Chapter 1: Infamous

“I finally found you.”

In a baseball cap, T-shirt, basketball shorts, and sneakers, JZ, the most famous singer, song-writer, multi-instrumentalist, and actor in Asia, was walking briskly down the busy streets of downtown Beijing in the summer time, and spotted a beautiful young womansitting at a café reading the newspaper.  A pale, fresh face with rosy cheeks, her eyes soft but focused on what was in front of her.  She was wearing a sky blue blouse with laced sleeves, denim short shorts, and flats.  With great confidence and mystery, he walked toward the young lady and sat in front of her.  She was aware of his presence but chose not to acknowledge him.  A moment passed by until he reached for her hand, and she quickly withdrew it, glanced at him, then back at the paper.  With his head slightly down, he looked around to see if anyone noticed him.  Many of the café customers did and started pointing their fingers at him.  He took the chance and talked to her.

“Do you know who I am?” JZ quietly asked.

With a calm face, “Of course I do, and so does everyone else in this city,” replied Elle with disinterest but kept her eyes and voice down.

JZ smiled and noticed that she was looking at the classifieds section with a few boxes circled.  He said with an air of confidence and desire, “You’re looking for a place to stay.  I have many places for you to stay.  Why don’t you stay with me?”

“Because I don’t like you,” she said again with disinterest and her voice down.

JZ was surprised and the chatter got louder in the café and more fingers were pointing at him.  Sensing that his fans have figured out who he was, he quickly jotted down his phone number on her newspaper, then stood up and tried to leave, but his fans and the paparazzi quickly stuck to him like magnets.  He had no choice but to smile, wave, sign autographs, and got his picture taken.  Elle, on the other hand, squeezed through the tightly packed people hoping to get a glimpse of the star.

Elle walked toward her tiny apartment.  With a huge smile on her face, she was star-struck and contemplated whether to call him or not.  She reached her apartment, and with no one to talk to, she plopped down on her bed, stared at the ceiling, and talked to herself.

“Call him.  I wonder what he’s like without the paparazzi.”  “Don’t call him.  He wants to sleep with you.  After he’s done, he’ll push you aside like the nobody you are.”

“He is successful, super attractive, and I can hardly breathe when I have any form of contact with him.”  “You’re right.  He is successful and super attractive.  Look at yourself; you’re living in this dinky place with the electricity working half the time, unsafe tap water, an old bed, one suitcase of clothing, and less than $100 in the bank.  Once he finds out you’re poor, he’ll think you’re a gold-digger.”  “He was poor before he became famous.  He must be able to sympathize, but I’m not even after his or anyone else’s money.”  “I know it, but he won’t and nobody else will.  Think about it, your squeaky voice against this century’s most famous singer.”  “You’re right, I won’t call him, but I’m keeping the paper until I call all those places.”  “I’m burning the paper after one hour so you won’t be tempted any further.”

With a big sigh, Elle sat up and turned on the TV and saw that JZ was on.  JZ all over the media was not new but what was shocking was that she was there, too.

“Everyone,” announced JZ, holding up a phone with a picture of her at the café, “if you see this girl, please tell her or persuade her to call me.”

Elle turned off the TV, laid back on the bed, and spoke to herself again.

“I won’t be bombarded with people like he was, will I?  There’s over 1 billion people in this country and 21 million people in this city.  Nobody will notice me,” Elle said to herself with an unsure voice.  Sarcastically, “Of course not.  It’s not like your picture is plastered all over TV for all those people to see.”

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