— A man of forty?
Lorenzo smoothed his whiskers and squinted. His bulging belly and small frame, dressed in a crimson jacket with epaulets, made him look like a bear wrangler. And in a way, he had always had the impression with Emis of taming a wild beast. The singer was particularly feverish that day. Lorenzo sighed as he listened to his protégé.
— I don’t know, he must be that age?
— Can you describe him to me?
— He’s… weird.
— But according to your description, he looks like anyone else. You’re talking about a big guy with jet-black hair…
— No, not black, not on top.
— A little bald. Like a third of forty-year-old men.
— Thirty, thirty.
— And from the stage, can you see how old this guy is? You can concentrate enough to sing and stare at him at the same time. I’d have to whistle with admiration.
— Look, man. I’m not the psycho. This guy scares me. He comes to every concert. And when I… When I get the audience to sing, he doesn’t open his mouth. He doesn’t sing.
— Maybe he’s shy?
— No, it’s more than that.
— Did you take your medicine Emis?
— I’m not the psychopath. Lorenzo, this guy scares me.
— Okay, okay. You can show me at the next concert, okay?
The singer shook his head back and forth. He had changed his clothes. He had taken a hot shower, washed himself with Guerlain’s red Habit shower gel and put on a white Esprit jersey and organic cotton t-shirt with his face printed in shades of gray (Lorenzo had given it to him in April). He had shaved carefully, trying to put the other out of his mind. A little blood had stained the sink. At what point had he stopped concentrating and cut himself? He couldn’t tell. He had applied Guerlain’s Super Aqua aftershave lotion as well, lightly massaging his face.
Emis stood up. The spoon in front of his martini glass shook. The room was littered with dust, there had been work done recently. Emis bent down, took one of the cherries from the basket and tasted it while watching Lorenzo slam the door. He doesn’t understand. The man is crazy. He stares at me as if… like a bird of prey. The concert, the music doesn’t exist for him. This man wants me dead. He spat the cherry pit on the floor and finished the martini. Then he put a hand in the pocket of his denim low waist jeans that extended his black polished shoes Rosino by Azzaro man. He tightened his car keys until they hurt.
Emis went around the chick yellow mazerarati Mc20. It had a slight scratch on the driver’s door. Emis ran his tongue over his lips. That’s him. But how did he do it? I’m sure that scratch wasn’t there this morning. He thought back to his conversation with Lorenzo. He didn’t understand anything. Suddenly, the lights in the VIP parking lot began to flash. Emis jumped up and hurried to get behind the wheel; he was shaking. I shouldn’t have been drinking. Let’s see, what time is it? They’re all waiting for me at 228. The bar has been privatized for me… I can’t let them down.
Emis pushed the door of the bar with energy. A young girl as blonde as wheat jumped on his neck. Her hair was styled with a clever mix of tousled and unkempt. She had just dyed her hair that morning in the cosy, 40’s Hollywood atmosphere at Christophe Robin’s while tasting green tea scented with Touareg mint from Damann frères. The result was a chocolate with pearly reflections. His blackcurrant dress was signed Ralph Lauren woman, and the indented cut attracted the admiring glance of Emis. He drew her to him and smelled her perfume. The strongly vanilla and woody smell of the Jicky of Guerlain made him quiver the nostrils. He looked around him. Where was he? Suddenly he remembered: the concert, that guy in the crowd, staring at him, the scratch on the mazerati… He rubbed his cheekbones. They were burning. Violin music came to him from the street. The door of the bar had been left open. He finished his Moscow mule, bit into the decorative orange wedge on his plate and bit into a pistachio.
Emilie drew him out. The cab was speeding along. The rain began to assault the windows. Emis wondered if he had told his cook to prepare veal rice for him. Emily asked him how the concert had gone.
— Was it crowded? Oh, honey, I’m so sorry I couldn’t make it. I’ll make it up to you at the next one.
— How was your day? » he asked politely.
He didn’t listen to her answer. The pretty blonde opened the cab window and lit a cigarette. Paris was passing by under Emis’ dark glasses. They stopped a few blocks from the Champs-Elysées.
— We’re going to Rasputin’s. Somebody privatized it for tonight?
— I think that… Yes it is there. We’re joining Lea and her friends.
— The Victoria’s secret model?
— Yeah, you know I told you about her.
— Do you ever listen to me, Emis?
The heavy velvet curtains parted and let the couple out onto the dance floor. The walls were lined with golden lace. In an alcove, a couple was kissing. Emis recognized the J-Flow dancer. A laser harp sent laser beams at the dancers. A smoke machine fogged the room they were in. Emis wiped his forehead. He was on fire.
He and Emily danced for a while to Whitney Houston. Then Emis sat down. He ordered a whiskey with a twist of lemon. From his table, he saw Lea join her girlfriend. The two girls seemed to be enjoying themselves. The smoke was beginning to sting Emis’ eyes. That’s when he saw him, in the middle of the smoke. The stranger in the pit. Emis immediately got up and rushed at the guy. As he turned around, the stranger glared at him and ran away. But it was a failure: it wasn’t him. However, he felt spied on since the beginning of the evening. Could it be that he was paranoid? Emis drank a third glass then went to look for Emily in the toilets. The young woman was powdering herself with a Lancôme ice cream. She moistened her lips with a little Estée Lauder lip gloss then turned back to her companion.
In the cab that was taking them both back to their apartments, he noticed that the rain had stopped. The black clouds were gathering in the middle of the night sky. Emis noticed that his jeans were soaked. He had been hot.
— You look preoccupied, darling.
— I was thinking about… You’ve never been stalked or…
— Oh, yes, lots of times, » she said and laughed stupidly.
— I’m in such a hurry to go to Mykonos.
Emis clenched her fists. I can’t stand her anymore, he thought.
Once in his residence, Emis found the veal rice wrapped in a thin plastic film. He packed his suitcase, a black Tumi Alpha 3 stretch that his mother-in-law had given him. Rain was falling on the roof. He could hear the sound of a thunderstorm. He turned on MTV and made himself a glass of white wine. Suddenly, a figure seemed to pass behind the living room’s French window. He screamed. A few moments later there was a knock on his door. His cat came and purred between his legs. He got rid of it with a kick. One knocked again, with more spaced knocks on his door in varnished oak Agathe at Leroy Merlin. On tiptoe, he reached the door and looked through the peephole, then opened the door.
— I heard you yelling.
His neighbor was a well-known TV presenter. She had heavy dark circles under her eyes and Chanel Carmen lipstick that was too bright for her blonde complexion. He looked for a moment at the grey hair growth and had a disgusted pout. God, this woman is sloppy. Then he closed the door, after having calmed his neighbor. The cat scratched his calves as he passed him to go and take a lexomil in the kitchen. He was shaking; big drops of sweat fell on the six-burner Bartscher gas stove with a gas oven and a nickel-plated chrome steel cover.
The cab ride to the airport the next day was silent. All the angels of heaven could be heard passing by. Emily trimmed her nails without speaking. She had given up trying to put on a brave face, it seemed. She only wants me to take her on vacation.
Their hotel, the Cavo Tagoo, was known for its beautiful private beach. Emis let Emily enjoy it all afternoon. He perched on one of the comfortable mattresses by their pool. He spotted Emily below chatting with a young man. The young man was holding what appeared to be a glass of gin and lemonade. The sun glinted off his eyes and he closed them. The face of his fan instantly came to his consciousness. He abruptly opened his eyes again. The sun was already shining more gently on their suite. The evening was about to fall.
He walked along the private beach, without meeting Emily. Suddenly, he saw a large bird pierce a thin cloud above him. He put his hand on his visor and realized. The bird of prey. The psychopath. It was him talking to Emily, he was sure. He shivered and decided to go back to the hotel.
— The guy you were talking to, who was he?
— An influencer. He knows you. He’s a fan of your music.
— Did he tell you what he was doing there?
— I told you. He’s an influencer. He’s here to shoot a video to promote the hotel. It’s the most beautiful hotel on the island. Love, how about a trip tomorrow?
— Where to?
— To Delos. He told me that the island is ma-gi-fique.
— Why not.
He shrugged his shoulders. The sun had whitened the room. A faint red light was entering their suite. He squinted and pulled Emily onto the room’s huge bed. They made love without conviction, then Emis kissed Emily on the forehead.
— That guy, the influencer. I know him.
— That’s not possible.
— He comes to all my shows.
— Is he the fan who follows you around? Lorenzo told me about him.
Emis thought that Emily wasn’t that stupid.
— Yes, it’s him. But I’m not afraid anymore. You know what? Ask him to join us in Delos tomorrow.
— What, now?
— Do you know where to find him?
— I can check the bar in the hotel lobby.
He closed his eyes and fell asleep after Emily left.
The next day, it was even hotter than usual. Emily had changed into a white and yellow floral Michael Kors dress in georgette crepe. She laughed.
— He agrees.
— Who’s okay?
— Your follower.
Emis shivered. He didn’t know if it was the breeze coming in through the half-open blind or fear.
They boarded the yacht chartered for the occasion. He met Julian (that was the fan’s name) on the way there. Emis watched him. It was him, no doubt, but Julian made no reference to the harassment he had put Emis through. They drank rosé, discussed their respective experiences of Greece and arrived in Delos without having taken the measure of the hour.
The wind blew on the island. They went up to the mount Cynthe, explored the small island and then settled down near the only lake of the island. Emis had an idea.
— Julian, will you accompany me to the… To the sanctuary of Apollo? I’d like to discuss a project with you.
Emily hadn’t heard anything, she was sunbathing on the shores of the lake.
They made a detour to the port and the beach. Emis took Julian to a yacht that did not belong to him.
— This yacht is mine.
— You must be making a good living.
And when Julian climbed onto the yacht and leaned against the rail, he pushed him with all his might.
— Don’t you dare follow me again, » he shouted.
The yacht was high, and Julian’s body fell onto a small boat below. He lay motionless.
Emis took off running. He woke up Emily, still lying by the lake.
— Hurry, Emily, we have to go back.
— They say there’s a storm coming.
And indeed the sky seemed to darken at that very moment.
The rest of the trip was boring as hell for Emis. He read in a local newspaper that a murder had taken place on Delos. Then he thought no more about it. Only once did he wonder if Julian was the murdered man in question. No, he was certainly not dead, the fall had not been that great. Thinking this, he felt relieved.
He would get up every morning at dawn, shave and go out to the private beach. Then he would read quietly until 12:30 before going to eat. Emily did not mention Julian. Emis thought to himself that everything was fine. The psychopath would definitely stop following him.
They returned to Paris on a rainy Wednesday. Lorenzo welcomed Emis with open arms. He mumbled a few sentences and then took Emis home to set up the concert that was to take place the next day. Emis felt exhausted. He thought more and more about the murder he had committed. He was beginning to fear that he had been spied on. He wondered if the Greek police would ever get on his trail. He shared a meal with Lorenzo, some tapas, wasa with tarama and two glasses of white Luxembourg wine.
The concert took place the next day at the Olympia. Emis was dressed in a black Ralph lauren jacket with white stripes, white Finsbury sneakers and earth-red Balenciaga pants with clips. The noise was deafening. He thought he was quiet for good for the first half of the concert. He sang All I want is a glass of glitters with enthusiasm. The fan was not there. But as he started the second verse of his song I am born to be with you, he met his eyes. It was not him on Delos, that was his first thought. He clenched his right fist on his navy blue Gibson Pelham electric guitar. He tried to continue singing but his voice was getting shaky. Suddenly, he stopped. The fan was staring at him with his unblinking eyes.
He ran backstage, out of his mind. So Julian had the nerve to reappear, despite his warning? Emis was torn between fury and anguish. Just then, Lorenzo appeared, his arms full of files. He let them all fall down while seeing the fleeing star.
— Are you crazy? At the Olympia in the middle of a concert.
— Lorenzo, he’s… He’s… Back.
— Show it to me. That’s enough!
The two men returned to the stage and Emis showed the fan to Loreneo. Lorenzo made a sign to the stage manager, who shone a spotlight on the fan. This one tried to run away. But Emis, listening only to his rage, threw himself on him and tackled him to the ground.
— Will you stop following me? Will you stop?
The other got up and dusted off his jacket.
— Are you going to tell me your name?
He realized that it wasn’t Julian. But the other one said nothing. Suddenly, the fan took out his cell phone and wrote a message.
« I can’t talk. »
— Why, huh?
— I’m deaf and dumb.
— Why do you come to every concert then, huh?
« I’m sorry I scared you »
— Why did you do that? Answer me!
« I like the vibrations. The ones from your concerts. The electric music. It makes me feel good.
Emis fell backwards. So it wasn’t him, Emis, that the fan was stalking, but vibrations. And this guy was definitely not Julian. He bit his lip. Had he imagined everything?
— Come see me in my dressing room.
— Okay, » wrote the other on his phone.
— I’ll sign an album for you.
The concert resumed in full swing. Emis winked several times at the fan, whose name, he later learned, was David. The strobes sent a dazzling light throughout his performance. The bass was making more than a thousand Emis fans dance, and they came to dance for the occasion. But all Emis could think about was his blunder.
On his way home, he was startled to hear his cat jump out of bed to meet him. The rain had stopped, and he wondered if it had really been a figure he had seen at the front door.
Surely, the fame was beginning to drive him crazy. He promised himself that he would soon go on vacation with a girl other than Emily (she was seriously getting on his nerves) and he fell asleep, not without first putting his black AlexanderMcQueen night mask on his smiling face.