this interview is over!
"Well, if you think that I am doing this for some personal gain, I would have to agree with you. Every act we accomplish in our lives has a subjective quality to it. Whether we admit to the selfishness of it or not, or we even recognize our true motives, doesn't matter in long run because they become merely a means to an end. And in the end, if we help some people by having a little party, then I'm sure they won't care why I decided to do it. . . . what was the question?"
He didn't like her answer. After he took the cameraman out, she relaxed. I hope he isn't . . . Surely he doesn't suspect . . . He couldn't . . .
Two months before the end of the road show, the crew seemed to be planning their futures, while Chance just sat and nodded as he listened. No one asked him what his plans were, which was okay since he wouldn't have had an answer anyway. Now that they made it to London, he spent most of his free time wandering the twisted streets that snaked through town. He watched children as they played in the grounds of his old school, trying to remember some of the past.
The only memory that came to mind was the day that the world found out who his father was. People crowded him, determined to get a piece of the action. Questions were fired at him by ugly, hungry faces. Unfamiliar strangers called him by name wherever he went. School mates threatened him, always cornered and confused. Sneering older kids spit at him and called him the devil.
"Your mama is a . . . whore!!"
"Bet she did it missionary style!"
"You're going to Hell!"
Turning on his heel, he left the scene of the crime. Seeing the boys in the play yard still gave him chills.
Sure kids are mean . . .but what about . . .
The church hadn't responded well either. Some of the grown-ups had made it clear that they weren't welcome any longer. He and mama didn't go much after that. Religion didn't do much for him once the scandal broke. His faith went on the back burner. He found refuge in rock and roll.
By the eighties, Chance had formed his first band. The five piece group practiced 'religiously,' so they claimed. He accepted their jokes. They were mostly in good taste if that was possible. They even kicked around names like The Alter Boys, and State of the Church. He couldn't agree with that. He tried out a name on them.
"How about Chance Lee, the one man band . . . you're all fired!"
"You can't fire the unemployed! Besides, I thought the word was excommunicate. Call up your dad, we'll ask him," they had said back then.
Now he laughed to himself, "It's fired!"
His new band were professional musicians, not grade school friends. After the first album, it was clear that they had to go their separate ways. The tour of the States had overwhelmed the boys. Only the strong survived.
"And here I am London!"
The crowd thundered, making him feel welcome. No stranger in his homeland anymore. This was the final leg of the Psychic Checkmate tour, which he saved for the end. He wanted to finish where he started, the United Kingdom. In a way, he tried resolve past issues, but became a bit smug when his old buddies turned up backstage. Some of them hadn't been very nice, and it felt great hearing them kiss his ass.
And boy, they can kiss my ass, too!
He was ready to retire!
Tara was back in Malibu, at home, when she started thinking about Chance. The years that they had been together, she hadn't really appreciated him like she should. It was impossible. Two different kinds of people, she figured. But their backgrounds had been similar. She, the daughter of the couple that produced and starred in the number one prime time comedy series, and he, the son of the Pope. Both knew what it was like to be thrust in the spotlight, much too young, for reasons not of their own making. In a way, they were two of a kind.
She wasn't ready to quit running the streets and she wasn't sure how Chance would feel if she did. As a result she never talked about 'the future' with him. Neither did he.
Why is that?
Now that the thought crossed her mind, she began to wonder.
What would it be like to be with him?
As the day progressed, that nagging question didn't subside. Tara could feel her anger rise.