Saturday, November 25, 2017

Chapter 14: What If You're Over My Sh*t?

“Well, I, for one, can’t believe this person released the Hustle Dick email,” I say to Marc, Sean, and Vivian. And Marc has the nerve to look at me like he’s sick and tired of me. “I mean, that was a total teaser for those who haven’t read the book yet.” Marc stares at me without blinking.
             We’re standing outside the bar, so we can talk in peace, feeling protected under the blinking Showgirls! and bar lights, drunken Santas, and Salvation Army bells. We’re among a crowd of people passing by us, with garland wrapped around their necks like boas, but these are white people. Unless they have tons of street cred, they have no idea who I am, and they can only vaguely place Marc’s face with the media attention around his new software. If he were in the middle of Washington D.C., he’d be shaking hands with The Suits right now. If I were on a busy street in Atlanta, I'd be taking selfies with people by now. Such are the perks of being black famous.
             “Rachel,” Vivian says, “I thought you took that chapter out of the book.”
             “Yes, I did but not before I could taunt Marc with it.”
             “Marc, don’t worry,” Sean says. “Nobody in your world will know about any of this stuff.” And because of the way Sean just said that I think I'm slightly offended. I hear a whole lot of disrespect in that comment, the first one being that my world is a piece of shit.
             “What does that mean, Sean?” I ask.
“I'm not saying it like that,” he says to me. “But come on. What's going on now is hood shit. No one in the Pentagon will hear this story. These are just small exposés circulating in urban magazines and on social media sites. Marc's world is a little different than yours.”
             “So, what I’m hearing is that Marc’s world is better.”
             “He’s not saying that, Rachel,” Marc says.
             “Kinda sounds like it to me,” Vivian says with a wince. “Not that I’m taking sides here, I’m rooting for Rachel and Marc, but I kinda think that you,” she says to her husband Sean, “and Adam are making this worse.”
             “Baby, how am I making this worse?” Sean asks in disbelief. “Not that I’m taking sides here but why didn’t Rachel use the software that locks her phone, so this wouldn’t have happened?”
“Well,” I say to Sean, “not that I'm taking sides here, but I think you need to kiss my ass. I had a lot of things going in my life before I became a famous author—and fuck you for not thinking I'm famous because I am. I was busy organizing my book and raising my child as a single parent—”
             “You were never a single parent,” Marc says.
“I was doing it all, so forgive me for not taking the time to use the software that Marc gave me. Need I remind you, it takes two seconds for a cellphone to sit in your hand, for that software to unlock it. I don't know a single woman alive who can spare two whole seconds in her day.”
             “I agree,” Vivian says. “I think that was asking a lot, Marc.” Marc gives Vivian an exasperated look, almost like what a brother would give a sister. Vivian shrugs.
             “And,” I continue, “forgive me for thinking that Marc already stole eleven years of my life away from me and that I wasn’t about to give him two more seconds of it.”
             “Rachel,” Marc says coolly. “Cut the bull. What happened in the past is done, we need to continue forward, united. We need to get back in that club and smile and answer questions. And we don’t need to fight journalists.”
             “You were fighting a journalist?” Vivian asks me.
             “She’s the editor who keeps publishing the exposés!” I tell her.
“Oh, well, she doesn’t count.”
“And she was focused on Marc! She received an invitation to focus on me! So, I kicked her ass out and told her that I’ll beat her up.”
             “Oh, well that makes sense.”
“Does it?” Marc asks.
             “Alright,” Sean says. “This is the plan. We go back in there and pretend like we don’t notice everyone looking at their cellphones and reading Rachel’s latest email.”
             “Alleged latest email,” I remind Sean.
             “Yes, the email exchange that Marc and Rachel allegedly had.”
             “We need to do more,” Marc says. “We can’t just smile and pretend this isn’t happening. We need to release a statement.”
             “Oh, is this a meeting?” I hear Adam say from a distance. I turn around and see him walking out of a doorway looking both perplexed and annoyed as hell. 
“Another email posted,” I tell him, waving him off. No need to feel insecure.
             “Yes, I noticed. Sean, in the future, I’d like to be a part of all verbal exchanges between you and my client.”
             “Adam,” Sean says, “Fuck off.”
             “My client and your client are going through a divorce and—”
             “Nobody’s going through a divorce,” Marc says. Now he’s annoyed.
             “Oh, look, Marc’s showing emotions,” I tell everyone.
             “If you go through a divorce,” Vivian says, “I think it’s only fair that I get the exclusive on my blog.”
             “Vivian,” I say, “you run a fashion blog.”
             “Fashion and lifestyle.”
             “No one’s divorcing,” Marc says again.
             “And since our clients will be divorced shortly,” Adam says to Sean, “I want to be privy to all meetings that my client has been asked to attend.” He stands by me, shoulder to shoulder.
             “Once again,” Marc says, “no one’s divorcing.”
             “Marc, you slept with another woman!” I scream at him.
             “Inside voice,” Vivian says.
             “We’re divorcing!”
             “There’s more to the story, Rachel,” Marc says with the same calmness that always makes me want to punch him in the face.
             “It doesn’t matter!”
             “Shh!” Vivian says.
             “You slept with another woman!” I whisper violently.
             “Rachel,” Marc says, “I’m not even sure if you know the whole story. Not that you would care to. For the past year, you’ve painted me as a selfish absentee father who’s abandoning his wife. Do you have any idea how this makes me look when people read those damn emails?”
             “And here you go with how you look.”
             “Sean,” Adam says, “once again, don’t have meetings with my client without me.”
             “Adam—” Sean begins.
“Rachel, we need to stick to the plan,” Marc says to me. “We pretend like everything's fine, we call the emails fabricated. Okay?” And that's fine with me but what about real life? What about Marc and me outside of the lenses of the cameras? What happens when we leave this club together, and I go to the townhome we once shared, and he goes to the penthouse he now splurges on? What happens when no one's looking? But, if I'm the only person thinking about this, then forget it. All everyone around here cares about are exclusives and appearances and clients. No one cares about the marriage. My marriage with Marc is over. We're done. I'll need to fall for, fall in love with, and put up with another man. Does anyone know how exhausting it is getting to know someone new, from scratch? Another man? Another human being that I have to study and question and observe, just to see if we'd be good as mates? 
Another man?
The whole idea of it makes me put my face in my hands just to hide the tears that threaten to come. “What did I say now?” I hear Marc ask softly.
             “We may be able to get this guy on copyright infringement,” I hear Adam say.
“Really, Adam?” I hear Vivian say.
“What? He released a portion of the book without Rachel’s consent.”
“That chapter was never included in the book,” Vivian says.
“We’ll call it a bonus chapter.”
“Adam,” I hear Sean say, “we’re pretending that this whole thing is fake. Remember? If we sue for copyright infringement, then it makes the emails real.”

“Rachel,” I hear Marc say. “What did I say wrong, now?”

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