Teaser 328: Good Will
Serena sighed deeply, holding her frown for my view. “I'm not going to divorce you, Al, but I am going to warn you. No more wives! This is it! You can't go around and marry every woman you meet who has nothing, as though you can rescue her, even if you could afford it!” Serena paused and let out a large laugh. “You can't go around with a business card, 'Have an opening. Will marry.' You get me?” Everyone burst out laughing, except for Jinpa, who held an expression of anxiety and concern.
I turned to Jinpa. “You are my last wife,” I said to her slowly and she started to ease up. Serena rose and stood before Jinpa and beckoned her to stand. Serena wrapped her arms around Jinpa tightly while Jinpa wrapped her arms around Serena and hugged Serena even more tightly.
With difficulty Serena stated, “She does have some strength, Al. I'll give her that.” When they released Serena sat down in her chair. “I have grown to love Lena, have grown to love Esperanza, have even grown to love Tanya, and I think I'll probably grow to love Jinpa, too. None of it changes, Al, what I still wish, that I have you to myself.” Serena sat back in the chair and crossed her arms. “You have risen so high from when I first met you, when you were Gregory, even I am stunned at times. I have received so many requests for you, Al-Barrak, to attend this event, make this appearance, I have lost count, and they all do it with me because you're my husband and I might be able to persuade you. And with every one what I hate the most is they don't want me, they want you! They all can reach me easily and could ask me, but they want you! When a few years ago, nobody knew you existed!”
“I think I've said more than once, I didn't really plan it this way.”
Serena shook her head as she responded, “For someone who plans so little, you have blown into everyone's world like a whirlwind, not just mine.” She turned to Esperanza. “Am I wrong?”
Esperanza laughed. “And he started with a little black cat, no less.”
“Oh, don't get me started on Little Boy again!” Serena exclaimed, exasperated.
Esperanza turned to me. “They've asked me if you will speak at the university, give a lecture, Al. They all know what you advised about investments and real estate, long before you left Tibet. They also asked if you would talk about Tibet and the Chinese. It's not a secret some have been detained and questioned about your visit.”
“I'll tell you, Esperanza, my head should be spinning from all which has taken place since I walked off the plane in Lhasa. There are several whose very freedom is at risk, who could be locked away indefinitely, and each one having only an indirect relationship to my visit, so I'm trying to devise a way to get them all out. It's too dangerous for them to stay.”
“Maybe you should start it with a lecture at the university,” Esperanza proposed.
“I need to coordinate it on several fronts. One, I want Tanya here to bring her diplomatic bag of surprises and have us all discuss how we're going to present it.” I shook my head. “And I need to finish Terms of Surrender. I have quite a few investors waiting, some more patiently than others.”
Jacob's phone had been ringing constantly. In every airport on our way to L.A., he had dozens of messages awaiting his response. Being the consummate professional and knowing my timetable, if the request could not be satisfied because it couldn't wait, he apologized and suggested another time in the more distant future. If the request was for some future date after a week or so of my arrival in L.A., Jacob promised a timely response from me, with the explanation I had many items to attend, some personal, and some very pressing since they drastically affected others. Most didn't know I had married for a fifth time. We didn't share it.
We weren't at Serena's house for long when she, along with Esperanza, was deluged with calls from close friends and acquaintances, asking about me. I had calls, too. I only responded to those closest. All others I simply ignored. I don't have the time for you. I wouldn't have the time for a large number of people on the fringe who had my direct number. With those, I gave the return number to Jacob and he called to apologize and request they contact me through him.
Late at night, early in the morning in Munich, Tanya called. When I answered, I stated calmly, “Arrange for your official diplomatic visit here, my beloved, and bring your entire collection of diplomatic communiques so we can inform the world what's been going on with me, what happened in China, and what is still going on there. You and I, on a lecture stage at a university, are going to explain our relationship, why we married when we did and couldn't wait for a more formal wedding in Germany. Moles can create an enormous amount of damage in a garden, Tanya, but they do it all underground and out of sight, yet they leave a huge destruction in their wake. Until you dig them out, they'll continue their destruction. We're going to enlist the help of the rest of the world and we're going to dig these moles out and let them rot in the light.”
The following day, very early in the morning, Jacob drove me to his Special Forces colleague, who accompanied us every day while in L.A., and to the studio where I met with Jeremy and David. I sat with both as we watched and listened to the rough draft all the way through, though I asked to stop it at various places so we could discuss a scene, and I made notes. Being away from all of it for as long as I had provided me a different insight into some of the scenes which seemed unnecessary, out of place or out of character. With those scenes so noted we went back to the editing room and looked at other takes. We went through every questionable scene, made some changes on takes, and some scenes I jettisoned completely. They were insignificant in my opinion, added nothing but screen time which wasn't good enough. With the editor on hand Jeremy and David promised I would have these changes in another draft tomorrow morning. They would work on it all night if necessary.
For both, but mostly for the editor with whom I had never worked, I stated, “This has been a very busy year for me. I almost haven't had the time to breathe. I have placed a large amount of work and responsibility on all your shoulders that I, as director, should have been carrying. I am grateful and beholden to all three of you, and you should consider that most of what you have compiled is perfect and because you will spend a large amount of time changing it now I will never forget. Other than express my enormous gratitude, what else can I provide you?”
The editor smiled warmly to me. “Get it in theaters with my credit and it's all I'll ever ask.”
I had another pressing issue, to me and to my reputation, which I had come to conclude in all correctness was a matter of good will, like any company, now considered as real human beings, though by the darkened of the Supreme Court. Companies spend a large amount of resources to promote their “good will” and spend even more resources to protect it. I had performed the same activity, had generated an enormous amount of good will and I had every right and expectation to protect it. What I had done consistently, from the first days before we began shooting The True Cross, was provide an official bio, from which I never deviated, and never once listed the names of companies or organizations for whom I had labored. They never deserved to have their names mentioned with mine, for to have your organizational name attached to mine is considered a privilege by me, and should you wish it, it becomes an endeavor of shilling, for which you will pay me with exorbitant fees. In the past some media folks had attempted to do so under the guise of reporting to their viewers or listeners. Every one who overstepped the bounds received official contact from my attorney to cease and desist or suffer the consequences. All quietly shut up. For some reason, though, since I had slipped away to Tibet and became impossible to reach, this linking of organizations to me, especially once the world-wide financial picture crumbled so quickly and easily, meant I had nearly hundreds to address. I contacted my favorite legal representative of the firm I used exclusively, located in Europe, and told her, “Jacob will soon send you an exhaustive list of all this name-dropping which I have every right to prohibit. You send them an official notice of cease and desist and include within thirty days an official pronouncement of apology and which must include the same pronouncement and apology from the organization named, or I will sue both parties and various individuals of whom I discover in collusion, and my suit will not end until I punish everyone involved with absolutely no mercy. I will break them!” I paused while my attorney, a very energetic, enthusiastic, and committed thirty-five year-old woman who loved to tangle laughed, and added, “I imagine you'll enjoy stomping on them. True?”
She laughed again. “For my favorite client? Absolutely! You make it all worthwhile, Al! But why stop there? We've been sending these cease and desist orders for years. All have been appropriately warned. Why let them off the hook so easily? Why don't we include, with the apology, a demand they contribute a million dollars to a charity which serves the most destitute and the contribution must be made publicly?”
“I love your mind, dear,” I replied, laughing. “Book 'em!”
In the fall, during one sixty-day period, we wrangled more than one hundred and sixty-five million dollars in charitable contributions to food banks, homeless shelters, organizations providing support and care for the mentally ill wandering around hopelessly, even international organizations providing food and shelter for the destitute, with each contribution publicly performed. Some refused to respond or ignored us. We sued every one in a European court and with her aggressive style of demanding discovery, she discovered the sometimes enormous amount of collusion to ride on my good will. I even had some offer to help pay my expenses in these suits. We broke several individuals, some to such a point we had their homes confiscated and their entire families were thrown out. Over a year and a half of this, no one voiced any opposition. Some of the confiscations were recorded and broadcast internationally. The result was a loud cheer world-wide. I was standing up for the little guy, and the little guys and gals applauded. We won every suit which went to trial. We stipulated a jury and every one sided with us, with me. We crushed media outlets, all online types, generally espousing ideas and opinions contrary or opposed to mine. Most we soon learned had set me as a target. The verdict was reached by the jury, they were the losers and their web site disappeared the next day. So be it. The following year after my excursion into Tibet the second-highest source of my income came from lawsuits to protect my good will and which I won. One media source produced an issue where my photo appeared on the cover with the blurb, “Do NOT mess with this man!” They then proceeded in their article to address exactly why you shouldn't mess with Al-Barrak. I don't forget, I give no quarter, and I have no qualms about reducing anyone to a squalid state who was far beyond this state until they messed with me. I would not let up.
Tanya arrived two days after we spoke—in an official diplomatic capacity and complete with several in nothing more than a security role—to expose what others all over the world had been conspiring in my rise. We collaborated on something of a script over three days while I also spoke with the more networked of the cast, crew and staff from the movie. In days close to three hundred were anxious to see our first screening. I had considered for months where to screen the movie and decided to call the hotel where I booked all the Oscar attendees. They had a conference room which could accommodate three hundred or more. My requirement, besides adequate seating, was to arrange state of the art viewing and sound for the entire room using a disk medium. Since my stay with my sincere message of great appreciation sent to corporate and the Board, everyone who worked at the hotel remembered me and my requests were met to my satisfaction in hours. We set the date two days after our lecture at the university.
In the meantime the Big Chief arranged for an interview with an international correspondent and he began his campaign to turn the tide in Tibet. He spoke frequently about me by name, about my trip to Tibet and about the threats to my life before I made the trip and what little the authorities provided for my security and safety. He finished by explaining many of those in Tibet and Lhasa had welcomed me as is typical of those from this part of the world and many were being detained and questioned and threatened for nothing more than being hospitable. The Big Chief spoke in generalities but when the correspondent asked for specifics, he finished the interview by stating, “The details are not hidden. You can discover the details. Those in authority in Tibet have made little effort to hide what they're doing. They intimidate, and when one intimidates, one wants all to know about such intimidation, since it serves a purpose, too. They will make it difficult for you to discover the details, even to the point of denying it, yet there are many who know those being intimidated.” It had been years, decades perhaps, since the Big Chief had spoken about the Chinese in such an openly antagonistic manner. This fact wasn't lost on the more intelligent across the globe.
- Just Desserts, Segment Forty-Two “Fata Tempor” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021
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