As soon as we got home from the studio, the phone was blaring. Michael was able to rework lyrics to "I'm Bad" and recorded a little. But not enough since he was still kind of bummed about Prince declining the offer to sing with him. I picked up the phone, "hello?"
"Hey, Shayla," Carol answered.
"Carol! I'm so glad to hear from you. I feel like we haven't talked in forever!"
"You're telling me! Are things getting better with Frank?"
I rolled my eyes, "far from it. It's gotten so bad Michael had to suspend him."
"No way! What happened?"
"I know you've seen that picture of Michael in a hyperbaric chamber all over the place."
"Well, Michael told Frank to take those photos and leak them to the press to promote Captain EO. Frank took it upon himself to not publish the photos with the Captain EO headline, but instead to say that Michael uses it to try to live until he's one hundred fifty years old."
"Are you serious?! I'm not going to lie Shayla, since we all know Michael likes to leak certain stories to the media now, Marlon and I thought he leaked this story too..."
"Girl, no. Frank made that mess up. I've been telling Michael to ease up on leaking stories about himself because it can come to backfire against him one of these days. Come to find out, his own manager is in charge of the backfire. Isn't that something?"
"My gosh... I know Michael lit into him, didn't he?"
"Sure did. I'm glad! With all the disrespect towards me, our marriage and Michael, Michael has finally had enough."
"I hope Frank understands where he went wrong."
I sighed, "me too."
Carol sighed, "I still feel so bad about what happened with Enid and Jackie."
"Like this is not only a blur for her, but everyone else too! With the affair Jackie had with Paula Abdul to Enid breaking his leg to find out he was beating her? It's all too much."
"You're telling me. I never even thought that Enid was capable of that, let alone Jackie."
"You and me both, girl," she sighed. "I feel bad for the kids! I know they're hurting."
"Especially knowing that their parents have been violent towards one another."
"Ugh! And don't forget about the restraining order!"
"I just hope they sort it all out for the kids. I would hate to see my parents like this."
"They both deserve so much better. I mean, I thought they were a good couple from the get-go, but after witnessing everything they've been through, my only hope is that they sort it out for the kids and get on with their lives peacefully."
"Peacefully! You said that right, girl!"
Carol sighed, "I'm going to call her and talk to her about it. I know she needs someone to talk to."
"Maybe I should call her up too. I'll definitely have Michael talk to Jackie. It sucks that they're going through this," I looked at Michael, taking his hand in mine.
"I'll definitely be praying for them. Well, I've gotta go, Shayla. Marlon Jr. is whining about his homework again," she laughed.
"Talk to you later!" I hung up the phone.
"What was that about?" Michael asked me.
"Jackie and Enid. It's such a shame that they've been going through this."
Michael shook his head, "you're telling me. Enid is crazy for breaking his leg with the car and I still can't believe that he was beating on her."
"Don't forget why she broke his leg... While I don't condone violence of any kind, I can only imagine what was going through her mind when she saw Jackie with Paula."
"I mean, yeah... but running over him with a car? Don't you think that's a bit extreme?"
"Just as extreme as it was when he chose to step out of his marriage. I think you'd better talk to him, Michael. I mean with him having to pay her so much because of the divorce, I know he's going through it."
He looked at me, "are you going to talk to Enid?"
"For sure, but you know I don't talk to Enid much. So that's going to be interesting..."
"You know, babe, to be completely honest with you, I think it's selfish that she wants so much money from my brother. She wasn't going on tour with him. She didn't rehearse with us. She wasn't on the road with us. And I understand she's taking primary custody of the kids, but does she really need $53,000 in monthly expenses?"
"Majority of that money is to take care of the kids, Michael..."
"Yeah, but that $53,000 also includes $2,000 for gifts, beauty, and manicures. Now that's just crazy."
I shrugged, "I mean, Jackie provided her with a lifestyle that she was getting used to..."
"Yeah, but does that mean taking everything he has?"
"They were married for eleven years, Michael. What do you expect?"
"For her not to be taking everything he has!"
I rolled my eyes, "it's not everything he has."
"I honestly don't think she deserves a penny of the royalties he garnered from the Victory Tour. That's just me," he shrugged.
"But she was married to him during the tour."
"I don't know why you're sticking up for her when she was the same one who didn't defend you when Hazel was gossiping about you and trying to make a scene."
"I don't know why you're sticking up for Jackie when he cheated on her countless times and beat on her, Michael... I know that's your brother and all, but there are some things you just cannot defend."
"And you can't defend the shadiness of Enid's actions either, Shayla. If you and I were to get a divorce, would you really expect $53,000 and a share of the three million from the tour?"
"No, because we don't have kids. Enid and Jackie do. If she's going to have primary custody of their children, she has to have a way to provide for them."
"Yeah, by working..."
"Michael, do you know how long Enid hasn't worked? Eleven years! I wanted to work, but your fame wouldn't allow it. Would you really expect her to work after not having to for quite some time? The least Jackie could do is break her off something to sustain her and the kids until she's self-sufficient on her own... He's lucky she didn't put him on child support. We know how much of a mess the child support system is." Michael could only shake his head in disagreement. "You know... When I was talking to my mom, she recommended I get a secret account in case something like that ever happens. I, personally, do not believe in it, because I don't want anything in our marriage a secret. And I've learned that secret accounts are financial infidelity towards your spouse..."
"You've got that right!" He agreed.
"But now, to be honest with you, I hope Enid had a little something off to the side so that she can be able to take care of herself and the kids..."
He looked at me, "so now you agree with a secret account?"
I shook my head, "no, I'm not saying that. I just hope that she at least put away something, hopefully with the knowledge of Jackie, so that she and the kids can sustain without Jackie's money. Do you get what I'm saying?"
"I hear you loud and clear."
"Do you really? Or do you still think I believe in secret accounts?"
"I get it. Babe, do you want a secret account?"
"Well, first of all, I don't want it to be a secret. And second of all, I would hope and pray nothing like this ever happens to us, but then again, I'm sure Enid thought the same thing..."
"Babe, nothing like that will ever happen to us. I promise you that. I believe in marriage for life. There are far too many divorces occurring nowadays, and I don't want our marriage to fall victim to that."
I hugged him, "Michael, can you believe we've been married for three years already?"
"And for many years to come," he kissed me.
September 22, 1986
With Frank being suspended, I felt a little more at ease with things. I've been able to think things through and have a clear consensus on how I would further handle things regarding Frank. He hasn't been harping on Michael about every little thing. He's called to apologize to me, but that's not enough. No more disrespect. He has to include me in all of Michaels appearances unless the events are televised... I can't wait to meet with Frank. I wish Michael had let us meet beforehand to discuss this whole "single husband" persona. But he needed a manager immediately. And I understand that, but would it have hurt to at least discuss the terms and conditions of this whole thing?
"Shayla, Frank is here," Michael called as he opened the front door. Bubbles and I were laying on the couch. It seems to be about all we do nowadays, since we can't go out together unless we're accompanying Michael at the studio.
"Good evening, Shayla," Frank said as he found a seat.
"Hi," I had to keep it short with him. No more explanations. No more trying to be nice, because being nice has never gotten me anywhere with him. Michael sat beside me on the couch, rubbing my feet.
"I swear," Frank chuckled. "Bubbles is like a baby for you all. You all plan on having a baby soon?"
"Not yet, with my career and all," Michael shrugged. "But yeah, you know Bubbles is family."
"Right, right..." he shook his head. "Look, I just wanted to apologize to the both of you. Michael, for betraying you and Shayla, for disrespecting you."
I sat up, "I just want to know, on what grounds did you ever think this was okay?"
"Well, Michael and I have been talking about the tabloids for quite some time and how they make up stories about him. We've talked about what it would be like to feed them a story of our own. I honestly thought the fake story about the hyperbaric chamber was much more interesting, Michael and I apologize."
"You knew I was promoting a film. Why would you promote a lie to the entire world when you and I both know they'll run with it? They've called me weird for a while now, Frank. You know that. I feel like you not only betrayed me as a manager but also as a friend," Michael explained.
"And I don't want you to feel that way, Michael. I am your friend-"
"I'm going to need for you to use that term very lightly, because friends don't betray friends, Frank."
"You're right. I just thought I was doing something good..." he hung his head in shame. "And Shayla, I never meant to disrespect you. I just need you to understand that with the level of celebrity that Michael is at, he doesn't need to be seen as tied down."
"But does that require disrespecting me in the process as a way to belittle me? I don't, nor have I ever deserved that. I've treated you with nothing but respect. Even when Michael told me you wanted him to be single to the media. I was confused, but I understood it as a business strategy."
"You're absolutely right. You've been nothing but understanding and for that, I'm very grateful because I know no one else would be so understanding."
"You think? It's still hard for me to be okay with Michael being portrayed as single. Would your wife be okay with you being portrayed as single?"
"I'm sure she would not."
"Exactly. The only reason I'm making this sacrifice is that I love Michael and I know this is only business. I'm trying my best not to take it personally."
"What can I do to make you happy, Shayla?" He asked me.
"Stop disrespecting me. Stop disrespecting our marriage. Stop trying to make it like I can't be with Michael during his public achievements and events. And Michael," I turned to face him. "Stop trying to sneak me in like I'm a secret or something. While the public may not know you're married, all of us in this room do. Figure out a way to allow me to attend without it being a secret. I'm glad you were able to let me go with you to the Captain EO showing with you, but it felt so fake. It didn't feel genuine. I would have felt better being a member of the press. If I can't go, let me know. I understand. While I want to be there for all of your achievements, I know that your fame and you being 'single' to your fans won't allow it. I get it, but you don't have to keep me a secret." Michael and Frank were silent as they took in what I had to say. While Frank was predominantly to blame for this mess, Michael was too for co-signing it.
"I'm sorry, babe," Michael finally said. "I'll do whatever it takes to make sure you can attend an event without making you a secret. I didn't realize I was making you feel that way."
"Didn't you hear Prince?"
At that he rolled his eyes, "I actually try not to listen to Prince."
"Well, you should have. Because he was right, you are keeping me a secret. And there's a way to be in a relationship without it being a secret."
"I'm to blame for that, Shayla," Frank spoke up. "I told Michael to keep you a secret in the best way possible."
I sighed, "I'm not surprised."
"We're going to fix this, Shayla," Michael told me.
"Y'all better. I laid out my conditions. Now it's time for y'all to do the same. This time with me, not behind my back like you did two years ago." Michael and Frank looked at each other. Bubbles was watching the entire scene unfold. I rubbed his head. He's literally like the baby we've never had. I honestly can't wait for Michael and me to have our own children someday.
Michael deeply exhaled, "okay, Shayla, do you want to come to any award shows or performances?"
I thought it, "I want to be there, yes. I want to be your date to the shows too, but I respect your single image towards the fans. So, I'll hold off on being your date to the award shows for now, but I do want to attend."
"So, we'll get you special seats," Frank chimed in. "Are you comfortable going on tour?"
"Absolutely! Last time, I wasn't able to go with Michael because I was working, we had just got married and we weren't in the spotlight. This time all bets are off. I definitely want to go on tour."
"Sounds good," Michael agreed. "And what about public appearances?"
"I'll pass on those. Majority of the time, those will be on tv or in the paper. We want all eyes on you, not me."
"Perfect!" Frank smiled.
"And Frank?" Michael said. "Don't go behind my back again. I want to keep an honest business relationship with you."
"It won't happen again, boss," Frank nodded.
Suddenly a knock came to the door. I got up to open it to find Bruce and John waiting outside, "hey guys. Are you all here for the meeting too?"
"Michael called us over here for a special meeting," John walked in.
"Come on in, guys!" Michael called from the living room. "Babe, can you go get those books for me from my office?" I shut the door and went back to Michaels office to obtain three books he had bought. He's read this book so many times, I'm almost over hearing about it. "Thanks, babe." He took them from me and got up to hand them to Frank, Bruce, and John. "This book will be your Bible as it has been mine for the past couple of months. I'm sure you've all heard of P.T. Barnum. An exceptional businessman and showman. And just like his, I want my career to be the greatest show ever. This is his autobiography. You all need to read this book, breathe this book, eat this book, or shoot, even sleep with the book. It needs to be ingrained in you. I'll be reading it for the thousandth time, so you won't be reading it alone. I'll be checking in with you to make sure you've read the book too, so don't let me down. We all need to be a team!" He smiled. "Any questions?"
"Wasn't P.T. Barnum that guy who founded the circus?" John asked. "You want your career to be a circus?"
Michael rolled his eyes, "you're thinking very shallow right now, John. You need to look deeper. P.T. Barnum founded the greatest show ever. No one has been able to top his version of the circus. Read the book. It will tell you all you need to know. Why would I want my life to be a circus?" He scoffed.
"It's a good book, guys," I chimed in. "Michael has been raving about it so long that I'm sick of hearing about it."
"And that's exactly what I want! I want you guys sick of hearing about it, because by then I know you've read it and that you already know exactly what I'm talking about."
"Sounds good, Michael. We'll make it happen," Frank flipped through the book.
"Any other questions?" Michael asked. No one said anything. "Good! Get out and go read that book. We're going to be the greatest of all time! No one will be able to touch us!"