I Shot Chaz Simpson

I Shot Chaz Simpson

(originally posted Jan 24, 2015 w/ additional writing in another post)

“Immature artists imitate.
Mature artists steal.”

  • Lionel Trilling

She’d been playing the game for weeks already, months even, inserting herself into the right scenes, smiling at the right people, adopting the right persona. As far as LA is concerned, there is no Medrina Kamaar. Instead, there is sweet, bubbly (and maybe a little bit of an airhead) Sienna James, the friendly nightclub promoter. It’s amazingly easy to get a job as a promoter. You just show up, interact a little bit, show even a faint interest. If people like you, your name spreads like wildfire. On the surface level, where it doesn’t really count usually, Medrina is very good at getting people to like her. And so Sienna is as well. In no time she’s got an actual list of clubs paying her in cash and swag to show support for their establishments and she’s making the right acquaintances.

It’s an assignment; it’s a messy, confusing one involving the LA art scene rather than the music scene. But in this case, Carrie, the girlfriend of the artist Medrina needs an “in” with happens to own a nightclub, and, in Medrina’s mind, befriending her is the more subtle way into her boyfriend’s world. Besides, there are mundane-world Illuminati involved and the last thing she needs to do is open their eyes.

The artist is a man named Sasha. Only Sasha. No last name because he’s just too cool for that. He’s a typical LA hipster who does “upcycle” art, taking trash and supposedly turning it into treasure. In Medrina’s eyes, it’s still trash; it’s just very expensive trash. He’s more than an up-and-comer at this point. He’s paid his dues, played the game. He’s on the cusp of becoming huge in the art world, and already making entirely too much money.

Medrina’s finest acting moment in all this is when Sasha casually tells her a “sculpture” made of red solo cups and some twine has been sold for $10,000.

“They got a deal on that,” she tells Sasha, smiling as genuinely as she can. She looks back over at the piece, cringing. In her head, she’s thinking, ‘That is like, $5.00 in cups…’

All her work, every hangout, every concert, every weird-ass art show, has been building for one night. Medrina has been laying foundations, putting pieces in place to ensure that Sasha’s official opening of his newest collection will flop. Very important pieces, some of them already sold, are going to disappear, Sasha is going to lose it and have a wild, coke-fueled outburst befitting Tony Montana and the Illuminati are going to lose interest in the difficult-to-control artist, deciding he’s more hack than artist. He’s going to take it hard, focus on drugs rather than art, and start to wash up. Then his pieces will mysteriously resurface on the black market, but not before the Dragon has its claws firmly embedded in him. His return to the art world will be their bullshit equivalent of the second coming of Christ, and his pieces will carry an influence they previously couldn’t have had, because this Sasha, new Sasha, has been to the edge and back. He has actually suffered now and has given up the image he was clinging to.

Of course, somebody is going to take the fall for the theft. It certainly won’t be the Dragon, or ‘Sienna,’ regardless of how carefully she’s planned their removal from the gallery. His name is Chaz Simpson. He’s another artist, lesser-known. He probably won’t amount to much. As far as Medrina can tell, his art is merely a copy of Sasha’s, or an echo, perhaps. She’s not the only one who sees this, but she doesn’t comment like the others. Still, she can see the envy in his eyes as Sasha gets praised for making his trash look prettier. If anybody needs to be the fall guy in this, it’s Chaz. It’s just too easy not to pin it on him.

There is the matter of the 17% prediction… Medrina’s confident, though. She’s seen bigger and managed to turn the tide. 17% isn’t very much. She can beat 17%…


((LOL I had to do a LOT of censoring on this… oops))

Some time in April, 2015

“Sienna fxcking James.”

Medrina is sitting under a tree outside the dojang tapping at her phone, eyes down. She’s aware of the man in her periphery as he pauses to watch her.

“Sienna,” he repeats. The voice is familiar, but only vaguely. She sighs and finally lifts her eyes to meet his. About a dozen memories come flooding back to her all at once. The gallery thing in LA. The misplaced art pieces. The fight on the terrace. The broken elevator.

Chaz Simpson holding that gun to his head, tears on his face, screaming. The tension. The fear. And this guy standing right there trying to talk him off, trying to get him to calm down. She ran out onto that rooftop as fast as she could and it wasn’t fast enough. She couldn’t stop him.

Fxcking 17%. Medrina is too stunned to speak, studying the dark eyes and the intense features on the man ahead of her.

“I fxcking knew there was more going on with that,” he says, closing the distance until he’s practically standing over her. His arms fold across his chest as he glares down at her. “I fxcking tried to find you and kept getting all these weird fxcking glitches in the Matrix. I knew.”

Medrina finally pockets the phone in her hand and rises so she’s closer to eye level with the man (or as much as she can manage), shoulders rolling back.

“Benji,” she says quietly.

“Benja,” he corrects.

The silence hangs heavy between them for several moments, Benja finally motioning around as he breaks it again.

“So this is—you’re a part of all this shit, too? Is that why I’m here? Because of you? Is that why Chaz is dead?” His eyes are on hers again, and as he says those words, Benja is almost sure he sees a vivid flash of yellow in them.

“I’m… I’m sorry about your friend,” she manages.

“Jesus,” Benja brings a hand up, fingers rubbing gingerly at his brow. “You fxcking killed him.”

She’s taken aback, but she also can’t quite deny it. That one has stayed in her heart for awhile now.

“I… I didn’t know he would–” she starts, but is immediately cut off.

“You didn’t know a severely depressed, hella broke dude who was already struggling would be put over the edge after being accused of major fxcking theft?” He throws up his arms. He doesn’t give time for a response before he’s unloading.

“What is wrong with you people?! Sasha called the cops immediately. Chaz thought he was gonna get locked up. He was so messed up already, and he was freaking out about going to jail and all the other repercussions of stealing Sasha’s garbage fxcking art, and he couldn’t fxcking cope. And for what? So you and your people could dip and take no fxcking responsibility while all the shit you stirred kept festering?!” His voice grows louder as he continues. Benja is aware of the sudden presence of more bodies in the near distance. Nobody does anything just yet, but it’s a blatant reminder that he is not going to be able to finish anything he starts. He takes a step back, inhaling.

“I didn’t kill your friend.” Medrina finally finds her voice, stepping closer to Benja so she doesn’t have to speak so loudly. Her tone stays even, calm. “I wasn’t aware of his mental state when I was assigned the job. It wasn’t about him.”

“He was…” she hesitates. “He was an unexpected casualty.”

“A casualty,” Benja echoes, disdain clear in his voice. “For what, then? For me?”

She shakes her head. “For Sasha. You’re… an anomaly, apparently. I think. I don’t know. I… I wasn’t told about you.”

Benja’s brows knit. “For Sasha? That fxcking hack? Dude’s dropped off into nowhere. What the hell do these people want with Sasha? Wai–is he here, too?!”

Medrina shakes her head, shrugging. “I… I don’t… I don’t know. I don’t think so. I… Look, I don’t think I have the answers you want.”

“Of course you don’t,” he says. “Nobody seems to know anything around here.”

“I’m sorry about Chaz,” she says again.

Benja shakes his head.

“Just don’t fxcking talk to me again,” he mutters. He turns and walks away, disappearing past a pair of silent monks as Medrina continues to watch after him. The silent crowd disperses just as quickly. Somehow she knows this isn’t going to be her last encounter with Benja Moreau.