This page is one of those “I need to have this happen so I can stop using it everywhere” moments.

Other writers and artists know what I’m talking about. You have this zinger or image that won’t leave your mind, that you shoehorn into each new project, and predictably, it gets cut every single time. Maybe it doesn’t work with the story you’re telling or it’s no longer true to the character. But really, all it’s about is patting yourself on the back, telling yourself that your ideas are a power to be reckoned with.

This one isn’t exactly a bit. It’s based on what my old boss do every time he met a new client, as a way to appear busy. He’d shut the door, pick up the phone, and start talking without dialing a number. The client would enter and he’d smile, pretending he couldn’t get them off the phone. I played along, mostly wanting to get paid. I wonder how much Mica gets paid? If she’s living in a gated community, probably a lot…

I can’t blame him, to be honest (my boss or Keller… take your pick). I was in the entertainment industry, which is all about illusion, and this was how he staged his show. He was able to bring people in on his terms, while giving the appearance of power and importance. A theme that’ll come up in this chapter a lot is the illusion of control, and the real power that comes of it. The phenomenon of artifice determining reality.

In this situation, Keller appears to be in demand. In a rush. So busy, but kind enough to take time out of his day to speak with you. So kind that you don’t want to impose on him. And maybe he really feels that way too. Though there may be no one on the other line, Keller knows he’s a busy man; the fine details are irrelevant. As far as James knows, Keller is important, and if he believes it, it’s true, isn’t it?

Society, as a whole, is made up of illusions like these, some benign and some dangerous. That if you work hard, you will definitely get what you want. That certain races and sexes and cultures are lazy or evil or trying to destroy our way of life. That we can change who we are, or its counterpart – that we can’t. These illusions give us a sense of order in a chaotic world, but they’re only as real as we need them to be. Who can blame someone like Keller for bending the rules a bit?

The irony in all this is that the person with the power here isn’t Keller. It’s James. Without James to fall for that illusion, Keller has nothing. Power is garbage without control, and successfully controlling power is perhaps greater than power itself. The greatest mind in the universe is nothing if it can’t sway anyone to its ideas.

I’m glad I got this bit out there and that I can move past it. Let’s see if Keller’s just patting himself on the back, or if he really is a power to be reckoned with.