chapter one - going places...

Sunday August 16th, 1987

Allison pulled the shower curtain aside and popped her head out from beneath the warm waterfall. Straining her neck she listened intently over the soft patter of water at her feet – yep - she could hear her bedroom phone ringing - again - for what must have been the 3rd time since stepping into the bathroom 20 minutes ago.

"Who on earth could need to talk me so urgently this morning?” she sighed. “It’s Sunday.”

It definitely was Sunday. And everyone and anyone who knew Allison knew that Sunday was considered sacred. Not because she was religious in any way, but because it was her day to do her own thing, chill and basically do nothing but deflate from her week.

Assuming it was important; she turned off the water and stepped out of the shower into the cool air. Quickly wrapping a towel around her long hair, she pulled her robe around her and tied it firmly at the waist.
Walking over to her machine, she noted right away there was no message. Hmm, that’s odd...

Her parents wouldn’t call her; or her closest friends and not leave a message. No one, she thought. Even when she had a serious or permanent man in her life, Sunday was her day to do nothing but be by herself and relax.
Not that she had a permanent or even semi- permanent man - or a date for that matter - for quite some time – “but if I did” she said aloud with a giggle “they should not be calling me today.” At least that is what she told herself.

It had been that way for a long time, at least since her mid teens – Allison just liked to spend time alone, so she picked Sunday and made it hers. She found it especially essential after she moved to LA to start her career as a photographer. You really did needed alone time when you lived in LA.
But especially this Sunday, today was her last day of her extended vacation. Tomorrow it would be back to work and on to her next assignment – whatever it may be.

Allison loved her job, but she had been busy lately. May through July was wedding heaven mayhem for a photographer and meant one thing – money! If you planned it right you could make almost ½ of your year’s earnings, or more, in those three months, thus giving yourself the freedom to pick and choose your other assignments throughout the year.

From the beginning of May to mid July Allison kicked it into high gear, averaging almost 4 wedding a week, with three christenings’ and one wild and crazy 50th Anniversary party for good measure. It was brutal and she was exhausted! As soon as her last set was processed, presented and the last proof approved and signed off she requested extended time off to recoup.

Today all she wanted to do was curl up with her faithful dog Sam and read a good book. As if on cue, Sam sauntered into the bedroom looking shamelessly for a belly rub. Kneeling down Allison reached out towards Sam. “C’mere Samson, let mommy rub your belly baby boy.” She cooed.

Just as Allison reached Samson’s scruffy head, the phone rang again, startling her. Sorry Sam, it will have to wait buddy she thought, and scratched him behind his ear before getting up.

“Hello?” She answered.
“Hey Ally, it’s me Marcus, how are you?”
“Oh, hi Marcus, I am good how about you?”
“I'm good Ally, I'm really good actually. Actually I am really great.”
She smiled into the phone; she really did love her boss, he was such a great guy. “Yeah you sound happy Marcus, are you drinking?” she said with a dry laugh.
“I see the extended time away has not changed your sarcastic attitude Ms. Ally-Cat, still the funny girl I see. No I am not drinking, but would you care if I was? “
Allison giggled into the phone. “Nope, it’s noon somewhere, right?”
“That's right it is. So seriously really Allison, how are you? Are you ready to come back to work? Feeling well rested?”
“Well I guess we will see. I think so and I do miss it and I am always afraid I will lose my eye if I stay away too long.”

Allison took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Marcus, why are you calling so early and why are you calling me on Sunday? Is everything okay? Are Grace and the girls okay?”
“Oh goodness sorry Allison, I know it is Sunday. Everyone is good, nothing to worry about. I am actually calling you about work.”
She breathed heavily again... “Umm Marcus, you know I love you, but if you are calling me about work, could this not have waited until tomorrow?”
“Actually it can’t wait. I have a new job for you Ally. I had lined up before the wedding madness began – but I was hammering out your details and your schedule and I needed to make sure you were still coming in tomorrow.”
“You have been lining me up for a job that early out?” Allison chucked in the phone. “I hate to break it to you Marcus, but I am not that good of a photographer. I am good, but I am not Ansel Adams ya know!”
“Allison, you are an outstanding photographer, but I didn’t pick you. The client specifically asked for you and it is exactly the next assignment you were looking to do.”
“Oh really, is that so?”
“It is exactly so and you’re gonna love it. That’s why I am calling you on a Sunday.”

That got Allison’s interest. “Really Marcus? Oh my.” Allison asked excitedly. “Who is asking for me?” she was smiling into the phone again “Conde Nast, Outdoor Life, Nat Geo thinks I am awesome and wants me to do another shoot... oh god that would be so SWEET... who, whoooooo?”
Marcus was laughing hardily into the phone. He loved her youth and enthusiasm. She was such a good kid.
“Oh now it appears I have your full attention!” Marcus chucked into the phone.
“Well yeah... hello yeah, yeah you do! Tell me all the details!” Allison sang.
“Well actually it is not a publication or a magazine; it is a high profile private client. Very high profile and it has been in the works for quite some time.”
“Oh a private client, that’s different. Well who is it then... what do we need, when do we start, what are we doing, where are we going, am I going to them, or are they coming to LA? Ha-ha... this is so exciting.” Allison was talking a mile a minute and could barely contain her zeal that someone had asked for her work specifically.

“Okay, first of all breathe Allison. Second, the client resides here in LA, but will be travelling shortly. Third, you won’t officially start until September and forth, I don’t need you to do anything but commit you are coming to work tomorrow and confirm you are interested. But I do believe I have confirmed both just now.”
“Wow September... that is almost a whole month away! Okay... oh wait... Marcus – am I meeting the client tomorrow? Is that why you are calling? What should I do? What should I say? Oh... god what should I wear? I really want to make a good impression!”
Marcus laughed into the receiver. “Don’t worry my sweet girl – I do believe you have already made a very good impression with them. Okay, so don’t worry and we'll see you tomorrow.”



Allison looked at the clock for what seemed like the hundredth time in the last hour. Unlike Samson, who was snoring away at her feet, she could not get to sleep. She was way too excited about meeting this client who asked for her specifically.

At the age of 26, Allison Wolf, was regarded as excellent travel and outdoor photographer with high expectations to only get better.

By day she honed her craft with weddings and portraits – and she loved it. She loved working with couples, families and especially children, capturing the memories of their special day exactly as they saw it, but her heart and soul belonged to the world of outdoor, landscapes and travel photography. It is where she wanted to make her mark in the photography world.

She knew that other photographers were getting to know her work and she was slowly making a name for herself. She had lucked out about a year ago when her mentor, Moose Peterson, recommended her for a job with National Geographic. It was a small little job – a stepping stone and great experience. She had gotten rave reviews on her feature and one of her photos was nominated for an IPA award. She wasn’t by any means a household name yet, but the idea of someone outside of her profession was noticing her work enough to hire her – now that was something - that made her excited - apparently to excited to sleep.

Pulling her feet from under Samson’s head, Allison rolled over and tried to find a comfortable position with her pillow. She tucked under her mass of hair behind her and sighed. Please let me sleep she thought. Breathing deeply and rhythmically she concentrated on the sounds of the waves outside her apartment, thinking she would never get to sleep and she started to count backwards from 1000... before she reached 900, she was fast asleep.

--

Monday August 17th, 1987

Allison arrived at the office just before 7AM. The small parking lot was empty. The usual office staff would not arrive until 10AM and the majority of the photographers came and went sporadically throughout the day - coming and going as their assignments and schedules required.

Even thought there were no set hours or a time clock to punch, when not on location or a shoot, Allison usually arrived early to get a head start on her day. The time alone preparing made her days feel more structured and organized. A key factor to keeping Allison’s control freak nature in its happy place and Allison as well! She has been out of the office for almost three months, mostly working with clients and then almost four weeks’ vacation – which was unheard of for Allison - it seemed like a life time ago she was in her work space.

Sitting down at her draft table – she took stock of what needed to be done and thought she should start by sorting through stack of mail and subscriptions – the least favourite part of her job.

Marcus arrived a little after Allison and smiled when he saw her car in the lot.

Good girl Ally, you are such a good girl. You really are in for a surprise today and you deserve it he thought.

From the day he hired Allison as an apprentice photographer, he knew she was something special. She was a natural beauty, funny, open and sincere and brilliantly talented and totally unaware of her beauty and of her talents.

He knew that eventually she would become a highly sought after photographer - his decision to snatch her up and hire her was sealed as soon as he saw her portfolio. Although his wife swears he would have hired her on her looks and naivet̩ alone Рand she was probably right, however Marcus chose to believe his version of the story.

It didn’t take her long to come up with her own distinct style and flow. She was working on her own by the end of her second year. She was a quick study and was always open to listening and learning from anyone who would offer or sit for the hours she was willing to listen.

Now after almost 5 years with Marcus Daye & Associates she was one of his top photographers with the least amount of drama and maintenance. Although he was sure that was about to change when their appointment showed up. If Marcus had his way, he would make her a partner, but he cared for her like his own. He knew there were bigger and better things in her future.

Marcus parked his car and went in through the main entrance of the studio. Walking into the kitchen he hit the start button on the coffee maker and made his way over to Allison.

“Good morning. I see someone one was up with the sun this morning.” He said.
“I started the coffee – why don’t you head over to my office in about half hour so we can catch up and discuss our new client?”
“Sounds good boss man, I’ll get you a cup of when I get mine. Are we on or off the sugar this week?”
“Geez Allison, you sound like my wife. Just bring me what you’re having and I won’t fire you.” He smiled as he walked towards his office.

--

Frank DiLeo jumped in the back of the limo and tapped on the partition window to let the driver know he was ready to go.

Grabbing his briefcase from the floor Frank wanted to waste no time today. He worked quickly and efficiently this morning. He had gotten an early start, it was just before 10AM and he was now on his way over to his 3rd meeting of the day.

There was much to do. In just less than a month Frank would be in charge of keeping his boss on track, organizing his day to day activities, meetings and schedule so he could do his main job. That was a hard thing to do when your boss was Michael Jackson. But Frank was the man to do it.

Today he had a side trip to a small photo studio in Costa Mesa to meet with a photographer Michael wanted to hire.

Michael was always surprising him with his ideas and suggestion; some were downright ludicrous, but most he had to admit, were brilliant. When Mike hit him with his idea to hire a photographer for his personal use, Frank scoffed at the idea, a waste of money he proclaimed.

Michael ignored him and proceeded to advise Frank he already had the one in mind... this told Frank he had been thinking about it for quite some time, as Michael didn’t do anything business wise without long consideration.

It seemed crazy at first, but the closer the tour got to kicking off and the more time Frank had to think about it, it seemed like an extremely logical idea.

Frank pressed the button to lower the partition glass, “How much longer Jimmy?” he inquired.
“We should be there in about forty-five minute’s sir.”
“Great, let me know when we are ten minutes out.”

--

Standing in Marcus’s office, Allison’s blinked blankly at her boss. She had been that way for more than five minutes. Marcus was starting to worry.

Finally focus came back to her eyes... and a silly lopsided smile came to her lips.
WHAT? Oh my god...” she raised her hands to her mouth in surprise, “oh my god, what did you just say?”
“I was saying...” Marcus started, with a wide grin on his face.
“Oh, I think I need to sit down.” Allison cried, looking every bit like if she didn’t she might faint on spot.

Marcus walked over to Allison and grabbed her hand and plunked her down beside him on the leather couch.

“Allison Wolf, if I didn’t know any better, I would think you were star struck before even meeting the star.”

Taking both hands in his, Marcus pulled her in his direction to look at him. “Look, his manager will be here for 11AM, I need you got get yourself together and relax and breathe for a minute, okay... I have told them I think you are the perfect choice and that you are the girl for the job. But I need you to be professional and calm.” he gave her a fatherly smile... “Can you do that?”

She nodded her head once.

“So you haven’t answered me, are you interested in this assignment? I know it is unexpected and is far from home and you...

Allison cut Marcus’s words short....throwing her arms around his neck she was screaming like his teenage daughters.... “oh my god, oh my god, oh my god... I am going on tour with Michael Jackson, hee-hee! Hell ya I am interested... sign me up!”

--

Chomping on his 2nd cigar of the day, Frank sat in the small boardroom and watched the pretty young girl walk past the open door several times. After she was about to pass by again, she turned on her heels walked into the boardroom, setting a large portfolio case on the wood table, faced him and extended her hand.

“Hello, my name is Allison,” she smiled, “it is very nice to meet you Mr. DiLeo. Can I offer you something to drink?”
“Sure honey, a diet-Pepsi or glass of water would hit the spot; it is a scorcher out there already.”
“Yeah, it gets quite warm down here by the water in August.” Allison replied. “I think we might have some diet-Pepsi in the kitchen, just give me a minute.”

Jogging down the short hallway Allison grabbed two diet-Pepsi’s from the small kitchen and returned to the boardroom and started to open the portfolio to discuss her work.

Frank looked up from his notes and watched girl prepping the portfolio for appraisal. “Thank you Allison, I don’t mean to be rude, but I have a lot of meetings to attend to today, will Ms. Wolf be joining us soon?”

“Oh...” Allison giggled slightly, “I’m sorry Mr. DiLeo I didn’t introduce myself as such. I am Allison Wolf. You are meeting with me this morning.”

Frank raised his eyebrows in surprise giving her a quick once over and then gave a hardy chuckle.

You’re Ms. Wolf? Well I’ll be god-damned; Michael is going to love you... and may be a bit surprised you are so young and - if you don’t mind me saying - quite the looker.”

Scrunching her brow Allison blushed slightly and for a moment looked down at the table. She hated this part... no matter how many times this happened, she was always surprised by it. She released a quick sigh, straightened to her full height and then looked directly at Frank.

“Thank you for your observation Mr. DiLeo, but I presume I am being hired for my talents not my looks. I would like to agree on that before we proceed.”

“Oh yes of course, of course. You just surprised me that’s all, as I am sure Michael will be. I didn’t mean to offend you.
“Okay, good. Just as long as we are clear with that before we move on. So would you like to see my work to make sure I am right person for the job?”

“Actually no, I don’t need to see your work. Mr. Jackson has seen your work and he knows what he likes and he know what he wants. I am here to discuss the details of the contract with you then if you are in agreement with that, all that artsy creative stuff can be discussed with Mr. Jackson when you meet with him. Okay?”

Allison thought for a second... she rolled those last few words in her mind... can be discussed with Mr. Jackson when you meet him....

Her stomach flip-flopped and she had to catch her breath. It had not really occurred to her she would be meeting and discussing anything with Mr. Jackson.

“Okay.” She smiled.

Almost two hours later the deal was signed and witnessed on the dotted line more than a few times.... it was official, Allison would be going on tour with Michael Jackson as his personal travel photographer.

SWEET was all she could say!!!

--

After his meeting in Costa Mesa Frank had a final meeting in LA and then a dinner with another promoter, then he would be done for today. But he would be back at again tomorrow and the next day too and so on. It would be at least another full two weeks of meeting, before everything would be in order for Michael’s first solo tour.

Frank took the opportunity to use the Limo phone to give Michael a call.

On the third ring Cassandra picked up the phone. They exchanged some pleasantries and she went to get Michael.

“Tookie! Michael yelped. “How are you? Did you call your kids today?” Michael was always inquiring if Frank was keeping in contact with his family.

“I didn’t call Mike, but I saw them this morning.”

“You should still call; let them know you are thinking about them.”

“Alright, I will call right after I hang up with you.”

“Mike, I just wanted to let you know I met with Allison Wolf today. She is committed through to the Australian leg with the option to hook back up with us on the second European Leg.”

“Oh that’s great!” Mike replied. “So what’s she like is she nice?”

Frank gave a deep laugh. “Yeah Mike. She is very nice. I think you will really like her... all of her.” He added at the end.

“What?” Michael said.

“Nothing Mike, don’t worry about it. Have you ever seen or met her before?” Frank inquired. “Pretty girl and she is kind of young – I wouldn’t make her out be more than 24 or 25 tops – but she seems like a very nice girl.”

“Really?” Michael said, “No I have never met her, I have only seen her work and she is exactly the type of person I need for this trip.”

Frank smiled thinking the exact same thing. “I have to agree with you Michael, it was a brilliant idea. I think she will be perfect for you.”

After hanging up Frank called his kids like he promised. It somehow felt wrong to tell Michael one thing and do the other.

--

The next 3 weeks were going to be a blur for Allison.

There was so much to do, she didn’t even know where to start or how to start or even who to enlist to help her start. The only two things she knew for sure is she would be meeting Michael Jackson in the flesh on September 4th and she would be flying out to Japan on September 9th and meet with the tour entourage in Tokyo.

In less than 24 hours she went from small town, relatively unknown, photographer to being hired by the most famous man in the world to basically do what she loved, travel and take pictures – it was a dream come true.

After her meeting, she went back to Marcus’s office to give him the details. She was so high on cloud nine she didn’t even notice the jealous looks and glances she was getting from several of the younger girls in the office.

Sitting in her boss’s office she was beaming.

“I don’t know who I made happy in my past life – but thank you, thank you whoever you are!”

Stopping for a moment, she noticed her boss was looking a little sad. He hadn’t said very much since she walked in to tell him about the meeting.

“Marcus? You are okay with this right? Tell me you are okay with me doing this... I mean you knew I was gonna request to do more or less my own thing for remainder of the year. We talked about it remember... that is why I worked so hard for the past 3 months.”

Marcus looked at her and gave a big smile, but it did not reach his eyes.

“Awe Ally that is why I let you work so hard for the last 3 months. I just always thought that you would be closer to home – that’s all.”

Allison felt her heart lurch...

“Well it is not forever Marcus, I’ve only signed on until the end of November and then I will be back. By that time I am sure I will be so sick of Mr. Michael Jackson I will be dying to come home. Or maybe he won’t like what I do, I hear he is a super duper perfectionist, or maybe he will get sick of me and send me home.”

“That is not going to happen. You are a great photographer Allison and it is time you moved on to do something with your talents. I really only have on stipulation.”

“What’s that boss man – anything your heart desires?”

“Just promise me, when the time comes, you will do the girls weddings. I wouldn’t want anyone one else but family for their special day.”

“Marcus stop, you are going to make me cry. Of course, of course I will – I love your girls – and you just promise me I will have a job to come back to.”

“Deal...” he finally smiled, “now come here and give me a hug!”

It was strange leaving the office that Monday afternoon. It had an odd type of finality to it that she wasn’t expecting. Even though she knew she would be coming back over the couple of weeks to pick up her equipment and to organize her area and prepare for her trip. She just knew that everything would be different after today.

When she got home, she immediately grabbed a snack, jumped into her beach gear and took Samson to Dog Beach to let him have some fun. It was a beautiful evening and she stayed at the beach a little longer than usual – by the time she got home, had some dinner, got a shower and changed into her night tee it was almost 9 o’clock.

It had been a long busy day, but now it was quiet and she finally was getting ready to relax and sit still for more than a few minutes. It was at that moment when reality finally set in. Her heart started thumping like mad in her chest and her palms were all sweaty. Oh my god, I am going on tour with Michael Jackson.  

OH MY GOD - I am going to meet Michael Jackson.

Samson jumped at the loud squeal coming from his owner... who immediately started jumping up and down on her bed.

“Oh my god... I gotta call Val!”

14 comments:

  1. AHHH C !!!!!!

    This is a great and promising start of a beautiful story about a beautiful man and his woman , I like her already....

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  2. Thanks K - I am glad you like it so far.

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  3. *drumming impatiently on the table with her fingertips*

    Where is chapter two?

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  4. Oh.. I didn't know you were waiting my danish delight... I am on it.

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  5. Just started reading your story.. And I am loving it so far.. Cant wait to see what comes of these two..... :)

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  6. Welcome Forever... I am so glad you are here and am glad you like it too!

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  7. I found your story via Enola's page and already I'm hooked ! BAD is definitely my favorite era ! What a great idea to have a heroine who is a photographer AND who is going on tour with the famous Michael Jackson !
    I'll spend my lazy Sunday reading your story !!
    Ingrid

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  8. Ingrid - welcome over to my story. Yes, the lovely E was so sweet to put me on her blog so I am so happy to get new readers into my BAD world.

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  9. I am so late commenting. I am loving the story so far Martini. We need to pop a bottle and celebrate!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hello MsJ... so nice to see you here! How are you lovely? I am so glad you are liking the story - I am having lots of fun writing it.

    You know me, I am always up for popping a bottle and having one or two or eight... but who's counting!

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  11. Just discovered this story, thanks to Forever Michael & love it so far! The Bad Era has always been my favorite!

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  12. Good morning Mariaann and welcome to the story... Yes Forever is my little cheerleader.. love that girl!

    I hope you enjoy the story... who doesn't love a Bad Era Man? : )

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  13. You warned me not to jump ahead but I don't want to. I am savoring every word. You are an excellent writer. This first part is extremely good! I can't wait to read more! Tempting and teasing me already, I'm HOOKED!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. NancyEmily - I totally forgot to come and say hello and thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy it. I have to thank you again for making that sexy MJ vid Heat on High... so lovely - even hubby likes the song!

    ReplyDelete

 

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