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Angelique

Chapter 3

Michael opened the door to admit his bodyguard. Wayne noticed that his boss looked a little more rested after his morning confined in his suite, but he still acted somewhat disoriented and confused. Wayne was beginning to become alarmed about Michael’s condition. He had eaten rather more than Wayne had expected and he had rested, but Wayne was taking no chances with this man’s health. He had a doctor in tow and a determined gleam in his eye that brooked no argument.

“MJ, this is Dr. Fouquart. I have asked him to see you just to make sure that everything is okay. Tell me you don’t mind,” Wayne said quickly.

Michael raised his eyebrows silently at Wayne while glancing at his diminutive little angel and shrugging. “I guess it’s okay, but he won’t find anything but tiredness and jet lag.

“Wayne, they are cold and wet and hungry out there. Can we order some food and blankets delivered?”

Wayne nodded briskly. “Sure, boss. I’ll see to it.”

As the physician entered the suite, he put his medical bag on a small table by the door and quickly removed a stethoscope.  He was surprised by Michael’s request to his bodyguard, wondering if he provided for his fans at all of his tour stops. Dismissing the thought, he placed the stethoscope in his ears while Michael sat comfortably on the beige, tufted sofa.

He listened to Michael’s chest and back, examined his throat and eyes with a tiny, hand held flashlight, and placed a cuff around his arm to determine his blood pressure while Michael drank a cold, bottled water from the iced bucket that remained from his breakfast.

When the doctor completed his cursory examination, he looked at Michael and smiled. “Mr. Jackson, please tell me what seems to be the trouble. Do you have any particular complaint?” he asked with a heavy French accent.

Michael returned his smile. “Nope. I keep telling my tall, dark-haired mother hen here that I am fine, but for some strange reason he doesn’t believe me. I feel a little tired … a general lack of concentration … a bit of lethargy. I figure all the traveling has caught up with me. My throat is a little sore, but I expect that in my line of work. I take Ricola tea when it gets too uncomfortable.”

The doctor had been watching Michael’s eyes as he spoke. The famous star was nothing like what he’d expected when he’d received Mr. Nagen’s call. He’d heard and read so many stories, but this was a very normal, somewhat tired, courteous human being he’d been called to attend and his opinion of the man changed in that instant.

Mr. Jackson seemed alert, albeit tired. His blood pressure was a little elevated, but not to the point of concern. His flesh seemed a little clammy, but not to the point of fever. His throat was a little irritated, but not to the point of medicating. The man seemed to be quiet and self-contained, although very thin. As a matter of fact, he would probably describe Mr. Michael Jackson as almost fragile. He found the pallor of Mr. Jackson’s skin disturbing.

“This is not a pale man,” he thought silently. “This is a man whose flesh is nearly transparent.”  Nothing on this earth, at least nothing in his wide experience, could do that to a man’s flesh except disease. “No artificial agent or procedure could possibly produce this utter and total lack of pigment,” he thought.

Slowly, the doctor rose and approached the breakfast tray which stood against the wall near the door. “Have you eaten something, today, Mr. Jackson?” he asked as he pitched an orange in his direction.

Michael caught the orange in one hand without missing a beat and replied, “Yup … some croissants and some juice … orange to be specific,” was Michael’s easy reply as he tossed the orange between his hands, watching the fruit fly between them raptly.

“Well, I can see nothing wrong, Mr. Jackson. You appear to be a very healthy specimen. However, may I make a personal recommendation?”

Michael nodded and smiled at the doctor.

“I would suggest that you spend at least the rest of today and this evening in catching up with yourself. I understand that you travel a lot. This can cause a disruption of your biological clock called ‘jet lag.’ It is not serious and you should be fine as a fiddle by tomorrow. But, if you still feel tired and/or confused tomorrow, extend your confinement for as long as it takes to feel refreshed. Do you understand? We don’t want you becoming more ill or having an accident because of this disruption in your biological rhythms … yes?”

Michael nodded his agreement and spoke quietly while shaking the doctor’s hand. “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell Mr. Mother Hen over here all day. Would you please explain it to him, since he obviously doesn’t believe me?”

Dr. Fouquart nodded and smiled. “Yes, I will explain it to him. And I will, personally, check on you tomorrow, just to be doubly certain that all is well. It is okay, yes?”

His estimation of fragility had changed very rapidly as he had grasped Mr. Jackson’s hand. Thin, yes … definitely … but weak, no. Not even close. He noticed, again, his paleness … pallor unnatural for flesh. One could read the man’s veins as clearly as one would read a roadmap of Paris’s streets.

He understood much more about Mr. Jackson in that moment and a sense of compassion developed with the man. He had borne their criticisms extremely well, considering the trials he lived with.

“Sure,” Michael grinned. “I’ll look forward to it.”

“Mr. Jackson, may I talk to you, personally?” the doctor asked. At Michael’s nod, he continued. “I work here at the hotel during the day, but I also work at a small clinic and I understand from press releases that you enjoy visiting such places. I know I am not explaining this well. Let me start over. There is a small clinic near here. We have twelve beds and they are always filled with sick children. I was wondering if …”

Michael turned to Wayne with an eager look on his face. “We can do this, right? Do we have stuff for the kids?”

Wayne looked surprised as Michael turned toward him. Suddenly his earlier lethargy had been replaced by an enthusiastic animation. “Boss, we can get stuff before we go … but you wanted to enjoy a couple of days of R & R before the tour. Remember?”

Michael rubbed his dimpled chin with his right hand. He nodded slowly, but said quickly, “We can do this. It won’t take long … a couple of hours …”

He turned to the physician who was watching the exchange with his mouth open and his eyes wide. He hadn’t really expected that Michael Jackson would agree to visit his little clinic.

“We’ll be there. What’s today? We could go today,” Michael said eagerly.

“Okay, hold it, boss!” Wayne exclaimed in a gruff, no-nonsense voice. “You’ve just spent the day telling me that you are too tired to go to Disneyland! Disneyland! And now, you want to rush off to a clinic. No way. You are supposed to be resting. We gotta get stuff for the kids. You know what a three-ring circus that is going to be. Not today!! Perhaps, tomorrow. That we can handle. I have time to make the arrangements for everyone. We’ll spend the morning looking for stuff. Then, after lunch … tomorrow … okay?”

Michael looked at Dr. Fouquart. He was nodding at Wayne and noticed Michael turn to him. “Yes, yes! You must rest. Something could happen that you will need your strength … no? It is dangerous … no?”

Michael’s shoulders sagged and a little bit of the light seemed to leave his eyes, but he nodded in agreement. “Okay, tomorrow,” he said as he shook the physician’s hand again.

This was one of the hardest parts about being Michael Jackson. Nothing could be spontaneous, not even a short shopping trip. He could not be impulsive about outings. Layers of security arrangements and backup plans were required to avoid anyone being hurt.

He turned quickly to the doctor. “It would really be a lot better if you didn’t tell anyone, ya know? We can sneak out of here, but it doesn’t usually seem to do much good. They always find me. I don’t mind the fans so much, but the photographers and journalists can be very difficult. Ya know?” he said as he walked back towards the bedroom of the suite, still tossing the orange in the air.

As he closed the door behind him, he allowed his body to sag against it slightly. He heard a short knock.

“We’re leaving and locking the door, boss.”

“Okay, Wayne,” Michael replied tiredly. In moments, he heard the door of the suite close securely.

At the end of the hall, Dr. Fouquart told Wayne that his examination had turned up exactly the symptoms that Mr. Jackson had described so well and requested that Wayne let him rest easily.

“I am very honored that you called me, Mr. Nagen. I had never expected to meet him and that has changed my view of him. He is very pleasant and charming, isn’t he?” At Wayne’s nod, he continued, “One hears so many strange things, but when one actually meets him … well, it changes many things.” When the elevator arrived, the doctor boarded the car with a bemused expression. “Are there any special arrangements I need to make for Mr. Jackson’s visit?”

Wayne snorted. “No, I do all that. I have to keep him safe and he insists that I have to keep all of them safe as well. That’s my job. He has no concept, but there is nothing special that you have to do except keep it on the down low. Once there, he will be safe. It’s just getting him there without being recognized and mobbed or through the crowds, if he is recognized.”

~~

Michael stood inside the door to his bedroom thinking, remembering his short walk through the streets of Paris with Angelique. He was becoming very accustomed to her presence now that he knew about her, but he wasn’t certain about the physical reactions of his unruly body. After all, he was a married man whose wife was about to give birth to his son in California and he was uncomfortable about his all-too-real physical response to this tiny little wisp of an angel who carried him as easily as he carried a child. But her presence was an inestimable comfort to him in his isolation and he valued her … and could not give her up.

“I understand, my dear, and, as always, it is as you will it. We can be sparing in our contact. What we cannot do, at this point, is relegate each other to that special limbo you have seen, half in and half out of this world. You know me, now, and you know that if you speak to me, I will answer. And you know that I love you, that I am always here. You are learning to hear me and feel my presence.

“You can, however, always choose to forget that I am here. Fear and distraction, anxiety and hatred … these emotions will make you feel isolated and alone … apart from me. Those are just your perceptions, though. They do not affect the reality that I am with you. We are ONE.

“Soon you will hear much deeper than you are accustomed to hearing. You will see much deeper than what you are accustomed to seeing.”

Michael sighed contentedly, “Thank you,” he said. “Can we go for another walk? I need to feel the freedom of that again.”

Michael approached the bed, but didn’t see Angelique anywhere. As soon as he touched the sheets, he felt her arms encircle his chest with a bright band of energy. He felt it in his flesh; he felt it in his veins and pulse. It throbbed through his lungs as he breathed and sighed deeply.

“You must sleep, my dear one,” she said softly within his mind. Immediately, she began to hum. Soon, her lone voice seemed to be joined by many other voices and timbres, providing contrapuntal harmonies and syncopated beats. He heard the melody within his mind and remembered to speak his need, “tape recorder,” before he drifted off to sleep.

He found himself alone when he rose from the bed, knowing he was asleep. His body was perfectly relaxed, leaning against a down pillow on the bed, his bare feet seemed to float across the floor, gliding with the grace of a deer.

“Are you here, Angel,” he called in his mind, a slight panic audible in the quavering of his voice.

“You know that I am here, beloved … always,” she replied. “I thought you might like to try this on your own. How many times have you wished to just be able to open a door and exit a building and roam while thinking your own thoughts, hearing your own melody, seeing your own visions?”

Michael laughed. “Too many,” he replied.

“I am here … you are not alone … be free,” Angelique said with a breathlessness to her voice as he heard it in his head. “But, remember, opening a door is not necessary. Just melt through it as we did before. Do you remember?”

Michael moved towards the door and tried to remember how they’d gotten through it previously. As he recalled, he had willed the cells in the door to allow him passage and he tried the same method as he approached. He was not surprised to find that he navigated between the cellular structures of the wood with ease. He used the same method to ambulate the hallway, the doors of the elevator, and the lobby. He willed his passage without incident and it occurred as he willed it.

When he arrived in the lobby of the hotel, he automatically turned to traverse the corridor that led to the kitchen and back entrance of the hotel. He’d become so accustomed to entering and exiting in this manner that it had become second nature. But, he saw the big revolving doors of the lobby and made a beeline for the front entrance of the hotel. He couldn’t remember the last time he had entered or exited a hotel through the lobby. He heard Angelique giggle and smiled in return. He willed the glass revolving doors to allow him passage and found himself out in the shelter of the hotel overhang and facing a sea of people with banners and flags and canteens and sleeping bags and cameras.

Seeing the size of the crowd, Michael almost turned back, but, instead, he squared his shoulders and walked toward it head on. He wondered how he was going to will all of those people to allow him to pass as he had the glass doors when he noticed a small pathway opening up before him in the throng.

As he passed, he noticed that they were of many ages and races all huddled together and all gazing upwards at a balcony that hung precariously on the side of the building. He felt their thoughts. Most of them were tired, having stood vigil since his arrival. Some of them were surrounded by their friends, playing guitars (his songs, of course) or walkmans blaring his voice.

They were very quiet and he wondered what had occurred to quiet their usual boisterousness. When the question registered in his consciousness, he saw a scene playing behind his eyes. A short, bald man carrying a bag had exited only a little while before and had motioned to the crowd with his fingers, “shushing” it very effectively and dramatically, imploring its cooperation in a conspiracy to let him rest. Michael recognized Dr. Fouquart and smiled. His fans were being quiet so that he could rest. How sweet!

This was indicative of his relationship with them. There must have been thousands of people crowded around the street outside of his room, but it was almost hushed. They were talking quietly among themselves and playing boom boxes on low volume.

When he arrived at the outskirts of the throng, he looked behind him and wondered how he had arrived at this point through that sea of people. The passage he had taken had closed again as quickly as he had passed. No trace of his passage was visible, yet here he stood. “Interesting,” he thought.

Michael’s agile, imaginative mind was thoroughly engaged with the whole process of this little walk, something so many in his world took for granted. He could probably count on his two hands the occasions he had experienced when he had been able to just go for a walk outside of his own compound at Neverland … without being mobbed … without Wayne or Bill … without calling ahead to warn everyone of what he was doing … without being photographed. “What joy!” he thought with a little skip in his step.

Even when he wore a disguise, he was usually discovered. They knew his gait, his form so well. It was a little game he played with them. The game’s name was a question. “How long will it take before they notice me?” He enjoyed the game as much as they did. Rarely did he wear a disguise that actually fooled them for very long.

When he really wanted to be unnoticed, he was perfectly capable of doing so. Having absorbed many of the tricks of the artists who had done his makeup for his short films, his insatiable curiosity had insured his attention as they fussed and fumed over his cosmetic makeovers into ghouls and zombies and werewolves. He had learned from them as he had learned from all of his mentors and teachers.

However, when he was visiting a hospital, he would have only a short time to change back into Michael Jackson, so he couldn’t be too elaborate on these outings. The burqa worn by women in the Middle East served these outings very well most of the time. He knew his fans saw through it easily and this was part of the game. It was his signal to them that he had something important to do and they respected the signal. If he was lucky, he would slip by them completely. Wayne would have the car at the kitchen entrance. It wouldn’t be the van; that was too obvious.

Michael walked the streets of Paris, watching the people as they passed him unseeing. Occasionally, he would hear Angelique comment on his thoughts.

“Most people are sleepwalking through the lives they are living, beloved,” he sensed, rather than heard her say. It is a truly beautiful city, but it has its squalid side as do all sprawling metropolises. He was totally unaware that Wayne had peaked in on him, leaving a tray with chicken soup and fruit, some fish and bottled water next to the door as he left.

As Michael walked, the time passed too quickly. Angelique continued to reassure him of her presence, but, for the most part, left him to his thoughts and visions. Occasionally, he became aware of her voice humming and he would dance to the fully orchestrated music his inner conductor produced for his amusement, spinning, kicking, sliding in reckless abandon.

The sights and sounds of the city enthralled him. The scents fascinated his heightened senses as he passed pastry shops and chocolatiers. He was thoroughly enjoying his solitary trek when he heard her voice whisper in his ear.

“It is time to return, beloved. Wayne has tiptoed in to check on you twice. He’s left you some food.”

Michael nodded his agreement and awoke slowly, stretching luxuriously and sinuously in his bed. The bright light of a Parisian dawn bathed his room in a golden glow that perfectly matched his mood. “Angel,” he sighed. “Was this a dream?”

“Hmmm … I imagine to your senses it must feel like a dream, beloved. Perhaps, it is a bit more controlled than a dream. When you dream, you enter a state of heightened awareness similar to what you’ve been experiencing.

“However, in reality, it is what you consider your ordinary life that is the dream. What you’ve just experienced is ultimate reality. You are not your body; you are much, much more than that. This was a form of … I guess your world would call it “out of body travel.” You leave your physical manifestation behind along with all its limitations.

“In this state, you can have a thought, detect an odor or scent, hear a sound and as your attention is drawn, you create what you associate with what draws you. Each individual is unique in the interpretations he or she places upon the events or circumstances surrounding him, so each will experience what he or she creates of the state of heightened awareness. Do you see?”

Michael nodded again. “That’s why some see the same experience as frightening as others interpret as fun?”

“Yes, my dear one … exactly,” she affirmed. “Your perceptions and interpretations of the events that occur create your experience of them.”

“Am I not going to be allowed to see you, my angel?” Michael asked hesitantly. He knew her answer before the words left his mind. “I know … it is as I will it.”

“Yes, my dear … precisely. You are grappling with the question, ‘Will my decision be easier if I don’t see her?’ You have not yet arrived at the answer, therefore, you have chosen. There is a doubt. You are fighting your physical reaction to my presence. May I help you in your battle?”

Michael thought, “Oh … yes … please!” as he nodded, disturbing the soft pillow that he knew was Angelique’s shoulder.

Angelique continued, “What you fight … resist … struggle against … persists, my beloved. In the struggle, you give the very thing you would deny reality. It is much better to move past it. By doing so, you remove its hold on your attention and remember; where you focus your attention determines your experience.

The physical side of your being is in a pitched battle against what you sense in me – the kind of love and companionship you’ve longed for all your life. Yet, you see the physical attraction as a threat to that love, that togetherness as well as your loyalty to your wife. Do not deny it, beloved. Acknowledge it. Be thankful for it. Move past it. Do not let it absorb your attention, your focus.

“You and I share each other in many ways. We drink from the same crystal clear spring of dreams. We have an uncanny knowledge of each other … a sense of each other in the very air we breathe. Our love is so much deeper than the merely physical level to which you are accustomed and which is an illusion. Instead of placing your attention on just our physical relationship, which gives it reality and strength and reinforces your discomfort, see past it to the fathomless depths lying beneath. Do you understand?”

Michael breathed deeply. “Yes, my angel, I understand,” he said as he allowed himself the pleasure of her sight. She sat beside him on the edge of his bed, her beauty and ethereal pallor taking his breath away. “But you could try being a little uglier,” he mused to her joy and loud laughter.

He got up from the bed to grab a bottle of water from the tray Wayne had left beside the suite door. As he drank, he thought about Angelique’s words. He saw logic in them … felt the truth of them all the way to the soles of his feet. He felt the question forming deeply within his psyche. “But how can I change my reactions?”

Angelique’s answer was heard in his heart. “There are several ways, but the most obvious way is to change your perception. Your world interprets nearly all touch as sexual on some level. Teachers are not allowed to hug their charges for fear of being aroused in a physical sense. They are not allowed to comfort or lend strength out of fear of charges of inappropriate behavior.

“In my world, we touch to share in a deeper sense than mere physicality. This is how we share our emotions, memories, dreams. You’ve seen me touch Wayne’s companion as I touch you. Yet, your interpretation when I touch you in the same way is physical. You are not your body; you are a spark of the Eternal One in physical form.

“You can change your perception to not necessarily deny this physical side of yourself, but to see the richness that lies beyond. For your physical reaction is only the tip of the iceberg. Our meaning to each other goes so much deeper. In this way, you experience our relationship on all levels only one of which is physical while enjoying a more holistic approach toward relationship. All relationships, human and angelic, benefit from such an approach and the harvest you reap is far-reaching and long-lasting.

“For example, when you walk into a hospital you see children with terrible diseases, bald heads, and missing limbs. Your world judges this as wrong, sad, and abnormal and teaches the child to see through its eyes. As a result, the child bears the pain of seeing himself as imperfect and impure. He feels judged and found wanting.

“But not you, beloved. What do you see?”

“I see myself and all their dreams reflected in their eyes. I see courage and strength trapped inside fear and weak little bodies. I see beauty ensnared by the world’s judgment of ugliness or unfairness,” Michael responded quietly. “I see babies who’ve not learned yet to see themselves through the judgments of others and who, therefore, know themselves to be unique, special, rare instead of lumped together with thousands of others beneath the label ‘victim.’”

Angelique smiled. “Just so, beloved. It is just such a shift in perception that you require in this matter of relationship.” Angelique held out her hand with a small chuckle and he grasped it. “As I’ve told you, it will be as you will it, but it is important that you see it clearly and define yourself in relation to your perception … in the matter of the children as well as in the matter of our relationship.

“When we touch, both of us feel an exchange of energy that can be clarifying, purifying … or confusing, disturbing. It is your choice how you interpret the exchange and how you use your interpretation in defining yourself.”

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Chapter 4

He stood and leisurely strode to the window to peak out. The irrepressible child within him whispered, “I wanna go again.”

Angelique giggled at his playful side. She’d seen it many times at Disneyland and parks around the world when he rode and rode and rode.

“There isn’t time, beloved. The night has gone and you have some shopping to do. Wayne is a basket case with all the preparations. They’ve barricaded a path for you. And there are some little girls who want to sing for you.”

Michael smiled. “Time to end this lovely dream, in other words,” he thought to himself.

She replied, “The dream, my dear, never ends. It just changes as you walk through the moments of your life.”

“Will you be with me?” he inquired.

Suddenly, the quiet, diminutive little angel jumped up and down in a frenzy. “Michael Joseph Jackson! How many times do I have to tell you? Of course, I am with you. You have never been alone … not for a millisecond, regardless of how alone you have felt. None of your species has ever been alone. Always, we are here. Each of you has watchers and companions and each can have the same relationship that we are beginning to enjoy with a slight shift in perception.” Finally, Angelique’s frantic movements quieted and she sank heavily to the sofa.

Michael couldn’t help himself. He did try, but there was no way on this earth that he could contain his gales of laughter. As he showered and shaved, he and Angelique maintained a running conversation, teasing and laughing and making the routine tasks a game. He applied his makeup in the same spirit. Soon, he was adorned in his customary black jeans, white socks, white t-shirt, black loafers, and tightly-sculpted, torso-hugging, military style jacket. His outfit was guaranteed to shade and shield every inch of his skin except his hands and his eyes from the sun.

His black fedora sat where he’d left it on the table next to the door. His shades were perched atop his hat. He was ready.

Angelique’s gay laughter was a blessing within Michael’s mind. “And you are beautiful, beloved,” she whispered, placing a kiss upon his ear. Michael’s smile was broader than his angular features could contain, lighting his eyes as it passed.

A knock and Wayne’s voice outside the door interrupted the couple’s exchange. He was beginning to become accustomed to communicating with his angel in this manner … by feel almost.

As he opened the door, Wayne nearly gasped in surprise. “You look a lot better, boss. You feel better?” the bodyguard asked.

Michael nodded. “Yeah … lots.”

Wayne, a man of few words, smiled as he said, “Food?”

Michael returned his retainer’s smile. “Food would be good.” As he strode back to sit on the couch, he left the door to the suite slightly ajar and chuckled inwardly. “Wonder what would happen if I told Wayne how I’ve spent the last twenty-four hours walking and talking with an angel?”

Angelique’s voice replied, “Simple! He’d have you back in Neverland before you even knew how it happened. He’d call Elizabeth and Debbie immediately. And they would all determine to cherish you close until you recovered in total discretion.”

“Probably,” he chuckled. “But they have companions. Could they meet their companions?” Michael inquired.

“Oh, yes, beloved, with a shift of perception. But they would need a readiness – an acceptance and embracing of the shift. The first step would be admitting that we companions and watchers exist. This is a major hurdle for your species. Most of you believe in nothing that is not scientifically measured and quantified.

“When the pupil is ready, the teacher is provided. This is one of the Immutable Laws.”

Michael’s curious mind caught the words’ emphasis. “Laws?” he asked.

“Yes, my dear one … laws. The Laws are unbreachable … inviolate. They are Laws of Consequences. If you deplete your ozone layer, cut down your forests, tamper with your soil’s fertility, there are consequences that cannot be avoided.

“Your species complains that the changes in weather patterns are “Acts of God.” Not so. These are the results of the acts of man. God is a victim of bad press. You flood your churches beseeching a vengeful and fearful God to turn his anger from you. She is not angry with you. It is you who have treated the living, breathing earth she entrusted to your care with little compassion. Even She will not suspend the Laws. She created them and they are inviolate. You must reap what you create.”

A tentative knock sounded behind him on the open door of the suite. “Mr. Jackson?” Michael turned to look over his shoulder. “Am I disturbing you?” the doctor asked hesitantly.

“No, doc, come on in,” he replied in a soft voice which was beginning to seem very loud in his own ears as he continued to grow accustomed to his telepathic communication with the pixyish presence that seemed, at the moment, to be inhabiting his left shoulder.

“How are you feeling today?” Dr. Fouquart inquired with concern.

“Great … ready to go,” Michael tossed back as the doctor circled the beige, tufted divan that held one of the most famous human beings on the planet. He still couldn’t believe he’d met him and that he had agreed to visit his babies. There was no doubt in the doctor’s mind that this man embodied a presence and charisma that was undeniable and very tangible if one had the opportunity to contact him directly.

The sharp contrast between this man and the man the world’s media had created which bore the same name made him feel as if he was in a surreal landscape where clocks melted and apples wore hats.

“Do you mind if I examine you, Mr. Jackson?”

“Nope,” Michael averred while sitting up and removing the fitted black jacket that covered his bony frame, cooperating with the physician’s examination fully.

Finally, after the customary, if brief, poking and prodding required by his profession, Dr. Fouquart spoke. “You look much more rested and relaxed, sir. Are you feeling as well?”

Michael’s nod and brightly lit eyes reassured the practitioner that his famous patient had made a full and remarkable recovery.

“Good! So … you are a good patient. You take wise advice well. I am pleased.”

Wayne’s voice accompanied the clatter of a skirted cart into the door. “Hello, Dr. Fouquart. Have you had coffee? The bodyguard tossed an apple towards Michael, while motioning towards the cart for the doctor to help himself. He knew his boss’s disinterest in food, but knew that there were a few things that tempted Michael Jackson – Disneyland, the spontaneous laughter of a child, and pizza headed the list.

“How ‘bout pizza for lunch, MJ?” Wayne asked.

“Yes! With lotsa cheese!” Michael responded with enthusiasm.

“Okay, we’ll tell them on our way out.” The phone jarred the quiet scene. Wayne picked it up and mumbled, “Okay,” a couple of times and turned to his t-shirt clad employer, who was looking for an inconspicuous way of disposing of the apple core that had definitely seen better days.

“MJ,” he said and held up his hand. “Seems they’re ready down there,” he said as he deftly caught the chewed up artifact from his boss’s breakfast. He lifted a bottle of juice, slapping it in turn into Michael’s still outstretched hand.

The doctor marveled at the easy, comfortable exchange between the two men. It was clear to him that employer and employee shared a level of trust as well as companionship.

“Goin to check things out, boss,” Wayne called over his retreating shoulder as he yanked a walkie talkie out of his pocket and left the room. Today, when they left the hotel to shop, they would use the front entrance. An area had been cleared and cordoned off for his boss’s passage and Wayne had no doubt that he would want to shake hands, accept gifts, sign autographs, and hug some of the collected onlookers. He had asked that hotel security be backed up by the city police. He didn’t take chances. He was very good at his job and proud of his track record.

In the years he had accompanied Michael, there had never been a serious injury. Oh, Michael had been knocked to his knees on occasion by overzealous fans who broke through the ranks of guards and police, but comparatively rarely. Sometimes, MJ just took too many chances. He loved to be close to them when he could. In the crushes that surrounded this man’s every movement, anything could happen. He was grateful that it hadn’t.

Wayne checked the elevator that served the rear of the luxurious hotel. Then, on the ground floor, he turned into the hallway that led to the kitchen and laundry and service areas of the building to be certain that all was as it should be. Then, he circumnavigated the lobby, stepping through the front entrance.

When the assembled fans detected his grey-suited form leaving the building, they knew they were in for a treat and their excitement mounted, escaping their throats and lips in a wild roar.

“Michael is coming out!” was the single thought that occupied thousands of minds collected at the front entrance. Wayne paid no attention to their noise, talking quietly to one of the hotel security people and turning to return to the building.

In the meantime, Michael and the French physician engaged in small talk until the doctor said, “Mr. Jackson, I must apologize to you.”

“Hmmm? Apologize? For what?” Michael inquired seriously.

“For half-believing all the nonsense I’ve read over the years. When I received Mr. Nagen’s call, I expected to be attending a monster, with sinister mien and devious motivations.”

Wayne, with his inspection completed, entered the room just as Dr. Fouquart finished. He began to laugh. “Yes, boss. You are very sinister and your motivations are very devious.”

Michael just smiled, saying that the doctor shouldn’t believe anything he reads about him. “I’ve been telling everyone for years, but no one wants to listen to sense or reason.”

Concluding a hurried conversation on the walkie-talkie, Wayne became very serious. “Okay, boss … we’re ready if you are.”

Michael jumped up from the couch, buttoning his snug-fitting jacket in a fluid motion. He headed towards the table resting beneath an ornately carved and gilded mirror. Before putting on his mask, he adjusted his hair in the mirror, but the wisp of curling tendril on his forehead wouldn’t stay in place. It kept blowing around as if a light breeze were playing with it. How odd! There was no …

“Angel!” his thoughts exclaimed.

He saw her face reflected beside his own, her lips puckered to blow the tendril again as she giggled mischievously.

“I love you, Michael Jackson,” she whispered, kissing his left ear. Her arms were crossed below his chin, her head resting comfortably in the crook of his neck.

Michael turned to observe Wayne in the final preparations for their outing. Then, he turned to look at the doctor, who was preparing to leave the suite with them. Each had a bright band of light crossing his chest in an identical position. He hadn’t noticed their companions before, but he saw them now and lifted his right hand to caress hers at about the level of his collarbone. He smiled as he placed his mask over his nose and mouth and settled the hat on his head.

“Okay … let’s get this show on the road!”

~~

“Not too many hugs, today … okay, boss?” Michael heard at his right shoulder as he stepped onto the carpeted concrete outside of the front entrance of the hotel. The reaction of the crowd encamped outside was a wall of sound and motion that almost drowned out the familiar, nearer voice. Michael raised his right hand, index and middle finger extended in a peace sign, and waved at the assembled throng. He walked slowly. A smile lit his deep, dark chocolate eyes.

A sea of arms waved above heads, hands clutching toys and autograph books, pictures and magazines. For a moment, he forgot where he was. In his confusion, he stood center stage, his right hand extended toward heaven, his left covering (but not touching) his crotch, his head thrown back in enormous enjoyment of that moment that belonged to no one else in the world but him.

The recollection of his next stage performance brought an instant smile to every centimeter of his being. He noticed that one hand in the crowd held the latest issue of KING! He’d left his copy of the magazine at home and he approached the woman, using his customary body language which asked the silent question, “Is that for me?” while drawing her eyes into soundless communication punctuated by eye contact that was nearly mesmerizing. She nodded enthusiastically and he motioned for Wayne to accept the gift of the magazine from her hands.

He cautiously approached the front row of the crowd to the right of his path, accepting some autograph books from outstretched hands. As he signed his fluid scrawl, he looked deeply into each pair of eyes, smiling and holding their attention for several heartbeats before moving on.

A small child held out a tiny, hand-sized teddy bear which wore a shirt that read, “I love you.” Briefly, he knelt upon his right knee and motioned for her to come forward. The beautiful little girl ducked her head under the velvet rope barricade and approached and it seemed that the crowd held its collective breath. They saw Michael speaking to the child, but heard nothing. His hands communicated the point of their conversation. Once again, he used his customary gesture to ask if the little gift was for him and the child nodded seriously, holding the toy out for him to accept. He took the tiny plaything from her. Then, glancing at her again, his eyes reflecting his joy in the child, he touched her cheek briefly. The youngster came nearer to encircle his neck within her little arms.

Michael’s right hand embraced the back of her head, holding her to his chest, kissing her blond curls lightly, and closing his eyes for this beautiful moment of communion. When he released her, the little girl turned and walked slowly back to her mother, who waited at the barricade. Michael’s eyes and smile followed her retreating form.

Something interesting caught his attention. Each one of the assembled fans had the same bright band of light crossing his or her chest and a large, vaguely elliptical shape resting on his or her shoulder. But the child was another story.

The little girl’s companion seemed to be vibrating, pulsing with colors and textures. Her companion’s head was alert and looking all around as the child approached him and when she embraced his neck, the two companions … Michael’s and the child’s … touched foreheads. Michael could have sworn he heard laughter resounding all around him.

“Children are very special, beloved, but you’ve always known that. They are more in touch or connected to their spiritual natures. As a result a child’s companion is more vibrant, more alert.”

With a lithe, graceful movement, he rose from his half-kneeling position and continued down the aisle created for his passage. A small children’s choir sang “Heal the World” in French. After applauding the performance, accepting a few more gifts, and hugging two more wildly affectionate fans, Michael boarded the black van, which carried him to one of his favorite toy stores.

He bought up about three times the toys he needed for the clinic visit and returned to the hotel suite, running the same gamut of wildly undulating humanity in reverse to enter the hotel as he had when he had left it.

His eyes were drawn to a small blond who stood surrounded by the jostling crowd, but separate somehow. He approached her slowly, holding her green eyes with his own.

“Is this safe?” he asked within the solitude of his thoughts.

“Oh, yes, dear one,” Angelique replied breathlessly. “I am completely anonymous here, just another fan. No one notices me except you because your sight is becoming more acute and you know exactly what to look for. To these others, they see but do not understand. I am just one of the crowd, nothing special. In one way, beloved, I am just like every one of them. I, too, want a hug,” she said with a broad smile.

Michael wondered what ‘completely anonymous’ would feel like. He had never known that kind of freedom except when he had left his hotel room to wander freely while his body slept.

Michael laughed and the music contained in his laughter cradled Angelique’s heart within a soft cocoon of love and joy. Michael opened his arms for her to wrap her arms around his chest and rest her head against his breastbone. As his arms closed around her, he sighed deeply. As always, even momentary contact with her caused a rush of emotion that he found profoundly satisfying, but some of the edge of frenzied desire seemed to be dissipating as he cradled her head against his chest.

Quietly, Wayne approached the pair and waited for Michael to indicate that he was ready to move on. They had an elaborate set of signals for just such occasions. He hoped the tiny blond woman wouldn’t be difficult about separating from Michael. He really didn’t like to drag them off him as he had been required to do so many times.

“Man, what a life,” he mused, standing behind Michael. Quite frankly, Wayne didn’t know how Michael maintained any semblance of sanity. Hounded, pursued, chased, screamed at, his clothing torn, his flesh scarred by fingernails. The only freedom he had ever known had been behind his sanctuary gates of his homes, if you could call that freedom.

Wayne moved towards Michael’s right shoulder, tapping it gently. Wayne was the practical type and didn’t take into his accounting the freedom Michael found within his heart and his mind … but, most of all … in his music.

The pale, masked figure raised his chin from its resting place, nestled in Angelique’s brilliantly curly locks and nodded briefly toward his bodyguard, his eyes hooded and dreamy. But, before disentangling himself from her embrace, he lifted her face to kiss her cheek very lightly.

Angelique smiled into Michael’s hooded eyes, looked at his retainer, and spoke just loudly enough to be heard in the maelstrom.

“Don’t worry, you won’t have to tear me away.”

Her voice sounded in Wayne’s ears as if there were no cacophony occurring behind, no fans screaming and jostling and crying, no one calling Michael’s name. How odd! The small blond released her hold on his charge, raised Michael’s hand, palm up, and kissed it.

As the two men walked into the lobby of the hotel, Wayne mused out loud, “I wonder how she knew what I was thinking.”

Michael just laughed as they entered the elevator, the doors closing silently behind them.

~~

“I smell pizza,” Michael cried upon entering his suite. As he entered the room, he stripped off his hat and mask and shades and jacket and each, in turn, fell in a heap on the floor. Michael Jackson didn’t even notice. He moved toward the food with single-minded purpose, leaving no one in any doubt of his intentions.

This was the worst part of Wayne’s job; he really hated being this guy’s maid!

“Boss!” The note of reproach in the bodyguard’s tone was unmistakable while he picked up Michael’s discarded clothing and placed them where they were not going to trip him when he got up.

“Huh?” Michael replied while stuffing pizza into his already chewing mouth. Normally, he didn’t feel all that hungry, but he liked pizza. When he was involved in working on a project … whether touring or recording … even pizza couldn’t tempt him. However, he was on vacation for a couple of days and, so far, these had been the most relaxing days he’d spent in a while. He needed to fuel his curiosity. He had about half a million questions he wanted to ask that cute little thing when he was alone with her. It looked like his questions were just going to have to wait.

He continued to wolf down pizza as Dr. Fouquart entered the room, talking quietly with Wayne.

“Am I really cute, my dear,” Michael heard in his head. He reacted by laughing … and choking … and sputtering pizza in every direction. Wiping his mouth with the napkin in his left hand, he continued laughing while surreptitiously glancing towards Wayne and the physician. They were watching him.

Wayne said, “Okay?”

Michael nodded. “Gotta stop inhaling my food.”

Frantically, he thought, “Angel, be good!” She responded with a giggle and a kiss firmly planted on his left ear.

“When do we have to leave for the clinic?” Michael asked. “Do I have an hour?”

Wayne glanced at his watch. “Just, boss.”

“Mr. Jackson,” the doctor interrupted. “Do you think I should examine you again? Tell me how you feel.”

“Feel good,” he reassured the anxious man. “You been spending too much time with my friend, here,” Michael said with a wink and a nod in his bodyguard’s direction. “His mother-henning is rubbing off. You can examine me if you like … and if you hurry … your decision.”

“May I recommend a bit of rest?” Dr. Fouquart asked.

Michael laughed out loud. “My thoughts exactly!” He walked rapidly toward the master bedroom of the suite. Someone had been through here to straighten out the bathroom and the bed was made. Michael liked a nice neat room as well as anyone; he just didn’t want to be involved in keeping it that way. He removed his shoes and sat on the edge of the bed to remove his socks. Then, he loosened the t-shirt from the waistband of his jeans and thought, “Angel, I have lotsa questions. Why was that little girl’s … uh … companion … different from the rest?”

“I told you, beloved … children are much more connected to their companions and watchers. Some of them, actually most of them talk to them all the time. Your world calls them ‘imaginary playmates,’ but there is nothing imaginary about them; they are very real to a child. A child is surprised that his parents and older siblings and teachers can’t see his friend. He considers it odd. Very young children don’t understand the conditioning your society imposes upon its innocents.

“Your little boys are taught that to be a man, you must be ‘macho.’ ‘Real men don’t cry,’ they are told. They are taught by example, the most powerful of tutors, that men don’t show their softer, more sensitive feelings; only their aggression is permitted. This begins when daddy tells them they are too old to hug. For heaven’s sake … no one is EVER too old to hug … the cruelty of it appalls me. The only emotion it is ‘cool’ for them to display is anger. It’s okay to fight as long as you’re the winner. Their artistic, intuitive side is very assuredly buried under mountains of brainwashing.

“Your little girls are taught from the cradle that they will only be a person of worth if they have a husband and 2.7 children. Their role models sleep for hundreds of years until Prince Charming rescues them from their coma, bestowing upon them personhood.

“Many of these babies grow up believing that it is wrong for them to have needs or interests of their own … or time committed to other pursuits than watching over their husbands and families, such as personal growth and development. This is why your families are failing. Your women have not been allowed to plumb their own depths, find their own identities, talents, and interests and fulfill their own potential. If they do pursue such goals, your society judges them as ‘selfish,’ ‘unfit, neglectful mothers,’ or ‘homosexuals.’

“Women don’t know that they are people in their own right. They define themselves by their roles and responsibilities, accepting their society’s judgment, and never realizing the beauty that waits to be expressed and to which only they have been given the key.

“This conditioning is only half intentional today, but in past centuries it was used to control free thought, which was considered dangerous to the general well-being. It is damaging when a woman discovers that she does have thoughts that cry out for expression and looks frantically for a means to express them. She is judged harshly for attempting to define herself by standards other than those it approves by a society which does not tolerate the unusual or talented … and seldom has.”

“Yes, that’s what Debbie says,” Michael averred nodding. “She says she won’t give up what she has gained herself. She’s tired of fulfilling everyone else’s expectations for feminine behavior. She likes riding her Harley. She sees no reason to deny this in herself. She feels free on her Harley and her home is an extension of herself.”

“Yes, beloved … and for her, she is right. Each … man or woman … has his or her own destiny to fulfill. Each has a task to perform; each has a gift given to assist in performing that task; and each has an intuitive voice that will assist in that performance, if he or she would only listen to it. Your wife knows that the traditional view of marriage and family would not work for her … or for you … not because she doesn’t love you … she does, deeply. And she appreciates your willingness to allow her to continue her journey of self-discovery in her own way.

“She courageously insists on her own needs for solitude, freedom, and independence. This she requires for herself. She adamantly opposes giving them up.

“The point is: she shouldn’t have to. Such a sacrifice should never be required by a husband, friend, or society. It is asking its women to give up the search for their souls. Few in your world understand her view and she doesn’t care.

“Conversely, beloved, you must admit in your heart that a woman clinging to you would be limiting. Your life experience has been one of isolation and solitude. This has created within you a feeling of aloneness and the pain it entails. But it has also become one of the major ingredients you have poured into your music and films and performances. You require your independence, freedom and solitude to explore the richness within.

“Both of you are served in this marriage, which, untraditional though it may be judged by outsiders, will benefit both and diminish none.”

“Fifteen minutes, MJ,” Wayne called with a loud rap on the door. “MJ?”

“Yup,” Michael called back loudly. Angelique walked over to collect Michael’s shoes and socks. She handed them to him with a brief embrace and a bright smile. As he bent to place them on his feet, Michael continued speaking with her soundlessly.

“Why do children have to be sick, Angel? Does God make them sick?”

“No!” Angelique exclaimed ferociously. “What kind of God would make a child sick? She allows the child to seek his or her own destiny by following the course each has plotted before entering this physical realm. As I said before, each has a unique thing to create during this life … him or herself. An entering soul creates its own circumstances to most quickly attain that creation.

“Each has made a choice and that choice requires certain circumstances or events. Just as He allows your species to make its choices regarding its use of this beautiful planet’s natural resources, She will not influence your choice one way or the other. She allows you to choose. The natural consequences of the choice you are making is making your planet sick and will, eventually, destroy it. Nonetheless, She will not take that choice out of your hands by violating her own Laws, which govern the seasons and winds and stellar rotations.

“Let me give you an illustration, beloved. One of the children you may see this afternoon may have chosen his or her illness specifically in order to bring you inspiration, to spark your imagination. In this way, the child lives on within your creation, your heart, your music regardless of his physical infirmity. And, in this way, you carry the spirit of this child into forever with you.”

Michael had finished putting on his shoes and socks and tucked his shirt back into the waistband of his jeans. He rose and turned the door knob of a large walk-in closet. Quickly, he grabbed a voluminous black robe and left the room.

Once in the sitting room, he threw his arms through the sleeves of the fitted jacket Wayne held in readiness and buttoned it.

“We sneaking out the back?” he asked Wayne and the bodyguard nodded. “Okay … twenty bucks if they don’t even know I’ve left the hotel … right?” Wayne grinned and nodded.

Wayne chuckled, “I got ya this time, MJ. I got this place wired.”

“We’ll see, Wayne … we’ll see,” Michael laughed.

Wayne turned to peak out the doorway into the hall. He stepped out with a cloak and dagger swagger to make sure that the hall was completely empty … looking right and left. Then, he returned and closed the door. Lifting the walkie-talkie, he spoke softly into it, opened the door again, checked the hall again, and motioned for Michael to follow him.

Dr. Fouquart had a hard time keeping up with the black-cloaked figure that was covered from head to foot in flimsy black fabric that billowed and ballooned as they seemingly flew toward the service elevator at the end of the hall.

Wayne spoke again into the hand-held communication device, “Okay, clear the kitchen and laundry area.”

In a few minutes, the doors of the service elevator opened onto a long corridor with several doors opening off of it. The party flew past in a flurry of billowing black. They moved so fast that anyone who did witness the escape wouldn’t have registered what had happened before they ended up in the back alley and were whisked away in the waiting black car. The car sped off with its blackened windows shielding Michael from being recognized by anyone.

“Well, who gets the twenty bucks, Wayne?” Michael asked with a little leer as he uncovered his face and neck. Wayne shrugged and spoke briefly into the still-active walkie-talkie.

“Looks like I got ya, boss. Nobody seems to be surging in any direction. Watchers tell me that the crowd hasn’t moved.”

Michael tossed the question to the angel he knew was perched beside his left ear.

“Wayne’s right, beloved. You have made a very nifty getaway.”

“Good job, Wayne …” Michael bellowed. “Can ya lend me twenty bucks?”

Wayne just smirked. “Betting with you is no fun, boss. Listen, MJ … the car is going to drop us off in front of the little clinic. It’s not very big and it should be a short sprint to the door. There shouldn’t be a whole lot of people out front or anything, so there shouldn’t be any problem here … unless word got leaked that you would be here. I don’t think anyone followed me when I checked it out yesterday.”

Employer and employee looked at each other and then at Dr. Fouquart who had been sitting quietly and observing the exchange.

“Not from me,” the doctor vowed strongly.

Michael nodded. “Stuff?” he asked simply. Wayne pointed to the trunk of the car.

“We’re almost there, boss … you ready?”

“Yup … let’s do it,” Michael replied gaily.

“Okay … remember MJ … don’t look back … I got ya covered. Just get inside the doors. The photographer is waiting inside,” the strong man spoke nervously as the car pulled up in front of a tall, white washed building.

~~

The man inside the front door stopped adjusting his camera equipment and watched the approaching cavalcade with dark eyes. He was short and stocky and olive-complected. He’d been in this situation many times before and considered himself “on call” anytime this man now approaching the glass doors in a billowing black cloud needed him.

He didn’t know what the man had and he didn’t care. He did know that Michael Jackson was special, somehow. Perhaps, it was just that he had a magnetism that few could deny. Perhaps, it was the way he had of looking through a person when he turned those eyes in his direction. It was a sign of his attention, curiosity, and focus that had carried him through his childhood and had never left him.

“When Michael Jackson places his attention on you, you know you and your response are the only thoughts in his head, regardless of his schedule and pressures,” the photographer mused while holding the door open for the black-enveloped apparition approaching it with two suited figures following closely in his wake.

“Mr. Jackson,” the photographer said.

Michael swept off the cloying fabric of his disguise as he smiled. “Thanks. I’ve told you before, Isaac. My name is Michael or MJ. Mr. Jackson is my father. Now, you know the drill, right? The kids might want photographs. We will give them to them.”

“Yes, sir,” the photographer replied.

Now that Michael was inside, everyone breathed a little sigh of relief. Wayne had just chuckled breathlessly, “I think we did it boss,” when his eyes, busy on a survey of his surroundings, registered a momentary hesitation. “Those two women over there look familiar. They are fans. How in the world did they get here?” he thought.

Slowly, he walked over to talk to them. “Are you supposed to be here?”

The taller of the two, with dark chestnut curls, looked into Wayne’s concerned face openly and honestly.

“You know we won’t bother him, Wayne. At least, you should know that by now. That night in Cleveland we added to his amusement, didn’t we?”

As she’d spoken, a quick movement caught the corner of her eye and she reacted with the precise, economical movement characteristic of one accustomed to working with small children to aid the over-burdened man carrying a ton of toys. It was instinctual. She hadn’t intended what occurred next.

She grabbed for one of the same boxes as one of the other onlookers who had rushed to rescue the falling toys. They caught the box at the same time and as they straightened, their eyes touched and held briefly.

The woman could only think, “Thank you,” repeatedly, her mind aflutter. It was Michael, the man she loved and devoted her life to. Instead of screaming, she smiled broadly.

He returned her smile shyly. He had seen this woman before. He recalled her being pummeled by the crowd in back of her as she had handed him something. Their eyes had met. He couldn’t remember where. He did remember seeing her again. It was at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction … the room down the hall from his suite. She and her friends had sat just inside the open door of their room as he had passed repeatedly to get to the elevator at the opposite end of the hall.

“Hi,” he said.

The woman responded, “Hi, Michael.”

Michael looked at Wayne with a grin and said, “Uh … about that twenty bucks?”

Angelique whispered into his awareness and being alert to any communication from her, regardless of its subtlety, he listened to her soft voice attentively.

“She is one who loves you very much, my dear. Relax and feel with your more highly attuned senses. She wants you to know that you are not alone, an earthly angel, if you like. She wants her presence to comfort you. With her eyes, she tells you all you need to know.”

Michael smiled again at the woman. “I’ve seen you before.”

She nodded. “Many times, Michael. I just want you to know that we are your ‘angels on duty.’”

Michael laughed in response. “Seems to me I’ve heard almost the exact words from another source.”

“Can we help?” the woman asked hesitantly, almost daring to hope that her offer would be accepted.

Dr. Fouquart entered the lobby, catching Wayne’s eye and the bodyguard nodded. He looked in Michael’s direction as Michael’s tentative grip loosened on the toy box they still held opposite sides of.

“Okay,” he said. “Thanks.”

The taller woman motioned to the shorter, still standing against the wall and turned to unload the toy box into the other woman’s hands. “We get to help,” she said quietly, but in the kind of sing-song, high-pitched voice usually reserved for very young children and a broad smile. As she grabbed more toys and followed the man she had followed to the ends of the earth and back. The woman’s heart kept repeating, “Thank you.”

Michael had entered a room to the right. As she approached the door, she watched Michael talking to the child. Then, he drew nearer the bed, holding the youngster’s hand as he spoke. Finally, his hand caressed the child’s bandaged head and walked to the door. He just smiled as he took the top box off the pile that the other woman carried as the tall one with dark chestnut curls looked on. He returned to the room, handing the child the toy. With a final shake of hands, Michael left the room, turning into the hall and into the next room.

The same scene was repeated with all the rooms on one side of the short hallway and two rooms on the other. Michael seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the children, laughing and talking with them very naturally and openly.

Finally, he entered a room in about the middle of the hall. The bed contained a very young child … no more than a year or a year and a half old. Her flesh was discolored from the chemotherapy she’d endured … as was his by disease … and Michael’s heart melted within him. The women watching from the door felt Michael’s affinity for the little girl. She was bald, with big blue eyes and she was kneeling on the bed, playing with the intravenous bag which had a long, snaking tube whose other end was taped to her forearm. The child was watching this pathologically pale man intently, smiling in response to the brightness of his smile.

She was too young to have any idea of the identity of her visitor. The two women heard him ask the nurse, bustling around the room, “What’s her name?”

The nurse quietly answered, “Caitlyn.”

Michael sat in the chair beside Caitlyn. “Hello, Caitlyn,” he said as she watched his face, while still playing with the tubing.

Suddenly, Michael felt Angelique’s thought, “You have a special toy in your pocket, beloved.”

He reached into his right hand pocket and withdrew a tiny, hand-sized teddy bear, dressed in a pink shirt that said, “I love you.”

He smiled and spoke again to Caitlyn, holding out the tiny toy, seeming to speak through the teddy bear, using it as a puppet for his words. The tone of his voice was calming, soothing, playful. The child smiled again.

Michael laughed, continuing his one-sided conversation. “Oh, you are so beautiful when you smile, little one. Do you know how beautiful you are?” his quiet voice asked. He held up his left hand, hiding the toy behind his pale, long, artistically graceful digits. As the teddy bear peaked between his index and middle finger, Michael Jackson, world-renowned recording artist, said, “Peek a boo,” in a high-pitched, squeaky voice. The child laughed out loud.

The two women watched the exchange from the doorway, tears filling their eyes while smiles beamed across their faces. When they returned to their homes, they knew that no one would believe them when they told about this close encounter of the Michael kind, but they felt their lives changing … being uplifted … as a result of what they’d just witnessed within this small French clinic.

Soon, Michael touched Caitlyn’s small, perfect head and she reached out to the pale man for a hug. He ducked his head, allowing her thin arms to close around his neck and holding her gently against his black-clad chest. He knew that Angelique had shared herself with Caitlyn’s companion and grinned with that knowledge.

“Is her companion well, Angel?”

“Oh, yes, Michael. She sings for her to calm her fears and guides her … accompanies her … in fantastic dreams and flights of fantasy. There is always laughter surrounding little Caitlyn,” Angelique stated unequivocally. “She has a very free spirit and great courage.”

On the second floor of the small clinic, they approached a room with its door tightly shut. Michael hesitated and looked at Dr. Fouquart to see if was okay for him to enter. At the physician’s nod, he turned the handle, pushing the door open to peek inside.

Intravenous equipment made small beeping sounds in the room and respirators hummed mechanically.  A small head rested against the pillows.  Mylar tubes ran from the child’s mouth and nose, connected to the breathing apparatus beside the bed and mingling with smaller tubes connected to the child’s pallid hand, resting comfortably on top of the blanket.

The child’s eyes were closed and her body was still. She appeared to be about 7-years-old and very small for her age.

Michael looked at Dr. Fouquart with his eyebrows raised in a silent question. The physician said, “She fell while playing at the playground and hit her head. She’s been like this for two weeks, not stirring, being fed intravenously.”

Nodding, Michael raised his finger to his lips, motioning the doctor to silence. Slowly, he approached the comatose girl and looked down at her in silence. He turned back to Dr. Fouquart and  asked, “What’s her name?”

“Katherine,” he responded.

He turned back to the child, picking up her tiny, fragile-looking hand with his, placing it gently in his other hand and covering it with his left.

“Katherine, this is Michael Jackson.  I know you can hear me where you are.  Listen to me.  Hear the sound of my voice, Kat, and turn back. You’re headed in the wrong direction.  Follow the sound of my voice.”

Michael stopped speaking briefly as the door to the room had opened very silently and two people entered, a man and a woman. Michael released Katherine’s hand and placed it very gently back on the blanket.  He approached the pair and spoke to them very softly.  “The doctor told me about your

daughter.  I hope you don’t mind me coming in to visit her.”

They were stunned to be face-to-face with Michael and very tongue-tied.  “No, we don’t mind.  She’s a big fan of yours,” Katherine’s father replied extending his hand to offer it to Michael.

“Thanks,” he replied, briefly shaking the man’s hand.

Michael returned to the child’s side and placed her tiny hand in his again, stroking her limp fingers with his. “Kat, keep following my voice. Your mom and dad are here with me and they’ve been very concerned.  It seems you’ve kind of lost your way. I think, maybe, if you follow my voice, it will help you get back. Mom, come here and grab hold of my hand.  As a matter of fact, I could use all of your hands linked together.

“Kat, I’m going to ask the nurse to open the curtains so that you can see the light.  Maybe it will guide you back.”

The nurse followed his instructions,  her eyes blinded briefly as the curtains were raised and sunlight flooded the room. returning to grab his outstretched hand.  Soon, she felt the child’s mother’s fingers holding her left hand firmly.  Michael’s voice was so soft that the whirring and beeping of the medical equipment almost drowned it out as he continued talking to the child in a soft, calm voice.

“Kat, I don’t want you to be afraid.  You’re fine, just a little lost. I want you to return the way you came when you wandered away.  If you listen very hard, I know you can hear me and see the sunlight pouring into the room.  Follow the light and my voice, little one.  We’re all waiting for you.”

Everyone within the room was holding his breath except Michael.  He turned to Katherine’s father and said, “My mother’s name is Katherine.  What’s her favorite song?”

Katherine’s father shrugged, but her mother quietly responded, “She loves ‘Heal the World,’ Michael.”

He smiled easily at the child’s mother, “Thank you. Kat, did you hear your mom’s voice.  She’s here with me and she really wants you to come back to her.  Don’t be afraid, little one,” he said as he gently kissed the child’s forehead.

Then, Michael began to sing to her so softly that everyone in the room had to strain to hear his voice.  When he had finished the song, he released the child’s hand and kissed her again.

Michael turned to the child’s parents and said, “Talk to her and sing to her.  She needs a focal point, a loved one’s voice, something to help her to find her way back.  Please call me at my hotel when she comes around.  I’ll come back.” He placed a giant teddy bear on the bed next to Katherine before leaving the room.

~~

The two women followed Michael to the remaining rooms on the second floor. As he approached the door, while hurriedly donning the voluminous black robe that cloaked him from prying eyes, he turned to them.”Thank you for your help with all that stuff.”

“No,” they each responded in unison. Then the taller of the two said, “We were proud to help. We want to help you in your work, Michael. We are your ‘angels on duty.’” He hugged them both. “You will see us again, Michael,” the taller of the two whispered as she embraced him.

“I know,” he laughed, before beginning the short sprint required to achieve his waiting vehicle. As the car pulled away from the curb, the two fans waved. Michael lowered the back window, waving to them with his familiar peace sign gesture. Suddenly, Michael felt a light bite on his left ear.

“My job has been usurped,” Angelique whispered. “I think I am insulted.”

Michael just laughed, feeling charged with the strength and energy of ten men.

 

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March 3, 2019

Angelique

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Chapter Two

When he awoke, Michael found himself alone. The sun had climbed high in the sky, but he was not anxious to abandon his somnolent lethargy. He had slept well, probably better than he had in months. He stretched his long, lean frame and yawned, lying abed, wondering if the woman/angel he’d met last night was a real presence or if he’d dreamed her into existence. Had he manufactured their conversation in his need for just such a companion? Perhaps, he had wished her into his room and into his life as a lonely, frightened child imagines an imaginary playmate who possesses the strength to revenge his hurts.

Finally, he rose from his bed and approached the bathroom to shower and shave and prepare for his day. The water felt refreshing, but he still felt the sensation of that living cascade of comfort he had found in Angelique’s arms, holding him securely against the darkness of the night. He still felt her tender, gentle kiss upon his hair and the easy sway of her body as she rocked him through his sleep.

“I wish I could’ve stayed in that lovely, peaceful dream with you, Angel,” he whispered under his breath while the warm water drenched him from above.

Michael nearly jumped out of his alabaster, vitiligo-piebald skin when he heard a little chuckle reverberating around the shower enclosure. “Dream, my dear? Did you dream?”

Michael stared, his eyes as large as saucers, in every direction to find the source of the laughter, but was unable to find her. “I can’t see you … uh … can you see me?”

“Michael,” she scolded as if speaking to a recalcitrant child, “I told you. It’s not a matter of can’t. It’s a matter of won’t. You’ve allowed the illusion to weave its spell around you again almost more firmly than before. Your brain is telling you that angels are not possible and you are doubting my realness and your own intuition. Therefore, you say, ‘I can’t see you’ when what you really mean is ‘I won’t believe in this fantasy.’

“As for me seeing you, well once again, it’s not a matter of can’t. I won’t invade your privacy. I am very sensitive to your modesty. I will do nothing that would make you feel uncomfortable.”

“Thank you,” Michael murmured. “I appreciate that.” He reached for the terry towel that hung beside the tub enclosure but felt the soft cloth being handed to him before he could pull it from the rack. When he’d finished drying himself, Michael hurriedly pulled on a pair of blue jeans and t-shirt.

“Okay, Angel,” he said, “I’m ready for you now.” He closed his eyes as he murmured, “Come to me, my angel.”

When he opened his eyes again, she stood in front of him, her small, elfin face freckled as before, her green eyes dancing with mirth, her short, blond hair curling in tendrils around her face. She was dressed casually in blue jeans and a t-shirt with his face emblazoned across the chest.

“You are real!” he exclaimed.

“As real as you want me to be, beloved,” she responded. “You are in complete control. You can deny my reality, dooming me to a limbo existence, half in this world and half out; you can ignore your knowledge of me, choose not to hear my voice or feel my kiss; or you can accept my presence and embrace my love, inviting me into your life as a personal companion or friend. It is your will that dictates my relevance to you. And whatever you decide, I will never love you any less.”

Michael smiled with genuine joy into her eyes. “Is this what you really look like? I mean, I had always imagined that angels didn’t really have bodies,” he said.

“Of course, we have bodies much like your bodies. We have hearts and blood and bones. The only difference is that we don’t allow our bodies to rule us. They are not our reality. We accept that our bodies are illusions, but convenient illusions that allow us to experience ourselves as the expression of pure love we were created to be. We realize that our bodies are not who we are; we rule them; they do not rule us. Therefore, our experience of our bodies is different from yours.” Angelique averred vehemently.

“So many in your world think of themselves as only their bodies; they discount their spiritual nature and give it no importance in their daily lives. They spend their lives feeding and clothing their physical selves, letting their spiritual selves starve and go naked. Therefore, they perceive only the physical aspect of life. With just a little care, their spiritual aspect can grow and inform their experiences.

“Angel’s bodies are one big sensory organ. We sense things very strongly, especially joy, happiness, laughter, music. Less harmonious emotions like fear, suspicion, hatred and mistrust are painful to us almost beyond bearing and cause us to ‘turn off’ our sensory apparatus to avoid the pain. We become ‘closed’ to it.

“We see beyond what seems to be to the heart of what is, just as you are seeing now. We do not need to depend on just the sight organ to see; we feel more directly. If I reach out my hand to touch yours, I feel the sweet pressure of your skin beneath my fingertips and in my heart and in the pit of my stomach. The increase in your pulse rate is pleasure to me beyond any words I could describe,” she whispered, matching her actions to her words.

“We are all children of Love … all of us … some of us in this illusory world, others in other dimensions or timelines. But all, humans and angels alike, are born of the same wellspring of eternal, unconditional, unquestioning, passionate Love. Angels were created to serve. My purpose is to serve you, beloved. It is my only reason for existing; it is my joy.”

Michael felt her light touch upon his hand as a soft, cool breeze. “Is it true what you said before … while I was in the shower? You weren’t watching me?”

“Michael, beloved,” Angelique whispered, “Angels can’t lie. We are transparent and we practice transparency in all that we do or say. I can watch over you without invading your privacy. I sense when you want me to be blind. My senses can feel your wellness without my eyes beholding your nakedness. I just ‘turn off’ my visual sense and rely on my other senses to tell me that you are safe.”

Michael became embarrassed and his body felt the warm glow of a flush coming on. “So, you’ve never been tempted … with always being here … all of our closeness … through all the years?”

Angelique threw her head back and laughed. “Now, sweet one,” she answered quickly, “No one said anything about temptation. That happens to all of us … angels and humans alike. We angels weigh our own pleasure against the risks. The discomfort my pleasure could cause you far outweighs any temporary, fleeting pleasure I might experience. I couldn’t love you more if I did succumb to that particular temptation. You are already beautiful to me, my love, beyond anything I have ever known. I do not need to intrude upon your privacy to tell me that. I feel it everywhere … in every way … in every bone of my body … with all my senses.

“Angels are the most sensual of beings. We don’t think about things, analyze them, or break them down into easily categorized segments to make them more digestible. We feel … sense … everything. A word felt in anger causes pain; a word uttered in love causes joy. In this way, we experience and, therefore, we know.

“This is what makes angels different from humans … this tendency to need to understand, logically, the mechanics of life. Angels would rather live it fully than dissect it. Your species tries to gain knowledge from theory, attempting to bypass the only thing that produces true knowledge … experience.”

Suddenly, Michael jumped perceptibly at a loud knock on his door. “Hurry, Angel,” he said, “You’d better hide.”

Angelique just laughed, the gaiety lighting her green eyes from within. “I don’t need to hide, beloved. It’s only Wayne and his companion and Wayne won’t notice me.”

“MJ … boss … are you there?” Wayne called from the hallway with another loud knock that jarred Michael’s consciousness as he opened the door to admit his bodyguard.

Wayne entered the room in a rush. Michael noticed an aura of light enveloping his assistant. It was something he’d never seen before and he didn’t quite know what to make of it. The aura was very bright with a band crossing Wayne’s chest over each shoulder and a large, unformed oval resting on his right.

“I just wanted to check and see if you wanted breakfast before we leave, boss,” Wayne said.

Michael was in a trance as he watched Angelique approach Wayne, calmly resting her forehead against the oval aura for a few seconds. Then she returned to stand beside him.

“Boss?” Wayne said, raising his eyebrows.

“Huh?” Michael answered foggily, focusing his eyes once again on his employee. He really wasn’t all that hungry, but he heard himself responding, “Yeah, breakfast would be good.”

“Everything okay, MJ?” Wayne asked in a concerned voice.

“Great!” Michael exclaimed.

“Okay, I’ll go order the food. Anything particular?” he asked.

“No, but make sure it includes fruit juice and a croissant or two,” Michael chirped with an exaggerated wink. “We are in Paris, ya know.” Gently, he closed the door behind his retreating guard.

“Limbo existence … half in and half out of this world?” he inquired beneath his breath as he turned to face the small, pretty woman standing behind him and reaching out for him.

“Yes, beloved. It’s so sad … so painful …”

“Is there anything I can do to ease your pain?” Michael asked timidly.

She nodded as she approached to stand directly in front of him. “Would you hold me just for a moment?”

Michael closed the gap between them, encircling her small body within his arms as she placed her arms around his neck and her face beneath his chin, sighing deeply and contentedly. “If he only knew …” she murmured softly, her breath warm against his throat.

“Yes,” he agreed, “if he only knew. But, then, most of the world is in the same position – unaware of the love that is theirs for the taking if they could only recognize it and accept it.”

Angelique sighed again. “That’s right, beloved. You’ve just cracked the mystery of the ages. Love is all there is and it is there just waiting to be recognized in the rainbow and sunset. It is the heart of all creation, including human beings. They were created to BE love – to express it, to accept it, to project it into the world by fulfilling their dreams. You have done this with exceptional fortitude in every medium in which you have achieved mastery through diligence and hard work.

“Oh, Michael, I’ve waited so long to feel your arms holding me … to be recognized … to be accepted.”

Michael sighed and whispered, “But, Angel, I’m only human and you feel very, very good to me,” with an embarrassed grin. He reached to remove her arms from his neck, attempting to hide his shame at his unruly physical response to her touch.

Angelique stood aside hesitantly. “Only human?” she said with a note of mild anger. “Being human is nothing to be scoffed at, my love. It should not cause you shame. Your body’s response to my love is a beautiful thing … a thing to be appreciated … a thing to give you joy, not embarrassment. There is no shame unless you manufacture it within your own mind.”

“But, you are an angel,” Michael objected, looking ashamedly away from her eyes.

“Yes, beloved, I am an angel. My love for you is all-inclusive, all-encompassing, all-pervasive, and without limit.”

Michael nodded, but continued, “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be disrespectful … but …”

Angelique placed her hands on her hips in mock seriousness. “Michael, in what way have you been disrespectful to me?” she asked. “Because your body reacted to my closeness; because your blood quickened in your veins and jumped as it felt my breath upon your neck? Could you have controlled any of those reactions?”

He stood quietly, staring at the floor.

Slowly, Angelique lifted his chin with her index finger until he gazed into her eyes. “Could you?”

“No, you are becoming more beautiful to me by the minute. I want to hold you again.”

The light of her smile was nearly blinding. “Yes, my love, that’s what I want, too. But let me conduct a little experiment first. Please let me allow you to sense it as I sense it. Will you put yourself in my hands for a few moments? You must promise to trust me and have absolute faith in my love for you. Can you do that? It may be a little disorienting at first, but I promise that no harm will come to you. I also promise you, beloved, that your experience of pleasure and your appreciation of it will never be the same,” Angelique vowed seriously, extending her right hand toward him.

Michael took her hand gently in his long, tapered fingers, grasping hers firmly.

“Okay?” she asked with a warm smile.

“Okay,” he answered, returning her smile.

With a nod, she moved slowly toward him. “I’m going to touch your brow, now, Michael, like you saw me do with Wayne’s companion. This is how angels share themselves. It’s like Spock’s ‘mind meld’ on the television show. It won’t take long to transfer my feelings and emotions, but it may be a bit disorienting because of the strangeness. Just relax, okay? Don’t fight it. We are making an exchange here. I will sense our embrace as you sense it and as I sense it. So will you. Do you understand?”

Michael nodded mutely as Angelique approached him and he bent so that she could place her forehead against his. Instantly, he felt overwhelmed with joy so intense that he wanted to cry out with the beauty of it. Laughter bubbled up from his soul, forcing its way past his throat and lips, emerging from his mouth in a low, throaty chuckle. Just as suddenly as he had felt it, he was aware that she had stepped away from him, leaving him alone. His isolation tore at his heart.

“Oh!” he cried, “come back, please.”

“I haven’t left you, beloved,” her soft voice responded as if from a great distance as she touched his arm. “Feel with your unaccustomed senses. I am here. Open your eyes. You will see that I am right here. That isolation you feel is the beginning of the return of your human senses, which kicked in as soon as you felt me move away. The joy you felt when our brows touched was the feeling of ecstatic union, which is where you really come from. Your purpose in this and all lifetimes is to re-experience that ecstatic union with all that exists. You do that when you create your music.”

Michael opened his eyes and beheld her standing in front of him, her right hand resting upon his shoulder, her face showing her concern for him.

“Are you okay?” she asked. When he nodded, she said, “It will only last for a few moments, but, now, beloved, you are sensing as an angel senses.”

“Is someone crying?” Michael muttered.

“What you are sensing is someone’s pain. It feels far away to me. If it were nearer, it would increase in intensity and you would feel it much more strongly.”

“Yes, I see what you mean. It does feel … uh … distant,” he agreed. “It’s so sad and so mournful. Is there anything we can do?”

Angelique shook her head, causing her blond, riotous curls to halo around it. “Not at the moment. Your time is nearly up. Please hold me.” Angelique whispered.

Michael opened his arms as she stepped forward to embrace him. Immediately, he felt every nerve ending in his body erupt, synapses firing furiously to keep pace with his rapidly beating heart and racing blood. He felt as if the cells of his skin were hypersensitive and governed by an uncontrollable hunger to join with every corresponding cell in hers.

His arms constricted, pressing her into his body, sensing every hair follicle as it touched his lean frame, softening and molding and melting against him.

“Oh, my sweet lady,” he groaned in wild ecstasy. His breathing was hard and labored, rasping in his throat. His heart beat erratically against his ribcage; his pulse crashing in his veins as waves crash against rocks at the border of an immense, eternal ocean.

He heard her soft, muffled voice as if from a great distance. “This is my love, sweet one.”

Gently, he pulled her head back, gazing deeply into her eyes, his physical senses heightened, enhanced with an entire array of new and unfamiliar sensations. His lips sought hers in a desperate attempt to join them more closely, more passionately. He kissed her … gently, at first, then with more ardor as his body rocked slowly against hers. Moaning one last time, he felt his heart exploding within him, bathing him in a pleasure so intense that his body could not experience it all at once … and he lost consciousness with a deep, guttural groan.

When he came to, he was lying on his bed, his body still tingling in the aftermath of ecstasy, drenched in sweat, his breathing erratic. Angelique was approaching the bed with a wet wash cloth, droplets of water spraying onto the beige carpet, in her haste to bring him back to consciousness of his surroundings.

He smiled openly at her obvious concern for him. She opened her mouth to speak, her eyes wide, glad to see him awake and alert. But Michael spoke first. “Don’t you dare try to apologize. Promise?” he demanded. At her nod, he continued, “I never knew the meaning of the word pleasure until this day. I thought I did, but I was wrong. It is agony and ecstasy so beautiful that it is hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. Did I hurt you when I fell?”

Angelique stopped abruptly, her eyes wide, before continuing towards him. “Michael Joseph Jackson,” she responded in a shocked voice, mirth twinkling in her glendruid eyes. “You shock me! Do you honestly think that I would let you fall?”

Michael looked at her intensely, raising his eyebrows in a silent question.

“I caught you, of course, sweet one, and carried you here. You could have gotten hurt. I can’t allow that to happen on my watch. You have a job to do – a date with HIStory.”

“You carried me?” Michael asked, his voice still shaking from the intensity of his emotion.

“Of course … who else?” she responded. “Don’t let my dainty size fool you, beloved. After all, I am an angel. Besides, you’re not heavy.”

~~

“Boss … MJ … breakfast …” Both Michael and Angelique heard Wayne’s voice, muffled by the closed door of the suite.

“Damn,” Michael swore aloud. “Oops, sorry, Angel. I locked the door.”

Angelique smiled, “Can you get up or are you still too weak?”

Michael responded, shifting his weight to sit up and starting to rise from his prone position. “I’m very shaky, but I think I can do it. Will you help me? he asked shyly, unaccustomed to requiring help of any kind from anyone.

“Of course, Michael. It is my joy to help you in every way. Please stop being embarrassed to ask.” Angelique held her hand out to touch his and Michael felt an infusion of new strength and vitality coursing through his body, calming his shattered nervous system and quieting his blood, which hovered still near the boiling point.

“You are going to have to explain exactly what kind of train just hit me, ya know,” he quipped softly with a huge grin as he crossed the living room of his suite slowly and unbolted the door to admit Wayne with a cart piled high with fruit, juice, and pastries.

“MJ, you’re acting really strange. Are you okay?” Wayne asked.

“Yes, yes … I’m fine,” Michael answered quickly with a weak smile. “Stop mother henning, Wayne. I’m just a little jet lagged. Think I’ll take the day off … rest … ya know?” Grabbing a croissant from the tray of pastries, he chewed it, mumbling, ‘mmm, that’s good.’”

“I’ll go call Steve and have him recommend someone here. You’re really sick when you’re too beat to go to Disneyland,” Wayne exclaimed.

Michael rolled his eyes and said impatiently, “Nonsense. Don’t bother Steve, I’m fine. I’ll just rest and be ready in a couple of hours. Okay? Go get some food.”

He turned and, grabbing his bodyguard’s elbow, walked him to the door of the suite, closing and locking it in his wake. He turned to Angelique and motioned for her hand and she grasped his fingers firmly in her own.

“Okay, little angel, explain what just happened here,” he demanded with a merry twinkle lighting his features.

Angelique put her arm around Michael’s waist and draped his left arm around her shoulders. “I told you, Michael, I let you feel just for a moment how an angel senses. The trouble is your physical arrangement is slightly different from mine. It kinda … uh … crashed. Too much voltage can be dangerous.”

Suddenly, Michael had a thought and he grabbed a small, portable tape recorder that he kept at arm’s length at all times.

“Hold on, little Angel,” he said quietly before speaking into the tape recorder. “2000 Watts,” he murmured before laying down a heavy bass line formed deep in his chest and punctuated with percussive snaps from his mouth and tongue. When he had finished, he blushed.

“Sorry,” he said in an embarrassed tone.

Angelique smiled in response. “Do not apologize, please, Beloved. This is your gift and it is beautiful in my eyes.

“In short, I over-stressed the delicate balance of your nervous system … overloaded your circuits, sort of. You could liken it to increasing the velocity of your vibration too quickly. I’m …”

“Don’t say it. You promised,” Michael reminded her, holding her away from his body gently, but firmly, interrupting the flow of words.

Angelique nodded. “But, Michael, beloved, I should have known that it was too much, too fast. I should have slowed the flow, blocked it, dampened it, and controlled it better. Come and sit down. I’ll bring you something to eat and drink.”

Michael followed the small woman, sitting heavily onto the soft, tufted, beige sofa with a small sigh of relief and accepted another light, fluffy pastry from her hands. “Can you … I mean … do angels eat?” he asked.

She nodded; the light of humor in her eyes had dimmed perceptibly in the knowledge that her eagerness to let him know her had hurt him. It had been foolish and careless of her. “Yes, dear one, we just don’t need to,” she replied.

“Good. Come and eat something with me,” he grinned mischievously. “We’ll talk about it. Maybe, we can figure out a way to control it,” he said taking a bite of the pastry he held in his hand and chewing thoughtfully. Is that possible?”

“Mmhmmm,” Angelique responded after taking a bite of the apple she’d just appropriated from the cart. Juice trickled from the corner of her mouth. Michael caught the droplet before it fell from her chin, smiling openly into her green eyes.

“Good, we’ll try it again later. “Okay?”

“I’m afraid to hurt you again. Do you trust me enough to try again?” Angelique asked hesitantly.

Michael replied with complete trust, “Absolutely. You’re my angel. How could I not trust you?”

“You would have to allow me to examine you to be certain that I’ve done you no permanent damage.” Angelique proposed. “Is that okay?”

Michael’s eyebrows rose in a silent question. “Examine me? Uh … sure … what would I have to do?” he asked.

“Absolutely nothing, beloved; just sit still and I will do the rest,” she said quietly. Angelique closed her eyes briefly as Michael continued eating. Shortly, he heard a muffled whisper, “Thank you, Father!” Then, later, “You’re okay. Nerve endings are a little sensitive, but that’s alright.”

“Good. I told you I was okay. Now, bring the sparkle back into those incredible green eyes, Angel,” Michael demanded, rising to grab a bottle of orange juice from the cart and taking a long drink. When he’d finished, he handed the bottle to Angelique. She, too, took a long drink, passing the nearly empty container back to Michael with a tentative smile.

“Not good enough, Angel,” he said after draining the bottle thoroughly. “You’re going to have to do better than that. You’re punishing yourself for something that couldn’t have been avoided.”

Angelique looked towards Michael’s slim frame, standing closely before her, his right hand extended to help her rise from her sitting position. “Who’s the angel, here, beloved?” she asked, grasping his hand and rising to her feet to stand beside him. “Are you ready, now?”

~~

Slowly, Michael smiled, nodding as he took Angelique’s small, freckled face between his large, elegant palms, resting his brow against hers. He thought, “Slowly, Angel. Give yourself to me slowly … gently …”

Closing his eyes, Michael was enveloped in a deep, prescient peace, heavy with the weight of enormous possibility. He heard the waves crashing against the breakers along a particular stretch of beach in California. He knew the sound well. There was a difference between the music of the surf in Malibu and the sound of the surf anywhere else in the world like the Eastern coast of the United States.

As he thought of the distinct tonal qualities, he heard the Eastern Seaboard crashing in the mist of pre-dawn on the other side of the world, smelled the unmistakable odor of the seaweed- enshrouded shoreline of Maine, felt the cool wind blowing his hair back from his face.

“Hmmm,” he thought quickly, “it feels like I’m there.”

“We are there, beloved,” came a soft, lilting reply echoing in his mind. “There is no here nor there. There is only everywhere, in truth.”

Michael pulled his forehead back, breaking the contact they had formed; but kept his eyes firmly closed. “Physically? Are we there physically?”

“Ah, beloved,” he felt her soft reply in every fiber of his being. “You rely so much on your physical presence.” With a little chuckle, she said, “You want to build Rome in a single moment. What do your senses tell you? You smell the seaweed; you hear the surf and the cry of the seagulls; you feel the cool ocean breeze gently searching through your hair. What you must learn is to trust your senses … both physical and intuitive … and believe that you are there. This is something that your species resists as if life, as you know it, depended on it – because, in truth, it does. Your life and your world would be very different if you could just learn to trust in yourself. Just as a baby bird must learn to believe it is his nature to soar, you must learn to have faith in the wings and muscles you require for flight. This is not learned all at once, in the first lesson.

“Is this a more comfortable speed for you? Can you grasp our exchange more fully at this pace?”

“Yes,” he responded with a sigh. “It’s wonderful. Thank you.”

Gently, with his eyes still closed tightly, he placed his brow against hers, re-establishing the link between them. His attention was drawn to the crowd of fans standing below his balcony. In the same instant, before he could even realize what was happening fully, he was with them, unseen and unrecognized.

He felt the crush of humanity, the cool drizzle beginning to fall threatened to soak them. He sensed their excitement and their concern for him; he felt their love as it caressed his heart; he heard their worried, whispered prayers. “He hasn’t come out. I hope he’s okay. There’s been no sign since last night. Please, God, let him be okay.”

Quickly, Michael disengaged from Angelique’s brow. “They’re worried about me,” he said, releasing her tiny face from his grasp. “I need to go out there.”

Angelique nodded as Michael crossed to the French doors that opened onto his balcony. The deafening roar of thousands of people rushed to greet him as he stepped out, waving and smiling while the throng chanted his name over and over, screaming and waving and blowing kisses. He stood and pointed to a group of about five women, one of whom held a large poster bearing the smiling face of a child. He made eye contact with each one of the group, waving and smiling at them, seeming to recognize them.

Finally, he stepped back, waved, smiling broadly, and disappeared once again into the relative quiet of his suite, leaning heavily against the French doors and closing his eyes wearily.

Angelique touched his shoulder. “They love you very much, dear one,” he heard. “It’s wonderful how you’ve touched them all. Some of them you have touched very deeply while others only superficially; but you’ve touched every one of them in a real, personal, unique way.”

Michael opened his eyes and smiled sadly. “I love them, too, Angel. I wish I could just go out there and be with them. Just to walk among them is my fondest wish, without all the hoopla and screaming and pushing. I hate it when they push and shove and hurt each other.”

“Yes, I know, Michael. I was there,” she whispered softly as she wound her arms around his chest, holding him tightly against his memories of the young girl who had gotten shoved against the plate glass window in a London clothing store so many years ago. She knew how he blamed himself for her injury, relived the terrifying moment when she fell, the large piece of glass slitting her throat, the blood that he’d seen clearly, spurting like a fountain, draining her body in his dreams.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Angelique whispered intensely. “It wasn’t your fault.”

Michael’s voice was husky with horror. “I couldn’t reach her. She was so young. I wanted them to help her, but they wouldn’t listen to me. They couldn’t hear me above all the noise. She died, didn’t she?”

Angelique sighed deeply. “There was nothing you could have done, dear one. You were only 12-years-old. There was nothing you could do.”

“I wish she could have known how …”

“Michael,” Angelique interrupted. “I can make your wish come true, dear one. Join with me. I can’t bear your pain over this episode,” she said, holding his face between her hands and bringing it down to touch her brow.

Instantly, he was back in London. He could hear the screams of the crowd of young people who had mobbed the department store. He felt the jacket he’d been trying on; it had a soft, cuddly collar that he’d rubbed his cheek against repeatedly. He could smell the cold rain, puddling in the street outside the shop and the aftershave Bill had worn that day.

He heard the glass crack, then shatter. The screams and tumult outside grew louder and he felt panic rising, the adrenaline pulsing in his blood stream. He wanted to run to her, but he couldn’t move fast enough. Then, he heard the girl scream, saw her fall against the cracked glass as the crowd surged forward to get closer.

With his new heightened senses, he watched her fall in slow motion, her aura still distinctly resembling the young girl escaped from her body as if the cork stopper had been forcibly removed from a champagne bottle. Briefly, it hovered above the child’s inert body. Then, it approached the young, chocolate-skinned boy, standing in a brown leather jacket with a big fur collar. The light of the aura enfolded him, whispering, “I love you, Michael,” before being lead away by two lovely, less distinct creatures of light … away from the melee in the prominent clothiers.

He heard his own child’s heart-wrenching screams, “Do something! Help her! She’s bleeding!” He felt the young boy’s panic-stricken tears coursing down his face.

Angelique released his face, separating them. “You see, beloved? She loves you. There was nothing you could have done. She was gone almost before you were even aware of the problem. She never blamed you; she always forgave you. Only you have failed to forgive yourself for the incident.”

Michael was surprised to discover that his face was wet with tears. “I’m sorry,” he said, his voice choked with emotion. “That is one of my most horrifying nightmares, but I don’t need to tell you that, do I?”

Angelique smiled up into his deep, liquid eyes, overflowing with the gruesome memory. “You can if you want to, Michael. However, please understand a couple of things about this incident.

“The first is she never blamed you. It is only your own guilt and shame over the incident that has magnified your pain and made it into a powerful tool to be used against you. Fear and guilt and shame are so destructive. They rob you of the joy that is your birthright and separate you from your task, sapping your strength and energy. For years, you’ve harbored your pain over something for which you could not be held responsible. Let it go now, please.

“The second is one that your species shares with you and that is your fear of death. Your species have so feared death that it has built an entire false world on its false premises and beliefs. Death is nothing more than awakening from your dream. It is this physical life which is the illusion. When you awaken to ultimate reality, it is a cause for celebration and rejoicing.

“Now, come back with me to the ocean, beloved. Walk with me,” she sighed, placing her brow against his and transporting them both to the seashore, now fully illuminated by the rising sun. They felt its warmth caressing their skin, heard the gulls calling to their mates, felt the gritty sand on the soles of their feet, heard it crunching as they moved over the seaweed-encrusted shore.

“You see, my dear, it’s all illusion. There are illusions that bring peace and harmony and serenity. There are illusions that evoke fear and guilt and shame and lethargy,” he heard as they walked. “The trick is to choose to recognize, encourage, and believe in the first rather than those which cause you to feel disharmony or discord.  Don’t give them the power to disturb your dreams.”

~~

Michael was engulfed by the sights, sounds, and textures of the sea shore. The gulls circling overhead echoed their plaintive cries against a cotton ball-dappled, azure sky in which a lovely crescent moon was still clearly visible over grey, lichen-strewn rocks. The breeze was cool, sending shivers of goose flesh up and down the length of his body, lifting the tiny hairs on the back of his neck. The sound of the waves breaking against mossy boulders in their paths was a staccato drum beat, nearly his own heartbeat; the bird’s cries provided syncopation while Michael made up the rest of the orchestration.

Soon his body was moving in time with the lovely tapestry of sound he heard, echoing in his natural surroundings and reverberating in his heart and in his head.

Music had always affected him like this. He remembered being a very young child listening to his mother’s washing machine clatter against the wall as she tried to keep up with the never-ending demands of washing and drying clothes for her nine children and husband. The sound had always moved his little body in time to the beat. He had often remarked that he was a “slave to the rhythm” when interviewed. He could not remember a time when he hadn’t danced and sang along with the music on the radio.

He dropped Angelique’s hand, running toward the surf, spinning and twirling while stripping his shoes and socks from his feet in a fluid, graceful hobble. He stopped himself just before removing his pants, remembering Angelique’s presence.

Suddenly, he heard her soft voice, “I am blind, beloved. Do not inhibit your movements because of me. Please, I am here to bring you freedom, not restraint. Even in my blindness, I can feel your joy, your elation. Give yourself to it; it is so beautiful.” Her words washed over his heart.

Michael continued undressing until he stood boldly as Beauty had created him. His pale flesh was fully exposed to the cool ocean-scented breeze, reflecting the warmth of the sun as he whirled and approached the surf with his lithe, agile frame still responding to the natural rhythms echoed within his heart and mind.

As he cavorted in the raging water, he called for her to come and join him. “Come and dance with me, angel,” he bellowed, laughing.

Instantly, she was beside him, standing in the frothing surf.

“Join with me, now, please, beloved,” she whispered as she placed her brow gently against his.

Michael closed his eyes as their brows touched. He felt the cool breeze lifting the microscopic hairs on his arms and legs. Then, warm hands smoothed them back into place. His heightened, extended senses felt her body enveloping his in a warm embrace from knees to neck. His senses told him that she, too, was naked. He felt her breasts pressing against his chest, her hands caressing his back, her breath against the hollow of his throat.

Michael groaned in delirious ecstasy. “Angel,” he breathed into her ear, “do you think this is wise? You feel so warm, so inviting, so beautiful.”

Angelique lifted two fingers to Michael’s lips, following them with a light, fluttery kiss to the corner of his mouth. “This is what I wanted you to feel when I nearly killed you in my eagerness,” she murmured softly. “This is my love, beloved; yet, it is only a dim reflection of the love that created the universe.”

Michael felt her kiss again, soft like the kiss of a butterfly against the flesh of his chest. Each tiny caress increased the temperature of his blood, seething and boiling within his veins. As her lips descended once again to touch his smooth flesh, Michael grabbed the back of her blond head, tilting her face up to capture her lips beneath his own. As their lips met, Michael and Angelique both moaned in wild enjoyment of their contact.

Suddenly, the sound of a thunderous knock brought Michael back to his hotel suite in a rush. He felt as if he’d landed in a crashing descent. Angelique stood nearby, still dressed in her jeans and t-shirt, seeming somewhat befuddled by their precipitous return to what is commonly referred to as reality.

“Whoa …” Michael laughed. “talk about jet lag!”

Angelique giggled uncontrollably and the sound of the knock grew more insistent. “Take a moment, beloved, he thinks you’re asleep, remember?”

Michael nodded, glancing at Angelique, his dark chocolate eyes large in surprise. “We have to talk, Angel,” he said as he turned to open the door. Angelique stood behind Michael and he was surprised to feel her arms go around his shoulders, envisioning them as beautiful, fully-feathered, iridescent wings enfolding his entire body. When he greeted Wayne, he noticed that Wayne’s companion was in exactly the same stance.

“Huh?” Michael groaned, trying and just managing to focus on his chief of security. “What is the problem?”

“Oops … sorry, MJ,” Wayne said. “I just wondered if you needed anything.”

Michael just looked at his bodyguard, lifting his left eyebrow in a questioning gaze. “Wayne … I promise … if I need anything except a break and some rest, I’ll call you. Okay?”

“Okay, MJ … sorry!” Wayne responded as Michael shut the door and bolted it against any further intrusions.

“Angel,” Michael whispered a little breathlessly, lifting his arms to embrace her forearms as they crossed just below his dimpled chin. “Please get around on my other side. I really don’t want to squish you when I land on that couch.”

Angelique giggled merrily and walked around Michael, burying her head beneath his chin, clinging to him for a moment and then, releasing him as he sat heavily on the couch.

“Angel, come here,” he commanded as he helped her to kneel between his legs on the floor and grasped her face between his large, pale, graceful hands. Directing her gaze into his own, he continued, “Listen to me. That was dangerously close. It’s a good thing Wayne didn’t wait a little longer to bring us back in a crash. I’ve never felt such desire, such need, such passion, such pleasure … and certainly not from one tender, beautiful, passionate kiss. I want you too much! I want to take you in my arms …”

“Then take me, beloved,” she responded, kissing his chin, her honest green eyes wide.

“Angel,” Michael exclaimed, “you’re an angel!”

Angelique laughed gaily. “Michael Jackson, do you not understand. This universe was created by love … for love … in love. Love is the law of the universe … of nature … of physics … of gravity … of everything. The Creator is a lover. She wants to be one with her children, wants them to know her as she knows them.

“She gave you joy and you’ve made it into sin. She does not condone lust, although She does understand it. It is the cry of an empty vessel to be filled, the yearning of an empty soul for love. However, was there at any time during our time on the beach a feeling of wrongness or a sense of our sharing not being right for any living entity? Did you give everything to me? Did I relinquish all that I am to you? Were you diminished in any way by my contact or I by yours? Or were you uplifted, your heart fulfilled.”

“Yes, but did you feel the passion, the heat?” Michael asked.

“Michael,” she said with a slight raise of an eyebrow and a secret smile. “Beloved, I felt it … yours and mine as did you, as I promised.”

Michael reached out to hold her in his arms, cuddling her close to his chest. “Oh, Angel … what’re we going to do?”

“As you will, Michael, always,” she responded.  “I can be as relevant to you … as meaningful to you … only in accordance with your will.” Kissing his jaw quickly and rising to her feet, she grabbed his hand. “Now, come, my dear one. You need to rest. Let me hold you as you sleep.”

~~

Ignoring his objections, she pushed him toward the luxurious king sized bed.

“Michael, my love, we have forever. Our souls were joined at our births. Always joined. On the day you were born, I was created to be your helpmate, your companion. We are one.”

One moment she had been standing in front of him, pushing him toward the bed. The next, she was reclining against the pillows of the oversized bed and holding out her arms to embrace him. She giggled lightly as she noticed his mouth, agape at the suddenness of her location. As he lowered himself to a reclining position, she held his body closely against hers and rested her check against his forehead with a kiss.

Again, Michael distinctly envisioned her arms as giant, feather-encrusted and breathtakingly beautiful wings, supporting him from head to toe in love. He smiled in gratitude.

“Thank you for your protection … at the door … Wayne and his companion,” he said.

“Was I protecting you, Michael?” she asked seriously. “I could have sworn I was drawing from your strength and beauty.” She chuckled merrily. “Now, go to sleep, dear one,” she whispered. He was rocked into oblivion by her gentle movements, her crooning voice as she hummed a tune.

Angelique watched as he peacefully fell asleep. She watched as his breath was inhaled and then exhaled; she felt the air explode into his lungs as they, in turn, reached out in their eagerness to embrace the oxygen, sending it on its journey into the bloodstream to nourish each cell it touched. She felt each and every breath, noticed the change in electrical charge in his brain as he began to dream, saw the change of hue in his energy field as his blood quickened.

Instantly, she came alert, feeling for his emotion only to discover that his dream held no danger or fear. Yet, his blood was rushing and his heart beating more furiously with each second. Then she smiled. He was back at the beach, holding her in his arms, two bodies yearning to feel more of each other, straining towards complete union. She felt the trembling in his limbs at her touch and she longed to touch him. She felt the cool ocean breeze, the warmth of the sun-drenched sand, but mostly she felt Michael’s hard, taut sinews touching her body from her cheek to her knees and everywhere in between. She felt his ribs pressing against hers, his hard flat abdomen, his arms holding her more tightly against him.

“Oh, Michael,” Angelique whispered intensely.

“You see, Angel,” she heard him chuckle. “I want you even in my dreams. I need to know your kiss again. I need to feel your silken flesh beneath my fingers again.”

“My need is as great as yours, beloved,” she whispered softly.

He turned in her arms, embracing the back of her head to capture her lips. As their lips touched, they were transported back to the sunny beach on Maine’s rocky coast. Two naked bodies cavorted beneath the water hewn cliffs, touching and kissing and playing with mirth.

Finally, they stopped playing, falling on the sun-drenched sand. Michael rolled to embrace her, lifting himself onto one elbow to gaze into her eyes. He kissed her lips with such exquisite gentleness that she inhaled deeply. As their kiss deepened, Michael felt every cell in his body merging, dancing with its mate in hers. Each nerve ending found its perfect match, sending wave after wave of unbearable pleasure cascading through his body, keeping time with the natural, joyous rhythm they’d heard earlier. Michel groaned with the intensity of his pleasure. Opening his eyes, he discovered that his naked body was totally enclosed in hers; each cell had found its perfect vibration and had joined with it. He had sunk through her almost. He was still fully visible and distinct, but she enveloped him.

Angelique smiled at him, kissing him again. “Michael, look at what we’ve done! We’ve joined our two different bodies in perfect union. Our two different worlds have merged into complete ONENESS. This is as it should be, as it was intended to be, my love.”

But he could no more answer her than he could stop the world’s circumnavigation of the sun. His pleasure was endless. It was as if his entire body danced with the Rhythm of the Spheres. Each tingling nerve, each firing synapse of both of their bodies exploded with joy and discovery, creating a symphony of incredible harmony. His joy was beyond the physical; it encapsulated his mind, his spirit, his emotions.

Suddenly, Angelique became alarmed. “Michael, I have to withdraw from you. Your physical body is becoming distressed. It needs to return to normalcy. Do you understand?”

She became even more alarmed as she began to will them apart. He wasn’t breathing deeply enough. Gently, she disengaged her body from his, slowly and gently separating them into two distinct entities. “Michael, beloved, have I done it again? I was so engrossed in the pleasure of your touch, your kiss. Are you all right?”

Michael’s eyelids fluttered and he squeezed them shut tightly. “Please, never, ever apologize to a man to whom you have given so much pleasure. I’m going to plumb the depths of this if it kills me … and it just might,” he smirked, breathing laboriously as he held her head between his palms and kissed her, winking conspiratorially.

Angelique giggled softly. “Michael, you shameless hedonist!” she exclaimed.

Slowly, Michael felt the chemistry between them change from the over-charged, frantic desire for union to a softer, less frenzied, yet equally exquisitely sensual comfort and tranquility.

He felt each of the feathers in her voluminous wings touching his skin, covering his nakedness from below his chin to the soles of his feet. He reveled, rejoiced in the sensation … suspended, but warm … supported in every curve … behind his knees … the small of his back … the nape of his neck … as if a soft, fluffy cloud lay beneath him … the warmth and beauty of her embrace above him with soft, downy feathers lying gently against every centimeter of flesh.

“Ah, my beloved, do not tempt me,” Angelique whispered in his ear seriously. “You are the most sensitive creature … almost an angel. I want your pleasure so much. Your senses are so alive,” she said as he closed his eyes languidly with a long, drawn-out sigh of peace and contentment. “But I want your health more! Your body must rest … NOW! Do not push it any further, please. You must let it go. I cannot make you rest, beloved, but I can make you painfully comfortable. Feel my love, Michael.”

“If I rest,” he murmured, muffling a yawn against his hand, “will you stay?”

“I am with you, dear one … always,” she said softly. A small change in the velocity of the air movement in the room brought a gentle ruffling of the nearly iridescent feathers, lifting them in turn only to fall gently again over him. His arms and legs were bathed with each tiny rustle of each individual feather. “Let go, dear one. Let your body rest. I promise you will not be sorry,” Angelique vowed earnestly.

Michael felt himself being gently rocked. He wanted to speak, to tell her he couldn’t let go. It felt too good. He wanted to linger, savoring each delicious feather’s movement.

Angelique’s giggle tinkled within his heart. “You are, without a doubt, the most beautifully sensuous creature,” she thought, but said aloud, “Let go, dear one, and come with me. We will leave that part of ourselves behind which is otherwise engaged … in resting, for example … and we will fly. Come.”

She felt his heart rate calm and his breath become deep and even as he drifted off to sleep and smiled. Then, her aura rose from behind him and stood at the side of the bed where his body slept. Holding her hand out to him, she thought, “Will you walk with me?”

Michael saw her, no longer quite as substantial or solid, somehow, holding out her hand and inviting his touch. He felt her desire for him reaching out for him and felt himself pulled … attracted … towards her by an incredible strength. He felt buoyant and free and laughed out loud. Then, he glanced back towards the bed and observed his body lying supine in Angelique’s arms … arms … not wings.

He looked at her quizzically.

Angelique touched his shoulder. “Your senses determine your reality. You felt them, saw them, heard them. They are real.” Turning to face him, she smiled. “Will you come and play with me?”

Michael lifted her chin with his finger. “Yes, Angel. I certainly want to play with you.”

Angelique chuckled gaily. Kissing his jaw, she exclaimed, “Michael! We have to be careful not to wake you! You are still tied to that beautiful body and it still needs to rest.”

“Darn!” he muttered with a sheepish grin.

Hand-in-hand, Michael and Angelique exited the hotel without opening a door. Michael noticed that they seemed to melt between the atoms of the door, for want of a better description, passing between the cells of matter and energy that he knew as the term ‘door,’ down elevators, and into the street outside the hotel entrance.

They waded through the sea of people encamped in vigil beneath his balcony, each of them was guarded by a field of light, surrounding them, engulfing them, and appearing much like the companion he had seen embracing his chief of security. Most of the fields bore little resemblance to any human form. They seemed undefined … out of focus.

“Angel, can we stop a moment?” he inquired.

“Of course, Michael …it is as you will.”

Michael stood for a moment, glancing around at the faces of the throng. “It’s what I’ve always wanted, to be among them, just with them … without all the jumping and screaming. To be an ordinary person … unremarkable … unrecognized … and to share a few moments with them has always been my fondest wish. Ya know?”

Angelique nodded. “Yes, I know. I have sensed your longing for many, many years. I thought you would enjoy this. You are with them, Michael. Be very still.”

Michael stood quietly and felt his senses expanding from his heart, reaching out to touch one of the milling crowd, then another, and another. “I’ve neglected them,” he said. “They’re wondering if I’m alright. And they’re cold … and tired … and hungry.”

“They’re okay, Michael,” Angelique responded, “but you are not. This hopping between worlds is exhausting for your already exhausted physical body … more so than I thought.”

Michael reached his hand out and touched a young girl’s cheek … and watched a smile light her eyes. “She felt my touch, Angel.”

“Yes, Michael, she just doesn’t know what to attribute it to  … the wind … a drop of rain, perhaps. She knows there was no fear, so she smiled,” Angelique said.

Michael thought back trying to remember all the times he had felt a touch … a breeze … a raindrop … or felt a presence … without knowing how or why. Glancing quickly at Angelique, his eyes wide, he knew now that it was the soft whisper of an angel’s caress.

“I’m sorry, Michael, but I love to touch you.” Angelique smiled shyly. “I told you … angels are very tactile beings.”

They continued on, walking untouched and unseen. Michael rejoiced in this new-found freedom. Just strolling like two ordinary people, holding hands with an angel in the streets of Paris. He stopped in front of the window of a record store he’d often shopped at. They were playing “Stranger in Moscow” and it pleased him to see the footage. Nick and his crew had done a wonderful job of trying to match his dream as he’d described it. The film came very close to what he’d wanted to achieve.

Often he found himself in the position of not having exactly the right word at hand to detail the scene or track … or bemoaning the fact that the technology didn’t exist to produce the film he envisioned. However, in the case of “Stranger,” he thought they’d come very close. The slow motion effects conveyed the mood very well and the rain at the end, washing them all clean, drenching them in hope. “Yes, indeed, it worked very well,” he thought to himself.

Angelique rested her hand against his shoulder. “Wayne is coming to awaken you, dear one,” she said softly, not wanting to end his roaming free of his usual limitations, but needing to warn him.

Michael nodded and grinned. “Thank you,” he whispered. “This has been wonderful.” He drew her closer to kiss her and as their lips touched, Michael found himself reaching for her in the bed in his hotel suite, the sound of Wayne’s impatient knock nearly splitting his eardrums. He cringed against the sound, huddling closer to Angelique’s small form for a moment before grinning broadly and rising from her arms.

“Flight with you is beyond my wildest dreams, my angel,” he said, returning to kiss her soundly. “But the landings … let’s work on those landings.”

Angelique laughed out loud. The joy of the sound was almost more than Michael could bear.

 

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Installment 116

February 24, 2019

For several weeks, now, we have all been dealt serious blows coming from many different quarters. We have all been buffeted by the winds of fear. We fear not just for our Beloved’s family due to renewed threats to his legacy, but also for our country’s political stability in a time of  unstable administration, extreme climactic conditions – from flooding in California to snow in the northwest and Las Vegas (for heaven’s sake) as well as the northeast. It feels like we are being victimized by a many-pronged attack and we bounce from fear to stability with dizzying rapidity.

In addition, I have been toying with an idea for many weeks, but hesitating to implement it, because I didn’t want my regular readers to think that I was minimizing any of the above fear-causing situations. Then, this morning, one of the first things I saw in my social media was the following advice:

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I am taking it as a message from the universe.

I, for one, need an imaginary interlude. However, this imaginary interlude is going to be a little different from previous ones.

In previous Conversations, many of my regular readers have read brief allusions to a story I wrote nearly twenty-five years ago entitled Angelique, penned during a time of extreme challenge to our Beloved’s legacy shortly after the 1993 allegations, but have never really been introduced to her.

That is about to change. The writing of this story offered me comfort at a time when comfort was fairly hard to come by; removing my focus from the fear and redirecting it to a more healing state of mind. It has been updated periodically and has continued to comfort me in each of the successive crises, when the same kind of accusations were being wielded by the journalistic profession, during our Beloved Michael’s trial and transition, and during the trial of the man responsible for that transition.

It is my prayer that, once again, Angelique will distract me and all of us from all the things that are causing us to worry and fret and redirect our power to love and healing, despite the world’s best efforts to divert us from our goal.

So, fasten your seat belts, readers. “We’re on a mission for the Everlasting Light that shines … a revelation of the true enchantment of our minds.”

I invite you to meet

Angelique

Chapter One

Michael sat quietly in the Concorde as it winged its way towards Paris. His discomfort at flying, a cross he had borne for much of his life, was somewhat relieved by the shorter, near-the-speed-of-sound flight of the sleek, streamlined, heavy-nosed airplane. The seats around his in the spacious, first-class cabin were occupied by his entourage to avoid his being hassled by autograph-seekers and Michael’s thoughts were chaotic.

He was excited to finally be heading towards his lifetime’s ultimate destination, the stage that was even now being erected in Prague and whose caravan of semi-trailers should have arrived in Budapest. He gave a moment’s thought to hoping it was going according to plan back on the ground, then shrugged dispassionately. After all, there was little he could do about it now. He had to rely on his road crew, most of whom had collaborated with him before and knew how involved he liked to remain in all aspects of his stage shows.

With Michael’s anticipation and excitement, however, memories of crushing humiliation and defeat, paralyzing degradation and unbearable pain battled to claim his attention. His last tour, cut short due to his illness over accusations of inappropriate behavior and a resulting addiction to pharmaceuticals prescribed to relieve pain from yet another reconstructive surgery on his scalp, still caused a raw ache at the back of his throat and gnawed in the pit of his stomach. It was at moments of quiet rest, like this one, that the pain seemed fresh, the wound newly-inflicted.

It had not surprised him that Evan Chandler had made good on his promise to proceed against him. He had threatened Michael in front of witnesses when Michael had refused to bow to his undisguised extortion. After all, Michael had always known that Chandler wanted to profit from his son’s relationship with the most famous and, arguably, the wealthiest musical artist on the planet, especially after he had demanded that Michael expand his home and go into partnership with him. He had used his son, Michael’s friend, as leverage.

It had also not surprised Michael when the father of the boy had abandoned his pursuit when his insurance carrier had paid Chandler over Michael’s adamant objections. Chandler was a greedy man, anxious to become a power-broker in Hollywood, sell his screen play and escape his pedestrian life as a dentist. However, it still baffled Michael that any father concerned with his son’s welfare would brand his son as a ‘victim’ for the rest of his life for monetary gain. Nonetheless, that was what had happened.

Sitting in the huge jumbo-jet, Michael spared a moment to pray that Jordy was okay and that he hadn’t been hurt or abused in the ensuing years. He did not know how the boy had been coerced into lying about their friendship, but he was absolutely certain that he had been coerced. He had no doubt that Jordy knew the truth. He didn’t blame Jordy; he had always known that the elder Chandler had instigated the 13-months of hell he had endured.

What had shocked and dismayed Michael was the press’s eagerness to try him in the court of public opinion without due process by publishing the scandalous accusations made against him without further investigation. The media’s zeal and almost gleeful condemnation of him in the wake of Chandler’s allegations had very nearly destroyed him. Its willingness to pay huge sums to anyone who would speak against him, admitting that it knew that it was all lies in the Public Television Frontline special entitled Tabloid Truth: The Michael Jackson Scandal and its callous disregard for the lives it was trashing in the process still had serious repercussions.

He had never wanted to believe that such evil and vindictiveness existed. Even after three years, the entire episode brought tears to his eyes and he had to clear his throat against the sob that threatened to escape.

Wayne, his personal bodyguard and assistant, sat next to him in the aisle seat. Michael missed Bill Bray, who had been with him since his earliest days in show business, having been hired by Motown. Bill had always been more of a father to him than his own father had been, accompanying him on all his tours and providing security and companionship when he was at home. He had grown old in Michael’s service

Wayne who had replaced his old friend, was not quite as comfortable a companion as the grizzled old policeman had been, but Bill had trained him well and Wayne had quickly become Bill’s choice to replace him in Michael’s entourage when he retired. Now, Wayne coughed and removed his seat belt, mumbling something about “stretching his legs,” and vacated the aisle seat. Michael barely heard him as he left, so lost was he in thought.

Almost immediately, Michael felt a presence sliding into the empty seat beside him.

“I thought you were gonna stretch?” Michael asked as he turned to face the seat. He was taken aback to find that it was occupied by a small, freckled, pixyish face, scrubbed squeaky clean.

The woman smiled shyly up at him, exposing pearly-white, straight teeth.

“I’m sorry,” he said kindly, “this seat is taken.”

“I know, Michael,” the young lady replied in a soft, slightly lilting voice. “I’ll only be here for a moment. I just wanted you to know that I am here and that you are not alone this time.” She reached out her left hand, turning slightly in the seat, to caress the long, tapered fingers resting comfortably on the armrest. At the instant of her touch, Michael felt an odd sensation – warmth and comfort washed over him. “You weren’t then, either, but if you need me, I’ll know and I’ll be here. Okay?”

Michael was a little dismayed by her speech, but found no artifice in her manner. Her honest, green eyes twinkled with suppressed laughter and her smile broadened at his examination.

“You have nothing to fear from me, Michael,” she whispered urgently, but with a wink. “Do not be alarmed.”

He didn’t understand his readiness to trust her. His life experience had not made him anxious to trust strangers. They included being stalked, sued, chased, betrayed, and injured by them; but, for some inexplicable reason, he did. He nodded slightly and said, “Thanks.” Then, he turned to look out the window of the plane. When he turned his attention once again to the aisle seat, Wayne was bending his tall, lean frame to sit, resuming his easy perusal of the magazine he’d been reading.

Michael looked around, even standing for a moment, to find the young, elfin girl who had touched his hand only a moment before.

“Where’d she go?” he asked, puzzled by the speed and thoroughness of her departure.

“Who?” was Wayne’s surprised response.

“The lady who sat in your seat while you were gone.”

Wayne just shook his head. “I didn’t see any lady. Who was she? Did she bother you, MJ?”

“No, not really. She was very nice … had a beautiful smile … blond … green eyes … lots of freckles … kinda pretty in a way,” Michael responded.

Wayne just shrugged. “Sorry, MJ, I didn’t see anyone.”

Michael leaned back in his seat, only slightly alarmed at the suddenness of her disappearance, and rested his head against the headrest, closing his eyes. Now, what had he been thinking about before the lady’s arrival? He couldn’t quite remember. “Oh, well,” he thought, “couldn’t have been very important.”

When the giant plane landed in Paris, Michael debarked surrounded by his people. A large crowd mobbed the airport terminal, screaming and chanting his name. In the midst of the chaos, he quickly glanced around searching for the passenger he’d met so briefly during his flight, but was unable to locate her among the disembarking passengers or in the milling throng of fans awaiting his arrival.

The next few hours passed quickly as his entourage dealt with customs checks and he approached the waiting fans to accept gifts and sign autographs, finally boarding the cavalcade that had been hired to escort him to his hotel room at Euro-Disney.

The ride to the hotel was, as usual, tortuous; his driver had to drive excruciatingly slowly to avoid hurting the thronging fans who made any normal speed impossible. They clutched at the door handles, some of them being dragged by the slowly moving vehicle, ran along both sides of the car, and stood too close to the moving cavalcade for his comfort and he said a silent prayer that none of them would be hurt in the maelstrom that ensued every time he left his sprawling ranch.

He could not remember a time when his life had been any different. Since he was just out of toddlerhood, he had been one of the most popular entertainers in the world. His view of life had been limited to hotel suites and moving vehicles, screaming fans, recording studios, film sets, and award shows. He recognized that his had been an extraordinary life, and he was grateful, but he often longed for the freedom of normalcy. Anonymity was a luxury he could not buy, one which most of the world took for granted.

Hopefully, he would get a chance to relax a little in the next few days. He was booked to spend a couple of days at the enchanting reminder of innocent wonder that he enjoyed more than any other place on Earth. No matter which continent – North America, Japan, or Europe – the Disney theme parks attracted him as the metallic needle of a compass is drawn irresistibly toward the North Pole. He could no more fight this attraction than he could dream away the world’s many problems by himself. He recognized it and was grateful for the park attraction’s ability to distract him from his many cares and trials.

Michael entered the Sleeping Beauty Suite, his ears still ringing from the thunderous acclaim of his fans stationed below his balcony and chanting for him to show himself at the window. After appeasing their never-ending hunger for his presence, he re-entered the luxurious suite to settle in for the night. He had some phone calls to make – to check on the progress being made in Prague and Budapest.

~~~

It wasn’t until much later in the evening that Michael had some quiet time to contemplate the strangeness of his momentary encounter with the young lady in the plane. Her soft voice returned to him after his last visit with his fans. The fact that she’d seemed to know what he’d been thinking was borne out by her words, “You are not alone this time … you weren’t then either.” She seemed to have read his thoughts as easily as Wayne read his magazine. The timid smile and the suppressed laughter in her eyes had, somehow, seemed almost familiar, completely disarming him. Her soft touch had flooded him with a sense of peace, comfort and well-being. The fact that she’d disappeared so quickly and thoroughly, leaving behind no trace – not even a scent – was puzzling, but not frightening.

Michael decided on the spur of the moment to step one last time onto the balcony to say goodnight to his friends encamped below his balustrade. There were so many times – times like this one – when he wanted so badly to go out there and just talk to them … to be with them … to learn of them and for them to learn of him. He knew that this was impossible, that someone might get hurt if he suddenly appeared in their midst, but he so longed to have that human contact.

His life, from the time he was little more than a baby, had consisted of being a literal prisoner in the many luxurious hotel suites he had occupied during his travels. Any excursion, even the simplest shopping trip, required detailed planning and security measures usually deployed for visiting royalty or the presidents of large countries or the pope.

Only on his sprawling ranch was he free to open his door and just take a leisurely stroll among the riotously-planted gardens or ride a four-wheeler on the many mountain tracks that surrounded his home. This was an aspect of his life that often caused him distress and his almost total isolation tore at his heart.

He knew that there were few who had faith in his relationship with his followers, but it mattered very little to him. He knew how he felt about them. They were his anchor in the tides of life that threatened to engulf him and his love for them and gratitude to them was real and very intense.

He also knew how they felt about him; their love was just as intense. Somehow, they felt his care for them and showed their care for him in many ways, particularly by being peaceful revelers for the most part. Few of them were seriously injured in the crushes towards the many stages he mounted. They entered and exited in as orderly a manner as possible, considering the massive crowds packed into the stadiums he played. Few were trampled in haste. Considering his attendance-record-breaking audiences, this was an amazing feat.

When Michael opened the French doors leading to the small balcony, the chanting and screaming rose to an eardrum-splitting crescendo, nearly bringing tears to his eyes. The crowd surged forward, crushing those in the front row against the barricades, to be nearer to him as he waved and blew kisses to them, all of them jumping and waving and screaming in concert. He always found the undulating, pulsing mass of humanity amazing.

Suddenly, his eyes were drawn to one small corner. One young lady was standing stock still. She was silent, but watching him with glowing, proud, laughing eyes. She had short, curly hair and pale, freckled flesh. She was dressed in comfortable blue jeans and wore a shirt that read, “My boss is a Jewish carpenter.” She occupied a small corner, directly in front of his balcony and about twenty feet below where he stood and her stillness seemed to spotlight her in the crowd. Her fellow-revelers calmly and easily allowed her that space, which appeared to be the calm at the center of a hurricane.

Michael bellowed, “There she is! There she is!” until Wayne heard him in his adjacent room and opened his balcony door.

He was incensed. “You’re not supposed to open that door unless I’m with you, MJ. What’re you doing?”

Michael glanced quickly toward Wayne and bellowed again, “There she is!” and pointed to the diminutive little blond standing just below his balcony.

Wayne just raised his eyebrows quizzically and shrugged his shoulders. “There who is?”

“The lady from the plane, Wayne! Please ask her to come up,” Michael pleaded.

“Now? MJ, do you know what time it is? You’re not serious!” Wayne exclaimed.

“Now! Wayne! Right now, please!” was Michael’s earnest reply as Wayne turned, mumbling the entire way downstairs. The thought ran through his head that his employer had finally snapped that distributor cap he called a brain.

“He’s flipped! That’s all – flipped!” Wayne muttered as he alighted on the ground floor and approached the doors leading into the melee below Michael’s balcony.

In the meantime, Michael pointed again at the young lady, waving repeatedly. She finally lifted two fingers of her right hand to her lips, kissed them and blew him a kiss, her smile huge and her eyes luminous with pride and love. Michael motioned for her to come to him and she shook her head. So, he motioned again and continued motioning to her until Wayne arrived below his balcony.

Wayne looked up and raised his hands as if to ask, “Which one?” Michael pointed directly behind Wayne, but when Wayne turned around, the young lady was gone. Poof! Just disappeared.  Michael’s face fell in disappointment and tears began to form in his eyes.

“Oh,” he exclaimed, as if he’d just taken a heavy-handed blow to his midsection. “Where’d she go?” he bellowed to Wayne. When Wayne shrugged, he yelled again, “See if you can find her.”

Wayne just turned to stare openmouthed at his seemingly demented employer. He motioned behind him with one arm, then the other as if saying, “Look at this crowd. How am I supposed to find one girl in this crowd? Are you nuts?” and started back toward the hotel entrance. It took him about five minutes to arrive outside of Michael’s door. He knocked.

Michael opened the door, rushing to speak. “I know … I know … I’m sorry … that was unfair … go back to bed.”

“You okay?” Wayne asked in a concerned tone.

Michael nodded noncommittally.

“Sure?”

“Yes,” Michael averred. “Very sure. I’m sorry for rousting you like that, but I thought it was the lady I told you about on the Concorde. In fact, I’m sure it was. She has a very irritating habit of just disappearing on me, though. Thing like that could drive a person crazy.”

“Yeah … well try to get some sleep … okay, boss?” Wayne said.

“Yeah,” was Michael’s only reply.

Michael’s famous insomnia, fueled by vitiligo, Lupus, hopping between time zones, as well as his anxiety over his impending months-long, multi-city tour and its preparations kept him awake for another couple of hours, during which he was a virtual prisoner in his opulently-appointed hotel suite. He didn’t even feel he could go to the window and look out at the theme park because it would, undoubtedly, awaken another storm of screaming from his followers encamped below. Finally, he fell into a fitful sleep with visions of a small, pixyish face dancing in his head.

Later, Angelique stood beside the bed in which Michael had fallen deeply asleep and smiled her irrepressible smile. He was so beautiful in repose that his features made her heart smile at the same time they made her knees weak. She had fallen deeply and irrevocably in love with him – a thing nearly unheard of among her kind in the hundreds of generations since their creation – but Angelique refused to feel regret for an occurrence that gave her such unbelievable pleasure.

She had first met him on the day he was conceived and her first sight of his face had sealed her fate. She had been destined, created to be his companion through life, easing his journeys through the twisted alleyways of this earthly illusion and beyond. She had shared every childhood disease and each of his innocent dreams. She had witnessed his fears and the terror and trauma they caused, laughed with him during his times of joy and wonder.

She belonged to him more than he could ever understand and he belonged to her, was her responsibility. She loved him more than a mother loves her son or a wife her husband. His pain pierced her heart; his laughter lit her eyes with joy. His dreams were carried on the wings of her hope and faith; his fear shook her universe. It was meant to be.

She worked for LOVE – not love in the human, frail, selfish way that humans understood it – but LOVE as her boss understood it … never-ending, ever fresh, and always faithful but always willing to let the beloved soar freely and without bounds. Love for the sake of the beloved … never counting the cost … passionately seeking union beyond any that this physical dimension could comprehend.

She knew that Michael suspected her true nature and this did not frighten her. She wanted him to know her, to be comforted by her presence, to be uplifted by the purity and beauty of her love. She bent down to trace the intricate lace tracery of the blue veins clearly visible on the back of his right hand resting near his face on the pillow and throbbing with life beneath her fingertips. The softness of her caress awoke Michael and he turned on his back to peer into the darkness surrounding his bed.

“I know you’re there. I can feel your presence. Please show yourself, Angel,” he murmured beneath his breath as his body stilled, awaiting her response.

“Yes, Beloved, I am here always,” Angelique whispered into the darkness. “But your body is exhausted and requires rest and the nourishment and nurturance of dreams to perform at peak efficiency.”

Michael smiled shyly and Angelique felt his smile to the soles of her feet. “I promise to rest, Angel, but only if you show yourself. Please?”

Chuckling under her breath, Angelique began to explain. “Michael, my love, it is you who controls my physicality or lack thereof. I do not materialize and dematerialize like a ghost. You must know that I am here. You must believe your physical sense of sight perceives me and it will perceive me. You must believe that your ears can hear my voice, that your hand can reach out and touch mine for it to happen.

“In your world, you rise from your bed knowing that the floor will be there to support your weight, that the bed is soft and inviting, that the walls and windows separate you from the rest of the world, that the sun exists to bathe you in its warmth and light. There is no doubt, no question. These things exist at your pleasure. Your knowledge of them is so sure that you don’t even think of the possibility that you will rise and fall through the floor … or sink between the molecules and atoms of the mattress … or pass between the empty space that separates the atoms in the universe you think of as ‘the door.’

“Your knowledge is based upon your experience and the experiences of generations of humans from the beginning of time. It is this knowledge that has built the world you live in, your reality, but as everything you see and hear before you, it is an illusion.

“Nonetheless, it is this surety you need to invest in reality. The same surety is required to invest me with that reality.

“You are in charge. I am at your service. You must invite me into your life.

“You have been conditioned through countless generations to see and believe only in the material side of life … to ignore the spiritual side of yourself, of your beautiful earth, of your universe. You must break through that conditioning for it to release you from its spell, which is very strong.

“The only way to break through that conditioning is for you to know that I am always here – and trust in that knowledge – with the same kind of certainty that you know the floor will support your weight. You must focus your attention like a laser beam on that knowledge. Your focus – how you direct your attention –reinforces and strengthens the illusion you perceive around you.  When you focus your attention on perceiving me and hearing my voice, it releases you from the spell cast by what you call reality.  Only you can do that; I can’t do it for you, my beloved.”

Michael closed his eyes wearily to contemplate her words. When he opened them again, he beheld her form standing in the enveloping darkness beside his bed. Her short, curly, blond hair reflected golden highlights from the lights outside the window, twinkling in the semi-darkness like tiny stars. Her body was in shadow.

Michael reached his hand out to touch hers softly. “Yes, I see now,” he said with a broad smile. “Will you sit beside me and talk to me?” he asked hesitantly.

“Of course, there is nothing that would please me more, beloved,” she answered as she lowered herself onto the edge of the bed.

“Tell me about yourself, Angel. I want to understand how this is possible. I need your reassurance that I have not gone completely and irretrievably crazy; but I don’t feel like I’ve gone crazy. Is that a bad sign?” Michael whispered.

Angelique giggled and exclaimed, “Of course, you’re not crazy. It’s the rest of the world that’s crazy. You are beautiful. You have never been anything less than beautiful.

“You are unique in the world because you have remained open to the beauty of magic and you have allowed yourself to be used as a clear channel for that beauty to express Herself in this world of illusions. You have not allowed all your possessions to possess you; you have not allowed the world’s conditioning to control your thoughts or define who you are and what is possible. Your flights of fantasy have always given credence to the enchanted, unexplained and unexplainable side of life. You are one who sees infinity in the smallest detail, beauty in the midst of suffering, and who tries to instill the truth of ultimate reality into the illusions of everyday life.”

Michael’s red-rimmed, exhaustion-filled eyes examined every minute detail of her face in the dim light pouring through his window. Her smile was radiant as he lifted his finger to touch her cheek almost fearfully, as if he expected her to vanish at this gentle caress. “How long …?” he asked.

“How long, Michael? Oh, you mean how long have I been here?” she asked as he nodded weakly. “Not long and very long. I knew you before you were born and have been with you every step of the way since. I will continue with you from now until forever. I am your companion.”

Michael yawned hugely. “Companion?” he managed to squeak.

Angelique rested her hands upon his shoulders and pushed him into a fully-reclined position. “Yes, companion, my dear. Each of your species has a companion. The word has had many meanings: friend, lover, spouse. We are wed, but for clarity we will call it bonded. We are ONE. You and I have been together since time began and will continue together until there is no time. For, time, too, is an illusion. Haven’t you noticed how each of your days can last for eons and eons can be contained within a single heartbeat? Like most things in this earthly illusion, it all depends on how you perceive and experience it.”

Stifling another huge yawn, Michael relaxed his body posture, wriggling his shoulders and settling back into the nest formed by his pillows and mattress. Nodding he agreed, “Yes, that is a mystery, but why now?”

Angelique smiled – a smile lit by a torch of love so strong that it stole her breath from her body. “Give in to me, Michael. Your curiosity is so endearing, but it must not be allowed to jeopardize your health. You are needed. And I am here. I will explain, sweet one, but you must promise to rest. I will tell you a little story.”

His weary eyes lit briefly with merriment as he nodded his agreement to her terms. “I promise if you will rest with me. If you sit beside me, I feel uncomfortable, like I should sit up with you. Will you … I mean … this is so embarrassing … can you … uh … will you do something for me?”

“Of course, Michael; you need only ask,” Angelique whispered intensely, anticipating his request; for he was right. She could read his thoughts more easily and accurately than he could and she had held her breath through all eternity, waiting to hear him utter his next words.

Michael took a deep breath, as if girding himself for battle. “Are you allowed to … uh … will you hold me? I mean, only if you want to,” his voice faded in the quiet room and the clamor of his fans outside the window could be distinctly heard in the street below his balcony, although they were being very quiet to allow him to sleep.

Angelique silenced his rushed, embarrassed explanations with her index finger pressed against his lips. “Oh, Michael, my love, thank you for recognizing and having faith in my love,” she whispered softly as she moved to enfold his torso in her arms, his head resting against her shoulder.

“I’ve waited through long ages to hear you say those words to me. It is my pleasure to hold you. I’ve held you many, many times before without you being aware of my presence.

“Do you remember when you were a child listening to your father’s anger at one of your brothers, frightened and crying? I was there beside you, my dear. You were not alone. You were here in my arms and I was rocking you then as I am rocking you now.

“Do you remember the time, not so very long ago, when the world accused you unjustifiably and wrongly? You paced your hotel suite, wondering how anyone could believe you were capable of the actions of which you were accused. I am there with you, my love, my footsteps following yours. My heart broke with yours. I watched as you fell to your knees in anguish and I held you in my arms through your distress.

“This time is so much better, though, because you know me. I know that you were unable to feel my comfort through your fear and distress, but I am always here. Your anger and fear block your sensitivity to my presence, making it more difficult for you to feel my comfort, but I am always here. Now, are you comfortable, my dear one?”

The moment she had touched him, Michael’s anxious heart was calmed and his turbulent thoughts, logic battling enchantment, were stilled. His ever-present hesitation to believe that anyone, anywhere could know him for himself, without the superstar persona, and love him in spite of his ordinariness was healed. He sighed deeply. “Yes, very …” he sighed. “What kind of story are you going to tell me? Is it about angels?”

Chuckling merrily, Angelique kissed his head resting lightly on her shoulder. “Yes, Michael. All stories are about angels in one way or another. Angels are just messengers; there is nothing mysterious about them. Their sole purpose is to carry a message and the message they carry is love. By that definition, every human or angelic soul creation has ever known is an angel because that is our only purpose for existing.

“But this particular story is about some very special angels who love you very much. Because of their willingness to open their hearts, they see past the illusions – past the music – past the dance – past the hype – past the newspaper accounts.”

Michael moved his shoulders to ease his weight against Angelique’s arms. “Who are they?” he asked. “Do I know them?”

“That is an interesting question and one not easy to answer,” came the soft, melodious reply. “In this lifetime, a veil has been placed over your remembrance; but in previous timelines your souls are very, very well-acquainted.”

“They are members of your soul group or soul family, helpers in a way. So your essence knows them although the personality your world thinks of as Michael Jackson does not know them. In other words, you and they share a special, deeply-personal bond, although neither they nor you may be aware of that connection consciously.”

Michael heard her voice fading as he felt totally caressed from head to toe within a living cascade of comfort and warmth. Every curve was supported within this cascade. Every nerve was soothed; every anxiety forgotten. He felt like he was floating.

“Don’t worry about being too heavy for me, beloved. Just rest. When you decided to experience a physical life, they decided to come with you. Some of them chose to embed “memory triggers” in their genetic makeup … moments when they would be awakened to the powerful knowledge and recognition that you are ONE. They are all over your world in a vast, far-flung network. Some have agreed to assume physical form; others to remain in the world of the unseen, but all of us are here to help you achieve your fullest expression and deepest desires. They have witnessed all of your triumphs as well as all of your anxieties.

“They have prayed for your strength and courage through the trials you have faced and, although you have felt very, very isolated, you have never breathed one breath alone. They have been watching you from a distance and loving you with a love that is ever fresh, never-changing, without condition. Their love is so much like the Eternal One’s love that He has heard their prayers and sent me to you in a form that you can perceive easily with just a small shift in your perception.

“The Eternal One has seen your pain and the prayers of these special ones who love you. She has decided to allow you to perceive more easily – to peak behind the veil – and to know that you are not alone.

“I bear Her love, which you have always known and respected; your advocate’s love, which has formed a circle of light around you, dispelling the darkest night; and my own love, which will never ask of you anything in return.

“Now, go to sleep, Michael. I will hold you and rock you through the night. I am always here. You can trust that.” He heard her voice as if through a tunnel as he dropped effortlessly into a deep, untroubled sleep. “And I always love you.” She leaned forward to kiss the top of his head as he drifted away.

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