Chapter 39 – New York
Greta and JC flew to New York from London Heathrow to New York’s La Guardia Airport in a First Class British Airways cabin.
JC tried to explain what was happening and what was going to happen. But in the end gave up, he couldn’t explain it all to Greta. In the end they drank Champagne and went to bed.
As they began to descend, JC opened the window blinds. The brightening dawn light illuminated the Manhattan skyline, and Greta became very agitated. Initially JC thought she was afraid of flying and sought to sooth her concerns. But when they were in the back of the stretch limousine being driven to their hotel, Greta told him about her vision.
She described how she had seen many tall buildings like these, and how she had seen thousands of dead people. She had not understood why her vision had upset her so much at the time, but now she knew why. Then she did not know then that she would be with her perfect man in this strange City. Now he too was at risk.
They held hands in the back of the limo. Starring into each other’s eyes, and whispering to each other. The driver, who watched discretely in the rear view mirror, thought how romantic it was. He had known JC for a long time, and was glad he had found his ‘gal’.
That night Greta’s interview was a sensation. It was not just what she said, but the way she said it. She was so different from the polished, clinical media content. Her answers were so outrageous and so unexpected.
It began conventionally enough, with make-up. Greta wore a plain black dress that she had bought with Ellen and Marks & Spencer and a pearl necklace. The necklace was the same colour as her hair, which was long and beautifully combed. Their dressing room had a TV monitor showing a live feed of the show, and as Spiers thanked a politician who was championing a change to US Gun laws, there was a knock on the door, and a voice called ‘Greta, 5 minutes please’.
JC led Greta up some steps to the studio and listened as Spiers read an introduction from an autocue, ‘Now we have something very different. Today I am delighted to welcome someone who none of you will have seen before. She has travelled here today especially for this show from London, England. She is special because she claims to be 1,000 years old, Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome Greta the Witch’.
The Studio manager waiting in the wings motioned for Greta to walk on and JC applauded with the rest of the studio audience as Greta walked across to shake hands with Spiers. Spiers was also applauding enthusiastically as she walked on.
The news clip that got played time and time again was of the first question that Spiers asked, ’so what was life like 1,000 years ago?’
Greta had answered in her distinctive gravelly voice, ’We had no department stores, decent shoes or sausages, but the air didn’t smell burnt.’
Spiers smiled, and reacted quickly, ‘what do you mean the air smells burnt?’
‘JC tells me it is pollution from your horseless chariots, I mean motor cars.’
Spiers received an instruction in his earpiece and steered the questioning to a more logical sequence, ‘that is fascinating Greta, but tell me where you were born.’
‘I am not sure where I was born, but it was somewhere in southern England. I do not remember my mother and father. I was brought up by my Witch Sisters and we had to regularly hide from the men who came in the night.’
Spiers interjected, ‘tell me about these men?’
‘They would rape and kill my Sisters, by burning them alive. I can still hear the screams in the night..’
While Greta told her story, you could have heard a pin drop in the studio. Everyone hung on every word. In the end they ran out of time, the Producer had to run the studio credits while Greta was still talking. The interview was the front page story the next morning in every news programme. The real life Witch from a 1,000 years ago. The interview went viral on the internet around the world, and was so popular, caused servers to crash. Within a few hours of the interview she had become an overnight celebrity in many countries around the world, including the USA.
But what really stoked the fire of the story was that Greta appeared to have disappeared.
Once she had finished the Spiers Morgan show, Greta was exhausted. She had been tired before the show from the jet-lag, and the worry about her vision. JC also found that she was suffering from a severe cold.
JC was a practical man. He understood that if Greta had really appeared from the middle ages, she would probably not have the common immunities of people today.
He knew that one of the nice things about American doctors, is that they would do almost anything for money. So he took Greta to a private New York hospital, where he had once taken a celebrity who had overdosed. The hospital was used to discretion.
He filled out a form that had a 3 page legal disclaimer, produced his Gold American Express card, and explained that he would like to see a Doctor who specialised in common childhood diseases like measles, mumps and rubella. When the Doctor appeared, he explained that Greta had grown up on a remote Island in the Indian Ocean and had not had he immunity jabs as a child.
Greta was so unwell with her cold, that she didn’t really register what was happening to her. But they made her swallow a variety of common vaccines, and injected her with others. She was checked in to a private room for the night, as observation, given copious amounts of vitamin C, and slept for 14 hours.
JC slept in her room on the couch, and when she awoke ordered breakfast of fresh fruit followed by eggs benedict.
The waitress who brought in the breakfast tray also brought in the newspapers. The staff here were well used to celebrities but when she saw Greta sitting up in bed she took a double take at the front page of USA Today and beamed with pleasure. Greta who was still a little groggy from her cold, smiled back and said thank you. She was starving and almost before the girl was out the door attached the food on the breakfast tray with gusto.
JC had seen the girl glance at the paper, and looked at the front page. Half the front page was dedicated to a full colour picture of Greta seated in the television studio during her interview with Spiers Morgan. The head line read:
Greta, the 1,000 year old Witch
JC turned on the television and was amazed to see that that there was a reporter from Fox News reporting live from the steps of the hospital outside. He pulled back the drapes and he could see a throng of TV trucks and lights in the street below. He could even pick out the reporter who wore a bright red coat, as she was giving her live report. There was a Police cordon holding back a crowd, and he could see a large banner being held up that said: GRETA WE LOVE YOU, GET WELL SOON.
JC had switched off his Blackberry the night before, so it would not awake Greta. As he switched it back on, he saw he had hundreds of unread messages and a string of missed calls and voicemails.
The hospital was well used to fending off hordes of media. When a client said they didn’t want to be disturbed then they had a well-practiced procedure for dealing with that. JC saw that many of the missed calls had been from their agent, Larry Spindler. JC hit redial and Larry answered on the second ring.
‘JC, thank God, how is Greta?’
‘Greta is fine, she is just recovering from a heavy cold’.
‘Good, I mean, I’m glad she is recovering. We got a big story here JC.’
‘Larry, I know, I can see the press outside the hospital. You gotta get us out.’
‘Relax JC, I got it all planned, here is what we are going to do. I am going to create a distraction, and then send a car in the back way. There is an underground exit at the back that comes out in the next block. Can you be ready in an hour?’
JC looked up as Greta was munching through her eggs benedict, oblivious of any of the press activity outside. Instead of using a knife and fork, she had picked up the half-bun and was eating the ham and poached egg like a sandwich with small bird like bites. At the same time, she was flicking through the pages of Vogue, looking at the fashions. She looked almost childlike in her innocence, in the large comfortable bed. JC’s heart went out to her in that moment, and his affection for her spilled over into total dedication. He wanted to love and protect her forever. He was silent in his thoughts, and Larry’s voice prompted over the Blackberry he still held to his ear, ‘is an hour good, JC you still there?’
‘Larry, better make it 90 minutes’.
The distraction that Larry created was to arrange for another of his clients to exit through the front door of the hospital, at the same time as Greta and JC were being driven out the back. His other client was the son of a Hollywood film star who had checked himself into rehab because his first solo rock album had flopped. Rolling Stone Magazine had described the album as ‘total unabashed garbage without a single lyric or bar of music worthy of mention’. Larry privately agreed with the Rolling Stone review, but he had sent the young man specific instructions on what to do. He exited the front door of the hospital to a halo of flash photography wearing sunglasses, a black tee shirt with GARBAGE written on it in deference to the Rolling Stone review and a hastily applied bandage to his wrist as if he had tried to cut it with a razor blade. In fact he had not cut himself at all, but the hospital agreed to comply. The sent a bill for their trouble to Larry, whose office added 25% mark-up, and his Hollywood film star father paid without question.
JC held Greta’s hand as they were driven in the back of non-descript delivery van, out of the back entrance of the hospital.
To JC’s knowledge, Greta never had another day sick for the rest of her life.