Chapter 24 - LWMJ - Night 2
Day one of recording was a success, I think. I didn’t talk entirely too much to Bashir, but my actions got everything that needed to be said across.
Because of yesterday's events, I allowed Bashir to stay in one of the guesthouses to be able to interview tonight. I was too tired to do any interviewing last night, but tonight is perfect.
“Can I offer you anything to drink?” I asked Bashir as he sat across from me in the theatre.
“No, I should be fine,” he said as he looked around. “This theatre… The grounds are really grand!”
“Thank you,” I nodded.
“No, really. They are! And you and your children just enjoy this everyday?”
I nodded again, unfazed, “every day.”
Hamid, my personal cameraman, set up the camera while Karen did my makeup.
“While the cameramen are getting everything together, is it okay if we go out and walk around the property for a bit?” Bashir asked me.
“Sure, why not?” Once Karen was done with my makeup, I stood up and made my way out of the theatre with Bashir in tow.
I’ve seen reality tv shows. The Osbournes and the upcoming Anna Nicole Show are all the rave right now. My show will be nothing of the sort, though. My family has exhibited nothing less of class, so that’s what my show will be. So, I’m excited to put on a kind of reality documentary that doesn’t feature scandal or anything that people may perceive as weird about me. It’ll be a different kind of reality television, and I hope people enjoy it, especially at the chance of seeing the real me.
“Do you come out here on your own?” Bashir asked once we were outside amongst the rides I had going just for tonight.
“Yeah,” I smiled.
“All the time,” I laughed. “But I especially love when I have my children with me.”
“Really? You just come out here on your own with your children?”
“And go on a ride?”
I nodded, “yep. Usually the carousel, I’ll play music. I love- I love playing classical music on the carousel. ‘Cause I love, um, like, um, something like ‘Childhood’ or ‘Smile.’ You know?” He turned and smiled at me in awe. “Or, uh, ‘People’ by Barbra Streisand. Something beautiful, you know?”
He took everything in as we walked alongside the carousel, looking up, “and what about the Ferris wheel?”
I looked up as well, “I like the Ferris wheel. It’s traditional. Um, very old, you know, amusement exhibit. And it’s- And it’s soothing! It’s not, you know, anything that’s dangerous or anything. It’s just comfortable. Makes you wish and dream.”
“Can we go on it?” Bashir asked me.
“Let’s go on it.”
We made our way over to the Ferris wheel and got into one of the seats.
“Your children must adore you,” Bashir said once we were strapped in.
I sighed happily, “I adore them far more than they’ll ever know.”
“And their mother… Did she enjoy all of this with you at some point?”
I nodded, “she did. We’d spend many nights alone on rides like this. We never let any of this go to waste.”
“What is Neverland to you? Is it like your own little world? Home away from home? What is it?”
I shrugged, “it’s my home. That’s what I created it to be. Disregard what the tabloids say. They’re gonna say any and everything to make me look weird. No, I didn’t create this place to ‘lure’ children. No, I don’t climb the trees with my monkeys. This is my home, just like your home is your home. We can decorate and bring into our homes whatever we want. And I chose to create ‘Neverland.’”
“Do you ever get tired of it?”
“No, not really. Introducing my children to it really brought a new life into it, though.”
“Like, uh, well, maybe I have gotten bored of it, right? But once I was able to introduce my children to their home as they’re growing up, it just felt like it was brand new all over again.”
“Ahh,” he nodded slowly. “I understand it now. Seeing Neverland through a new pair of eyes really made it seem brand new again.”
“Exactly,” I nodded.
As we got to the top of the Ferris wheel, all was quiet. Bashir couldn’t help but take in the rides that lit up the property. I’m glad that I get to show this to a journalist who can actually understand why I do the things I do and why I have the things I have.
“Before we go back in and interview, can we go to the race cars and have a little race?” He asked me.
I laughed, “see?! That’s what I created Neverland for. The child in you asked me that. You’re so serious. You would have never asked me that any other time.”
He shrugged, trying to hide his laughter. “I really enjoy a good race.”
In the end, Bashir cheated and won.
We finally went back to the theatre, where Karen spruced up my makeup, and Bashir prepared any questions he had for me. In a way, I kind of want to get this over with, but it’s so important to get this out. He saw so much yesterday; now, it’s important to elaborate on that.
“Can we continue talking about Neverland for a moment?” Bashir asked me after taking a sip of water.
“Of course,” I nodded. Karen was still fixing up any makeup that had been messed up since my little adventure outside with Bashir.
“Neverland is an extraordinary, a breathtaking, a stupendous, an exhilarating and amazing place. I can’t gather together words to describe Neverland. What inspired you to make a home like this?”
“What inspired me?” I looked at him just as Karen had gone to go sit down. “It was so easy because it was me being myself. Creating things that I love. And what I love, kids happen to love, or the child that lives inside the adult happens to love, you know? It was so easy because, um, I’m just putting behind the gates everything I never got to do when I was a kid. When I was younger, and I would picture what my home would look like, I would draw a theme park with a home right in the middle, right in the middle. You can ask my mother, my sisters, my ex-wife… I sent Shayla a copy of what Neverland was supposed to look like in its early stages when we first met. I’ve always wanted something like this.”
“What did Shayla say when she saw it?”
“Oh, she loved it! She told me it reminded her of Kings Island. That’s a theme park in Mason, Ohio, not too far away from Cincinnati, where her family is from. She loved it so much, and she asked me if we had been friends long enough could she visit. I told her she could be one of the first people to visit. And she was,” I nodded, remembering the first time I told her about Neverland and the first time we stepped foot on the property. “She was.”
“This isn’t free to you, though. Having all of this here. It’s cost you millions of dollars.”
“Millions a year, yeah,” I nodded. “Millions and millions. But you know, I get it all back. In the smiles on the faces of my twins and the faces of many children who visit here from all over.”
“If you don’t mind me asking, did your ex-wife have a problem with you spending all of this money?”
I smiled at the thought, “no. We didn’t think about money. We just had fun.”
“Do you think it would be true to say that you’ve found friendship and inspiration in children that you haven’t been able to find in adults?”
“Uh, no…” I shook my head slowly. “Because you’ve got to remember I was married a long time. I found that happiness. I found that true friend. And we’re still friends. So, no, I wouldn’t say that that’s true at all.”
“But now? Now that you’ve divorced her. You said it yourself yesterday that now that you’re divorced, you’re doing what you deem to be your mission more often than not. Is it safe to say it for now?”
I slowly shook my head no again, “well, you know what? Inspiration? Yes. Friendship?” I thought about it for a second. “I haven’t been betrayed or deceived by children. Adults have let me down. Adults have let the world down.”
“Shayla betrayed, deceived, and let you down?”
I tried concealing my smile. I can’t blast my ex-wife like that. It wouldn’t be right. We’re better friends than we ever have been before. If she ever saw this footage and saw me bad mouth her, we just might be back at square one. She’s never deceived me. But everything else? Those are along the lines of why our marriage didn’t last. “I have the most utmost respect for my ex-wife. Adults do have a way of letting other adults down,” I finally said.
“So, she did, in fact, do those things? Hence, why you all are divorced now?”
I pressed my lips together, “I’ll let her answer that if she decides to sit down for an interview.”
Bashir’s eyes got wide in excitement. “She’ll be interviewing with us?”
“If she wants to. Next question,” I nodded toward him. Karen came back over to fix anything on my face that was now out of line.
He nodded, “the problem is that nobody actually comes here to Neverland and sees what you do for these children. But I was here yesterday, and I saw it, and it’s nothing short of a spiritually kind thing.”
“You know what?” Karen turned around to speak. “He does this all the time!”
“I know, I know, but I’ve told him!” Bashir interjected while I sat back and watched them interact.
“A lot of people see it! A lot of people see it-”
“They never talk about it, and I said this to him. And what I wanted to convey is those two things.”
“You never see anybody talk about this,” Karen said and stepped away as I adjusted my shirt.
“But when Michael’s talking-”
“But when he’s talking about the things that he’s passionate about, it’s obvious that it’s, it’s in his eyes… This is what’s in his heart.”
“People don’t usually ask these questions,” Karen said.
“That’s true,” I nodded in agreement.
“And if they do, they don’t make it in the papers. They don’t make it to the interviews. It’s all the negative stuff.”
“Stupid rumors,” I shook my head.
“And they cut questions out. That’s why he doesn’t even do interviews!”
“That’s right,” I nodded. “That’s exactly why. Why should I if the media is going to say what they want to say anyway? There’s no point. They twist everything!”
“From the moment I met him, I remember wondering, ‘how can people be so cruel?’”
“It’s disgusting,” Bashir shook his head. “That’s disgusting. Well, we aren’t doing that here!”
“It is,” I nodded. “And it isn’t fair. It isn’t fair to me, because it’s like you asked me for this interview! Honestly, I didn’t want to do it in the first place, but now that you’ve got the interview, either you’re putting words in my mouth or you’re trying to change what I said to fit some sick and twisted narrative that you already believed before even meeting me. It’s not fair! People have been so mean to me, and I never understand why.”
“Can I ask you something?”
“Do you think that your success has actually made people turn against you even to the point of making up so many things about you?”
I looked away, “the bigger the star, the bigger the target… And the more popular I became, the more rumors that were created. Which none of which were true! I mean, the moment I started breaking the all-time records of the biggest selling albums of all time, they called me: weird overnight, strange, Wacko! You know, uh, um, they said I’m a girl. Um, homosexual. Uh, um, ‘he wants to buy the elephant man's bones. He sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber.’ None of that stuff is true. All completely made up.”
“I’ve seen where you sleep-”
“It’s all a lie.”
“I’ve seen where you sleep, and it’s not a hyperbaric chamber.”
I laughed, “I sleep in a bed! My children sleep in a bed. I mean, people would be so surprised how normal and simple I am. And I truly don’t understand why it’s so hard to believe.”
“What hurts you most?”
“When they lie.” That’s something I don’t have to take too long to think about. “The lies. The complete lies. And it hurts. And it hurts me because I know there’s children out there who have to hear that crap. My children have to go out there and hear that crap.”
Bashir looked at me with sympathy in his eyes, “why do people do that? When all you have done is brought some of the most beautiful music… The most beautiful popular music that many of us have ever heard… Why do people want to judge you if you’ve done- All you’ve done is been an artist and brought wonderful music?”
I looked down, “‘cause with success, people become jealous. It hurts to be misunderstood. No matter how much you try to put people on track, there will still be some judgment.”
Bashir paused for a moment before making his following comment. “Having surgery or changes… or whatever! Cosmetic surgery or anything like that. People have that sort of thing in this country all the time.”
I closed my eyes, feeling a sense of relief because he really gets it. “All the time,” I swallowed.
“People go on a weekly basis to have things changed.”
“All the time. And most celebrities. Most movie stars. Yeah,” I shrugged.
“Why is it such an issue when you do that?”
Oh great! I’ve been ready to talk about this. “The fact that they’ve said that I had um… Like I’m overly obsessed with it. It’s not true. That’s not. The things they’ve said that I’ve done are not true. I haven’t had my eyes done. I haven’t had my cheekbones done. I haven’t had my lips done. I haven’t had my chin done. That’s a lie. They just go too far!”
“Do you sometimes despair of human nature?”
I thought for a moment, “yes.” I nodded, “yes, of course.”
“Can you ever do anything that’s right?”
“No,” I shook my head. “No. No, no, no. No matter what you do, there’s always somebody that will say something about it. They have- They’re opinionated, you know? No matter what you do. No matter how well- How good your intentions are, there’s always some jerk, some mean-spirited person that try to bring ya down. And all you wanted to do was bring some love and some joy. You know? That’s all.”
“Can I ask you something else since we’re on the topic of the rumors… Where is Bubbles now? We haven’t heard of him in years. You and your ex-wife just went on about life without him after a while, had children, divorced, and Bubbles is still nowhere to be found.”
“Bubbles is um… He’s with a caretaker with forty to fifty other chimps. Because chimps, they get to an age like teenage kids do where they want to challenge their parents. Like if uh, your father tell you to do something and you go ‘why? Why do I have to do it, dad?’ And chimps are very much so like that too. They’ll challenge you. And it can become dangerous in a way, you know? And if- And if they get angry with you, they start to take you on. It’s no match. I mean, they’re very, very strong! They can take your finger off. They’re very powerful, so Shayla and I decided it was best to take him to be with his own. We figured if we ever have children, we don’t really want to cause danger to the baby, so we decided it best. We loved him a lot, though. Oh, God, we love him! We still love him. I’ve taken the twins to go visit him a couple times. And he’s sweet, but he can’t live with us anymore.”
Seeing Bubbles at his “teenage” age actually gave Shayla, and I forethought into what raising teenagers would be like when the time came. So, it was best that we gave him away when we did, although there was a time when I really looked forward to Bubbles being around when we had children.
“You would have raised Bubbles with your children?”
“Absolutely! We would have had fun. But because of how Bubbles was becoming… Obviously, we couldn’t, so…” I shrugged.
“I understand. Well, that was great,” Bashir came over to shake my hand. “Thank you. That was really, really special.”
“You’re welcome! We’ve only covered the basics. There’s so much more to come.”
“Absolutely, and I look forward to uncovering the real Michael Jackson. You truly are splendid, Michael. Really!”
“Thank you,” I blushed. “Thank you so much.” I’ve only shown him a portion of myself, but there will be more.
“Eventually, when you talk and you say it like it really is… You just light up. It’s about bringing out what you’re about.”
Karen came over to sit beside me to talk with Bashir.
“Aren’t I being honest, Turkle?” I looked over at her. “I mean, you know me.”
She gasped, “oh my gosh, yeah!”
“No, it’s not just you, though,” Bashir interrupted. “You can see that he’s being honest. I mean, I often ask myself, ‘why have they never allowed him to be spoken for… allowed him to speak…?”
“It’s unfair,” I shrugged. “It’s truly unfair.”
“But we’re gonna show the truth,” Bashir insisted. “I promise you, Michael. Do you trust me?”
“Ha…” I looked away. “I think the question should be rather, ‘can I trust you?’ People ask me that question all the time, and it’s always me that gets burnt in the end, not the person who I told I could trust.”
“Well, how about this,” he put an arm around me. “Over these next few months, I’ll show you that you can trust me. You, your children, your family. You can all trust me. Because I only came here to find the truth, and I don’t expect to leave with anything else.”