“Just call me angel of the morning, baby...And slowly turn away from me,” I sing, eyes moving from Saul to George Jr. I can’t help the feeling of utter happiness that spreads over me when Saul grits his teeth. The elevator comes to a halt and both men wait for me to move.
I press a button to open the door and step into a small hallway. At the end I see another door, this one with a hand reader identification machine to one side that prevents access to the room. Saul walks in front and George Jr stays by my side as we approach the check-station. I push my palm against the glass. Red lasers scan my fingerprints and I hum music while I wait for the process to finish.
The screen flashes green and a bell rings, signaling the scan is complete. The computer displays a smile face on the screen and the door opens to reveal a private entrance to a stage. Empty at the moment, the stage is shaped like half an egg, the ceilings made of a space-shuttle type material. A glass barrier separates the half eggs, the other part shrouded in darkness. When we step onto the stage, the next song begins.
‘It’s Just Me’
“I love this song, George,” I say, closing my eyes for a moment to listen.
“I’m aware, you play it like a hundred times a day.”
Saul laughs and I frown. I don’t need my men showing each other any solidarity. “I wouldn’t anger me if I were you.”
“Me?” Saul says, the laughter stopping.
I ignore him and turn to George. “You wanted to see?”
He scans the stage, making a mocking ooh and ah at the appropriate intervals. “It looks like a high-tech, futuristic version of an old movie theater. And extremely expensive. Good thing you're a billionaire.”
“Yes. Your grandfather spared no expense. This room is impenetrable, safe from FBI devices and spying eyes. Completely secure in every way,” I begin. Holding out my hand to Saul, I wait for him to give me the control pad for the lighting and music. With a smirk, he fetches it and places it in my hand.
“Everything is ready,” he says, winking at George Jr.
“Glorious,” I say, tapping a few buttons on the remote. Lights and sound fill the auditorium and suddenly the glass wall separating the half-eggs falls away.
George Jr sees a large crowd of women screaming with some holding signs, every seat in the room taken. The audience is a seething mass, a chant rising like at a soccer stadium. A buzz passes over the women when I step to the microphone hanging from the ceiling.
“Good morning,” I say. The singing and chanting stops and I hear hundreds of individual repetitions of my salutation. “Welcome all citizens of Holden Farms. Today, we will have a trial.”
The crowd goes mad with delight and I see the color leave Jr’s face. I tap the microphone and wait for silence. The catcalls and cheers slowly fade until a hush falls over the room. All eyes on me, waiting. I can feel the strain coming from George Jr, but I do not speak. I scan the front row and make eye contact with Ana. She nods to let me know everything is ready.
“George,” I say, smiling and turning to face him. “Meet the ladies of Holden Farms. The ones that will decide if you live or if you will die.”