Being Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman nervously looks down at his cellular phone one last time before switching it on to airplane mode. Los Angeles felt a long way away - he’d taken this flight a thousand times, but this trip was different. The maniac clown, Jaclyn Pierrot was staying in his home on house arrest under the supervision of the two former SAS-turned-bodyguards. Them? He could trust. They were loyal and dependable and it went more than just the price. Jacky? What could he say about Jacky?
“She makes a mean apple pie!”
Just the thought makes his mouth water. The stewardess offers him a pillow, but he declines - when you fly enough flights, you come prepared. He pulls his carry-on onto his lap and unzips it. Morgan slides his hand into the bag, then yelps in surprise as something furry touches his hand.
“Is everything okay, sir?” The stewardess asks, turning back his way. He opens the bag the rest of the way and shakes his head. Instead of his Alpaca memory foam travel pillow, Jaclyn Pierrot’s corpse bunny doll stares up at her with its haunting, purple button eyes. He can’t help but laugh.
“Yes, sorry. My…” Morgan turns towards her to see the puzzled look on her face. A note has been pinned to its ear won’t the words ’I didn’t want you to get lonely!’’ scrawled hastily across. “...child just swapped out my pillow. Maybe I’ll take one after all?”
Morgan Freeman offers her a warm smile and takes the pillow, tucking it against the wall. He looks down once more at the phone, now hopelessly sitting in airplane mode before shaking his head. Closing his eyes, he settles back.
What’s the worst that could happen?
“Come out, come out - wherever you are!”
Jaclyn Pierrot flicks the switch and light fills the room. Not a bright, overwhelming fluorescent blast, but instead a soft glow resembling the natural illumination outside. It is a massive room, at least double the size of the one she had been staying in. Unlike her room, however, this one has significantly less discarded cherry Pop-Tart wrappers and half-drank Code Red Mountain Dew bottles. There was a scent she couldn’t quite place - musky, inviting, almost like wood - pleasant, but not quite what she expected.
“Nice digs, Freeman!” She whistles as she shimmies around, poking at various knick-knacks that line the shelving. Her gun is nowhere in sight, but that’s to be expected. After all, what kind of person would make things that easy? Jaclyn begins casually opening drawers. She flips through his socks, followed by the underwear, taking extra time to consider some of the more…exotic pieces. She holds a silk thong up to the light.
“Morgan!” she giggles, trying to imagine the actor wearing those, but quickly decides to return them to their home. She sighs. “Where is it?”
Jacky looks around. There is a bathroom she can see with the light off and another one she assumes is a closet.
“Jacky!” She stops. It’s Trevor and if there is Trevor, Tank is not far behind. They are the two bodyguards that Morgan Freeman has trained to watch over her and keep her safe. They’ve quickly found that the latter part is much easier than the former. “Jacky?”
The voice growing closer, she makes her move. The clown ducks into the closet door and gently tugs it shut behind her. No sooner than the door latch clicks, she can hear Trevor enter the bedroom door. He calls her name out and she resists every urge in her body to leap from the closet in an attempt to frighten the mountain of a man.
Don’t do it Jacky…don’t do it…
After a long moment, she hears the door close once again. Her hand feels along the wall. She locates a switch and flicks it on. Her face drops.
The ‘closet’ is neatly organized, much like the room behind her. Also, much like the room behind her, it is enormous. Wall-to-wall is lined with suits, coats, pants - all neatly organized and arranged according to color and function. Gucci, Louis Voutton, Armani - designer brands, both familiar and unfamiliar to her, pass her eyes as she explores the racks. A space is set up in one corner for custom tailor work. Her hand glides across the clothing as she patrols the room.
“If I was a pistol…where would I be…”
Jaclyn Pierrot stops, her hand clasping on to a pair of trousers. She steps backwards, looking just past them. Something seems to be pushing the clothing away from the wall just slightly. She shoves them aside to reveal a tiny door, her head tilts to the side.
“I wonder what's in here?” she whispers to herself, reaching for the handle.
The phone rings.
Montague Cervantes flips through the ancient manuscript in front of him, lost in thought. So far, he had been eluded by the unknown. The truth was out there - he knew it but where? With a sigh, he flicks the page. The phone rings again.
The mechanical cat-hybrid wobbles towards the vibrating device, nudging it slightly before backing up. It cautiously approaches - shoulders down, centurion butt wagging in mimicry of a tail - then jolts backwards, bounding towards the magician as the phone vibrates once more.
“What is it?” Montague says, looking up as the cat frantically teeters to-and-fro. The phone vibrates again and he picks it up: FaceTime from Jacky.
He presses the button and the wild clown’s face pops onto the screen. “Hello?” Her face is entirely too close, the frame zoomed mostly on her right eye and the diamond underneath.
“Hey, what do you know about engineering?” She asks, pulling the phone away. He can see that she sits in a very compact space, various lights and dials blinking around her. The only other illumination in the room appears to be the soft glow coming from her phone. Jacky mashes something repeatedly.
“I know some things.”
This much was true and in fact, more than true. Just recently, the magician had gone to great lengths to put together an impressive display in the Underlook with the assistance of her boyfriend and former Cross-Hemisphere champion, Tempest. It was a spinning stage complete with dangling and dancing mannequins and marionettes alike.
“What’s this do?” she asks, pulling a lever. Montague’s eyebrows raise in surprise and he settles back, fighting the smile. With the clown, you never knew what to expect.
She jerks at it once more.
Morgan Freeman’s chest slowly rises and falls, a gentle snore escaping his lips. The corpse bunny doll, more doll parts than corpse at this point sits tucked in the crook of his elbow. Making her way down the aisle, the stewardess glances his way briefly before moving along. Their plane was somewhere over the middle part of the country. The Adjustment Bureau plays on the small screen in front of him.
His right eye opens then closes.
His head sits up, then drops back to the side.
His arm violently swings to the left then lies limply across the armrest.
Another snore escapes his lips.
“It definitely controls something.”
Montague watches through his phone as Jaclyn aims the camera around the small console. After she had yanked the lever free, he decided to take a more proactive approach to helping troubleshoot the strange situation she has found herself in. Hard to believe something like this could exist in the discrete Chicago home.
“What’s that?” he asks.
“It’s a button.” Her hand reaches out and starts mashing it repeatedly. “I think it’s broken.”
“There has to be some sort of way to turn this thing on. Keep looking.” Rett bounces around on the table in front of his phone. He holds an arm up to block it’s path and the mechanical cat harmlessly vibrates up against him.
“Do you have time for this?”
“I have nothing but time. I’m on house arrest,” she reminds him, aiming the camera down at the ankle and the blinking bracelet.
“Try that,” he suggests and she flicks a switch. “You’re not worried about Bryce?”
“Sebastian? Please. He’s stupid - he plays his cards facing out. Just like with the keys and his fake friendship fight. It’s all too obvious, too telegraphed.”
“He made Pierce tap.”
“I feel like you’re just baiting me for the obvious jab there. His plan is cute: go for maximum points. Capitalize. Make me tap. Problem is - I’ve been watching and learning and training. Each and every move he’s ever used? I’ve seen it. On repeat, over-and-over like his played out pursuit of being the remora dressed as a shark. I’m ready - tuck the chin, close the gap, pass the guard. Day-in-day-out: I practice, I perform, I perfect.”
“Who are you?” Montague plucks a loose Frito from the table.
“What do you mean?” she asks.
“Training. Submissions. Studying?”
“I’m bored…” Jacky moves a knob labeled volume all the way to the left then all the way to the right. “Also - Morgan took away my Playstation. You know I made Tank tap twice today? The reality of the situation is Sebastian is three weeks in trying to play catch up, but the truth? I don’t need to make him tap, but I do want to watch him choke.”
Montague crunches on the corn chip and laughs.
“It sounds like you have that in order, but he doesn’t need you for that. James Raven, part II.”
“Basically, but not quite. I do need something from you and the boys.”
“Sure, yeah! No problem. So, what’s under the console?” She ducks the camera underneath the panel, aiming it slowly. His eyes scan the array, looking for something - anything that stands out. “Wait…go back.”
Jacky whips the camera in reverse.
“Too far, just a bit…stop!” Montague grabs another chip and leans back, tossing it into his mouth. “What’s that?”
“This is incredible.”
After several moments, the screens in front of the clown slowly came to life and the controls that were once lifeless and inactive now begin to receive a response when pressed and plucked. The two had begun to explore each one, slowly beginning to decipher what exactly this was.
“This is incredible,” Montague says again. A single chip lingers inches away from his mouth, but he seems to have forgotten, staring intently at his phone. Through experimentation, the two had gotten this…mechanism to activate.
To come alive.
“Was that the correct term?” He wonders. Jacky pulls slowly on one of the levers and a hand comes into view. It pushes the button on the tiny television causing the movie to fade out. In the dark reflection, Morgan Freeman himself looks back.
“How is this possible?” he asks, leaning his head back in wonder. All the time he had spent searching, pining, wondering about the unknown and here it was…some sort of portal…a vessel that could be used to control an actual living, breathing human being. As she continues to fiddle with the knobs, he can’t help but begin to formulate more questions than he now had answers for. They knew what it did, but why? How did something like this get into that home and what could he possibly use it for? Another thought passes his mind, something darker, more sinister in nature - was he protecting it from someone? Or something?
“This is so cool!” Jacky shrieks, snapping his thoughts back to the situation at hand. He watches as the form seems to rise, the movements on the screen jerky and sudden. In the background, he can see one of the stewardess turn towards them and start heading their way. “Hey, do you think I can narrate with this thing?”
She turns from the screen and begins to flick buttons. On the monitor, the form seems to begin twitching and spinning. In the cabin of the plane, Morgan Freeman suddenly begins twisting violently around, nodding his head all the while like a dog trying to chase his tail. The stewardess rushes towards him. “Sir?”
A flailing arm violently levels her and few others rush to her aid. “Jacky?”
The clown looks back up at the screen and starts making some adjustments to right the rotating man. He stands still once more, staring blankly into space as the passengers help the dazed woman to her feet. She wipes a speck of blood away from her lip, staring up at him in horror.
“Shit!” Jacky scans the dials, “How do I make him talk?”
“Stop moving the camera so much!” Montague says, leaning in once more to help her examine the controls. “What does that button do?”
Jacky reaches forward her hand hovering over the board as he shouts directions. “To your left, no not that one!”
Morgan walks towards the stewardess, his arms stretching out in front of him. She shrieks and begins to move down the aisle. Jacky clicks something and her voice comes out through Morgan Freeman’s mouth: “How do I make him speak?!” Her hands frantically dash over the buttons.
“Click the one that says ‘Narrate!’” Montague offers. She presses it and the last thing they see on the screen is Morgan Freeman’s vision going dark as he is tackled to the ground of the cabin by an air marshall. There is silence and a grey glow fills the monitors.
“Did we break it?”
A menu, built in what looks like ASCII coding begins to display:
Ellis Boyd Redding…………………1
March of Penguins………………..2
“Whoa…” Montague says, picking his phone up from the table. “...click one?” He reaches to the table and grabs another errant chip as he watches her click type the number ‘3’ followed by Enter. The screen goes blank once again before they slowly come to life. They are in the airplane once more.
“What are you doing? Get your hands off of me!”
Jacky fiddles with the dials and this time a bunny paw comes into frame. She moves the camera up to look at the dark reflection in the disabled television in front of them. Looking back are the hollow button eyes of the corpse doll known as Bunny.
“This is incredible…” Montague says once more. He watches as the view turns slowly towards the actor, now being detained by a pair of air marshals.
“This is better than incredible, Monty!” Jaclyn’s voice squeals, bubbling over with enthusiasm. “Do you know what this means?”
The camera opens up to a room already bursting with energy. Cages have been flung free and feathers follow a flock of mismatched birds as they bustle around the room. There is a large, full length window and on the other side, a few of the attendants run just in front of the small back of ‘chupacabra’ which nip and growl at their heels. The frame lowers to reveal a large desk, littered with various notes and books. There is a single light in the corner that flickers, matching the sparse overhead affair that desperately buzzes and crackles. On the other corner sits an aged cassette player and a long barrel .44.
Jacky’s voice whispers. From the side, a small form steps into the frame. It has two large floppy ears and a pair of mismatched buttons for eyes. The stitched smile seems to tilt upwards.
“You can call him Seb or you can call him Sebby, just don’t call him by his daddy’s name. Or just the number. I know.”
The Jacky-rabbit does her best Sebastian impersonation, which is to say, not good and very questionable in taste with the accent.
“You’ll go for the low hanging fruit. You have no class. I won’t say I’m not afraid. Or whatever and blahblahblah,” her patented honking laughter spills out of the small doll. “Does that about sum it up? Is that what you spent people's time and energy to say - not so matter-of-factly, of course. After all: why spend an hour to do a task when you can book a weekend special.”
The rabbit bounces from one stitched on leg to the other.
“What’s the plan here Sebastian? To show the world once again the might have been that is Sebastian Bryce? He might have been the contender, but he was focused on New York. He was gonna show the world he was one of the greats only to find out he was just one of those would-have-beens, circling the drains. Trash. That’s what goats eat, did you know that? Sorry, I went on a tangent, what am I saying?”
Her paw taps the makeshift chin.
She shrugs her shoulders.
“Sorry, it must be that fake madness everyone tells me so much about. But then again, call me crazy - are you not the one who sacrificed your chance…for love? What about your other chance? The one against the undefeated, the unbeatable Matthew Knox? Your father or your brother or the one who was just sleeping with Sloane or…” the rabbit’s button eyes look in the distance as if she is searching for something. Finally, Jacky gives up and sighs, “Honestly? I can’t keep track because the Days of Your Lives? They make me want to get put in the General Hospital and written off the show - I just hope they don’t replace me with Margot Robbie”
The bunny paces along the desk.
“So, what’s the plan this time? After all, last time you had the bubblegum bitch and old man river. You think that because Page pulled off a win over Final Fantasy boy that wandering under his wing is gonna show you off as something? Lemme ask you a question about your buddy Chris Page: if he’s so special and he’s so talented then why doesn’t he have a title? Where does he even wrestle? The way he jumps around, you’d think he was Sebastian the Second.”
The paw taps the bunny temple in thought.
“Or wait is that Scotty Dunn?” She shakes her head, the ears flopping back-and-forth. “Now I’m just getting confused. Which came first?”
The rabbit stands still, aimed at the camera. Something about the posture indicates that it might be trying to wink, but the lack of an eyelid or actual eye makes it impossible.
“Sorry - it’s the clown talking. Where was I? Ah yes! The ever talented, ever well known John Blade - your mentor, your hero, truly someone out there breaking the walls down. An ally, a friend, a companion - just don’t make his list or he might show you the Judas Effect.”
The Jacky-rabbit bumbles over to the cassette player and presses play. ‘Judas’ by Fozzy comes on and the rabbit head bangs for a moment, singing along: “I’m become - I’m become - I’m becoming…”
She sneers, snapping her paw down on the stop button then shoving the boom box two handed off the desk. It bounces off the floor with a plastic crack. The rabbit appears to watch and then turns back to face the frame.
“Let me tell you something about people like John Blade and Eric Draven. They are really good at going out there and talking the talk. They tell everyone that they sell out arenas. They are hall of famers. They bring money, but when you really look beyond the bullshit you can see the reality. The unbeatable Crow? Crushed - not once, but twice. That’s, of course, before he became ‘unbeatable’. And John Blade? Well…” she shrugs once more, “He’s no lion tamer.”
The rabbit extends its paws outwards.
“So what’s the plan? You’re hoping that rubbing elbows with the self-proclaimed greats while running around like the quirky best friend hot for the girl has given you a leg up on the competition?” She giggles and shakes her head, “I thought of all the other mean things I wanted to say about you but I figured in the end I could just let your career do the talking. You so desperately want to be champion that you’ll go anywhere and do anything and sign with anyone. You go to PWV and FightNYC to prove that you’re the one, but your number just keeps coming up short. I know you entered with something to prove, the what could have been, but really the best you can be if you beat me with a pin is third. So Sebastian, I’m not doing this for me, I'm doing this for you. I want to see you grow and progress and to no longer be just a number and while you won’t win this war, you’ll at least get the consolation prize of knowing that second place is the first place loser.”
Jacky-rabbit pats her paws together in front of her as though she’s clapping.
“Congratulations, champ. You participated.”
A hand appears above her, likely Montagues and sets down a championship belt that Jaclyn Pierrot had custom ordered and made to symbolize herself as Sin City Wrestling’s World Heavyweight Champion, a prize she ‘claimed’ after beating Lucy Wylde just two weeks ago.
“Must be a CCP specialty. That’s not the plan though right? You’re in it to win it and you’re going to try and choke me out. Make me tap, cause that’s the only way right? And of course, not by yourself, oh no, you have friends. Well…you forgot…so do I. Not only do I have these two massive mountains of men ready and willing to pummel anyone that gets near the ring, I also…have the Creeps. Or did you forget?”
The bunny rabbit does a pirouette, stumbling on its bunny feet then plopping onto its bottom.
“You forgot and so it’s time to remind you. I said at the beginning of this tournament and I’ll say right here as we approach the ending - I learned what it felt like to be stung. I learned when you kick the hornet's nest lookin’ for honey? You make sure you use adequate protection. Did you learn?” The rabbit points its paw towards the camera. “What am I talking about - hornets and honey? Must be that madness they talk about. Hey did you know the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and over? Oh who am I telling, of course you do! Cause look at you here to do what you do best all over again.”
The rabbit pushes itself onto its feet. It’s quite an effort seeing as how its torso is much too long and soft to be made for a creature that stood on its hind legs. It holds a single paw up, one part stretching as if holding up a finger.
“So in the words of Johnny Hitmaker - let me make one thing perfectly clear. There will be no submission by this clown. Under no circumstance will I give up. There will be no interference - Tank? Trevor? Consider them trained to go on sight should Page, Sloane, or Mac Bane even step ringside. And that is if they can get by the Creeps. 52 of them scattered ringside ready and willing to stomp the life out of any would be ally. And me? Laser focused and ready. This time there will be no interference, no excuses, just you and me. And Sebastian? I plan on making sure you walk into that ring the exact way you walked in: a loser.”
Jacky-rabbit flexes its tiny would-be biceps.
“I said it three times before and I say it again. I’m not just here to win. I’m here to dominate. But Seb - don’t let that deter you because in the end? I’ll be rooting for you. Louder and harder than anyone else because I’m gonna be right there in your ear yelling, screaming - You can do it Sebastian!! You can do it.”
She leans forwards and whispers. “You can tap out…”
The rabbit nods.
“…and take your place where you belong - in the hall of could have beens. See you Monday night, Sebastian for the comeback story that will somehow be less successful than the night you were conceived. 2022’s looking like the ultimate sequel for you in the ring but don’t worry. Chris Page can open up his own Velvet Rabbit called Pages Pussies with you and Bane - center stage at last. It’ll be less glamorous, but not if you let him describe it.”
Jacky-rabbit begins to laugh, her honking laughter suddenly cut by a loud, braying honk. A large goose steps into the frame. The rabbit picks up the long barrel magnum and aims it up at the bird. Off-screen, Montague begins to say ‘No!’ but it’s too late. The paws squeeze the trigger and the tiny rabbit doll cannons off the side of the desk and out of the frame.
The scene cuts to black.
There is a thump at the front door to the house followed by a banging.
The voice can be heard screaming through the thick, oak door. There is more pounding, this time with what sounds like two hands. Finally, Tank flicks the series of latches and opens the door wide. Standing on the other side, is Morgan Freeman. His clothing is worn and tattered, or what is left of it. He steps into the foyer, a small puddle beginning to form beneath him.
He clenches his jaw.
“Where’s Jacky?” he asks. Trevor enters just behind Tank, a bowl of cereal in his hand. The two exchange a glance and simultaneously look down at the actor’s ankle. Around his left leg, a small black bracelet matching the one worn by the maniac clown slowly flashes.