Women Elite Novel: The Mask

Those were not a good times for Veronica Blahova. Her high celebrity social status, which she was carefully building for the whole previous years, started to disappear definitively.

She made the elemental, life mistake by procuring a housing far beyond her financial abilities. The mortgage for a luxurious flat in the price of 900.000 USD wasn’t something easy to live with! She regretted, that she let herself to be persuaded to this move by a friend, in fact an old lover. He owned a construction company, and maybe he considered desirable, to have a celebrity in his new residential house, so he could effectively advertise his exclusive project.

Thus, he was able to persuade her with vast discount from the common price. And she succumbed the feeling, that this must be the dreamy housing, that any successful person should own, to do some right big decision that scares the weak ones. Moreover, everybody envied her, how rich she definitely is, that she can afford something amazing like this! For the media and for the social respect and attention it suited her, it paid off fully, but in another matters it pushed her to the wall, and consequences of this unwise move started to fully occur right now.

Of course, from the beginning, there were problems with the bank, who had to provide a loan. First time, they denied her request, although with courtesy and many apologies, so Veronica had to accept several questionable work contracts, to fulfill the high demands of the financial institution. Eventually, she managed to prove her income high enough for the consecutive three months, and with efficient help of the bank subsidiary’s director, who was her ex-lover too, they finally approved it.

But she realized soon, that to acquire 3.000 USD every month just for the mortgage payment was above her possibilities. Although she had the beatiful housing, she was scared every month, if she will be able to gather enough money for the payment and living, and if this sweet tale of success, made up with the help of media, will last further, or it will end very infamously.

She tried just everything to get highest possible income, both financially, and indirectly, through the magic of barter. She become the front face of a smaller cosmetics brand, almost every week she was in Prague, trying to get contracts, she tried to make yet more friends and business contacts, who could get her a job or another advantages. She simply extended her social networks into the most possible width.

Even so, she saw clearly, how her possibilites are disappearing. She was undisputedly too old for a fashion model, and masking all of those growing physical imperfections became hard, if not impossible. Let alone if she would stand beside hungry young colleagues with perfect young skin, even without excessive make-up… after all, they were fifteen years younger than she was. She would like to find a good job in the ‘backstage’ of that attractive fashion branch, but this option was not possible for her: she had no qualification, or creative talent. All she was able to do was to smile and wave with her hips. That used to be enough for a success, but those great times were ending relentlessly, and Veronica had no idea, what to do next.

Mathias Navratil, head reporter and CEO of that famous tabloid magazine ‘Heavy Slander’, was one of the key persons, she identified as assets, able to keep her on top, that could bring her more interesting contracts and the circle of opportunities would be closed desirable way. She tried just everything on him, promising a ‘physical relaxation’ at first, of course, because that wouldn’t cost her anything… but he didn’t accept, he was just smiling, that he has so many greedy girls like her in his office every day, who would strip before him and would make just anything to satisfy his needs, that if he should make PRs and promotion to all of them, for this ridiculously low price, he has nothing else in his famous, prestigious and respected magazine!

It was bad, because Navratil was placed so high already, that he didn’t care about any barter. He didn’t need anything from the others! Only cash would help, Navratil never rejected the scent of money, but Veronica couldn’t afford this, because every possible money were sucked out of her bank account by that damned housing.

Now, the question was: what to do with all that problems? The best economical choice would be to cancel the mortgage, to sell the flat, but it would bring most serious consequences: firstly, she would be in the horrible debt to the bank, 150.000 USD, and without any securing, because she had no another property, and this invoice would be to pay immediately. Not talking about the fact that another 150.000, which she had to pay as the initial deposit payment, would be forever lost, and that were her lifetime savings! She would get completely empty-pocketed, without a single dollar, in the age of 34, and on the street, without own place to live! Moreover, luxurious housing like this would be hard to sell in her home city, Brno, and any potential buyer would just ask for another big discount. Also the realty trading company would gain some more from her!

But there was an undisputable risk, that the flat will be sold involuntarily, against her will, in some humiliating public auction, where the lost property usually ends, and the media would be completely ecstatic with this attractive development, including Navratil, his person in the first place! He never saved anybody, and if somebody was down and didn’t pay him some ‘motivation fee for looking elsewhere’, he never hesitated to hit hard in his articles!

If some affected person came to Navratil and complained, that just yesterday they were friends yet, he just replied, that his readers wanted to read about that, and he couldn’t refuse them, because the competition would write about it otherwise and they would steal his publicity! He feared nothing and nobody, and he couldn’t be stopped by anything. Threats or sweet promises, nothing worked. He simply loved what he did.

There was no need to think, how devastating influence would this unlucky tale had on her carefully built media picture. She would be finished forever, simple as that! The people would always considered her as a loser, even it was still an advertisement and publicity, but the bank wouldn’t absolutely care for any media games! They would want their money back immediately, ruthlessly!

She simply made a big mistake, and now she had no idea, how to get out of that trap. She couldn’t tell it to anybody, her alleged good friends could easily become the malicious informers of tabloid media, which were always sniffing around for sensations. In her social circles, everybody smiled to another people, but malice and envy were common too, although tactically withheld.

She simply remained all alone in this trouble. Although she had a boyfriend, who profiled himself in media as a rich man and famous entrepreneur, as she instructed him for confirming of her success tale, the reality was much modest. Besides, she borrowed 25.000 USD from him, when she was short with that initial mortgage payment, and it meant, that he kept her in the corner, because if she would split with him, he would ask for the money immediately, and in cash. He forced her to sign a precise loan contract, although she tried to persuade him to make the business ‘just on a good word’, but he had very bad experience with his previous marriage already, his ex-wife completely dried him, so he insisted.

In any case, she couldn’t ask for another support from him. In addition, if he would find, that Veronica has substantial financial problems, he would definitely started to push her to return his money back, so he could overtake the bank, as the creditor number zero, who can fully satisfy his demands!

They would simply strike on her, all of them, together, at once, as vultures! They would tear her to pieces, no mercy, no compassion and understanding, no pardoned interests!

It was simply bad. Veronica had problems with sleep for a long time already, and she had no appetite for food. She knew, that those problems will damage her appearance further, and she will lose any contracts yet faster. So, what to do? What next?

And then a friend called, that there could be a well paid job for her Of course, that Veronica told her, that she has a great job and plenty of money, so she doesn’t need anything and those ridiculously small jobs are under her ‘A’ celebrity level, but in the end, she allowed a meeting, where a company representative should come.

They agreed to meet with the other woman in the large mall in Modrice, near the D1 freeway. She came there, and as she parked her car, she realized, that her only option is an emigration. Simply leave everything here, it is a riddle with no possible solution, and to disappear! Let somebody else to solve her problems instead of her! It was luck that she denied her boyfriend’s call for a wedding and starting a family!

It would mean another attractive advantage: that she wouldn’t have to repay that 25 grand to him, her ‘beloved’ boyfriend…

It was tempting, even sweet imagination. But the globe-trotter Veronica was in the world already, she saw it many times and closely, so she knew well, that to start a new existence out there, without any proper capital to begin with, is very hard. And another thing, nobody would publicly recognize her, so she could forget any further media career. Maybe to find and marry a really rich man, no media fake? But Veronica wasn’t a woman like this…

There must exist a solution, she thought. Maybe just to hold and wait, until the fate will show her a more favorable face?

Denise introduced herself to Veronica just shortly, and they shook hands. Denise smiled nicely.

No big impression she made on Veronica, but the fashion model smiled too, because she had the long practice of pretending warm feelings even to people completely indifferent to her. “Nice to meet you, Denise! You know, I usually don’t accept contracts of this type, but a good friend begged me, so I am here mostly because of her insisting. She wants me to help you, because people know me well,” Veronica lied as an experienced professional.

“Of course, Miss Blahova! Forgive me to bother you with a small matter like this. I fully understand, that it can’t be too interesting for you. But we can talk about it anyway, do you agree?”

They sat in the comfortable sofas in the local café. There was lovely designed interior, the sun shined through the large windows, and the fashion model started to feel better.

“So, what exactly would you need,” Veronica pretended falsely, that her time is expensive.

“Here is an advance payment,” Denise showed her an impressive packet of money in her handbag, inserted freely, between some documents. “Do you think, that you could give me some of your precious time? The matter is a little bit complex.”

Veronica had the immediate feeling, that Christmas came very early this year! The ones who paid in cash are very favorite everywhere! But she expressed nothing. She estimated, that in the packet was about 2500 USD. It meant almost a month of calm life without stress! Finally!

“Of course, I am only yours! Just tell me! And you know what? Call me Veronica. You are Denise, aren’t you?”

In a minute, they were the best friends.

“Our corporation is very generous,” Denise returned to reason why they met here. “And because we are very interested in a cooperation with you on our special projects, if you will listen to everything I would like to tell you, and if you will answer my questions truthfully, the content of the packet you just saw is yours. I mean, right here, on the spot. Two grand five hundred, and I need no receipt. If you wouldn’t be insulted by that, Veronica.”

“Well, the money can’t insult anybody today, and in cash most definitely not,” Veronica couldn’t resist to smile. “But anybody could realize, that amount as high as this is a little bit too big for a chat. This must be something… unusual.”

“You are right. We conduct very special, unusual and unseen projects. But what is important, that they can bring a large fame to you, and social popularity in such span, you could never dream of. They will start your media career again, in large, and allow you, to become a real honorable person. Not only shiny, fake celebrity from the tabloid media, with limited and ending durability, but actually respected public figure!

Besides that, we are ready to support you with the same amount every month, to cover any personal expenses. That is what we offer. I would say, it sounds good, do you agree?”

“Maybe. It depends, what do you ask for it?”

“What you will have to do, is not so difficult, although I can imagine, that you will react with something like, that it is nothing for you. But we know, that you are very suitable. We chose very carefully, believe me!

But there is one thing I should tell you about our corporation in advance. You know, it is very common for us to gather complex information. To know much. We can find many pieces of data. So we know, that our generous offer is the only one, able to rescue you from the current serious problems you have, and which lead you to the blind alley. For example, your huge mortgage, falling income and high debt to your boyfriend.

Therefore, you shouldn’t think, that we will beg you on our knees. That you will raise the price by your denial. No, nobody will beg you, Veronica! We will just wait, until your life falls apart, and that will happen soon, you know that, we know that. Then, you will approach us, and in that time soon, you will beg us. You will lose your mask of life success and stability, which is, as you and I both know well, definitely false. It is, isn’t it?”

Veronica said rather nothing. Life learned her, that sometimes it is the best to remain silent.

“I just want to ask you, to be sincere, because money is on the table. Is it possible to buy your sincerity? Yes?”

“You must be wrong with me. I…”

“I asked you to listen to everything I will say, and also to answer my questions truthfully. Those are two conditions I declared to pay your wage. So tell me, what is your current situation?”

“Well, if you know everything anyway… I am not standing too good, that is right. And about that sincerity, yes, you can buy it from me. I just don’t give myself too cheaply. I have no education, but life learned me something.”

“We know, why we chose you. Just be open and cooperate. So, now you will listen very carefully, OK?

We need you to enter into the politics. Yes! You hear well! To activate politically, at first on the municipal level, in your place of residence, Brno-Kohoutovice, later yet higher. We will provide you with maximum support, ideological and media, and you will get additional money from us, so no further problems with the mortgage. But you have to execute the task, to go there. But no need to have any fear, it is very similar to the world of celebrities, trust me. It is almost the same game, and we will explain the rules to you carefully.

The first rule is, that you will never try to play dirty on us. Forget the temping thought that we will pull you up, and you will fly away without gratitude. No! You will be in our services, until we’ll say, that your mission is over and you are free to go. If you’ll try to sabotage it, our reaction will be fast, swift and ruthless: all of your nightmares will become the reality instantly, and nobody will offer you any modeling job here anymore. Who would select you, if there is so many younger competitors, and we will be glad to recommend them, instead of you?

So you will fulfill our instructions to the last dot, and you will take our goals as yours own. But the finish of this matter lies very high, so this will be a long trail, you should count with that. Generally, you will make the political career with our help, and once, if it will work, you definitely can make some small favors for your old good friends, if they need anything…

We will simply push you up. When you will get there, to that certain social and public top, you will help us, in the assignments of higher interests. Simple barter. Is that clear?”

“But I can’t do something like this,” Veronica said realistically. “Yes, the truth is, that in my desperate situation, I should take just anything, but every person has some limits and I am not able to do this. OK, you rule me now, you can buy me cheaply and I will do almost everything for you, what I can. But right this task? This is absolutely out of my possibilities.”

“Then you will learn! Even the dumber persons made it, and moreover, nobody is expecting some wisdom from you, anyway. Relax and just show there, like on the fashion show, smile and repeat some simple phrases! What is so hard about that? We will prepare the route for you, and you will only go on it, without stepping away. As I said, do the same you always did, just add some talk to that. Nothing more.

We will instruct you, where to go, what to say. You will only go there and do it. Didn’t you ever dream of an acting career? Now you have the opportunity.”

“Fine. I understand. Is that all what you want from me?”

“No, there is one more thing. We need to get a young fashion model, age 20-23. Somebody willing to do absolutely anything necessary for the star career, but trustworthy. We will guarantee her this big fashion branch career, but she will have to make something very special for us.

Would you know about somebody suitable? This will be a very long term contract, and it will run for another years, maybe for her whole life. And that whole time she will go only there, where we will need her to go.”

“And what do you ask from her?” Veronica was frightened.

Denise moved closer to her and whispered something.

In Veronica’s eyes was a complete shock. “You can’t be serious…!”

“I mean it absolutely seriously! She will give us her complete life, and we will fulfill her dreams in exchange. Clear deal.”

“What is the name of your company again? Who are you really?” Veronica hardly breathed. She was completely fussed.

“You can call us guardian angels and the last chance.”

Alan Svejk