"...And so, the board has come upon the decision of asking you to pull off this task, Mr.Cameron. Can you do this?" The insufferable voice that belonged to the President seemed to drone on and on until he said his name. John kept his lips pressed into a fine line as he did his best not to tune out his boss's monologue, though he could not help spacing off due to exhaustion from the recent show incidents. From the polar bear nearly killing Julian to the Reciting Platypus itself saving the entire show, the radio show host was desperately praying for a break. Unfortunately for him, that would not be possible. "..Mr. Cameron. Mr. Cameron. Are you listening to me?" The President's voice brought the exhausted man back to reality.
"Uh- yes sir my apologies. What was the question?" John responded curtly, obviously struggling to keep himself from snapping at the man. His boss puffed his chest indulgently, seeming agitated by John's current of mind. The man straightened up in his seat and briefly combed his fingers through his graying hair, then moved to stare Cameron directly in the eye.
"I asked if you are able to pull off running the show for an entire week. After the platypus appeared on the show, the Orbiting Human Circus has never been more popular. Everyone at the country club would not stop complimenting me-" he paused to give a short laugh," and also it means good money. I want you to hold a week long special. New acts every night. Seven days. Can you pull this off John? I have faith you can." The President explained, a bit prideful over this horrific idea.
Fear. That is probably what John was feeling right now as he listened to his boss. Honestly he should just say no and walk out, but what if he got fired? Cold sweat stung the back of his neck as he reached up to stroke his stage mustache, though when his fingers came into contact with the skin of his upper lip he realized he had forgotten to put it on. Damn it, everything was falling apart right now.
"Mr. Pre- President. Sir, I don't think this very good idea. Last time you recommended something or janitor almost... he almost died." John paused to chew at his bottom lip in remorse before continuing. "It takes awhile to gather so many acts- and presenting every night will place immense stress on the stage hand's shoulders."
"Bah, I don't want to hear it. Don't talk down on yourself John, I know you can pull it off. It's settled." The President rudely interrupted, placing a hand up before making a 'shoo' gesture with it. "Now go on. I'll give you two days to collect the acts. I'm expecting great things from this week's special." With that, the intimidating man turned around in his large swivel chair to place his back to John.
Sighing heavily, the caramel haired radio host rose onto his feet, dipped his head, then proceeded to leave the office. John kept his hands clenched into fists as he attempted to keep his calm composure until he knew he was out of earshot of the office. Then, with shaky hands he gripped his hair and leaned over to scream. Not as loudly as he could of, but loud enough to make him wince from how harshly he tugged on his scalp. Once he had gotten that out of his system, his chest lightened and he panted heavily. Recomposing himself once more, he smoothed off his suit and left the building with a dignified but self-doubting stride. All the while he was cursing up a storm in the back of his mind, wondering how the hell he was supposed to pull this off.
John was seething with anger by the time he had returned to the tower. On his way back he had stopped by a cafe for a cup of coffee as a pick-me-up. The problem with being a world famous radio host is, well, he is famous. And so when the tired man sat down for a simple cup of coffee he was immediately bombarded by fans and reporters. Right, he hardly left the tower unless it was to hide at home. Obnoxious camera flashes and loud chattering disturbed his senses, questions upon questions on how he got the platypus on the air plagued his 'peaceful' time with his coffee. After giving out fake smiles and false statements to the press, he had managed to finish his non-fat frappuccino with extra whip-cream and an extra espresso shot and skillfully maneuvered away from the crowd.
The petty man then had finally reached the tower when the muggy looking sky had decided to start raining, getting his favorite Egyptian cotton scarf soaked along with his designer dress shoes. His golden locks of hair flopped forward over his dead looking eyes as he stepped out of the elevator that lead to the ballroom. Dark streaks of mascara stained his cheeks as he trudged into the grand looking room, and he let a dreaded sigh pass through his parted lips. He glared around, looking to the stage which was empty for the time being, and moved to stand at his usual spot. Removing his jacket and scarf, he placed them by the microphone stand then began walking back stage where he could hear loud talking and the busy hustle of the stage hands that worked for him.
The first person he saw was his stage manager and personal friend, Letitia. A slight feeling of relief rushed through him as he saw the familiar face, his shoulders slumping as she approached him. Her face contorted to an expression of surprise and concern as her gaze found its way to him, and her pace quickened. She looked radiant as always. Her chocolate colored, short, curly locks of hair bounced slightly as she walked over; her heels clicking rhythmically against the steel ground as she came close. Pausing in front of John, she frowned slightly and pulled a small handkerchief out of her coat pocket, handing it to him.
"John, what has happened to you? How was your meeting?" The Parisian asked in clear concern, giving him a friendly pat on the shoulder. "And uhh.. Your makeup is running." She whispered to him softly after asking. John sigh again, hardly comforted by her accent as he raised his hand to his face. Using the cloth, he began dabbing his eyes and skin gently to smudge the makeup off his cheeks.
"The meeting? Oh yes, the meeting. Great. It went so well ." He said sarcastically, rolling his eyes irritably as he tossed the cloth onto the floor. John kept scowling, refusing to make eye contact with Letitia as he did so. "...Grab the staff would you? We have to discuss what happened at the damn meeting--- Oh god my head hurts." He whined slightly, pinching the bridge of his nose as Letitia nodded. She sighed to herself, drumming her fingers against the clipboard cradled in her arms as she turned away. John tuned her voice out as she began barking at Jacques to gather everyone, his mind and eyes drifting elsewhere.
He noticed a small figure further down the hallway. Dark and hunched over, it clutched a mop in its hands as it worked on cleaning the floors. Another frown met John's chapped lips as he narrowed his eyes at the damn janitor. Lately, every time he saw him there was this agitating feeling tugging at his chest. He supposed his hate for the janitor was growing, though he could not help the guilt that gnawed at his stomach when he noticed the bandages that covered his neck and forearms. Occasionally he would spot some red stains speckling the cloth wraps, though staring at the blood would make him queasy and force him to turn away from Julian. Not that he was staring at Julian or anything, like he kept telling himself, it was the hate and the guilt. Now that he thought about it, the current situation would not of happened if Julian had just stayed at the hospital with the damn platypus. His face reddened slightly in misdirected anger, then flinched as he felt a soft tap on his shoulder.
"Monsieur- Monsieur Cameron. John. Are okay? I have gathered ze stage crew for you. What is zis about?" Letitia brought John back to reality, raising an eyebrow at him questionably. A small group of stage hands looked at him curiously which made John cough awkwardly and made him hope desperately his face was no longer red.
"The show is closing!" The host said, throwing his arms up in the air dramatically, a slight look of hysteria clouding his navy eyes. Letitia gasped, the stage hands broke into an outburst of upset and angered cries. "....well at least it should be soon." John groaned, his arms falling to his sides as he slumped back slightly.
"John no- zere is no couch in here-" The chief stagehand said in a rushed tone, moving forward to catch her friend before he collapsed onto the ground. "John, what do you mean by ze show is closing!?" Letitia said a bit frantically as she held him in her strong, comforting arms. John gave a weak sigh, placing the back of his hand against his forehead.
"The public radio broadcasting corporation have assigned us to do a week long show. A new show for seven days in a row, new acts every night. I advised against it but they insisted. I had little power in this situation and now we're all out of the job." John groaned, his head nodding as he spoke sorrowfully.
"Quelle!? Vous plaisantez j'espère!!?? Sept jours sont ils fous!?" Letitia cried out to which John winced and nudge her.
"Tish...you're speaking French again." He mumbled, his face paling slightly. The surrounding stage crew was murmuring angrily amongst themselves, wondering how they would set up so many shows. All the acts they would need for this event. 'Dear god the acts.' John thought in panic to himself. He sat up in Letitia's arms, then moved to stand on his own again. Clutching his head and squaring his shoulders, he faced the crew once more. "We have two days to gather more acts and prepare for the show. If you find anything. ANYTHING interesting or abnormal, tell me please. The help will be greatly appreciated." His voice cracked slightly before his legs sagged again from exhaustion.
".....you heard him. Aller! Aller! Get going!" Letitia barked, clapping her hands and straightening her posture to assert herself. She wore a dark expression as the stagehands began scrambling to get back to work, hushed whispers of fear and agitation being exchanged as they did.
Once the dimly lit hallway had cleared, John and Letitia stood idly for a long moment. The distant sound of the rain seemed to echo in the hall, relaxing and calm in an endless rhythm. John took a moment to close his eyes and take a deep breath to calm himself. The musty scent of wet iron and muggy Parisian air filled his senses, allowing himself to relax for just moment. The soft sound of clacking heels mixed in with the pattern of the rain as Letitia walked away from Cameron to keep an eye on the stage hands.
John opened his eyes again to find himself standing alone. How familiar did this feel to him. A long time ago John had already accepted the fact that he was probably going to die alone, so standing like this by himself really did not bother him. Not in the slightest. His mind soon drifted to the janitor, and he found his gaze shifting slightly in pursuit of the sight of him. When Julian was no longer around, he sighed and slipped his hands into his coat pockets with a frown. Hunching over slightly with an exhausted expression, John made his way down the hall towards his dressing room.
It took a couple minutes to reach his room, his blurred gaze unfocused as he walked. He drowned out the background sounds of Letitia shouting and the stagehands shifting around trying to set up the acts for the first three days. Instead, he listened to the rain and the soft sounds of the rubber soles of his shoes rhythmically matching together. A couple mangled but soft locks of hair fell forward over his darkened eyes, giving into his dramatic depression. Anyone that worked at the tower knew not to bother Cameron when he sunk into one of these moods, knowing only shouting and dramatic talk of death would come of it.
Once he had reached his room though, the short man paused as his gaze spotted something. Sitting in front of his dressing room was a few small, tattered ,and used boxes; poorly taped together with familiar crude handwriting scrawled across the cardboard. “ To Mr. John Cameron,” was written, the e’s and r’s backwards. One of them seemed to shake slightly, a low-pitched growling noise sounding softly from within. This box was larger than the other two, and by far the most intimidating. The second box was about the size of shoe box, a crumpled letter lying on top of it with the same messy handwriting as the one on the boxes. The third one was painted a soft red, gold rhinestones that were scratched up and mangled were poorly glued onto the box. A pungent odor radiated from within it, one that made John gag in disgust and pull out his handkerchief, covering his mouth and nose swiftly. His cheeks were flushed as he moved and collected the boxes quickly, glancing around skeptically. Once he believed he was in the clear, he moved forward to open the door to his dressing room. Heavy footsteps caused the show host to pause, his face paling slightly as he heard the witty voice of Jacques the stagehand.
“Mr. Cameron- look at you.” The hefty man let out a low chuckle in amusement as he walked by, lifting a large, iron box over his shoulder. A smirk rested on the bald man’s face as he paused to look down at the meek man, who met the larger man’s gaze with mild fear. John was always kind of afraid of the muscled man, finding him quite intimidating. In fact, the only person that probably scared him more here was Letitia. So, peering up at the chiseled chin that belonged to Jacques always made him shake slightly, he awkwardly squares his shoulders to appear more confident. “Getting that fan mail, eh? Better watch out for the crazier fans, I heard once that some of them go as far as to track your house down and steal your underwear when you're sleeping. Ha, well my aunt said that anyways. Still, getting popular with the ladies?” John snorted in disgust and turned his head away bitterly at the teasing.
“Sure.” The blonde replied curtly, hoping to pose as off-standish as he tucked the packages away and sarcastically mumbled. “I'll be sure to keep crazed fans in mind. Not like I'm already surrounded by lunatics everyday.” With a huff, he pushed open his dressing room door and retreated to his quiet space. John grumbled bitterly under his breath something about ladies and annoying packages, stepping into the chaotic mess of his room. The clutter just about summed up his life at the moment. Messy, unorganized, and kind of pathetic. He kicked aside an old pair of sweats that lied in the walkway, pushing his way over to sit at the long bar-like table attached to the left side of the room. Knocking over a couple wig heads and moving a few bags of makeup aside, he placed the boxes down and eagerly looked over them. John had no idea still where from or who was giving these boxes to him. All that mattered though was that they meant one thing. The show could go on.
First he picked up the crumpled note from off the shoebox. It took him a few minutes if squinting to adjust to reading the god awful handwriting scratched into the paper with cheap magic markers. It wrote:
Dear Mr. Cameron,
I was notified of your situation with the show needing new acts for the week. Inside the boxes should be enough for two days, I hope. One has a rare animal called a “dodo”? They always said it was a bird. It's not a bird. Be careful its claws really hurt. The shoe box has a pair of red shoes that can make someone dance professionally! Like if they had two left feet, they could magically start dancing as if they've done it their whole life! The last box has a piano playing octopus in it! It can breath on land but it kind of smells. Also the shoe box has the number to a popular fortune teller in Paris, she's really good at predictions, you should call her. Good luck at the show!
John wrinkled his nose at the last part of the letter, instantly crumbling the sad looking note as he did with all the previous ones. He swiftly walked to the sink and placed the paper in there, pulling out his lighter and setted the object ablaze. Taking peace in his mild victory, he smirked as he watched the fire gnash and singe away the thin material until it was nothing was left but ashes and satisfaction. With a small huff, he ignored the smoke gently billowing out of the sink as he turned to open one of the boxes. The one containing the shoes, and the phone number.
Gingerly with dainty fingers, he lifter the lid of the box and looked inside. Much to his relief, there actually was a pair of shoes inside the box. They looked like tap shoes, sleek and crimson colored with polished metal soles. He absently admired the craftsmanship of the shoes, picking one up and running his fingers over the leather slowly.
“Mr. Mistery has delivered again...who will wear these onto the show though?” He asked himself softly, not really caring that he sounded insane for talking to himself aloud. The shorter man squared his shoulders slightly and tucked the shoes away back into the box once more, grabbing the small slip of paper instead. His wary eyes looked over the poorly written number, why was it always in magic marker?
That was when a sudden wave of exhaustion hit John like a freight train. His vision swimmed for a brief moment before he puffed his cheeks and shook out his head. Sighing softly, he grabbed a small magnet from off to the side of his desk. It was shaped like a pair of lips, lush and red. (His only reason for keeping the novelty item was when he needed to get something done, he would use the item to pin up his to do lists or chores. It was such a hideous thing that he would quickly take care of the business so he no longer had to stare at the magnet.) Using the ugly nicnac, he pinned up the number to his mirror before stretching out his back with an exaggerated yawn. His hands and arms extended upwards as he leaned back, yawning loudly before relaxing again. Brushing his hair aside, he turned to face the long, black, cushioned couch that stretched across one wall of the room. Stepping over a small pile of old outfits; cluttered with his failures to bedazzle them properly, he flopped down head first onto the comforting furniture. His limbs sprawled out slowly and he grunted until he found a comfortable spot. Then, sighing softly with parted lips, he closed his eyes.
Thoughts and fears plagued his mind as he did his best to drift off. Images of the president and his dumb, plump, reddened face scolding Cameron for failing him constantly surfaced in the back of his eyes. Though whenever he actually opened them he only saw the dim lighting of the room reflecting off the black fabric of the couch. He could not seem to sleep, only doze off until his fear of losing his job caused an uncomfortable amount of sweat to form on the back of his neck and he was forced to adjust on the couch again. Drifting in out of sleep, hardly dozing, just barely losing consciousness until he was rudely awakened again by fear. The man struggled for hours until finally collapsing completely from exhaustion.
Later on a beautiful but terrifying French woman would stop by his dressing room. She would walk over to her boss, her friend, and pull a blanket over his shoulders. An affectionate and friendly ruffle of the hair was to be given. Then quietly, she turned out the light and stepped out of the room, allowing him to sleep.