Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 11: Everybody’s Talkin’ ’Bout
Part 3: Let’s Make a Deal (Final Revision)
Part 3: Let’s Make a Deal (Final Revision)
middle school. On their way to lunch, Ayla, Elle, and Melody observe a small teenage-looking girl getting harassed by what seems to be large adult men. Ayla watches the scene with horror. Melody stiffens up and tries to restrain herself from attacking the men. Elle scornfully explains, “Meet your new classmates, Ayla. Those are some of our varsity football players on sports scholarships sponsored by the steroid companies. They think they can get away with trying to rape a fifth-grader just because she had an early puberty.”
Ayla runs after the boys. “We gotta stop ’em!”
“Ayla! No!” protests Elle.
“Aw, screw it,” says Melody. She rushes the huge football players with a blood-curdling kiai. Terrified of Melody’s rage, they run off and abandon their sobbing victim.
Ayla hugs the girl. “Are you okay?”
“Thanks,” the girl says.
“By the way, I’m Ayla. I’m new here.”
“You look like someone I know.”
Uma gasps, “You know Leila?”
Ayla smiles and nods. Elle and Melody sigh in relief.
clinic. Charlie treats a sobbing wounded Harumi. “I hope you learned a lesson from this, Harumi.”
“Yeah,” Harumi sighs, “fangirls are evil.” Shira, Jennifer, Leila, and Schuyler laugh; Harumi smiles and blushes.
library. Shira, Jennifer, and Leila meet Polly and Brandi in closed session. Lorelei joins in just before Sally locks the door and hangs the “Do Not Disturb” sign. “Okay,” says Jennifer, “now that our fangirls have run out of steam, we can talk about tonight.”
“So are we going out?” asks Polly.
“Pizza Mafia’s giving us free pizzas to celebrate its delivery girl’s shocking victory over Minty Fresh, so Mudlark House it is. We want to get’em there by eight, so make sure to get there by then.”
Lorelei says, “I hear you’re celebrating with one of your infamous slumber parties, right?”
Jennifer winks. “You wanna come, you’re invited.”
“I’m unattached. I think I’ll come.” Lorelei smiles mischievously and blushes. The girls quietly laugh.
“So who’s got our secret guest list?”
Shira languidly waves a piece of paper in her hand. “There’s one more name I wanna add to it.”
“I hope it’s not anyone compromising.”
“No. I made her swear. She says she’ll join us for the weekend if we help her with a few problems.”
Loud static over the PA system says an announcement is coming. “Shira Thomas, please come to the office,” says the receptionist. “There’s someone who wants to see you as soon as possible.”
Shira swears under her breath. She gets up from her seat, takes a deep breath and then lets it out, takes on the calm she needs for potential battle with Falconer, and silently heads for the door. Jennifer and Brandi get up to join her at the door. Everybody’s eyes are on them as they go through the door; nobody says a word.
detention. Nancy wails and begs for help in one of the isolation cells. Karen protests, “You can’t just abandon her! This is an emergency. She needs help now!”
“Sorry, Miss Kubota,” says Assistant Principal Benson, “this is strictly an administrative matter now. She needs to be removed from this school if we don’t want our IPO to be a disaster.”
“She’s a human being, not an administrative problem!”
“You’re in America, Miss Kubota. Our Nation can only be strong if the weak are weeded out. The company is what counts. Deal with it.” Two guards grab Karen by the arms and drag her out. Benson snorts in contempt.
Beaten and scorned, abandoned in a dark cold cell, Nancy begins to deteriorate. At first the sounds are fuzzy and indistinct, but soon they resolve themselves into supernatural voices. They calmly echo everything Falconer screamed at her. They call her worthless and unworthy. They tell her that Leila Shelley must die so that Shira and Jennifer will be together forever.
hallway. “So what’s this all about?” asks Brandi once they’re out the library door.
“Knowing the administration as well as we do,” replies Shira, “our so-called friends in the police would be as good a guess as any.”
“If you’re in trouble, love, I’ve gotta be there to vouch for you. You’re too important to us.”
Shira winks. “Thanks.”
Shira, Jennifer, and Brandi walk together down the hall like the Wild Bunch heading for the arena. Students stare at them as if they were condemned criminals. As they pass their lockers, their crew of three becomes four. Leila says, “If this is what I think it is, I’m not leaving you for a second.”
Shira grins. “Thanks.”
Side by side, black brown and white, blond brunette and redhead, the four of them walk together toward the principal’s office on a mission.
classroom office. From the never-used room, Debbie calls the local number of the man she despises more than anyone else in the world about the woman they both want. Oliver Thorwald says, “Hel-loooo, Princess. Whatsoever may I do you for?”
Debbie suppresses her contempt. “Hello, Oliver. Someone is trying to murder your Intended.”
“Well, good on her.”
His glibly cheerful answer shocks the anger back into her voice. “She’s quite insane. Did you manipulate her? You’ve got the right kind of glib charm.”
“If it ain’t that, it must be sheer dumb luck.”
Contempt turns to cold hate. “You and cousin Christie are a lot alike.”
“Maybe you oughta introduce me to her.”
“No. I don’t think I will.” She abruptly cuts the call.
At his property, Oliver blithely remarks to no one in particular, “I think she likes me. Brinkman and Fleer just ain’t prestigious enough brands for an awesome guy like me. Yeah, I’ll aim upward.”
Debbie resists the temptation to throw her phone and carefully packs it away. “That man has got to die,” she says to herself. Then an idea exhilarates her. “No. I think I’ll steal his weapon instead.”
Oliver gets out of his chair to stretch and sighs with self-satisfaction. “An American’s gotta have his ambition, y’know.”
lobby. A crowd of mostly dark-skinned students blocks the office door. Leila sighs in frustration. “I thought we were done with fan trouble.”
Brandi says, “These fans ain’t no ’shippers, love.”
“Or the cops,” says Jennifer. “Looks more like some celebrity decided to alight here.”
“Hmmm,” muses Shira. “I see any hardly white kids there. Must not be cops.” She goes into the crowd yelling, “’Scuse me ’scuse me got business here lemme through!”
One black boy gets in front of him, points at her, and says incredulously, “It’s you?!” The whole crowd surrounds Shira and emits a deafening mass squee as if she were the celebrity.
Annoyed, Shira raises her voice. “Will you guys let me in? That means you especially, Kwame Jamal.”
“Okay.” Kwame Jones scurries out of the way.
Shira makes a megaphone with her hands to call for Leila, Jennifer, and Brandi. “Okay! Let’s see what they want!” They nod and follow her into the office.
seattle. Desiree follows the directions the mystery man gave her and finds him hiding in a collapsing garage in the North End ghetto owned by Seattle’s most notorious Nazi slumlord. He is a short man in a MIB suit, a blank Slender Man mask, and a Henry Becket fedora. “So what’s the business?” she asks.
In a scrambled voice he replies, “A matter of National Security. You don’t need to know.”
“So you’re paying me extra? Insuring the success of this kind of delivery costs money.”
“My client is willing to pay whatever it takes.” Middlemen like him only get this vague when their clients are either ultra-rich or untrustworthy. Usually both. “But insure the success of your delivery, the client wants me to inform you that your daughter is with them.”
Lucie?! She suppresses her surprise and anger. They took her hostage. How Stalinist. “I see. You’ll have to pay me double then, half in advance, right now.”
“You are indeed the professional they say you are. Very well.” He goes back into the workshop to retrieve the cargo and a briefcase.
She takes the cargo and puts it into her tote. He holds the briefcase so she can open it and count the money. She carefully analyzes a stack of $100 bills to make sure it’s genuine Federal Reserve, then returns it. She closes the briefcase and takes it. “One million. Your client is smart. I should thank them when I make the delivery.” The middleman says nothing more and withdraws back into the workshop. She leaves for the street.
She looks dangerous. The residents watch her warily. She walks the length of the alley to the street, then a few blocks down the street before she calls a taxi. The idea tortures her, but she waits till she is out of range of any potential parabolic microphones the middleman may have. By the time she reaches her preferred place, she cannot keep it in any longer. She whispers bitterly to herself: “Thorwald.”
principal’s office. “Everybody else out,” barks Falconer, “now!” Hordes of fans moan and complain; the less tactful ones blurt out obscenities and raise middle-finger salutes at the principals as the hall monitors herd them out. Only Shira, Leila, Jennifer, and Brandi are left to face the principals.
“I can tell from the crowd” — Shira looks back at the door — “that this is no ordinary trouble.”
Principal Principal gives her his I’m glad I’ll finally be rid of you smug smirk. He unconsciously wrings his fingers. “As a matter of fact, Miss Thomas, you’re in no trouble at all.”
Mobley has a fan’s sheepish grin. “He’s waiting for you in the executive office.”
“But he specifically requested you come alone. The rest of you must stay here. Have a seat.” He gestures Shira toward the back office. She stares at him for a few seconds. “Hmm?” She stares at him for a few seconds more, then leaves her friends.
The hall to the back office is dark. The door at the end is closed. Her danger sense tingles. She approaches slowly. She smells cigar smoke: not a good sign. At last she reaches the door. She opens it—
there, sitting in the executive throne with legs resting on the desk, puffing on a blunt Cuban—
She stares at him unsmiling for a seeming eternity. The richest and most powerful producer in rap sports the ultra-expensive mobster pinstripe suit and fedora he made famous in countless 1990s glam-rap videos, over a dozen gold chains, a crisply trimmed short beard on his bald head. For a man who came from New Orleans’ worst ghetto, he exudes more money than even the Reverend Creflo Dollar, preacher of the gospel of get-rich-quick. He only raps ghetto; offstage, his English is all business. He gestures her to sit. “Please. Have a seat.”
“Disappointed I’m not fangirling you?”
“Not at all.” He puts his feet on the floor and stands up to shake her hand across the desk. She finally sits down. “You pulled a star turn on poor Minty Fresh last night. You’re a superstar now. You’re way too cool for school. I’m here to take you into the big leagues.”
Shira narrows her eyes. “I’m not out careerin’ just yet.”
“Girl, you talkin’ to the greatest rap producer of all time, and you tellin’ me you’re quote-unquote not careerin’? Shira Miranda Thomas is the hot new thing in American pop right now. If I don’t sign you now, somebody else will. You’re a goddess now. Your days among the mundanes is over.”
“So if I sign the contract, yours or whoever’s, I’ll be infinitely rich, billions will worship me, the Eugenics Institute will be scared of me, and I’ll even get away with murder. The whole world will be mine. What could possibly go wrong.”the arena: Shira Thomas, superstar, stands on stage, multihued tattooed gangsterskin leather on her hands and feet, exotic feathers in her hair, tribal patterns painted on sweaty skin, draped in glittering gold-and-diamond jewelry, a living idol worshipped by the thousands of cultists screaming for her from the endless stands—the record store: Holding court like a monarch, she receives the adoration of worshipful strangers and extends her royal grace to the select few she shall gift with her autograph on her album covers and their bare skin—the catwalk: The hottest fashion designers from Milan, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong compete to put their most outrageous designs on her body; she exhibits them to the world, and whatever she chooses, the world chooses too—the red carpet: She clears the Hotlanta streets on her way to sweeping the BET Music Awards, adulated by celebrities, courted by the world’s richest men, surrounded by badass black bodyguards in MIB suits and shades. The world is hers.
“No.”the arena: She screams at the arena manager, “I told you, buster, you’re gonna give me the best designers and makeup artists, and you’re gonna foot the bill! You pay to bring me here, you better be prepared to invest! And I demand my pick of Russian sex-slave girls, and I want ’em blond!”the dressing room: Carefully she inhales long lines of cocaine off the mirror on the vanity. She can feel her ego inflate with each sniff, all the way to Titan size. She looks in the mirror and smiles at herself with absolute self-satisfaction.the mansion: Old friends from school try to visit her; she orders her bodyguards to beat them up and the cops to mistreat them on the way to jail. Her family try to re-establish contact; she casually betrays them to the Party as traitors. She feels no remorse.the news: She stares at the screen in horror as Amanda Currie cheerily reports that Leila Shelley, the love she abandoned for fame, has thrown herself off the Aurora Avenue Bridge, Seattle’s favorite suicide spot, to her death.
Jayzus stands up in shock. “What do you mean, no? No ain’t an option!”
“I’m making it an option. So no.”
His face hardens in cold anger. “I’m trying to protect you, girl. You don’t sign that contract, you’ll be committing the worst crime the Law’s got: Intellectual Property Violation. We got a patent on music, in effect till the end of time. You don’t join us, you be stealing from us.”
She gives him a subtle smile. “Patent trolling is the very foundation of America, the quicksand on which our Empire is built.”
He glares at her with undisguised hate and growls, “Then we’ll destroy you.”
“My lawyer’s preparing for her audience with Lord Mendelson as we speak. It’s been real.” Without another word, she turns and leaves.
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Copyright © 2012 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 4 Final, 10/5/12: revision notes here.]