• J. Jamal

Snippet from "What You Preach"

"Ladies...gentlemen...I am prepared to change your life, right this minute."

I’ve said this line plenty of nights in my life, and I’ve always known it to be true. My voice echoes through the darkness as I pace back and forth. “I know it. You know it. Your life will never be the same. I just need a...” a single spotlight hits me as a sea of humanity finishes the statement for me. “A few minutes of your time!” Pyrotechnics blast, lasers flash, the waiting congregation howls in approval, cheers and claps echoing through this hallowed hall, telling me all that I need to know. I’m the best. I’m the best in the world. I’m the best in the world at what I do. On this microphone, nobody can touch me. “I know, I know. Do you feel that? Do you feel that joy pumping through your veins? Do you feel that adrenaline rush?! That rush that your life will never be the same again!” I work them into a frenzy, as I have every crowd that I’ve addressed. I am Lex Lyon, and I want YOU to take your place at the top of the food chain and become the roaring lion that you’re meant to be. I’ll show you how. Just like I showed them. I’ve changed more lives, created more millionaires and businessmen than the richest men in the world. And I’m just getting started.

“Fear isn’t welcome in the lions’ den. Weakness isn’t welcome in the lions’ den! Failure isn’t welcome in the lions’ den!” I exclaim as I make my way through my spiel, and they’re hanging on my every word. “We don’t lack anything around here. We get up and hunt!” The chants. The cheers. The adulation. I love it. “I’m not here to make a man out of you, no, men have weaknesses. I’m here to make a lion out of you!” This high is unmatched. Five, ten, twenty, forty thousand people screaming your name on any given day. I want stadiums next, one hundred thousand people, coming to see me. Coming to be saved. “And that, my friends, is how you live the life of a Lyon.” I close out the night the same way I end them all, on top of the world, with everyone looking up at me. Leaving the stage, I head back into the arena’s locker room to catch my breath. Recalling the reaction I got tonight brings a smile to my face and it feels so good. “Amazing show as expected, Mr. Lyon. We owe you so much more than your honorarium dictates”, I hear, looking in the mirror to see a kid half my age walking up behind me with an envelope. He’s smiling, but I’m not. This envelope is too flat to possibly have all of my money in it. I turn around in the chair, facing him so he knows how seriously he screwed up.

“Who did you speak with to set up this appearance?”

“Your assistant....Brandy, I think that’s what she said her name was.”

“Brandy’s been with me a looooong time,” I smile, before my face turns up into a frown again. “So I know she told you to pay me in cash.”

“Yes sir! But I wasn’t able to get clearance for cash payments in time, we don’t do business like that.” I’d have accepted this, had he not cowered in fear once he finished speaking. Amateur. I’m about to wreck his night.

“I do business like that, son. And when you enter the Lyon’s den, you come correct, I don’t think you’re coming correct right now, boy!” I stand in front of him, snatching the envelope. “Y’all talk about doing next level business here, clearly the finance department didn’t get the memo,” I continue, as smug as possible. “Fix that next time you call my phone.” I sit back down, dismissing him to return to his bosses. Kids.

The worst part of all these Midwest events is the drive back home. Traveling through all these abandoned cities and fields just puts you to sleep if you let it. Really makes me miss even the latest red eye flights. Driving cross country, you run into so many weak minded men, ‘tis ridiculous. I was coming out of the bathroom after washing up a little, and the kid at the register recognized me. “It’s a pleasure to meet you sir, and thank you for trusting us with your business,” he smiled and I nearly rolled my eyes out of their sockets. I’m in the middle of nowhere, there’s not another gas station for 85 miles, I drove all night, OF COURSE I had to stop here. It wasn’t some divine intervention, my truck needed gas. I nod and give a half smile, walking towards the door. “Any advice for a young lion wanting to be like you?” I shutter at the question, in part because now I have to answer it. TMZ would love to run a story of Lex Lyon disrespecting a fan, I bet they’ve already got the article written. Not this time, boys. “Son, if you wanna be like me, the first thing to know is I would never, EVER work at a gas station.” I make my way back to the counter, reaching for one of the spare pamphlets I bring with me everywhere I go. “I’d own it.” I smirk and hand it to him, and the look on his face doesn’t even do justice to the excitement he feels. Another young lion on the right path. I get back into my truck, making my way back to the highway, listening to my longest talk to date.

18 hours later, I finally arrive at my building. I packed light, so I don’t have to carry much, other than my suit bag and duffle. It’s good to be home, I sigh in relief once I get inside, lighting a candle I left near the door. The stairs creak with every step, and the size of this house makes it echo a bit. I hang the suit bag back in the closet, right next to the black one. Making my way back downstairs, I open the freezer door and water spills to the floor. Okay, I need three bags of ice next time, two still melts too quickly. I’ll deal with that in the morning, all I need is a beer. I walk into the living room, plopping down on the mattress I’d left down here so I could get earlier starts in the morning. The best part of the long trips? I get to charge all my electronics in the car, so I have nothing to worry about til the next day. I fire up one of my videos (thank God for unlimited data), and lean my phone against the beer can I’ll be drinking from once I finish this one. My voice echoing through this abandoned building helps to drown out the footsteps of the mice who’ve called this place home longer than I have. Lucky bastards, they can live wherever they want rent free. But if the cops show up here, I’m toast. “Welcome to the Lyon’s Den. I’m about to change your life.” I smile on cue with my video counterpart. Changed my life indeed.

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