Elliot Chan – The Network Executive
By Rock Kitaro
Training to become a Paramour was about what one expect from any covert Special Forces operation. Except, we learned Tai Chi and a form of kung fu called Wushu. Also, the training didn’t take place over some eight-week boot camp period, but over the course of three years by which, you have to maintain the appearance of an everyday civilian by progressing in your respective fields. For me, that was in the TV industry. I got an entry job at MBC straight out of college and began working my way up as a production assistant.
The Paramours had posts all over the world. However, our headquarters was in this big country house in the English county of Derbyshire, right along the Derwent River, not far from the Chatsworth Estate. Its official title was the Leigh Estate. But the Paramours called it, Hollow Rock.
Many of the actual facilities were underground and shielded from aerial coverage, such as the firing range, the armory, and it’s inventory of the most badass vehicles I’ve ever seen. The first time I saw the place, it was breathtaking, the beauty of its green luscious splendor. It was vast, remote, and serene with singing birds and the trickle of creeks. Everything had this quaint, old British feel to it like a step back in time. Peaceful and soothing. It was just what I needed to accelerate the healing process…by which I was able to move on from the murder of my adoptive parents.
I reconnected with “Jake” at Hollow Rock. His real name was Col. Jacob Buchanan, having served in the Gulf War and conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo. His story was a sad story. I mean…damn. But I’ll let him tell you himself. Jake became my closest friend and confidant. I told him what happened to Marvin and Sharon and he commiserated with me.
I remember one of my first conversations with him, after I went through the inaugural training sessions and my peers saw that there was more to me than meets the eye. We were walking along the stone bridge over the clear stream of the Derwent when I asked him something that’s been on my mind since I joined.
“Here’s my problem with the Paramours. It’s sort of like the superhero in a comic book. They foil the evil plan but they don’t kill, so the villains keep coming back. I don’t get that. It’s illogical. You said the Paramours don’t kill. To know that this secret society exists but no one’s doing anything to make them public? We don’t even turn them into the authorities, so they just keep on killin’ and ruinin’ innocent lives. Does no one feel guilty about all that?”
Jake, with his cold blue eyes and crew cut, stared out over the river.
“Elliot, do you know what a Paramour is? By definition, do you know what a paramour is?”
A question with a question. Friggin love those.
“It’s like a person’s who’s loved the most.” I answered.
“It’s an illicit lover, a secret lover to a married person. In that sense, I think Lord Byron named us precisely when he founded the brotherhood. Granted, not all of us are married or have ever been married, the key word her is love. You never met your mom. Do you love her?”
His questions were getting annoying.
“I don’t know. I guess.”
He scoffed, shaking his head at me like the rookie I was.
“It’s like this, Ellie. When you’re here, we train you, we give you the tools and trust you to assist your brothers out in the field. If you kill, if you choose to kill, you’re no longer a Paramour. You’re not one of us. Not in your heart. But once you’re put in a position where you have that choice and you choose not to kill, you’ll know what it means to be one of us.”
“Alright, I get what you’re saying. You can’t kill the woman you love, sure. But what if someone else, what if one of your comrades kills the woman for you? Because you can’t do it yourself, but you know, you know without a shred out of doubt that the bitch needs to die. Like, put down. For good!”
He started chuckling.
I threw up my hands. “You get what I’m saying, right? When does it end? How does it end?”
“The same way it always ends.” He told me.
“Well!? Let’s hear it!”
“I can’t tell you, son. You stick around long enough, you’ll find out for yourself.”
Anyways…Marcus Angel was also there. I couldn’t believe it. When I came to Hollow Rock he was still in a coma due to his extensive injuries and to be honest, his situation didn’t look good. He was shot multiple times. He had broken ribs and a fractured skull. He was on life support, costing the organization $5,000 a day but they had no intention of giving up on him. It was endearing, their level of compassion. Of course I wouldn’t find out until later how much everyone was depending on him to regain consciousness.
It wasn’t just military training that I learned over the course of three years. The Paramours were all about refinement, the stuff of gentlemen. The education, the in-depth history taught to me was more than I ever knew existed. I learned six different languages and took acting classes to both suppress my emotions and convey the right ones to elicit any response I wanted. The Paramours focused on stealth, intelligence, and tactics of subterfuge. Perception was everything and like a chess master, I was conditioned to think five moves ahead.
After three years of training, the Paramours started taking me on missions in the field. At first, it was just to observe and shadow other experienced members. My non-descript Asian appearance was extremely helpful. It didn’t matter what country I was in, there was something about me that whispered, “nothing special” or “harmless foreigner.”
Then came the first mission where I had a more pertinent role. It was in the summer of 2018. The leading Paramour was a revolutionary named Arsen Masol. My unit was posing as documentary filmmakers and I was the cameraman. Arsen’s mission was to provide the authorities with proof that deputies within the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) were being blackmailed and coerced to stay in the European Union.
What does this have to do with the Paramours? I had no idea. And honestly, I didn’t need to know. It was Arsen’s mission. He had his reasons and we were there to support him. I never doubted for a second that when the time came, my newfound comrades would assist me in my personal mission as well.
That’s the thing about us Paramours…we’re intensely loyal. When you’re in hostile lands or investigating in countries where things like due process and evidence are laughed at like bar jokes, everyone’s afraid. The fear of death or imprisonment was inevitable. But we weren’t alone. Our comrades were with us. They had our backs.
We’ve been shot at. We’ve been wounded. We’ve been caught. We’ve been killed. But no one has ever revealed our existence to the outside world. Even the Society didn’t know about us. The Paramours who were declared dead to the world could never leave Hollow Rock. That included men like Marcus Angel. Should he ever reappear, he’d jeopardize us all.
After five years of running with the Paramours, it was my turn to step up to the plate. It was a difficult decision that I knew would change my life forever. Once I crossed the threshold, there was no coming back. From here on out, I’d have to spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder. The Society wouldn’t stop until I was killed. That was the risk I was willing to take to find my mother.
If you were to ask me why I chose to do this, I honestly couldn’t pinpoint a solid answer. There’s just something about me that doesn’t feel complete. Yes, I was helping the Paramours and I felt like I was part of a team, a community, a brotherhood…But maybe I was still steamed about losing my adoptive parents. Maybe it was a lingering need for vengeance. Or something else…
It just wasn’t right, for this Society of militant feminists to go un-checked. I knew I wouldn’t be able to kill my mother. I just wanted to look into her eyes, unload all the pain and heartache she and her stupid little club inflicted, then she could slit my throat and I’d be fine with that. If anything, I was surprised the Paramours allowed me to go ahead with my plan. Because as sure as I write this, it’s exactly what I told them. And somehow, they understood.
Jaida Fong. My mother. She was a real piece of work.
Jaida Fong was the youngest of five children and the only daughter of a Chinese billionaire. That’s right. While I had to scrap for change and hustle just to afford a fifth floor apartment that I shared with loud, obnoxious roommates who stole my bottles of water, my grandfather was a transportation tycoon who could’ve bought up half of Manhattan.
That being said, no expense was spared on Jaida’s education. From Vancouver to Columbia University, Jaida was a treated like a princess who demanded the best of everything. Now I had to think for a moment. What the hell was she doing with some random peace worker in Dallas, Texas? It didn’t add up. Not for a normal person. But if you were a fucking rebel who’s sole purpose in life seemed to be disproving others who doubt you, I guess there’s some logic in that.
You see, Jaida was expected to work in the family business, to become a CFO or some accounting executive in Shenzhen. Somewhere along the lines, she met Richard Chan, a lowly Peace Corp volunteer and got pregnant. She never married Richard but stayed with him. I’m guessing soon after I was born, she completed her initiation to the Society by killing the man she loved the most in this world. That being, Richard Chan. Not me…her only child.
Since then, Jaida turned her attention to the entertainment industry, specifically film and television. Coincidentally, so had I. Rising up the ranks as a Content Producer, to Creative Director, and eventually Executive Producer, Jaida launched an empire of creating hit TV shows and movies to reach audiences in the billions, worldwide. She didn’t need her father’s wealth. She built her own. I’d even go so far as to say she didn’t need to be a high-ranking member of the Society to taste power. She was already feared and revered in the television industry. But the truth was, everything was connected.
It’s not like every idea she pitched was green-lit and approved by the studio heads. They were coerced, blackmailed, and extorted into approving her pilots and storylines. The Society was in on it.
Why was the Society in on it? Why did the Society care what Americans were watching? Well, if you even have to ponder these questions, then I suggest some serious soul reflection. It goes back to my time in film school.
Drawing on my experience of being bullied as a scrawny Asian, it was my opinion that one can affect change by showing the world something new TV, movies, and music. My classmates argued against this idea, holding steadfast to the belief that people weren’t so easily influenced. It was so stupid. But I understood what they were trying to say. They claimed that the gangs and culture on the street wasn’t created by art, but that art reflected reality. I wasn’t disputing that. I couldn’t.
However, my argument was that if you wanted to…IF YOU WANTED TO…anyone could fabricate a new reality if the medium was appealing enough. Hollywood had the power to influence what was or wasn’t cool. What was or wasn’t acceptable. And that’s exactly what my mother did.
For instance, in 2009, she created one of the most celebrated TV shows about a high school concert group where every show had some musical dance number. It focused on the more marginalized perceptions associated with high school dramas, drawing sympathy for homosexuals, transgendered students, kids who struggled with their identity and race and how they overcome those obstacles.
Sounds harmless, right? But what if people, specifically teenagers and the impressionable youth, started believing that high school, real life high school, should be like this fictional one?
In 2010, she created a program about a group of stereotypical nerds as a sitcom. It was a cute show in which you could hear the laugh track before the characters even finished their punch line. It garnered huge success with an average of over 15 million viewers an episode. People actually liked it. Who am I to judge, right? It’s a matter of taste. I just found it odd that every one of these male geeks had the hottest girlfriends. It’s almost propels the idea that hot sexy women actually desire effeminate wimps.
I know you’ll probably say, “Well, no Elliot. You’re just being narrow-minded. Maybe it’s not all hot women. But some do. And this show just focuses on those hot girls who do.”
Fair enough. I can’t dispute that. But again, that was in 2010. If you think those two TV shows were the fringe, the only ones promoting this idea of hot women getting with men who seem nearly devoid of that stuff they called “toxic masculinity”… I’d say, now who’s being narrow-minded?
One last point and I’ll move on, and that’s the rise of TV, movies, and books featuring the “strong female protagonist”. There’s been an explosion of open sexuality. As I’m sure you’ve noticed. It’s all up in your face, you can’t avoid it. Jaida Fong was the executive producer for a trilogy of films starring a strong female character where the outcome of society was determined more or less by her actions. Since then, scores of movies, books, and TV shows have come out with the strong heroine who ironically exhibits all the qualities of a traditional true grit male, while the men were portrayed as incompetent, doting fools, lost if not for her, content with being doormats, a rung in their ladder.
And here’s the thing, at first I was honestly cool with the trend of heroic female protagonists. I’m a film student, remember. But as the years went by, I saw how it was having a detrimental affect on our culture, my generation. Everything became too one-sided. Too gynocentric. It seemed everything revolved around women. I suspected that maybe, that’s the way its always been only now were my eyes open.
Male apathy was a side effect. The ambition or drive to conquer and overcome had diminished. The increased pressure for females to stand up and take the lead in the workplace and relationships was also self-evident. And probably the most glaring symptom was the massive wave of confusion spread amongst my peers. Hollywood kept telling us that we can do this or do that, oblivious to the idea that most human beings aren’t like and will never be like the extraordinary main characters of a story.
Not every woman can be the strong “independent” female. Nor does everyone want to be. Some women actually want to be taken care of, to prioritize their husband and children over society’s coveted “successful career.” And for the men who were raised to be strong, protective leaders, what are they to do with themselves when they feel like they’re no longer accepted or wanted in today’s civilization? The results? It’s a stalemate. It’s the 8th grade dance where women are on one side and men stick to the other. And I’m talking about responsible normal adults here. Not the bad boys or the top 20% of males that 80% of women were attracted too.
The rate of children born out of wedlock soared. Irresponsible men left the household as expected, leaving the children, boys and girls to be raised by their mothers and the state. The state, which will forever pander to women because they make up the majority of the population, a majority of the vote. Thus, women rule the world. The western world, at least. And that’s not a complaint. Just an acknowledgment.
As President of Production for the AABC broadcasting network, Jaida Fong was the chief architect in engineering all of this. Her minions included best-selling novelists, award winning show-runners, and a whole stable of actresses and singers who used their celebrity as a platform to exploit White Guilt with words like “bigotry” and “white privilege,” shaming everyone, ruining the careers of anyone who disagreed with them. Some were even driven to suicide after they lost everything. Some became addicted to antidepressants and others simply gave up the pursuit of the American dream.
All of this…I knew all of this going in to meet my mother for the first time.
I remember everything about that night as if it happened just yesterday. My heart was racing. Sweat mustered under my collar. I was one of twenty writers sitting around a conference table during a content meeting. This was the semi-annual meeting that would determine which shows our network would produce for the upcoming TV season.
Yes, after working my way up from a production assistant, to stage manager, I was finally a show writer. Everyone around the table looked like friends. Actually, they all looked related. For an industry preaching diversity, I found it odd that everyone talked, dressed, and behaved the same way. What’s the point of “racial diversity” if everyone’s ideology and code of ethics mirrored each other? Harmony? I dunno.
The meeting began promptly at 6pm with an executive producer running the show. The agenda was to go like this: One by one, we’d progress around the conference table and pitch our TV shows to the producers and before moving on, we’d discuss it to see if it was viable, if there was an audience for it, or if our clients, the advertising companies would find it lucrative enough to market in it.
Then…at approximately 6:13pm, the glass doors opened. In walked five individuals. The network heads. One of them was wearing a satin green cocktail dress with high heels that clacked like marbles slapping the hard floor.
“My God,” I thought. Looked like she hadn’t aged a day in her life. She was of average height, not too short, not too tall. Contrary to the imposing dominance I always believed she’d exude, Jaida appeared humble and kind. Her smile was so bright and optimistic. She glanced around the room as if she was the one who was honored by our presence. I confess…my eyes watered up to the point of weeping and in that moment I almost forgot I was a Paramour. Nothing about this woman seemed dangerous, sinister, or violent. She was beautiful. She was my mother.
The city lights glittered as night fell. One by one, we pitched our ideas. There were nine ahead of me before I could get my turn and each person ate up about a half hour discussing their premise. Everyone thought they had the next big idea when really, they were just giving the executives what they wanted, what they knew would sell, like turning classic movies into a TV show, or spin-offs, or cashing in on a trend with an established fan base. There was nothing original. No courage in their creativity. But everyone laughed and applauded as if it was all so groundbreaking and new.
I observed Jaida like a science experiment. I studied her every twitch, the way she breathed, how she fiddled with her fingers, the way she played with her hair, the way she tugged the neckline of her dress, how she sipped from her dakari. I noted the inflexion of her voice and the way she reacted to stupid suggestions with a soft smirk. She feigned surprise as if she had never been in such a meeting where people were just waiting to pucker up and kiss her ass.
She stressed that we needed to be mindful of the current political climate. She openly asserted that the president of the United States and his horde of white nationalists were determined to regain control of this country and overturn everything progressives worked hard to accomplish over the years. Thus, this new season of programming needed to be powerful. It needed to be entertaining, but persuasive and engaging, providing the marginalized with a voice that would educate the majority.
Around nine o’clock dinner was brought in. We took a break and ate together, the executives and us lowly grunts. Jaida asked the more charismatic (outspoken) writers about their background and aspirations. I wondered if she even knew I was there. In the first three hours, she probably glanced at me maybe once.
Also, Jaida wasn’t the only member of the Society present. One of her assistants interrupted the dinner to bring her note. I recognized this assistant. She was young, black, gorgeous, and had the aura of someone who was more important than the courier role she portrayed. The first time I saw her was in Berkeley. She was dressed in all black along with the rest of Antifa during the protest of a conservative Alt-Right speaker. She was the one who threw the first punch that instigated an all-out brawl in the middle of the street. She was incredible. By herself, she must have laid out like five dudes.
Everyone thought she was a guy because her hood was on, but I was on a rooftop conducting surveillance. When the police came, throwing tear gas to disperse the crowd, I watched as this woman casually walked behind a row of bushes, took off her hood and strutted off as if she was just an innocent student caught in the madness. I wouldn’t find out till later that this woman’s name was Celeste, a formidable enforcer with the Society.
And if Celeste was at the meeting, I was sure there were more. That’s okay. I anticipated it. As everyone ate from their trays of take-out sushi, I scanned the office area outside our conference room. It was way past closing hours but there were at least seven ladies still sitting at their computer stations. Two locked eyes with me and I had to play it off as if I was just shy and awkward.
The anxiety was killing me. My intestines could not screw any tighter. Several times I caught myself just staring at my pen for well over a minute without blinking. As the long hand on the clock moved ever so slowly, my worse fears began to bubble up. What if it got too late? At any moment, I expected Jaida to be like, “Whelp. It’s getting late. Why don’t the rest of you guys type your treatments and send them to us in an e-mail.”
I’ve waited my entire life for this moment. And hearing these bastards pitch the same shit over and over again was more than I could stand.
At last, it was exactly 11:07 when it was my turn to speak. All eyes on me. Jaida and the network heads were exhausted and worn out but I could tell there was something about me that intrigued them. Everyone else was so full of vigor and excitement, but when my name was called, I stared almost in a catatonic state. My mouth slacked opened to speak, but words failed me. I thought I was about to have a heart attack.
“It’s okay. After Jessica hit us with the exploding nutsack joke, I think we handle whatever you’ve come up with.”
Those were the first words my mother ever said directly to me. Not exactly what I hoped it would be. I wasn’t looking at her. Not at first. My hands rose up as if I was carrying a priceless vase. Then I spoke.
“Sometimes taking life seriously, the pain of starting from the bottom and working your way up, it makes the reward of success much more satisfying. Anyone can ride a helicopter to the top of a mountain. But to climb it yourself and reach the top, that accomplishment is a gift no one could ever give you. Only you can achieve this for yourself. No one else.”
One could hear a pin drop in the room.
“Ladies and gentlemen, what I have for you is an eight-part miniseries. It’s a mystery thirty years in the making. And it all starts deep in the heart of Texas.”
My eyes landed on Jaida. She had no fucking clue. I wanted to watch as the realization washed over her. I wanted to savor it.
“A child, a baby is left sitting on the cold tile floor. Directly in front of him is a man, the handle of a knife sticking out of his chest. He’s gurgling. He’s choking. He’s gasping for air. He’s bleeding out. Then, all the sudden, a woman in a cocktail dress and high heels comes into view. She throws herself on him, forcing him out of the chair, stabbing him over and over again. This child, this baby, this toddler witnesses everything. He remembers everything! The last thing he sees in this traumatizing scene is the woman, callous and cold, coming over to stand over him with the bloody knife. She doesn’t kill him. Instead, she drops the knife at the child’s feet and walks out of his life.”
Everyone’s staring at me like I’ve lost my mind. I know. There’s nothing tasteful or entertaining about this story. One by one they start firing off question after question about what the baby does, who the woman is, or what’s the conflict in the story. They ask why the woman killed the man. Why did she drop the knife? Why didn’t she take the baby out of the room first?
They say no woman would ever do that. They say my story doesn’t make sense. I didn’t blame them. They were right. It didn’t make sense. And suddenly…I saw the real Jaida.
She was no longer smiling. With her legs crossed, she sat back with this inquisitive look. Not anger or disappointment. She didn’t seem scared or nervous, but more so, curious. It was so hard to tell whether she understood the implications or not. For a moment, I began to doubt if she really was my mother.
It got to the point where everyone just started debating my story without me, when finally Jaida asked, “What inspired you to write this story?”
The room silently awaited my answer.
“Ma’am, I’m from Texas. A military couple out of Fort Hood adopted me. They told me this urban legend about a bloody baby who was found not far from a mansion that burned down in Dallas. For some reason the story always stuck with me. In fact, you could say I’ve been waiting my entire life to tell it to ya.”
“To me?” She asked.
“Would everyone give us the room? Actually. Lets call it a night and pick this up around ten o’clock tomorrow morning. How’s that sound?” Jaida suggested.
It’s not like they were going to say no. As everyone packed up, I stayed put. As did she.
When the last one left the room, Jaida got up, her heels clacking on the hard polished floor. She pulled out the chair next to me and sat down. Her perfume was intoxicating. She seemed so young, like she could have been my older sister. Her facial expressions were so hard to read. But so badly, I wanted to believe she was actually impressed with me.
With her legs crossed and one elbow on the table, she examined me thoroughly. I said nothing but my heart and stomach were making all kinds of noises.
“Are you the baby?” she asked.
I threw a glance outside the conference room. All seven ladies were still at their workstations. All of them were watching at me like hawks on the perch.
“It’s Mrs. Fong. If you please.”
“Yeah, I’m gonna go ahead call you Jaida if you don’t mind.”
She started snickering and nodded. “Oh dear… Okay. Go on.”
“Why’d you kill ‘em?” I asked.
She squinted, still wearing that sophisticated smirk.
“Don’t worry, I’m not wearing a wire,” I assured her.
“Oh, I’m not worried. Not for my sake, anyways. Hmm… Where do I begin? You see, China’s a complicated place for a woman of my making. That’s my delicate way of saying I hated it. To my father, I was nothing but a bargaining chip. He never loved me. He never saw me as a child or a daughter. My education, the pampering, the royal treatment was all to mold me. To make me a suitable wife to whomever he saw fit. I had no say in the matter, or so he thought.
“On top of all that, China implemented the Family Planning Policy. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Families could only have one child per household. It was the government’s idiotic plan to curb the surging population blamed for diminishing our natural resources. Herein lies the rub. Men carried on the family name. So, men were the desirables. Women…Millions of little girls died. Families slaughtered daughter after daughter until they were able to conceive a son.
“My family didn’t have to go through such an ordeal because we were wealthy. But I’ll never forget my visit to Leshan in the Sichuan province. I was fifteen, traveling with my class, all of us privileged and oblivious to the world outside our comfortable diamond crusted bubbles. We were on a boat, rowing up the Min River to see Leshan’s Giant Buddha. And there, floating at the surface of the river like discarded trash were dozens of dead little girls. When I told my father about it, he laughed. I’ll never forget.”
I saw the fire in Jaida’s. They glossed over like she was about to cry but she didn’t.
“When I met Richard, he was so very different from the materialistic corporate climbing men I grew up with. He really believed he could make a difference with the Peace Corp. He was convincing. Or rather, I let myself be convinced. I fell in love and I got pregnant. When my father found out, he cut me out of his inheritance and disowned me. What little money I had left was used to buy that crappy mansion in Dallas.
“You ask why? Why I killed him? I don’t know. I suppose a simple life of domesticity just didn’t suit me. I have no regrets about what happened. Everything I’ve done was for the betterment of our society. I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish anything if I was stuck being some soccer mom, going to PTA meetings or working some dead-end job. Ugh! Fuck that. FUCK THAT!”
She abruptly stood up and paced around. Every time she turned her back, I glanced outside the room. I was in danger. I could feel it.
“So what do you want? Hmm? You think you’re entitled to what I have? You think I owe you something for missed birthdays? What?”
I stood up and shook myself loose, “You know it’s interesting. I asked you why you killed ‘em. I wasn’t talking about Richard Chan. I was talking about Marvin and Sharon. My real parents. The ones who did what you were too fucking selfish to do.”
She tried to slap me, but I grabbed her wrist mid-swing and turned her around, bringing her close. I was about to whisper something badass in her ear, but Jaida was stronger than she looked. She elbowed me in the chest, stomped my foot, and while I was hunched over, she shoved my face into the edge of the table.
I rolled to the floor, spilling blood from a chipped tooth. In the corner of my eye, I saw the ladies coming over from their workstations. Jaida raised her hand to stop them.
“Yeah, you’re my son alright.” She said as she straightened herself out. “But it’s ten years too soon for you to ever! Ever! Think! You can beat! Me!”
She kicked my stomach with each exclamation. And suddenly I started laughing. You know, like a lunatic.
“Yeah, you’re my mother alright!” I chuckled. “Its just too bad you hit like a fucking girl!”
Before she could kick again, I wrapped my arms around her legs and with all the strength I could muster, I picked this bitch up and ran to shove her through the glass walls of the conference room. At once, all seven ladies drew Glocks from their suit jackets and aimed at me.
Suddenly, the power went out. A blackout. The ladies opened fire but they didn’t hit anything. Emergency lights came on just in time for them to see me booking it down the wide-open hallways. The polished floors were slick. Stopping on a dime was impossible. I had to damn near hook my arm around a pillar to turn corners.
“Stop. Use the elevator.”
It was Jake. He was speaking to me through my earpiece. The Paramours were here. They had my back. It was the Paramours who cut power to the building. It was the Paramours who gave me the high-spec sunglasses that allowed me to see in the dark. Everything was going according to plan.
“The doors should open manually. It’s your best bet. A package is on the roof just three floors up. Just like we rehearsed.”
In Jake, I trust. I could hear the hard clacking of footsteps closing in and I’m sure I would have heard the same if I opened the stairwell. Jaida was a high-ranking member after all. I doubted they’d just leave her protection to seven cronies who were so stupid they’d open fire in a dark room, pretty much taking the absurd risk of shooting Jaida.
I reached the elevator door and pried my fingers through the crease to get them open. There was no lift, just an open shaft all the way at the bottom floor. But the plan wasn’t to use the lift. I pulled out rubber gloves with thick padding made from the same stuff used to make tires. I jumped, grabbed the cable wire, and started climbing.
Calm and steady was the way to go. I didn’t fear death. Should I slip and plummet, it was well worth it just to confront my mother. I was halfway to the top floor when suddenly I smelled something sweet. Like perfume. I looked down in horror expecting to see someone climbing up after me. Then I look to my left. There, on the second cable was Celeste with her long eyelashes and that whimsical smile.
“Hey boo.” She said casually before kicking me, digging her sharp-ass heels into my hip. It felt like a fucking knife. As I hunched over, hanging on to the cable wire for dear life. She grabbed me by the back of my neck and curled me closer. She was trying to strangle me with some length of rope but I wrestled free and elbowed her in her face.
“Motherfuck…No you did not just hit my goddamn face!”
I swear. The bass in her voice put the fear of God in me. She latched onto the cable I was climbing and grabbed me by the ankle. She started pulling me down and I’m telling you, her strength was no joke. I’m not sure what kind of training they had, but it was ridiculous. My hand was starting to slip out of my super-grip tire gloves. I had no choice but to shove-kick her as hard as I could in her face.
She whimpered and let go. I looked down and somehow, her leg wrapped around the cable fifty feet down. She dangled like a toy on a pull-string before willing herself back to an upright position. By then, I was at the top and kicking open the air vent to get out onto the roof.
The biting wind and starry sky was a sight for sore eyes. There was a helicopter on the helipad but that wasn’t my ticket out. I ran down a set of steps and saw two female snipers passed out from tranquilizer darts, no doubt fired by the snipers on my team.
Around the corner, there was a “Break Glass In Case of Emergency” case where a fire hose was rolled up. I broke the glass and clawed out the hose. Behind it, was a package that looked like a backpack. With the tug of the ring, wings for a hang-glider fanned out. A simple breeze pulled with such force. As if my adrenaline wasn’t already pumping full throttle.
I looked back. My mother was standing atop the steps on the helipad. Power came back, lighting us up in dramatic fashion. It was awesome. She was smiling. So was I.
“I don’t know who you’re working for but you should know that I’m going to find you.”
I remember scoffing. She was in the TV business but that was the best line she could come up with? Then, Celeste came bursting through the doors, so I said delivered my retort with one foot off the ledge.
“Yeah but I found you first. So I win!”
I heard gunshots whisper in the wind. It was probably Celeste. She was pissed. I really hope I never run into that one again. But my mother. She really is amazing. I know this sounds silly, but I really don’t mind dying if it’s by her hands. That would be the greatest. I guess…I guess I really am a Paramour.