She leaned back into her plush office chair with a sigh as she closed yet another file of papers. “The life of a big time record label owner” she mused. she missed the time when she was just an artiste and she just sang and let other people worry about the small print issues. It was her aunt’s fault, “Martha, it is time for you start this, You should control your own career. Besides it is not as if you are starting from scratch, we have everything you need set up ready, it will be fun” her aunt had said. “Martha, Your new role will involve less singing, and more attending long, boring meetings, an insane mountain of paperwork, and negotiating deals while smiling at people You would rather punch in the face.” Her aunt had not said. Her eyes went to the rows of awards that surrounded her, “but, it has been totally worth it. I mean look at all the awards you’ve racked up, and you aren’t even twenty five yet” the voice in her head sounded like her aunt’s, but she knew it was only a figment of her imagination.
The sound of the door opening, and her smartly dressed Personal Assistant walking in jolted her from her reverie. “Hi Jane, back from making arrangements for the Genevieve magazine shoot already?” “Yes Ma’am,” Jane replied, “the guy running the shoot was very cooperative, we got a convenient date for the shoot right away.” Jane handed over a letter “I picked this up from the booking secretary downstairs, I think it is for you.” Martha collected the letter and read it. As she did so, the bile rose in her throat and her hands started to shake from anger. Jane having detected the mood change and not wanting to be the lightning rod for whatever was angering her boss, had disappeared. Martha didn’t even notice. Hands still shaking, She reached for her phone and dialled a number. A pleasant male voice answered from the other end “Hey! Martha whats up? nice of you to call, I trust you got my letter then?” Martha directed as much anger as she could cram into her voice back “Miss me with the pleasantries, Don Mac, what the hell do you think you are doing? What do you mean Eddie Fresh and Kyra can’t do their collaboration because you want more money?” Don Mac replied in a non-commital voice “Well we sat down and looked at the situation of things, Eddie Fresh is an international award winning artist, your Kyra doesn’t even have an EP yet, this deal benefits you more than us, so we decided to up our fee to six million instead.” Martha was ready to hurl the phone at the wall now “Mac, You can’t do that, our agreement was for two point five million, and you know what this collaboration means to Kyra?” “Well, sorry no can do,” Mac replied, “I have a an endorsement meeting at Eko Hotels by 5pm though, perhaps we can talk physically about it if you come thirty minutes before then.” Mac You are full of shit, you know that?” Martha erupted back “Mac’s initial polite voice came back ” Well who has not being full of shit ever epped? Just make it to Eko Hotels by 4:30 or forget about the collaboration. Good day.” He cut the call.
Martha gripped the edges of her seat, suppressing the urge to throw something against the wall or smash something on the finely polished mahogany office table as anger and frustration roiled in her mind. She took a deep breath, then another, which worked somewhat, but she was still angry, she grabbed the intercom, “Who is there? Tell Jane to come to my office at once.” As she put down the intercom, her phone rang again, it was Kyra ” Hiya, Kyra,” Martha intoned in the calmest voice she could manage, not wanting to alarm Kyra that something was amiss, but Kyra seemed to have found out about what happened, because she sounded worried “I learnt my song with Eddie Fresh has been cancelled, Martha what is happening?” “Kyra don’t alarm yourself unduly, your song with Eddie Fresh is going ahead. Take my word for it.” Kyra’s voice sounded a bit relieved, “Okay, Please do something about it you know how much I have been planning for this song with Eddie?” “Yes I know, and I will make sure I do everything to make it happen.” Martha cut the call. Janet had come into the office in the meantime but stood near the door, in case Martha threw something at her in anger. She knew of course that Martha was not prone to such outbursts, but she wasn’t taking any chances nonetheless. “Arrange a car and a driver, you and I are going to Eko Hotels by 4pm” “Ma’am, we have a press conference at 5pm about our…” ” Don’t worry, the press conference can wait, besides the meeting won’t take long.” “Yes Ma’am” Jane left to obey her instructions. “Mac thinks he is smart right? Today is the day I am going to show that asshole who is boss.” Martha mused to no one in particular.”
* * * * * *
When she entered the Eko Hotels conference room where Don Mac was already waiting for her, the sight of his smug, fake smile made her want to strangle him. “Its nice that you could make this meeting, how are you.” “Don’t pretend to be nice, because you are not” Martha snarled back. Mac’s false smile did not waver “Wow! You are really pissed off , why don’t You sit down and let’s talk about it.” Martha didn’t feel like sitting, she felt like breaking the chair on his head, but she pulled the chair and sat. “Mac why are you doing this? You know how much this song means to Kyra?” “Well” Mac replied, the smile gone from his face now “I didn’t become Don Mac by giving a shit about sentiment.” ” I protect my interests, and that of my labelmates, as you do for yours, and this is what is best for us in this circumstances, and that is how it stands.” Martha mustered all the bravado she could manage ” sorry Mac, I have done my research, you will not get a dime more than what we agreed on from me.”
Mac sighed ” Too bad, I was hoping we could come to an agreement, but the way things are going, it seems we are… She intrrupted him “We already had an agreement damnit!!” He laughed hard and long “This is the streets girl, agreements are useful for wiping shit. Guess your billionaire daddy and billionaire aunty didn’t tell you that eh?” His manner became serious “Make a decision quick, young lady the people I am waiting for will soon be here, Will you pay or not?”
Martha rested her face in her hands, issued a deep sigh, and said in a defeated voice ” Okay you win, I will pay.” More mocking laughter followed from Mac “That’s a nice girl we have there, it is good that you have realized that you can’t win all the time. But I can’t believe I broke you that easily, I was expecting a lot more resistance from you…” He broke off as He saw Martha lift her head from her hands and started to smile. His laughter turned to concern “Hey what’s funny?” “Nothing” Martha replied I just remembered that Eddie Fresh’s concert, the one J Cole is scheduled to headline is scheduled for September that’s all”. Mac’s features darkened “and what about it?” “Well I know that J-Cole has a clause in his international contract that states that he can cancel a show a month before the show’s date if he gets an offer of up to two times his regular fee. Since I haven’t fixed the day for my own concert yet, I could put it on the same day as Eddie’s and pay J-Cole to cancel Eddie’s show and headline mine instead, that’s all.” She watched with satisfaction as emotions flickered across Mac’s face, confusion turned to comprehension, followed by panic, “Martha You can’t do this”. Martha chuckled “I see you aren’t done underestimating me yet.” “No, that’s… that’s not what I mean. I mean… I mean… please don’t do this to me. I beg you” Mac stammered, producing an handkerchief and dabbing the beads of sweat which had formed on his face. “The collaboration between Eddie and Kyra will go ahead, in fact You don’t need to pay anything anymore, I’ll get more of my artistes to do more collabos with yours for free, just don’t destroy my credibility.” It was Martha’s turn to laugh uproariously. “Don Mac! you know, the beautiful thing about money and having billions of it is that you can use it to wreck people’s shit, and I will spend every single dollar of those billions to destroy you, if I have to.” “I know you can, but please don’t, I beg you” Mac croaked, in voice pared down to a whisper by fear. Martha rose from her chair and put a conciliatory hand on Mac’s shoulder, “You may live in the streets, but I own the streets, because I can buy the streets. Never forget that. However unlike you street rats, we billionaires honour our contracts. I will therefore pay the two point five million we initially agreed on” Mac tried to stammer out a reply but panic had blanked his mind. She mimicked his previous haughty tone “But seriously I can’t believe I broke the great Don Mac that easily, I expected a lot more fight from you.” The serious edge to her voice returned “In the absence of any other stupid get rich quick scams, I guess We are done here, so let’s all go home and sign our respective papers.” She turned to leave and then stopped “One more thing, you know I can pay the five million ten times over, but I, Martha, am not among the kind of people you, and idiot street rats like you can mess with.” She loosed a long hiss at him. “I expect those signed contract papers in my mailbox before the day ends.Have a nice day ” She said as she strode out of the conference room.
* * * *
Ma’am how did it go? Jane asked her as they walked to the car. Martha turned to her “just tell the godamned bookers and producers to get Eddie Fresh and Kyra into the studio for the damned collabo before someone else gets any silly ideas.”