One Day You Will Call Me Brother

By Steven Acevedo
Inspired by a tale from Neil Gaiman's The Sandman

Here it is. At 3 in the afternoon and I'm bored to tears. My agent hasn't gotten me a really decent booking in months and I'm pretty P.O.ed to be stuck in a room full of snot-nosed fans who probably have no life.

I despise my fans. They can be so ungrateful at times. I'm the toast of the radio industry and the moment I want to change direction, they immediately tell me I have no right to even persue it. They liked me when I was the guy who played all the good time oldies and wanted me to repeat the success as if it could stave off their madness.

I go to the big table in front of me and let the selfish peons gawk at me like some God that came to save them. A very insipid giggly thirteen year old girl screams when she sees me.
"It's you. It's you. Oh God. It's really you!" she squealed. "Oh please sign my autograph book, please?"
I signed her book and stared at her as she read it to herself. Oh no! Not again. I hate this part. Happens to me all the time.
"Hey! You're not Jeff Lynne!" she said disappointedly.
"And who did you think I was George Harrison?" I replied snidely to her.

*** SLAP!!! ***

Counting this afternoon that's the 1,025th slap I've gotten today for being my usual cranky crass self.

God! I hate the fans. I really do hate the fans!

"NEXT!" I shout out rushing her along.
Another kid comes up. He's a fat little porker with rim glasses and a big toothy Bugs Bunny grin.
"Hi there. I'm your biggest fan. Hee hee hee! Snort!"
Oh God. Steve Urkel times four.
"I saw a person bigger than you before. And he smelled just as bad, geekoid."
"Why you #@!!!$!!-king little dirtbag. You'll pay for this creep. I'll sue,"
he said angrily. I didn't know dweebs like him knew that kind of language.
I quickly sign his autograph book and shove him on his way.

"NEXT!"

Hours later I am exhausted. A hot cup of java would be good about now.
In the commissary I take a sip of the watered down coffee and lay my head down on the table.
I get a little tap on the shoulder from someone behind me.
"Leave me alone. I'm busy," I say crankily to whoever is badgering now.
"I'm not here for your autograph. I just wanted some company while I eat,"
a male voice said.
Looking up was a fairly short man, in his mid-thirties. Tinted glasses and the saddest looking face I had ever seen on anyone.
"So enjoying the convention?" he asked politely.
"Yeah. I am. Sort of." I tell him.
"Your thoughts betray you," he said with a cynical tone.
"How so? " feeling a bit irritated by his doubting me.
"For one thing you are still carrying the pen you were signing autographs with. That's someone else's property," he said smiling.
"Oh!" I said.

I had to come clean with him.

"This convention if you really want to know the truth sucks. I've never met so many people who wanted something from me. Like do my Deejay voice or
relate some glamorous inside scoop on their favorite music artists. I know squat about all that. I'm just here to get paid and go home," I said bitterly.
"There has to be more to it than that, Mister..."
"They call me Fast Eddie. That's my handle on the air. You wouldn't have heard of me."
"Well, Eddie. It seems to me you don't truly understand why you are really here. And call me Steven. But most of my friends call me Steve."
"OK. I'll bite why am I really here, Steve?"
"To find something you lost," Steve replied.
"What could I have lost other than my mind?" I was puzzled by his question.
"Tell you what if you come back here tomorrow. We'll talk some more. Get to know each other better."
"You're not coming on to me are you?" I said feeling rather uncomfortable.
"Nothing like that. Just meet me here tomorrow, OK?"
"I...Oh, All right," I said grudgingly.

The next day was very bad. Started when my boss chewed me out for offending eighteen listeners during a call in show. Management is still figuring out who to send the lawsuit bills to and it looks like I'm elected. I never seem to get a break. Now I'm here again at the convention waiting for some stranger who thinks he can solve my problems for me. He comes and he orders us some pizza while we talk.

"So. Your day was pretty bad too, eh?" Steve said.
"And yours was no better. Let me guess. You got pissed off at my show today
and wanted to show me how wrong I was to get mad at the listeners."
"Truthfully, yes. They can't help it if their lives are in the bad shape it is.
Rather than bitch to them about how miserable their lives are. You could 've told them things would get better if they believe it will," he said.
"How? I'm no psychiatrist," I replied.
"No! But you could at least listen to the callers. What was the arguments over anyway?" Steve asked me.

"Was my belly button and innie or an outie."

Steve burst out in uncontrollable fits of laughter.

"I'm s-sorry. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!" he said between snickers. "For that you got pissed off at them?"
"Well, I..."
"You really should get a sense of humor, Eddie. Life can't be taken seriously all the time. You know that," Steven said regaining his composure.
"But they were asking the dumbest questions," I said annoyed.
"It doesn't matter. I've always thought that people overcompensate for the things they don't have in their lives. That's why all the little things are more distressing than the bigger ones to them."
"So everything else is over their heads and they can't deal with the heavier issues." I concluded.
"Right. The way I see it is you are under the impression that just because
the listeners are unhappy that you shouldn't do anything for them. So you expect them to solve their own problems and you save yourself from having to deal with their minuscule lives" Steve surmised. "But at the same time you don't consider the possibility that they could help you too."
"Me? Why would anyone help me? I don't need anybody getting all weepy over me. I'm not worth it," I said loudly.
"And that is why you snickered and made fun of the crowd yesterday when they wanted your autograph?" Steve asked plaintively.
"Yeah! I mean...no! I mean I don't know what I mean," I said now very confused.

"Do you know why you came here today?" Steve again asked.
"Yes. I'm sitting here talking to a complete stranger who knows nothing about me?"
"No. You are here because you are lonely. Just like the listeners are as well
who call you every day. And you know that you are searching for someone to be your friend and to assure you that everything will be fine in the end. But more importantly you were looking for something you have lost."

Thinking for a moment I thought of all the things I could 've misplaced in my life.
"I want things to be the way they were before I got all this attention," I told Steve.
"You were pretty miserable before your success but that isn't what you lost."
"I guess I want my wife back. She and I split because I was too busy worrying about my career six years ago."
"She wanted you to be something you were not though you did your best to try and that was good to do. But that isn't what you lost either," Steve said.
"Then what is it, Damn it! What is it I'm missing?" I said in a hostile voice.

"Your self-respect."

"What?"

"Until you can find the part of you that had once held integrity and compassion above all else you'll never be able to appreciate what you have in the fans," he told me. "They are far more sympathetic than you give them credit for. You share more in common with them than you'll ever know."

"But they aren't worth my time," I said to Steve.
"In a few more years you won't think so. Give it some thought," he said smiling.
"Tomorrow is the last day of the convention. If you want you can forgot about the Question and Answer panel session on Sunday and we can spend the day just hanging out and talking like we are now."
"Me? Spend the day with a loser like you? I'm Fast Eddie. I can buy anyone I want with the big bucks I'll be making from this gig. Save your therapy for somebody who needs it!!!" I said to Steve in an obnoxious tone. With that I bolted out of the diner in a huff.

A few years later at another convention...

The crowd looks good tonight. Everyone is happy and enjoying the rock concert which is a huge success. And so am I. Man, These cats are really good.

Oh, oh! Better get to my other appointment. Can't afford to let him down. He's definitely one of the good ones. I never thought I could say this about someone I genuinely care about. And to think I was ready to blow him off or my job just because I couldn't see the truth. Ah! There he is. My Rock Of Gibraltar. My saving grace in a world gone wrong.

"I didn't think you would make it, Brother." Steve said smiling.
"As someone once told me a long time ago, the fans have more in common with me more than I'd ever know. I'd like to think I do now. Can I buy you something to eat and drink?" I said happily.

I was wrong. I love my fans.

The End


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Created on 10-Apr-2000 at 01:47:51