Remy Johnson receives a mysterious invitation from a man he doesn't know.
| Gold emblazoned tapestries straddled the long and inviting welcome lobby of the hotel. The marble floor glimmered brightly and looked as if its expensive tiles had just been meticulously cleaned. In the corners, bright screened TVs droned on with repetitive information about the current election season with no breaking news currently being brought to light. Pacing his walk, Remy had a purposeful meaning to his stride. His long legs propelled him forward at a quick pace. Black greased up hair contrasted well with Remy’s light blue eyes. He had been invited to the annual ball at the Marriott hotel on 85 West St. in New York city, so he wanted to exude confidence. Only the biggest and brightest starlets and connoisseurs were sent out the invitation, and surprisingly he was one of those lucky recipients. His name hadn’t been particularly well known by anyone besides his loving family and hometown friends, but now it seemed he was of importance; just what sort of importance remained to be seen. The bright lights above Remy seemed as though they were watching his every move, questioning who he was and why he was there. If he were asked the question upfront, Remy would introduce himself and then expect confused looks and wary stares. His mind wandered feverishly at the daunting thought of walking into a room full of inflated egos, but he attacked this head on with the constant reminder that he was there for a reason, just what reason he had no inclination.
Remy Johnson had been a relatively simple man throughout his 26 years of living, with a light heartedness he had acquired from his deceased mother. Soon after entering grade school, Remy’s parents noticed he had a gift for knowledge. His mind operated like a sponge, everything Remy came in contact with, he remembered. This was welcomed with extreme enthusiasm not only by his immediate family, but his small hometown of Holk as well. The townsfolk became encouraged by the young child; they imagined him growing up and bringing riches to the poor country town.
Living in a small town of about 1,800 people sheltered the young prodigy from the harsh truths of the real world. He had grown up thinking everyone was kind and sweet, simply because in his hometown that’s the way everyone naturally was. Until about his 18th birthday, Remy had kept this feeling with him. It always garnered a sort of optimism about meeting new people; he constantly thought everyone was in his best interest. But once he set out for Yale law school, he noticed this feeling was extremely naïve. The ivy league university shook Remy to his core. He came to realize the real world was anything but sweet and kind. Grades, grades, grades, that’s all that mattered to the uppity bulldogs of Yale university. Competition had been something Remy never really delved into as a child, and he didn’t know how to deal with it once it constantly surrounded him. Because of Remy’s upbringing, this destroyed him almost immediately and a feeling of extreme loneliness haunted his thoughts. His sponge-like mind began sparring with feelings of nostalgia for Holk. These feelings interfered with his studies and eventually Remy conceded to dropping out of the prestigious law school. Now 20 years’ old, his future looked as black and grim as his hair. His hometown of Holk graciously welcomed back their once hopeful savior with open arms, but Remy could feel their beading eyes watching him with pity. This ate away at Remy. His feelings may have just been conjured up and falsified by his own imaginative mind, but he eventually couldn’t take it anymore. By the ripe age of 22, Remy had decided to set out on his own and attempt to find out who Remy Johnson really was.
The brutal realities of the world Remy now lived in chipped away at his spirit, and nothing he did seemed to bring him out of his self-dug trap. He felt imprisoned by his own thoughts and wanted nothing more than to be cured of the repetitive boringness he consistently felt. Remy’s travels had brought him to New York city. The bright lights and looming skyscrapers were advertised in a newspaper he had been reading one morning. The hopefulness that the city offered was extremely attractive to the ill fated previous child prodigy. He felt as though he could be reborn into the once joyous boy that now seemed so ancient. With the little money that filled his tattered pockets, he purchased a one-way bus ticket to the big apple. Feeling giddy and bubbly inside, Remy knew he was on his way to reclaiming his old self.
Loud foot steps echoed the extensive gold plated hallway as Remy walked alone, eager to face the mysterious events that were granted to him by invitation. At the end of the hallway was the entrance to the sort of twilight zone that contained all the haves and have mores of the time, or so he thought. The door represented a gateway into success and the passage of righteousness. No sounds were noticeable except his own. Remy made sure to bring the invitation with him, so he could solidify his presence with evidence. He remembered reading the invitation with curiosity and wonderment, it read, “Dear Mr. Johnson, we are happy to welcome you to the annual Marriott dinner of prestigious gentlemen and ladies. The event will take place on November 2, and you will be in the presence of great thinkers, musicians, actors and actresses, so I do hope you except this once in a lifetime opportunity. On behalf of the Marriott Hotel on 85 West St., I bid you good day – Mr. Starcose.” Remembering the invitation brought feelings of great joy to Remy. He felt empowered by the words written by the peculiar Mr. Starcose. He had never heard the name Starcose before, but imagined Mr. Starcose as a hotel manager of sorts, having a black defined mustache that radiated a personality of its own.
The big doorway was getting more ominous as Remy paced towards it. Feelings of anxiety began to take over. Intense questions of doubt started to seep into Remy’s mind, why me? why would I be invited? He was a nobody compared to these pillars of society. But he combatted these feelings with reminding himself of the invitation that occupied his back pocket.
Just a couple steps more and Remy would be at the helm of unimaginable knowledge. His heart felt as if it would burst right out of his chest, deserting him and leaving his body. This was the moment Remy had waited for ever since the invitation came in 3 months ago. He reached forward and grasped the steel embodied handle and swung the door open.
Astonishingly the room was empty, except for a single person sitting in the middle. The man had a black mustache—just as Remy had guessed--which quivered as he raised his head. His eyes were deathly intimidating. They shot right towards Remy in a mysterious complexion that seemed to shift as the beholder shook his head. An interesting hat perched atop the stranger’s dark matted hair. It was purple and black with a yellow feather flattened to the side. The man’s body was coated in all black, with no notice of varying colors. Remy’s first thought was to jolt out of the room and never come back, but he didn’t move and decided if the man wanted him dead, he would’ve already done the deed. Silence mixed with unbelievable tension set the mood, and neither of the two men spoke for a long while. They were studying each other trying to gauge the other’s thought processes. Remy eventually gave in.
“Who are you?” Remy tried to prevent uneasiness from slipping into his voice, but he couldn't help it from seeping through. This innocent yet necessary question echoed across the empty ballroom with reverberations that lasted what seemed like forever.
The man looked up, “Mr. Starcose”. Hauntingly the mustache quivered once again as he muttered out his name. Exceedingly deep,, the voice of Starcose sent chills through Remy. Zero elaboration came from the arcane man. Remy became uneasy at the thought of the invitation being a complete hoax, but he needed answers.
“Why am I here? How in the world do you know me and why did you lie? I have so many damn questions you need to answer right now, or I’m bolting from this hotel and you’ll never hear of me again.” Uneasiness was no longer present in his voice. The words shot out quickly and confidently, he needed to sound in control of himself while adding a hint of aggressiveness. Right now Starcose held all the power and knowledge, so Remy knew he shouldn’t come across as a complete jerk, but sternness needed to be presented in order to hide the weakness that was buried deep inside.
“You are special, Mr. Johnson. You may not know it yet, but you have unbelievable potential to do great things. I know all this may come of a surprise to you, I mean hell, I would’ve probably shot myself dead if I were in your shoes. But I know you and how you operate, that’s why I chose you to become a business partner in my growing empire.” Starcose began to word vomit, but Remy wasn’t really listening. He had no clue why he was still here, but Starcose apparently valued him--for reasons unknown--but he wished to stay and continue to hear the sales pitch. Surprisingly Starcose was still talking when Remy decided to listen again, “You may know the saying knowledge is power. This is one of my favorite quotes, so much in fact that I live by this saying, and have adopted it as a personal mantra. My last name Starcose wasn’t given to me as a birth name. I changed it in order to reflect who I believe to be the greatest philosopher of all time, Socrates. If you reorder Socrates, it has the ability to come out as Starcose. I wanted my name to be a constant reminder of who inspires me day in and day out. His ideas and wisdom sparked conversation for centuries to come. I hope to have the same impact. I can’t really tell you my business name or model at the moment, but I’m just going to ask that you trust me. I realize that its going to be an extremely difficult task, so I have here $10,000, that will hopefully persuade you. What do you say?”. Starcose grabbed an impressive stack of money and placed it on the brown mahogany table in front of him. He offered no clues as to what his plan really was, or any information as to how he knew Remy.
Remy needed more information to make his decision, but clearly, he wasn’t going to get it from the crazed Starcose. The proposal was intriguing, but he wasn’t going to jump into something he hadn’t thought out completely. Perspiration began to make small trails along Remy’s face as he dreaded telling the perplexing Starcose his denial of the money and the business venture he proposed.
“I can’t accept the offer. I simply need more information as to what you are all about. If I said yes, it would probably change my life, for the good or bad I’m not quite sure. But I’m not going to blindly sign my life away.”
“Oh I completely realize your dilemma sir. Its unfortunate, but if you refuse, I’m going to have to dispose of you. This isn’t something I want getting around to the world, of where I preside or what I look like. So if you leave this room today, without accepting my offer, you’re going to be in a body bag. The reason I chose you Remy is because of your isolation from anyone you ever cared or loved for. I needed someone who if they went missing, no one would notice. You have been gone from your hometown of Holk for about 4 years now, I don’t think anyone is going to be raising hell if you suddenly drop off the face of the earth. So I’m going to ask again, what do you say?”. The mustache almost on command moved up and down, threatening to jump right off the face of Starcose.
The trails of sweat suddenly became waterfalls as Remy analyzed his options. His mind was working at incredible speeds trying to calculate what would happen if he said yes. All his life’s decisions revealed themselves at once, overwhelming him greatly, while also bringing a great sadness to him. Starcose was right when it came to his isolation. Remy hadn’t spoken to his immediate family or friends in over 4 years, he was utterly alone. Somehow he felt there was no way out either way. He felt no matter what he said, he was going to end up dead. If he said yes, Starcose could completely use and abuse Remy. Starcose had an aura of death around him. Remy felt he wasn’t the first to be invited here, and definitely not the last.
Robotically Remy simply said, “No, I don’t accept”. Then he dashed furiously towards the table at Starcose hoping for one last chance to save his life. The hands of Remy flailed wildly at the ominous figure of the black coated man.. Starcose seemed poised and ready for the attack, he whipped out a long shiny cane which had sharp steel on the end of it. Remy was too late to try and parry Starcose’s swift jab. The cold steel punctured Remy right in the abdomen, releasing a stream of red blood which he grimaced at and dropped to the floor. The blood soon became extensive and disheartening. Remy realized he was done for and nothing he could do would stop his impending death.
The fatal altercation took place in less than 20 seconds. Remy was no longer able to move. Even though he was dying, Remy felt a strange happiness take over him. He realized everything would finally be over, all the pain and suffering he had gone through would no longer drag him down.
Starcose simply stood over the limp body of Remy and said, “That’s not the answer I was looking for.”
As eluded earlier, Remy Johnson was carried out in a body bag, never to be heard from again. Starcose dragged the bag to the basement of the grand hotel and dumped it next to the other 20 bags which had now become a real issue. The smell overtook the place and because of that, no one ever ventured down to the depths of the hotel. No one ever knew what Starcose was really about, and no one ever would.