SHORT STORY 5
N A T A L I E - P O R T M A N - & - I
None of this happened. You are not even reading this.
I hadn't checked my
professional e-mail in a long time and to my surprise there was a message
in the Inbox titled, "An inquiry into your artwork and writing."
I cringed. Mostly likely this was just another hopeless kid with some rhetorical
question about nothing. So as I opened it, I glanced aside and back-tracked
over my day. I'd just gotten home from returning a DVD, and the humid streets
were vacant just like every other fucking night. All Is Lost, had been a film
about some guy alone at sea after his yacht had capsized. I'd decided to watch
it after finishing the artwork for Chapter 6 of Part 2 of my Bark trilogy.
So I'd reached the official half way point for the art of the three books.
And with the absence of company, there was no celebration, there was only
continuation. It was Sunday, May 25th 2014, the European Elections had been
today. I didn't vote. I've never voted a single time in my entire thirty-six-years
of life. Not once in all the countries I've lived, or even those places I
could've voted while abroad. Some people cry bloody murder at my ignorance,
and accuse me of therefore having no say in how anything is run at all. I've
found this curious on many levels. First, freedom is the freedom also not
to partake. Second, is voting merely an excuse to then complain endlessly
no matter who gets elected? Third, the basic concept of voting for a democracy
hasn't changed since I was young enough to realize that all politicians are
professional liars, like lawyers, and absolutely anyone else who gets paid
to speak. The idea that simply once you've cast your vote, you can then maintain
some form of control over that particular liar in office, seems ludicrous.
Throughout history, political parties do whatever they like once the power
has been granted to them, completely regardless of their promises and ideals.
And of course, when they actually blatantly compromise their original goals,
no one ever truly holds them to account anyway. Unless there's a revolution,
but how often does that shit seriously happen in the western world? Yet people
continue having faith in a system full of the illusion of control, for the
arrogantly hopeful validation of their individual importance. How often have
I heard former politicians admit that once they were voted in, their top priority
automatically became focused on staying in power, no matter what they had
to say. I do admire their Machiavellian way of thinking. But I have never
bought into voting for the same reason I ignore adverts selling cigarettes
with that promise 'cool'. So I finally turned to my e-mail and leaned back
in my desk chair. Initially I assumed it was spam, especially with how it
started, "I write to you on behalf of Natalie Portman."
Yeah, yeah, fuck off already. However, as I scanned the message I took notice
of certain buzz-words (in my world at least). I finished reading it and looked
out my open window that was framed with those green vines around that abyss
beyond. And then I read it again. I was sure the thing was utter shit, but
once I read it properly, I paused a little longer. Then clicked 'reply'. All
I said was, Too bad it's too late.
Fucking bullshit spam. I went and made myself a cup of Earl Grey while listening to the score to The Hours. By the time I sat back at my desk, I found I already had another message in my Inbox. Again from Sasha Marber at IMC Agency. With a cocked and suspicious eyebrow, I opened the message. It was brief, asking why it was too late, as they were still in Berlin till tomorrow morning. I drank my tea slowly. Fine, I'll play this little game, it's not like I really had any other plans this evening – except Bark. Always with Bark. Nothing going on in my life but Bark. So I replied.
After ten minutes of on-line chit-chat, I was then out my door and walking toward the closest taxi-stand. What can I say, her argument convinced me. I'm a sucker. But ultimately, I had nothing to lose, like whenever you meet a random new girl, it could be interesting or it could be nothing. At least it got me outside again.
As I sat in the taxi, heading to Mitte (central Berlin), on my headphones I was listened to Soulfly, No Hope = No Fear. The situation got me thinking about the whole idea of voting again. Reminding me how nothing I've ever done has really amounted to shit. I remembered the end of last year when I was in London, after I'd just left the British Museum and walked past Saint Paul's Cathedral, and then down Fleet Street at rush hour. There I'd suddenly been reminded of a similar thought I'd been captivated by in 1998 when I lived in Tokyo. In Japan I'd been surrounded by such vast masses of people all hurrying by, and I knew none of them personally. That entire city and country ran like clockwork, and I didn't even need to exist for it to continue functioning self-sufficiently. And if I didn't need to be there, then what did it matter if I made one or two of these complete strangers also vanish? Is that any more profoundly random than this physical body I was born into? I had no say into whom I was born, and yet by that inherent birth-right, I still had no say in which nationality I was also labeled. Now, I'm a healthy, tall, white, British male, but I had absolutely no control over a single aspect of this constitution. Just as I'm also branded as stereotypically 'privileged' with nothing to complain about – compared to some in the world. Yet white-guilt is only the victim-thinking of others. I feel no more burden than anyone does about the fact that their bowels create shit without a conscious thought involved. But still, I was born into this body and situation, and am lucky enough to have the opportunity to vote. So it's all about luck. And to believe in luck is tantamount to fatalism. So where does free-will or the power to vote come into the illusion of history? We are little more than insects. You say voting can change the world. Yet all men seek only to better themselves. Altruism is for juveniles. Like religion, elections have the same hindsight-bias: when something good happens, it's preordained – but when a tragedy occurs, just look for a scapegoat and rationalize it all away. My consciousness was a parasite on the surface of my reptile brain – which was what was really driving the taxi while my consciousness was just a passenger. I'm an insect responding to stimuli, the mere sum of my past experiences, who had no say in what body I was born into, and had no choice in what I became or where I was going. So I followed my true-will to see where this spiral would take me. However, if I'm wrong, then what does that make me in the eyes of my prosecutor who looks so self-righteously down at my life-choice? He'd agree that I'm nothing but a parasite on society. But I'd take it a step further, I'd say that all artists are parasites. Beyond the precept of creating beauty, artists serve no greater use to the survival of the species. They live upon the efforts of others. Like all parasites. Yet if my art seeks only ugliness, then I must be the worst kind of fucking parasite. Fundamentally, a good parasite wants to live symbiotically with its host. Malaria doesn't actually want to kill you, or it dies too. Actually, I am more like cancer: creating shit no one wants with the sadistic goal of seeing everyone suffer. Why should I hope for anyone to better themselves? In fact, why should I struggle to even better myself? I'm already a white male. I rule this fucking planet! My life is fucking perfect! Like a fucking politician in power, I merely seek to perpetuate my term. Every day I laugh at everyone else, because I know even if I fail at everything, I'll still be a white male, and that makes me better than all of you – because you fucking say I am! You've put me on an infallible fucking pedestal. So I feel no pain, no self-pity, and therefore no fucking compassion. I'm a parasitical-cancer of the worst kind on my way to meet Natalie fucking Portman. My fucking life can't get any fucking better than this fucking bullshit!
The taxi dropped me off outside of the hotel Adlon Kempinski, right next to Brandenburger Tor. Grinning to myself, I glanced across the street at the public bench that I'd sat upon on Valentine's Day 2006 with my fiancée at the time. Back then I'd heard that Portman was in town for the release of one of her block-fucking-buster piece of shit films. Like all motivations, I had my own agenda in bringing my girl out there with the pretense of a romantic lunch under the sun. And yet now, eight years later, here I was, standing on the curb just before midnight, glaring into those five-star golden lights. Invited or fooled, it didn't matter at that point, all I really wanted was a fucking coffee. The old bellhop was giving me a weird look as I stood outside like a drunk about to vomit, when I then spotted someone inside who suddenly raised her arm, waving like an excited kid in class who knew all the right fucking answers. I couldn't help but look around the empty sidewalk in case she was calling to someone else. Nope. It was me. The fifty-year-old woman in a crimson Chanel suit came out with one of those all-American smiles, so huge it was a wonder her cheeks didn't fucking explode while crushing her dilated eyeballs, "Bruce! Bruce, my dear! Such a pleasure to finally meet you. I've heard so much. Come inside. Come inside!"
So this was Sasha. She acted like a long lost aunt desperate to ejaculate years of built up love and affection all over my face within the first thirty seconds of our acquaintance. Americans. Shaking hands, I didn't think I got to say a single word as she dragged me inside, her arm hooked around my elbow. This was a chick who clearly always got shit done her way. I glanced at the bellhop and we shared a moment of what-the-fuck, and then I was plunged into a world of expensive-perfume-soaked air-conditioning, soft piano-like-elevator-music, and hotel staff dressed in uniforms looking more elite than some countries combatants. Sasha led me across that enormous lobby to some sofas near a bar, explaining that we were a little ahead of schedule so we could just relax for the time being. Am I early? Seriously, I missed her e-mail by a fucking week, and it's midnight just before Monday morning. What kind of fashionably-fucking-late schedule are they going by? Anyway, I ordered a coffee and sat in that marsh-mellow of a leather armchair across from Sasha, as she let loose a machine-gun-monologue upon my senses. Mostly she went on about their hectic travel plans, and something about some new song hitting the charts in the States. Some horseshit that I'd never fucking heard of. My pop-music trivia died when I stopped watching MTV. I'm so ignorant, I know. How do I sleep at night? After I finished my latte macchiato, I was distracted by a metallic Hummer pulling up outside the front windows. Two Arabic girls in long obsidian dresses and fur shawls then stepped out of that wide-load vehicle. A fat fuck rag-head soon entered the hotel ahead of the girls, and some servant followed like a good slave-boy, carrying two tiny mutts in his grasp. Whoever said equality was a good thing, sure wasn't sitting on top of the food-chain. Sasha kept reeling off, while I focused on those two barely-legal babes in skin-tight silk flicking their smooth hair as they sat upon the sofas right next to ours. One of them glanced my way with one of those who-the-fuck-do-you-think-you-are expressions. I however, lowered my eyes to her fake tits, and then compared hers to the second girl's cleavage, before returning to her eyes. She was undoubtedly insulted, and that made me happy. So I zeroed-in on the other girl again, just to rub it in. That's when some part of my brain realized Sasha was waiting for an answer. She'd finally asked me an actual fucking question, "So? How did you meet Leslie?"
" Leslie?" I asked quietly. "Who's that?"
"Barany. Leslie Barany. Who introduced you two?"
Bewildered, I frowned, when an average Joe in a forgettable suit strolled over. Sasha jumped up and rattled-off like a parrot at this sorry-for-himself-looking dude, who didn't so much as acknowledge me. Sasha abruptly excused herself for some fucking reason or other, and then this guy turned directly toward me, "Sir, you must be Mr. Knox."
I stood and shook his hand. Instantly, I knew this guy was part of someone's security detail. He spoke with one of those clear American accents, articulating himself in a very non-intrusive manner. The kind of guy who could probably break my neck in two seconds if given the order. A real professional. This whole situation had me playing my cards close to my chest, but this dude wasn't interested in small-talk like Sasha. His name was Jack, and he apologized while he informed me that I only had to wait for a few more minutes. He too then excused himself. So polite. Definitely ex-military. So I ordered another coffee and sat comfortably near those two whores thumbing the shit out of their iPhones. I started to wonder if this was all a set-up, a bad joke, someone was fucking with me, trying to get my hopes up and then laugh when I find out I'm sitting with my dick in my hand. Well, I hadn't seen MTV in years, maybe this is the new Punk'd. Get idiots to think they're meeting a famous person, just to pull their pants down on national television. Anything for the ratings. Entertainment has always been utterly unscrupulous. But the more I thought about it, the more logical this theory seemed. It was a lot more understandable than what I'd been told so far. Which wasn't a lot. What would Occam's razor have said? An old guy then stepped over, asking if I had a light, as he sat down across from me. With his cravat and spectacles, he reminded me of one of those jolly old chaps who solved murder mysteries on the Nile back in the nineteenth century.
"Do you visit here often?" he asked in his gentlemanly English, while flagging down a waiter.
"First time," I replied, watching as three taxis arrived all at once. Several young adults then stumbled into the lobby, all high on whatever the fuck the kids snort in the bathrooms of clubs these days. I'm sure if I said their doing 'speed', the tweens of today would all face-palm and tweet about what a fucking Neanderthal fuck-tard I was. But no, now they'd all grunt on about how no one says 'fuck-tard' anymore!
"Oh, you must see the wall while you're here," Grandpa Bob stressed. "The history, it's all so recent, it's practically visceral."
"You mean The Great Wall?" I mocked.
"My lord, you're thinking of China. Where were you educated, my boy?"
"Oh, wow. You look really different with hair," she said with a smile – and I looked up and found the one and only Natalie Portman walking straight toward me...
That old prick and I both rose to our feet as Natalie approached.
"Didn't realize this was a date, my lad. I'll leave you to it, then." And that brother of Santa Claus wandered off, still in search those long-forgotten matches.
"When did you grow the fro?" Natalie asked, as I shook her hand.
"Since I went celibate, in January," I replied. "And you sure are a fuck-load shorter in reality."
"I know, the camera adds two feet," she giggled, slowly looking me up and down.
"Well, why don't you just objectify me a little more."
"Not intimidated, are you?" she winked, as I stared at her wet lips. Let me just repeat that. Natalie Portman fucking winked at me!
"You can eye-fuck the shit out of me all you like – as long as you buy me a drink first," I mentioned, taking half a step back. Titling my head, I stroked my chin as I overtly gave her wee petite body the once over. She wore slip-ons, jeans, and a casual blouse. "I've had worse."
Natalie literally laughed out loud like a gun shot, and then punched me in the shoulder.
I won't deny my head was flooded with a rush of chemicals.
"You really know how to impress a gal," she said, still beaming with that massive smile of hers.
"It's not my fault, I have this disease, you see. It's called the Bruce-charm. It's terribly infectious. Condoms are useless," I admitted, glancing back at those two sluts both pretending not to watch us. "Say it with me: Bruce, you're so fucking charmmmming. Say it."
"I was already going to mention, I thought I saw Prince Charming in the guest book when I arrived. Now the pieces of the puzzle are coming together," she played along.
"Yeah, it's me. Don't tell anyone or I'll punch your face in."
"Hmm, charming." She paused. "Indeed."
"Isn't that why I'm here?" I whispered, wondering where her bodyguard was lurking. "You sure didn't invite me for my looks. Have you fucking seen my hair? Do you think I want to fucking look like this?!"
"Yeah, what went wrong there?" Natalie nodded her head. "Going for the mad-professor-look or something?"
"No, no, no. It's the I-just-made-sweet-sweet-love-to-the-wall-socket-look. Trust me, it's big in Milan. Sixty-four-thousand volts of awesome," I calmly confessed, just as my coffee arrived. "Want to sit?"
"Actually, we can have drinks in my suite," she suggested. "Shall we?"
"Oh, see. There, you can be charming," she chuckled.
"I won't lie, Natalie. Not to you," I said while following, "But I'm afraid that your ass of yours, it looks fat in those jeans!"
She instantly turned her head, mouth gasping in shock. I wish I had a photo. Priceless!
"Just saying. Radical honesty. It's the destruction of every healthy relationship known to man."
We stepped into a lift, and the doors shut. Natalie stood side-on to me as she said, "It's actually really nice to meet you. Totally not what I was expecting."
"We could do this whole thing again if you like. I'll play the shy, introverted artist, afraid of his own fucking shadow. I'll even piss my pants when we first meet. But scat, now that'll cost you extra."
Again she burst into laughter, and that's when I caught my first sniff of her hair. Mmmmmmm. She smelt goooooooood.
Down a pretty corridor we went.
"It's just, you seem very... Inaccessible from your artistic profile."
"Inaccessible? Me?" I scoffed. "You're the fucking movie star here. And you of all people should really know better. Appearances can be deceiving. Just like this whole thing right now. So really, why am I here?"
"Wait. What? Didn't Sasha tell you?"
"She said a lot of not much."
"Oh, this is embarrassing." Natalie stopped dead in the corridor, and glanced about the lush carpet as if she had suddenly become all timid and uncomfortable. "See, I have this addiction. It's actually a medical condition. My family totally understands and supports me... But you see... I'm a sex-addict..."
"Oh, well. No problem," I laughed. "For a second there I thought you were going to say you eat the souls of new born babies – just like my last girlfriend did."
We both smirked, arriving at her door.
"But seriously... I want you–," she whispered, leaning up close, pressing her hand against my chest – then pushed open the door, "–to meet my friends Chloe and Dennis."
"Mr. Bruce Stirling John Knox, great to meet you," Dennis spoke straight out. He was about forty, French, and unshaven. A very casual looking rich guy, who seemed intimate with Natalie. A bit too friendly maybe.
"How are you?" Chloe asked, shaking my hand firmly. She was older, gray hair, and looked rather tired, like she'd just been woken a minute ago. I think she was German, but honestly, her accent could have been anything.
"So...," Natalie said, slowly moving across that large suite full of antique yet modern furniture.
Then there was this abruptly awkward moment of silence where those three, who all seemed very confident people, all just looked temporarily lost for words.
Finally I stepped up, "So shall I just say it? You have a 'cease and desist' order, and want me to kindly fuck off with my bullshit, or you'll sue my ass back into the stone age."
Everyone looked at me. No one said anything.
"And to think, I left my fucking coffee downstairs for this party."
"What did Sasha say to you?" Dennis asked.
I inhaled, "Something about some project in pre-production. Co-founded in Israel. That you need some concept development. Sounded like every other commercial job that any old dipshit could do... So? So fucking what?"
"Oh, yes! The project is absolutely happening! It was my idea to bring you on board for the design process. You should really read the script. It's frightening stuff," Dennis went on like all directors do, jerking off over their next biggest hit. Blah, blah, fucking blah.
I cut him off, "Not interested."
"Just wait till you get the script!"
"Forget it. I'm not doing it."
"Don't be stupid! This is an incredible opportunity!"
"Don't care. Not doing that shit anymore."
"What are you saying? This is ridiculous!"
"This conversation is over." I wasn't in the fucking mood to kiss the ass of some cunt I had no fucking need to appease.
"Why won't you even talk about this?" Dennis demanded. "Listen, we've made a lot of arrangements just to meet you here tonight!"
I looked over at Natalie, who was staring intensely back at me as she sat on a sofa, "Hey, I'm only focusing on the artwork for my book. After that I'm fucking done with wasting my fucking life being 'creative'."
Natalie's expression tightened.
"Are you an idiot?!" Dennis laughed, walking toward the suite's private bar. "Artists don't just quit and get a day job! Art is a calling!"
"Wow, you really live with your fucking head up your ass, don't you!" I grinned bitterly at that fuck pouring himself some vodka or gin.
"Would you look at this guy," Dennis smirked. "What a fucking attitude!"
I turned to Chloe, and she just crossed her arms.
"Hey, buddy!" Dennis persisted. "You work on this project and the connections you'll make will set you up for life!"
"You're too fucking late," I replied, glaring at that old woman who hadn't blinked this entire time.
"Nonsense. You're just after more money. I like this guy. We got to get him a team to supervise."
"Why are you leaving it behind?" Chloe then asked seriously.
"That's really none of your business," I coldly replied.
"What are you going to do then?" Natalie spoke again at long last.
"I believe the technical term is: dis-a-fucking-ppear."
"Where are you going?" Chloe inquired softly.
I swallowed my growing annoyance. "Away."
Dennis then came over, handing me a glass of something clear, "You're going to bring a real edge to the whole look of the production. Just look at you, people will shit themselves. He's perfect!"
"I don't drink." I frowned as I sniffed that rancid liquor in my glass.
Dennis was oblivious, rambling on about the vibe that needed to be cultivated around set, keeping the mystique dangerous with the tension high, and that they could never reveal what was really going on.
I walked over to Natalie, Dennis ranting behind me, as I placed my glass on the coffee table. "Nice to meet you. See you."
Natalie looked confused, as I turned my back on her and headed for the door.
Out, into the corridor.
Into the elevator.
And then out the front door of the hotel.
I doubted the trains would still running at such a late hour, so I walked away. Told you it was just another waste of my fucking time. But hey, I met Natalie Portman, for fuck's sake! What a foxy little mamma!
"Bruce!" Natalie called out.
I cautiously paused before turning around.
"I'm sorry... That was weird... The whole situation," she tried to apologize sweetly. "In fact, none of this has gone how I imagined it. I had assumed–"
"Ah. You assumed. The mother of all fuck-ups," I said, still not smiling. Then I spotted Jack standing outside the hotel.
"I'm sorry... It's just that..."
"Hey, no problem." I glanced around the empty pavement in front of Brandenburger Tor that was lit with amber spotlights, and then I offered Portman, "Do you want go get a drink? I know a place not far from here."
"Thanks, but I can't leave the hotel, without... All that," Natalie smiled with a flicker sadness, "But do you want to come back in and I'll have that coffee with you. No one told me that you don't drink alcohol. Is that serious?"
"Do people tell you everything about everyone else before you meet them for the first time?" I asked. "Do you do anything for yourself?"
Natalie's demeanor shifted again, as if shedding her skin, she changed her stance ever so subtlety, and then replied, "We both seem to know only as much about each other as we've allowed the external world to perceive."
"I once heard someone say something about the more you give of your personal self to the outside world, the more it drags you down," I recalled from an interview that I had read some fifteen years ago. "Our secrets must be kept secret."
So we ended up back in the lobby, sitting at the bar this time.
"You seem like a pretty cool chick," I said, and Natalie nearly choked on whatever the fuck she was drinking as she laughed again.
"Why do you sound so surprised? Did someone tell you that I was a complete cunt?"
"Yeah. The guy at door, he warned me to watch out for the likes of you. You didn't tip him. So he fell over."
"That joke... No... Just... No... And you seemed so charming until you said that."
"Would you rather I be a pig? 'Cause I'll do it. You know, the power of Christ compels the pig in me."
"Wait... You do have a pig mask, don't you?"
"Of course. Why would anyone lie about such a thing?" I then pulled out my phone and proceeded to find some photos of me dressed as the pig-face Major Obnoxious. "I got to say this about you, Natalie. When you laugh, you really go balls-out."
"Oh, I'm sorry. Are the neighbors getting upset?"
"Fuck 'em. Nothing like watching Youtube accidents to put a smile on my face. But blowjob-vomit clips... They'll make me cry till my fucking brain aches."
"Oh, no. I can't watch those Youtube compilations of kids face-planting."
"Why? Is it because you're a mum now?"
"No. Fuck off!"
"You kiss your child with those lips?"
I paused, reminding myself that she was married. "What are you doing in Berlin?"
Natalie glanced away and groaned, "You know, working and meeting with producers, like Dennis."
"I thought he was the director."
"Thankfully no. He likes to stick his nose into other people's business, but really he's only good for the money."
"You meet a lot of people like that?"
"Unfortunately... And fortunately."
"You sound conflicted. Need a hug?"
"Yes, but not from you."
"I wasn't offering. You might give me the Jew-disease."
"There's that charm again. You must live a lonely life."
"I do... Every night I sit at my grand piano next to an open window with the lace curtains blowing gently in the breeze as I hit random keys. See, I can't actually play the piano, but I like the idea of being a troubled soul, who reads Edgar Allan Poe by moon light, and then goes blind 'cause it's fucking impossible to read anything by fucking moon light!"
"We should team up. I'll play you the world's smallest violin and we can bath in each other's tears of melancholy."
"I wish you'd stop laughing at my pain, Natalie."
"I can't help it, your pain is the only thing bringing any joy into my life."
"Are you saying we should film this and post it on Youtube?"
"Definitely not! This is private. Just between you and I. And if you ever tell anyone, I'll have you killed. And I can do it. I know people. I'm fucking famous!"
Again I clenched my jaw and reminded myself that really she's not actually flirting with me. "So I hear you're moving to Paris."
"Are you stalking me?!"
"Once upon a time. But then I realized one-dimensional movie stars aren't real people who I can interact with."
"Not real people? What are we then?"
"You're crab-people, of course."
"Of course." But this time she didn't laugh.
"So Paris... Shame about all the French... Are you looking forward to it?"
Natalie hesitated. "Absolutely. I'm looking forward to everything coming up. Couldn't be happier."
I leaned over and whispered, "Now say it like you mean it."
She smiled, staring into my eyes.
"You know, you sound like my ex... Actually no, you sound like several exes... In fact, you sound like all of them."
"Is that so?"
"They're all off doing their thing, all very different, but all with that same unease in the tone of their voice. Like they want me to reassure them that everything will work out fine now that we've broken up."
"How many have you been through – wait. Don't answer that. I don't want to know."
Natalie curiously looked me up and down again. "A little."
"Oh, Natalie. You'll always hold a special place in my heart. Right next to my fetish for girls in knee-high socks."
"Whoa. Okay. Now that's crossing a line. Jesus, the balls you've got. I'm definitely more important than socks!"
"Do you have some with you?"
"Yes... Yes, I'm sure I brought some. And I look amazing. But I'm more than just my socks!"
"I'll be the judge of that."
She smiled, but was distracted. "Do you want to see them?"
I couldn't help but swallow my shock.
"I mean the reason I really asked you here tonight was because I wanted to ask you to paint me."
I smiled, "Yeah, right. Like one of my French girls."
Natalie was still staring at me. She licked her bottom lip and said, "Do you want to come back up to my room?"
"Fine. But I'm not going to fuck you. So get that out of your head right now!"
She nodded. "Good. As long as that's clear, we can both remain strictly professional."
And then the next thing I knew, we were in the lift again.
Then walking down the corridor.
I was watching her ass as we entered her suite.
"I'm shy, so be gentle," she said pouting.
"I'm not making you any promises. But I'll check out your socks. I'm only human after all, and I'm weak."
"There you go again, reducing me down to nothing but my socks," Natalie said, grabbing one of her huge suitcases. "Do you have trouble imagining people complexly?"
"Ah, there's that expression I hear being thrown around a lot these days. Usually by people who also like to say things like, I hate stupid people," I muttered, while moving over and looking out the corner window above Brandenburger Tor. "That's the infinite intolerance of the so-called sympathetic."
When I finally turned around in that soft-lit suite, I found myself standing across from someone dressed in a full-length black burqa...
"Hi," I smiled. "Are you a ninja?"
"No!" Natalie laughed, "You're so insensitive!"
"What part of 'socks' don't you understand?" I asked, leaning back against the window frame, as Natalie approached. She then slowly raised her left leg, lifting up the thin black cloth, exposing her foot that she rested on the coffee table. And yes, she was wearing white knee-high socks. "See, now this is perfect. I have just the socks to admire, and none of that superfluous identity of your awful character to distract my fixation."
Natalie instantly threw the burqa back down covering her leg. Standing with her hands on her hips, she tapped her foot impatiently, saying, "I thought artists were meant to incessantly compliment their models!"
"Is that what gets you off? Bad pick-up lines from sleazy fucks with mummy issues?"
"I've been photographed by Vogue, for Christ's sake! I don't need to listen to this."
"Well, gee. Do you want a medal or something?"
"How about some respect?"
"Respect for what? The fact you were born with a pretty face, the ability to remember lines, and cry on cue?" I replied. I could only see her eyes from ten feet away, but I could tell she was still smiling. "Shit, that's basically what all my exes could do. And you wouldn't believe how much I disrespected them. And they were people that I actually fucking loved. You're just a celebrity to me. What's fame but the gross-exaggeration of someone's mortal attributes. Idealizing anyone only ever leads to epic disappointment. I pity the day that Jesus might ever return to the Earth. Remember, not even Star Wars could live up to its own psychotic fucking hype."
"So then, I guess, no more socks for you."
"Ah, so it's a trade off you want."
"What's in it for me?"
"I have no idea. What do you want? Why am I literally here?" I asked, as Natalie slowly crawled onto one of the big sofas on all fours, while still staring straight back at me. "And why the fuck do you have a fucking burqa anyway? Isn't that against every-fucking-thing you stand for?"
"I discovered I get less attention on the street while dressed in one of these."
I raised my eyebrows. "Huh. Now that's saying something. I recently saw the film Diana, the one with Naomi Watts, where she was constantly being threatened by the media. It reminded me of a guy who once said that Orwell was wrong with 1984, that ultimately we'd all willingly put ourselves under constant observation. With such things as Facebook. Which reminds me of a girl I was seeing last year who had the polar-opposite opinion to me on identity-copyright. She's an artist herself, and got livid that I had drawn her in some of my art without her explicit permission. She said she herself always asks a model first if she can paint them before she starts. So I asked her, what if a model said no, would she then stop? She shrugged and conceded that she'd probably just continue anyway. So I said why ask in the first place? It's like asking mummy if it's okay to take a shit, or think for your-fucking-self. Fuck that shit! It's not free expression if you need permission. The very act of a revolution is to fucking defy authority. However, that said, if it was a commercial venture, then sure, you need the rights. But we're talking about art here. I hate these fucking artists too fucking chickenshit to stand up for the fucking right to express their art freely without the fear of offending someone. Fuck their fear! Fuck their permission! And mostly, fuck all this spineless fucking art! But this is about more than just fucking art. My unconscious never needed permission to feel attracted to anyone the moment I met them!"
"So you just don't give a shit if you hurt someone's feelings?" Natalie enticed, slowly rocking back and forth on her hands and knees. "Just like I don't need to care what other people think about me wearing a burqa."
"My only responsibility as an artist is creating the art. I keep hearing these little fucks saying shit like, I should use real paint again as it's more valuable than digital art," I sneered in disgust. "These fucks and their concept of value make me fucking sick! I'm only interested in making my art as good as possible, using whatever process I see fit. A computer is just a fucking tool... And... That's why I'm a failed artist... Because I haven't focused on making a quick buck... I've made art itself as my life's priority, at the cost of everything else. So I accept my marketing failure. And soon I'll be gone."
"See, now that's the Bruce I was expecting to meet," Natalie said. "So if I give you permission... Will you shut up and draw me?"
"Are you getting some kind of perverted power-game thrill from this?" I asked.
"Are you?" she replied, reaching back to her feet.
Now from my point of view, Natalie was side-on on her hands and knees upon the sofa, as she lifted the burqa all the way up her legs and off her ass, and she wasn't wearing anything under it! Just the socks!
"Kid, I'd eat broken glass if you take it all off, right now."
"So that's a yes, you'll draw me?"
"If that's the trade. Then you'll get some art while I enjoy the view."
Smoothly, in one steady movement, Natalie then pulled the entire burqa off like a giant t-shirt. Leaving her stark naked with all her brown hair messy about her exquisite face. I was lost in a moment of all consuming awe. Holy fucking shit!
"I... Don't have anything to draw you with," I uttered.
"Silly. You mistook me," Natalie smirked, sitting back down in the middle of the sofa, crossing her legs, and stretching her arms out confidently. "I don't want you to draw me here like this. I mean in New York, when we both have more time to focus. I just wanted to meet you and see if you're really as psycho as Leslie made you out to be, all those years ago."
"Who is more obsessed: the stalker, or the stalked who stalks the stalker?" I grinned, still examining her tanned skin and little tits. "You always walk around naked under that thing?"
"Aren't we all naked under our clothes?"
"The burqa-argument always made me laugh. Advocates always making it seem like it's a fucking social-chastity-belt. As if it's the ultimate protection from getting raped. Like only girls in mini-skirts are getting attacked. Besides, most of these females in burqas have more to fear from their own fucking husbands raping them to death than anything. But hell, chattel is chattel, and slaves don't have the right to say no."
"That's an over-simplification," Natalie stated.
"Anything anyone ever says is an over-simplification! Everything can be fucking elaborated upon. But do you really want to spend the next hour expanding on the very definition of moral-relativity verse the-law-of-the-land, before even stating the premise of the concept?" And then I realized I was standing directly above Natalie, and she reached up, slipping her fingers into my belt buckle, and then she pulled me down until I knelt over her thighs.
"So with your all-or-nothing view of art, would it be perfectly acceptable to you to do anything at all in the name of art, regardless of ethics?" Natalie whispered, the tip of her nose touching mine as our eyes darted back and forth from left to right. "Sounds like an excuse, absolving any action in the name of art. Even criminal behavior. What makes something art rather than just inciting bigotry?"
"Depends if you're creating something rather than instructing others. I'm not telling anyone what to do. That's why I am not interested in people like that Chinese guy, Ai Weiwei, who gets others to build his shit. I'm not a fan of collaboration. At what point do these art followers become a cult. It's all the same old in-group mentality, and I'm repulsed by sheeple!"
"But you are part of a larger community. And you're preaching your opinion through your art."
"Opinion is just a reflected observation. Anyone who listens to me and takes anything on face-value without a deeper comprehension or without questioning, is a fucking moron!"
"But at some point there has to be a mutual trust, where someone admires the work and can trust the informer not to give false evidence. That's how knowledge is passed down."
"I don't know a single person I trust that much," I hissed, my hands gripping Natalie's shoulders, moving up to her throat. "Look at you. You're a mother and a wife, yet here we are. Alone together."
"Who said we're alone?" Natalie whispered, her mouth so close I could taste her words – and I then sat back. She smiled, tilting her head, "What if I told you... This was all for the art... That what we're doing right now, is art."
"Are we being filmed? Or are you just using art as an alibi for your infidelity?"
"We're constantly being watched, even if just by our own eyes. But there are some people who can see us better than we ever really see ourselves."
"You mean therapists?"
"I mean artists," Natalie said quietly.
I looked away. "I can't help you then."
"What are you saying?"
"I only see whatever I want to fucking see. If you're looking for an objective, rational perspective–"
"I wouldn't have asked you, if that's all I needed."
"You make it sound like you're having a mid-life crisis."
"Yet you're the one quitting art."
"Don't go there, sister."
"Why are you so uncomfortable talking about it?"
I stood up, but she grabbed my hand.
"I'll never fucking see you after tonight, so why the fuck should I tell you anything? But why the fuck don't you tell me why you're naked with a complete fucking stranger in your hotel room?"
"You remember Leslie?"
"No! Who the fuck is this Leslie? Did I shit in her cereal or something?"
"He's an agent you contacted in 2003."
"Oh... Shit..." My eyes glazed over and I sat on the coffee table in front of Natalie. "Well, fuck..."
"And in 2007."
"The Tom Waits music video that I did? Epitaph or Anti Records, they contacted your lawyers back then. That guy Hein told me that you personally saw my animation and said it was 'pretty cool'. Except for the bonus scene at the end of the credits."
"Yeah, that's right. It was rad."
"So what the fuck happened? Why was I met with a wall of fucking silence after that? Hein said they wanted to promote it as the official music video. But then. Nothing."
"Well, you'd already been red-flagged by Leslie."
I sighed and shook my head slowly. "That motherfucker replied to my inquiry back in the day, saying that he thought Giger would have no fucking interest in ever seeing my work. We're talking about the guy who painted a wall of erections in cunts that got the Dead Kennedys charged with obscenity. Yet I'm the sickfuck? Well, fuck it. Who gives a shit anymore."
"Yet here we are," Natalie smiled.
"Yeah. So what changed?"
Natalie crossed her arms over her delicious breasts, and I reached, pulling the loose burqa up over her shoulders like a blanket. "Thanks."
"Are you okay, kid?" I asked, as she hunched over. "Seriously, do you need a hug?"
"Maybe," she laughed weakly. So I sat next to her on the sofa and wrapped my long arms around her back as she buried her head in the small of my neck, and I squeezed firmly. She inhaled slowly and then trembled. Her hands crept around my shoulder-blades as she held on for dear life. And I just stayed there in that lovely hotel suite in the small hours, resting my cheek against her head as I got high on the smell of her flowing hair in my face.
"There's a movie coming out in a week, called, The Fault In Our Stars. It's not really my kind of thing, but in the last year I've became aware of the author, John Green. Turns out he's the same age as me. And I've had this weird thought that he's like the version of me that I could've become if I was actually a good person. I like watching his Vlog Brother's clips with Hank. Despite their overly optimistic well-wishing, I enjoy keeping updated. I think I need it, especially when there isn't much positivity going on in my life. You know, sometimes I wonder why I'm not a better human being who cares about starving kids in war stricken countries. But I'm no John Green and never will be... Yet, if you need a hug. That's some-small-thing I know can do. But that can't console everything else that I've fucked-up in my life."
"No, it doesn't... But it matters right now," Natalie spoke into my neck. "Sometimes all that means anything is what you do for the sake of the present tense, rather than seeking later gratification. Be there for someone right when they need it most. What is more important than that?"
"I'd always wondered what I would be like in a disaster. See how I'd react under truly shit circumstances. Know what kind of guy I really am. Have you ever been under that kind of pressure?"
"Not really." Natalie's fingers then dug into my shirt, and I realized it was wet from her tears. "But I've seen some terrible things."
"Did it make you a better person?"
"I don't know. But do we really need to survive atrocities in order to become good people? Can't we just learn to improve ourselves no matter where we are?"
"Are you a believer that we're all born innately good, and that it's evil that's learned?"
"We're just born. And sometimes shit happens. But if the environment dictates destiny, then how do you explain those who rise through adversity, like Mandela?"
"Exceptions to the rule don't change the statistical probability that the masses will remain mundane!"
"But as a whole we're all much better off than ever before in human history."
"Sure. I couldn't argue with that," I whispered stroking Natalie's spine with my thumb, staring numbly at the back of the sofa. "But at what cost to the planet and every other living thing including ourselves?"
"I didn't realize you were such a tree-hugger."
"I'm not. I couldn't give a fuck about the melting glaciers, or children bathing in toxic waste, or choirs of suffocating fucking battery-hens. But we're responsible for all of it. And we can't unmake it by assuming someone else will just invent a new piece of tech that'll solve over-population and disappearing honey bees. But yay, who gives a shit about the destruction of the rain forests, as long as we humans as a whole are doing just fantastic! It's all magic. Distraction from the transmutation of self-destruction." Natalie didn't say anything, and then I remembered my time in India when my girlfriend started crying after two weeks of my negative tirades. So I snapped out of it and changed the subject. "Hey, what did Kubrick say about life?"
"Stanley?" Natalie asked.
"Is there any other?" I genuinely questioned.
"He said something like, since life is so fucking meaningless, it forces us to create our own meaning."
"But whatever something means to me, might mean nothing to you."
"We only find accommodation once we find a common ground."
"And isn't that how arguments are won? By understanding the point of view of the other guy."
"And empathy as well."
I sat for a while.
"Is this where we are now, Bruce?" Natalie said. "Trying to reconcile each other?"
And then I had a bizarre moment where her voice had become so familiar from films, that hearing her here felt like I was actually trapped in some kind of Martin Scorsese flick – then I straightened up, remembering what she'd said earlier, about us not being alone. Was this all some kind of spontaneous, experimental film technique with hidden cameras in the walls? Some art-house thing going for a new level of realism to catch the eye of the panel at Cannes? Or was I seriously just paranoid and unable to accept the fact I had a naked Natalie Portman in my arms? Then I asked, "What are we reconciling, exactly?"
"We'll never do that. We'll always be apart. There will always be people like me, who drive us apart despite anyone trying to hold us together."
"Well, conflict is appealing," Natalie added.
"Who's Chloe?" I asked.
Natalie slowly sat back, running both her index fingers under her smeared eyes. "Why do you ask?"
"Is she the director?"
"No... She's an old friend of the family." Natalie raised her knees up to her chest, as I leaned back with my right arm still around her shoulders. "She's the reason I contacted you."
"It's kind of silly." Natalie shook her head. "I pride myself on being this rational Harvard woman. But Chloe, she came to me convinced that I was being watched. Said she'd read something that had also come to her... In a vision."
"What had she read?" I asked curious.
"Something about this house where some kind of unnatural event took place."
"A haunted house? How exciting. What's that got to do with you and me?"
"You wrote it. At Loch Ness."
"What? So what? That whole situation had nothing to do with you."
"Chloe was certain that it was all true. That there was now something attached to you. That it's still with you. You brought it back from Loch Ness."
"And you believe her? Why?"
"She's... Special to me." Natalie whispered not bothering to explain.
"So what exactly did I bring back?"
"Nothing... Chloe needs medication. She seeing things that aren't really there."
"Is she schizophrenic?"
"I don't know, but she's never been like this before." Natalie then laughed sickly. "When you left us just before, Chloe burst into tears, saying the whole room was crawling with these figures. I don't know what's wrong with her, it's really beginning to scare me."
"I still don't see how you're connected to any of this."
"You'd have to ask her."
"You know, everything I wrote about Loch Ness, it was all true. Didn't you see all the photos? And yet, my experience is not the same as your experience. No matter what evidence or explanation I have, sometimes there just isn't any common ground. Maybe the fault is in my communication skills."
"What happened at Loch Ness?" Natalie asked, turning her whole body to face me.
"Read what I fucking wrote. I think it's all very fucking clear. But you won't will you. No one ever does. You all just want small-talk and bullshit jokes. Then you complain that I'm never serious. But when I'm finally honest, you don't even give a fuck, and whine that I'm suddenly too fucking serious!"
"Perhaps you need to see a doctor."
"Do I?! Why? Am I threatening you? Am I being hysterical? Or am I just talking about art?"
"Art? Do you see these things that Chloe saw?"
"What's the fucking difference?"
"I don't believe you."
"And I don't give two fucks."
"Tell me where you're going!"
"Where exactly is that?"
I studied her Vulcan-like eyebrows, and had nothing to offer.
"Why won't you talk to me? Who have you told?"
"What do you mean, no one. You have to tell someone where you're going."
"No, I don't."
"That's not cool. You have people who care about–"
"Whoa! You don't know anything about me! How the fuck are you making these wild assumptions about who does or doesn't give a fucking shit what I do?!"
"Everyone has friends. And you're not a total asshole. You know, I don't run after just anyone on the street."
"And I'm glad you did. Or else I would've never gotten you naked. And from a pure aesthetic appraisal of your physical composition: you're a fucking hot little number! But you already knew that. You don't need another sycophantic leech gnawing away at your tit."
"No, but I needed that hug," she said with a coy smile.
"We all need someone who'll tolerate us from time to time."
"Maybe." Natalie stared at her feet on the edge of the sofa as she spoke, "So you saw that film about Diana. The biggest problem with being famous really is such a fucking cliché. You know, constantly surrounded by people, but no one that you can depend upon. A confidant. Such first-world fucking problems."
"That's another expression I dislike. It's a condescending way of dismissing another's pain. Just 'cause you live here or there doesn't change the relevance of your given stress. You might have food in you belly, but that can't stop you from suffering in a million other fucking ways."
"Yeah, but I'm not struggling to find drinking water each day just to stay alive. That's a whole other level of stress."
"No shit, but all our ancestors were in that same situation at some point. Just 'cause someone invented plumbing with flush toilets, doesn't mean they also discovered the cure to all forms of possible torment."
"Yeah, mental illness can affect anyone."
"We're all somewhere on a spectrum of mental disorder, no exceptions."
"So if you appreciate that we're all similar on some level, then can you allow yourself to relate to someone else beyond yourself?"
"You tell me, Jew girl. Can you see it from Hitler's point of view?"
"Always got to go too far, don't you."
"What's the point of discussing such ideas if you don't?"
"I think what he did was an act of unspeakable evil, and yes, I find it hard to see it from his point of view."
"If evil is just a state of mind, and all thought processes are on that spectrum of mental illness, then given enough time, do you consider it would be possible to empathize with even someone as extreme as Hitler?"
"Empathize perhaps. But justify, no!"
"Justifications are purely subjective. And if you could empathize completely, you should then also concede why he did all that. Or you're really not empathizing hard enough."
"Are you trying to justify the Holocaust?"
"I'm talking about empathy. Couldn't care less about six-million dead Jews here, or twenty-six-million dead Russians there. Evolution has a real big death toll at the end of the day."
"I'm not asking you to love everyone."
"Then what are you asking?"
"That if you can empathize with others, then can you see why you can't just ignore everyone and hurt those who care about you?"
I looked at Natalie's tiny little feet.
"Where are you going?" she whispered again.
"Reputations. I've come to the conclusion that someone's reputation is as close a construct to this concept that anyone has an immortal soul. Forget about your genes, they only have a vague relevance to you personally. Your reputation is something that you create, and yet, once again, have little control over. If you have a bad reputation, you're seen externally as a bad fucking person."
"That's only an illusion. It's not who we really are. Everything we've been talking about is based on what others perceive against what we hold inside."
"And what we hold inside means nothing to the greater universe. So would you rather be remembered as a good girl or a mass murderer?"
"Do I need to answer that?" Natalie frowned. "Our innermost thoughts might be irrelevant to the outside world, but they matter to us, they shape us, guide us as individuals."
"And we're all guilty of thought-crime at some time, but as long as we don't share it, we're all good," I said facetiously.
"Your secrets are just a form of control. Yet you yourself have said that there's so much in our lives that's out of our control. So this big secret of yours is some desperate attempt to maintain control, when you know yourself that you don't have any."
I nodded my head. "Just like your prying nature is your Electra complex exerting itself in order to control me."
"So is this all just a fucking game to you?" Natalie sneered.
"Of course," I smiled.
"If there's nothing I can say that will get you to talk, then how can we have a dialogue?"
"I thought that's what this was."
"Why do you refuse to speak to me?"
"My mind is already made up."
"Then there can be no resolution."
"I don't believe in such things."
"Talk to me. Engage in open discourse."
"Why do you refuse to help yourself?"
"Who said I needed help?"
"Because none of this is healthy!"
"Says the girl hanging out with her stalker. Seems like you're the one in need of help. Transference much?"
"Don't do that."
"So it's cool for you to play pet-shrink, but not me. That smells like hypocrisy horseshit."
"I have a degree, what do you have besides your fleeting moments of compassion? I think you need a hug more than I do."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. You're jumping to conclusions." I pushed away to the other end of the sofa. "I hugged you once, don't expect a repeat performance, sun shine."
"Oh, I forgot. You're celibate," Natalie grinned from the length of the sofa, "So what would you do then if I started hitting on you?"
I sniggered, "You mean, hitting on me AGAIN."
"You didn't seem to mind before."
"Hey, that's 'cause I'm charming."
"Of course. And that's why I invited you back up, as I knew I had nothing to worry about."
I bit my tongue.
"But let's just say, hypothetically," Natalie whispered, as she slowly stood above me, and then dropped the burqa to the floor. "Would you tell me your secret if we fucked?"
An hour later.
"Life isn't without its bitter fucking irony," I said, catching my breath as I lay naked on the floor in the middle of the suite.
"That ain't no lie," Natalie confirmed, her socked toes rubbing against my bare foot as she lay stretched in the opposite direction.
"Now I have to shave my head again."
"No! Why? I love it! I makes you seem much more... Approachable!" Natalie exclaimed, crawling over me until she lay on my chest. "Okay, perhaps it could be re-worked."
"Are you calling me ugly?"
"I'm calling you 'interesting'."
"Bitch..." I gasped. "Well, at least you like my personality."
"I didn't say that! Don't you be putting words in my mouth."
Looking at her lips, I replied, "Words, is that what the kids are calling it these days?"
"Shut your face!" she sneered and sat up, straddling me, both of her hot palms against my tattooed chest. "This... This never happened."
"Of course not," I smiled wider, my hands on her hips. "Like I said, irony. Bitter fucking irony. When I first noticed you back in '99, you were just an archetype that I directed my frustrations upon. But now, when I'm in a far worse place, I actually meet you, but you'll forever remain a fucking secret. So many hidden lives kept secret."
"Am I a problem for you?" Natalie asked.
"You know you aren't," I replied, running my fingers over her sweaty belly button. "And now you know my secret, so we have to trust each other."
"Well, ultimately we don't have to trust anyone."
I swiveled my head, listening.
"I read this thing about some kid at McDonalds, while he was placing his order, Bill Murray apparently came up and started eating the kid's French fries, saying, no one will ever believe that this happened. And then he just walked away from the kid like nothing had happened. Same logic applies here. You could tell anyone about all of this here tonight, and who in their right mind would seriously listen to you? Especially with your reputation."
"You are correct, sir!" I accepted. "I had a realization a few weeks ago, backstage at the Nachtmahr gig. That I like having affairs more than anything. See, last year I became increasingly disgusted by how incestuous everyone truly was. Everyone is fucking everyone. And sure, I was absolutely guilty of being one of those fucks. But it all became about the bragging. And I felt less and less for – everything! But the bitter fucking irony is: I have always had the most intense feelings for someone who was kept secret. When it's the forbidden fruit."
"Sure. That's classic. People always want what they can't have."
"Is that why you found me? Because of my red-flag. You wanted to meet someone you were warned to stay away from. Like hunting lions, tigers, and bears?"
"Don't flatter yourself. You're just adorable!"
"Like a lovable little snuggle bunny?"
"Oh my god! That's so totally you!"
"Hey. I told you, call me Uncle. Uncle Fingers."
"And I told you, eww!" Natalie giggled, as I tickled her ribs, and we rolled around the floor at the bottom of the bed. I grabbed her waist and flipped her over the bed with her knees on the floor, and then pressed myself against her ass as I pull her hair and leaned in close, right up to her ear.
"If you ever tell anyone my secret, I'll fucking kill you," I whispered, pushing my forehead into her hair. "Now ask me if I'm bluffing?!"
Both of Natalie's arms supported our weight, as she held her breath, and then eventually responded, "I believe you."
"Fucking liar," I said, before releasing her and grabbing my jeans.
Natalie inched up the destroyed bed and sat against the headboard, watching as I pulled on my Chucks while perched upon the large armchair facing her.
"How many affairs have you had since you got married?" I asked, tying my shoelaces.
"You know, we're not all like you, Bruce."
"Yes, you are. I'm just like everyone."
"I learned recently that my understanding of the word 'whore' was wrong. I'd thought it was slang for a prostitute. But it's not. It simply means anyone who has promiscuous sex. So we are all fucking whores!"
Natalie glared defiantly back at me.
"If we're all guilty then why even bother denying it? If everyone's a whore, then that means we're the very fucking status quo of humanity. Why act ashamed of our underlining human nature?"
"Because it's vulgar!"
My head drifted aside as I knew she was absolutely right. "Yeah. We must keep up appearances. Maintain the illusion of beauty, despite our actions."
"Why do you always have to focus on the negative? People are more complex than that. You just choose to ignore the rest in support of your bias."
"Yeah... And... So do you."
"I choose to help those where I can. Do you even try to do anything constructive in a positive light?"
I looked up at Natalie's thighs.
"We all need to have a little fun, vent, let off some steam. As long as we're careful and no one gets hurts, then it's healthy," Natalie said, as she came closer, lying on her stomach. "You should try harder, fight for what really matters to you, and not get dragged down into this self-destructive obsession."
"And then no one gets hurt?" I chuckled. "Someone always gets hurt."
"That's simply not true."
"Look, I'm pretty friendly with all of my ex-girlfriends. They know me better than most, but I don't recall a single one of them ever defending me as a person. As soon as someone accuses me of one of the many shit things that I've been blamed for, they all roll their eyes and say, yeah, that was probably Bruce. Never the benefit of the doubt. And these are the same people that you claim fucking care about me!"
"You don't know that. You're just speculating."
"A conscious observation witnessed first-hand many fucking times, is not fucking speculation!"
"I call it confirmation-bias."
"Maybe. But how many times have I heard them confess to me, now that they're with a new guy, that they're doing the exact same fucking thing that they had once accused me of doing. Yet now they laugh about it. Their fun and games are all innocent, and like you say, no one gets hurt. Even though they're whoring around town. I could tell you some debaucherous fucking stories. Yet when they catch their current boyfriends so much as chatting with their ex, it's all, men are such fucking pigs. Yet these same exes will have some of the most sexually depraved conversations with me, Bruce, King Pig of the fucking universe. The burning hypocrisy here only serves as a reminder, that as bad as I was to all of them, they were doing the exact same shit behind my fucking back too! Because we're all the fucking same! The only difference between you and me, Natalie, is I want to go to fucking hell!"
"It sounds like you're already there."
"Then maybe it's true. I'm already dead."
"Please." Natalie reached her hand out. "Just don't go to–"
I lunged forward, clamping my right palm over her fucking mouth, my left hand grabbing the back of her skull! "You promised not to talk about it! Don't break your fucking promise! Not while I'm still in the fucking room!"
She nodded her head with a sour look in her eyes.
Releasing Natalie, I grabbed my shirt and jacket.
"You need an intervention."
"You mean exorcism."
"Yeah, and who the fuck exactly is going to do that?!"
Natalie went blank.
"It's too fucking late."
"Will I even see you again before then?"
"Once Bark is done, if you get me a ticket to New York, I'll do your portrait as my last artwork. And we can pretend like none of this ever happened. You can play the perfect role of dutiful wife and mother, and I'll be the charming artists you once met by accident in Berlin," I said, opening the door out of the suite – when Natalie suddenly ran up and slammed it shut!
"I never thanked you."
"For not once talking about my films."
"I don't like any of your work. I like you as a person."
And then I whispered, "In one of your films, Clive Owen asked you what your cunt tastes like? You replied, heaven."
She smiled, "And?"
And I kissed Natalie Portman goodbye and then shut the door behind me.
As I walked through the early morning light, down Unter Den Linden, I watched the city begin to come alive like clockwork. I didn't need to be here and it would all keep ticking on by one second at a time. So was I even there now? Had I even met Natalie? Plugging in my MP3 headphones I selected White Zombie, Real Solution #9. One thing was for certain, like that song kept repeating: I'm already dead.
© 2014 BRUCE STIRLING JOHN KNOX