Bowie removed from his vest pocket a small, pink, canvas satchel. He loosed its leather binding cord and poured a small object onto his palm. The object, though strangely beautiful, meant nothing to Mr. Germanotta. More strange even were Bowie’s instructions pertaining to the object’s safekeeping, instructions he insisted were to be executed by Mr. Germanotta himself.
“This is a gag right?” Germanotta waived the object away from him, cautiously. “Tell me, Mendelson is behind this, isn’t he?”
Bowie sighed and placed the item carefully back inside the small satchel. “I’m afraid the situation is entirely serious, Mr. Germanotta.” He cinched shut the leather cord signaling a kind of finality that caused a part of Germanotta to worry that Bowie would soon leave without any further explanation.
Bowie didn’t move, but stared at Germanotta with a disappointed, and somewhat pitying, look as if to say, this is your last chance to listen.
Something about Bowie’s unflappable demeanor raised a relentless curiosity in Germanotta, the man either believed his own bullshit, or was putting on an Oscar-worthy performance. “So this isn’t a joke? At least, in your mind, this is for real?” Germanotta asked, amazed at himself for even considering that this might be something other than a prank engineered by his eccentric friend, Jeff Mendelson.
Bowie, silent, matched Germanotta’s skeptical glare with his own stolid graveness.
A curt, rude laugh escaped from Germanotta, his late effort at suppressing it made it sound more like a bark or cough. Not wanting to be overtly rude, he reached and patted Bowie gently on the arm, over the black, fluffy sleeve of his shirt. He looked at Bowie with comical amazement, patted his arm a second time, as if to confirm that it was indeed a real being, standing before him with this ridiculous proposition. And this black shirt, over the blue velvet vest, it looked like something worn only by stage magicians or movie vampires. “Listen man, I know you’re an artist and all,” Germanotta said shaking his head. “But with all due respect, you’ve gotta be out of your mind.”
“Consider it this way, Mr. Germanotta- you’re either correct and I’ve lost my mind, or your mistaken and what I’m asking you to do is more important than you could possibly imagine. Now, you can refuse your role in this affair and hope that I’m crazy, or you can do what I ask, knowing that even if I am crazy, all you’re doing is taking an object,” Bowie raised the pink satchel, “keeping watch over it, and giving it away to your daughter when the time comes.”
Bowie extended the satchel to Germanotta for the second time, and for the second time, Germanotta dismissed it like an unwanted tray of hors d’oeuvres. “Let me ask you something, Mr. Bowie. If that Christmas ornament you’ve got in there is so important, then why won’t you tell me exactly what it has to do with my daughter? In fact, why don’t you start by explaining what you were doing here with my wallet in the first place? How did you know I was going to be here? How do I know you’re not some rich sicko stalking my family?”
“Take this. Do what I ask, and I promise- I’ll never bother you again, Mr. Germanotta. It’s only a glass, like you said, no more than a Christmas ornament.”
Germanotta fidgeted some with his hand, tapping the front of his side pocket with faster and faster beats. “You know what, Mr. Bowie… sir,” he said in a resolved, obstinate tone. “If you did know anything about me or my family, the first thing you’d know is how much I love my little girl. And I’m not giving her a damn thing- I don’t care how harmless it looks- unless I know exactly what it is and exactly why I’m giving it to her.”
“Mr. Germanotta,” Bowie proceeded calmly. “I’m afraid no one ever gets to know the exact reasons for anything.”
“I’m going to walk away now,” Germanotta answered. “My wife’s probably looking for me out in the parking lot by now, thinking I’m sneaking in cigarettes.” He turned around to leave. “Thanks for finding my wallet,” he said without turning back around, and he began walking down the steps.
“Why is it you love your daughter so much?” Bowie said after him.
Germonotta froze on the stair, he turned around and stared daggers into Bowie. “How dare you?!”
“No.” Bowie responded, firmly. “Don’t be afraid like that. It’s an honest question. Tell me. Exactly why… you love your daughter?”
Germanotta marched up to Bowie, closing in on the rock legend until only inches separated their faces. It took all of Germanotta’s restraint to ovoid slugging the glitter off this smug man. One clean right cross would do it. He’d save him the trouble of his next eye-shadow application. “I need to go,” Germanotta growled. “Have a good day, sir.” With that, he turned again to walk back down the steps.
“I’m a father as well, Mr. Germanotta. Trust me, we all believe our children are special, destined for great things. But what you’ve come to appreciate in your daughter, I’m afraid it’s more than just precociousness.”
Germanotta couldn’t help but stay fixed at the bottom flat, where the stairway me the edge of the sidewall.
“How many times a day do you wonder about that drum, Mr. Germanotta. That rhythm of some singular wonder, some new dimension of life singing a song no one seems to hear except for your little girl. And then she’ll say and do things, she’ll step out of line in a good way leaving you nothing short of… star-struck. You wonder at times, what’s at the source of that character, you read books, you check with other parents, but you find no answers. All you know is that whatever’s working inside your daughter is something strange, something beautiful.”
Germanotta turned around and said plainly, “She’s a very unique and special little girl. There is no explanation for it. She was born that way.”
“Very good,” said Bowie. “But, I’m here to tell you there’s more. More than what you know now.”
The truths of Bowie’s descriptions had enveloped Germanotta against his will, like the scents of overpriced hot dogs did at Yankee stadium.
“What if I were to tell you, Mr. Germanotta, that deep inside Stefani is a root, the seed of a rare spirit, a spirit of tremendous kindness and generosity, extraordinary strength and bravery… and, a spirit of abundant purpose that must be realized. And, until that time, protected.”
But there was also a sense of intrusion, as if Bowie could somehow hear the quietest of Germanotta’s passing thoughts. Could this be real? My daughter, marked already for some… great purpose?
Bowie smiled down at the perplexed man’s washed features. “You see. It’s not all a big secret,” he said wryly. He began to descend methodically down the stairway towards Germanotta. ”I can see it in your eyes. You know, for lack of a better word, exactly… what I’m talking about.” He arrived on the lower flat.
Germanotta fought back an urge to run away from the man. He didn’t enjoy the feeling that came with earnestly entertaining Bowie’s notions. “How can one child, barely six, be so important?” He asked.
“What I can tell you is this- your daughter’s spirit, it doesn’t arrive in our world without cause, but comes as a sign of the age.”
“A sign of the age? Like , having something to do with the end of the millennium and all that?” Germanotta again was shocked to feel his will to be rational gradually giving way to the myth Bowie was painting. An ember seemed to burn deep within the narrow splices of Bowie’s eyes, controlled somehow by the sparkling clouds of neon blue eye-shadow. It was as if the bizarre elements of Bowie’s appearance were gradually coming into purpose, like a Polaroid photograph that developed in direct proportion to the beholder’s belief that the picture did, in fact, exist.
Bowie continued, “The time will come when your daughter shall possess an extraordinary, earthly power. Much will be asked of her at this time. Her burdens will stagger.”
For the first time since their conversation began, Bowie averted his eyes downward. He paused over an uneasy moment, before looking again at Mr. Germanotta. “She will also be in great danger.”
Germanotta quickly broke free of his entrancement. “What do you mean, danger? What danger?”
“The power she is to wield is one long coveted by an ancient Being of darkness, a ruthless fiend, a monster through and through. He’s passed many millennia, imprisoned just beyond the boundaries of this world, waiting for the sign of the age to arrive.
“This monster will do everything in his power to poison all the good your daughter will bring to this world. What he’s unable to corrupt, he will seek to destroy. He is hindered by no remorse and not a single value will moderate his lusts.”
A panicked fury surfaced in Mr. Germanotta. Special powers and monsters, it was way too much to be revolving around the fate of a 6-year child, his child. He closed in on Bowie and, at a near growl, said, “Where do you figure into this little fairy tale, Mr. Rockstar? You do realize this isn’t one of your movies, right. This is my 6-year old kid for Christ’s sake? You do realize that?... no wait… don’t talk yet. You listen to me now.
“Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you’re not nuts and everything you’re telling me is true, that you’re plugged into some secret underworld of spirits and monsters and elves, trolls, fairies whatever. Be that as it may, I may not be a wizard or some mythical knight, but I am goddamn New Yorker, and if anyone… or anything… ever hurts… ever hurts my baby…” A fragility and weary helplessness leaked into his voice as Germanotta realized he was issuing an impassioned blanket warning to mythical creatures, a threat to be couriered by David Bowie from Labyrinthe. Germanotta realized then that he’d either been driven mad himself, or had simply been persuaded by Bowie that greater forces were at work.
He looked pitifully at Bowie, his eyes balmy and tired. “What do I need to do?” He asked. “Tell me everything.”
Bowie placed a delicate hand on the man’s shoulder, reminding Germanotta of the way Stefani had touched his shoulder earlier in the car, reminding him of the incredible love he had for his child, a love that, he knew, somehow, would protect her anywhere, even beyond the boundaries of the ‘real’ world.
“You’re a fine father, Mr. Germanotta,” said Bowie. “I know it’s hard to trust me… to trust… this. I promise you I will do everything in my power to protect your daughter.” And, for the third time, Bowie offered the satchel to Mr.Germanotta. “And this is how it begins.” Bowie said. “Take it. Keep it safe. Until the time comes.”
Mr. Germanotta took the satchel. It seemed nothing extraordinary. He held it up close. A small embroidery was stitched on one side- G stitched in red, A in yellow, another G in blue and, finally, an A in lavender. “Ga..Ga? GaGa?” He looked to Bowie, for an explanation, but Bowie offered no words; his lips stayed tightly drawn and his dark, bluely overwhelmed eyes were indecipherable.
Germanotta removed the object from the satchel, a small cross made of clear crystal. The cross’s post and cross-section bore various engravings and adornments, all of them sculpted without rigid demarcation but flowed smoothly out of the transparent crystal. A small thatch of flowers was nested at one end of the shorter cross-section. A snake was wrapped around the bottom of the longer cross-section, ascending upwards. There was an inscription on the top of the post in a strange lettering Mr. Germanotta didn’t recognize.
“What is it?” Mr. Germanotta asked.
Bowie’s eyes blazed and he beamed, surprisingly, at Germanotta’s question. “What you’re holding, it’s a lightning rod.” Bowie said sharply. “A powerful conductor of the spirit.”
Germanotta had not held his breath for a simple answer, and this was, for once, ok. His need for the cold, hard facts was being steadily abated by something he was beginning to feel, a new sense of purpose, the beginnings of a belief.
“All that in a sack, huh?” Germanotta said as he placed the cross back inside the satchel. “Amazing what they come up with.”
Bowie smiled. “Indeed, Mr. Germanotta,” he said. Bowie checked his watch, a gesture that struck Mr. Germanotta as oddly mundane for a man adorned to the hilt in makeup passing out charmed crystals.
“So, I’m supposed to hold onto this until…”
“Until the time,” Bowie snapped, still looking at his watch. “Speaking of which, I must be going.” Somewhat abruptly, Bowie strode past Germanotta, down to the bottom half of the theater and to the exit door by the big screen. Mr. Germanotta didn’t move from the lower flat.
Bowie placed his hand on the exit door’s chrome latch, paused, and turned around. Germanotta’s face was still clinched with worry, his brow furrowed with the weight of unanswered questions. “Don’t worry, Mr. Germanotta,” Bowie said confidently.
“I feel like I’m going to be sitting on this for such a long time, this secret. Couldn’t you have dropped in on me a bit closer to… the time?”
“It seems like a long, long way off. I know. But take heed...” Bowie turned back to face the exit door. “…children grow up quickly, Mr. Germanotta.” He smiled privately, pushed the door open and departed.
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