“Just leave me [in the dark]!”
“So Prince, what have you got for us for your next project? We haven’t heard from you in a quite a while. Hope you’re still keeping up with our demands.”
“Your demands, tsk,” he scoffed at the other end of the long table in the boardroom.
“Do you have anything for us or not? Must you always be this difficult?” Prince raised his eyes towards the executives down a-ways from him. His expression was clouded with a deep bitterness and anger. He detested being told what to do with his music and the demanding for him to release another hit record. He blamed the company for not selling it effectively. Conversely, they blamed him for not believing in an album long enough for proper promotion.
Prince reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a single cassette tape. He delicately wrapped a piece of notepad paper around the tape and pushed it down the table within reach of the executives. Then he stalked out of the room, same manner as he came in.
The executives played the song, aptly named, “Dark.” The lyrics spoke in the worst possible way. This particular song had been the best he had given them in recent history, but this one cut the deepest. So far, all of his songs since his project have been the same. Filled with anger, bitterness and in case, a distinct sadness. Clearly, he wasn’t happy and the executives didn’t like it.
“What are we going to do about Prince?” One finally said, “We can’t let him keep going on like this. We have to tighten our grip, make him behave like a good musician should.”
“But he’s a tricky one. The usual tricks with contracts and money won’t work on him. We need something a bit more… specialized.”
The one turned to the other, “What did you have in mind?” The second executive just smiled, “Excuse me a moment, I have to make a call.” The phone connected on the other end, “Hello sweetheart, could you do your father one little favor? I need you to come see someone in concert tonight. At the old mansion… that’s the one. Be there around 8 o’clock. You’ll be in for a good show, I guarantee it.”
He hung up and looked at the others, “She hasn’t been out of the house in over a month. Prince’s biggest weakness is women, after all. Get her in the room with him on stage and he’s bound to give one hell of a show.”
Prince finished setting up onstage for his performance. Since his recent “mood” began, he resorted to performing only one song a night at the small jazz club he set up in the old mansion. He refused to play more than one song because that’s time better spent writing more music. Though in the worst of moods, it was a highly prolific time for him. He’d rather spend endless hours in the studio writing and recording than performing, but he did it just to please the record execs the only other way he knew how.
He just wrote this song earlier that day and wanted to try it out. This particular night, he was in a better mood based on the nature of the song. It was about his favorite subject. During the sound check, the crowd slowly leaked in. He paid them no mind, working on making sure everything was set just right. He peeked through the dark curtains at the ominous cloud cover. Before turning away, he slowly grinned.
Prince faced the microphone with renewed confidence in himself and the song he was about to perform. He turned his head back to the left and nodded at his drummer, who started to keep the beat. Prince slightly stamped his left foot to get the rhythm flowing inside him. Once the energy took him over, he pulled a “Gemini” and performed the song through a different personality than his reserved, moody self. He preferred to keep that part of him off the stage so the music wouldn’t be influenced by the bad karma.
Not knowing what to expect, Mona followed the request and arrived at the jazz club just as Prince started singing. She slowly crept in, as not to disturb him. When the lyrics came to his lips, he looked into the audience and saw her. He disguised it well, but there was an attraction he had to her. He slowly grinned and continued singing this song about an obsessive love. Mona slid into a vacant chair and looked at him. The lyrics hit home for her. It told the tale of a woman being held captive by a man and held against her will while he tries to appeal to her sexually. She listened to Prince’s take on the song. She saw him as the knight in shining armor dying to take the woman away from a situation she wants to escape. There was eye contact between them and recalling the situation that made her hide from the world for nearly a month, she thought Prince may be the knight in shining armor she had hoped would rescue her from those memories.
Prince continued to observe Mona from across the room, though he broke eye contact enough times to make it less obvious. He felt like his old self, playing material he’d been born to create. Despite the obscene lyrics, Mona didn’t care. She enjoyed the song and agreed Prince was a true performer. She thought it was part of the show when he suggested, “What happens next, it all depends upon your style.” Recalling her situation, she pretended to fire a gun in his direction. It only excited him and made Prince pour himself more into his performance. During which time, Mona, contemplated why she was called to watch him perform. The next time she looked up at Prince, she saw him coming off stage towards her, still singing. “Pheromone, ah, wash over me like an ocean. Pheromone, control my every motion…” She was startled by the fact he had picked her of all people to come up to. Once the distance between them decreased, she saw him to be just another man. After her previous encounter, she had feared them. Before he could come any closer, while his head was turned, she ran for the nearest doorway.
The crowd cheered when he cued the band to end the song. He acknowledged them by nodding and saying a quick, “Thank you.” It didn’t displace his confusion, though. He thought to himself how she was reminiscent of the last flame he had. Indeed, she had a certain pheromone that attracted him to her. He waved a sign at his band to pack up. Meanwhile, he decided to scout the building to see if he could find her again.
“[Space] Do you want to go?”
Mona found herself in an elaborate Victorian-style bedroom one floor up from the jazz club. It seemed so eloquent and delicate, a priceless work of art. She sat on the bed, recalling what she just saw. There was something in Prince. The way he could pull off a performance, but the moment he made her part of it, she wanted none of it. She rubbed her arms to shake off the nerves. She whispered, “I knew I shouldn’t have come.”
“Why did you?” A soft-spoken voice called from across the room. Mona gasped, frozen when she saw Prince across the room from her. She accused him, “You.”
“I find it strange how people sometimes don’t see what’s right in front of their eyes. I’ve been the whole time and you just didn’t care to notice.”
“How dare you!” He grinned, “I think you have it backwards. I should be the one passing judgement. I live here.” His tone came off slightly annoyed. He shrugged as he felt his moody self coming back into control.
“My apologies,” she nodded, “I didn’t know. I hadn’t left home in nearly a month, so naturally I just walk into any room I please. I didn’t mean to cause you any trouble.”
“No, no trouble.” He made his way around the bed, stroking the sheets. She added, “Great show by the way. I’m glad I got a chance to see it.”
“Why did you run?” He wondered, his tone slightly amused. She shook her head, “Bad memories have kept me locked up for too long, but they’re still very vivid.” She looked at him and he inclined his head towards her. She knew he was curious. She laughed nervously, “Your song sort of reminded me of that, though I wasn’t quite held against my will.” She cleared her throat.
“You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.” He said, smoothing out the wrinkles in the sheets. To rid herself of nervousness, she kept asking her questions.
“Why did you pick me out of the audience? More importantly, why were you coming up to me in the first place?”
“Call it intuition. Your being there made my being on stage the way it used to be. Before I resorted to just doing one song a day.” He grinned, “When I was talking about pointing the pistol to his nose, why did you pull the trigger?”
“Anything to rid myself of the memories. Would you have saved her or would you just keep watching?”
“It all depends upon your style. Could you picture me coming to her rescue or would I have kept watching?” She thought for a moment, which took longer than she expected. “Not so simple, is it? Most of my work is black and white, but I like to leave a little for interpretation.”
Bashfully, she added, “I must have been out of my mind to think I could have used your help on that night. That you could have been my knight in shining armor to shield me from the memories so I’d no longer have to fear the opposite sex.”
“I see.” He continued to smooth out the wrinkles in the sheets while Mona kept watching him. She didn’t know what to think anymore. Something about him made it appear like she could trust him, but the memories were still fresh in her mind. “Anyway, I’m glad you decided to pick tonight to come.”
“No problem. Someone told me that I’d have a good time if I came. He was vague on the details, but he told me that you were good. Clearly you’re better than good. If you ask me, you’re the one with the intoxicating pheromone.”
“That’s what they tell me,” he replied, being nonchalant about it.
“Why do you pretend to be amazed? Are you even aware of how good you are?” Instead of answering, he turned the tables back on her, “I’m amazed at your beauty. Surely you have the prettiest name to accompany it.”
“Mona, Mona Campbell.” He grinned, humming musingly. “And I’m sure your name captivates your mystery and inner strength.”
“My name is Prince.” He answered. She blinked twice, “You’re Prince? And you are funky, that Prince?”
“I take it my reputation has perceived me once again.”
“Again, you’re completely…” She stopped talking when music suddenly filled the room. She looked around quickly, not understanding what was going on. She looked where Prince was smoothing out the sheets and he wasn’t there. She looked around for him and saw him at the other side of the room. He had his back to her and was dancing to the beat as if he was weightless. When he turned around, he started singing with the music gently playing in the background.
Mona shook her head, not knowing what to think. His onstage personality had reassumed control of its “host.” He grinned, putting a hand to his heart. His eyes pleaded for her ears to listen to his words. The sincerity of his motions remained, but this time, his voice captured that sincerity. Though she felt she couldn’t say no to it, she still feared allowing another man to capture her heart.
She backed up while he came towards her. Instead of coming to her, he walked around to the bed, acting out the words he sung. He rolled over onto his bed and looked up at the ‘face he painted on the ceiling.’ He inched backwards, pulling himself back up from his lying down position by grabbing the metal bars at the head of the bed. He laid down on his stomach, smoothing out the sheets. He hopped off the bed on the opposite side. He circled around with his arms pointed towards the sky. He moved his hips from side to side, speaking about how she put the “bass in his boom.”
Mona shook her head, in disbelief that he was acting this all out for her benefit. His actions prolonged her curiosity about him, but she started to wonder if he had done that to distract her from his true intentions. He walked towards her, light on his feet. She backed away from him as he got closer. He motioned, moving his hands down and up, as if framing her body. He spoke how all he wanted to do to her body, he’d do to her head. He sashayed forward, spreading his arms out while sliding his hips gently from one side to the other. He rubbed his hands together in a curious manner, giving a grin before he took a few steps back. With his falsetto, he became slightly more irresistible and innocent.
Don’t U want 2 go?
Where the souls go
Where the tears flow
Where the love grows
Do U want 2 go?
She shook her head, not quite believing him. She’d just met him. How could she possibly trust him as the first man she’d seen in over a month? Why was he acting this way around? Even more alarming, why was she already willing to give him a chance?
Her nervous smile soon became one out of curiosity and amazement. He softly sung, “I’m not one for this thing, obsession, but keep your eye on my hips.” He had slid them side to side whenever he mentioned the boom and the bass. This time when she watched the circular motion of his hips, she found herself captivated. She blinked and watched him doing what he did on the bed, but on the floor tiles. The next time he approached, she slowly reciprocated his movements. She reached a hand towards him and he reached his hand up to mirror it. She mimicked his movements as precisely as if she was his reflection. She couldn’t explain how or why she continued to follow his lead. She simply couldn’t resist him any longer. Once she swayed her hips side to side as he’d done a few times already, she gave in.
A little fear of her past experience remained and he could see it in her eyes. He gently smiled and let her put the moves on him. She rubbed a hand towards his cheek, a little hesitant. The music continued playing on a loop. He whispered so she could barely hear him. “It’s all right.” She continued to reach until she had his cheek under her palm. She stroked it and eased her head down to his neck. Her other hand followed on the other side. They both inched down his neck to the collar of his shirt. She started above the belt and eased her hands up his chest. He watched motionless as she slowly unbuttoned his shirt to expose his bare chest.
She found herself grinning and Prince couldn’t understand why. She seemed very new to the whole ‘idea,’ but was acting completely on instinct. He decided against questioning her and let her do what she wanted with him. She reached her hands around his collarbone, massaging around his shoulders. She sighed happily in a manner of saying she wanted more.
She stroked his chest up and down with both hands and wrapped them around his neck. She leaned in and he did follow her lead, kissing her on the lips. She let go a moment later and reciprocated his actions, returning the kiss. Her heart warmed up to him and poured it into the kiss and the ones that followed. Her arms wrapped around his back, hugging him close to her. Gently as to not scare her, Prince returned her embrace slowly. She eased her way out of the embrace and pushed him backwards until she had him on his back onto of the bed. He inched himself backwards to get as much of himself onto the bed as possible, to get himself comfort in case he’d be there for a while.
His prediction was right. Mona leaned over him, stroked his cheek and continued kissing him all over. She enjoyed stroking his cheek as she kissed his lips so passionately. As the music faded out, keyboard played beautifully in the background. They filled Mona’s heart with such joy. She couldn’t picture herself anywhere else. After the hundredth kiss, she quickly added, “I want you, Prince. I want you so much.” He grinned, “You’re wonderful.” She kissed him again and caught her breath, “I never want this to end.”
“We’ve got all night,” he stated plainly, but she could tell he wanted this as much as she did. She didn’t even flinch as he rolled her over until he was on top. He immediately started kissing up and down her neck. While he did so, she reached her arms around his back, hugging him close to her. She reached her hands to his face, stroking his neck as well. In the midst of his kisses, she remarked, “I’d give anything to just…”
“Shh,” he leaned over her so their eyes would meet, “I know. So, can I count on having you return tomorrow? Will I see you again?”
“Of course, why wouldn’t I?” She grinned, “I’m not afraid. I want to know what I’ve been missing since I’d locked myself away.”
“You’ll have a good time, I guarantee it.” Prince grinned just before he continued what Mona had started.
“Push ur way up to the front!”
At Prince’s request and his promise that she would have a good time outside the sheltered life she’d lived for the past month, Mona returned to the jazz club the following night. When she arrived, she couldn’t believe how much it had changed overnight. It was like a miniaturized version of ‘The Roxbury.’ Multi-colored lights circled the room without the need of a disco ball. On the stage, instead of guitars and drums, there were keyboards, turn-tables and large speakers on each side, already blasting music.
People were on the floor, already dancing like there was no tomorrow. The newest trend of music, techno, was alive and well. Mona didn’t want to push through the crowd since she wasn’t accustomed to dancing in clubs much like what this place had turned into. Her eyes suddenly focused on the stage as Prince took his rightful place near the microphone. His two band mates on either side of him took the needle off the records playing on the turntables. One of the two positioned himself by the large keyboard, while the other took a hold of the bass. Prince started playing a loop off a cassette tape he’d placed in an adjacent machine.
Everyone stopped dancing and turned their attention towards him. He made a closed-mouth grin and nodded back towards his two band mates. He turned over to the audience and waved his hands down gently to quiet their cheering. He tapped the microphone to make sure if it was and grinned, showing his teeth this time. Mona looked at him and he looked back. From the distance between the two of them, she couldn’t tell his expression. He seemed to shrug it off. Before she could even think another thought, he grabbed the microphone stand and leaned it toward him as he quickly rattled off, “One, two, three four!”
His band mates switched to another cassette and took their respective positions on either side of the stage. Prince clapped his hands together in a rapid motion to match the music. This race of techno took on a completely different rhythm and vibe than what had played before he arrived. It was unique in a way that Mona had heard nothing like it before. He quickly counted to four two more times as the music quickly picked up. Within the blink of an eye, Prince tore up the stage, dancing steps so quick they had to have been spontaneous. There was no way Mona could believe he had enough time to plan out how he’d move. The music simply moved his feet for him.
Everyone else had started dancing to the music, but Mona had no idea. Dancing was never her strong suit. Although she did somewhat of a slow dance with Prince the previous night, she felt awkward on her own. She looked around, not knowing how to dance to the music. Mona didn’t see, but Prince gave her such a look that there was no describing. It was part confused, part frustrated and part mischievous. When he started demanding into the mic, she immediately looked up at him. Two things came to her attention; he knew very well that she was clueless and everyone else agreed with him.
Everybody wants 2 know what’s wrong with u
They see U actin’ like a crazy fool
When the music hits U don’t know what 2 do
Push your way up 2 the front and shake your MF ‘do loose!
Before he could get to the last night, he took the mic out of the stand and leaped off the stage. He pushed through the crowd, still chanting his lyrics. He danced in the middle of the parted crowd and they cheered him on. A moment later, he lowered his mic-hand, and faced Mona, “What are you doing?”
“Pardon me?” He repeated his demand, “What are you doing?” He looked around at the crowd, “You’re making me look bad.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“It don’t matter.” He danced in a circle, “Let the music move your feet.”
“Easy for you to say, you’re a natural dancer.” He grinned, “Anyone can dance.”
“I’d look like an idiot.” He sighed, “Come on.” The grin never left his face, she knew, but her eyes were on his eyes. He raised his eyebrows, “Just dance like nobody’s watching. Trust me, you’ll have a lot more fun that way.” She rushed towards him as he started back for the stage, “Hey wait.”
“Trust me,” he said before returning back to the stage for the next verse. She kept her eyes on him and he did the same, but he continued chanting his lyrics for this particular song. Mona knew that she couldn’t get anywhere near Prince’s fantastic aura by staying in the back. Just when he called for it, she pushed her way through the crowd and danced in a circle to copy his previous move. He nodded at her encouragingly and then he nodded back to his two band mates; in turn, they smiled at him. He clearly had something planned.
Mona watched expectedly as Prince turned around and knelt to the ground. She could see him slip a strap over his shoulder. He turned around and she saw a shiny, black guitar of a very interesting shape like none she’d ever seen before. He faced the mic and grinned while uttering, “Guitar solo.” He ripped that guitar solo and Mona fell deep under his spell. It broke the steady beat of the song, but at the same time, it worked so perfectly. He stole looks at Mona whenever he turned his attention away from the guitar and sparks flew.
He looked to the back of the room and his expression changed somewhat. He just smirked and continued with the song. He pointed to the back while shouting the lyrics, as if he was directing them to someone who just came in. At the same time, he put a hand on his guitar, poking fun at them while stroking the body.
Feeling the energy build, Mona pushed her away through the crowd and did her own variation of Prince’s spin groove. She swayed her hips from side to side and waved her arms in the air. She continued to do so. Prince met her eyesight once more and he nodded. He pulled the mic towards himself, “Tommy and Sonny.” The two band mates behind him did a duet with their respective instruments. Mona kept clapping with the crowd and Prince called for another guitar solo. From there, he just ripped up the stage, prolonging his guitar until the end of the song.
Mona didn’t notice, but Prince’s eyes kept looking towards the back of the room at the newcomers. They were from the record company. His eyes fell into shadow and he grinned at them mischievously. The crowd cheered and even as he took his bows, he leaped off the stage, grabbed Mona’s hand and pulled her behind the curtain covering the back of the stage. He pressed her back against the wall and started kissing her all over. He breathed into her ear, “You were incredible tonight,” before continuing to display his affection for her.
She just joked, “I think you have it backwards.” He stopped and looked in her eyes. “I wouldn’t have… if not for you. I told you I’m not that good a dancer.” He was at a loss, “You weren’t listening to the song, were you? It’s all about loosin’ up. What I saw, ain’t nobody teach you that. That was all you.”
“I don’t get it.” He started kissing her on the neck again. “Why are you being so nice to me?”
“You’re seriously asking me that after the night we had?” He backed away.
“Last night was wonderful. The best night I’d had in a very long time, but you never told me why… Nobody’s picks me out of a crowd like that. Not even Prince.” His eyes flickered at the name and quickly glimpsed at the curtain. While he was in deep thought, Mona asked, “So who were you talking at before? In the song and made an obscene gesture?”
He heard the question, but had no intention of answering it. Instead, he gently stroked her cheek and followed it with a gentle lip-lock. Mona didn’t need or want an explanation after that. She just wanted to be like that forever. He released her and quickly looked to the curtain. In a hasty move, he grabbed Mona’s hand and took her away.
“Don’t abuse children or else they turn out like me”
Without him even having to ask, Mona returned to the jazz club the following night. Music seemed to follow Prince wherever he went and she wanted to hear more of it. When she arrived at the jazz club, the atmosphere changed completely. She scratched her head, wondering if what she did last night really happened. The vibe was relatively cooled down. Everyone was hanging around in their respected booths, relaxing and smoking the occasional cigarette.
Mona took a vacant seat toward the left side of the stage that had already been reserved for her. She picked up the folded white card that said, “Reserved 4 Mona.” She knew Prince had pulled some strings to get her a seat that close.
The opening acts were unusual, considering Prince was the one who’d follow. They were each the artistic types that came to poetry readings to pour their emotions to the audience, though they were expressionless while delivering their work. Mona rested her elbow on the table and placed her chin in her palm, intrigued. This was yet another first for her in this incredible week.
Not a moment too soon, Prince came up to the stage. The atmosphere changed due to his presence, but Mona saw something different in him today. He looked to the window for a moment and saw lightning flashing. A rumble of thunder followed. Mona looked up, a bit worried. He grinned, holding up a cassette tape player. Clearly, he knew that a power outage could happen at any moment. His expression also said he wanted to get this done with quickly.
Just as another rumble of thunder came, he pressed play. He took a book off the stool at his right and opened it to a certain page. He looked down into the audience and read from it. Mona quickly learned why he had poetry readings open for him. His smile disappeared and instead of singing, he spoke each line. The story he told was actually very unpleasant and Mona seemed uneasy about it. Prince seemed sure of himself and she didn’t know if it was sheer confidence or she should be worried about his own sanity. It seemed like a tale that hit too close to home for him; why would he tell a tale of child abuse?
Their eyes met again, just as they had a few times over the past few nights. His eyes winced for a reason Mona couldn’t determine. Then he spoke the one lyric that stood out from the rest, “Don’t abuse children or else they turn out like me.”
He clapped his hands together and preached about the morale behind his whole story. “If u love somebody, ur life won’t be in vain. And there’s always a rainbow… at the end of every rain.” Without so much as a word, Prince left the stage and the crowd snapped their fingers as typical poetry reading applause.
Mona couldn’t believe what she just saw. In desperate need of answers, she ran back stage to confront Prince. When she gets behind the curtain, she runs into one of his bodyguards. “Where do you think you’re going, miss?”
“I need to speak to Prince. It’s important,” she tried to get around him. “Please, I need to ask him something.” Prince came out from behind him, “She’s all right. Just make sure nobody else gets back here.”
Even after his bodyguard left, Prince’s expression didn’t change from the performance. She demanded, a little upset with him. “What was that all about? Since when do you do poetry readings?” Instead of giving in, he remained defiant, leaning his back against the wall without saying a word. She raised her eyebrows in worry, “Why did you change all of a sudden? Is that song really true?”
“The overall message is what matters most here, not about how it’s realized.”
“Yeah, but isn’t the journey more important than the actual destination?”
“Depends on what kind of destination you’re headed for.”
“Why are you talking this way? You’re not yourself.” He raised an eyebrow. “I mean, you’re not the person you are when we’re together.” His bodyguard had returned, Mona knew without even having to turn around. Prince got his back off the wall, “Excuse me, there’s a meeting I need to get to. I’ll see if I can’t make tomorrow a little more to your liking.” Without another word, he strode past her with his bodyguard right behind.
Mona knew then that he was going into the boardroom to talk to the record executives. Somehow, that idea had him on edge, though she had no idea why. She knew that there was only one person who could give her a straight answer for that, the one who asked her to go see Prince in the first place. Mona returned home later that evening and went into her father’s study.
“Sweetheart, welcome home,” he approached her kissing her on each cheek. “Did you have a good time tonight?”
“I’m not sure if you can say good. It’s hard to call poetry readings anything good when they’re that depressing.”
“I take it Prince was having an off-night.”
“He didn’t seem himself. What happened in the boardroom? I know that part of his apprehension was due to that.”
“He gave us a tape of the song he did just tonight. He quickly went into the studio and added his own vocals and effects to it.” Mona winced, “He didn’t by any chance add thunder for atmospheric effect, did he?”
“Ah, that was the song he did tonight.”
“Do you have any idea what’s going on with Prince? He didn’t seem himself.”
“I’ll tell you what. Check him out tomorrow night and we’ll discuss this further. Right now, it’s late and I’ve got a lot of work to do. Good night, angel.”
“Good night, dad,” she said back. She turned around and went upstairs. She lay in her own bed for the first time in days. Although it felt good to be home, it didn’t feel quite the same without Prince lying next to her. Even after only knowing him for so long, she already missed being near him. As she shut her eyes, she couldn’t get that lost expression he wore out of her mind.
“Eye’ma let the rest dissolve with my guitar underneath the sea.”
When Mona arrived at the jazz club, Prince had already started his set. He had clearly already done a song, which was unusual. She only knew him to do one song a night, as if it was some sort of protest. The atmosphere of the club changed again, but this time, it was serious, though more positive than the other day. Mona took whatever seat was closest and waited for this song to end and the other to begin.
Confidence still radiated from Prince, just as it had for every time she had seen him. They exchanged a glance after the song ended. He nodded at her, starting to grin when his eyes flashed towards the entrance. Someone had arrived. Mona turned around and saw a few people armed with pencil and paper. Prince noticed how they were looking around, a little confused at the selection of people hanging around the club. He grinned mischievously before turning to his band. Although more than Tommy and Sony were onstage with him, his band looked small and a bit crammed on the stage.
The sound that came out was somewhat urban, though similar to all she had heard before that. He cued the horns to play the lead line while everyone else provided a steady beat. He looked around and grinned as he sung the first lyrics.
If the air’s a little thick in this room 2night
I reckon it’s the result from an onslaught of separatist rookies
Overcome by this colorful sight
Given the facts, she got the feeling that Prince knew those people were here to write another article about him. She looked around and noticed that people of all colors were here. She looked back at the critics and they seemed young and inexperienced. It seemed strange, as if Prince had written this song for such a night. Almost as if he had planned this. Music seemed to follow him everywhere, so she figured she couldn’t have been too surprised about the conditions.
The song continued to harp on about the still existence of racism. Mona didn’t know what to think of it. She’d been raised a very black and white world, mostly thanks to her father who exposing her equally to artists he managed of both colors. She didn’t believe racism existed, but Prince seemed to think it did. She shook her head in disgust, thinking how anyone could discriminate against him simply because he was black. Even if she was clearly in love with him at this point, talent is important regardless of what’s on the outside. The lines he spoke remarkably correlated to what he saw around him at the club. As it went on, Mona was in disbelief that he had any hand in this, though what drove him to write this song in the first place? So many questions rested on her mind.
She watched him for the rest of the song and he seemed perfectly all right. He didn’t have that disturbing look on his face that he had worn the other night. For this, she was grateful. He looked at her and she looked back. Then, he grinned and rallied onto his stirring conclusion.
Down, down with H-I-S-T-O-R-Y
And all this BS propagandi
Keepin’ U from me and me from U as we grow
I don’t wanna know
Why those before us hated each other
I’d rather believe they never did
I’d rather believe
That there’s hope 4 a kid
And if he imitates the best
I guess that’s what I’ll try 2 be
And I’ma let the rest dissolve with my guitar underneath the sea
She enjoyed this song a great deal more than the one from the other night. Instead of going backstage, however, he boldly jumped off the stage and stalked towards the ‘separatist rookies’ sitting in the back. “Enjoy the show, gentlemen?” He asked in a gentle yet demanding tone. Mona decided to go for a closer look. Although he could have reiterated further, he chose not to. He just nodded, “I’ll leave you to your business.” He turned around and found Mona staring at him.
“Are you all right?” She asked, “I’d been worried since the other night.” He turned around, seeing the critics trying to copy that down. In a swift, calculated move, Prince knocked one of the drinks over so the notepad being used could be deemed useless. He grabbed Mona’s hand and took her away back to where they first saw eye to eye, the bedroom upstairs.
“Shut the door,” he swiftly commanded. He sat on the bed, soon deciding to lay himself on his face. He reached his hands towards his head and massaged it upwards, as if trying to rid himself of a bad headache. Mona sighed, “Maybe it’s best if I leave you to your thoughts.”
“No, it’s all right.” He sat himself back up. She sat herself on towards his right on the bed. She shrugged, “If it’s any consolation, I liked your song tonight, though it seemed a little creepy.”
“In what way, do you think?” He grinned, interested.
“Everything you mentioned was happening exactly the way it was at the club. I almost thought you were improvising.”
“Nah, I wrote that all but recently, but that’s nothing.”
“I’m just glad the song was a bit nicer than the one last night.” He combed the hair out of his eyes, “I play whatever I feel, not the other way around.”
“Did something happen? You’re not the same person I met a few nights ago. You’re starting to scare me.”
“My apologies,” he sat up, hugging his knees, with his face looking hopeful that the conversation would change to something else.
“All these songs you’ve been playing. Are they going into something? Your next album?” He nodded, “That’s how it is. I write the songs and try them out on the audience. I’m very close to my goal.”
“So you’ll be finished soon?”
“I suppose that’s how it works,” he teased, grinning as if he was in on an inside joke. Mona kept thinking about what her father said and wondered about it. Regardless of her feelings, she hadn’t felt quite this distant from Prince in all the time they’d known one another. She got up, “I’d better be going. My father will be expecting me.”
Halfway to the door, she heard high heels clattering across the floor to get to her. Prince put a hand on her shoulder and spun her around. He reached a hand up to her face and she shut her eyes, until she felt him gently stroking her cheek. “I didn’t mean to upset you,” he said. She shut her eyes again, placing a hand over the one on her cheek. “Even after I saw your set last night, I had longed for your touch.” Then he gently kissed her. She dropped her hand and reached hers to his head and around his back. All of the distance between them had been crossed and calmness set in.
Mona arrived home an hour later than expected. Her father called her into his study. “I’m sorry, I lost track of time and…”
“Mona, Prince has made many women in his life and had broken a lot of hearts. I’d hate for the same to befall you, especially since you’ve been hurt so much already.” She faced him, sternly, “Prince would never hurt me. I trust him. Before him, I never thought I could trust another man again.”
Her father leaned back in his leather chair. “There’s something else I believe you should know about Prince.”
“Does this have anything to do with the boardroom meeting the other day?”
“Why? What did he tell you?”
“Nothing, I never asked. He already seemed a little… he had a lot on his mind and I didn’t want to pressure him into anything.”
“What did tonight go? Did he perform a song that you liked?”
“I did.” She nodded, regaining her smile, “It had such a stirring message and everything about it was like a breath of fresh air. It seemed strange that his lyrics seemed to correlate to the conditions of the room. He spotted a few critics in the back of the room and seemed to direct the song at them. Then when I went to talk to him, he split one of their drinks over their notepads. Clearly, he didn’t want them taking down any notes about us.”
“Prince has always been pretty hostile towards the media. Either he avoids them or he tries to cover his tracks the best he can. That’s just the way he operates.”
“You said you wanted to tell me something about him. What is it?” She demanded, “What’s going on with him?”
“Since he enjoyed us over 10 years ago, we’d given him everything and allowed him as much musical freedom as he needed. Recently, though, he’s become very… difficult.”
“Difficult? In what way?”
“He only does one song a night. It’s his own form of protest.”
“Protest? Against what? What’s going on?” Mona continued to grow more confused.
“This is why I asked you to go see him the other night. Prince is planning something and is keep a lot of it to himself. All he’s done lately is give us cassette tapes of his latest recording and leaves without a word. If that’s not enough, his material has been rather anger and bitter. Most often than not, he’s been accusing us of controlling him by having control of his work.”
“What brought this on?” Mona scratched her head.
“He suggested months back that he wanted to release two albums simultaneously. One would be all of his older material and one would be all new material and the new material was supposed to outdo the old. He’s even sent us a few tracklists for these albums and we’ve rejected them all because something’s always missing. In fact, he’s been blaming us for the failures of his albums to sell because of poor marketing. The truth is that he doesn’t even stand by the work he creates. He just gives us an album and starts writing the next. It’s our belief that some of the material of this current album he’s working on is a reaction to us denying his requests.”
“Okay, so where do I come in? You said you needed me.”
“Yes, I need to ask a favor of you.” He stood up and put a hand on her shoulder. “You’re very close with Prince right now. I need you to talk to him about this dispute. Make him see things our way.” She stepped back, mouth agape, “Do you want me to seduce him into behave the way you want him to? To write the kind of material you want him to?” She shook her head in disgust, “No, you’re not going to make me do that to him. I can’t. I won’t.”
“A lot of his material is his way of firing back at us.”
“So you’re saying he’s writing for spite?” She shook her head, “I don’t believe you.” She rushed out of the room and decided to return to the mansion.
Meanwhile, her father made a call, “Prince, I believe there’s something you need to know about your newest flame.”
“No more will u cry [Come].”
Though it was slightly late at night, Mona returned to the mansion. The door to his bedroom was wide open, so she just went inside. She sat herself on the bed. She felt the sheets with her right hand and smiled, remembering the good times. Then she recalled what her father had asked of her. She broke down in response, crying into her hands.
Since the incident that happened over a month ago with another man, she thought she’d never be able to trust men again. Prince made her believe she could do so much and she had so much to give. With him, she knew that she couldn’t be afraid. Something about him gave her more confidence than she thought she could ever have again. She cried out, “I can’t. I can’t do that to him. I can’t do what’s asked of me.”
“Do what?” She gasped, looking up with tearful eyes. She turned her head towards the open doorway. Unable to see Prince’s expression through eyes clouded with tears, she wiped them away the best she could. He slowly approached as she continued to wipe them away. Instead of thinking up something clever, he merely asked, “Why are you crying?”
She looked at him, “How can you be so calm?”
“One of us has to be. What are you doing back here?”
“I couldn’t stay home another minute.” She wiped her eyes. He shrugged, “I should have known you’d be coming back here.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Your father told me you’d probably be back to see me.” She gasped; he knew who she was. She groaned, “I can’t believe he’d expect me to… to listen to him. I’m not that kind of person… and you’re certainly not the person he thinks you are.”
“He’s known me a long time. What makes you think he’s wrong?”
“How can I believe the things he says? To not trust you like I do?” She glanced into his eyes, “Prince, you gave me my life back! I’d been… I hadn’t left home in a month because someone hurt me. Cut me deep. I thought I’d never be able to trust again. You made me believe that I could. How can I follow through on my father’s orders when I already owe you so much?” After that outburst, Mona broke down again. “I can’t get his voice out of my head. My father’s orders…”
Prince, instead of sitting on the bed next to her, knelt down in front of Mona and put a hand on her knee. “Don’t cry, baby.” She looked up from her hands into his eyes. He slowly smiled, “I got something for your mind.” He stroked her cheek gently and kissed her lips. Mona felt a burst of emotion run through her. Adrenaline and endorphins started circulating through her veins. He nudged her backwards and she moved herself backwards. He whispered in her ear, “No more you cry. Here’s the reason why. If you have the chance to see the future, would you try? If you would, so would I.” She spun around so her back was facing the headboard. He grinned, stroking her cheek.
“Why are you doing this? I don’t understand. Aren’t you mad at me? For not revealing who I really was?”
“No,” he simply said before kissing her again. During a break, Mona asked, “Wait, are you doing this for spite? Just another way to get back at my father and the rest of the executives for the way they’ve treated you.” He shrugged it off and continued with his actions. He whispered words in her ear in between kisses. Mona knew she should be mad because Prince was the one using her. Getting to this close to her just to get back at the executives. Throughout his monologue, the words grew more and more convincing.
“If I’m doing this to spite your father, why…” She quickly hushed him, putting a finger to his lips, “Shut up. Kiss me. I don’t care, kiss me.” She laid herself down on top of the sheets. Prince continued to lean over her and stroke her face delicately while planting consecutive kisses. She reached forward, slowly unbuttoning his shirt to put her hands on his bare chest. He slid the shirt off his shoulders and she weaved her arms all around his upper body to feel closer to him. She didn’t care for his reasoning. She only wanted to be closer to him, as close as she could be. She didn’t want anything else.
Prince eased his hands down her front until he got a hand around to her cheek. He leaned closer and whispered what would be some of his most explicit lyrics in over a decade. He sweet-talked her through the whole thing, turning on the charm to the nth power. Nothing mattered to Mona at that point, just so long as she had Prince in her arms. He kissed her neck several times and then all over. She grabbed hold of him and rolled them over so she’d be on top. She replicated his actions, though rubbed her hands around his firm shoulders and down his bare chest. Deep down, she believed that Prince wasn’t doing this just for spite. There was no denying that he felt the same way she did. If anything, she was also doing this for spite. To get back at her father for what he had asked her to do. All she wanted to do after the night would end was to make sure to do whatever she could so that Prince would succeed in this dispute.
They rolled back over one more. While Prince kissed her neck, Mona weaved her arms around his back to hug his body closer to hers. Except for her still weaving a pull-over shirt, she could feel his heart beat next to hers and nothing would equal that feeling. Before the night was through, Prince whispered those three words, “I love you.”
“So dark (dark)”
Completely unaware of the implications, the following morning would be the last time that Mona ever saw Prince. She woke up in his bed, feeling like she had just woken up from the best dream she ever had. When she saw him leaning over her, out of bed, fully dressed, she knew that what happened wasn’t a dream. She and Prince made love the other night and she felt like nothing could take her off that high. Prince stroked her cheek, “Good morning.” She blinked and smiled, “Prince.” He knew deep down that this would be the last contact they would ever have or that’s what Mona would think. He planned to depart very soon and wanted to leave with the most pleasant of memories, and to make sure he left behind the perfect mark. As he stroked her cheek, he ad-libbed a poem that he decided he’d use to segue throughout his upcoming album.
Lay down beneath my shadow with great delight
and your flow will be sweet to me
My left hand under your head
While my right embraces time
Therein, my virgin, love’s wine
Lie down, fair one, and come away
until the rain is over and gone
I wanna top the rose petals that whisper sweet
Mona didn’t even try to process what he meant when he spoke those poetic phrases. Just hearing the flow of his voice was comforting. She just said, “I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for me.” He nodded and kissed her gently on the lips, trying to make it count for as much as it possibly could. Since he was going to break her heart by leaving anyway, he wanted to leave more wonderful memories behind. He started to walk away when she leaped out of bed, “Where are you going?”
“I’ve got an album to finish.” He returned to her side, letting her put a hand to his cheek and weaved her arms around him. He returned the embrace. Deep down, he wished it didn’t have to come to this, but his decision was already made. “Go see your father. He’ll explain everything and I made him swear to tell the truth.”
“How could you manage that?” He shifted his eyebrows, “You forget who you’re talking to. When it comes to the two things I love, one being my music, I’ll do what it takes to protect it.” Mona didn’t ask what the other thing was. She assumed it was her, but held onto that facade in case he had something or someone else in mind. Prince embraced Mona once more, kissing her on the neck before he left the room.
She returned home after getting herself together. Her father was sitting at the kitchen table with a cassette player in front of him. “I want to show you the song that Prince gave us when all of this started. I think you’ll understand why we’re concerned about him once you hear it.” Unlike last night, Mona didn’t object. She listened to the song and the feelings she had towards his performance a couple of nights back returned. Here, it sounded as if a woman had left him in the state he was currently in. She recalled how Prince appeared to her all but recently and nothing seemed to be wrong. He looked peaceful, calm and happy, especially when they were together. After she finished listening, her father continued his explanations. “Prince and I had a little chat earlier. It was wrong of me to try to use you to get to him. He clearly stated that no woman would ever be able to tell him what to do and not do with his music because it was his music. Our job is to make money by making sure adequate albums get released so they’ll sell. His job is to write the music, but we’d been intervening with a lot of the plans he’s concocted lately since because we can’t afford to allow him that freedom. He can’t market his own work through his own means or we don’t make the money.”
Mona could only nod, “I understand.” She stroked her chin, for she couldn’t help but wonder what Prince was doing at that moment. Recalling what she just listened to, her apprehensions returned.
“[Solo] My name is… no one”
Prince listened through the previous song and decided to add a stringed ending to help it segue into the song he had just written. He sent the tape over to a friend of his so the strings could be composed and added, along with an explanation about what sound he wanted. He sat at his desk in a dark room lit only by a few white candles. He scripted in wonderful handwriting his idea of a farewell letter to Mona. He’d already made a call to pass a message to Mona; he would meet her in his bedroom. However, he had no intention of meeting her face to face, though he’d see her once more to leave a little part of himself behind. He felt his heart tighten out of guilt, even a little sadness, but he knew that he had to do what needed to be done. He had to leave this old life behind him so he could embark on achieving the many freedoms he desired. He thought back to his attitude before he met Mona and how he felt so low. After meeting her and getting close with her, he found a sense of redemption he never dreamed of. He took the letter with him to the studio on the next floor and put it aside. He made sure that the whole building was empty by this time so he could truly get his mind where it needed to be. This song would be unlike anything he’d done before and he needed his concentration so his emotions would be on point. He lit a few candles in the studio as well and sat in front of the soundboard armed only with a microphone for recording his voice. This song would be a cappella, though he planned to add harp and a few clashes of thunder later on.
He set everything up, double-checked and took a deep breath before starting the recording. In an instant, his mind took him to a place he’d only been in his darkest nightmares. Immediately, his emotions poured onto the tape. He spoke about how he felt originally and how things were different when he was with his love interest. What he spoke was the truth; “You were so kind. I felt sorry for creation cuz at the time, no one was lucky. No one was lucky. No one was lucky as me.” He managed a smile because deep down, he recalled those memories and tried to hold onto them. However, the whole song wasn’t just about that tiny bit of redemption he found. It was about making a point, that this would be his last stand under the name that was his birthright. While recording this completely alone would make the song live up to its title, Prince knew deep down that no one would be able to last long in the atmosphere he created. It was as if the air had been sucked out of the room, so no “normal” person would be able to breathe within an inch of him. Sadness had cloaked him for so long that he’d grown immune to how much extra weight he’d been burdened with. Only his soul knew that even he couldn’t remain in that hopeless place forever. Tonight was the night he’d finally break free of his own madness.
Regardless of what transpired, he felt he had to go it alone. While he was alone, a certain side of him came out that even scared him. To be alone instills fear in many people, to be alone with all of their thoughts. Though used to being alone, even Prince was afraid of the loneliness he’d been feeling for quite some time. He believed it all boiled down to him being one of a kind. He felt lost and still did feel so. Recording had become such an obsession for him that he was about nothing else. He barely recognized himself anymore and it terrified him. Even after finishing the song, he felt that thanks to Mona, there was hope for him in his “next life.” Before leaving the studio that night, he gently blew out all the candles, as if extinguishing the life he had under the name of “Prince.”
“[Letitgo], lay back and let my feelings show”
While Mona was still unconscious, “Prince” entered the room to say good-bye. He whispered once more in her ear, “I love you,” kissing her on the cheek. On the table next to the bed, he left behind the farewell letter and a vase holding a lone rose. At that moment, he walked out of her life forever, though he’d never forgot what she had done for him.
Mona woke up, smiling, feeling Prince’s presence. She looked around and he was nowhere in sight. She shook her head, not understanding what happened to him. She was told to meet him here, but found no sign of him. That is until she looked at the bedside table where she found the vase, the rose, the letter and a cassette tape. She picked up both the tape and letter, curiously. The letter looked like nothing but a bunch of lyrics. On the cassette was the last song Prince had recorded the previous night. She played the tape in the cassette player nearby. She found herself tapping her foot to the beat. She read the letter, which explained everything he’d ever wanted to tell her. Though his songs were always up for interpretation, he trusted she would get this right for it was the only way he could fully convey his last words to her.
The song was upbeat, though the lyrics seemed a little unnerving to her. It showed that he hadn’t been allowed to truly express his feelings, he’s lost his touch with his audience and he overall blames his bosses for his failures. He sees no choice but to strike out on his own. Before doing so, he doesn’t hesitate to let them know what’s on his mind and his desires to reach his next goal. Nobody was going to stand in his way. Though she’d seen evidence of it in a couple of his performances, the song proved she hardly knew Prince at all. It was almost as if he was a different person than he revealed himself to be in her presence. Was he playing the part just for show? Did he never want her to see what was really troubling him? She thought back to the way he kissed and made love to her. Either he was a very good actor or he truly was an enigma. She simply couldn’t believe that he had been hurting this much.
After she heard his voice the last time, she got up and started dancing around the room. She recalled his words, “Dance like nobody’s watching,” and that’s what she did. She didn’t care anymore. She let all of the past memories fill her up and the music to move her feet. She heard the back-up vocals sing, “Letitgo, lay back and let the vibe just flow.” She turned around to find snow falling. She looked down and saw what looked like Prince doing in the snow, completely in touch with the song as if he could hear it. The wind then picked up and blew more snow in his direction. When the song suddenly ended, the snow blew away the illusion. Then he was gone. Mona took one last look at the letter and read the last line.
May u live 2 c the dawn