As much as I love traveling, flying to Asia is the most tiresome flight we ever take. Nineteen hours in a confined space with our closest confidants, but still. My feet were swollen, and I couldn't wait to get to our hotel room to stretch and relax. It's almost as if this was all perfect timing, despite what we're going through in the states, I feel like being across the world gives me the opportunity to wind down and practically forget about everything if I wanted to. That's almost what I plan to do. Once we landed in Bangkok, we took the perfect precautions to get us through the airport without any fanfare and made it to our hotel safe and sound.
"Michael," I made my way to the living room to sit on the couch beside him. "Are you ordering room service?"
"...yeah..." he looked through the menu. "What were you thinking? They've got American food, but I want to try the Kai Moo."
"Surprise me. I'm too tired to think about what I really want. Just no seafood."
"Ahh, come on. We're in Thailand. You can't not have seafood."
He shrugged. "If you say so." As he reached over to pick up the phone, someone knocked on our door. I went to look through the peephole to find Anthony waiting for someone to let him in.
"Hey, Anthony. What's going on?" I let him in. Any sight of Anthony now just reminded me we had a case going on that needed to be rectified.
"We have an emergency. Michael isn't on an important call, is he?"
"He's just ordering room service."
"Well, he's going to want to hear this. I just received a call from Sandy."
"Baby, do you want soy sauce or no?" Michael called out to me.
I sighed. "No."
"Hey, Anthony." Michael waved. "I'll be one second."
"It's about the case, isn't it?" I asked Anthony. He nodded. I have to mentally prepare myself for whatever I'm about to hear. Just when I thought I could almost forget about it; Anthony was just as quick to remind me that I couldn't even almost forget.
"What's going on, Ant?" Michael asked as soon as he hung up the phone.
"It's about the case."
Michael sighed. "What about it?"
"There was a warrant served to Neverland and the Century City hideout to search them." Anthony's words seemed to fall on deaf ears as Michael and I comprehended what we just heard. "They'll be searching through both properties at six p.m. LA time."
"They're going to go through all of our personal belongings?" Michael finally asked Anthony after a long moment of silence.
"Yes, Michael." Anthony nodded.
"Get Sandy on the phone. We have to stop this. That's an invasion of my privacy."
"You can't stop a-"
"Get Sandy on the phone." Anthony pulled his phone out before Michael said it again and put his phone on speaker as he called Sandy.
"Gallin-Morey Associates, this is Shana speaking. How may I help you?" Shana happily answered the phone.
"Shana, it's Michael. Can you direct me to Sandy, please? It's an emergency."
"Of course." She put the call through without any further questions.
"They can't just go through my things like that."
"Mr. Jackson, they-"
"Michael, what's going on?" Sandy answered. I couldn't really decipher the emotion in Sandy's voice, but it was clear he wanted to know what was going on that Michael was calling him from clear across the world.
"I'm hearing that there's a warrant to search my properties."
Sandy gave a long-exasperated sigh. It seemed as if he was being affected by this crap too. "Yes, Michael."
"You have to stop this. They can't go through my things! This is an invasion of my privacy. Of all the things I don't have the privacy of, can't I be afforded the privacy of my own home? They wouldn't like it if someone went through their things." It was like the water in the kettle had reached its boiling point. My husband continued on and on about this unfair warrant. He had been holding all of this in so long over time, that this just sent him overboard.
"Michael, they can, and they will."
"They can't just do that to me!"
"They're raiding through both properties, Michael and there's nothing you can do about it." It seemed like Sandy didn't even care. Did he not understand how detrimental this was on both of us? Especially Michael?
"Find something to do about it, Sandy. I don't care what it takes. I'm not going to let them go through my things like I'm some criminal."
Sandy scoffed as if he was over whatever Michael had to say. "Michael, this is the law. There's nothing I can do about it. The law doesn't care who you are. If they have a warrant to search your property, they have a warrant to search your property. You can't refuse them at that point. And besides, you're all the way in-"
Michael stood up and took Anthony's phone to hang up. "If he calls back, you tell him I said if he hasn't fixed it, I'm not interested."
"Michael, Sandy can't fix it any more than you can. It's the law. They have a warrant to search through everything. I know you're innocent. Sandy knows you're innocent. Although you may not want this to happen, at least it will show your innocence." Anthony tried to calm my husband down, but Michael's mind was already made up.
"I have a show in three days. I don't want to hear anything else about this until the tour is over. By then, my wife and I will be able to sort it out the way it should be. Until then, I don't want to hear another word."
"This requires your attention. I can't just-"
"Well, can you just leave me alone for a while? Put yourself in my shoes. Would you want to hear all these lies about you? No. I'll see you in three days, Ant." Anthony opened his mouth to say something and pressed his lips together.
"Thank you, Anthony." I offered. He was only doing his job. No matter how much Michael and I didn't want to hear it, it had to be said.
He sighed. "Have a good day, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson." He helped himself out of our room, leaving Michael and I in a space I couldn't even describe.
"Shayla?" Michael made his way to the bedroom. I looked over at him. "Can you leave me alone for a moment? I just need to be alone right now." Every fiber of my being said no. He needed me to be beside him right now. This wasn't just his fight, it's my fight too. It's our homes they're raiding and ransacking through, not just his.
I shook my head. "No. You don't need to be alone right now."
He sighed. "I just need to be. You don't understand how-" His voice cracked. "I've never been in trouble before, Shayla. Especially to this degree. I've dealt with so many things, but this by far is the worst." I made my way over to him and pulled him in for a hug. As soon as I hugged him, he immediately began to sob. We discussed how hard this case was for both of us and what our families would think or have already thought about it. Both of our families knew Michael was innocent but hearing about the raid must have been a shock to them just as much as it was to us. Breakfast and lunch were served until we finally decided to head out on the town with Roland and a new security guard, Rent, in tow. The people of Bangkok were ecstatic to see Michael as we walked through the city. It was reassuring to witness the smiling faces and exhilaration from them despite the news if they had received it at all. For some reason, with all we were going through at the moment, these fans made me feel at ease. I felt comfortable like my husband was being appreciated as he was before all of this mayhem. I'm unsure if the news of the allegations was heavily broadcasted anywhere else like they were in the states, but one thing is for sure, Michael's fans still loved him.
"Have you found any American channels yet?" Roland inquired as he sipped a cup of blue tea. He must have been tired of me flipping through every channel because I couldn't find anything worth watching. While Michael was shopping for electronics that couldn't be found in the states, I invited Roland to our suite not just to discuss his safety precautions, but because he was the only other person I was close to on this tour. Bill wouldn't be joining us until later, and Roland was like family to me. The comfort I felt when he was around was almost the same level of comfort I had when I was around Michael. "Wait, wait, wait. It's Oprah!" I stopped flipping and set the remote down beside me. Finally, someone I was familiar with! I never really watched her at home, but she is the most recognized face on television right now, so why not?
Roland and I sat in silence as we listened to Oprah and her guest, Dr. Traci Morris, discuss the ramifications that child abuse has on children, especially when they become adults. Dr. Traci explained that adults often hold onto or essentially "forget" about the trauma they endured as a child and most don't get the adequate therapy to heal from that. It made me think of Michael and how he has yet to heal from the abuse Joseph put him through as a child. While I admire Joseph for how he pulled his family out of the ghettos of Gary, Indiana to being music's First Family, so much went on behind the scenes, that I'm sure none of my in-laws have gone to therapy for.
"And you know, Traci," Oprah began. "We've discussed child abuse on the show before and the variants of it. In fact, my most notable interview to date was with Michael Jackson who admitted being a victim of child abuse himself. Traci, with the recent allegations surrounding Michael at the moment, can you shed some light on the percentage of people who were abused as children that will go onto abuse children themselves?"
Traci nodded slowly, "thirty percent of people abused as children will go onto abuse children themselves. It sounds like a small amount, but when you realize that millions of children are or have been abused every day, that's actually a lot."
"This is serious. It's no coincidence that I interviewed Michael Jackson earlier this year and he revealed that he was abused only to find out that he has been abusing children as well. Traci, earlier this year, we learned that Michael is married to New York Times Bestselling Author Shayla-Elizabeth Jackson. Is it common that the spouses of abusers are unaware?"
Traci nodded quickly, "oh, absolutely! The spouse can be completely oblivious to what is going on behind closed doors. The abuser can tell their spouse all kinds of lies. Most of the time the spouse, or the wife, in this case, wouldn't know until she noticed something was wrong with the child."
"How could she not know? How could she not realize the horrible things her husband was doing to this child?" Oprah thought out loud.
Traci shrugged. "Delusion. Denial. I'm sure it's very hard to accept the fact that her husband would do this to a child. She more than likely wants to protect him more than anything."
"And you know what?" Oprah sat up in her seat and looked dead in the camera, pointing her index finger. "I don't care who you are. My husband, cat, dog, Michael Jackson! I don't care who you are. If you stoop so low so as to hurt anybody, especially a child, I'm turning you in. Ain't no protecting over here. Mrs. Jackson, any spouse of an abuser for that matter, you cannot protect everybody!" The camera panned over the audience as they erupted in approving applause.
"Mrs. Jackson?" Roland came over and touched my hand. The anger brewing inside me left me paralyzed to the point that I couldn't even bring myself to reach for the remote and turn off the broadcast. Instead, Roland did it for me. "Shayla." He took my hand in his. "Don't let what she said get to you. She's just a bullshit journalist who just does and says things for ratings. You can't-" I cleared my throat and asked him to hand my mobile phone to me. "Shayla, she's not worth it." He said as he gave me my phone.
"I know," I said as I dialed Sandy's personal number. Roland was finding all kinds of things to say to me to calm me down, but they all fell on deaf ears. In a matter of a day, Sandy was already hearing from us for a second time. I'm sure he's going to get tired of it just as much as I'm tired of hearing about something new someone has said about this case.
"Hey, Shayla. What's going on?" Sandy answered. I didn't even care what time it was over there. I needed him to answer and I'm glad he did.
"Oprah was just on."
"I want you to cancel the interview with her."
He sighed like he knew it was coming. "It's about what she said, isn't it?"
"You know it is."
"Don't you think the joint interview could clear up everything she mentioned? I thought about what she said too, Shayla. But if you all just show up and tell her the truth-"
"Sandy, she already has her mind made up and the case hasn't even gone to trial yet. I'm not about to sit with anyone who trash-talked my husband and me. They said I was delusional to what happened. Nothing freaking happened! Michael never touched that boy and they believe that because my husband was abused as a child, that he would abuse children as well. Her mind is made up, Sandy. Why would I grant her the opportunity to give her more ratings and money when she already thinks he's guilty? No! Cancel it, Sandy. And if they ask why, you tell them that it's because their television host is a shitty journalist that casts people as guilty without even hearing their side like a true journalist with couth and class would."
"Michael won't be excited to hear this..."
"I'll deal with Michael. You deal with Harpo." I pressed end to hang up and immediately burst into tears. Roland pulled me in for a hug to console me. I hadn't even realized that he had been rubbing my back to calm me down while I was on the phone. Right now, I don't even care that the boundary was crossed. As far as I'm concerned, Roland is right where he needs to be.
"We'll get through this, Shayla." Roland continued to rub my back. "It's just a hurdle that we have to get over. We have to fight the naysayers and prove Michael's innocence." What made it so hard was that in the midst of this crap, Michael is on tour. Only statements are being put out and with it only being statements, the media could say whatever they wanted, and the masses would believe them. If we weren't on tour, I'm sure we'd be able to do more and say more. As sick as Evan was, he was smart. He knew what he was doing when he concocted this lie and timed it perfectly to where we could virtually do nothing. But had Michael not been so damn gullible, we wouldn't be here in the first place. "I know it's hard, Shayla."
I sat up and wiped my tears away. Roland found a box of tissues and handed them to me. "It's harder than you think. They're saying all these things about my husband..."
"And you! How could they say these godawful things about you?! If we're being completely honest, no one really knows you. At all! They've seen you out and about with Michael. They know you as Michael's wife, but they don't know you like they know Michael. So, for them to pin delusion on you and say that you're just protecting him when this is all a falsehood, to begin with... It says a lot more about them than it does about you. It's completely unfair for them to make up these lies about you." He's right. They don't even know me, because I haven't even given them a chance. I wanted to give Oprah the chance, but she blew it. Roland took my hand in his. "You don't deserve this. You and Michael don't deserve this. You all are the kindest, most generous people I've not only worked for but have ever known. You're such beautiful people," his mesmerizing eyes searched mine. "And..." he tore his gaze away from me and let go of my hand. "You all just don't deserve this. All the good you do only for it to end up like this just isn't right."
"You okay?" I placed a hand on his shoulder. "You had this look in your eyes..."
He let out a small nervous chuckle and shook his head. "Nothing."
"Are you sure? You know we can talk about anything."
He nodded. "I know. You're just such good people. You don't deserve this."
I shook my head no. "That's not what you wanted to say, because you just said that."
"So, what is it?"
Roland looked back at me and sighed. "You- You're just so- You don't-" He took a deep breath. "Shayla, we-"
"Hey, baby! You'll never guess what I just got today!" Michael smiled as he walked through the front door. "Hey Roland," he said quickly. "Look, baby." I need to know what Roland was about to say. "Look, babe." Michael shoved a box in my face, causing me to tear my gaze from Roland to the box.
"What is it?" I asked him.
"A personal organizer, but... electric!" His whole face lit up. "It's got a screen and binder holders..."
"If you all will excuse me, I'm going to get some fresh air." Roland stood up to leave. My eyes followed him as he made his way to the door.
"Oh, I'm sorry. Did I interrupt something?" Michael asked him.
Roland shook his head no. "Mrs. Jackson does have something she needs to talk to you about though. So, I'm going to excuse myself." I couldn't stop staring at Roland because he was leaving in the midst of a conversation we were having that we didn't even get to finish.
"Is everything okay, babe?" I heard Michael ask, but my gaze remained on Roland as he exited the front door. "Babe, what is going on?"
I finally looked at my husband. "Hmm?"
"Roland just said you needed to tell me something. What is it?"
"Oh. Right." My gaze shifted downward as I realized I actually did have to inform Michael about the interview. "It's about Oprah."
"What about her?"
"Yes. Roland and I just saw her on television and what she said about us made me call Sandy and cancel."
"Well... what did she say?" He sat where Roland sat before. I explained everything from the Doctor explaining child abuse to Oprah's preposterous claims that I was protecting him. Talking about it only reignited the anger from before. If Michael had done such a thing, I would not have protected him. I don't care if it was a sibling of mine or whoever. If a crime is committed, all protection goes out the window and if I'm wrong for saying that then so be it. But the fact of the matter is that Michael never did anything, so if I'm protecting him from anything, it's the people who are calling my innocent husband guilty. "Oh," his gaze downcast as he spoke. Suddenly, he appeared despondent. "You made the right call..." He was silent for a moment as he collected his thoughts on the matter. "What did Sandy have to say?"
I sighed. "He heard what she said, but he felt like if we still went on there, we would have been able to change her mind or clear things up."
"He has a point, but her mind is already made up. The moment we walked away from the interview; she probably would have made something up about how she felt the interview actually went." It hurt me to see his once excited aura switch to disheartened so quickly. "I was really looking forward to that interview, but I don't like it when people say such mean things about me. Especially when they say these mean things about you. It kills me inside... I'm so disappointed in her. I really am. I chose her specifically for an interview after not doing one for over a decade. I was going to grant her a second with my wife and this is how she repays me?" He scoffed. "I'm sure she'll have plenty to say about us canceling, but I don't even care. She should have thought about that before she presented lies as facts. And then she took my own issues that I trusted enough to tell her and somehow made it support this gross narrative! I can't trust anyone." He went silent again. It bothers me how a year we once claimed as ours suddenly went left. In the beginning, everything was so perfect. I was number one on New York's Bestsellers List. We finally decided to show the world we were together. I went on my own book tour until it went haywire. Everything was good! And now, I don't even know how to describe this year.
Michael sighed. "What did Roland have to say?"
"Hmm? About what?"
"About Oprah and you canceling. What did he say?"
"Oh. He, uh... He just said she was a shitty journalist who just wants ratings. And the fact that they said such inaccurate things about us just wasn't fair, because he knows how good we are as people. Basically, he knows us, and it hurt him to know what even Oprah is running with these lies."
Michael nodded. "See, I trust Roland. I trust him like I trust Bill. Although he may look at you some kind of way sometimes, he knows his place and he doesn't compromise his job. It shows that he's loyal. He can find you attractive all he wants, but he's never disrespected me or our union. He just does his job and I appreciate that. I appreciate how he's also been a friend to you. Roland is a great guy. Although you didn't want your own security, I think I did a great job of hiring Roland."
"I think you did too. I broke down after I got off the phone with Sandy and Roland was there to console me. He is a great friend."
Michael smiled a small tight-lipped smile. "I know." He sighed. "Mom called me earlier, so I'm going to call her back then I'm going to shower and go to bed." He stood up and kissed my forehead.
"Tell her I said hello."
"I will," Michael said as he retreated back to the bedroom and shut the door behind him. Every single day, I could see how this case was becoming a bigger burden on him than before. It was always something new about it, whether it was Evan himself, the media or now the law. I could see my husband finding it harder and harder to cope with everything. Although we talked about it, he would always retreat back to his own thoughts on the matter leaving me wondering if I was truly helping or not. I knew I was, but with him going back to silence about it, I wondered if I was doing enough.