Chapter 23 - Living With Michael Jackson - Day 1
There is no further promotion for my latest album or the other projects I’ve done.
The music video I wanted is continuously being blown off.
The only other way to get me out there is to do this eight-month-long interview with Martin Bashir. It seems to be the only way this is going to work. And it’s the only way for my fans to see the real me.
My last major interview was almost ten years ago with Oprah. Right before the mayhem of controversy that I’m still being made fun of for.
Now with a release date of some time next year, my story, the truth, will be put out there after all these years.
I’ve explained to Bashir that while nothing is off-limits, he shouldn’t expect to see my children so much because of the agreement between Shayla and me. He obliged, saying that he hoped to meet the twins soon. While I told him he would, I also told him that while the twins aren’t totally off-limits, I would appreciate it when my children are around that we try not to have the camera so focused on them. This is about me. Not them. I’m doing this to protect them. When they’re grown, they can choose to show their faces as often as they want, but with me, I’d rather they not be seen so much. To which Bashir also agreed.
I have my camera crew, and he has his. That way, we both have our own footage.
“So, you have a day where disadvantaged children from all over can roam your premises?” Bashir asked as we walked out of the main house to greet my guests.
“Yeah, I do this all the time. I’ve been doing it a lot frequently since my divorce, but who’s counting?” I shrugged.
“A lot more?” He inquired once we got into one of the GMC’s with one camera from each crew in tow to record the interaction.
“Yeah. Since the divorce, I’ve put my all into helping children more.”
“Even though you have your own children now?”
“Me having my own children doesn’t stop me from helping the rest of the world. I’ve done this before they were born. I just have a little more time to do it frequently.”
“Speaking of which, where are your children?”
“They’re with their mother and her family. My niece, Andrea, on her side, graduated from Howard University, and they're celebrating.”
“Were you not invited?”
“I was, but I already had so much lined up. I talk to my niece often, so not being there wasn’t too much of a big thing. Andy will be out here to complete her studying to become a lawyer.”
“Greatness runs on both sides, huh?”
“Absolutely,” I nodded.
“So, when it comes to helping children other than your own now… Did your ex-wife, Shayla-Elizabeth, not allow it?”
I winced, “uh, she allowed it. We would have children from all over here all the time. But since those terrible allegations about ten years ago, we cut back, and she made sure that we did. Now, I feel like I can do more.”
“Do more like how?”
“Like… help children one on one again. Even though I allow the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Boys and Girls Club, and all sorts of organizations here, there’s still that one child that just needs a little more help. There’s a kid I’m helping out now who’s suffering an aggressive form of cancer to the kidney. He’s the sweetest kid I’ve ever known. They told this child that he was going to die. I don’t know what it was… Between him coming here and my prayers, but ever since I’ve allowed him and his family here, he’s gotten so much better.”
“Do you think that you healed him?”
“Eh… I wouldn’t say that. I’m no god or anything. But I will say that he grew healthier in my presence.”
“Is there a chance I’ll be able to meet him on one of his visits?”
“I don’t see why not,” I shrugged.
We pulled up to the train station amongst the waiting children and their parents and chaperones.
“Not gonna lie, today’s gonna be fun-filled, so if I’m not able to stop and chat, you have to understand. We’ll get more time tomorrow,” I said before opening the door, which led to gasps and shrieks from the awaiting children. I popped open my umbrella to shield myself from the sun and hopped out.
Echoes of “Michael Jackson” rung amongst the crowd as I closed the door and walked over to the group of children that would be visiting today.
“Are you guys ready to have fun?” I asked.
“Yeah!” They shouted, but I didn’t think they sounded excited enough.
“Come on… You guys can do better than that. Are you guys ready to have fun?” I cupped my ear to hear them.
“Yeah!” They screamed this time.
“Well, let’s go!” I began to lead the crowd to the train. Many children ran up to me, but only one grabbed my hand in theirs. I looked down to lock eyes with the most beautiful pair of dark brown eyes. “What’s your name?” I asked her as I looked over the pretty bows and barrettes placed explicitly in her hair for this day.
“Jameela,” she beamed. “But you can call me Meme or Meela.”
“My daughters' nickname is Mimi too.”
Meela gasped, “really?!”
“Mmhm,” I nodded. “So, is it okay if I call you Meela?”
“Yes, sir,” she smiled as she nodded.
“What’s your name mean? It’s beautiful.” Having conversations with any child has always brought me great joy. It’s always been a pleasure hearing them talk about themselves or what they love and enjoy doing.
“Mommy says it means ‘beauty.’”
“How fitting! How old are you?”
“My little girl just turned five this year, and I just know she’d love to have a friend just like you.”
She gasped, “really?!”
“Mmhm,” I nodded. “In fact, if she were here today, I’m certain you’d be the first girl she’d show around.”
“Why isn’t Mimi here today?”
“She and her brother are with their mother. But I’ll tell her you said hello. Come on,” I helped her up into the second row of the train.
“Can you sit with me, Michael?” Meela looked up at me with the cutest little puppy dog eyes. I’d never say no to a child.
“Of course. Just let me get everyone situated, and I’ll sit right next to you, okay?”
“Okay!” She beamed.
Bashir sat in the first row among a row of children while both of our cameramen sat beside the conductor to capture the experience.
Before sitting down, I turned around to face the train full of children with their chaperones, “Are we ready to have fun?” I asked.
“Yes!” Everyone excited enthusiastically, including Bashir.
“Alright, guys, the only rule I have is that I want you guys to have fun, okay? Make sure you share, take turns, be kind! Kindness is what we thrive on here at Neverland, okay? Make sure there’s no pushing or shoving. Everyone is gonna get a turn. We’re just here to have fun, okay?”
“Yes!” They responded just as enthusiastically as before.
“Alright, now that all the boring stuff is out of the way, let’s go!” I sat down beside Meela and instructed the train conductor to go.
Since my album dropped and my label practically refused to promote it any more than they already had, aside from taking care of my own children, I’ve put forth a ton of my energy into helping more children of the world.
After 9/11, I released a song that practically got no play until this year, but it at least raised enough to give to charity for the victims. Then I was able to do a benefit concert in D.C., which was interesting in itself.
Now, I’m just focusing my energy on the children of the world. It’s always been a mission of mine, and now that I have the opportunity to actually put forth everything I have into it, I refuse to stop.
“As we come down this way,” I began to talk amongst the quiet children who were just taking the entire property in. “You’ll see, uh, the game room is right there. See?” I pointed. “See where that big machine is inside?”
“Yeah!” A couple of children replied.
“That’s where I play all my games. And, uh,” I looked to the right side of the train and pointed. “That’s the tennis court.” The kids and Bashir looked around as the train continued to go seemingly toward Mount Katherine. “Ooo, hold on! Tell them to hold on,” I told a child as another little boy was looking far out the side of the train. “Don't fall out!”
“Michael, will you dance?” A little boy with a close cut for a haircut turned around and asked me.
“Oh my god- If you dance too. I’ll dance with you guys,” I told him.
“I’ll dance too!” Another little boy said.
“Cause I’m kinda shy,” I told them.
“You wanna dance for us?” The first boy asked again.
“You gotta dance with me!”
“Teach us how to do the moonwalk,” he insisted.
“Ohh, you know how to do the moonwalk,” I laughed, waving them off. “I learned it from you guys!” I laughed and stood up right before the train stopped and immediately sat back down. “Uh… Oh, don’t stand up yet! Hold on. I’m pretty bad.” The children still began to stand up, following my terrible lead. “Don’t stand up yet! It’s gonna jerk,” I said right as it jerked slightly, coming to a stop. “Okay. Now you can go. But don’t run! Whatever you do, don’t run. We have the entire day ahead of us.” Meela immediately took my hand and followed my lead.
Everyone except for Meela ran beside me as I led them to the small zipline to cross over toward all the rides in the center of the ranch. I guess Meela and I are going to be buddies for the day.
That’s one thing I enjoyed about inviting children here. I’d always have at least one or two children that’d just gravitate towards me and designate me as “theirs” for the day.
Whenever my own children were around during days like this, Michael wouldn’t care so much, but Milan would be right alongside the children because she was so territorial of me. It’s always the cutest thing. So I’m not lying when I say that Milan would have wanted to be friends with Meela, but boy, oh, boy, would she let her know that I’m her daddy and no one else's.
Some children ran to the Ferris wheel while others went to the zipper. But Meela and a couple others that decided to follow me wanted snow cones.
“How about a snow cone?” I asked the children as I put on a pair of sunglasses.
“Where did you get all this stuff from?” A little girl asked me.
“Oh, I buy them from companies around the world. I’m getting a roller coaster next,” I cleared my throat. “To go over there,” I pointed in the direction of the empty space from where we came by the zipline.
“Do you have a water park?” A boy in a red baseball cap asked me.
“I’m gonna do that! I’m gonna build a waterpark on the other side of this mountain. My son has been begging me just about every day for one.”
“You got a waterpark?” Another little boy with a red, white, and blue headband asked me.
“No, n-no, no, we’re going to. We’re gonna build it. So, when you come, come in your swimsuit.”
“Michael, can we go on any ride?” A little girl asked me.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure!” I waved nodded toward the rides. “That’s what you all are here for,” I laughed. Bashir watched the entire ordeal, just smiling.
He sees it. He sees me. He sees that all I want to do is help children. I’m not harmful. I’m not harming these kids. I become one of them. The last thing I would ever want is to hurt a child. We’re just here having fun, and there’s nothing sinister about it. And for once, someone in the media sees that. I can’t help but feel a little pride in my heart because I now know that the correct thing will be displayed for the entire world to see. When I do things like this, I don’t bring journalists in to see what I’m doing to show the world that I’m doing all these beautiful things, so they should give me credit for it. No. I never do that. He’s one of the first and only journalists. The first and only people from the media that I’ve allowed to come here to witness what I do for these children. There’s no way he can print anything that says otherwise.
I peered over at the snow-cone machine and walked over, “can I have one too?” The kids laughed as I watched the station worker pump blue syrup onto the ice.
“She called it first,” he said as he gave the blue snow cone to Meela who had finally broken free to have fun. “Then you…” he pointed at several children.
“Oh, me, me, me, me!” I waved my hand excitedly, teasing the station worker. I’m only joking. I want all of the children to get a snow cone before I do. “Sorry,” I laughed.
“Michael Jackson,” I turned around to see a little boy in a red shirt tap me. “You own all this?” He pointed at everything around us.
“Yeah,” I smiled.
His eyes widened in shock. “You paid for all this?”
“Yeah, I did.”
“And you still have money left over?”
I laughed, “yeah!”
“I can’t believe it!”
“I buy all this for you! So you all can come whenever you want and have as much fun as you want. So, go ahead. Have fun. Don’t stop,” I softly pushed him toward the Sea Dragon.
“Michael,” Bashir came up to me. “Can I just tell you that all of this is just extraordinary? I see it. I see it now. What they print in the media about you is all lies. You just want to help.”
I smiled a little. He understands. “That’s all I ever wanted to do was help. I would never hurt a child."
“I see that. That’s why we have to do this. Thank you for welcoming me into your home. To see the real you, because this is what people need to see! You may have shown some people, but no one ever talks about this. We have to show this,” Bashir smiled as he took everything in.
I nodded. I knew this was the right thing to do. I should have done this a lot time ago.