Chapter 26

"How did they know we were there? Why were there so many of them? How did they get into the gates?" Shayla was freaking out. She's never seen the paparazzi like that before. If anything, the closest she's got to seeing them like that is on TV.


"I don't know how they got through the gates."


"How did they know we were there? Am I the only one freaked out about this, Michael?!"


"No, baby. You're not. I'm just trying to figure out how they would have gotten through the gates..." As I pulled up to our house, paparazzi was waiting at our gates. How did they find out where I lived?


"Michael, they're at our home?!" Shayla was hysterical at this point.


"I...I don't know how they could have found out where we lived." I pulled forward to the gates as the camera flashes continued to go off on each side of the car. Shayla was doing her best to hide from the cameras, but nothing she could do helped. Paparazzi shouted at the both of us. Mostly asking me who Shayla was. I just tried to get through. Inside, all I could do was apologize to Shayla for having her go through this.


"I'm calling the police," Shayla said as she hurried into the house. I followed behind her and looked back at the gates only to see more cameras flashing. We just couldn't catch a break, huh? I know this is going to be in the magazines by tomorrow morning.


(Shayla)


All that paparazzi scared me. I've never seen that many people before vying for a photo. I know they weren't struggling to get a photo of me, more so Michael. But why go through all of that trouble just for a picture of someone you don't even know? I just hope and pray the end of the year meetings will be easy today. I hope there aren't any pictures in the magazines already. Shoot, I really hope no one got a picture of me! I'm just a school teacher!


Once I pulled up to the school, there were cameramen at the front door waiting... I parked and pulled down my mirror to check my face. I just pray they aren't here for me. Maybe something happened at the school earlier this morning. Maybe this is just the news. Don't psyche yourself out, Shayla. Don't. They aren't here for you. Maybe someone got Teacher of the Year or something. Who knows? I got out of the car and headed for the front door. As soon as the cameramen heard me coming up, they all turned around almost simultaneously.


"That's her! That's Michael Jacksons' girlfriend!" One of them shouted. Everyone immediately started taking photos of me.


"What's it like to be involved with Michael Jackson?" One asked.


"How long have you guys been going steady?" Another questioned.


"Is it just intimate? Or is it official?"


I tried hard to push through them, so I could get to the door. Once I finally got to the door, Principal Walker hurried to open it and pulled me out of that mayhem.


"Thank you so much!" I breathed.


"Follow me, Mrs. Jackson." She said sternly.


"Sure, what's going on?"


"I'll let you know once we get to my office." I followed her to her office. The paparazzi just continued to take photos as we walked away from the main entrance. How in the hell did they find out where I work? "Have a seat, Mrs. Jackson." I took a seat. I have to get prepared for these parent/teacher conferences. I hope this won't take too long.


"What's going on, Mrs. Walker? Is everything okay?"


"No, it's not. This has been going on all morning." She sighed.


"What has?"


"All of these cameramen."


"Huh? Why?"


"Parents have been calling me with concern. Heck, some parents came up here with their kids, saw the cameramen and turned back around only to call me to say they won't be dropping by for end of the year parent/teacher meetings."


"I-"


"Does this ring a bell?" Mrs. Walker slid me a copy of the World News with Michael and I on the cover. It was a photo someone managed to take last night while we were in the car on our way home. I stared at it in shock. "Mrs. Jackson, this is a place of business. Not only that, this is a school. I have children coming in day in and day out. How do you think it makes my parents feel when they feel their children's safety is in jeopardy?"


"I-"


"You know... I never would have thought you would have been married to a celebrity. Michael Jackson at that." She looked at me. "I need those paparazzi gone."


"Yes, ma'am. I'll make sure of it. I'm sorry. I can only imagine how the children and their parents feel. Privacy and safety is a big concern." I stood up so that I could hurry to my class.


"I'm sure you will take care of it... Mrs. Jackson?"


"Yes, Mrs. Walker?" I answered.


"We're going to have to let you go." She sighed.


"What?!"


"The paparazzi were here before my first staff member arrived. That was at six, Mrs. Jackson. It is now eight. Fifteen minutes before my meetings start. These cameramen have been harassing my staff, students and my parents about you. I can't have this at my school."


"Mrs. Walker, I-"


"I'm sorry, Mrs. Jackson. We have to let you go. For the safety and privacy of the students here, I cannot allow you to stay."


"It's not like I'm a crappy teacher, Mrs. Walker. You cannot fire me because of who I'm married to and the territory that comes with that. I can make sure the paparazzi go away. This is uncivil, you can't fire me because of this." I was on the verge of tears. This was my dream and I'm getting fired because I'm married to a celebrity?!


"Mrs. Jackson, that's not what I said. If I keep you here, I'm jeopardizing the safety and security of my students. Do you know how many calls I've gotten since six this morning? Listen to this," She pressed the voicemail button on her phone.


"Mrs. Walker, this is Mary Washington's father. We won't be coming in today because of the thousands of cameramen I saw in front of the school this morning. When I tried to walk in the building, they kept asking us about some Mrs. Jackson. They were literally bombarding my daughter about a teacher she doesn't even know! Either you fix this or I'm pulling my daughter out immediately!"


"And this one..."


"Principal Walker, I get the paper every morning and I happened to see one of your teachers on the cover. When I pulled up to the school, I saw cameramen waiting at the front door. I didn't even try to go into the building. I just turned around. I suggest you get this fixed asap. I don't feel safe with my son's school being stalked by cameramen."


"That's only two out of the fifty calls I've received this morning, Mrs. Jackson."


"How did this happen?" I groaned. My life is over. "I don't even know how this got out! One day, I'm fine. No one knows who I'm married to. No one knows where I live. No one knows where I work. The next day, I'm followed to my in-law's house, my house, and now work. I don't know how all of this happened."

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Jackson... You can collect your belongings and drop off your keys at five. I'll be here to help if you need anything."


"Mrs. Walker, you can't fire me because of who I'm in a relationship with!" I pleaded.


"Again, Mrs. Jackson, that is not why I'm letting you go. It's for the safety and security of my students. You know you're one of my favorite teachers, Shayla... you' re one of the best I've got! But all this publicity is too much. Have you seen the news this morning? I'm sorry..."


I can't believe this. I've worked so hard for this only for it all come crashing down. And for what? Because of who I'm married to and everyone knows now? That's what it really boils down to. I understand the safety and security of the students, but I told her I would take care of it. I made my way to the car only to have paparazzi follow me. They snapped photo after photo as I made my way into the vehicle, buckled up, and everything. What vultures! I took a look around at each of them. Some of them shouting my name. Others begging for a story. This is so overwhelming. I started the car and tried my best to back out. No one budged.


"Move!" I motioned for them to move, but no one budged. "Move!" I said a little louder. This time honking my horn. Again, no one moved an inch. "God damn it! Move!!!" This time screaming as I pressed on the horn and proceeded to back out slowly. They continued to take photo after photo, so I'm sure they caught a photo of me looking crazy. Once they finally got out of the way, I hurried away from the premises.


As soon as I got home, more paparazzi were at the gates. This is never going to end is it? Michael better be home. I hurried through the gates as best as I could and told security to call the police. I'm sure Michael is home. It's only eight, so he's probably asleep. As soon as I got in the house, I heard the living room television blaring.


"Michael." I made my way to the living room. He was watching cartoons.


"Babe, I thought you left for work. What's going on?" He hopped up from his chair to give me a hug.

"I was fired." My voice shook.


"You what?!" I took a deep breath. It hurt to swallow. I'm trying hard not to cry, but I can't. "What happened, baby? Talk to me." He sat us down on the couch.


I wiped the tears that managed to escape, "as soon as I pulled up to school, paparazzi were everywhere. They snapped photos of me every step I took. Mrs. Walker saved me from the ruckus, thankfully, but," I shrugged. "She continued to fire me. She said they were there since six this morning. Said she received fifty calls from parents scared for the safety of their children. That was her reason. And I don't blame her, but I feel like I've been fired because of who I'm married to and it's not right."


"They can't do that!" Michael was furious. "That's uncivil, Shayla! We can sue!"


"It wouldn't matter." I shrugged. "It's about the children. Not about me. They could use the children against me. It wouldn't even be worth it."


"Babe, they cannot fire you for this."


"It's the paparazzi's fault! I don't even know how they found out where I work!"


"I'm so sorry..." Michael was more upset about it than I was. "This is all my fault. Because of me, you can't even live a normal life and work."


"It comes with the territory. I knew what I was signing up for when I chose to marry you. There's nothing that can be done about that. We've been keeping this a secret for so long...." How could my relationship have gotten out? How did paparazzi find out where we lived? "Did we do something wrong? Did we forget to lock a door? Close some blinds? How did this get out?"


"I'm not sure, but if that school let you go, is there any way you could work at another school? Maybe a private school? Maybe one that has a lot of celebrity kids! Everyone is of the same status. I'm sure the school would be heavily guarded."


"I don't know, Michael..."


"It's worth a try." He tried cheering me up.


"Yeah... I have to retrieve all of my things at the end of the day. Babe, I've worked so hard for this. You've seen my classroom. This has been my dream." I cried.


"I know, baby." He held me.


"And the thing is, Mrs. Walker said I was one of her best teachers. So why let me go? Why not let me handle it?"


"You can't handle paparazzi, babe... No matter how much we call the police, it can't really be contained. They'll just keep on coming."


"They're a bunch of vultures. They're sick. How would they feel if their families were stalked the way they stalk others?"


"I guess it takes a certain lowlife to take on a job like that."


"You can say that again." I scoffed. "Ugh! What will my mother say? My dad will flip."


"Are you going to talk to them?"


"Not yet. I don't know what I would say."


"That's understandable."


"Are you going to come with me to get all of my stuff from the school?" I lay on Michael's lap.


"Of course, I will."


"Thank you, baby."

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