Chapter 8 — Simple Things Are Free
Jun 10, 2004 – Jacksonville, FL (Baymeadows Suburb) – The Home of JT Poole – The Music Studio
Look at my baby, sitting there, playing his heart out at the piano. I hope he’s not too mad with me. I guess this is what he does when he gets upset. I guess I better get used to this action and do what I can to try to calm him down and show him that I didn’t mean any harm by what I said to him.
“I got fire in my touch… there’s nothing I won’t do… and I’ll bend over backwards… just to give it all to you,” he sang as he played the notes on the piano. “Cause there’s only one man… that can handle all this love… cause there’s only one man… that I want to be with tonight… cause there’s only one man… that can squeeze me tight… there’s only one man in my life… and that’s you, you and you and you.”
“Is he singing that about me?” I said to no one in particular as he continued playing the piano and singing.
“I said there’s only one man… that can handle all this love… cause there’s only one man… that I want to be with tonight… I said there’s only one man in my life… and that’s you,” he sang as he stopped playing the piano and then turned around, noticing me standing there. “Justin…”
“I hope you were talking about me,” I said as he smiled and then got up from the bench as he walked over to where I was.
“There’s only one man in my life and that’s you, you, you and you and you,” he sang as he leaned in and kissed my mouth. “I’m sorry Justin. I’m sorry for acting like—like a…”
“It’s okay baby,” I said as we kissed again. “I like the song. Is it yours?”
“No, you would have to thank Aunt Donna for that one,” he replied as I shook my head.
“Your Aunt Donna has contributed a whole lot to the soundtrack of our lives baby,” I said as he smiled.
“She’s known for singing a lot of love songs,” he said as he yawned as I laughed. “What time is it?”
“A little after two baby,” I told him as he yawned again.
“I guess I better go get my shower now,” he said as I nodded my head.
“You want some company baby?” I asked as he looked me in the eyes and then kissed my mouth again.
Hot damn, I guess that’s a yes.
Albany, NY – The Home of James Poole
“Sir, please forgive me if I’m overstepping my authority here, but why did you have us come here to New York, instead of going back to Chicago?” David Marin asked as he and James walked through the door of James’ second home.
“We’re here because I feel things in Chicago are about to get a bit too hot for my liking,” James replied with a small smile as he placed his hat on the rack behind the door and then walked over to the sofa and took a seat. “I need a drink… You already know what I want boy.”
“Yes sir,” David responded as he walked around the house, flipping switches as lights turned on in various places throughout the house as he walked into the kitchen to prepare James’ drink.
Now that I’m here, I wonder what both of my boys are doing. One just got married and the other—the other has been lost to this family for the longest time. Now that he’s back on the radar, I have to do what I can to make sure that nothing else happens to him because of ‘Nessa’s actions or anyone else’s.
This family has been broken for far too long and it’s time I did something to heal all of us. I have to get the Poole family name back on the right track. I may not be able to undo the damage that ‘Nessa has caused, but I can sure as hell try to bring some love and care back to the lives of my boys. All I have to do is keep ‘Nessa away from both of them and things should work out just fine.
When we all left Canada, to all go on our own separate ways, that’s really what happened. I don’t know where ‘Nessa or any of the others went to. I should’ve been more attentive to the lives of those around me when I had the chance. If I had done what I normally do, I would know where everyone went, just in case I needed to pay someone a special visit.
Where in the hell is ‘Nessa? When she left Canada, her ass disappeared. I don’t know where in the hell she is, and no one knows where she was headed when she stepped foot on that plane. Her ass is like a damn ghost right now, no one has seen or heard from her since she left Canada.
I know how ‘Nessa thinks and since I can’t find her right now, something must be going on. Is she hiding out from me, now that she knows that I’m back around and I mean to cause her a great deal of harm if she does more to cause harm to our boys, or is she hiding because of something else she’s gotten herself into? Since she tried to kill me and that scene we had in Canada, she knows that I mean business and I’ll stop at nothing to make her pay for all the wrong she’s done to me, my boys and all the others she’s come in contact with over the years.
To help make things better for my boys, I called in some of my resources to help keep a watchful eye on her, but it seems none of my men can locate her. Before I left the sovereign country of Canada, I should’ve taken care of that task myself. Where in the world can that woman be right now? She’s not at her home, she’s not with John and she’s not with any of those damn men I’ve caught her with over the years. So, where can she be right now?
“Here you are sir,” David spoke as he walked back into the room, handing me the drink I requested. “Is there anything you need me to do right now sir?”
With all the things I’ve discovered as of late, my boy David has been a bit dishonest with me. I had to find out through other means that he’d been lying all these years about his past. When I first met David, I had no idea that he and John’s tour manager were related. He’s been in my employ for a long time and come to find out, he—he’s the brother of one of the people responsible for causing so much hurt to my boy. Why didn’t he tell me about this relationship sooner? Why did I have to find out through other means and not from him?
“First, I think we should have a little conversation boy,” I said as he looked at me strangely.
“Okay sir,” he responded as he knelt down in front of me.
“I would like to know why you didn’t tell me that Marc Prestige is your damn brother,” I said as his eyes widened. “What, you didn’t think I was going to find out?”
“Excuse me sir,” he said as I shook my head.
“No David,” I said as he looked down. “If you want to remain in my employ, you’ll tell me why you didn’t tell me that evil man is your damn brother!”
“He—he’s my half-brother sir,” he replied as I shook my head.
“He’s still a part of your family and you didn’t tell me that information, why?” I asked as he took in a breath. “When I hired you, I asked did you have any connections to the music industry and you flat out lied to me! You lied to me David! I want to know why?! Why shouldn’t I toss your ass out on the damn street right now? Tell me damn it!”
“Because I—I’m a good boy and I’ve served you faithfully for the last…” he replied as I held up my hand, stopping him.
“This isn’t about your service to me young man, it’s a matter of your truth and sincerity to me,” I said as he sighed.
“I—I’m sorry sir, but I—I don’t communicate much with my family,” he said as I shook my head.
“That’s not the point David,” I said as he sighed.
“I’m really sorry sir, I didn’t mean to…” he said as I interrupted him.
“So again, why shouldn’t I throw your ass out on the street right now?” I asked as he closed his eyes as I could see the tears sliding down his cheeks.
“Please sir, I—I’ll do better,” he spoke. “Please sir, how can I make this up to you?”
“I’m sure you already know the answer to that,” I said as he looked up at me and then started unbuttoning his shirt as he moved around, exposing his back to me. “How many years have you been with me?”
“Five years sir,” he answered, his voice trembling.
“How long have you concealed the fact that you’re related to Marc Prestige from me?” I asked.
“The same amount of time sir,” he replied.
“With that revelation, what should be your punishment boy?” I asked.
“Whatever you say boy’s punishment is sir,” he replied as he held his head down. “I will submit to whatever punishment you say sir.”
“Were you aware of all the things that your brother has done to my son?” I asked.
“No sir,” he replied.
“So, when I first had you look into my son’s life and you noticed that your brother worked with him, why didn’t you tell me that information then?” I asked.
“I—I don’t have an answer for that sir,” he replied.
“Why don’t you have an answer for that boy?” I asked.
“Because I—I’m ashamed of that part of my family sir,” he replied as he sniffled. “Marc, his brothers, my father, they are all evil men that will do any and everything to get what they want. They have no cares for others. I am not like them sir. I hope you know that sir.”
“How am I to know that boy?” I asked.
“My loyalty and faithful service to you sir,” he replied as I footed him in the side as he looked up at me as I motioned for him to stand up. “Sir?”
“Get up boy, I am not going to punish you this time,” I said as he smiled and then nodded his head.
“Thank you sir,” he said as he leaned in and kissed my hand as he stood back up and started buttoning his shirt up.
“Now go prepare us a late dinner,” I instructed him.
“Yes sir,” he said as he turned and left the room, heading into the kitchen as I wondered what else he had hidden from me.
Somewhere in Chicago, IL – A Local Diner
Now that I’ve rested up, why did I decide to come to Chicago of all places? I’ve been to James’ house four times and he’s not there. Where in the hell has he gotten to? He’s not here and it doesn’t seem like he’s been there in a while. It’s odd that he not there. Hell, it’s odd that I decided to come back here. I should be picking my shit and heading for an unknown place.
Why am I here? A part of me wants to confront James about what happened in Toronto and cause him the same amount of pain that he caused me, but then again, it seems like we’re going around in a damn circle, being that I shot him and left him for dead in a damn hotel. Then the other part of me misses the way we used to be so long ago, before the music and fame. Seeing John and Justin get married, that—that scene showed me what I’ve been missing for a long time. James and I were good together, but I—I let the music and the fame go to my head.
“Well look at that, if it isn’t the famous and sensational Vanessa Clemons and she’s slumming,” I heard someone say as I turned around to see a tall black man I hadn’t seen in a long time. “Or should I just call you Vanessa Jameson?”
“Well hello to you to Michael,” I said as he smiled and then walked over to where I sat in the booth. “Funny, I run into you here.”
“No, it’s funny that I run into you here,” he said as he sat down across from me. “It’s been a long time since this part of Chi-Town has seen the likes of you. You’ve come a long way, since you were singing in dives like the ones we used to hang out in.”
“I didn’t forget my roots Michael,” I said as he shook his head.
“Come on now, you made it big and none of us around here, ever saw you in person again,” he said as he shook his head as the waitress walked over.
“May I get something for you sir?” The woman asked.
“A coffee please,” he requested with a smile at the woman, a smile I used to be privy to see often before I met James.
“Right away sir,” the woman replied as she walked off.
“So, what are you doing here Vanessa?” He asked, looking at me closely. “Have you moved back to our side of the bridge?”
“No, I’m just looking for someone,” I replied, seeing that got his attention.
“Hmmm, was it me that you were looking for?” He asked as I looked back up at him. My mind wanted to say something totally rude to hurt his feelings, but my heart kicked in instead.
“It could’ve been you, but you weren’t the one I gave my heart to,” I said as the smile faded from his face. “I’m sorry Michael.”
“It’s okay Vanessa, besides I moved on,” he replied as I looked over at him. “When you left, I was hurt for a long time, but that changed when I met Joneatha.”
“Joneatha Crosby,” I said as he looked at me.
“Yeah, you two know each other?” He asked as I just looked at him, wondering how damn crazy is he.
“Come on Michael, I know you’re not that old to forget that,” I said as he just looked at me strangely. “When I moved here from Georgia, she was the first girl I met. We hung out almost every day. She was at all of my shoes when I started singing.”
“Really? That’s not ringing any bells with me,” he said as I just shook my head.
“It’s alright, I’m just shocked that she didn’t talk about me,” I said, looking down, remembering that when I hit it big, I cut ties with everyone before then. “I—I think I need to go.”
“Where are you going this morning?” He asked as I stood up.
“I’m going to catch a plane,” I replied, preferring to spend the rest of my time, somewhere else, instead of being here.
“But you just got here,” he said as he stood up. “Can’t you just spend some time in the place where you started from?”
“I—I wish I could, but I have some place else to be,” I said as he grabbed my hand as I was about to walk off, stopping me. “Michael, my heart is someplace else, just as yours is.”
“No Vanessa, my heart could’ve been yours, but you chose fame over me,” he said as he turned me to face him. “I loved you woman, but you pushed me aside for the lights. You just had to be in the spotlight, so now I guess you have what you want. Are you happy Vanessa?”
“Yes, I’m happy,” I replied as he shook his head.
“You sitting here, in this damn diner, in the middle of the night, by yourself… You sure don’t look happy Vanessa,” he stated as he let my hand go. “Has that damn spotlight brought you the happiness that you wanted?”
“Is that the question you really wanted to ask me Michael?” I asked as he sighed, accepted the coffee from the waitress as he gave her some money as he gave me a final look as he walked out of the diner, leaving me the way he found me. Upset and confused.
“Are you okay Miss?” The waitress asked, looking at me strangely.
“I’m fine,” I replied as I gave her a few bills and then walked out in search of Michael.
As I got outside, I looked in both directions, but I didn’t see any sign of him. Damn it! Why in the hell did I have to see him? Is God trying to punish me for all of my mistakes in life? My life is fucked up enough; I don’t need any more damn drama in my life.
Damn it all to hell! Was I led over here to this damn place to see James or Michael? Michael Fischer was a nice part of my life, but it wasn’t the part that mattered. Both James and Michael had qualities that I loved, but those qualities didn’t make the whole. I loved Michael, but he couldn’t offer me the things I desired. I admit Michael probably would’ve been a nice husband, but I met James and he never got a chance to prove that.
James Poole, I don’t know what it was about that man that made everything wrong in the world, right to me? At that time of my life, when I met James, he seemed like the type of guy I’d always wanted to be with, the nice and romantic kind. Michael had his good qualities, but James had something more. After meeting James, my life changed, I thought for the better, but looking back at things now, I don’t know if that was a good thing or a bad one. I agreed to marry James and a few months later, I was discovered by a music representative and my singing career took off. After that, I never had to sing in a low-down dirty bar or nightclub again.
James Poole was the man that made all of my dreams come true. I thought James was the one for me, forever. Because of James, I had the career, the money, the fame, the love and the family I wanted. Because of my actions, that all changed and now my life seems to be in shambles. But was it my actions alone, solely to blame for my current situation or what? Am I really to blame? Is James to blame? Is that damn Daniel Graves to blame? Who do I blame for the way my life turned out?
A Few Hours Later – Jacksonville, FL – The Parks International Building – A Conference Room
I—I can’t believe this madness is going on right now. How—how could the label allow this mess to happen with Glitter and not give me a damn warning that this shit was coming? Telling me that everything is going to be okay isn’t the damn answer I’m looking for at the moment from them. If they don’t do something about this mess, I’m surely walking away from this damn label and not coming back.
I’m sure they saw the same video I saw last night. What I and probably a million other people of the world saw on TV is not the image I want conveyed as ‘Mutual Attraction’. What Glitter did in that video, she—she acted like—like a damn hoochie momma or something. I don’t care what she does in her personal life, but when she does something like that and the public starts associating it with the group, that’s a whole different story. Every talk show I saw on TV this morning, they were all pointing fingers at the so-called new look, direction and image of ‘Mutual Attraction’. That can’t be allowed to continue. There’s where I’m drawing the line.
“Good morning JT, what is it that I can do for you today?” Darren Haynes asked as he walked in with that smug ass look on his face that I couldn’t stand. “Oh and by the way, congratulations on your recent nuptials.”
“Yeah, thanks,” I replied as he shook my hand.
“I would’ve told you that sooner, but one of your bouncers wouldn’t allow me to. So again, what can I do for you?” He asked, running his hands across his suit, like he was trying to test the fabric or something and then straightened his tie.
“You can start off by telling me how Glitter was able to get that damn music video out to the world, the way she did last night,” I said as he looked at me strangely.
“To start, while you and Justin Tanner were up in Canada, getting married, Glitter was here, in the studio, busting her ass, making her video and cutting her first single,” Darren stated with that fake ass smile of his that made me want to smack the taste out of his mouth. “You guys should’ve been here, working on something together, but that’s not possible now.”
“What’s not possible Darren?” I asked as he looked at me and then shook his head.
“JT, the label has decided to go in a different direction with ‘Mutual Attraction’,” He stated as he smiled again. “We’ve decided to give Glitter what she wants. We’re allowing her to pursue a solo career; while you and Nikki take care of whatever it is that you two seem to be too busy taking care of, since neither of you have been here to handle your obligations to the label.”
“You’re allowing her to pursue a solo career now? Really? Why is that Darren?” I asked as he smiled as I held up my hand, stopping him from his new spew of lies. “When Jarrod tried to add Starletta to the group, unsuccessfully I might add, why didn’t she start her solo career then?”
“Mainly because Starletta wasn’t added to the group,” he replied as I shook my head. “Starletta wasn’t under contract with the label, therefore Jarrod wasn’t able to add her.”
“Oh come now, we both know that Jarrod only did that shit to get some ass out of the pretty young thang,” I said as he shook his head.
“Regardless of that, other legalities are out of the way for the time being and you and Nikki seem to have your focus set on something else. We’re going to allow Glitter to pursue this opportunity, while she can of course,” he said as I just looked at him, wondering when he was going to speak the truth about things.
“I see,” I replied as I shook my head.
“Do you have a problem with the way the label is handling things JT?” He asked as I nodded y head. “You do, why?”
“That video was crazy and…” I spoke as he smiled and then held up his hand, stopping me.
“It was edgy,” he said as I shook my head again.
“No, it was trashy and—and it was—it was just wrong,” I said as the images of the video played around in my head. “You people had Glitter dressed up like—like some damn hooker on the street!”
“Yep, that’s the look we were aiming for,” he said with another smile.
“She looked skanky and trashy… That’s not good for the group,” I said as he folded his arms across his chest.
“It’s not for the group, it’s for her image and the music she’s singing,” he said as I shook my head again.
“Her image is making ‘Mutual Attraction’ look cheap and—and nasty,” I said as he shook his head. “This isn’t good for my image or Nikki’s!”
“Come on JT, nothing can tarnish your image, now that you’re married to Justin Tanner,” he said with a strange look I hadn’t seen on his face before, almost a look of disgust or something. “But, regardless of that, since you’re married and you haven’t been handling your obligations to the label, we’ve decided to let you have that break you’ve been asking for.”
“Meaning what Darren?” I asked as he smiled again.
“Meaning that we’ll call you when we think you need to record again,” he said as he got up from his chair and then walked around in front of me and then extended his hand for me to shake. “Have a good day JT.”
“So that’s it Darren? That’s all you have to say here?” I asked, getting up from the chair and moving away from his hand as I walked towards the door. “Fuck this shit!”
“Come on JT, don’t be that way,” he said as he followed behind me to the door.
“Fuck you Darren!” I snapped as it looked as if he were getting a rise out of my pissed off demeanor. “I’m outta here!”
“Okay JT,” he said as he walked over and grabbed his things from the table. “Oh and JT, if you’re thinking about going to another label, don’t try it. You’re still under contract with us. Anything that you record is still the property of the label.”
“Whatever you say Darren,” I said, shaking my head as I walked out of the room, slamming the door as I went as I heard him laughing.
Late Afternoon – Jacksonville, FL (Baymeadows Suburb) – The Home of JT Poole – The Master Bedroom
“Hey baby, Caleb just beat me again,” Justin said, walking into the room with a bag of chips in hand as he noticed JT lying on the bed, face down. “Baby, baby are you okay?”
“No, I’m not okay Justin,” JT replied as he turned over on the bed and then sniffled.
“Okay baby, what’s going on?” Justin asked as he sat on the edge of the bed as he placed his chips down on the bedside able and then rubbed JT’s feet.
“In not so many words, I’ve been fired,” JT stated as he sniffled again.
“You’ve been what? What are you talking about?” Justin asked as he looked at JT strangely.
“At my meeting this morning… I talked with Darren about Glitter’s new music video and he… They—they all wanted that and—and I was told that I was on a break and that if I tried to go to another label, I couldn’t,” JT replied as he sniffled and then covered his head with a pillow.
“Baby, calm down,” Justin said as he got up and then moved around the bed so that he was in front of JT. “What did Darren really say?”
“He said that I finally got the break that I wanted and that they’ll call me when they want me to record. He said that if I tried to go to another label, I couldn’t because I was still under contract with them. They—they’re going to ruin my career and stop me from singing!”
“Nobody’s going to stop you from singing baby,” Justin said as he leaned in and kissed JT’s mouth. “Hell, if I have to, I’ll start my own record company and you can record for me; if that’ll make you happy baby.”
“I can’t do that Justin,” JT stated as he shook his head and then sniffled again. “I can start my own record company if I need to.”
“I’m sure you could baby, but…” Justin said as JT shook his head and then hopped up from the bed.
“But nothing Justin… Those fools are going to let my career go up in smoke and they’re letting Glitter light the fucking match!” JT snapped as he shook his head.
“Baby, what do you want me to say here?” Justin asked as he watched JT with a saddened expression on his face. “Right now, I don’t know what to say to make this situation better in your eyes.”
“There’s really nothing to say here Justin,” JT stated as he sighed and then turned around. “Maybe this is what I need for right now… I can spend time with my son and my husband.”
“That sounds good to me baby,” Justin said as he walked over to where JT stood and then kissed his mouth. “Why don’t we go get Caleb from the arcade room and go out some place?”
“We’re going shopping later on and then we’ll have dinner,” JT stated as he sighed.
“Ah, going t get the clothing and the…” Justin started as JT interrupted him.
“We’re going to find him some clothes and new furniture for his room,” JT stated as he shook his head. “I need to make his room more child-like.”
“Yeah baby,” Justin said, laughing. “I’m sure a lot of places around in here could be more child-like… especially the kitchen, in the cereal department.”
“Awww, poor Justin, I guess we can stop somewhere and get you some cereal,” JT stated as he laughed at the expression on Justin’s face. “I guess you really can’t function in the mornings without the sweet stuff.”
“What can I say baby, I love my cereal,” Justin stated as he wrapped his arms around JT’s waist as a buzzer sounded in the room. “Someone really has crappy timing.”
“Yep, they sure do,” JT said as he pulled away from Justin and then moved over to the door and opened it. “What is it that you want man?”
“We need to talk,” Todd stated as he grabbed JT by the hand and led him out of the room.
“Todd,” JT said as Todd walked down the hall quickly, pulling him along. “What in the world is wrong with you?”
“JT, I—I don’t know what to do,” Todd replied as he looked down.
To Be Continued…