Illuminati, Chapter 7
"Remember when we told you that we weren't interested in you marrying Joaquin? With just a few more dates on the tour, we were really starting to reconsider this. The company's stance on this has really changed. We think it may be a good idea. As a matter of fact, we are wondering how you would feel about going public with this..."
Mr. Appleton's voice is loud and clear. I watch as Princess puts her hand on his hand.
I'm sitting in a room. It's not just me. Joaquin and I are pulled into the room. The big shots of ICM are there. I'm talking about some heavy hitters and chair members. I'm looking across the table to see Joaquin's publicist, Marsha sitting there among them.
I'm confused. Joaquin looks over at me. He seems just as confused as I am.
"This is sort of..." I start.
"Unexpected..." Joaquin finishes.
We just got back from a tour performance in Canada. We were going to spend a few days in New York and then we would be back on the road. The tour was sold out. There were levels to this tour thing. You got the venues for normal performs, stadiums who were the big, A-list performers and then arenas for performers who surpassed even that. We were beginning to book stadiums. This PJQ was blowing up in a way that I don't think anyone was really ready for.
"We are thinking we can make a big press reveal surrounding it," Marsha states, "Gay is the new black. All eyes would be on you. Princess just sent us studies proving that your fans would not only support you but feel it's sexier because they can't have you."
Joaquin rubs his hands on his head. He's confused. He looks at me for answers. I wish I could say I was surprised but I wasn't. I knew this was going to happen. I had met with Joaquin's mother. She had let me know that she was a member of the Illuminati known only as the informer. She gave me a mission. It was quick. It was simple.
I wasn't sure.
All I knew was that I was supposed to marry him and I didn't think I really had a choice in it.
"Think it over," Mr. Appleton tells us, "This publicity could mean the difference from Joaquin going from a national superstar to an international icon. Think of all the big names who started in groups. Beyonce, Justin Timberlake...Michael Jackson."
"Michael..." Joaquin repeats.
The name salivates in his throats. Michael was Joaquin's icon. The idea of being that big is something that he probably always dreamed of. What pop star didn't dream about being as big as Michael Jackson though?
Mr. Appleton knew just what he was doing and I was beginning to think it was working.
"We'll discuss it. We'll get back to you," I tell them.
We arrive back at my loft later that evening. It's awkward, to say the least. I don't say anything. I just go to the fridge and pull out a bottle of Paul Maison. I start drinking it straight out of the bottle. When I put the bottle down I notice Joaquin leaning up against the marble centerpiece in this expensive ass loft. Usually, he goes to meet his fitness trainer around then but I knew that he wanted to talk and I knew that he wanted to talk specifically about the meeting we had.
"Did you catch how Princess grabbed Appleton's hand?" Joaquin states.
I was Joaquin's manager. The fact that Appleton was involved in that meeting was way beyond protocol. They were trying to force the decision on me and I knew that I wasn't the only one who found it suspicious. Clearly, Joaquin found it suspicious as well.
I take another long haul, "Yeah. Yeah, I caught it."
"Mrs. Appleton's death is really shaking up ICM huh?" he asks, "They'd never be down with us coming out of the closet if she was alive."
I feel trapped. I feel like a caged bird. I feel like fucking screaming or something.
"Probably not," I admit.
"So what do you think?"
"What do I think about what?"
"Us getting married..." he asks me.
I hesitate. I knew that he was going to bring this up. I was scared that was why he was coming over to my apartment instead of going to the gym. Joaquin wanted to have this conversation in person.
I answer the way I feel, "Look at you. I mean your probably going to get GQ's sexiest man in the world. You are attractive, talented, sweet and caring. Who wouldn't want to be with you?"
Joaquin takes a step forward, "I'm not interested in anyone else but you..."
That was the problem. Joaquin squints at me. That squint is enough to make the normal straight man consider being gay for a night. Joaquin had a sultriness to him that was undeniable. He licks his pink lips seductively and I almost lose it. He has a way of doing that to me sometimes. Still, in the back of my mind, I have something holding back and it causes me to turn away from him.
"Joaquin. Is this what you really want or is this what people have been putting in your mind?"
I knew people were manipulating Joaquin from all sides. His psychiatrist, his mom and now the entire management company. They wanted me to marry Joaquin and I wasn't quite sure why.
"What are you saying?"
"I'm asking if this is real."
"I think about you all the time."
"I think about fantasies all the time too. It doesn't make it any more real," I explain to him.
Just at that moment, there is a knock on the door. I look over at the door. It's a weird time but I have a funny feeling about it.
"Who is that?" Joaquin asks.
"I think it's Quest."
"What's he doing here around this time?" Joaquin asks.
There is a knock on the door again. It's louder. Joaquin moves towards the door at that moment. He walks straight up to the door and he opens it. Sure enough, Quest is standing out on the other side o the door. There is so much tension. You could cut right through it. Quest looks at Joaquin. Joaquin looks at me. I look at the floor before I can give myself away.
"What are you doing here, man?" Joaquin asks Quest directly.
"Minding my own business," Quest states, "Like you should be doing. I'm pretty sure this isn't your apartment."
"It's my man's apartment," Joaquin argues back.
"Your man?" Quest repeats with laughter.
Quest's laughter is strong, steady and confident. He knows something that Joaquin doesn't know. I know the exact same thing. Quest had a part of me that was hard to get. We had been friends for so long and the feeling between us was so strong. As Quest laughs I know that it gets underneath Joaquin's skin. I'm shocked that Joaquin is keeping his cool for this long.
"What's so fucking funny?" Joaquin asks.
"Nothing man," Quest responds, "Are you bout to leave so that I can talk to Memphis or are you going to keep doing this dick measuring contest? Cause it ain't a competition."
Joaquin is usually a sweetheart. He is usually very kind. I've seen him deal with the rudest fans in a way that makes him look like some sort of patron saint of patience. This is not what happens when Quest confronts him. I'm surprised Quest is being like that. At times I've seen Quest be difficult. At times I've seen Quest be hard to understand and even a bit moody. I'm not surprised Quest is acting like this but I'm surprised at how aggressive he is being with his dislike of Joaquin.
"You are the biggest cornball. You out here singing these ballads like it's 1950, putting people to sleep and shit. You would be nothing if it were not for me. You do get that, don't you?" Joaquin asks giving him a strong hard stare.
Quest shakes his head, "I'd still be in his life. That's what pisses you off, though."
"No, it doesn't. Of course, you will be in his life. Matter of fact: you can be his best man at our wedding."
They won't stop going back and forth. It's getting worse and worse and the more it goes on the more I realize that I have to end it now.
"YO BOTH OF YOU GET THE FUCK OUT!" I snap.
Quest is confused, "You called me over here."
I did want to talk to Quest. I didn't call him over here to antagonize Joaquin and rub our history in Joaquin's face. Quest didn't get that. It wasn't clicking for him.
"Guys stop it."
"Fine. We'll stop it," Joaquin states, "But you have to let us know which one of us you want to stay in here..."
"Joaquin...don't do this."
Quest finds this hilarious. He's laughing to the point that he leans up against the wall to maintain his balance.
"Let him do it to himself Memphis."
Joaquin is emotional. The look on his face is showing. He's disappointed. The laughter of Quest is not making this moment any better. If they disliked each other before this I was sure that they were going to hate each other after this. The problem in this situation, however, was now Joaquin was trying to make me choose.
"You want me to stay or you want him to stay?" Joaquin asks.
His bark is loud. I can feel the emotion spilling through Joaquin unlike I've really seen before. I could imagine Quest kind of acting dramatic like this but Joaquin always seemed like he knew how to handle his feelings slightly better.
"I want Quest here," I tell him.
Quest raises his eyebrows in this cocky, 'I told you so' sort of way. I hate that he does that. I hate seeing how embarrassed Joaquin looks at that moment. His face blushes red. He looks like he wants to say something. He even opens his mouth up a little bit but no words come out.
Instead of talking or putting up a fight Joaquin turns and walks out of the room. At that moment he's not a superstar. At that moment he's fucking heartbroken.
I start walking after him.
"Joaquin, wait!" I state.
I don't get past the threshold. Quest holds me back. He grabs me, pulls me inside and slams the door so that Joaquin can't even hear me screaming his name.
"He asked for it," Quest states.
"Quest you really acted like a fucking dickhead just now," I state.
"The dude is an idiot. How long have we known each other? How long have we been inseparable? Did he really think you were going to choose him."
"I might have," I state.
"No you wouldn't," he responds.
Quest is really cocky right now. I'm hating it. I push him hard and make my way back into the kitchen. I watch him saunter his ass into the kitchen with his cocky little grin. He can read me well. It's a little too well. I don't like how well he can read me actually.
"You didn't have to do him like that," I state, shaking my head.
"You really mad?"
"I'm pissed," I respond shaking my head.
"Yo fuck him. Who gives a fuck about Joaquin?"
"Man you know what? Maybe I don't want to be around anyone right now," I state.
This was already hard for me and I would expect Quest to be a little bit more supportive and understanding of the complex situation I had with Joaquin.
Me threatening to basically kick him out definitely seems to humble Quest all of a sudden. He loses the stupid fucking grin and gets serious finally. He stands in the kitchen with me and looks over at me with those deep eyes of his.
"Ok, ok," he tells me, rubbing his chocolate big hands together as though he was making mousse, "It was my fault. I shouldn't have put you in that position."
"I think I broke his fucking heart," I realize.
Quest comes close to me. He is fine. His tall body domes over me. He looks down at me and stares into my eyes. He puts his hands on my arms and he massages slowly. He stares me in my eyes pressing his hard body up against mine. I can see him muscular frame through his t-shirt. This is definitely a sexy specimen.
"I'm sorry I get like that," Quest explains, "I'm a dickhead when it comes to you. I admit it. I don't like the dude. I want to rub it in his face every time he thinks he's big enough to get in between what we have. No one understands what we have..."
"Clearly neither do we," I explain, "Joaquin was the man before you all of a sudden realized you had feelings for me."
"You know I always had feelings for you."
"Then why not show it. Why wait until now..."
"I heard about the management team proposing the marriage."
Fuck. My heart is beating faster and faster when Quest tells me that. He looks at me in my eyes with a bit of friction. The look in his eyes says it all. Quest is pissed.
"You did I ask."
That's when it happens. Quest starts crying. It's one of the rare times that I've seen him like this. He never shows it in public either. It's only when it has to do with me. Right now he is letting it all out. The tears are rolling down his face at that moment and for some reason, I know that this emotion between us is real. No matter how hard it has been or how long it took us to find each other, we found this love finally.
Quest opens up to me through whimpering tears, "You know how I felt when I thought the man I loved was about to marry someone else. I feel like I'm going to lose you forever. So yes. I get petty. I get grimy. Only when it comes to you. Because I'm willing to fight for this. I'm willing to die for this. I'm willing to do anything it takes to make sure that I don't let that happen. Why do you think I'm back in this group? You think I can stand being around Joaquin? No. I'm back here for you. I'm back here to make damn sure you make the right decision on who you have to be with."
Quest had never said it like that to me before. He stops crying though and looks me in my eyes. I feel this love for him that is burning. It's a flame. It jut keeps getting brighter and brighter.
"Quest I used to dream of you saying something like this."
"Your dream is a reality," Quest tells me, "I love you Memphis. I always have. You've always loved me. I don't care about this music shit. I don't care about the money. I don't care about the fame. If everything golden goes...I'll be fine with you. Can Joaquin say the same thing?"
I think about it.
Joaquin's career always came first for him. Always. It wasn't a bad thing but that was how it was. With Quest it was different. Quest put me first.
"Can you?" he asks me.
"What do you mean?"
"If everything golden goes..."
"What does that even mean?"
"The car. The condo. The money. The success. Would you still be happy if it was just you and me? You said your dream was to hear me admit my love for you. Is that the dream that trumps all other dreams? Would you go back to that lifestyle that you had before if we were going to be happy."
That was the question of the century. That was the question that I was so unsure of. I'm shaking as I thought about it. What meant more to me?
The life that I had been given or the person that has always been there.
"Leave with me."
"I'm serious. Leave with me tomorrow."
I think about the Illuminati. I think about Mrs. Appleton dying. I think about Joaquin's mother sacrificing for her son to be famous. I think about the web they are beginning to weave for me. It's a web that I don't understand but it's also the web that I'm scared to get attached to.
There is only one person right now that frees me from all of that.
Quest begins to kiss me. His tongue buries itself into my neck at that moment. He kisses me over and over. I feel him grab onto slowly and turn me around. Before I know it my pants are to my ankles.
It's romantic how he enters me at that time. He enters me slowly, evenly while slowly biting on the back of my neck. He puts his arms around me and holds me the entire time he does it. He keeps kissing me. He keeps pulling me into him. He begins to stroke me. The slow, broad strokes of his torso enter me in slow steady beats.
He thumps inside of me and whispers, "I love you. You know that?"
And it's at that moment that I realize I'm not hesitating to say it back.
"I love you too."
I chose him earlier but it's at that moment that I realize I only want Quest. Joaquin was great. Joaquin was amazing actually but the person that I was in love with was Quest. The person who was always going to be there was Quest. He strokes me and I can feel every hair on my body stand on end. This is more than sex. This is an experience.
He doesn't even nut. I think he just wants to feel me. He grabs me, lifts me in his strong muscular arms and takes me to the bedroom. He begins to rub me down. His dick is still hard. It's still precumming but this has nothing to do with carnal passion. This is about an emotional bonding that I could only feel with one person.
Quest smiles, "Can I sing a song I wrong for you?"
"You wrote me a song?"
"A year ago..."
"I never knew."
Quest laughs at that moment, "I told you I've felt some type of away about you for a while. I was just scared to show it. Can I sing it now, though? Can I sing you my song?"
His voice is deep when I ask me. I nod at that moment and within a matter of seconds, the most beautiful sounds fill the room. His voice surpasses Joaquin. The song surpasses anything on the album. I feel the deep soothing tone of it as he starts with a hum and goes into the lyrics.
"I want to be your Quest, your quest to Memphis
I know it's a long road, but I know I'll get this
I'm leaving for the life, I've been dreaming for
Hoping that I'll find this special man that I'm leaving for
No matter how long this journey takes
No matter how many roads this path takes
I want to be your Quest, your quest to Memphis
I know it's a long road, but I know I'll get this."
With that he sings me to sleep and I know finally that Quest has taken his journey. He's finally taken his journey and he's found himself right where he wanted to be.
He's taken his quest to Memphis.
I wake up that night. I'm in his arms. I take a look at the man I love and I can't believe I'm here in his arms still. I give him a kiss and for some reason my throat is dry so I get up in the middle of the night. I make my way to the living room to get something to drink.
It's dark. It's so dark that I can barely see in front of me. I know this apartment by now though and manage to get to the fridge where the little bit of light illuminates out of the door. I open the door at that moment. I open the fridge and then I feel this feeling.
You ever get the feeling you are being watched. You ever get the feeling that someone is right behind you. I can feel it. I can feel eyes on my back. I am breathing heavy. A cold sweat trickles down my back. I'm not alone. I can feel it!
I turn and see them!
I spit up the water when I turn and see figures in the darkness! The dark figures sit perfectly still. I think for a moment that they are some sort of mannequins. There is no way they can be real. I think that at least, but realize I'm wrong. I can't count how many there are. There are many, though. They have to be 10 to 12 figures just standing like statues in my room. They are all in this room with me.
"Don't scream," one of them says.
They have masks on. Familiar masks. White masks. Masks of the Illuminati.
"How did you get in my apartment?" I ask at that moment.
"What's yours, is ours," a voice of one of the masked figures states.
"I'll call the cops. I swear to God...I'll call the cops," I state.
"No you won't," another figure says.
"He's afraid," a third figure states.
"He's been a very bad boy," four figures say in unison, "You planning on leaving aren't you?"
They knew my conversation with Quest. Somehow they knew. How? My heart is racing. Several of them move. They make a move towards me in the darkness. They are specters. They are ghosts in the night. I can almost feel the cold chill coming off of them. I duck behind the island and try to grab a knife out of the drawer.
"Stay away from me. I'm leaving. I'm leaving tomorrow. I quit this...thing. Whatever the fuck it is. I quit. You hear me?" I ask.
There is laughter in the room. A roaring laughter. So much laughter that I see Quest saunter into the room at that moment. He's sleepy. He seems confused.
"What's going on here?" Quest asks.
"Quest go back in the room. Call the cops!" I scream.
"What's going...what's going..." Quest starts.
Quest stops talking, though. Just at that moment, he falls! He falls straight onto the ground. I run over to him completely forgetting where I am or what I'm doing. Quest balls himself up into a little ball and just begins to shiver.
"Quest. Quest, can you hear me?" I ask him.
Quest is unresponsive.
"You thought you could escape us..." the voices say in unison, "We warned you. Didn't we?"
The voices speak in unison.
"What the FUCK did you do to him?" I ask.
I look on his body. I notice a puncture wound on his wrist. It is a puncture wound on his fucking wrist for godsakes. What the fuck was this about? Why the fuck was there a puncture wound on his fucking wrist?
"You didn't follow the rules. Now you'll be punished," the voices speak in unison.
Quest is having some sort of attack. He is foaming at the mouth at that moment. FOAMING! My heart is racing as I watch him continue to foam at the mouth. I can't stop him. I can't fucking stop the foaming from the mouth. I don't know what to do. I don't know how to stop this. I don't know how to fucking stop what is going on.
I attempt to run over to one of them. I don't know what I was going to do. I was going to make one of them pay. Any of them. It didn't matter who!
I'm stopped, though. A gun is pointing right at me.
"This is your doing," the man with the gun states in a deep voice that sounds unfamiliar to me.
Tears are rolling down my face. They don't stop. I can't believe this is happening. I want to die at that moment. I want to die but then I hear Quest calling for me.
I turn back to see Quest still foaming at the mouth. I clutch him. I hold him as hard as I can. My mouth is dripping with sweat, tears, and saliva. I have never cried this much in my fucking life. Everything that I wanted was gone right now. Everything that I needed was gone.
"Wait! Ok, wait! Wait!" I state screaming at that moment.
Quest clutches onto my arm, "I've finally found you. I've finally completed my quest to Memphis."
I turn at that moment. I'm so upset.
I look at the figures in the darkness. I look at the members of the Illuminati, "I get it. I completely get it. I fucked up. I really did. Please. Don't hurt him."
That's when I hear the words.
These are words that I'll never forget as long as they live.
It's cold. It's detached. It's hardly even human.
That's all they say before Quest stops foaming at the mouth and shaking violently.
That's all they say before Quest dies.
To read the next chapter in advance go to www.crushedcrown.com