Teaser 271: An Immediate Future for Anna and Conrad

Two days after we showed the final version to everyone I was back in Baden Baden in the arms of my beloved Magdalena. Soon I was meeting with my previous hosts and their progeny, both now entertainment pros. Matty and Wilhelm were quite charming during this meeting. No talk of wives. They wanted to know how Anna performed and how well did Conrad record. “Conrad recorded his portion very well and I'm sure he's already told you the main reason he could do so is from the help, training and encouragement he received from Jeremy and David and his great ability to absorb all of it and turn in a professional endeavor. Anna, however, was a huge disappointment.”

“Al-Barrak!” Anna screamed.

Lena and I laughed uproariously, and soon had everyone, including Anna, laughing with us. “You are so easy, my child,” I teased her. She frowned mightily, with the corners of her lips raised. I turned and looked back and forth from Matty to Wilhelm. “She sang lead on one song and she was absolutely dynamite. She really blasted it way out there. She had her co-star, one of the men in the chorus, practically trembling when she was wailing away. Very effective. And she sang chorus many times and danced out in front many times. She was quite impressive. You can't miss her in her skimpy deer skin dress because she was very alluring and attracting, as we were hoping for all the Maenads. At times Anna does stand out. I think you would be proud of her, both of you.”

Matty frowned a bit, though. “That is good to hear, that her withdrawal from university wasn't completely wasted, that both of their withdrawals weren't wasted.”

“I'm not going back next semester, Mother,” Conrad announced.

Before either Matty or Wilhelm could react I interrupted. “May I respond, please, since it was directed to me?” I gave everyone the chance to calm and wait patiently. “University will always be there for both and I will never encourage your children to skip a university education and degree. It has life long advantages, but, as parents, you must let your adult children make their own decisions in the end because it affects their lives more than yours. Counsel them and leave it. As for Conrad, you know we've already offered him a full-time task to work on the documentary and he's already accepted it. I have no idea what Anna is going to do and I have nothing for her at this moment...I will say this, though. I strongly urge her to take the back-end option as one of the perpetual owners of the movie version. She can start back at university in the spring and, as a possibility, she might finish the semester as one of the more independently wealthy students and that certainly gives her more options. As they say, she can pick and choose what she really wants to do. They both can.”

“What do you think is the earnings possibility for the movie, Al?” Wilhelm asked.

“The earnings possibility at the end of its theatrical release is easily hundreds of millions, in U.S. dollars. Should both choose the owner option it would make each multi-millionaires.”

“But it's only speculation, Al-Barrak!” Matty scolded me.

“So I'll give you the real scoop. The budget came in slightly under a million. Stretching it to remain conservative, break-even comes at two million, which is when the owners start earning. There is a large variation in what we can expect for different options when it comes to distributing the movie, and we're under negotiations about it, so let's skip it. The genuine interest in the movie from theater owners world wide is considerable. We can conservatively expect two hundred theaters on opening day. We'll premiere in Munich Thursday, open world wide Friday, and by the following Monday, should Anna have chosen to remain an owner, she will have earned six figures in U.S. dollars, in three days.”

“You didn't tell any of us this the whole time we worked on it, Al-Barrak!” Anna complained.

“For good reason, young one. I could not have any of you young people think your work, or failure to perform well, might cost me, us, multiple millions of dollars. It's why I told you, all of you, every single time any of you brought it up, and it was always irrelevant to the work needing to be performed, I would most likely lose money on this venture, and I would always spout various reasons, and you all accepted it. I could not have you thinking we could make a huge amount with a brilliant performance because your performance would suffer. This is the pressure of the business on everyone, Anna. I could not have you young people, who simply do not have the experience working competently under this enormous pressure, to actually have to consider it. I kept you in the dark about it because many of you would have crumbled. In the entertainment business, people crumble under this enormous financial pressure constantly, and they're all professionals. You were all amateurs.”

“Hundreds of millions, Al-Barrak? Do you really think it's possible?” Wilhelm's raised eyebrows signaled a great deal of skepticism.

“I have no indication we will open with less than two hundred theaters, Wilhelm. I have a reputation in this business from The True Cross. I personally have met, spoken with, or exchanged emails and phone calls with hundreds of theater owners since. I hold the business respect of most of them and have already heard from many of them. I fully expect after two weeks from opening day every single one of the owners of the movie will be multi-millionaires. This means, each of your children, Wilhelm, will be worth more than you and your wife combined.”

“That cannot be,” Matty said softly, with as little conviction as I had ever heard her speak.

“Why go back to school, Mother? I can do whatever I want!” Anna proclaimed.

“Slow down, both of you,” I admonished. I waited until I had the attention of all. “First of all, it is possible, Matty, quite possible, very possible. Please now understand why I never shared it with any of the company, always downplayed it, talked around it.” I engaged Anna's direct gaze. “You, little girl, would have wilted to nothing if I, only sharing it with you, had told you what I think we could possibly generate with the movie.” I shook my head. “Then, I would have had no other choice but replace you, because you could not have handled the pressure, Anna. You've never been subjected to it and until you have, never, ever, talk to me about it. If you think it was easy for me with everything which happened with The True Cross, you expose to me exactly what little you understand. I was, at times, literally moments from cracking completely, because of the unrelenting pressure. No one ever saw it or thought it. That's how well I kept it hidden, but if I had reached the breaking point, I never would have recovered. You may think you're strong enough, but I was never going to subject you or any of the others to it. I would have watched you crack one after the other. In my presence, never talk like that again!” I watched Anna hang her head very low and when I glanced to her mother I saw a look of approval.

“Take my advice under your strongest consideration, Anna, because I am truly enamored with many of your traits as a human being. Therefor, I do only want you to consider what's best for you in the long run. You still have a long life ahead of you...” I waited for her to lift her head and engage me with her full attention. “Go back to school next semester. Choose the owner option on the movie. Concentrate on your studies and let everything else take care of itself. When anyone talks to you about the movie, always downplay it. Be humble at all times. You will impress those who should be impressed by your genuine humility and the others you will send away deservedly so. If it does well at the box office and through the release on disk and anything else, then you will have more options. If you want to pursue a career in entertainment, we'll all discuss it, you, your parents, Conrad, Lena, all of us. I'll tell you what you can and cannot expect. Let us all wait until then and in the meantime, get back on your educational career.”

- Just Desserts, Segment Thirty-ThreeJourney to India” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

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