"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough."
Zoe Adele Parker was born passionate. She was also born pissed off.
Zoe was angry because her twin brother—who had been her intimate companion in their mother's womb for 36 weeks—had died a week earlier. His smaller placenta had started to shrink and separate from the wall of Heather Parker’s uterus too soon. The blood flow in his smaller umbilical cord had then withered away to nothing . . . and he’d died in Zoe’s arms.
The straw that had broken the camel’s back for Zoe’s twin had been a toxic wave of alcohol that’d surged through Heather’s bloodstream and across his placenta one evening; the price paid for a few glasses of champagne at a glamorous celebrity cocktail event. It can’t possibly hurt at this stage, can it? thought Heather, as she reached for her third glass of champagne.
Later that night, Zoe had kicked and punched with all the strength that her yet-to-experience-gravity-and-the-outside-world baby body could muster, but Heather had ignored Zoe’s efforts, and drifted off to sleep in an alcoholic haze . . . ably assisted by two Valium tablets. Just over a week later—in early November of 1975—Zoe pushed her dead brother out of their confinement ahead of her just to spite Heather, and to ensure that any joy at the birth of her eagerly anticipated twins was well and truly annihilated.
Zoe followed a few minutes later, and was greeted by Heather's wail of grief. Zoe then proceeded to scream, loudly and continuously, for almost a week without seeming to even draw breath; Zoe was pissed off, and the whole world was going to know about it.
News of Zoe’s brother’s existence was suppressed, and rumours were circulated about how the relatively new technology of prenatal ultrasound—that had correctly predicted twins—had been mistaken in Heather's case. Zoe’s dead twin, unnamed and rejected by his parents and family, was buried by the family gardener, Hector Duarte, in a plastic garbage bag behind a row of Alder trees towards the rear of the Parker family’s estate on the outskirts of Boston. Throughout Zoe’s life she never forgave her mother or her family for this gross act of cruelty and injustice. She also never forgave herself for being the stronger one, but not being strong enough to save her little brother’s life . . .
As an infant, Zoe fed voraciously. She would drain Heather’s milk in no time at all, then demand more. Heather found breastfeeding Zoe to be so overwhelmingly stressful that within a week she’d abandoned it all together. The Parker’s nanny, Cecile, was put in charge of Zoe’s nutrition, and Zoe was fully weaned onto solids by the time she was six months of age. Zoe would eat anything and everything that she could get her hands on. One of the results of her extreme appetite was that Zoe quickly transformed from a below-average sized new-born twin, into a hefty infant. Heather's mother, Phyllis Clybourne—who had a kind heart—liked to call Zoe her little cherub. Heather, however, preferred Pudgy Fudgy. Zoe’s large physical body—which she maintained consistently from infancy onwards—always felt appropriately sized for her personality and temperament, however. Very few people ever thought of Zoe as overweight, she was simply a big human being. In fact, pretty much everything about Zoe, not least her personality, was big.
From a very young age, Zoe also liked to keep active. The main reason for this activity was that Zoe just couldn’t stand being sedentary; she had way too much energy for that. As a result, Zoe was not only big physically, but she was also fit and strong too. Unlike many other big girls as they neared puberty, Zoe was never inclined to try and slim down, or go on a diet. Zoe had no desire to look the anorexic airhead models that she saw on billboards and in fashion magazines. No, Zoe was very happy being the biggest and strongest person she knew, and she was openly proud of the fact . . .
By the time she turned six, Zoe had gathered around herself a gang of neighbourhood kids—all but one of whom were boys—who were at once both excited and terrified when they were in Zoe’s presence. The age range of the group—which Zoe named the Arlington Willows Agitators, or AWA, for short—was five to eight years. Zoe would convene meetings of the AWAsome afternoons after school, as well as at least once on most weekends. There she would propose her latest plan to create fear and mayhem in the gentrified community of Arlington Willows: the security-gated enclave that Zoe and her band of followers all called home. What in the planning stages loomed as Zoe’s most daring—and potentially most destructive—plan to date, after-the-fact turned out to be one of the most irresponsible moments in Zoe’s entire life. For a variety of reasons, which I’ll tell you all about in a moment, it also turned out to be one of her most memorable life moments.
April meant springtime in Boston, and the colourful tulips and daffodils that had brightened the garden beds of Arlington Willows throughout March were starting to fade and droop, as the rhododendron bushes, azaleas, climbing wisteria, and tree magnolias began to burst into bloom. The general atmosphere was optimistic, especially as the Easter holiday weekend—not to mention the looming prospect of summer—approached.
The Arlington Willows Social Club organisers had decided that this year, 1982, they would host an Easter-themed fete on the Willows Green. Actually, the same Easter-themed fete had been hosted in the same location every year since Arlington Willows was first inaugurated in 1967, but no one was game to suggest changing the status quo in any way; changing the status quo was not something that was encouraged in this particular conservative neighbourhood.
Zoe, of course, saw the Easter fete as her next opportunity to make the most amount of trouble with the largest possible audience. Earlier in the year Zoe had discovered a book, squirreled away in Hector’s workshop, that gave detailed instructions on how to make a pipe bomb. At the time, Zoe hadn’t give any thought as to why Hector Duarte might own such a book. When she was older, however, Zoe did wonder if Hector—who Zoe liked a lot, but whom the rest of the Parker family found to be moody and distant—may have been a member of an early terrorist cell.
Some of the words in the text of the bomb-making book were beyond Zoe’s rudimentary reading capabilities, but the detailed pictures filled in most of the gaps in her bomb-making knowledge, and she was confident she could create something that would “go off with a bang.” Zoe’s whole body trembled with anticipation at the prospect of seeing the shocked expressions on the faces of the Arlington Willows’ residents as the prim-and-proper decorum of their Easter fete was loudly and rudely interrupted.
As Zoe was unable to find a clay pipe anywhere—the receptacle suggested in Hector's bomb-making book—she made the executive decision that using a half empty paint can was the next best option available for housing her bomb. Hector—who’d painted all the estates birdhouses red the previous year so as to make them easier to spot amongst the greenery—kept all the partly used paint cans stacked neatly in the rear of his workshop. Knowing that Hector was to be away for the entire Easter long weekend, Zoe convened a meeting of AWA for the bomb-making ritual to take place in the gardener’s workshop.
After prying the lid of the paint can free, Zoe directed the five wide-eyed AWA members who were present at the bomb-making ritual to pour various amounts of cement powder, lime, pot ash—as well as the contents of an ancient looking glass jar that had the words “Silver Nitrate 2%w/v” barely visible on the faded label—into the paint can. As Zoe stirred the blood-red mixture with the handle of a trowel, it started to smoke and bubble menacingly. She quickly jammed the lid back on, hammering the edges of the lid with a rubber mallet, as she’d seen Hector do previously. She then neatly punched a hole in the top of the lid with a large-bore nail and hammer. Zoe next inserted a firecracker that she’d kept in her bedroom for a number of years—awaiting the most opportune moment to put its destructive potential to best use— carefully into the hole. Finally, she teased the fuse of the firecracker up nice and straight with her strong, dextrous fingers. The other AWA members ooh’ed and aah’ed with each step, hardly daring to breath, aware of the enormity of the moment, and in awe of Zoe’s chutzpah.
Zoe’s bomb was then placed beside an old maple tree on the edge of the village green, and the group disbanded to await the beginning of the Easter fete, which was scheduled for 1pm.
At precisely 3.00pm, Zoe judged that the crowd in attendance at the Arlington Willows Easter fete was at its maximum density. She signalled—with one of her famous high-pitched whistles—to her co-conspirators to be on the alert, lit the fuse of her bomb, then crouched behind the maple tree to ensure she didn’t receive the direct impact of the blast.
A small pop came from the direction of her bomb, then . . . nothing.
Zoe was furious! How could her bomb fail to go off! She slowly poked her head out from behind the maple tree and snuck a peek in the direction of the primed paint can. Nothing. As she pulled back behind the tree to think about what she should do next, however, the world erupted with a deafening blast of sound:
Terrified screams came from all over the village green. People started running in all directions, unsure what was happening, or what to do. Zoe watched wide-eyed as one middle-aged woman ran past her crying, looking around herself hysterically, completely overwhelmed by what was happening to her, and with the distinct prospect of a severe and prolonged case of PTSD already becoming a reality in her limbic brain. The woman’s white dress was dotted with red spots and blotches. Her face was also covered in similar red spots. She looked ghastly, like someone escaping an explosion in a war zone.
Next, something completely unexpected happened. Time appeared to slow down, and then . . . stopped altogether.
The woman with the red-spattered face and dress froze in mid-stride, her face distorted into a grotesque blood-spattered mask. The screams that a moment before had been all around Zoe were suddenly absent. Even the music from the cotton candy making machine was now eerily quiet. In fact, there was . . . no sound at all.
Zoe, who magically seemed to be the only person in the whole of Arlington Willows who wasn’t frozen in place, made her way tentatively out from behind the maple tree. The scene of carnage on the village green was much worse than Zoe could have imagined in her wildest dreams, and the part of Zoe that was unconsciously driven to be the troublemaker celebrated internally. YAAAAAAaaayyyyyyy!!!! Every person and surface in sight was covered in red spots and blotches, all over their clothing, shoes, their faces, hands and arms. Bushes and trees were now red-polka-dotted, as were street signs, everything. And the common expression on everyone’s frozen face: sheer terror and panic.
Along with this most unexpected experience of a frozen moment out of time, Zoe also became aware of a deep sense of peace somewhere deep inside of her. She couldn’t explain it, or even begin to understand it, but it was there none-the-less. Surprisingly, it felt deeper than the anger and hatred she constantly felt about the world and just about everybody, but especially her own body. On some level, Zoe knew that this was an important experience in her life, but at six years old, her mind was unable to put it into any context just yet, so she filed it away for examination at a later date.
For a brief moment, the part of Zoe that was compassionate and empathic—a very deeply buried part of Zoe—was mortified at what she was seeing all around her: the destruction, the chaos, the terror, the emotional trauma and pain. That she could have seriously injured literally hundreds of people was not only stunning to Zoe, it went against everything in her moral code: making people afraid was OK, for sure, but actually hurting them, absolutely not. Zoe felt a knot starting to form in the pit of her stomach, then . . . she started to laugh. These people weren’t injured, she suddenly realised, they were simply covered in red paint.
At first glance, it looked horrific. On looking a little closer . . . it was completely hilarious. Zoe fell to the ground laughing. As she did so, the strange phenomenon of time coming to a halt and the world freezing in place, abruptly ended. The scene around her returned to its former chaos of running, screaming, terrified humans. Heather Parker, standing not far from where Zoe lay, her designer floral frock looking like something fresh from a visit to the local abattoir, spotted her troublesome daughter and scowled. She ran to Zoe, picked her up off the ground, and shook her violently: “Are you responsible for this? You are, aren’t you? You hideous creature, I loathe you! How can my own flesh and blood be so cruel and hateful?”
At this Heather broke down, started sobbing, dropped the still laughing Zoe back onto the grass, and ran as fast as she could back to the safety of the Parker mansion enclosure. My reputation’s ruined! I can never show my face in Arlington Willows ever again. Oh, the shame of it all.
Heather ran immediately to her bathroom cabinet and pulled out the bottle of Xanax that the thoughtful Dr Patrick had recently prescribed her to help deal with the stress of Zoe’s wilfulness. She swallowed a handful of pills along with a big slug of vodka, and dived under the covers for the rest of the weekend . . .
After the Easter incident, Zoe’s gang shrank considerably as parents imposed bans on their children having anything to do with her, the neighbourhood abomination. Zoe’s powerful drive to be the instigator of mischief always seemed to find a way, however, and it wasn’t long before she’d accumulated a new band of followers—children of newly arrived families to Arlington Willows—to take the place of those injured in her wake.
The core tendencies that Zoe inherited—the ability to draw people together, her passion for destruction, her drive for justice, her championing of the underdog, her desire to see the rich and privileged suffer—were features of Zoe’s character that continued unabated throughout her lifetime.
As Zoe’s childhood progressed, so did her anger. Anger not only at her family, but increasingly anger at everyone else, and finally anger at the whole world. Correspondingly, Zoe’s passion for life’s many and varied sensual diversions also grew. Looking back, Zoe could see that her engagement in these activities was her way of being in control. These activities were also a way of numbing the irritation that she felt from just being in her body. The lump of flesh that Zoe felt she’d been burdened with, always seemed to give rise to a gnawing discomfort.
While Heather sought professional advice on how to deal with Zoe’s worsening moods, disruptive behaviour, and growing wilfulness, Zoe set her sights on having the most extreme experiences she could orchestrate, on becoming famous, and on revenge: “My family’s going to pay for their cold-hearted greed and cruelty . . . "
Heather Parker’s family—the Clybournes of New Hampshire—was well-to-do, and, in marrying Reginald Parker, old money had married old money. Living the privileged life of a socialite was all Heather Parker had ever known, or ever aspired to. After her two healthy, well-behaved, sons were born and raised, Heather felt that a daughter was just what was needed to give her family, and her life, balance. She dreamed of dressing her little baby girl in satin and lace, plaiting her hair with silk ribbons, and having tea parties under the hundred-year-old oak tree on the front lawn of the Parker estate. From the day Zoe was born, however, Heather had no clue what to do with her.
With the help of her psychiatrist—and more recently her intimate friend—Dr Patrick Harrison, Heather scoured her past to see if she could find what she’d done to deserve such a troublesome daughter. Together they came to the conclusion that it must somehow be related to the secret abortion Heather had undergone after becoming pregnant when she was a freshman in college. Heather had been holding onto shame around the secret termination for decades, and before confiding in Dr Patrick she hadn’t told a single soul about it. Getting the weighty secret off her chest certainly felt good to Heather in the moment, but the exposé really didn’t help her cope any better with Zoe, and the rampant contempt that Zoe seemed to possess for her.
While Heather’s two sons excelled at school, and went on to become a lawyer and a doctor, Zoe refused to take her schooling seriously. What’s the point? I know I’m going to be an actress, a star. The only question in Zoe’s mind was in which arena, and in what guise, her star would rise. Zoe expressed the desire to start singing at a very young age—initially seeing herself on stage as a singer, possibly in a band of some sort—and Heather was only too happy to oblige. Later, Zoe took up acting classes as well as her attention had turned more towards becoming a dramatic actress on the big screen. Having her wealthy family pay for this part of her education was really the only concession Zoe ever made towards them, and the only thing she ever willingly accepted from them her whole life.
As she grew into her teens, Zoe quickly matured into womanhood. Her hair grew dark and thick—in the sunlight it shone like ebony—and it naturally formed into luxurious curls. Zoe liked her hair to be long, despite being a rampant tomboy, though she generally kept it pulled back into a rough ponytail. At 5’11”, Zoe was tall for a girl when she was in high school. While she was not as tall as her father, Reggie Parker, or either of her brothers, Derek and Peter, she was tall enough to stand well above the majority of people in a crowd. This, combined with her solid physical body, gave Zoe commanding physical presence.
Zoe’s complexion was fair, with rosy cheeks that flushed when she drank too much alcohol or got angry—both of which happened on a regular basis. With her bold, Valkyrie-like, facial features, and her already enormous breasts by the time she was in her mid-teens, Zoe was turning into an imposing young woman; not classically pretty, but most definitely someone who stood out in a crowd . . .
As Zoe’s 21st birthday—and potentially full, legal, freedom and independence from her family’s deadening control—approached, Zoe found her body starting to dictate her behaviour in confounding and unfamiliar ways. She’d already been living in Boston for a number of years, and living as decadent a Bohemian lifestyle as was humanly possible in Boston in the ‘90s. Her days generally consisted of sitting in cafés smoking cigarettes and drinking wine. Her nights generally consisted of sitting in bars smoking cigarettes and drinking wine, though any number of other drugs were also added as her evenings unfolded.
Zoe had never been attracted to boys when she was at school—mostly because she found them to be stupid and boring—but also because she’d never felt any physical or sexual attraction towards the male form generally. As she approached 21, you could have called Zoe a lesbian, and she might even have agreed with you . . . though knowing how much Zoe hated to be labelled and put in a box, if you had called Zoe a lesbian to her face, you would most likely have lost a few teeth.
For as long as she could remember, Zoe had felt a deep, powerful, sexual force inside of her. It was something that when younger she kept very well suppressed and hidden. In her later teens, she’d started directing this energy into her numerous passions: attending rock 'n’ roll music festivals and dancing until dawn; drinking Tequila until the world turned; smoking grass until the world turned upside down; popping and snorting uppers and downers until the world no longer had an up or a down.
Now, quite suddenly, Zoe found herself drawn magnetically to scrutinise every adult male who came into her vicinity. If she was a dog, you’d say that she was in heat. Without any rational or intentional thought about it—or any conscious desire to do so—Zoe was looking for a mate. It made no sense to her at all.
Zoe scoured the footpaths, public spaces, bars, and nightclubs of Boston for months, but she could find nothing and no one who satisfied her seemingly very specific requirements. Next, she was drawn to the Harvard Universitycampus at nearby Cambridge, and she spent weeks walking the grounds and halls of the various faculties, but to no avail. It felt like she was following a scent of some kind, but she was having trouble finding her prey because she didn’t know what it was she was looking for.
Finally, Zoe found herself on the neighbouring campus of MIT. Wandering past the computer science laboratory one afternoon she saw him. He was sitting quietly, deeply engrossed in his work—Bernard McCall. Zoe fleetingly thought to herself how unusually unattractive this small, prematurely balding, unimpressive looking man with a big head was physically, but the surge of energy and hormones that took hold of her body, and literally threw her at Bernard, pointed to the fact that—strange as it seemed—he was the one.
It took some serious seduction on Zoe’s part to distract Bernard from his work; she could hardly believe that a heterosexual male would need so much convincing to have sex with her. Really? I’m giving you everything I’ve got, and you’re still more interested in looking down that microscope than down my cleavage? Man, you are one asexual little weirdo.
Eventually, however, Bernard’s tight protective armouring cracked just a little, and he allowed Zoe into his heart, into his life . . . and into his bed. The previously untapped fertility of the two young adults meant that within hours of their first sexual encounter, Bernard’s fastest swimmers were burrowing into Zoe’s recently released egg, and voilà: CONCEPTION!!
Zoe stayed on at MIT with Bernard for a month to ensure that the early pregnancy was secure, and then—just as suddenly as she’d arrived—she disappeared once more. The apparently torrid love affair between Zoe and Bernard proving to be—as all witnesses of the brief romance had known from the very beginning—nothing more than the requisite acting performance necessary for Zoe to ensnare Bernard's biological potential.
Adam’s birth was uncomplicated, and after nursing him for a few more months she knew, in her heart-of-hearts, what she had to do. Zoe delivered little Adam to Bernard at MIT with no words, just a parting kiss on his balding forehead. She felt no sadness at all as she left the two of them to get acquainted, because she knew that Bernard would provide a significantly more stable and loving home for their son than she ever could. Zoe’s heart, however, was overflowing with love for both Bernard and Adam as she walked briskly away from the pair, and towards the rest of her, soon to be extraordinary, life.
What was the reason behind the brief and apparently out-of-control romance with a complete stranger that had occurred with Bernard? Where did the pregnancy, and Adam’s birth, fit into the greater scheme of her life? Why was it so clear that Bernard was to raise their son in her absence? Zoe had no answers to any of these questions. She’d always lived her life following her gut, her intuition, and the whole affair had unfolded effortlessly, therefore it only made any sense at all when she didn’t try to rationalise it. Zoe had a strong a feeling, however, that everything would become clearer at some point in the future.
Zoe’s final parting gift to Bernard—well, it was from the Parker family, really—was a small trust fund. Enough money was deposited into Bernard’s bank account each month for he and Adam to survive on. This was the payment from the Parker family in exchange for Zoe’s keeping quiet about the scandalous out-of-wedlock pregnancy that would have tarnished the precious Clybourne/Parker family names: like mother, like daughter . . .
Zoe moved to New Eden City and immersed herself in its competitive theatre and TV scene. Zoe was naturally talented, and aggressively ambitious, so she thrived there. Her smouldering dark eyes, her thick brunette curls, and her voluptuous, curvy body, along with her abundant charisma, enabled Zoe to easily secure a role in a well-known daytime television drama. But really Zoe wasn’t interested in mainstream, sanitized, productions; she’d always been drawn to more edgy, thought-provoking, projects. Zoe was also hungry for more attention, for more fame, for more star power, so she insinuated herself into the circles of the powerful, famous, and influential of the New Eden film and television scene. Here Zoe utilized her abundant charm, and her strong sexual presence, to sleep her way into the favours of the men with the necessary connections to help her star to rise meteorically; Zoe had no conscience or morals when it came to her ambition for fame.
At a particularly swanky cocktail party of New Eden’s social elite, held on the oh-so-chic rooftop bar of the Hotel Dunbar in Soho, Zoe was introduced to one Billy Dunn. Billy was tall, handsome, thirty-something, and a smooth talker. Zoe observed that he seemed to know everyone, and people responded positively to him. A charismatic young TV and film producer and director, apparently successful, and seemingly rich, Billy was potentially Zoe’s passport to stardom.
The couple returned to Billy’s apartment after the party with passion flowing freely between them. Unknown to Zoe, however, Billy had a video camera hidden surreptitiously in his bedroom to record the night’s activities. Billy Dunn was also nursing a host of addictions—alcohol, drugs, sex, money, power; he had a full hand held close to his chest in the addiction department.
It proved to be a wild night in the bedroom, and Zoe found herself being coerced into more and more bizarre scenarios. Eventually it became too much even for her, and she excused herself, thinking she might have made a bad judgment call in Billy Dunn after all. Within 24 hours Zoe started to receive nuisance emails referring to various unusual—some even quite unnatural—sexual activities. With only a minimal amount of effort she was able to find the video evidence of her night with Billy posted for all to see on the internet. Zoe was mortified . . . and enraged. How dare he screw with my reputation and my career? Asshole!! You are going to pay for this!!
Another face was added to Zoe’s growing portrait gallery entitled: Vengeance Will Be Mine!! . . .
Despite being young and relatively new in town, Zoe knew well enough how the game was played, and she was nothing if not world-wise. She made the immediate decision to change her name and move to the West Coast, to Los Angeles. That pond was where she really wanted to be playing in the long run anyway. Why not just jump straight in now?
Along with the change in geographic location, Zoe decided it was also time for a change of name if she was to fully re-invent herself. Her new name would be Lucinda. Just Lucinda. The year was 2000, and a number of strong female performers and singers were using a single name with great success—Cher, Björk, Madonna, Pink—Zoe figured she could rock that angle too.
L.A. agreed with Lucinda. It was a place where confidence and ambition were necessary pre-requisites to achieving anything at all. This time around, however, she was more circumspect about where she distributed her sexual favours.
About six months following the Billy Dunn affair, Lucinda was well and truly back on her feet again, and dating an up-and-coming movie director named Glenn Niemovski. At 42 years of age, Glenn was seventeen years Lucinda’s senior, but he was both talented and good-looking. Glenn had established his name in Hollywood through some impressive documentaries he’d filmed during the Yugoslav War in the '90s; Glenn's family were Bosnian Serbs.
Glenn was smart as well as talented and handsome, and he was the first man Lucinda had ever met whose combined intellect, personality, and joie-de-vivre was anywhere near on a par with her own. She slotted perfectly into his life as the new glamorous, but canny, girlfriend of the moment. Lucinda would spend time on set with Glenn, and occasionally be given cameos and B-role in his films. She was learning the movie business quickly, and she felt that her life was truly moving in a positive direction for the first time.
One day Lucinda arrived on set in a new, optimistic, black-with-white-polka-dots sun dress, carrying with her a budding love for the new man in her life—something she’d thought impossible after the Billy Dunn affair until quite recently—as well as a plate of zucchini-bran muffins that she’d baked that morning. Lucinda wasn’t expected on set that day, but she wanted to surprise Glenn with the muffins; her first ever attempt at baking.
The set was strangely quiet as Lucinda snooped around looking for her man. Opening the door to Glenn’s trailer, she saw a sight that will be etched into her memory banks forever: Glen Niemovski and Billy Dunn, naked, sucking each other’s cocks. My favourite number, thought Lucinda, 69. Piles of cocaine littered the table and counter tops of the trailer. A video camera—not so hidden this time—was filming the scene.
Lucinda unleashed 25 years of pent-up fury on them both, wrecked the trailer, and left them bruised, bleeding, and pleading for mercy. Seething with rage, she stormed off—video camera in hand—to re-evaluate her life once more . . .
Fast-forward six years: Lucinda has had a dazzling career as a film actress, achieved without help from a single man. She’s played the most coveted leading female roles depicting strong women rejoicing in their power over men: the matriarch of a bronze-age culture holding court over her people; an Amazon warrior princess leading her army of powerful feminine beauties to victory over the marauding male invaders; a powerful Wall Street businesswoman beating men at their own games; the successful leader of a futuristic deep-space colony; and on and on. Basically, Lucinda has single-handedly changed the face of women on film in Hollywood in less than a decade . . . and she’s been handsomely praised and awarded for her work.
The pinnacle of Lucinda’s Hollywood career came in 2006 when she was awarded the Academy Award for Best Actress in a powerful film portraying the tumultuous life of Benazir Bhutto. Her moment of revenge finally came when she took to the stage to give her Oscar acceptance speech:
"I dedicate this award to my twin brother, who died in my arms before he was born, and whose little life was snuffed out even before it began by the mean spirit of my mother, Heather Parker, and my family. Shame on you.
“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the two men who were most instrumental in getting my movie career off the ground. I don’t need to name them—you know who they are, don’t you boys . . . Billy Dunn and Glenn Niemovski. They’re both here tonight. I sincerely thank you both, and wish you all the very best in your lives together. Go easy on the blow, it's not good for the complexion. Oh, and yes, I still have the video footage. Thank you all, and goodbye.”
And just like that, Lucinda retired from her successful Hollywood career, and disappeared from the public eye . . .
Lucinda moved back to New Eden where the next phase of her life, free from the burning passion for revenge that had driven her until now, became her opportunity to fully explore her previously repressed sexual nature . . . as a dominatrix.
Bondage and discipline were natural to Lucinda, as natural as walking and breathing. Over the preceding years—after the Billy Dunn and Glen Niemovski disasters—Lucinda had discovered that BDSM was her sexual calling. In the BDSM world there was no messy dating, and no pussyfooting around with the sexually inexperienced. Here men and women were intelligent, straight to the point, knew what they liked, knew what they wanted, and weren’t afraid to ask for it. This aspect of Lucinda’s life, which blossomed following her repeated failures with men, had been put on hold during her acting career in L.A. due to her relative fame and notoriety. Now that she was back in New Eden, however, Lucinda no longer cared whether the world found out about this side of her life. She was finally able to fully embrace who she was in all of its exuberant, lusty, powerful, glory.
Lucinda created a position for herself at an elite escort agency where she developed a persona of the exclusive high-end dominatrix/courtesan—a role she fell into with comfort and ease, like putting on a well-worn slipper. As part of this new, dramatic, career change, Lucinda decided that changing her name again was an important part of that process; it had worked well for her last time.
"My name from now on," she announced, "will be Lobida."
“Why Lobida, darling?” the escort agency head, Dolores Daniels, asked her.
“Well babe, I’ve always felt that I was born into the wrong family, and that I should have been Latino. It’s sounds a little bit Latin, doesn’t it? Lobida. Also, sweetie, it’s an anagram of Diablo; I’m the female devil, don’t you think?”
Lobida took to her role as dominatrix at the escort agency like a duck to water. It felt like it was where she was always meant to have been: taking successful, powerful men and women—politicians, judges, business leaders, and the occasional clergy-person—and having them beg her to bind them, gag them, blindfold them, scold them, spank them, whip them, and generally control and humiliate them. Lobida quickly became highly sought after amongst New Eden’s powerful, kinky elite.
It was just a matter of months later that Lobida met the man who would again dramatically alter the course of her life, and send it off in yet another unexpected direction . . .
Ken Abercrombie, a high-profile entrepreneur and up-and-coming politician, had chased Lobida down in Central Park one hot summer day, and literally threw himself at her. He wanted her, and he would not take no for an answer. Lobida liked what she saw, gave him her business card, and shooed him away.
Ken immediately booked an appointment with Lobida at Dolores Daniels Escorts, but when his time was up he refused to leave. He created an open account with Dolores, and said she could charge him whatever she wanted . . . he was staying. Ken was like a puppy, all wide-eyed and goofy for Lobida, unable, and unwilling, to leave her alone. Luckily for Ken, Lobida felt something for him that she hadn’t ever experienced before—as if their destinies were mysteriously intertwined somehow—and there was nothing either of them could do to change the fact.
Ken's burning desire to dominated and humiliated by a powerful woman was more than adequately fulfilled by Lobida, and he didn't want to risk losing this holy grail that he’d sought after so feverishly his whole adult life. Throughout the remainder of 2006, and for most of 2007, Ken booked appointments to be dominated by Lobida two or three times every week. As 2007 was drawing to a close, Ken proposed a more permanent contract be established between them. Ken Abercrombie wanted to make Lobida his exclusive mistress; he no longer wanted to share Lobida with others, and—surprising even to Ken himself—he no longer wanted to be dominated by other women.
The money Lobida and Dolores Daniels demanded for this most unusual of arrangements was no problem for Ken, but money wasn’t Lobida’s primary motivation for becoming entwined with Ken; her childhood experience of wealth, and everything vile that goes along with it, had put her off any desire to be rich from a very young age. Power, on the other hand, was quite another matter. Lobida would agree to be Ken’s exclusive mistress only if he created a club for her that she would own, manage, and be the star of. The club was to feature Lobida’s completely new and unique concept: BDSM cabaret. It would be called The Dark Side.
The other important clause that Lobida insisted on, before signing the drafted contract, was that Ken publically admit the full truth of their relationship; Lobida wanted to be sure she would have her share of the White House when the time came . . .
The location of the future cabaret—E 72rd St between Madison and Park—was chosen. The abandoned theatre/dancehall was gutted, extensively remodelled and renovated, and the club had its official launch in May of 2009. From the very first evening, despite no advertising or promotion, TDS--as it quickly became known to its inner circle and regular clientele—was a huge success. The gentrified neighbourhood of the Upper East Side put no one off wanting to experience the hottest new underground attraction in New Eden; Lobida’s BDSM cabaret was a hit.
Lobida was now proving herself to be a seasoned actor, singer, dancer, and performer. She was so comfortable in her own skin that whether she was on or off stage made little difference to the intensity of Lobida’s performance. With multiple awards from both stage and screen, and now with a hit cabaret show under her belt, Lobida needed to prove nothing to no one. Being the confident high-achiever that she knew herself to be, however, when the Voice of the World competition was announced in early 2017, Lobida signed up to compete.
She sailed through the early rounds, beating stars from all over the globe, and was given high praise by the judges for her confident, powerful song delivery. Lobida became the firm favourite with audiences, judges, and the media to take out the coveted crown. Her fame and notoriety were ready to soar to new heights; she was excited.
As the number of competitor was whittled down to four, however, Lobida started to hear murmurings about a new star . . . and a possible threat. A mysterious unknown blonde, who apparently had no previous performing experience at all, was being touted as Lobida's main competition. Her name—my name—was Angel O.
Lobida snuck into the wings of the broadcasting studio during my semi-final winning performance of What I Did for Love to see what all the hype was about.
Well, she is attractive, Lobida had to admit, though perhaps a little muscular and masculine looking. Lobida also had to admit that I possessed a distinctive and unusual, though in her opinion a not especially powerful, voice. My capacity to express emotional depth, however, was what Lobida found to be the most striking feature of my performance. Lobida was also aware that my enigmatic stage presence was captivating in an undeniable and unique way; she was concerned. Lobida had only entered the competition because she’d been assured by the producers that she would win. What else could they have said? They were all terrified of Lobida, and her capacity to blackmail them with her knowledge of the kinky addictions they each played out regularly at TDS.
On the night of the grand finale of the competition, Lobida and I officially met for the first time. We were in the wings backstage, waiting to be introduced and welcomed onstage by the compere.
“Well. Aren’t we looking virginal tonight, all in white. You can’t fool me princess, you’re no virgin. Tell the truth now,” Lobida snarled at me.
“Lobida. It’s so nice to finally meet you. You really are prettier in person. Your outfit’s gorgeous by the way, I love leopard-print Lycra; I’m so envious. Break a leg.”
“Ooooooo, girlfriend. You’re just so nice, aren’t you? Well you know what? I despise nice people. In fact, I think I despise you. No, I take that back. I know I despise you. I’m going to take great pleasure in wiping the floor with you, sister, then throwing you back into the gutter where you belong.” Lobida turned and stormed off to her dressing room, enraged.
Rather than waiting for the possibility of losing to actually happen, Lobida took matters into her own hands. She paid a visit to the head judge of Voice of the World in his dressing room, and made a phone call to the CEO of NEBC—the network responsible for broadcasting the competition—making it perfectly clear to both of them that if she didn’t win tonight, their sordid little secrets might no longer be safe with her.
Needless to say, Lobida was crowned the victor, and I was gracious in defeat. The press gave mixed reviews of the result, some accusing the judging process of being rigged, while others fawned over the sheer majesty and power of Lobida’s very existence.
It was less than a year later that Lobida learned of my plans to open a cabaret of my own--The Garden Cabaret—in Greenwich Village. Following my appearance and performances on Voice of the World, I'd received a lot of positive media attention, and I proved to be very popular with the fans. I’d already made a number of appearances on both daytime and late-night talk shows, and I’d been given some starring guest roles on Broadway. Then, a solo show at Radio City Music Hall--A Night with Angel O—that’d been a sell-out success.
The theme of TGC--as it quickly became known to its inner circle and regular clientele—was quite simply the exact opposite of The Dark Side: everything pure, light, white, shiny, and virginal. "That bitch is spoiling for a fight. Well, bring it on, you precious little princess. I’m going to enjoy running you and your prissy little virginal cabaret into the ground, out of business, and out of this town. New Eden isn’t big enough for the both of us.”
Lobida's threats failed to be realised, however, and The Garden Cabaret thrived. Sex, power, and debauchery remained firmly in favour uptown under Lobida's powerful guidance; purity, joy, and innocence clearly in favour downtown under my purview . . .
And so, we arrive at that all-important point in time: July 2020. Lobida has become more reflective on her life of late, and unfinished business is starting to call for her attention. He rivalry with me is growing exponentially, and what started as simmering animosity is now full-blown loathing and resentment. Lobida longs to bring the en garde to a rousing, crushing, finale.
The other matter that’s re-surfaced in recent times is the child Zoe gave birth to back in her youth. Where is this young man—now 22 years old—and what is he making of his life? Lobida makes a vow to find him.
Lobida is back-stage at The Dark Side waiting for her cue. She’s ready to put on her usual dazzling cabaret performance full of sin, seduction, and sensuality. Ken Abercrombie will be watching her performance from the privacy of Lobida's boudoir, and she can feel the excitement of knowing that very soon she’ll be dominating the President of the United State of America.
Yantra, the chief hostess and manager of TDS—and more recently Lobida’s secret lesbian lover—is directing proceedings from her position in the elevated booth at the rear of the club. Lobida takes her position in the centre of the tableau on stage. Curtain up. Spotlight . . .