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Hovering Krishna-like across the luxury surface of penthouse carpet, the silken presence that is Tom Cloak glides toward the rich, red leather armchair sourced at great pains on the star’s behalf. Tom reclines peaceful, composed, meditative. Violence and power chord, shed at close of business in the early hours as he departed another in a decades long line of cavernous recording studios. Exit stage left, demonic attitude cast off, packed away in art’s hellish band camp. Grace and a confident demeanor of a rock star now become God of literature. The eastern spiced scent of top shelf expensive eau de cologne marks his presence on the throne. Self-promotion now takes precedence.

Chesterfield designed comfort accepts a lithe front man’s frame, sinews tautned and trimmed in the furnace of performance energy. Decades of addiction are his past. A clamp left in the rear-view mirror of artistic career, yet always a burden dragged along as a burdensome trailer every driven, new day of clean living. Vice kept close, yet at arm’s length, where never shall he tip his hand to the tools and hobbies hidden away inside, no matter how they cry for oxygen and freedom.

Eyes of purest green fire bare down upon nervous journalistic need. Chance of a lifetime to speak with a godlike star. Questions to be posed from a plain, wooden dining chair as Caroline Clements, high school darling of the new Fifth Estate era of reportage awaits her destiny. Caroline draws a deep breath, fills a mind lightheaded in the thin air of super stardom. Overcome by Cloak’s charismatic presence the up-and-coming reporter attempts to organize the method and madness of her thoughts. She tries mightily to summon the enquiry that must somehow unlock the gates to the dark castle of Tom Cloak’s stardom. A sharp insightful gesture to bid herself rarest of entries, to the depths of the great man’s intellectual funhouse. 

Reporters of great renown have thrown themselves upon these ramparts, Castle Tom Cloak, impregnable stone walls standing sentinel for a one-time independent artist becoming a worldwide success story. Fifteen long years on the rise. Each media hound encountered slides eventually to drown in a moat of disdain at the foot of an intellect run wild.

“I saw your eldest boy Sydney at Club Rezilo over in Tooting hosting Wednesday Indie night. Good dancer, don’t you know! Really assured and well-kept that lad. Fine job done there Mr. Cloak.” The sentence passed her lips before Caroline had the chance to check its form against the thousand more professional opening lines she had run through in rehearsal in the Northern Line underground tunnels battling rush hour chaos, in order to be on time, on point and on form, that Autumnal Monday morning.

“Good taste in nightlife establishments my dear” says the siren in a silver suit as he crosses a knee, exposing socks of claret-burgundy French vineyards, laced by glinting blackest brogue shoes of Saville Row renown. 


A slim smile forms around once rotten teeth tendered to be white as ivory, “Summed up my boy well too.’

Feeling quite faint at heart Caroline can barely mutter her thanks again. Drops her chin to hands clasped atop her pounding heart. Caroline peers upward, burning within a searing intellectual glare, a countenance famous for striking out the weak and the shallow. Where to go from here? A strong first verse but no chorus comes to mind. Frontal vortex spinning the girl awaits the hammer of the God.

“Yes. His mother has done a lapidarist’s job of polishing a diamond and preventing formation of another turd.” Tom leans into the conversation now and in that moment, Caroline is riding high upon a wave of fine white perfection.

Reporter heroine now, she pours herself across the drawbridge of Castle Cloak, opening her eyes and ears, all senses drinking in the forbidden chalice of Tom’s attention. Ramparts stormed!

“You, Mr. Cloak, are now a Manic God in the minds of a million fans and followers. Assuming such a religious mantle must make it hard to return home to a growing nuclear family. Life with growing men as sons, a wife who effortlessly gives off a vibe of earthly contentment whenever we briefly come to glimpse upon her. 

After the band packs away, are you God or Man or Tom? Or whatever is leftover once that character is cast off?”

“Today sitting here in this hotel room this is a man of God you see dear girl. Name of Tom, living a life of music and literature.” Tom pauses and performs his unsettling, alien, 45-degree cock of the head to his left shoulder in thought. “Tom, he has a belief in some God-spirit, yet undiscovered, omnipresent. Life has cast hero worship upon me then balanced my reality with pain, suffering and addiction. Tom is who I am. Belief is what I have chosen. Past, present, future. Personal belief cascading across the air as I juggle the consequences.”

“Then you aren’t the persona at the heart of these new Manic God music sessions?” Caroline asks, knowing his answer at once. She has listened on Spotify-repeat, to every syllable screamed forth, within the high energy static-electric instrumentation of Tom’s bandmates playing high, wide and handsome. Song, instrumentation, story. She has devoured all of it, digested the sumptuous buffet. 220 seconds in all, a new modern masterpiece from an old punk rocker. Caroline might almost beg to sit on the hero’s shoulder as he looks down upon the frailty of humankind.

“And now the album is in the can or the hard drive or cloud awaiting release?” she queries, instantly aware of the weak follow up from the fanzine editor three years back. “I really have been your biggest fan, since the days of Nico and the Party Boys playing free live shows in grotty pub back rooms. I have followed your coat tails and lived off your every offering.” May as well have been using a backhoe to dig herself deeper into the shit. In fact, an industrial backhoe in top gear should Caroline witness her reflected doe eyes, mouth agape in awe of him.

Tom reached for the crystal cut glass, rivulets of condensation streaming to the cork mat. Lifted the iced water to his mouth, pausing to rotate crystalline life giver, water of life, peering through the frozen masses. 

Disappointment had replaced initial hope of a new media darling upon whom he might drop breadcrumb points of reference buried amongst his times. For so long he has sought some literary equal to accompany his life story. Contemplation of a conduit to the world of music buyers through which he might have communicated the being of each narrator, in each poem, set to sound. Explanation of his own situation as it brought forth an essay upon the subject's heart felt, deeply considered meanings. The girl was as shallow as his Evian served with lemon slices. Nothing! Nothing was what the cub reporter would get in reply to such a banal, Press Office worthy release.

“Mr. Holmes from my production company has been forwarding your requests for interviews, for insight and for entry to my world for more than two years, young lady. He reasoned that this artist might enjoy your style of prose and mindful reasoning of my output.” The words came as a whisper, almost imaginable as once, a personal compliment. 

Tom reared backward settling deeply once more amid the supple leather-bound luxury, bringing his head back on high, to full extent of a 6-foot adonis statue. Causing him to peer down on feeble humanity with disdain. “Countless thousands of words emailed, printed, forwarded, and passed beneath my eyes. I enjoyed them. You portrayed a depth of understanding as a seeker.” 

Vision worn as emerald jewels rung forth to capture her attention. “Ask me what you really want. I am no Manic God. Before you is no Super Star or Celebrity. Here sits a man of flesh and blood. Of common upbringing. Talk to me as an equal.” White knuckled fingers released the mahogany carvings at his chair’s limit. White shirt cuffs inched forward from thousand-dollar jacket sleeves as he forced himself to pull back, deflating vascular forearms, dropping heart rate to forty, cloaking the fire behind heavy lidded eyes.

“I want to talk of love and of longing and of human pursuit for happiness and belonging.” Tom had shifted his sight to the ceiling now. “There is my need for your acceptance and my want for you and for everybody to care for my world. An existence that I have built within the gaze, correction, the assault from media scrutiny. The published fiction of the press and the messiah madness that drowns me in every tsunami wave of Stardom.”

“Or must I only seek countenance at the altar of some religious God figure in order to converse with some entity stationed above my cathedral of Cloak?”

Silence as a void sucked the echoes of Tom Cloak’s millions selling voice from the room. Caroline searched wide eyed for some semblance of sarcastic tomfoolery. Demonic demeanor had slipped sideways from the indie-vamp super-model visage of a Starman. A seismic shift had shed the pretense of great character set before her just ten short minutes ago. 

The Starman was now invisible to her.

No matter how she shifted her weight on the hard kitchen chair or what angle the young fan took in search of the invincible rock God, he was gone. Caroline Clements, fresh faced writer beheld the real-life lost-boy come media-made-star-man. Felt the void within which a soul had been lost. Smelled the sour desperation of personality’s need. Saw the legend peeled raw with empty core exposed.

The man in the great red leather chair awaited her reaction to his godlike comparison. And wait he must. No scent of the man remained in the font of admiration where Caroline might have wetted her ink-stained fingers once more.

From fiery devastation she rose. Now a woman of the world. Looked down on him as she turned away. A tear in her eye. 

On reaching her exit she announced to the gathered scrum of admiration, 

“Never meet your heroes. The people you admire are as flawed as the next fella.”


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