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Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have immortal longings in me
- (Shakespeare's Cleopatra)
Look! Look deep in yourself. You ever look in the mirror and feel like there is something more in you. There is some potential that you just can't come out.
Yes? Good...cause I haven't.
My story isn't simple. It may start off simple. Isn't that how life is though? You start out like a baby and things get so complex. The world changes you and all of a sudden your innocence is out the window. I'm going to let you know, my story isn't going to have a happy ending...well not to everyone. That is just another form of simplicity and my life was everything but that. I wish life was that simple. God...what would I have given for a simple life. However, even I now realized that wasn't my dream.
I had dreams of grandeur.
I looked at the boy. He was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. At first I thought he was looking the mirror, but no...he was looking right into my eyes.
"You looking at the reflection in my eyes?"
"No not at all. I'm looking at you. Don't frown...you never know whose been admiring your smile," he stated.
I was frowning. I couldn't help it. I didn't like to be mocked. I didn't like to be made fun of. I looked at the circle of people that he had just left before he came over here. A few had curious looks on...wondering who the ugly African boy was that he was talking to.
"Leave me alone, please, I have work," I explained.
wondered if he could hear past my accent.
I figured he could. He was from
didn't mean to bother you."
"I accept your apology."
"I didn't apologize," he stated, "I just said I didn't mean to bother you but now I obviously am, so why not have a conversation with me? Is your water that important?"
It all started as I loaded the truck with bottled water. I always loaded the truck with bottled water. It was my job. It was what I had meant to do and what I was supposed to do. When I was 4 my parents were sent to prison for treason. It was the time of the apartheid and it wasn't long before they both committed suicide so they couldn't bow down to the "white man." They didn't care that they had a son standing around, completely alone in the world. Horrible thing is that apartheid ended a year after that date when Mandela came back into office.
was stuck in an orphanage alone. See I'm
South African. I was raised in the
orphanage 20 minutes from
"I'm not for sale."
was the only thing I could think to say. He wasn't the first American that came
down here throwing money at me. They did
that to a lot of the boys. I guess they felt like the entire
"I'm not here to have sex with you."
"Why are you here then, shit!"
"My fault. I mean...excuse me. I was raised around black people. Sometimes I forget how offensive that word can be. I didn't mean to offend. Honest I didn't."
Immediately I had put my guard up. He wasn't white and it really didn't matter. I had a natural distrust for anyone who was black...no...anyone who wasn't African...no...anyone who wasn't South African.
"What do you want from me?"
"You are distant aren't you?" he asked me, "No need to be like that. I was just wondering what you were doing here...loading water. You are beautiful. You need to be on the cover of GQ or something. Are you photogenic?"
shrugged my shoulder, "I don't have a camera."
I wasn't rich like you. Mr. Rich man from across the seas figured that there was such a thing as that. My life was hard. I didn't have the time for these games. He was beautiful but I wouldn't give up my body...no matter how he gave me these false flatterings.
"What you think I'm lying to you?" he asked.
"I feel like you patronize me. Don't think I'm some young uneducated `nigger'. I don't have your education. You're right about that, but I am far from stupid."
"No...your smart and I don't patronize you.
You are beautiful," he said and then called
across the way, "
there was another one that came over.
"Look at this boy and tell me what you think. I mean wouldn't he give Cash Rue a run for his money?"
I had to admit. I was gay, if you didn't know by now. Always was. I hadn't given myself to anyone and didn't have a plans to however. I figured I would wait...I didn't know what I was waiting for...but I knew I would wait until the time was right.
face is exotic,"
"That's it? Come on...be honest. You can give more then exotic. Look at his skin. Ladies would go crazy for this. This could be money. Tell the truth...yes or no."
A year had gone by after that. The boy's name who discovered me was Mauricio. I hadn't known it at the time, but Mauricio was co-owner of Belle Verino's male modeling agency. The modeling agency had really blown up when Mauricio joined it. He was a top model back in the days. I had spoken to him like he was just some regular guy. I should have known by how beautiful he was. He had been a model for years. At the age of 23, he was retiring, hanging up his cloth and working behind the scenes to discover new talents.
I was at his retirement party now.
"Drink?" Mauricio asked me.
I could see his stares breaking through me as he handed me a flute of champagne. I drank it, looking down into the cup and when I brought my eyes back up...Mauricio's eyes were still on eme.
"Thanks," I stated, "For everything."
had been a year later, like I told you guys earlier.
It was a year and I was no longer sitting in
some lair in
Ever since I was young, I had dreams of being famous. You would ask, who didn't right? Hell, not as much as me though. I had been obsessed with it. I had been obsessed with watching the boys in the magazines. I thought at first it was because I was attracted to them. That was partially the reason, but mostly it was because I wanted to be just like them. I wanted to be the boy in the D&G ad with my ass halfway out and a dead look on my face as I wore jeans that would cost the average person three month's rent.
"Can I talk to you for a minute?"
The party was beautiful. It was on the rooftop of his condo. I had been staying with him there for the year. I wasn't the only model. Mauricio had a few other models that he believed in stay with him. The way they all were tall, sleek, muscular and beautiful, made me feel like I was staying with the cast of some daytime soap opera.
"No, Tatum. I meant in private."
That was my name. It was Tatum St. Clair. It didn't matter now. It mattered even less a year ago though. I wanted it to be in spotlights somewhere though. I wanted everyone to know who I was. Tatum St. Clair.
Being known was so important. That way I wouldn't have to feel abandoned again. I would have millions of people loving me. Why would I give two fucks about the likes of my mother and father? They lost out on me. I didn't lose out on them. I kept holding onto their betrayal in my dreams. I don't know why I couldn't just let it go. Things really stick with you when you are younger.
"Sure. Let's go."
walked through the house and to the back porch.
I could see Natalie watching us walk away.
Natalie was the other owner of Belle Verino's modeling agency.
Mauricio was more of the face of the owner while Natalie handled
everything else. She was hard
critic. She always seemed to carry the
same tone whenever my name was brought up
She would always say, "He isn't
ready." She always kept a close eye on
my face, as though watching me. It was as though she was counting the chances I
had left to get things right before she sent me back to
We finally got into the house.
"Did you see how Natalie stared?" I asked him as we made our way to the living room that was empty, except for one man who walked past heading back to the party from the bathroom.
"How can she help...you're beautiful," he stated.
"I think you are the only person in the world who thinks I'm beautiful," I stated.
He had to be. I saw how Natalie looked at me. She was so unimpressed. Several others had said I was beautiful but it was only around Mauricio. I wondered if they were just being nice to him or something. Mauricio was the hot face a year before he had met me, when he was active. It was crazy how the modeling industry worked though. One day you are the hottest thing and the next day you are a has-been who had no choice but to open your modeling agency and search for fresher faces to take your place.
"Why do you always say that? Tatum, I think you are by the most humble person I've ever met."
"I don't have a choice but to be humble. I'm nothing special."
It was annoying him that I said that. I couldn't help it. I wasn't anything special. Everyone around Mauricio...everyone in the agency was more beautiful than I was.
"I'm not Cash Rue...I never will be."
Rue was who was hot now. He got booked
for some of the top paying shows in the world.
He had done an ad for Donna Karan that was on 300 buses in
you aren't Cash. You are Tatum St. Clair," Mauricio stated and grabbed me by my
hand, "Come on I want to show you something."
Mauricio usually did the whole touching thing. It didn't matter though. A lot of guys in the modeling agency were like that and they didn't think anything of it.
He took me into his bedroom and turned on the light. As he turned on the light I saw a huge poster of me. It was laid out across his wall. I couldn't believe it. Why the hell would Mauricio Torres have a poster of me plastered onto his wall?
"Oh shit," I stated.
He laughed, "Your accent is so funny when you are surprised. It's a picture we took just playing around. You remember?"
I slightly did remember but not really. Mauricio was good with taking a lot of pictures. He never seemed to stop wanting to take pictures. I loved the picture of me on the poster though. All of a sudden things seemed so different. I knew I wasn't the most beautiful thing in the world, but here I seemed at least somewhat decent. I wasn't ugly as in person as I was in the picture.
"Cute...Tatum what the hell are you looking at?" he asked me looking at me and then looking at the picture and then looking at me again.
"I don't think I'm that hot. Seriously..."
"Let me take a better look."
That was when he got in my face and blocked off my view. He was squinting. His eyes were piercing through me. I'd noticed how he always seemed to look at me. It made me feel naked almost. It was such a sexy look that seemed to undress me in a way. Mauricio always had that intention in his eyes. It was a hidden intention...but he wasn't doing a very good job hiding it.
He took a step forward. His beautiful lips only inches from my own. Mauricio's long curls were retrained by a ponytail, but I reached out and pulled out his ponytail.
"I like your hair out more."
As I pulled my hand back, he grabbed it. He held my hand for a moment and then he put it on his face. Perhaps he wanted me to feel the softness of his skin. He wanted me to take notice about how my hand looked like it fit on his face so well. Maybe he meant for my hand to fall down to his lips like it had done. It had to be that he planned on putting my finger in his mouth. Then all of a sudden...the suckling on my finger began. It was smooth, wet and it made me feel like I was being brought back to life. The sucking continued, turning me on until my toes curled up and tried to dig into my socks so that I could not crumble.
"You didn't pull back," he told me, with a slight surprise as he looked into my eyes.
I would lie if I said that I didn't know Mauricio was gay back then.
I have pulled back?"
"No...you should pull forward...you should pull into me..."
He grabbed me and he kissed me. It was a gentle kiss that massaged my body into heaven. The kiss was how things started.
6 months later.
would have known Mauricio and I would still be going strong after all this
time? We were moving to
I didn't know if this was exactly what I wanted though. I wanted the fame...but I didn't have the look. I didn't know exactly what he was looking at.
He comes over to me and kisses me in public. Everyone is there watching us. His agent, some of his family who is there wishing us goodbye...hell, even Natalie. They know about us. I've been a secret to Mauricio. No...it was kind of the opposite.
Mauricio had a thing for flaunting me around. I was almost like I was a trophy. We were the beautiful, young couple to him. We were destined to do great things.
He had brought only his two top models with him.
That included Angelo. He was a beautiful Spanish boy no older than 14. He looked more like a girl to me. I didn't understand how a boy so young could travel so far alone without any parents. His parents didn't really care. They kind of pushed him on us as soon as Mauricio showed the slightest interest in having him for a model. Angelo was on his way to making it. His youth and appearance made him marketable for a lot of different events. Plus he had an attitude that said he was way older than he really was.
"You scared?" I ask little Angelo as soon as we get on the plane.
"Tatum, what are you scared of?" he asked.
The little boy was smart. He read through me like a damn book. He was always like that. He seemed to see what was underneath my smiles. I was scared. I was scared shitless and nothing would change that.
"What if I disappoint him?"
"Yeah. What if I do?"
"You can't disappoint Mauricio," he told me and smiled, "I see how he cares about you. It's impossible to disappoint him. Plus you have everything you need to be successful."
That is what they said. That is what all of them said. A part of me wondered where the cut off was from them being nice and them telling me the truth.
I wondered if I was in the modeling agency just because Mauricio obviously cared about me. I had a feeling Natalie thought that way even though she didn't say anything. I noticed how she watched me. Her eyes pierced.
didn't want press to know that we were in the city trying to form the new
modeling branch in
"I'll send you, Kendall and Angelo off to your penthouse. You will meet the other two guys that I recruited on my business trip last month. One of them is Natalie's brother and the other model is Xi. He doesn't really speak all that good English."
He was speaking like he did when he was around Natalie. It was that professional sound. He was trying to be all professional around her.
"You're not staying with me?"
"Mauricio, what the hell?" I ask. I grab him by his arm, "I need you with me..."
was serious. I had a dependency with
Mauricio. He got me into this modeling
mess and I tended to need him. I could
already feel my insecurities building back up.
What the hell was I going to do in a house full of these strange guys?
"Tatum, you have to grow up one day or another," he tells me.
He was being serious like he always was. I hated it. I hardly saw Mauricio smile. He was always so damn...serious. I had to admit, his serious face was one of the sexiest things that I'd ever seen.
"Whatever..." I say back.
He kisses me on my forehead, "Baby I'll be over there all the time. Natalie just wants you guys to develop a bond. The fashion industry is tough and the modeling industry is tougher. It's calling for a lot. You guys have to get tough...get ready...together."
That was all he said
just had a feeling this would all be a mess.
When I looked in the mirror I didn't see a model.
I saw an ugly little African boy that didn't
know what the fuck he was doing in
"You can do it," I heard Angelo say to me.
This shit was getting embarrassing. A 14 year old was giving me courage to do something.
"Hey buddy...buddy...BUDDY! Stop! My name is ...look at me! Hey, that's so rude! I was trying to be nice and introduce myself. Damn...I guess that's just my day huh? First I get robbed. Just walking! They rob me for all my damn bags at gunpoint and then I get to this damn penthouse, no one ones to let me in! When I finally get in I call the cops and they don't give a damn and then my roommate is looking at me like I don't exist. All this and no one even knows my name. My name is CAPRIO!"
Caprio...god...remember how I said things in my story would start out simple but they would get complicated...this what that complication. My mouth could barely keep closed as I looked at him. He was beautiful. He was beyond that. He was the most handsome man in the world.
Do you believe in love at first sight? Because I did. I didn't feel it with Mauricio. It wasn't like that. No...perhaps Caprio wouldn't perfect to everyone, but he was perfect to me. No one is perfect until you love them.
Caprio talking to an Asian boy across the kitchen island. Angelo, Kendall and I looked at him from the top of the stairs. Angelo was laughing wildly, entertained by the boy's sudden outburst.
told us that he's not that good with English,"
Caprio turned around.
His beautiful eyes moved from Angelo...to
"Oh, damn...um...hey, I'm sorry you guys had to see that, I've been having the worst day freaking possible!" he said.
He is a character. I can tell by the way he was outspoken. Angelo seems to find him hilarious. He's still laughing about the entire thing. He is...14. I watch as Caprio comes up to us with this huge smile on his face. He was amusing in a way. His boyish swagger was noticeable as he walked over to me. Great...another straight boy was all I could think.
"Oh...look, its McCauley Culkin," he said looking down at Angelo and then laughing it off, "Just playing kid. What's up? I'm Caprio."
"Hey...man...oh man..." Angelo said.
He was still laughing about how Caprio really went off on the Asian guy. I would have been embarrassed out of my mind but Caprio didn't seem to mind at all that he'd blown up. His confidence was...remarkable.
He looks at me in my eyes. He smiled at me and reachs his hand out. I shook it. I kept shaking it...like an idiot. I could almost see the clown coming out of him.
"Oh I thought we were introducing ourselves. Maybe shaking hands is just the thing to do now-a-days."
Angelo starts laughing all over again. I take my hand away
"Oh I'm Tatum," my voice shakes as I say it...
Damn that was embarrassing. As though Caprio realizes I was embarrassed he grabs my hand again. It may have been nothing but it felt like he was really trying to make me feel better or something.
"Relax Tatum, life is too short."
He smiles at me. His words were piercing through me. Why? I had a boyfriend and it was one that had done everything for me. Why was I so enthralled by this new person? Was it just regular human nature? Or was it something...more?
I can tell
reaches out his hand to the boy, "I'm
Caprio looks at him and smiles, "Hey...you don't have to introduce yourself. You are the guy who was in all those Gap commercials. Hey...as a fan I always had this question for you."
"Are you gay?"
couldn't help but to smile. Angelo of course finds that even funnier and has to
move over to the island next to the Asian boy that doesn't speak English.
I watch as
"Wrong model," he stated.
"I'm gay," I tell him, "I date Mauricio. I'm sure you met him at the last business trip."
"Mauricio? My sister's best friend Mauricio? He isn't gay."
Caprio raised his eyebrows, "I grew up with Mauricio. We were childhood friends. He got me into the modeling business."
That is you..."
penthouse was big. It was in the middle
"My last agency sucked."
It was Caprio. He walked up to me. His footsteps had been so silent that I hadn't even heard him walking up to me. He came to the glass and we stared out at the city view. It was something really amazing.
don't have to explain to me.
"Some people are real stuck up."
I heard everyone was stuck up in
"No...I'm from here. Where are you from...I hear an accent."
I'll have to show you around," Caprio stated and
smiled, "I've lived in
"I wouldn't know. I am kind of new to it all. Don't even have a portfolio yet."
"Aw man...well I am going to have to help you now aren't I?" he said and punched me in my arm, "You're still a virgin. Got to teach you the ropes since you're dating Mauricio. I always wondered why Mauricio used to love licking lollipops. I just thought he liked sweets...I guess I was right..."
I laughed. Caprio was interesting. He was really interesting.
"I'm glad his friends are becoming my friends," I stated in return, trying to seem happy with myself, "I just feel ugly when I'm next to all of you pretty people. God...I feel like the hunchback having to live with you and Kendall."
"You are ugly..."
I turned to face him. His face was serious. God...at least someone was finally being honest. I smiled, "Thanks...finally someone's real with me."
He was silent for a minute more. We stared out the window. The street below us was so beautiful. Suddenly he turned me around and looked at me.
"No...well...after a second look you're not ugly."
I rolled my eyes, "Oh gosh."
was joking. You were serious? I don't
get it. Why the hell would you think you
are ugly? Define ugly!"
Caprio. He didn't think I was ugly either. I didn't understand what was wrong with these people. I didn't understand who they were looking at. I looked in the mirror and I saw one of the ugliest people I'd ever known. All these guys looked like they were born perfect. It looked like everything was handed to them. I wasn't like that. I was only in a major modeling agency like Belle Verino because I was dating the owner.
"You wouldn't get it," I explained.
I didn't expect him to really get it. He didn't see what I saw in the mirror. He didn't see this ugly little being that just wouldn't go away.
"I met you what...5 minutes ago?"
"Yeah, probably less then that. Why?"
He looked at me in my eyes, "You need to grow a pair...I'm not trying to be rude. I am serious. I never saw a face like yours before. It's different. You get a new attitude and you'll be destined for great things. I know it..."
I didn't know whether to be offended or feel glad. He wasn't pulling any stops. He wasn't just making me feel good. He was actually telling me the truth. I could feel the truth sneaking through him. It may not have been the truth of the world, but it was all the truth that Caprio had to offer.
"Um...thanks I guess."
"Besides, I'm not friends with losers...and I think I'd like you as a friend."
couldn't sleep that night. I kept
thinking about one thing. It wasn't that
I was in a completely new city. It
wasn't that I was in the great, legendary
wasn't even that I was in this fly penthouse that seemed like it cost everyone
an arm and a leg. I had come from shacks
and now I was in a penthouse in
The fact that I didn't think I could do this whole modeling thing bothered me. I would lie if I said it didn't. However that wasn't what was keeping me up like this.
It was Caprio.
Who the hell was this mysterious ass clown? Why the hell did I find all his lame, corny jokes so revitalizing? Why were his words still rolling in my head in the way they were? Why did I have him on my mind?
I could still smell him. Perfection.
I could still see his caramel skin. I still didn't know what ethnicity he was. He seemed like he was just mixed with every race in the book. I loved the fact that I couldn't tell what ethnicity he was.
I wondered if what he was telling me was right. I was destined for great things. He was able to tell that to me after 5 minutes of meeting me.
Why the hell was I more excited for tomorrow then I'd ever been in an entire lifetime?