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VIII. A Thing of Beauty

I don't know why I ran as fast as I could. He's my way out. Hearing those words felt like an earthquake. It was my body's natural reaction to take flight. Breathless, I tried to stop myself when I passed by a corner. There were people passing me by but none of them seems to care who I was. Somehow, I felt relieved but in moments that I needed help, I felt like no one can see me.

Suddenly, a hand slipped through mine and dragged me forward. I struggled but he was persistent in his direction. Without looking back, I followed him as he took me to the train station.

"Jagger, where are you taking me?"
"You want to know who I am right?" He gave me a card to use and before I know it, we were standing on the edge waiting for the subway train. There were others standing and minding their own businesses on their phones.

"Why are you in this business?"
"To tell you frankly, I don't know. I just am."
"That doesn't make any sense. Were you struggling to make ends meet? Are you saving up for college? Were you forced to get into this work you have?"
"Glory, not all porn stars get into the business because of money."
"So why are you in it? Why not wait tables or do something with your life?"
"I can ask you the same things. But you already know the answers."
"It's not the same."
"What? You're doing something more morally inclined than what I do? You sell sex as an image, like it's a commodity and when people actually perform the said act, it suddenly becomes disgusting or morally questionable. The higher ups are all just using us to advance their own businesses and make more money while they are sitting up there with a drink in hand. They are using me just as they are using you. We're not different."

It was the first time I sensed anger in his tone. The train without me noticing and I just found myself following him inside. There were not a lot of people. If there were, most of them are either taking a snooze or simply concentrated on their private spaces. Even with all the chairs available, Jagger chose not to sit down and stood with his hand on the pole.

"Did you want fame?" I continued.
"Did I want fame?" He scoffed, "I thought I did."
And then a hint of sadness sparked from his lips.

"What happened?"
"Nothing happened. I just woke up and thought, hey I want to make a name for myself. I don't want to be spending my last seven minutes dying and looking back at everything that had happened and see myself standing behind the cash register or being stuck in traffic or watch my balding boss scream at me early in the morning. If I'm gonna replay my life before I die, I'd rather see porn and climax my way out of life."

"You could have been great at something, that's something you can be proud of."
"Oh for what? Glory, don't you get it? We think we have our own purpose. We think we have control over our lives but we're all just generally serving the purpose of those above us. You think Lucian Gastrell is out there to help you get what you want? He's doing the things he do for himself. He wants his own glory. And it's not you. It was never about you!"

My hand was ready to give him a slap. But I did not want to make a scene and force more attention on us. Tears welled up my eyes as I struggled to put words out of my mouth.

"How did you know my manager?"
"Everybody knows Lucian. I'm not surprised you'd know nothing about the man. That's how much control he's got over you."
"Just answer my question."
"It doesn't matter, what I'm about to tell you will be gone from your mind anyway." He turned his gaze away from me and watched the lights pass by the window.
"Jagger, please. You gotta have a reason for doing this. I know you want to help me."

With a deep breath, he claimed, "Lucian Gastrell is the son of an Elite. A very powerful man who works behind the curtains along with the rest of the one percent. This man owns the media. They feed us what they think we should only hear and he has enlisted several key players, including his own son, in providing the masses with entertainment to turn a blind eye on what is really happening around us. They bombard the people with so much unnecessary information, create a hunger for things we never actually need, and make you buy wants masked as needs. They rob you off of your happiness and self-esteem. They steal your time so they can have more for themselves…" The doors slid open but I was too engrossed with his words. He held my hand as we went out while a crowd of people came in through the same door.

He turned to me and put his hands on my shoulders, "You are Lucian's pet project. His key to enter the ranks of his father. The elite."

We're in Downtown and the atmosphere immediately changed. It was darker. The tiles were stained with watermarks, some steel benches and railings with rust and torn paint. The air smelled of piss, sweat and wet wood. I tried to tune out the noise but the constant conversations everywhere were seeping into my ears. If I could have a dollar for every man or woman that has grazed their elbow at me, I'd be twice richer. As soon as we climbed up the stairs to the road, the sun hit my skin and it was anything I've ever felt. Like it was real. The sunlight blinded my vision of the cloudy sky. The heat permeated in my jacket begging me to reveal myself. I looked down to find Jagger smiling at me. There was tenderness in his eyes.

"So it's true, despite everything shitty and unreal about this world, we'll still find things of beauty." He told me as he reached for my hand. "Come on, I'll take you on a tour of the real world."

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