Broken Locks:  A Tale of Orpheus
-FOUR-

 

    “Can I interest you in another drink, sir?”  Ayuda magically reappeared in the ornate lobby, bowing slightly to the young man seated at the small round table.

    “Just a key,” He replied, and Ayuda, bemused, gazed at him with a soft smile across his face.  The gentleman was not a new guest at Orpheus; in fact, he had grown to frequent the quiet halls and chambers as he saw his stardom skyrocket, but in the seven months since his first visit, one thing had remained constant:

    He always knew what he wanted.  Never one to enter the hotel without a cell phone, though they were strictly prohibited, the curious singer had instead pleaded his case with the powers-that-be, only to have them chuckle at his obvious naïveté and lack of sophistication in the matters of guest relations.  Out of sheer amusement, they permitted him to make one call only upon stepping onto hotel property, after which time he was forced to relinquish his cell phone to Mr. Ayuda.

    He had been quick to ask for things upon entering his room, had been known for exchanging sexy, racy words with the sultry voices on the operator’s line, and was notoriously outrageous in his demands for service, which came at all hours of the night.  The staff of Orpheus, though amused by his cockiness, tolerated it simply because the gentleman with the spiked hair and low-key, laid-back posture exuded southern charm and gentility.

    Tonight, though, there was anger in his eyes.

    Lance Bass nodded curtly at Ayuda before accepting a black lacquered key rimmed with amethyst and tipped with a single glittering diamond.  Ayuda returned the gesture, although his endless black eyes were clearly troubled.

    “Damn groupies,” Lance muttered, before angrily punching the button that lead to his floor.  They had asked for far too much this time…expected more than he could give…demanded time that he didn’t have…and his formidable temper had been pressed to the limits because of it.

    He walked down the hallway, scowling disgustedly at the floral motif lining the walls.  Ayuda had always been full of shit.  A key had not chosen him, he had rolled the dice and selected Mary Mary Quite Contrary’s fucking front garden.  He rolled his eyes.  At least he was getting laid.

    With a sigh, he flopped on the bed, stretching his aching limbs and allowing a rumbling sigh to escape from his parched, dry, lips.

    So they had eliminated meet and greets.  Who the hell cared?

    The fans had been vicious, incensed at the obviously outrageous demand that he and his exhausted partners have more time to themselves before the show.

    “I can hear a soundcheck all I want.  I want to meet the band.”

    Right.  As though standing in a cattle-call with other rampant, overeager teenies with tears and other bodily fluids leaking copiously down their over-shellacked faces was the height of personal interaction.

    It was ludicrous that the fans believed that they could have some kind of input into their lives, or their shows, or whatever else happened to occur on the *NSYNC front.  They were nothing more than consumers: showing up at chowtime, inhaling whatever crap was thrown their way.  Lipbalm?  Check.  Lollipops?  Check.  Fruit snacks?  You got it.  Need a game?  Got one right here.  The merchandise was disgusting, raging out of control, and Lance rubbed his fingers in glee.  He knew they weren’t going to be making records in thirty years.  That wasn’t important.  What counted was seizing the moment and all of the splendid excess that came with it…until the fans threw a spanner in the works.

    He was sick of all of the tabloids.  Yeah, Joey had gotten his girlfriend knocked up.  Yeah, Chris and his girlfriend, the perfect couple, had split amidst murky circumstances.  Yeah, Justin had once again allowed his rage to get the better of him…but the fans weren’t supposed to know.

    It was the fans that had created this monster, this terrifying juggernaut of publicity and overexposure.  They had breathed life into the dragon before fully realizing his power and temperament, and had set him loose along the world’s streets.  Now, all Lance wanted to do was keep him alive.

    There were others who wanted him dead.

    The meet and greets offered a perfect opportunity for some jealousy- and adrenaline-crazed psycho to fire a bullet from point-blank range, or grab a sharpie and spike it decisively into their nervously pulsing jugulars.

    He no longer felt safe in this industry of madmen.

    Lance groaned and rolled his eyes when he felt cool fingers caressing his tired neck and scalp.  He turned to see a young woman in her twenties staring intently, dressed simply in a lavender shift dress and little else.

    “Good evening, Poseidon,” She said softly.

    Again Lance grunted dismissively.  Poseidon.  Another one of Ayuda’s little tricks.  Where he had come up with the ridiculous ploy of naming him after the God of the sea was beyond Lance.  After all, Poseidon was ruthless in his business and notoriously mutable, attempting to woo others with his powers and influence.  It had been Poseidon who had tried to charm the wily affections of Aphrodite by creating for her a horse.  It had been Poseidon, who, in a fit of jealousy, had tried to claim the Greek city of Athens from Athena, only to see his attempts thwarted by his wiser and more prudent sister.  He had extracted his revenge accordingly, sinking ships and flooding the city for years to come.

    Lance couldn’t possibly be like that.  He didn’t bear grudges.  His emotions ran far deeper than the pithy waters of some overrated ocean.

    He felt the young woman’s hands digging roughly into the aching muscles of his shoulders and he growled, his voice thrashing and low like waves on the shore.

    “Not so rough…and can we get on with it?”

    She stared at him, taken aback, confused with the attitude he presented and the image he was famous for.  Not quite chagrined but certainly surprised, she nodded, tugging at the straps on her dress and revealing her body to his intense stare.  His expression was fathomless, the swirling green mosses of his eyes unreadable.  He reached for her, assessing her body as he would a contract, spinning her round and deciding that yes, she would do.

    Exactly seven minutes later they were finished.  She had been on her knees, attempting to compensate for his wildly thrusting hips, and withdrawing completely when he came with a feral cry.  He insisted she swallow and then handed her a tissue to clean up what remained of his passion, watching her with distaste the entire time.  To him, it seemed, sex was nothing more than a compulsory exercise, a means to justify an end.  She completed her task and retreated to make him a glass of herbal tea, for he said his throat was strained.  When she returned he lay on the bed, amidst papers and files he had smuggled in under his coat, studying the intricately worded contracts and clauses and whatever else was in the pile of rubbish.

    She gingerly approached him, dropping a kiss onto his shoulder and kneading the soft muscle mass she discovered there, feebly searching for some way to satisfy him, to coax some tenderness out of his rigid body.

    “Not now,” He said distractedly, waving his hand as one would swat a particularly pesky mosquito.

    She made a move to exit, gathering her clothes and starting for the door, but he sat up sharply.  “I didn’t say LEAVE, I just…sit.”

    She followed his command and sat obediently in the overstuffed burgundy chair just below the vast windows that took up an entire length of the room.  She shivered against the cold in the room, a bitter, heavy taste on her tongue.  Her jaw ached and her knees burned, but as was policy, she said nothing, nor made any gesture to indicate her discomfort.

    Lance rolled his eyes and sighed again, oblivious.  Damn fans.  Damn damn damn.  He knew, when Johnny had tried to smooth over heated emotions that Thursday morning, that something was amiss.  Clues…hints…breadcrumbs dropped along shadowed streets, alerting them all to the distinct possibility that the end was in sight.  An act of their magnitude should easily be able to sell out an entire tour in one day.  Instead, they put different dates on sale during consecutive weeks.  They were about to tour in support of an album that did not yet exist.  They were being pushed, more than ever, to “explore other avenues.”

    They were jumping the gun, he thought grimly.

    He walked right past the young woman (Psyche?  Was that her name?) to the window, staring out at the bustling city below.

    “They don’t give a damn about us,” He thought angrily to himself.  “They” were the suits, the executives, concerned with bottom line and crunching numbers.  They had laughed with wicked delight at the move to Jive records, so perfectly choreographed to fit into the symphony of lies and distractions their PR machine had been composing.

    Southern Gentleman.  Fun-loving flirt.  Serious romantic.  Zany overgrown adolescent.  Heartthrob.

    Lies.

    Lance closed the curtains in disgust, and reached for Psyche.  He began to paw her body again, intent on bringing his body to orgasm, if for no other reason than to pass the time, to forget where he was.  He paid big money to indulge in nothing but empty, careless pleasure.

    You get what you pay for, he thought, before the pulse of his body silenced further thinking.


PART V

© 2001  ~A.

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