Sunday, November 19, 2017

Chapter 8: What If You're Over My Sh*t?


             “Shit,” I hear Adam say. “Another exposé. Same guy.” I let out a deep breath and push myself away from Marc’s kitchen table. Adam sits on the right of me, reading the exposé. Marc and Sean sit across from us, with Sean now looking at his phone.
Marc. Here he sits with the air of Julius Caesar, the calmness of King Solomon, and the face of Hades. Hades. The Devil. The devil is not an ugly man. On the contrary. No one would be tempted by the hideous; people are seduced by the handsome. 
             “What are you going to do, Marc?” I ask him, as I fold my arms over my chest. “These are your people who are releasing those exposés and that email.”
             “Let me handle it,” he says calmly. “I’ve got guys on it now.”
             Can you believe the coolness of this guy?
             “They’re painting me as a bitch, Marc!”
             “Yeah, baby, I can’t believe it.” I give him the stare to end all stare-downs. My stare-down is so strong, my prescription contacts almost slide out my eyes. “I’ll handle it, Rachel.”
             “I’m so glad you can handle this as calmly as you’re able to.”
             “Rachel, if you want me to panic with you, I won’t.”
“Marc, someone is writing stories about me. Someone broke into my emails!” I thrust myself into the table and pound on it. Get fired up! Let's get those juices flowing! “Our entire life is about to be on the goddamn web! Show some emotions!” 
He looks at me with a sardonic grin, like he wants to say something, but won’t. Instead, he leans back in his chair. I almost got him going. I almost made him lose his cool.
“Why didn’t you put the software I made you, on your phone?” He asks calmly.
             “You’re asking me that now?”
             “I am. With that software, your phone knew it was you, by being held for two seconds in the palm of your hand. Why didn’t you activate this, Rachel?”
             “Why does that matter now?” And now he stares me down. But he’s remaining calm, which is one of his character flaws. People don’t like other people who are calm when they’re not. People like other people who are swept away within the drama of their life as it reveals itself. As a matter of fact… “Marc, I would like for you to be swept away within the drama of my life as it unfolds. I would like for you to see my fire and panic. I would like for you to see the murder in my eyes and run for help. I’m not looking for a voice of reason.” He takes a deep breath and runs a hand over his face. His first sign of stress. “Thank you for that emotion,” I tell him. He eases his hand down and looks at me. “What?”
             “I’ve just landed the federal government as Dumbbell’s biggest client. My specialty is preventing hackers from accessing privileged data. How the fuck do you think I feel about your emails leaking?”
             “Well… not so good.” Why the language?
             “No. Not good at all. I could lose my contract over this, Rachel. So once again, I ask you, why didn’t you lock your phone with the software I made for you?” And I don’t have an answer.
             The phone was new.
             I forgot.
             Who has time to download software?
Am I supposed to remember everything?
I sit back in my chair.
             He looks at me.
             I look at him.
             We look at each other.
I hear Adam typing on his cellphone. Why do I hear Adam typing on his phone? He has a touch screen, why has he chosen to keep the ‘clicks' on when he presses letters. What man keeps the clicks on!
             “Can you turn the clicks off, Adam?” I ask him.
             “What?” He asks, with an attitude. “What clicks?”
             “The clicks on your phone, Adam.”
             “Okay,” Sean says. “Here’s what I’m thinking.” Adam and I roll our eyes at each other and look at Sean.
“I messed up,” I quickly say to Marc. “Okay?” I watch Marc's face fade from stern annoyance to softened acceptance. “I messed up. Go ahead, Sean.”
“We have to pretend like these emails aren't from you and Marc,” Sean says. “Your cellphone was new Rachel; you barely used it. Did you take pictures?”
             “Of who?” I ask. “Marc left me alone as he traveled the road towards success.”
             “Okay good, so you don’t have pictures, all you have are text messages and emails. But these could have easily been created by the person who allegedly stole your phone. And what is this rumor about someone stealing your phone? Because your phone wasn’t stolen.” He raises an eyebrow at me. I watch Marc reach his hand into his coat pocket and pull something out. A brand-new phone. Black and shiny. He slides it over to me. We lock eyes as he does.
“You're on to something,” I tell Sean while picking up my new phone. I look at Adam and roll my eyes at him. 
             What the hell are you on to, Adam?
             Adam rolls his eyes at the table.
             “Listen,” Sean says, “I know you don’t want this leak to overshadow your book release, Rachel.”
             “No, I don’t. That would make me a Hood Housewife.” Marc looks at me confused.
Oh, don’t you dare look at me confused! You know what I’m talking about.
“Exactly,” Sean says, pretending to know what I'm talking about. “And Marc doesn't need to lose his federal contract over this. So, let's show a united front here. We say that Rachel's cellphone wasn't stolen, and any email or text messages released aren't legitimate.”
“Good job,” Marc says to Sean. And I swear I feel the wind of Adam's eyes as he closes it for an eye roll.
“With that being said,” Sean continues, “Marc and Rachel will have to act like nothing's wrong. You'll have to be seen in public together, happy. You'll have to go to your normal restaurants together and look affectionate. In other words, you'll have to look like you two looked a year ago. Happily married.” Marc and I drift our eyes over to each other. Sean's right. We both have too much to lose. We both have individual goals that we want to pursue, and, by golly, we need the other to make it happen. We've become so embedded in each other's life that we need the other to survive. He needs me just as much as I need him.
             But he wants Karla.
“I'm not good at pretending,” I tell the table, cutting my eyes back over to Sean. “I’m not good at pretending or making up lies,” I cut my eyes back over to Marc, “and stories.” I drift my eyes back over to Sean, believing Marc has received my point. 
             “You’re a fiction writer,” I hear Marc say.
             “Shut up, Marc.”
             “Yes,” Sean says, “Well, you’ll learn. Especially if you want to be a part of the entertainment business.” And I lean back in my seat because Sean’s right. But let’s not forget…
“I'm having Adam privately file for an official divorce,” I tell Sean and Marc. “He knows a judge who'll keep it private.” And for the first time, all night, I watch Marc's face lose it's cool reserve.
             “Why are we divorcing?” Marc has the nerve to ask. Did he just ask me that? Did Marc Isles just ask me why I was leaving his no-good, dirty-rotten, piece-of-shit, good-for-nothing, lying, cheating, and probably stealing ass? Did he just ask me that?
             “We’ve been living apart for three months. You’re screwing another woman, Marc.” Why do I have to remind him of this?
             “There’s more to that story, Rachel. And you and I both know it. And now, because you didn’t use the goddamn software I gave you to lock your phone, everybody’s about to know it.”
             “Doesn’t matter, Marc. You’re cheating on me—”
             “Our prenuptial agreement denies a divorce without us first trying to make it work.” What? He’s using that excuse?
“I'm listening to you, and you sound serious,” I say with a laugh. “I caught you with another woman tonight. I don’t give a damn about what my father had his lawyers write up.”
             “I wasn’t about to sleep with her tonight. And if you would’ve—”
             “But you did after you moved out, right? That’s the word on the street. You slept with Karla Watts. And I’m willing to believe you slept with her while we were still living together.”
             “There’s more to the story, Rachel,” he nearly whispers. He looks me over. And of course, as usual, the same burst of adrenaline that Marc gives me, every time he focuses his attention on me, floods through me.
             “No,” I say to him. “There isn’t—”

             “Rachel. You and I both know, there’s more to this story.”

Why Are We Afraid To Have It ALL?