The fifty five thousand ton luxury Abyssinia was preparing to sail from Port of New York to Le Havre. One hour before sailing time, a black limousine had driven up to Pier 92 on the lower Hudson River. Jessica Winters got down and made her way through the VIP entry door of the cruise. The chief purser of the Abyssinia greeted her with warm hands and led her way to the private section of the liner reserved for her trip. The port man laid down her luggage and tugged his cap as a salute and left off.
Jessica overlooked her balcony and saw the little children of the workers playing with a stone on the lower deck. The sight sent her fleeting memories of her humble childhood and how she became to be the most wanted actress New York had ever seen.
The year was 1940. New York City was a mecca for the theatre. The Depression was over. President Roosevelt assured that America would be the most prosperous nation on Earth. Everyone had money to spend. There were thirty shows playing on Broadway and all of them seemed to be hits. There arrived a new talent in town, Joe Lawrence. He came to New York with a hundred dollars in his pocket and a great deal of skill in his heart. But the problem was he hadn’t got any manners to spare.
He worked as a waiter in a small restaurant in his earlier days but then realized that he didn’t have connections to show his talent to. He troll dialed a famous producer, Laura Fernandes, and performed his one act solo in the five minute break the biggest show of Broadway had to offer. He was thrown out the back alley and informed that he was banned from ever coming to the theatre again.
But then he was suddenly acquainted with Laura in the smelly alley behind the theatre. And that was it. He had been getting small shows and the theatre which kicked him out now begged for his free time.
“Rudolph wants to get in touch with you, Joe.” Laura snugged a little in her tone.
“He’s a hermaphrodite. He could probably fuck himself and give birth to a two headed monster.” Joe answered in a spiteful manner. The manager of the particular theatre had been calling him since weeks.
“What do you want me to tell him?”
“Just what I told you right now.” He walked away from the cramped little office she had.
She needs to expand. He thought. Climbing down the stairs he hadn’t imagined he’d see the most beautiful girl.
“Umm, excuse me.” Joe blurted, not knowing what he was going to say further.
“Yes?” A beautiful face turned towards him. A young Jessica had even more flair to her when she was in her twenties and was just about to get signed into her first Broadway show by Laura.
“Mind if I take a screen test of you right here?” He winked. A busy show time had taken all the fun from his life. He wanted girls around him more than agents trying to feed him theatre calls.
“Are you a producer? Or an agent for one?”
“Unfortunately not. But if I had a good amount of money in my pocket, I wouldn’t take the screen test for a theatre show.” Joe was good at flirting.
“Then why would you ask me for a screen test?” Jessica had an impact in her voice.
She entered New York knowing that she was going to rock this city off its feet. A feminist at heart, Jessica grew up in a small town off Hudson River with poor parents. Her father, a tailor couldn’t afford Jessica’s growing needs and couldn’t fulfill her wishes of going into Broadway. But she had earned her way out of that little town. Now she had come to New York to gain some fame. Her first stepping stone came as Laura Fernandes.
“Meet me after your meeting with Laura at 6 Polo Lounge and I’ll tell you why.” Joe blew her a kiss and headed down the stairs.
Well, at least I get to fuck a girl now. He thought vaguely.
That night as Jessica and Joe lay in bed, she shared her childhood memories with him. He shared his in return. They had become a thing. But that was all in Jessica’s mind.
Jessica was nothing more than a fling to Joe. But now that he had heard praises of her through Laura, he thought she would be good for his publicity. He had to see how potential she was. So he attended her first show the following week. Jessica thought that was sweet of him.
She stood on the stage, on guard and tense, appraising the audience like an animal sniffing for danger. An audience was a beast with a hundred heads, each one different; and she had to impress the beast. She took a deep breath.
Love me. She prayed and went into her act.
At the end of the show and after all the applause had died down, it took a while, Joe was seen calling IBC.
“Get me on one of the shows with Jessica Winters.”
That was the start of their joint career. They signed into a series of shows and also a sitcom which included millions of dollars and high end destination shoots. But that was when Joe’s trouble started…
The audience loved them so much that news got out that according to a popular network poll, they should get married. The false love that was set in Jessica’s mind made her ask him for marriage and Joe could nothing other than accepting the proposal for the better of his career. But in the days to come, he saw her as a thorn in his career as she was getting more fame than he ever did.
Whenever he returned home, Jessica was waiting for him, eager and loving and ready. And the moment Joe saw her, all his sexual desire drained away. She was the enemy and Joe despised her for what she was doing to him. He forced himself to go to bed with her, but it was anger he was satisfying. Whenever Joe took Jessica, it was with a savage brutality that forced gasps of pain from her. She pretended that they were sounds of pleasure. And he pounded harder and harder, until he finally came into an explosion of fury in her. He was not making love.
He was making hate.
Jessica tried to ignore his brutality but it was increasing day after day. He harassed her and beat her when he got angry at her fan mails. He was jealous and all Jessica would do was silently take his beating and wait for him to calm down. She did not speak up, she did not raise her voice, instead she thought she should understand him in this phase of his career. She loved him more than anything in the world and he acted nice to her after beating her. But deep inside him he hated her most in this whole wide world.
The hatred built up so much so that he insisted the writers, MacArthur and Simons, to completely change the script of the sitcom. He wanted to cut off Jessica in a terrible accident and show her nothing more than monstrous character that got killed by the poor husband trying to escape her horror. Typical change of actress, he gets married to another one after his evil wife dies.
“But this is a feminist script. She is the lead more than you ever will be. We cannot kill her in this. The producers would never agree.” Simons pleaded.
“I’ll handle everyone.” Joe squinted with a sense of authority.
“You cannot handle the audience. They will go against this.”
“I said I’ll handle everyone.”
Joe made Jessica look like a villain and by trying to escape her; he nudged her in the valley. She died. But the love of the audience for Joe didn’t. He knew his audience. And all Jessica could do was obey the producers. Her career was done. The Broadway shows said she was too old for theatre now, and no more shows wanted to take her as a lead role after her villainous appearance in the previous sitcom. She had made the audience love her and then broken their hearts by turning into a monster.
When she got to know her beloved was behind all of this, comforting her, consoling her all his way through her spiral down, and romancing with other actresses, when he in fact was the true cause of all this, she flipped out and planned for a great revenge. The manner of Joe’s reveal to Jessica was one he had never imagined.
She was waiting in the great office Joe had, they planned to go out for dinner that evening after his shoot to cheer her mood up because another theatre had rejected her.
Salt in the bruise. She thought now.
Her eyes went up to the camera in Joe’s big marble office. She booted up the computer and the typical wife inside her told her to search for tapes of possible affairs of Joe. But what she found wasn’t a footage of another woman making love to her husband but something even more horrible, which made her take a copy of the tape and leave the office in great fury.
“All’s ready then? I want to be the one to push her off this cliff to her death in this particular scene.” Joe was keen on getting a perfect shot and ambience for the last scene of Jessica. The tape was revealing a side of Joe’s face to the computer screen. Jessica looked onward.
“Yes, everything’s ready. After Jessica’s reveal last week, the Views have increased exponentially. It’s like the audience couldn’t believe it and had to rewatch it.” MacArthur laughed at his snide comment alone. He looked above at the camera uncomfortably.
“Like I said, I had to show her where she belongs” Joe put his hands on the table and bent in further. “Make sure she gets the hate mails of her fans; I want it posted to my home. I don’t want to deny Jessica of any of the bad moments in her career. Balance will be restored.” Joe said; it was more of a death curse for his wife.
Jessica did not show any emotions as she hurriedly looked up for a memory stick in Joe’s drawers and copied the footage. As Jessica took the blue memory stick containing the footage, she went in to the office of the IBC and gave the memory stick to the chief executive. In a few hours, the footage would be broadcasting in all of the leading news and entertainment channels.
Jessica walked in the beautiful diner at New York’s most prestigious hotel. Joe was waiting for her, not knowing what lay ahead of him. He smiled and took her into his arms. He slid her into the booth and sat across from her.
“Darling, why don’t you wait for some time before ordering? I’m sure you’re gonna lose your appetite very soon.” She said sheepishly, wanting to blurt out abuses for the man she loved for the past two years.
“Honey, I don’t care how many theatres have rejected you. I know you’re very talented; some of the producers will come looking for you. Give me another bad news, it won’t matter. I will always love you.” Joe said calmly. He had to make sure all the producers get a whiff of the bad view rate she could bring in a leading role.
“As you say honey, I’ll give you the bad news right away.” Jessica said, standing up and going over to the receptionist. She took a TV remote and switched on the large tube TV behind her. Joe had a perfect view of his career being splattered on TV.
He saw the footage with fear in his eyes. He didn’t know Jessica would go to such extremes for searching his computer. It had been a mistake not to erase those tapes. Joe was furious and he didn’t care where he was sitting. He started yelling at Jessica, which she took with a vengeful smile on her face.
“You bloody skank; you were nothing until I made you famous! All you have done is bring infamy to my name. You were a curse to me and my career and I think I did a good thing destroying you. All you ever will be, Jessica, is a shadow basking in the fame of a great man. You are nothing else except for a person stuck in a scandal!” Joe shouted and all the famous people in the restaurant looked at the scowling man now.
Jessica had won the pity of the people. And one thing she knew was that pity served for a greater audience than love.
“Irony for the great man to speak like that. Your small cock makes up for your big and unworthy attitude. Balance is restored… Honey!” She stormed off the place and filed for an immediate divorce. Some men who recorded the fight in the diner got a lot of money in exchange to sell it off to the media. Just what Jessica wanted.
It was named as the biggest insult of the decade. A feminist fighting for her rights and not in the reel world, but in the real world was what the world wanted to see more. Entertainment and justice in one is a good deal for a cheap cable connection.
Jessica went on to bag many shows and sitcoms. Not only that, she was given awards for being the bravest woman in Hollywoodland which is dominated by men. Laura Fernandes was given special thanks by Jessica for changing her career.
And as for Joe, well, he is seen drinking and smoking his way to bankruptcy.
Jessica came back to the present as she heard the sound of the ship’s four powerful turbines starting. She felt the movement of the Abyssinia as the cruiser slipped away from the pier and began backing her way into the channel.
Jessica Winters won the support of the all the people in the world, the pitiful men and the women who understood how it is to be played by men.
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but an even greater deal to stand up to our loved ones.”