Jackson Family Marks Anniversary in Silent Reflection

The truck pulled up to the Hayvenhurst estate in Encino and honked. “Momma! Money van’s here!” shouted Latoya from the living room couch, where she has been living since 1989. Katherine Jackson, weary and still working on her first cup of tea, sighed.

“Third one this morning. Honey, go get Randy and Tito and have them help the drivers unload it in the guest room.” She stepped onto the patio and watched a hummingbird at the feeder.

“They’re sleeping,” LaToya said. “Up all night counting and playing ‘Halo’ on the 3-D TV.”

“I told ‘em to get to bed early,” Katherine answered sharply. “Go wake ‘em up.”

“If they fill the guest room, then where’s Debbie going to sleep?” LaToya asked, as Debbie stood morosely, framed in Shrek-like silhouette in the double doorway.

“Lord, Lord…” Katherine whispered to herself. “Who’s in the hall closet now?”

“Uh…” LaToya said thoughtfully, counting on her fingers. “That’d be Lisa-Marie.”

“Let me think for a minute,” Katherine said. “Order another fold-out for the patio.” A giraffe sauntered by outside the kitchen window and lowered its head to peek inside, expectantly. “For now, somebody’s gotta feed Princess and the others. Better do it quick, too, before Sabu gets hungry or we’re gonna have another mess.”

The truck drivers, aided by the two bleary-eyed Jackson brothers, struggled with a skip-loader as they placed pallet after pallet of cash onto the driveway, occasionally throwing a handful of money over the front gate to occupy the growing throng of fans. Their screams of delight were drowned out by the roar of a leaf blower in the hands of a gardener dressed in a maroon and black suit worn by Michael Jackson during his 2005 trials. The brass buttons and chain epaulets glinted in the morning sun.

Katherine slumped in an ornate throne at the kitchen table. “I miss the old chairs,” she said. Her personal assistant fixed eggs at the stove. “What’s the schedule for today?”

“There’s another delivery at 1:45, then the final day’s delivery at 5,” the assistant said from memory. “The news crews are outside.”

“When they get here?” asked Katherine.

“February,” the assistant said.

“Oh, right.”

Suddenly, a piercing alarm went off and a dozen security guards ran past the back door shouting. “A breach! Back fence! Code three!”

No one in the house raised an eyebrow. Moments later a heavily armed guard appeared at the door. Katherine looked up with a wry smile.

“Joe again?”

“That’s right, Ms. Jackson. What do we do this time?”

“Drive his ass back to Macarthur Park and set him loose, just like always.”

“Yes, Ms. Jackson.” The guard disappeared. Outside, a lion roared hungrily.

“Lord, Lord,” Katherine said, shaking her head.

Prince Michael and Paris came down and nodded to the assistant, who left. “We can make breakfast, Grandma,” Paris said sweetly, kissing her grandmother on the top of her head.

“I’ll fix you some French toast, Grandma,” Prince Michael said. “What was all the noise about?”

“Nothing, honey. Nothing. Thank you.”

The kids quickly pulled together a lovely breakfast, complete with fresh strawberries and hand-squeezed papaya juice. They ate with their grandmother, cleared the table, and did all the dishes. “Don’t run the dishwasher till it’s full,” Paris reminded her brother. “We’re going to sneak out and go to a matinee,” Prince Michael said. Karate Kid. Jaden’s so cute! And the early show is only six bucks."

“You kids be careful,” Katherine said automatically. “You need money?”

The kids looked at each other and giggled. “We’re covered. We’ve been saving our allowance money, Grandma,” Paris said. “And Michael won some passes from a radio contest."

“You didn’t say who you were, did you?”

The kids laughed. “We know better. I mean, you’re not talking to Uncle Jermaine, you know,” Paris said with an eye roll.

“Sorry,” Katherine said with a wry smile. “You have fun now. Take the underground passageway to Ventura, and be sure to get some lunch. Don’t fill up on those Twizzlers.”

“Yes Grandma,” Prince Michael said politely. “We packed lunches last night.” Paris held up two brown paper bags. “We’ll call if it’s going to be later than 4. I know how you worry.”

“We already went to church this morning and said prayers for Daddy,” Paris said. “And then we made lunches for some homeless people with our youth group. See you later!”

“We love you!” said Prince Michael, and they skipped quickly out of the room.

A smaller child dressed in brocade waltzed into the room. “I’m hungry.”

“Honey, you just missed breakfast,” Katherine said. The child began to complain.

“This ain’t a restaurant, Blanket. Make yourself some toast.”

“My name isn’t ‘Blanket.” I want everyone to call me DuVee.”

“Whatever.” The boy stormed out of the room. Katherine looked to the heavens. “I guess he’s a Jackson,” she muttered. From another part of the house, someone was singing “Edelweiss” set to a ferocious backbeat.

Debbie appeared again, hulking through the kitchen. “I can’t do anything. It’s too noisy around here.” She grabbed a frozen Sara Lee cake from the freezer and secreted it under her arm. “When’s Janet going on tour again? I get her room.”

“Rebbie called it first,” Katherine said, now working on a crossword puzzle. “She and Dr. Klein are sharing.”

“This is bullshit,” Debbie said through a mouthful of frozen pastry. “I’m going shopping.”

“Not till you clean the animal compound with Dr. Murray,” Katherine said, a slight chiding in her voice. "It's a damn mess, and he's good for nothin'." She knew Debbie was already gone.

“Randy’s Twittering again about a Jackson brothers’ reunion,” a voice said on the intercom. It was Katherine’s assistant. “What do we do?”

“Let ‘em pretend,” Katherine said calmly. “They ain’t doing nothin’. Can’t even order at Burger King without a fight. Fat chance they’re going on the road.”

“Got it.” Outside, there was a crash and a cloud of hundred dollar bills flew by the window. The intercom clicked again.

“Yes?” Katherine said.

Entertainment Tonight wants to know what you’re doing to commemorate the anniversary,” the assistant said.

“Ask ‘em what’s a nine-letter word for ‘mythical Mexican beast.” There was a long pause.

“Nobody knows,” said the assistant.

“Well then, there’s their answer,” Katherine said, yanking the intercom wire from the box.

In the backyard, two teams of lawyers chose sides for a friendly volleyball match. Katherine walked to the window and raised her voice. “No games till you pick up that guest house,” she said. The lawyers, shame-faced, went back to the guest house to finish their chores.

“Lord, Lord.”


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