"John? It's Michael. Any word on Sycamore Valley yet?" I asked as soon as he answered.
He sighed, "I'm getting everything together for you, Michael. The ranch will be yours before this month is out." He was probably tired of me calling all day every day. But I can't wait to officially have my home. The Hideouts were cool and all, but my dream has always been to be able to call a place my own. Sure, I wasn't living with my parents. So, the Hideouts weren't too bad. But I've had my eye on Sycamore Valley Ranch since Paul was staying there back in eighty-two. It's too beautiful of a place for me not to pass up. It's going to be me and Shayla's own little world.
"Sorry, I just want to make sure. I'm so excited, John, you have no idea."
"Oh, I know. You call me every day about it," he laughed.
"We'll have it by this month for sure?"
"For sure, Michael. Don't worry about it. I've got it all taken care of. Shouldn't you be worrying about preparing for the Grammy's?"
"You're right," I nodded. "I'll talk to you later," I put the phone back down on the hook. Shayla and I have been in New York for a little under a week. I just finished the first two shows in America in Kansas City a week ago. Touring in Japan and Australia was nothing less than what I expected it to be. My Japanese fans loved me. They loved the concerts. I missed them greatly, so to be able to give them the first couple of shows was a real treat for them and for me. The Australian fans went crazy. Compared to the Japanese fans with their structure and all, the Australians didn't want to sit. There was no assigned seating. They just wanted to stand and watch. I felt appreciated in both instances, but my God.
I gave my first interview in a while to 60 Minutes Australia while in Tokyo. It wasn't a long interview at all, in fact, I honestly just wanted to get in and get out. The questions actually weren't that bad either. Frank, of course, was there. I'm fine doing interviews on my own but given everything in the media about me before and after the album release, he and I felt it best if he commented on certain things instead of me. The media loves to screw up what I have to say about myself, but when others say it, for some odd reason it's better. So, it was only right for Frank to be there with me. The media slander got so bad though that I wrote a letter to People Magazine just to let them know how I felt about it. Frank said my letter didn't make sense, but I knew what I was trying to say. Don't judge a man unless you've walked in his shoes. The public doesn't know me, so they decide to make up crazy stories about me because of that. Shayla didn't understand what I meant when I said, "animals strike not from malice, but because they want to live, it is the same with those who criticize, they desire our blood, not our pain." I had to explain to her that I simply meant that people don't criticize other people because they love to see us hurt, they just love to see the outcome of that hurt. From a writer's point of view, Shayla said it could have been written better. Well, I'm not trying to write a book. I just want to get my point across so everyone can at least understand that what they're saying about me hurts. Ever since the album came out the ridicule has gotten worse. Instead of the media talking about the music they find it more interesting to discuss my appearance or the stories out there about me. Why can't they just talk about the music? If I wanted to talk about my appearance, I would have talked about it in the music. Why does the world find it their business to talk about stuff like that? Did they not listen to "Leave Me Alone?"
The album finally hit number one on the Billboard charts September twenty-sixth, but that quickly came to an end November seventh. I was kind of disappointed that my album was bumped from the number one spot by Bruce Springsteen's "Tunnel of Love" album. I expected my album to come back on top sooner or later, but it's March now and it has yet to reach number one again. "Thriller" came out October of eighty-two and it seemed I had to wait forever for it to finally chart. Finally, by February of eighty-three, it was number one on Billboard's list until June. That was something magical. All my dreams came true at that moment. All throughout that year, "Thriller" would leave and come back on top of the charts. It came back in July, October, and December. I was on top of the world then. Maybe my hopes were too high for "Bad." It's not charting as well as I expected it to. I worked just as hard on "Bad" as I did for "Thriller," so I don't understand why it's charting so poorly. Didn't the public miss me in the music scene? Were they still fans of my music? Or was the success I had with "Thriller" just a onetime thing that I'll never get back? Obviously, the fans still loved my music, because every arena was sold out. They certainly loved to see me perform but they just weren't buying the album or something. I don't understand. I'm disappointed. I just knew "Bad" was going to be a terrific follow up to "Thriller." I think the negative press is the reason why my album is charting so badly. Since the album came out, they talked more about the stories I put out to drum up excitement for my album or would often accuse me of bleaching my skin than reporting on what really mattered. None of it is true, so why does it matter?
Bill and Roland escorted me and Shayla into the Helmsley Palace Hotel. The Grammys are tomorrow and I'm preparing for that. I'm excited for the Grammys. Mostly for the world to see the performance I have in store for them. Aside from all the negative press I've been getting towards myself and the album, I've just decided to just let the Recording Academy decide. They did me justice before and will surely do it again. I have faith in the Recording Academy because they know music. "Thriller" is my best work, but as of now, "Bad" is even better and I know they'll recognize that even if Billboard won't. The Grammys won't disappoint me. Shayla was escorted up to the suite first. Frank and I followed behind so as to not cause too much attention to Shayla and most importantly so that we could all get to our suites without all the craziness.
"Michael," Frank tapped me on the shoulder. "I wasn't able to score tickets for Shayla to attend the Grammys with you."
"You weren't able to or you didn't want to?" I challenged him. I know Frank doesn't want Shayla to be there because it would ruin my "single" image. At this point, I don't even care about that anymore. Quite frankly, I'm over it. I'm this close to just going against the entire plan and announcing my marriage.
Frank looked me in the eye, "I wasn't able to." He's lying, but I'm not going to argue with him. The Grammys are every year. I've gone to the shows without her for quite some time, but then again, I wasn't nominated for what I'm nominated for this year. I sighed. It's whatever. Shayla will be fine. In fact, amidst the entire craziness of the tour, she was able to release another book called "Josephine." I don't know where she found the time to write a whole book, but she did and I'm proud of her. "Josephine" just barely made the New York Times Bestseller list. Shayla was asked to do a book tour but declined because she didn't have the time since she was touring with me. I told her to go, but she insisted on staying because she didn't get a chance to tour with me last time. Which is understandable, but she got the opportunity to do a tour of her own. I think that's pretty awesome. She said she would do a book tour once her book reaches the Top Ten. I mean, I guess that makes sense, but at the same time she almost made it. That should count for something. Especially for the fans of her book. "Josephine" made her an overnight success. Aside from the fact that she barely made it to the bestseller list, she was so happy that although she had just got in the game of writing, she was soaring. Partly because of the connects I had over at Doubleday, but mostly because her book was just that good. I've never been happier for her. Shayla loved the tour life. She said she never felt more alive traveling from country to country, city to city in just three months. Now we're back in the US where traveling from city to city is really going to be something. One day we'll be in Louisville and the next day we'll be in Denver. Shayla isn't ready for that. But it makes me happy to see her happy being on the road with me.
Tatiana has surely been a force to be reckoned with. Every night when it was her turn to meet me on stage, she did her best to communicate with me in that short span of two minutes. Outside of seeing her on stage, I never saw her. I didn't want to either. I don't think she got that... It only took maybe three times of her popping up at my dressing room door to meet me and Shayla after a concert until I finally got sick of it and told Frank to tell her to back off. It didn't make it any easier with my relationship with Shayla either. Shayla chewed me out about Tatiana. Although we only saw each other on stage, it still bothered her that Tatiana even found it remotely okay to meet me at my dressing room knowing I was going to be with Shayla. After Frank told her off, I only see her on stage, and she tries to send me signals all the time. I don't even pay her any mind. My focus is on putting on a good show and making sure I don't get in any trouble with my wife. I don't think she understands the concept of boundaries or professionalism.
"Michael," Shayla called my name as soon as I entered our suite. "Was Frank able to get me tickets for the Grammys tomorrow?"
I sighed. Frank doesn't understand how hard it is to tell Shayla no she couldn't do this or that. It's the hardest thing in the world. "No... But don't worry. There's always next years Grammys." I offered a hopeful smile.
"But your album won't be nominated for the categories it's nominated for this year..."
"I know... I'm sorry, babe. Please don't take this personal. You'll be my date to the Grammys one of these days."
"Who are you going with?"
"If not you, then who else?" I shrugged. "I'll go alone. Q and a ton of other people I know will be there."
"Dang. Frank can't even get me a spot in the balcony in the cheap seats with the fans?" she sighed, "I guess I'll just watch it on TV like the rest of the world."
"In due time, babe, I promise." I kissed her cheek. But how long? How long will I continue to allow my wife to be pushed behind the scenes just to promote this "single" image? I'm twenty-nine going on thirty this year. The world thinks I'm weird. Why not just announce my marriage and let the world know I'm not this weird single guy they portray me to be?