Let me tell you right now, this is not going to be your normal book. I know the trend these days is leaning towards stupid little narratives possessing next to no story whatsoever, but that is not going to be this book. Partly because I am just such an interesting person (not to brag or anything), and partly because everything in my life sort of went to crap a few weeks ago and I feel the following events are ones worth reading about. If you like dumb novels told mostly in pictures rather than words I would encourage you to walk away right now. If you do not identify as that type of person I would first congratulate you, and then tell you to keep reading. Trust me, this is going to be worth your time.
It was as perfect a day as there could ever be. The sky was a very light blue and what clouds there were were large and puffy, seeming to remain suspended in place. The adults of the home were out for the day, leaving gardeners, maids, and various other types of servants to remain as the temporary overseers of the properties scattered at irregular intervals throughout the neighborhood. This picturesque place could have been a small suburb out in the countryside, with the vast lawns and plentiful trees. All of the houses here possessed the stately looks of buildings erected long ago.
Gossip flowed freely here and served as the most popular and sometimes most reliable source of information. People generally preferred to avoid one another due to various conflicts of interest which were always arising and dying off, as a result creating a restless and trustless environment in which everyone watched only their own back.
With the rise of the sun in the morning, people could be seen leaving for work, sometimes coming back that evening, sometimes returning home the following morning. These individuals’ habits varied so much from day-to-day that nothing was really concrete save for the fact that social interaction between neighbors was kept to a minimum at best.
Residents of small southern towns would find this behaviour preposterous and perhaps even alien. From the looks of it, this neighborhood could be tucked back in the folds of Texas or Mississippi where vast plantations still spanned the horizon, and people got on well enough. The wall serving as a barrier between this slice of heaven, and the rest of the world, however, served as notice to the residents that they were in no way safe from the holds of modern-society and all of the social pressures that came along with that.
Everyday, the guard who served as the communities’ shrill form of protection from unwanted attention watched as limousines and other classy and frankly expensive cars poured out onto the dirty pavement of common-ness, and later returned ready to renew their sense of superiority.
The fact of it was that this is Hollywood, and this high upper class neighborhood comprised of some of the wealthiest filmmakers, actors, comedians, and just plain weirdos the area had to offer. My name is Markus Mathias. Marc(k)us can be spelt with either a “c” or a “k”, due to some confusion at the signing of my birth certificate. My father, always a man to have his head elsewhere, scrawled messily the name he proposed I have on this document which was apparently of minimal importance to him, while my mother was still to subdued by painkillers to be able to intervene.
As soon as my mother was recovered enough to get out of bed and put some more suitable clothes on, my infant self was instantly whisked away to the front of the hospital, where my parents posed for photographers from all around who were waiting to capture this frivolous story.
“Hello Markus”, and “Tom and Betty Mathias- It’s a Boy!”, were the sorts of headlines that rocked the papers and social magazines the next day. Sometimes I feel like my parents thought having a kid would be good in the first place simply so that they could get more publicity land new jobs. Shortly after my birth, my father got a new role in a blockbuster western film, and my mother was recruited as the executive producer of a new comedy. Both movies turned out to be smash hits, but then again, I’ve never heard of any projects my parents took part in that weren’t smash hits.
By the time I was four, my father had gotten me into my first movie, acting as a stunned little preschooler in a movie about some school kids who overthrew their teachers. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing at that time, but the warm smile and nod of encouragement from my father seemed like all the reason I needed to do the best darned job I could… which at the time was not very good.
Some of the earliest memories I have of my father are accompanying him to L.A. Gators games whenever he had a spare second. Dad loved basketball and mom recounts how if he hadn’t been an actor, he would have been a basketball player. We had some season tickets with seats reserved in a private box with all the beer my dad could put down and all the soda I could drink.
This is where mom’s stories get kind of fuzzy, as if she doesn’t quite remember what ever happened to the man she had loved so much. Sometimes the story is dad got hooked on alcohol and mom ended the marriage. Another variation is that dad hit it off with his female co-star in another movie and divorced mom. Sometimes, mom even ends in tears saying that dad died from some cause or another.
For entire days sometimes mom will sit on the couch sniffling and wiping her eyes, obviously thinking about dad. I try to avoid her during these times, not because these stories prompt strong emotions from me, but because I have really heard these stories more than enough and I regret to say that they do not have that much of an effect on me. No matter how tragic mom makes her stories sound, I have never once cried or even felt a slight longing to have my father back. Sure, sometimes I felt sorry for mom and everything she had been put through, but there was no sorrow for my father. Whether it was alcohol, women, or some other item that coaxed my father away from his family, it was his own decision and there was no one else who could be held accountable. I did not miss my father at all; how can you miss someone you barely remember? If anything, I felt a strong sense of anger and hatred towards my father. Why could he not have stayed for mom? Mom had never been the same since his departure. Why could he not have stayed for me? As much as I didn’t like to admit it at the time, I longed for something of a father figure to be present in my life, and teach me all of the wonderful ways towards manhood.
The fact of the matter is, L.A. is not the most wonderful place for a child to be raised with or without a father. Scandals are always turning out in the news about how some actor’s kid had gotten hooked on drugs and was in rehab, next thing you know the kid is back on the streets, and in a few more weeks is in rehab again.
My mom had focused mostly on producing and even sometimes directing movies while dad was around, but after his mysterious “disappearance”, she had taken on lots of smaller jobs; serving as co-stars in some second-rate TV shows, and being paid off to go make speeches and other public presentations at any organization or university that would sign a check.
A few years back mom was at a fundraiser for a charity organization at a hospital in L.A., when her knacks for public speaking and crowd engagement were first noticed. A billionaire who claimed he “fully understood the televised industry” approached mom after the event and offered her a job as the hostess of a talk show he planned to start. At first reluctant to agree to anything- as this man obviously knew nothing about “show business”- mom eventually signed a contract for two years as hostess of Life With Betty, which is basically the equivalent of a social media outlet on TV where famous people with loads of success are invited on to discuss all of their greatest achievements and ambitions. I find it silly most of these people are permitted to talk about success when the only success they’ve ever known is being born the son or daughter of a wealthy movie star and simply filling in after their parents kick the bucket.
You may think I am not one to be talking, as I too might be considered one of these types of people who has never had to work to gain any sort of recognition, but I plan to steer clear and wide away from the movie/TV/Hollywood/DramaFest world! I always used to joke mom that I would open a rehabilitation facility in Beverly Hills and fix all of the people who looked good on the cover of a magazine in the grocery store, but could never seem to keep their hand off of the bottle or needle, or both (crazy things happen here in Sin City).
Well, Life With Betty ended up being a smash hit and killed all expectations. Of course, this was due almost entirely to my mother’s likable personality, and had almost nothing to do with the meager efforts of Mr. Howard- the billionaire who first commissioned the show. I will hand it to the man that the show comprised of the best props, lighting, etc. that money could buy, but Mr. Howard was completely clueless as to how a show in Hollywood should be marketed. This left my mother with the daunting task of appearing on news channels and posing for magazines in order to get the word out. All of this added stress chiseled more and more wrinkles into my mother’s face, but no big deal… Just head on over to the local plastic surgeon and get another cut-and-tuck to keep you looking twenty-five. People read all about the actors and actresses of Hollywood who are making millions per movie, but those plastic surgeons are the real tycoons of this city. I’m sure those guys clean up! For 100 grand, you can slice someone’s skin open, fold it over, stitch it up, next! I’m sure those clinics resemble a Civil War infirmary with blood everywhere, and large menacing saws which haven’t been sterilized since the establishment first opened its’ doors.
With that being said, my mom has certainly has had her fair share of operations all over her body. I used to look through old family photo albums from when dad was still here, and I compared pictures of mom then, to what mom looks like now. I can say without a doubt that there are not noticeable differences; it is as if she has frozen in time, never aging.
I first met Mr. Howard several years ago, a few weeks before the premier of my mom’s show. From the first time I met him, Mr. Howard has never struck me as a person that I will ever like or even tolerate. He just has a very stiff personality, with an obvious obsession for women. Since I first met this man, Mr. Howard has gotten re-married for his third time. All of his wives have been prominent fashion models in other countries, which ended up accompanying him home after his business trips to various places. While meeting Mr. Howard for the first time, I was also introduced to his current wife- who was wearing something that should never be seen outside of a bikini contest- as well as his second lady, also known as his Macchina Molto Veloce, or his car. Mr. Howard was not at all humble when he proceeded to explain to me that he purchased this car for nearly seven million dollars. He also said that he would let me touch it, except the paint job had just been redone.
Of course, being the little angel that I was and always have been, I shook his hand politely at the end of our talk and said it was very nice to meet him.
“Please don’t ever bring your kid to work again. This has been more tiring than it has to be.” Mr. Howard addressed my mom and threw a threatening look in my direction.
Following my bad impression of this man, as well as his passion for fast expensive cars and beautiful expensive women, I thought up a rather clever joke which I proceeded to tell my mom after some deliberation.
We were sitting at the dinner table one evening after just having finished up a chat about how the talk show is going.
“How is Mr. Howard doing?” I asked very innocently.
“Fine, he’s doing good. You know he just got married again, right?” Mom responded.
“Oh, you know I think I heard about that. I’ve always said Mr. Howard likes his women the way he likes his cars. Every couple of years he gets the newest model.”
That joke didn’t go over very well with mom, but I personally was pretty proud of my ingenuity and spot on cleverness.
As I previously mentioned, my mother is the driving force behind her TV show, and if it weren’t for her, the whole thing would probably unravel and fall apart. This woman works non-stop seven days a week from the time she leaves the house at six in the morning, to the time she arrives back home at about seven every night, but these times are simply variables, subjected to change on a whim.
Right after dad left, mom was home a lot, in and out of part-time employment. Despite all of this, she was still grief ridden from her husband’s disappearance and chose rather to spend most of her time locked away in her room, supposedly napping; even though I could occasionally hear sobbing noises escaping out from under her door whenever I happened to pass by her bedroom.
I wasn’t then quite sure what all of this was about, as I was simply too young to know what was happening and my mom had enough money to make me not care. Growing up, I had only the best toys, games, and everything else that would keep me content in between attending school and receiving acting lessons which overall amounted to jack squat. Once when I was little, I remember a hoard of workers driving onto our property in a pickup truck, unloading lots of wood and ladders and other supplies, and then proceeding to create an immaculate and spacious treehouse in our front yard. I recall being more interested with the men who build this structure rather than the actual treehouse itself. For me this costly project was simply another weapon I had in my endless arsenal of playthings.
With my dad either dead, or living off somewhere else, or serving as a pirate aboard some nameless Somali vessel (who really knows!), and my mom passing her days withering away in the dark chambers of her bedroom, I was left to be raised by our hired servants, who may or may not have been qualified to be in possession of young children.
Our chauffeur/handyman, Bill, lived in a small apartment branching off from our garage which was added shortly after he came to work for us. Prior to my father’s exit, we had no need for Bill, as my dad had insisted on driving himself, my mother, and I around and performed all of the mundane everyday tasks of any other suburban dad. After dad’s disappearance, however, mom was too sorrowful to be in operation of any sort of motorized machine, and being a woman living in Hollywood with a reputation- as well as a certain amount of pride to keep up- mom was not about to start mowing the lawn, watering the grass, etc. And so Bill enters the story to tent to all of the day-to-day functions of an estate as large as our own. As early as mom wakes up every morning to get dressed and out the door to beat the morning rush, Bill is up even earlier. Watering the grass before piercing sunlight dries up all of the moisture, prepping the cars for another day of spinning wheels, as well as many countless other tasks that I wouldn’t even know how to describe. It is Bill’s responsibility to get mom to her studio first thing in the morning, then to get right back home and bus me to school, and then repeat the same process again later that very day only in the reverse direction. By the end of the day when Bill comes to get us, he is usually greasy, tired, and not to cheerful. It probably didn’t help that my mother and I viewed him simply as another pawn in our kingdom rather than the superb human being that he truly is.
While Bill tended to everything outside, our butler, Albert, was the head of our forces inside. Being a butler rather than a handyman, my mother insisted that Albert wear a pressed suit everyday that he was on duty at our house (although she did force Bill to wear one aswell whenever he was to be seen driving us around). Albert lived in a guest bedroom on the second floor of our home, while my mother and I occupied the third. If ever my mom or I needed something and we were simply too lazy to go get it ourselves- which turned out to be most of the time- Albert would be the one beckoned to run and fetch it. Albert did not look to me like a traditional butler, as he was only in his mid to late forties and never talked in that slow drawl that most butlers usually adopted as if to say, “I am ready to serve you, but I am not particularly concerned if you are pleased with my quality of service.” Albert usually tried his hardest to make sure that everyone was content, and I am not going to lie; he did a pretty good job.
Corona was by far the most interesting character in our house. A woman of Latino descent, Corona had immigrated to America with her parents at the age of ten, and had immediately begun working many small jobs to keep her family afloat. Corona came to work for my mother and father shortly after they became married, barely understanding any English prior to this employment. My parents worked with her tirelessly before I was born to teach her as much of their language as they could, and when I was about a year old, my dad hired a tutor to assist Corona in studying for the American Citizenship Test. Dad also provided her with paid leave until she had successfully passed the test, at which point she continued her work for my family. Corona had moved her parents up from a small border town in southern California to Los Angeles in their old age to take care of them. Corona rented a small apartment in which she kept her parents. Corona would return home every evening and journey back to our house every morning. While most people who I ever came in contact with would shy away from me and treat me almost as if I were a god, Corona was the one person who was not afraid to dish out some form of punishment to me, always recalling stories of her days in Mexico and the hardships she suffered. I quickly learned that whenever Corona was present I must be on my best behaviour. While my mom did not insist on any specific attire for our cleaning lady, Corona always wore the same blue apron and plaid hairband everyday. This hairband ended up covering the majority of Corona’s head, and I could not remember one time when I had seen her without this piece of cloth tied around it, leading me to believe she had a bald spot or something to that extent.