This is another fiction-piece and I thought to include it here because of the dynamic of texting (which I think can sometimes feel like a ping-pong match) and a fantasy I’d always had that Michael Jackson and Orlan were friends. They also feel like parallel mirrors, somehow, embodying cultural pressure as part of their work. In both instances, the body is a site of manipulation and transformation, tied directly to economy and persona.
Michael had a plastic chin and new skin. Born with nothing, he made 750 million dollars in his life. He went 500 million dollars bankrupt thereafter. He said in the press release after his death:
“It was so cool look look look look look it was so cool the kids danced so chill they had an alter in the street like look like it one girl so cute so fantsy one girl pulled her car up the day I died she pulled her car up to the side of the road in the city she pulled up and she got out and she wore a white mini skirt and white high heel shoes and a side ponytail and a sparkle head band and sparkle jelly shoes and bangles that caught the street light it was night she left her car on and she pulled the candle out of her car the votive candles and a photo she tore out a magazine a glossy magazine with its corners furled from the grease of her hand she had painted sparkle nails and pink eyes and brown brown brown brown eye brows she left the car running she had pink tights and doily ankles she had converse and dirty socks she had ripped jeans on she played my music over and over thriller and over Billy Jean and over look it was so looklooklooklooklook all the kids came out and the kids came out to dance in the street and drunk people who passed by they danced also and some of the hobos danced also (toothless) and everyone dancedancedanced they flung their arms they waved they danced like zombies for me look at me look what I did when I died lookit.”
Michael did not die on June 25th. It was only pretend. A publicity stunt to get away from creditors, to get away from his old life, to flee the clutches of his doctor, to go to his niece’s debutant ball, To Make Even More Money Later: Artist Formerly Known As MJ. Vanquishes Death.
Along with describing the scene at the Holmby Hills mansion where Jackson was stricken, the document lists prescription drugs found in the home (some were prescribed in Jackson’s name as well as an alias used by the singer).
The document also provides the detailed results of the performer’s autopsy—which included analysis of Jackson’s corpse and his various organs—from the size of his liver to the “unremarkable” nature of his testes and scrotum. The “immediate cause” of Jackson’s death was listed by the medical examiner as “Acute propofol intoxication.”
The last time he slept without mittens he had a dream he was in Iraq embedded with troops and he was afraid of the men but then he was afraid of a missile because a missile was coming and the men said the missile was after him so he ran away from the missile he ran very fast when he woke up he’d crashed through a hotel window he woke up running on a grassy knoll in front of his hotel room, blood running down his arms, he realized the missile was only a dream but they took him to the hospital and the doctor said you could have died and Michael said I sleep walk I can’t help it, looking at magazines of himself. The doctor said, Sleep in a sleeping bag with mittens on and you’ll be fine. (1)
And after his death, sat up late nights, texting in bed with Orlan, giggling like a girl, whispering to himself sometimes so the body guards wouldn’t come say, Turn off the light and get some sleep. Aside from employees on salary, Orlan was the only one who knew MJ was still alive.
Orlan is an artist born in France on May 30th 1947 her life is a secret, real name unknown. A spy in her own life. She had plastic surgery to look like Botticelli’s Venus. She had plastic surgery to look like the Madonna. She had plastic surgery to look like Mrs. Frankenstein. She wept when MJ died. And giggled when he called to say it was only a joke.
Michael texted her in bed, “The paint they used in my skins supposed to make me look healthy but they used lythol red. Fugitive paint it fades after a few years. ACH.”
She texted, Terrible!, and then, I may get plastic surgery on my pussy. He said, OMG, and tittered, sitting under the tent of his sheets, torso hemmed with the zipped up sleep sack. The phone a flashlight, clasped in both hands, waiting waiting waiting for her answer. Finally his phone buzzed, he read it. “I want it to have the same typography as the hills of Kilimanjaro,” she says, “and then I want to put clay inside and then I want to give birth to the cast of my cunt.”
HAWHAWHAW, he texted back. “The color of my skin is fading,” he writes letter by letter. “Doctor says to stay out of sun.”
And she again, Is that why you wear a mask in all those pictures? Michael smiled in the dark, his face blue from the light of the phone.
The decedent’s home is a two-story mansion located in Bel-Air on a quiet residential street. The home is clean and well groomed. I observed the bedroom on the second floor of the home, to the right of the staircase. Reportedly, this is the bedroom where the decedent had been resting and entered cardiac arrest. His usual bedroom was down the hall.
The bedroom to the right of the staircase contained a queen size bed and nu- merous tables and chairs. The bedding was disheveled and appeared as though someone had been lying on the left side of the bed. There was a blue plastic pad lined with cotton on the left side of the fitted sheet near the center of the bed. Near the left foot of the bed, there was a string of wooden beads and a tube of toothpaste. Also near the foot of the bed, there was a closed bottle of urine atop a chair.
Next to the left side of the bed, there were two tables and a tan colored sofa chair. Reportedly, the decedent’s doctor sat here. A green oxygen tank was also on this side of the bed. The decedent’s prescription medication bottles were seen on the tables with various medical supplies including a box of catheters, disposable needles and alcohol pads. Several empty orange juice bottles, a telephone and lamp were on the tables as well. An ambubag and latex gloves lay on the floor next to the bed. (2)
“I read my autopsy report,” Michael texted. “I didn’t like it. It made me sound sad.” Orlan did not reply and Michael listened to the whoosh of the air conditioner. He wondered if it was daytime where she was.
It made me sad! he texted again.
He thought about tomorrow’s talk show, his first public appearance. He won- dered if Leno would punch him again. Last time Michael talked to Leno, Leno punched him on the arm. Someone told him later it had been a “chummy” gesture. Michael rubbed his shoulder. He bruised easily.
Michael imagined the bright lights of the stage like surgery lights, he thought.
“When I think about me and read about me I sound sad to me,” he texted quickly.
“But darling, you are,” Orlan answered at last. “We all are.”
“When I come back, I want to be happy.”
(1) This sleep walking story is taken directly from Mike Birbiglia
(2) Excepted directly from MJs autopsy report.
This story was first published in Artifice Magazine.