"Today was exciting!" I beamed as Frank and I entered my penthouse after a long day of pop-ups. It was all just to drum up the excitement of seeing my fans and my fans seeing me for the first time in a long time. I've missed them dearly and I'm sure they missed me just as much. It was like every time I stepped out, once people noticed me, they would just flock to me. While I hate it most times, this time was okay. It's only okay when I'm in control of it. If I'm not in control of it, then, of course, it becomes annoying and stressful. "I can't wait until Mariah and Shayla get back. Mariah really worked those cameras, didn't she, Frank?"
"She did," Frank nodded. "She already looks like a star. If she keeps hanging around you, I'm sure she'll be just that someday."
"If that's what she wants, I'll certainly help her out with it. She handled that with ease," I relaxed into the couch. "Did Shayla say when they would be back?"
"No. Just said they were doing a bunch of sightseeing today," he shrugged.
"Well, I hope they were able to see everything they wanted to see. I'd hate for them not to be able to. Especially since we're about to go back home so soon."
"Michael," Frank cleared his throat. "I don't know if there's a good time for me to say this, but the elders from your congregation called again."
Rolling my eyes, I sighed, "and?"
"They don't agree with the stories we've been putting out. They feel like what you're doing makes the Witnesses look bad. They don't-"
"They don't agree with this. They don't agree with that. They don't agree with me. What else don't they agree with? You know, those elders are really starting to get on my nerves."
"Mike," he looked at me. "You don't mean that."
"Oh, but I do," I shot him a look. "It's like they have a problem with everything I do. They thought 'Thriller' was demonic. They don't want me to be creative. It's almost like they don't want me to be an entertainer at all. Like... They don't want me to have fun or be able to express my God-given talent. God blessed me with so many talents and they don't me to express that? Isn't that going against God, Frank?"
"Exactly! As far as I'm concerned, that's the biggest sin of all! Not doing what God put you on this earth to do. And they are getting in the way of that. I don't like them thinking they can tell me what to do. And now that I'm a solo artist, it's become much worse. You tell them, I'm leaving the congregation."
"You're what? Michael, you may want to think about this."
"I have for quite some time and it's time. Tell them I'm done. I don't want to be associated with their church or the Witnesses anymore. If I can't do what God called me to do or they feel like they can tell me what to do all the time, I have no choice but to leave."
"And you're sure about this?"
"I'm positive," I nodded. The front door opened, and Mariah ran in toward me. Now all of a sudden, having Mariah in the house was an absolute joy. I'm going to be sad when she has to go back home. "Hey, Mariah," I smiled, bringing her in for a tight hug. "How was your day?"
"Magical! We saw Big Ben, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace. I just want to meet Princess Diana, but that probably won't happen," she exclaimed.
"Well, another chance may present itself in the future. You never know. By the way," I looked her in the eye. "You did amazing out there, kid. You're a natural born star," I smiled.
Her eyes grew wide in excitement, "you really think so?"
"The way you worked those cameras, Mariah... I've only seen one other girl do that and now she's a star in her own right. Can you take a guess who that is?"
"Who?" She wondered.
"My sister, Janet. You guys should hang out sometime. I'm sure she could teach you the ropes. Have you heard her album 'Control' yet?"
"Who hasn't heard that album? It's amazing! I played it all the time when it came out."
"Janet is a force to be reckoned with and you are too, little sister. Just a little more practice and you'll be a star in your own right as well," I made my way over to Shayla, kissing her. "How was your day, baby?"
"Unexpected, if I do say so myself. You put on quite a show out there in front of Big Ben," she teased.
"Was it bad?"
"I mean, it took us a couple hours to finally get the photo I wanted of Mariah in front of Big Ben, but other than that it wasn't too bad."
"A couple hours? I was only there, for what? For ten minutes? Twenty at the most?"
"You made Mariah a star out there and people acted accordingly. We had to dodge a couple of news people."
She nodded, "yep. We had to come back when the coast was clear. But no seriously, outside of a concert, I've never seen that many people vying for your attention before! You've got to tell me what that was like."
I laughed, "it's quite a demanding position. I was really happy to see you and Mariah there. All the attention went from me to Mariah, did you see that?"
"Hardly. I think people were just excited to see you with a kid. Or a 'fan' in their eyes."
"You think so? I thought they were really paying attention to her."
"The headlines are definitely going to read, 'Michael Jackson beckons eager fan', not 'Cute kid is a star,'" she laughed.
My smile faded, "Shayla, I'm leaving the church."
"The Witnesses. I'm leaving them. They've caused more problems in my career than anything."
"Huh," she bit her lip, looking away from me. "To be honest, I thought you left them a long time ago. The last time you went knocking on doors was in eighty-four. Maybe even eighty-five to be generous. I honestly didn't even think you took them seriously anymore."
"I did. I mean, I grew up a Witness. Majority of my morals stem from them, so to leave is a big thing for me..."
"Well, if it provides you with stability, structure, and morals, then why leave? Isn't that what you want and need in your life?"
"What I've been taught in the church will never leave me. Like, ever. I don't see them teaching anything they haven't already taught before."
"So, how do you leave, if you don't mind me asking? I mean you've been a Witness your entire life. It seems as though you've been close with your congregation and some of the elders. What's going to happen?"
I shrugged, "I'm just going to have Frank tell them I'm out."
She gave me a look, "you're going to make Frank do it? Why? Why won't you do it?"
"Because I don't want to. I'd much rather have Frank tell them for me. Besides, if I do it, they'll have every reason to tell me why I'm rejecting God for this that and the other. That's not the case and if Frank does it, I won't have to hear all that crap."
"I don't know... I think it would be better if you do it yourself. It's your religion, not Frank's. We've talked about this, Michael..."
"Yeah, we've talked about this, Shayla," I laughed. "We've talked about what Frank's role is in our lives, right? Frank, you don't mind calling the elders for me, do you?" I looked over at him.
"Nah," he shrugged.
"See? If Frank doesn't have a problem with that, then there's no problem."
"I'm not saying that," she sighed. "I'm saying taking responsibility for your own actions and doing things for yourself."
"Babe, in show business, I'm blessed to have people do things for me. It's not that big a deal. By the way, we're heading back home at noon tomorrow."
"Why so soon?" She groaned.
"Q set up a meeting with Prince for me?"
Her face scrunched up, "for what?"
"I don't know. Maybe he's still trying to make this duet happen. I don't know. We've already filmed the short film. I don't know what Q is expecting from the meeting this time."
"Tell me all about it."
"I will for sure."
"Michael," Frank called out. "When do you want me to talk to the elders?"
"Whenever you see fit," I shrugged. I know Shayla may not think this is a good idea with me having Frank do all the work. But that's what I pay him for. He's to take care of all my affairs and speak on my behalf in most if not all situations. My only real concern out of this is what Mother will have to say once she hears about it.