I wake up in his mansion. I'm in Reuben's mansion. All the walls to the outside are glass. We are sitting on a hill in Miami. From the room I'm in I can see the beautiful ocean. The sun comes in the room and it wakes me up. I have to admit that it's beautiful.
I have a mean limp
but I'm at least able to move without the wheelchair. I walk out of
Reuben's guest book and descend his porcelain stairs.
We'd come in last night from the meal and I was so upset that I went straight to bed. Reuben slept in a different room I assume. I look around for the first time at his mansion. It's beautiful. Everything is black and white. Everything is modern. There isn't any real art in this place. It's minimized and under designed but it's beautiful.
In the living room area I see the piano sitting there. A grand baby piano with white key embellishments. The thing has to cost a ton of money. If I didn't know that Reuben was rich by now I definitely knew. His career had done well for him.
“Reuben?” I ask again.
No answer again.
I walk to the grand piano and sit. For someone who supposedly hated every song he ever sung, he definitely had good taste in instruments. I sit at the bench and a song comes into my head. All of a sudden I find myself closing my eyes and I'm thinking about something.
I'm thinking about last night. And when I think about last night the music just flows.
I start playing the keys. A soft melody and belt out lyrics that just flow into my head,
“Psychological locks to keep him oppressed; he'll never forget...//
Don't you see how they depict him? A consequential victim//
His adoration is why you picked him
His adoration is why you tricked him
How quickly we forget...
You say these wounds you set come from being smitten?
'Love hurts' is such a overused, twisted contradiction
Left him agonized, impaired, aggrieved.
You left him lied to, betrayed, deceived
All those stipulations of lies that he believed.
All those intentions of love that he misconceived
How quickly we forget...
He won't believe your lies again. He won't even try again.
To reason or comprehend --the fabrications of men
Don't you see why you hit him? A consequential victim
Those locks no longer fit him....
He'll never forget...”
My hands stop on the piano. I turn to see Reuben standing there. He's is shirtless and has on basketball shorts and running shoes. His earphones are at his side and he has clearly just come back in from exercising. I can see the beads of sweat above his brow and his nipple. He has a coffee in one hand and a towel in the other.
I don't know how long Reuben has been standing there.'
“Sorry,” I stated, “I didn't meant to disturb you.”
His mouth opens
though as he just stands in the access way of his apartment, “Don't
“That's all there is to it,” I explain.
He walks over to me. He hands me a coffee. I think it's kind of sweet that he stopped on his way back from running to get me a coffee. I smile but don't thank him. I want to but Reuben is giving me this weird stare that makes me a little uncomfortable at that moment.
“That was about your marriage wasn't it?” he asks me.
“I wish I was like that,” he says, “I wish I can come straight off the dome like that. I wish I could capture what's going on in my life.”
“Why can't you? Just put how you feel into song. It's not that hard.”
“That's the problem. There's nothing to me,” he explains.
Reuben goes out to his glass wall. At that moment I feel like I understand him for the very first time. He seems so clear...
“That explains it.”
“The glass walls. You see right through them. There's a reason you bought this house. Isn't it? There are no decorations. Just a glass house that you can see right through. It's almost as though you're saying that there is nothing to you,” I state.
can be deep,” Reuben explains at that moment staring out at the
beautiful view outside his window before adding a melancholy, “Not
“Yes you can.”
“I really can't,” Reuben explains, “I was raised with a microphone in my hand. I thought music was my life. Little did I know that I didn't even understand music. Every song I made was for someone else. Every verse I sang was to seduce. That's the only thing I'm good for. That's the only thing that I'll ever be good for. I guess sex sells. That's what's important.”
“Reuben we talked about this. We were going to work on your album. We were going to show the world a deeper side to you.”
“Not anymore,” he says.
Reuben starts walking away. He looks defeated. I'm not sure what's defeated him like this but he seems completely out of it.
“Monica dropped me.”
My mouth drops at that moment.
“Are you serious?”
“She called me early this morning. We got into argument about what happened last night. She kept saying that I needed to bring you back. I told her to fuck off. She said she could no longer manage me. Before I went running the label called and said that they couldn't go with my new vision unless Monica was on board. If I wanted to make another album I'd have to do it there way.”
All of a sudden I feel like this is all my fault. Monica was pressured by the Carmichael's to drop him. I had no doubt about it.
“I can talk to her. Maybe I can go talk to the Carmichaels.”
“No fuck that,” he tells me, “I told her to bring your shit over here. You can stay here as long as you want. There's no way that I'm letting you near that wack ass husband of yours. Besides I called my mother back. She decided to take me back under her management. I guess I didn't get that far without her after all, huh?”
I don't get why Reuben cares to be honest. It has been something that I was dealing with for a long time. Even though I hated the idea I'd gotten used to it. Now that I was away from Sean it honestly did feel like I had a weight off of my shoulder. I could wake up without wondering if Sean was in a bad mood or if I'd be getting attacked for no reason that particular day.
I felt free...
Still. My relationship issues was affecting Reuben.
“You don't know me,” I tell Reuben, “Why are you helping me?”
Reuben shrugged, “Because you needed help.”
That's all he says. I stand there and look at him for a minute. He is using his towel to wipe his forehead. He doesn't say anything else about the topic. It's as simple as that. He helped me because I needed it. It was all the explanation he needed to give me and it made me look at Reuben in this whole different light.
He saved me, because I needed saving.
Simple as that.
“How long can I stay here?” I ask him.
“As long as
you need,” he explains, “I just need you to do one thing
“Come to my show. Give me some feedback today on how I do,” he states, “And even though I can't use you for my album I'd like you to...sing for me. Once in a while at least. That voice of yours...it's beautiful.”
He bites his lip slowly, squints at me. I can't help but to look at those lips at Reuben. Reuben takes a few steps towards me and I swear I think he is going to kiss me.
I'm so ready for it when I see him staring at my lips. My heart is racing.
However instead of kissing me, he pats me on the shoulder, turns, smiles and walks away.
“I had no idea that you're such a big deal,” I state.
A week has passed.
Crowds of girls are surrounding the car. I see “I LOVE U,
CLIMAX” signs floating around the crowd. Police people
literally have to break up the crowds. All the girls seem to be from
ages 13 to about 21. Climax's return had been on the radio all week
since he told me that he was having a show. It was supposed to be
his come back to get people excited about the fact that he was
working on an album.
It was working. The hype was something...crazy to say the least.
We have a police escort as we pull into the concert hall. Crowds of people are outside of the rented black SUV that I'm driving with Reuben and his DJ Pace in.
“Hoes everywhere,” Pace says, rolling down the window.
The crowd goes crazy when they get a sight of Reuben in the SUV. Reuben waves out to the crowd and gives Pace the elbow.
“Do you mind? You remember what happened last time...” Reuben says.
“Last time?” I interrupt.
Pace laughs, “Reuben
almost started a Pussy Stampede.”
I look over at Reuben. Pace is laughing about it but Reuben doesn't seem the least bit amused. The look on his face is pure fear.
“Are we talking about something literal?” I ask Reuben.
“These wild, horny teenage girls came after me,” Reuben states, “It was kind of scary. Imagine lions appearing at a drinking water on the Nature channel. Imagine how frantic the animals at the drinking water would get. It was something like that...except worse.”
Pace seems to find this hilarious. He is loving every second of this. I think he actually wants to roll down the window again. Whatever fame he's gotten from being Reuben's DJ and producer definitely seemed to be getting to his head. I can't help but to see the fact that Reuben isn't really liking this though. I watch as he goes in his pocket and takes out a pill.
“What's that?” I ask him.
Reuben shakes his
head as he pops the pill in his mouth, “Nothing, just something
to take the edge off.”
“Reuben you seem nervous. There's a lot of people here,” I state, “You haven't performed in forever. Shouldn't you have started back at a smaller venue or something. There are hundreds of people here...”
“It's my mother,” he explains shaking his head, “She's been promoting my return to the spotlight all week.”
Reuben doesn't seem happy about this. He just shakes his head. I can read his every emotion as though I'm reading the book. He's overwhelmed. All his life he wanted to find meaning in his music. He ran away from this when he fired his mother the first time. Now he was going back to this because this was all that he knew. He was going back to this because this was the only place that he felt like he actually mattered.
Reuben was wrong. He hadn't even given the deeper music a chance.
We get out of the car and the police escort takes us back stage almost immediately. The stage is pretty busy. Applause rings out at that moment. I stand behind Reuben but I almost can see him looking back. Is he looking for me?
Why does he want me
to be with him?
We end up in a dressing room at that moment. Reuben's face hasn't changed. He gets in the make-up chair and they stair airbrushing him to make him look perfect. I almost want to roll my eyes. Reuben is the best looking singer out here. He definitely didn't need make-up. What the fuck were these people thinking?
By the time Reuben's done with the make-up he looks like some sort of poster on a teenage girl's wall.
I can't take it
anymore, “Reuben you don't have to do this?”
Pace stares up and down at me, “Why the fuck are you even here?”
“Yo---don't disrespect him,” Reuben argues with his producer.
I don't need Reuben to defend me. I look at Pace and give him a stare.
“I'm just looking out for Reuben,” I explain to Pace.
Pace doesn't trust me. He never seemed to trust me. He is standing here right now and he looks like he doesn't even really like me to be honest.
even know him,” Pace states, “How long have the two of
you known each other? A couple weeks? You want to come in here and
tell him how to do things?”
Reuben is quiet, he mumbles something but I can barely hear it.
I shake my head,
“Reuben is this what you want? Is this really what you
Reuben doesn't answer me. He just stares out.
It's Pace who
responds, “First off his name isn't Reuben when he's
performing. You hear me? His name is Climax. Learn it.”
I look over at Reuben.
He just stares out. He doesn't have a soul at that moment. He's see-through. He reflects whatever he is shown. It's just like those glass walls in his house. He can't get any deeper. This is what it is. This is what it's always going to be.
In 15 minutes a woman walks in. She is dark with white hair but a youthful face even though I know she must be in her 50s. She's actually quite beautiful. She seems to be aggressive as fuck though barking orders to the stage hands as she walks into the room. In Reuben's locker room I can see Reuben's face just descend almost into darkness when the woman walks in.
“Where's the oil. He needs oil. Where's the oil?” the woman says.
wanted to introduce you to a friend of mine,” Reuben says,
“This is Garrison Carmichael. Garrison this is my mother
Janette doesn't bother to shake my hand. She looks me up and down relatively quickly.
“You're the guy who writes all those come to Jesus songs, don't you?”
“Come to Jesus?”
“Baptism music or what not?”
“Gospel?” I ask Janette and then shake my head, “I don't write gospel. I write conscious music. I write ballads and soul music.”
Janette sighs deeply, “Same thing.” She waves me off rudely before turning to her son, “What the hell are you wearing, Climax? What is this? What the hell do you have on?”
The woman called her son Climax. That said all I needed to know about her. I watch as Janette picks at his suit. She touches the thing as though it's crap. Reuben actually looks really sexy in his suit. It's a fitted suit. It is all black. He looked classy and actually like a grown man in this suit unlike a lot of the pictures I saw “Climax” in online.
“I tried to tell him Ms. Royce,” Pace says shaking his head.
He's clearly ratting out his friend.
“I thought I would try something different,” Reuben explains.
“No. That's not going to work. You are trying to be like Usher...not an usher at Sunday service,” she corrects him, “Take that off. Wardrobe. Where's wardrobe!”
Janette runs around like a chicken with it's head cut off. Everyone else is running around as well. There is so much chaos. Truth is as I'm paying attention to Reuben I can of feel like I'm finally getting a taste of his world. His world was something...different. It was something strange.
Before long Reuben is standing in front of me looking like a Roman gladiator. He doesn't have a shirt on. All he has is a chain around his neck and some tight jeans.
“Sag a little bit,” Janette says.
“Sag...?” he asks, “like this?”
He pulls his pants down.
“We're trying to sell sex...sag it more. Matter of fact. Here,” Janette says before unbuckling his jeans and just letting it be open.
Janette looks at her. He's a sex symbol. It's clear as day. She likes it. I am just trying to figure out Janette Royce. If she didn't see that her son wasn't happy here then she didn't know him. Regardless of how much her and Pace thought they knew Reuben I just had this feeling that they didn't. They didn't understand him. They didn't get what motivated him.
This was what they wanted and Reuben was just too nice to say no. He was just going along with it. He was in pain right now and I knew it.
We are walking
towards the stage at this moment. I take a look at him, “Look
at the bright side of things. You're so oily you can just slide
across stage when you get tired of walking.”
Reuben laughs, “Stop. Is it that bad?”
“You realize this is the first time you've smiled all day?” I ask.
“That's cause you're around...”
“Well I can be around if we just take our asses home too,” I explain.
Reuben pauses for a minute.
“Climax...this way! Stand over here and wait for your queue!” Janette says.
She's standing with the stage manager. Reuben gives me a smile. He does something weird at that moment. He touches my finger tips. It's a soft thing to do but it feels so good to have him brush up against me like that. It's slight. It probably doesn't mean anything but I'm just smiling.
Reuben is calling
out to the crowd, singing this slow song, “I want to bump,
bump, bump and grind you all night. Baby!”
It's a typical song. He says baby about 20 times in the song. His back up dancers are all shirtless and grinding into midair. I'm watching from backstage as Reuben works the crowd. To say he sexy was an understatement though. He won. He knew how to sell sex too. I watch him grab a lucky girl out from the crowd.
He lays her on the ground and he starts to slow hump her. The girl seems to be enjoying this little strip tease honestly. No one cares that the song he is singing is crap. No one cares that he's singing over a record that sounds like it was produced by a 6 year old. All they see is abs, biceps, sagging pants that show Reuben's tight round ass and bulge.
The crowd follow Reuben's bulge as he bounces around stage like they are hypnotized. That has to be it. They are dick-matized.
I turn at that moment. I have to admit I am getting hot and bothered looking at Reuben too. His muscles etched out on stage like that as he grinds. The way his masculine veins pop in his neck as he tries his best to put a little emotion into these cheap pop songs is honorable to say the least.
I find myself walking deep into the backstage and needing a drink of water.
I was quenched and I had to stop looking at him before I got a hardon.
As I'm back stage I see someone. He's talking to the off duty police officers who are being security here. It's someone familiar.
I glare at Sean hard. He doesn't notice me but whatever he seems to be talking to these cops for quite a long time. I watch as he leaves and heads down to where some other cops are. I'm confused on why the fuck he's here and what he's saying to them.
Something is off.
I run back towards the stage where I find Janette.
“Ms. Royce,” I say.
“Something's up,” I tell her, “The police escort I don't trust them.”
Janette Royce looks
me up and down, “What the hell do you mean? Security is
security. They're doing their job.”
I want to explain to Janette Royce that my husband was a member of the force and his father was the Police Chief. I want to tell her that my husband may have a bone to pick with her son. I don't think I have time though. The crowd is going crazy. I look out on stage and I notice some of the girls getting louder and louder. They push over some guard rails and are now at the bottom of the stage.
should be stopping those girls, shouldn't they?” I ask, “They
are getting a little rowdy.”
“Relax,” Janette says, “It's a good thing.”
“Lady. I'm trying to tell you that it's not a good thing,” I explain, “I'm trying to look out for your son?”
Janette gives me a hard look, “What are you? Obsessed with my son or something?”
“I see the way you look at him. I've seen girls across the country look at my son like that. I've seen fags look at him like that as well.”
“Are you trying to call me a Faggot?” I ask Reuben's mother.
It's taking everything inside of me not to say something to her. This was Reuben's mother and his manager. If she wasn't going to try to protect Reuben then who the hell was. Right now she was coming at me with this snotty ass face. She raises this disgusting facial expression at me. Her eyebrows lower. The side of her lips raise like she is about to growl or something. She has broken out into bitch mode in a matter of seconds.
“I'm saying that I don't like groupies back stage.”
“You think I'm a groupie?”
“I'm sure you are,” she states, “Listen. My son doesn't want you. Even if he was gay---which he's not. I'm sure he could do a whole lot better than some bum looking nobody who wears earth tones, smells like patchouli oil and thinks he's 'deep', whatever the hell that means.”
I struggle not to call this lady out of her name. The only thing holding me back is the fact that I was raised better than that and that she is Reuben's mother.
I take a deep breath. I take a pause.
just looking out for Reuben's safety. I think you should take him
There is a pause.
“You might be right.”
“What the hell is he performing?” she asks.
Janette isn't talking about her son's safety. She could care less about that. She wants to pull him off stage because the beat has slowed down almost to a stop. I listen to the music at that moment when I hear that Reuben is about to play a very familiar record.
Reuben grabs the mic and looks out into the wing. He looks dead at me.
From the stage he looks out into the crowd, “This song goes out to a new friend I've made. And I just feel like I've known this person forever. This person has just been going through a hard time. This is a new one. It may be different for you guys...but give it a chance OK. I know I don't do ballads that often.”
He's talking about me...
The beat drops at that moment. The drums. The slow chords begin. The high tempo music has changed into something slow. Something intentional...
“What the fuck is he singing?” Janelle asks me.
“It's called Save me. It's the song I wrote for him,” I explain.
I didn't know when he arranged this to be played but the lights on the stage go dark. A single spotlight is on him. I watch as Reuben slowly starts to sing the ballad. The whole auditorium watches with me.
We watch as Reuben
breaks out into, “There's a special song I forgot to
His voice is more beautiful than I've ever heard it...even in the studio. He must have been perfecting his performance of the song. He slows it down. He takes his time. He grabs onto his chest. He closes his eyes.
And he fucking slays...
“It's beautiful,” I hear one of the stage hands say.
Janelle explains, “It's too slow. It's like sad...”
Pace shakes his head at Janelle, “Look at the crowd. They seem to be into it. I produced this. I produced this you guys...”
Pace was taking all the credit for the song and I knew why. The girls in the crowd slowly were getting emotional at that moment. They sway back and forth, nodding their heads. You would think they've heard the song before by the way they all just seem to catch the beat.
By the end of the song the crowd is singing out with Reuben.
“You saved me from my own.
You saved me from my own.
You saved me from my
And even though Reuben is singing out to this crowd. It feels like he is singing to me. He turns to the wings and he stares at me for a moment. Our eyes connect as the song stops and I feel something. I feel this emotion that I've never felt but I remembered. I felt this connection that never existed but I recalled. All these emotions dive back at me.
And I'm taken
All of a sudden I'm not in the wing anymore. I'm not even indoors anymore. I'm outside. I remember Reuben sitting in a cornfield. He plays this song. He plays the chord over and over until he gets it right. Then he calls me over to him. He says he's ready to start the song. I put my hand on his shoulder. I put my lips close to his.
We are so in love.
We are so in love...
Then I hear Reuben
say, “Oh god. Oh god there coming.”
I shake my head, “I don't care baby. I love you. It was just a matter of time before they came for us. You're safe with me. You're safe with me forever. Danger can't keep us apart.”
Then I see Reuben's smile. The same perfect smile that I remember.
“No. You saved me from my own life,” he tells me.
I snap out of it. I'm back in the wing. What the fuck just happened? I turn to my right to see Pace standing there. He has put a hand on my shoulder.
“What? What is it?” I ask realizing that I was just daydreaming.
“Girls are hopping on stage.”
Save me seemed to have an emotional impact on more people than just me. The girls seemed to have LOVED the song.
It's one girl at that moment. Then it's two. Then it's 40. It's 60.
Security isn't stopping them. They are standing in the back. They are protesting. They aren't even STOPPING these girls from storming the stage. I watch in shock as the security doesn't move an inch. Matter of fact a bunch of them are LAUGHING.
They don't realize
that he's in trouble.
I start running on stage as I see him swarmed by girls. They are pulling him every which way. I watch as they start to RIP OFF Reuben's clothes right on stage.
Panic sets in. All of a sudden Pace is panicking. It's not funny anymore. A couple of girls were one thing. This was chaos. These girls were out for blood. They all wanted to TEAR Reuben apart and take a piece of him home with with them.
They are jerking pulling. They are hurting him! I see Reuben trying to fight them off but they are way too many. He's completley naked at that moment. Some girls are pulling at his dick. Some girls are scratching at him so deep that they are cutting INTO him!
I push past the
girls, punching and shoving my way through the crowd of dozens that
have now stormed the stage. More girls are coming. No one can stop
Reuben holds out his
hand at that moment and he screams out, “GARRISON!”
And I watch as he's being dragged away, kicking and screaming.
To read the next chapter go to www.crushedcrown.com