Last of the Independents
Melinda pulled out of the kiss with a sigh. “Do you think this will really work? I mean, really hurt them?” she asked.
“Wallet’s worse than the balls for those guys. Oh, they’ll notice,” Sasha said.
“Then I guess we need to celebrate. I think it’s time for us to have a toast,” Melinda said, taking the champagne out of the fridge where she had stored it. “Here’s to the douchebags.”
“And the assholes.”
“And the scumbags.”
“And the jerkoffs.”
Melinda giggled. “I think that covers everyone.”
They sipped their champagne and checked the stats, flipping channels on the television when they got bored. Sasha paused at the sight of familiar faces and turned up the volume.
“And finally, Christie Reed, hosting her first tour since signing with Senate Records, stopped by the studios. Dates in London and Manchester have been announced, to a lukewarm reception from her hardened fans but ardent support from the young lads on Radio One. Her new husband and her lover were in tow, and it was difficult to determine which was more devoted to her,” the reporter said. The image flickered to what appeared to be an archive photo. Magdalena was barely recognizable with the new hairstyle, the loud leopard print coat, and the spiked collar- but the man next to her, in a sparkling purple suit, was both more familiar and less familiar at the same time.
“Holy shit, it worked. We told her to stay by Christy’s side, and she did. No matter what they did to her, she stayed. I guess they decided to make it part of the open bisexual bit. But...” Sasha shook her head and turned back to her keyboard, searching for the latest gossip. “Here, look at this. ‘Peter Williamson, producer and mixer, married Christy at her father’s church in Macon in a controversial ceremony where rings were exchanged with former dancer Maggie Lopez as well.’”
Melinda erupted. “¡Puta sucia! Gold-digging whore! Traitor! ¡Vete a la chingada! ¡Cabrona! ¡Que trampa!” She began to pace, looking like she was about to rip off another stream of insults.
“I don’t know about calling her a tramp, but... I think she manipulated Peter into getting himself taken by Christy before she went under. Or at least she...”
“Kept him from preying?” Melinda suggested.
“Or Hank was right and she got to him at least,” Sasha mused. She knew they’d never know the truth of what had happened at Senate Records that night. The only people who could have known would never be able to tell. All she knew was that Christy had left them their freedom, even as they remained devoted to her memory. There was a reason- there had to be a reason that they lived on while everything else they had worked for crumbled. This site, this network, was the closest they could come to fulfilling that dream. Fewer and fewer of the people they worked with, even tangentially, would know who or what Christy was, but Sasha would carry on with her site, with her dreams, with her career at the top ad agency in London, and with the memories of her past.
“Comments coming in,” Melinda said, and both of them turned to the screen.
Hey, that was nasty! Keep on it, lose yourself- M. Marshall, Class 3, Detroit
Yo, peace to Christy. Thanks for the downloads. New future, but the past will never die. Holla when I’m at Buckingham Palace-N-Are, Woodhaven, New York
Mes condoléances- le monde a perdu une grande lumière et une grande âme- “Marie Claudette”, Charlemagne
I admire your resolve in such trying times. Be sure that our computers will be very busy for you- Carlie, NY
Rest in peace to Christy Reed. God will look after her soul, even as the devil toys with her body. We know the truth. I am no man to bear witness to slavery- Rev. Daunte McAllister, Queens
“Uh,” Sasha said.
“Well, looks like someone got the secret code I put in the masthead,” Melinda said with a naughty grin.
“You dog! Oh, I knew there was a reason I loved you! Maybe we did make a difference,” Sasha said, smiling until she scrolled down.
Shit’s gotten real with the locals. I’ve transferred to a school in Minnesota. I know they’re other controllers, but I’ll die if I get Christy’s new album. At least they want to make me a piper. Don’t laugh too hard at the uniform. Love, Bree.
“Or you need to keep on searching, Sasha,” Melinda said as Sasha clung to her. “Fearless. Stay fearless.”
“Such a fine line,” Sasha murmured, staring at Bree’s note, wondering what the future held, wondering if she had done anything at all.