I sat back in my chair, massaging my temples. I was tense. It was an important decision for me, one that would shape my future. The source of my tension was sitting on the table in front of me – a piece of paper, the custodian of my coming years.
“All it needs is your signature on it.”
The voice belonged to the man sitting across me. His voice was deep but smooth, authoritative as well as charming at the same time. Dressed in a dapper black suit and red shirt, he sat back in his plush armchair. One of his hands clutched a glass of scotch, which he gingerly sipped from time to time. His other hand toyed with a Gurkha cigar. His entire attire boasted of opulence. He leaned in towards me. His flawless face looked all the more ethereal when the table lamp’s light shone on his face. His deep black eyes looked into mine. He reiterated his statement.
“All it needs is your signature on it. Then, you are sorted.”
His statement had merit. Mr. Olbaid was the top talent manager in the world, the very best. The fact that he had found me worthy of making an offer to, was proof of my talent. As a struggling musician, all that mattered to me, was being recognized. I wanted it all – money, glamour and most of all – the fame. I wanted millions of fans lining up to see me, thronging around me, asking me for autographs. I wanted the world to know me as the greatest musician that ever lived. This paper was the path to all that. Mr. Olbaid could make it all possible. His voice cut my thoughts.
“Dina, my darling. This is a once in a lifetime offer, I gather you recognize that. You have hunger within you, a real desire to be the best. I like that. That is what got you my offer. Do you really want to remain a struggling musician for the rest of your life? You have talent. However, talent is not enough to get you what you want. Sure, you could refuse my offer and try your hand at working hard. I am sure you will get success. But when? After you are old and wrinkly? When you have no time to enjoy your fame? I am offering you a chance to become a shining star, right now. Do you not want to take the chance? I am a patient man, Dina. But, we have been sitting here for more than a couple of hours. I have smoked through four cigars and almost finished my scotch. I am starting to think that your desire is not strong enough to sign.”
Had it been that long already? It was hard to tell the time in this room. It was decorated with antiques and memorabilia – Byzantine Armor here, Hitler’s pistol there. The dark room housed items used by musicians -all artists managed by Mr. Olbaid and his associates. The only time-keeping device in the room rested on my host’s right wrist. It seemed as though it was just five minutes ago that I entered the room, shook Mr. Olbaid’s cold hand, sat down in the plush armchair and gazed upon the contractual paper.
This whole opportunity felt like a dream to me. It was only yesterday that I was performing at the seedy club near my place, performing for an audience of drunkards ogling away at me. I did not mind the attention. However, this sort of attention was not what I would call success. After my performance, a man dressed in black approached me. He introduced himself as Mr. Olbaid and explained what he did. We set up a meeting for today and went our way. I decided to run a google check on him. I found a website. The homepage had Mr. Olbaid and Associates written in large, bold letters that covered the entire screen of my mobile. There was only two other lines written on the page –
You do not contact us, we contact you. If you are worthy, we will find you.
It was impressive and creepy at the same time. Trusting my instincts, I decided to go for the meeting. I had nothing to lose, no body to answer to. Now, as I was sitting across Mr. Olbaid, the same statement rung in my mind. I had nothing to lose. I moved my hand towards the paper. Mr. Olbaid smiled, withdrew a pen from his jacket and offered it to me.
“Please use this pen. You see it has a permanent sort of ink. You can call it a ceremony we follow here.”
I stretched my arm and accepted the pen. It was sleek to hold. I uncapped it, and gazed upon the golden nib. It had some sort of inscription on it, not that I could make head or tail of the red words. I held the pen in my fingers and signed on the paper. The ink was red – blood red. I felt an intense burning on my forehead, as if something sharp had scratched it.
“Good, very good. That was a fine decision, Dina. You will find that you will achieve all your dreams with us. Tomorrow is your sweet sixteen birthday, and starting tomorrow you will begin your new life of glamour and success. As I promised, you will have your eleven years of stardom and eternal fame. And as you promised, you are bound to us forever. Enjoy your life, Dina. Goodbye!”
The significance of the 11 years : 27 Club
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