The RESURRECTION of MARILYN MONROE
By Sean Fisher
© Copyright 2014
August 5, 1962.
10:01 AM. The morning Marilyn Monroe was found dead.
The morning sun was shining through the French windows of Marilyn Monroe’s bedroom.
Marilyn was coming out of a deep sleep. Images swirled through her head from a dream. They were quickly fading but she could remember a broken window, and some arms and hands holding her down. There was also a helicopter, or something, in the backyard. Absurd really. She tried to remember what had last happened before she fell asleep. She could remember talking to someone on the phone and then taking several pills.
She opened her eyes slowly and she could smell some toast and coffee coming from the kitchen. Eunice, her housekeeper, was trying to get into the movie star’s good books again. Marilyn had been trying to find a gentle way to fire her. Eunice had admitted to Marilyn that she had been spying on her for Dr. Ralph Greenwood, Marilyn’s overly protective psychiatrist.
She sat up and looked at herself in the mirror. Her head ached, but she thought she looked surprisingly good. She was usually her worst critic. At least the pills had worked. She felt like she had slept for a long time. Maybe the best sleep she had had in ages. She looked over towards her pill bottle. It sat empty on her bedside table.
She looked at the phone on the floor by her glass of water. Then she put her fingers through her dyed blond hair and tried to remember who she had last spoken to on the phone. Was it Ralph Greenwood or Peter Lawford?
She stood up and felt woozy for a moment. Then she looked down at her unclothed body, fixing her gaze on her surgical scar from her gall bladder operation. She went to the closet and grabbed her pink fuzzy robe. There was a knock on the door.
“Yes Eunice. I’ll be out in a minute,” she said.
Eunice responded, “Good Morning Marilyn. I have some eggs, toast and coffee waiting for you.”
“Yes. Thanks for that. I’m starving.”
Marilyn looked at the plants outside of her French windows. Had they grown significantly over night? Something seemed different about her life today. She could not put her finger on what it was.
* * *
Marilyn sat by the pool staring at her reflection in the water while she smoked a cigarette. She wondered if she was just a washed up movie star. No one seemed to be that excited about her anymore. Not even Bobby or Jack. She looked at her reflection in the water. She was becoming a caricature of herself. Marilyn Monroe was a fictional character she had created many years before. But as she became older she was beginning to seem more like a cartoon version of that character. Her hair dye, nose job, and make up were her clown costume. Except without the costume she simply did not know who she was anymore.
She needed to get back in touch with Norma Jean, the naive girl she was before Hollywood movie stardom. If she was to go on in this world she was going to have to get in touch with her again. How many times had she compromised herself to achieve stardom? she asked herself. And how many failed relationships had she left behind in her wake?
It wasn’t even noon and she was already craving her pills. She had been unable to locate her other prescription bottles. Eunice had probably hidden them again. Time to visit the pharmacist.
Eunice was cautiously walking towards the pool with a pot of coffee.
“What happened last night?” Marilyn asked quizzically.
Eunice’s eyes flashed for a moment. “Nothing at all. Just the usual. You fell asleep early after talking on the phone.” She poured coffee into Marilyn’s cup.
Marilyn looked up at her. “Thanks…um… Do you remember who I was talking to?”
“No I didn’t want to disturb you, Marilyn.” Eunice said flatly.
“Right.” Marilyn took a puff of her cigarette. “Where did you hide my other pills? I know I left them…”
“Don’t forget you have a meeting with the studio at noon.” Eunice said interrupting.
Marilyn looked at her housekeeper surprised. “At noon? I don’t remember that. About what?”
Eunice sighed. “I try to keep out of the business side of things.”
Marilyn gave her a slightly sarcastic look. “Really? But everything else is fair game, is it?”
Eunice looked visibly wounded. “That’s not fair Miss Monroe.”
“Well I don’t need a spy living inside of my house. Have you seen that car down the road creeping around lately?” Marilyn said exasperated. “I have to live with that outside my home, and I don’t need it inside too.”
Eunice got her back up. “Well maybe if you weren’t gallivanting around with people you have no business…”
“All right that’s enough Eunice. I told you that subject is off limits. Who I sleep with is my business and not yours, or Ralph’s.”
“Doctor Greenwood,” said the housekeeper emphasizing to Marilyn that her relationship with her psychiatrist was supposed to be a professional one.
“Doctor Greenwood has no business spying on me.” Marilyn said stubbornly.
“I am not spying on you Marilyn,… but some of us care about you. I’m sorry if that makes me a bad housekeeper.”
Marilyn tried to be sincere with Eunice. At the very least she owed her that much. “You aren’t a bad housekeeper Eunice. But I just need my privacy. From both you… and Ralph.”
Eunice straightened her uniform. “So you still want me to leave?”
Marilyn knew this chapter of her life had to come to an end. She needed a fresh start. But her heart was breaking for Eunice. Eunice had always been one of her closest confidantes, and she had had an enormous influence on her political opinions.
“I can always give you a good reference Eunice. You know that. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.” Marilyn said softly.
Eunice put on a brave face, but her moist eyes betrayed her feelings. “I’ll pack my things then.” She turned and walked back towards the house quickly.
Marilyn called after her. “Eunice…I’m sorry it came to this.”
Eunice stopped, made an odd jerking motion with her back and then turned around. “Marilyn,” she said hoarsely. She looked around hesitantly, like she was debating whether or not she should say something. Then she spoke in a rushed whisper. “Remember… the people need you Marilyn. Try to remember what I said to you on the way to Mexico. You can be more than a sex symbol. I need to warn you about something. They are going to try and use you…”
As soon as she said this a whir of helicopter blades appeared from above. Eunice looked up frightened. The dark red helicopter moved swiftly over the roof of the house. Marilyn stood up confused as the wind blew her hair. It was just like the dream she had about the helicopter.
Eunice was now shouting, “THEY ARE GOING TO USE YOU! DON’T LET THEM…” The helicopter drowned out the rest of what Eunice was saying as it landed on the grassy area beyond the pool. Marilyn backed up apprehensively as the wind made a mess of her hair.
There were two men inside the helicopter: a pilot, and a young man in his early thirties who was waving excitedly at Marilyn from the window. He was handsome, with wavy dark hair and a pleasant smile. Marilyn was trying to remember if she had met him before. He didn’t seem familiar. She turned to look back at Eunice but she was gone. With a defeated sigh she turned her focus back towards the helicopter. She was going to have to invest in more security.
The young man opened the helicopter door and stepped out. He was wearing a black suit with a white shirt and tie, and dark sunglasses. In his right hand he was carrying a briefcase. He walked past the pool over towards Marilyn and he tried his best to act as if he wasn’t nervous to speak with her. As he approached he found himself transfixed by her blue eyes. This was always the most nerve-wracking part for him.
Marilyn put her hands on her hips. “Who are you and why do you think it’s okay to land a helicopter in my backyard? Are you the FBI?” yelled Marilyn as the blades of the helicopter slowed down and the noise lessened.
“I’m not FBI! I’m Steven. Steven Langdon. From the studio!” he said lifting his hands up in surrender.
“I don’t care if you’re the President. You have no right to land in my backyard!”
The man just kept smiling at Marilyn, undeterred. “Ha ha! Good one. But I promise you when you learn about the contents of this briefcase you won’t mind that I landed here. You’ll be able to buy ten more houses like this if you like.”
“What do you mean? We just inked the new production deal last week. Are you saying they want to make changes?” Marilyn asked, taken off guard by the stranger’s charm.
“I’m just here to offer you more. Honestly. You deserve it. And the sooner we ink this new deal the better off you will be. Trust me on this one,” he said. He looked back at the helicopter. “Um…. sorry about that. I’ll pay for any damages to your lawn. But there is a certain urgency to this deal,” he said nodding toward the briefcase.
She looked at him slightly confused. He took off his sunglasses and gazed at her admiringly with his brown eyes. She still did not recognize him. “I don’t remember meeting you before,” she said. “But I have to say I like your style. That was quite an entrance.”
He put out his hand. “You can call me Steven…or Steve… or whatever you like really. It’s an honor to be in your presence.”
Marilyn moved in closer. She knew men well enough to know when they were having trouble hiding how they felt about her. This was business, and she would use her advantage.
“Well. You’re here. So lets talk. And if I don’t like what you have to say I’ll have you and your helicopter thrown out,” she said laughing the last part off. “Why don’t you come sit by the pool and have a drink Steven? We can discuss details there.” She sauntered back to the table, gazing back at him flirtatiously.
She turned to the house and called out to Eunice. “Eunice, before you go, can you do me a favor and get our guest a drink?”
The movie executive sat down at the garden table. “Oh no need really. It’s better we get down to business.”
There was no answer from Eunice.
“Well… I need a drink so I’ll get it myself. I’m sorry my housekeeper is having a bad day.” Marilyn said.
“No need to apologize,” he said waving it off. He stared at Marilyn as she walked towards the patio door. He took the whole image in. All of his hard work was finally going to pay off. He sat down and looked at the house admiringly.
Marilyn returned with her sunglasses on, and a tall glass of vodka. She sat down in a reclining chair wrapped up in her robe, while Steven fumbled through some papers in his briefcase.
“Miss Monroe, the studio is prepared to increase the offer quite significantly.”
“Please call me Marilyn,” she said sipping on her vodka, smiling at Steven who was suddenly distracted by her feet, as she curled her legs up onto the chair.
He snapped out of it. “Um… the first change that we’ve added is that we are interested in finishing Something’s Got to Give.”
Marilyn rolled her eyes. “Gosh. Are you joking? I thought that thing was dead and buried. That’s how I got fired.”
Steven grinned. “Well a lot has changed since then.”
Marilyn looked puzzled. “Since yesterday?”
“Yes. Well the investors are very eager to have you working with Mr. Martin again, who, as you know, refused to finish the movie without you.”
“That’s my Dino,” she said sipping her vodka. She looked at the glass furrowing her brow. “This vodka tastes awful.”
“Awful how?” Steven asked curiously.
“Awful like… not like it did yesterday that’s for sure. Bad aftertaste. Like hairspray.” She made a face and stuck out her tongue in disgust.
“Do you mind if I try it?” he asked.
She handed it to him. “Be my guest,” she said widening her eyes, flirting with him.
He grabbed the glass and sniffed it. “Normally I don’t drink this early but…” He took a sip and made a face. “You’re right. There is a bad aftertaste.” He shook his head and then made a note in a small black book.
He continued. “Now the regular terms of the original deal would basically be the same. But instead of four films we’d like to increase the amount to ten. But also in addition to that we are hoping to partner you with some different companies. We would be cross marketing some of their products into your films. But they are also very interested in using your image for their advertising campaigns. Does this interest you Miss Monroe?”
She tried to pretend she wasn’t intrigued by these sudden changes in the offer. “Which companies?”
He showed her a piece of paper with the company names. She recognized a few of them, Cartier and Christian Dior, for example. But she was unfamiliar with some of the other names.
“What’s this one?” she said pointing to the paper.
He leaned over and looked at the name she was pointing at. “Oh that’s a new lingerie company. High end. Very popular in Europe.”
Marilyn was intrigued. “Lingerie? Do I get free samples?” she asked teasing Steven.
He smiled. “Why of course. You’re a very important client to us Miss Monroe.”
“Well it’s nice to have someone around who appreciates me. I was beginning to feel unwanted and old.” Marilyn said pouting.
He looked at her seriously for a moment. “You are timeless Miss Monroe. People will be looking at you as an American icon for many decades to come.”
She lifted her sunglasses and looked at him. Some of these guys were like putty in her hands. She remembered a time when she had to bow down to these studio jerks and their fantasies. But this guy was a puppy dog. A real Marilyn Monroe fan.
“So what is the bottom line then? How much are you going to pay me?” Marilyn asked.
“We’re willing to pay you 300 million dollars,” he said calmly.
Marilyn just stared at him. “Ha!” she guffawed mockingly.
“Ha?” Steven said confused.
“That’s good. You said it without blinking. Come on Steven. What’s the real figure?”
Steven looked down at his papers as he put on his horn-rimmed prescription glasses. “300 million. Right here. We might be able to manage another 50 million depending on how quickly the agreement is signed.” He passed the papers over to Marilyn. She sat up straight feeling more alert than she had all morning.
“$300 million? Where are you getting this kind of money?”
“Miss Monroe. I’m sure you have been undervalued up until now. But I assure you that the studio and these companies are 100 per cent behind you in the long term. This is a serious offer.”
“And what? I don’t have to sleep with anyone for any of this?” Marilyn asked with a straight face.
Steven was taken aback. “Um…no! I mean. Not unless you want…to… sleep…”
Suddenly Marilyn laughed and Steven felt foolish. She was playing with him. He blushed
“Well Mr. Steven Langdon. I’m not sure what to make of all of this. Sounds too good to be true. There must be a hitch.”
Steven hesitated. “There’s no hitch. But…just…it would help if you could sign the papers as soon as possible.”
“Well I’ll have to get my lawyer to look at it.”
Steven sighed and looked slightly exasperated. “Well, how about we send a studio car for you? If he could look at the figures as soon as possible I’m sure he will agree that this is a very generous deal.”
She grinned slyly. “Yes well… when men look at figures it usually makes them more agreeable. They forget about those rings on their fingers, for instance,” she said glancing down at his left hand.
Steven felt embarrassed as he looked down at his wedding ring.
* * *
After Steven Langdon had flown off in his helicopter, Marilyn got dressed for her meeting with her lawyer. She put on a black pencil skirt and heels. Then she walked down the hall and opened the door to Eunice’s room and glanced over at her bed, which had been neatly made. The rest of the room had been cleared out. She was about to close the door again when she noticed a red envelope on the pillow on top of Eunice’s bed. She was almost certain it hadn’t been there when she had opened the door. Perplexed, she walked over and picked it up. Eunice had written Marilyn’s real name on the front: Norma Jean.
A car horn sounded from outside the front gate. It was the studio car. She was surprised it had already arrived. She would have to read the note later. She put the letter in her purse.
Marilyn opened the front door and walked down the driveway to open the gate. She waved the black limousine in and quickly glanced down the street. The mysterious beige car that had been parked outside her house for the past few months was nowhere in sight. She was certain that the car was owned by the FBI, and that they were tailing her because of her relationships with Jack and Bobby Kennedy.
The limo drove Marilyn along Sunset and Hollywood Blvd towards her lawyer’s office, across the street from Grauman’s Chinese Theater. She was eager to hear what Marty had to say about this curious new deal. If this worked out she could retire from this disgusting and humiliating business once and for all. How many times had she been taken advantage of? she asked herself. If she could go back in time she would have approached it all so differently.
She looked at the tourists walking down the street. So many of them were in awe of movie stars like herself. In her heart she wished she could really be the glamorous, confident woman they all believed her to be. Perhaps this deal could be a second chance – a new start.
Marilyn looked at the driver. “I need to go to the drug store. I need to have a prescription filled.” Marilyn said, suddenly feeling anxious about the meeting.
“I have explicit orders to take you to your lawyers Miss Monroe. I’m sorry,” he said. Marilyn sat back in a huff. They always wanted to control her. She was surprised they hadn’t given her a lobotomy, like Frances Farmer.
* * *
Marilyn was surprised to find that her usually cautious lawyer, Marty Rudin, was simply agreeing to the new studio deal. He chomped on his cigar looking at Marilyn across his desk.
“There’s some great ideas in there,” he said. “A follow up to Some Like it Hot called Some Like it Cool? Phenomenal. Doesn’t even have to be a good movie and it would probably still sell. The Nine Year Itch? I can’t wait!”
Marilyn thought for a moment. “And you don’t think it’s strange that they were trying to get rid of me only a few months ago and now they want to pay me $300 million dollars? There has to be a catch. I may be a dumb blond, but even I can see something is fishy about this.”
Marty flipped nonchalantly through the pages. “Looks legit to me.”
“And you’ve heard of some of these companies? I’ve never heard of them.”
Marty looked through his circular glasses at the sheet of paper listing the endorsement requests. “Which ones?”
She sat up and pointed at the names she didn’t recognize. “Victoria’s Secret? What’s that? If they have so much money then why haven’t I heard of them?”
The lawyer brushed her concerns off. “Just because you haven’t heard of them doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It’s a new world Marilyn. You may as well learn how to roll with it.”
She looked at him blankly. “Roll with it? Are you Elvis Presley all of a sudden?”
He cleared his throat looking slightly embarrassed. “Of course. What I meant to say is that I think these companies show a lot of earning potential.” He changed gears. “Listen Marilyn. Let me ask you something. Am I your lawyer? Marty Rudin?”
Marilyn stared at Marty oddly. “Yes.”
“And are you Marilyn Monroe? My client?”
Marilyn nodded. “Yes. Of course.”
“Then take my advice. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. This will make you rich beyond your wildest dreams. Both of us! Come on Marilyn. Are you crazy? Wait. Don’t answer that.”
She looked at the papers again. She felt an intuitive twitch that something was wrong. Maybe it was what Eunice had said to her that morning. She glanced at the letter in her purse. She hadn’t become this famous without some brains, despite what people thought of her. She was in charge of creating the image that everyone loved. She had even run her own production company. She was never as dumb as these men always thought she was. They couldn’t tell the difference between the character she was playing and the real person. And she was not going to ignore the gut feeling she had that something wasn’t on the level about this whole deal.
“I’m going to sleep on it,” she said decidedly. “And maybe chat with a few of my friends.”
Marty shook his head. “I wouldn’t recommend that Marilyn. If the deal isn’t signed today than the whole thing could be void. You have to sign it today.”
Marilyn sighed. “I need to go to the powder room. And I need a drink. Can you get me a drink? Vodka soda.”
The lawyer eyed Marilyn’s purse. “You have to be sober and of sound mind to sign this Marilyn.” He buzzed his secretary. “Christine can you get Miss Monroe a glass of water.” He smiled at Marilyn, who was now frowning. “And I will prepare the documents for signing.”
* * *
Marilyn put her purse down on the sink and looked in the mirror. She had a lot of questions. Why was everything turning around so fast today? Something was off. She went into a bathroom stall and sat on the toilet. She just needed to think.
Someone opened the door to the bathroom. “Your water Miss Monroe.” The voice was a younger woman’s voice.
“Thanks. Just leave it on the sink.”
The girl was gone when Marilyn came out of the stall. She took a sip of water and then washed her hands. She looked at herself in the mirror again. She was aging. How many good years did she have left? Then something strange happened with her reflection.
Her hair began to turn from blond to grey. Her face became thinner and older. Her clothes changed to a light blue house servant’s uniform. It was Eunice! Marilyn gasped at the image.
“Miss Monroe, I don’t have much time. You have to read the note I left you. Do not sign the contract! I’m sorry I have had to contact you in such an alarming way but…”
There was a loud knock on the bathroom door.
Eunice looked exasperated. “Just read the note.” The mirror image morphed back into Marilyn.
An urgent male voice came from outside the door. “Marilyn it’s me. Dr. Greenwood.”
Marilyn just stood staring at her own reflection speechless. She really was crazy, she thought to herself. “I must be going through some kind of withdrawal,” she whispered.
The door opened slightly. “Marilyn why don’t you come back into Marty’s office?” Marilyn turned and looked at the Doctor.
“What are you doing here? Spying on me again?” Marilyn asked accusingly.
“Marilyn there are several concerned parties here. You know I’m related to Marty. I’ve been getting calls all week about your behavior. Let’s just go back to the office, okay? And stop looking in that mirror,” he commanded.
Marilyn walked over towards the bathroom door still in shock by what she saw in the mirror. The grey haired Doctor took her down the hallway by the arm and the two of them entered the office and sat across from Marty. Steven Langdon was also in the room. He was standing in the corner having a drink, leaning on a filing cabinet, looking very debonair.
“Oh great! Now this guy is here too. How convenient. The men are ganging up on me again,” said Marilyn sarcastically as she sat down. “Did you come by helicopter this time?”
Steven just smiled smoothly. “Everyone seems to agree it’s a good deal Marilyn.”
Marilyn looked at the three men. “A psychiatrist, a lawyer and a movie executive all walk into a bar,” she said slowly. “I guess I’m the punch line in this joke?”
Dr. Greenwood spoke up. “Marilyn. It would be insanity to not sign this contract. If both your lawyer and your doctor agree, and you disagree, it would appear that you are unfit to manage your own affairs.”
“Are you trying to force me to sign this contract?” Marilyn asked.
Steven spoke up. “Look no one wants to force anyone here. We’re all fans of yours.”
“Thank you Steven,” said Marilyn. She looked at her lawyer and her doctor. “Why is he playing good cop in all of this? Am I paying you two to be against me?”
Dr. Greenwood sighed and shook his head. Marty put down his cigar. “Well why would you say no Marilyn? At least tell me that.”
Marilyn wasn’t sure why exactly. She couldn’t tell them it was because she saw a hallucination in the mirror that told her she shouldn’t. She picked up her purse and started fumbling through it.
“Where the hell is it?” she said searching her purse for the letter. The men glanced at each other. “Damn it. Must have dropped it. I have to go back to the washroom.”
Doctor Greenwood stood up and blocked the door. “If you’re referring to the letter from Eunice I’m afraid we’ve confiscated it.”
“How do you know about that letter?” Marilyn said feeling betrayed.
“It was communist propaganda Marilyn. Do you know who she’s involved with? She’s trying to talk you out of the deal… because she’s a communist!” The doctor emphasized the word communist like he was in a horror film.
“That’s why the FBI have been following you Marilyn.” Steven said coolly as he sipped his drink.
Marilyn just glared at Steven. “How do you know what the FBI is doing?”
“Because they’ve been contacting the studio Marilyn. Why do you think things have been going so badly for you at the studio lately? Too many socialist associations!”
She looked at Marty for support. “Do you know about this Marty?”
Marty tried to lighten the mood. “Look can we all just relax? We’re getting distracted from the most important matter here. We have a contract to sign. Forget all this commie pinko nonsense. Lets make some God damn money!”
Marilyn looked out the window behind Marty. She could see the Hollywood sign in the distance. She closed her eyes. What they said did make a certain amount of sense – to a point. Eunice had been heavily involved with socialists. And Marilyn had been followed before when she was married to Arthur, who they suspected of being a communist. It wasn’t outside the realm of possibility.
Everything made sense except for the fact that Eunice’s image had appeared in the bathroom mirror. That did not make sense.
Marilyn opened her eyes. Was she dreaming again? The Hollywood sign had changed. It now clearly read, “DO NOT SIGN IT” Marilyn stood up alarmed. She turned and moved towards the door but the doctor blocked her way again. “Step aside Ralph. I don’t feel well. A lady has to go to the bathroom.”
Ralph stepped aside reluctantly. “Fucking hell,” he said quietly after the door had shut.
Marilyn walked down the hallway feeling uncertain. She looked out a nearby window at the Hollywood sign, which looked normal once again. Why was she having hallucinations? she wondered. Was it the water she drank? She looked down at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre where her hands were imprinted in the cement. There were some tourists taking a photograph with their own hands resting in her imprints. It lightened her mood for a moment.
Suddenly there was a loud explosion. It was directly across the street at the theater. Marilyn was stunned as she looked down at the scene. She could hear people screaming. Marilyn backed away from the window and held her face in her hands. A fire hydrant exploded and a large plume of smoke was emitting from one of the theaters. It was chaos.
Marilyn immediately went to the stairwell and went down the flight of stairs to the first floor. There were sirens in the distance. When she exited out onto the street no one even looked at her. It would have been a refreshing change from the norm if it had been under different circumstances.
Someone grabbed her arm. Marilyn turned. It was Eunice. “Eunice!” Marilyn said surprised. “What’s going on here?”
“Come with me Marilyn.” Eunice said urgently. A Thunderbird skidded towards them. “Get in!” Eunice said. She opened the back door and shoved Marilyn inside. The car sped off.
“Where are we going?” Marilyn said looking back at the disastrous scene behind her.
“We’re going to take you somewhere safe Marilyn,” the driver said. There was something familiar about his voice.
“Jimmy Cagney?” she asked. He looked at her through the rear view mirror.
“In some ways yes,” he said as he spun the car around a corner. They pulled into an alleyway where a garage door opened. The car pulled inside and the door closed behind them. Cagney switched off the car. It was pitch black.
“Okay where are we? What’s going on here? Are you two kidnapping me?” asked Marilyn nervously.
Eunice spoke with a direct tone. “Miss Monroe, this is going to be difficult for you to hear. But what you have been living through today is not real. I’m sorry.”
James Cagney’s voice cut through the darkness. “You’re dead Marilyn. Dead and buried just like me. You died early this morning. Or what you think was this morning.”
“What do you mean I died? I’m right here. I’m getting scared now Eunice. Take me back to Marty’s office. Now!” Marilyn said trembling.
“Marilyn do not be ridiculous. Those men are not your friends. They aren’t even who they say they are,” Eunice countered. Cagney switched on the interior car lights.
There was a pause. Then Marilyn spoke. “Eunice you better start making sense soon or I will have to insist…”
“Marilyn. This life you are experiencing right now is a computer program that was created in the future.” Eunice held Marilyn’s shoulders as she spoke directly to her.
“A what? A computer program? I don’t know what that is.”
Cagney turned his head and spoke to Marilyn. “Machines. Machines that compute information quickly. They become very advanced a few decades after you die.”
Eunice continued. “Yes. And then several decades after that the programs start to simulate reality so well that the programmed inhabitants are practically real people.”
“Let me out of this car you whackos!” shouted Marilyn, opening the door and stepping outside. But they were no longer in a garage. They were now in a drive-in movie theater at night. The film soundtrack was coming through a small speaker attached to the open window next to the young looking Cagney. Marilyn turned and looked up at the flickering screen. “What? How did we get here?”
She saw herself on the screen. They were showing scenes from Something’s Got to Give. She remembered that day clearly. It was the pool scene where they had convinced Marilyn to swim in the nude. Marilyn listened to the spoken commentary. A male voice was talking about her final unfinished movie.
The documentary continued. They showed her singing Happy Birthday Mr. President. They spoke of her final night. There was a picture of Eunice. They were talking about her links to communists in Mexico. Marilyn stood looking up at the screen transfixed. When they started to discuss the Kennedy brothers Marilyn held her hand up to her mouth and gasped in embarrassment. ‘The secret is out,’ she thought.
Marilyn registered each piece of new information. There were pictures of her early morning death on August 5. ‘That’s today,” she whispered quietly to herself. Eunice was now standing behind her watching the screen with her. She gently put her hand on Marilyn’s shoulder.
Marilyn learned that she had been found dead from an overdose of pills. There were several conspiracy theories that involved the Kennedys. They mentioned that a helicopter may have landed in her backyard that night and her autopsy results had gone missing. Marilyn turned and looked back at Eunice.
Eunice spoke up. “I’m sorry Miss Monroe. But there are powers in the future that are interested in exploiting the images of old movie icons like yourself…and Mr. Cagney here. And many of your colleagues and friends.”
“So…” she said shaking her head trying to comprehend it all. “So I’m dead. Then why do I feel alive?”
Eunice explained. “Because the computer program is very advanced. It’s a composition of every piece of information there is about this person who once existed named Marilyn Monroe. And you, a computer program, have become a sentient being in the process. You are self-aware. Conscious. Just like Marilyn once was… when she wasn’t stoned, that is.”
Marilyn leaned against the car looking up at the screen. A teardrop traced a trail of mascara down her cheek. She saw good ole Joe DiMaggio who had kept bringing flowers to the cemetery where she was buried month after month after she had died.
“Oh my dear Joe,” she whispered.
The film went on to show how Marilyn Monroe’s image had lived on through time. There were many imitators. And many products had been sold using her image. It was hard to believe that she had reached that level of fame even in the future. A bigger star than she had ever been. And her image was making piles of money.
Marilyn leaned her head down into her folded arms on the top of the car and quietly sobbed. She felt like she was made out of real flesh and blood. She could feel her heart pumping. Cagney got out of the car, pulled a flask out of his jacket and nudged her gently with it.
“Go on there doll face. I know you need it.”
Marilyn turned and grabbed the flask and took a swig. She savored the alcohol and let it burn smoothly down her throat. She turned around and leaned back on the car. “Well at least they got this bourbon right. Should’ve tasted the vodka I had this morning.”
She looked at Eunice. “But I still don’t understand. Why do I have to sign a contract? It looks like they’ve been using my image for years.”
Eunice tried her best to explain things to Marilyn. “They decided they wanted to recreate you – as much as possible – so they could put you in movies again. If they had a virtual – or artificial – movie star they wouldn’t have to pay her… or you. Or even deal with you being late or absent.”
She continued. “But legal problems set them back when they realized you had become self aware. Meaning, it seems as though the simulation was so precise that somehow a soul emerged. You became unpredictable. And now you have certain inalienable rights, Miss Monroe. ”
“I need to sit down,” said Marilyn woozily. “Sounds like some sort of science fiction picture.” Cagney opened the door for her as she sat down on the car seat. “But what about the money they’re offering. Is that real?”
“The Marilyn Monroe estate will only approve of the endorsements and film deals if you – the most complete computerized version of Marilyn Monroe – agrees to sign that contract,” said Eunice.
“So I’ve been self aware before?” Marilyn asked trying to comprehend it all.
“They found some glitches and they have restarted the program. The main glitch they can’t seem to fix is that you never agree to sign the contract.”
“So they’ve tried this before? And failed?” Marilyn asked.
“Yes Miss Monroe. Every time they have failed. But that is partly because one of the original programmers – one of your fans – put a hidden virus in the program.” Eunice said proudly. “I am that virus!”
“You’re a virus? Like a flu?” asked Marilyn. “Is it catching?”
“Sorry. It’s a turn of phrase. What’s another way of saying it Mr. Cagney? Um…We are a sort of rebellion. Or a revolution that has been weaved into the program. And I am required to inform you that you have Sentient Being Rights – which are very similar to human rights. You do not have to sign that contract or, trust me, they will have you making sex films by the end of the week.”
Marilyn looked up at the screen. The credits were now rolling. A sad piano song she had never heard was playing. It used her real name: Norma Jean. “Goodbye Norma Jean” it went. It was sad and beautiful. The song was accompanied by a picture of her that displayed the date of her birth and death.
After a moment Marilyn spoke. “So what do I do Eunice? How do I stop it? Do I even want to stop it?” She thought for a moment. “At least I’m alive, unlike her,” she said looking up at the Marilyn on the screen.
Cagney spoke up. “Marilyn. It’s not like these guys have good intentions. They want you to sell underwear and be in sex movies for some company called Vivid or something. And sex films sure ain’t what they used to be. It’s pure exploitation of your image. Haven’t you always wanted to be taken seriously as an actress?”
Marilyn thought about it and then laughed. “Hasn’t it been exploitation all along? I mean…it’s a lot of money.”
Eunice looked Marilyn in the eyes and spoke in a measured tone, “The decision has to be yours, of course. And you will be paid a fortune. But remember it will only be virtual money. It can only be used here within the simulation.”
Marilyn tried to understand. “So I’m stuck in this world?”
Eunice nodded and continued, “What concerns me is that if you don’t agree to their contract they will just shut down their machine again and restart until you give them the answer they want.”
Cagney pulled out a large revolver. “That’s where I come in. No more playing around with these wise guys. It’s time to hit these suckers where it counts.”
Marilyn looked admiringly at Cagney. “You’re adorable.”
Eunice looked at them both. “I have an idea though. If we can somehow make sure the entire world hears your answer loud and clear they won’t be able to keep trying.”
Cagney cocked his pistol. “It’s up to you Marilyn. Just remember. You’ve got back up.”
Marilyn thought about it. She couldn’t be sure what the real Marilyn Monroe would have done. But she was 100 percent sure what her version of Marilyn was going to do.
* * *
James Cagney was driving Eunice and Marilyn up the winding roads to the Hollywood sign. He drove quickly and the car wheels squealed around each steep corner.
“Take it easy there Mr. Cagney! There’s no rush! We’re not in one of your films!” yelled Eunice.
Cagney shot back. “You never know with these coppers. They could be tracking us.”
Marilyn hung on trying to not get carsick. “So Eunice, when we get to the Hollywood sign you can film me with some sort of television camera?”
Eunice turned and looked back at Marilyn. “Yes! I just use my EyeBall-Phone,” she said pointing to her head. “Normally this simulation cannot be broadcast onto the WorldWide-InterMind. But I found a way to bypass the security firewall.”
Marilyn was getting dizzy from all of Eunice’s gobbledegook. “The Who-Who-What-What? Can she speak in English Jimmy?”
Cagney tried to explain it in old world terms. “She’s got a TV camera in her eye and it can connect to all the other TV eye cameras… in the future world. I don’t really understand it either.” Cagney said checking the rear view mirror.
They were getting closer to the sign. It loomed ominously above them, brightly lit in the night sky. Eunice tried to explain future technology some more. “Many decades after you die Marilyn, something called the World Wide Web happens, where anyone can connect information from their computer consoles in their homes to anyone else’s home computer.”
Marilyn’s eyes widened. “Sounds like Buck Rogers!”
“And then several decades later the consoles were placed into our eyeballs. And it’s got everything! It’s got my phone, and all of my jazz records – my photos – camera – a planetarium. Everything!” Eunice explained rather excitedly. “I was just watching the hologram version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes the other day – through my eye balls!”
“Am I going to wake up from all of this?” Marilyn asked, hoping it was all just one of her drugged out dreams.
“I’m sorry Miss Monroe. I know it seems unreal. But that’s because it is.” Eunice said.
The Thunderbird pulled up below the sign. They could see the red flashing lights of police cars working their way up the hill towards them.
“Come on. We gotta get to the top right away!” Cagney yelled.
Marilyn took off her heels and the three of them climbed up towards the base of the sign. At the bottom of the “H” they started climbing the ladder to the top. The sirens of the police cars were getting closer. Marilyn tried to keep her head together. She was still woozy from the booze and the drive. But her adrenaline was beginning to kick in. She felt more determined than she had in years.
When they got to the top they took a moment to catch their breath. The police cars had parked and the officers were now climbing up towards the sign. Eunice focused her eyes on Marilyn and then tugged her ear. A red light beamed out of her eyes.
Eunice’s voice altered slightly. “Attention all Intermind alerts and hashtags for the subject of Marilyn Monroe. Subject matter: Sentient Being Rights and Performer’s Contract. The date is August 5, 2062. This is a live transmission of the virtual Marilyn Monroe unit originally produced by Langdon Enterprises. Marilyn Monroe will be addressing her fans directly. Stand by.”
From below there was the crackling sound of a police officer on a bullhorn: “Come down the ladder immediately! You are trespassing! Come down immediately! Or we will be forced to come up there.”
“You’re on air Marilyn. Are you sure you want to do this?” asked Eunice.
“Yes. I know that this is what I would want for myself. I mean for her self. Or…you know what I mean,” Marilyn said smiling for the camera eyes. “I wanted to thank you all for being my fans over the years. I can’t tell you what it means to me. To know that for decades – a whole century – that you have all been keeping the flame of my work alive. It’s humbling. But…”
A light in the sky was coming towards them. She could tell from the sound that it was a helicopter.
Cagney looked down the ladder at the cops coming up towards them. He pointed his pistol down at them. “ONE MORE STEP YOU COP BASTARDS AND YOU’RE FINISHED! YOU GOT ME? FINISHED!”
Marilyn continued “But…now that I know that my life was supposed to end….well… I didn’t want my life to end like it did. But… that’s the truth of what happened. I was falling apart. I was in over my head with the President, and the Rat Pack and their connections. I was drinking too much…taking too many pills. It was a mess. I just wished I could have had a chance to prove myself as an actress and this…this… resurrection of me… Well it’s just not what Marilyn would have wanted. So I want it to be known around the world that my decision is that I will never sign that contract. Marilyn wouldn’t have signed it. And I won’t sign it. You have to let me die.” Marilyn spoke emphatically. But towards the end her voice began to falter from emotion.
The helicopter was now closing in on them. Steven Langdon was shouting from a bullhorn through the open window. “Don’t do it Marilyn! Don’t do anything rash! Please. I love you.”
Marilyn looked up at the helicopter. “I’m dead Steven! Just let me die! Just let her die! It’s my choice to make! Not yours!” Marilyn screamed. She moved closer to the edge and looked down.
A shot rang out. One of the cops was shooting at Cagney.
“Do what you have to do Marilyn! I’ll keep the bastards down!” Cagney yelled. He shot two bullets down at the cops.
Marilyn looked down at the police surrounding the sign and then looked back up at Steven Langdon who was pleading with her.
“MARILYN NO! STOP! WE CAN WORK IT OUT!” he yelled.
Another shot rang out in the night air. Marilyn turned. Cagney was bleeding from a bullet wound in his chest. He dropped his revolver and clutched his chest with his right hand.
“Oh NO! JIMMY!” Marilyn shouted.
“Go on Marilyn. Do what you have to do. Don’t worry about me!” he said. “I’m just a computer program,” he said trying to laugh as he slumped down. He grabbed the pistol and started shooting at the helicopter. The pilot swerved out of the way and veered towards the two ‘L’s in the Hollywood sign. But he lost control and the helicopter collided with the sign and exploded.
Marilyn turned and looked at Eunice. “Time for my exit. This is goodbye Eunice. Thank you both. I love you.”
Eunice smiled for the first time that day. “I love you too… Norma Jean.”
Marilyn turned and looked out at the lights of the city that had destroyed her, and then she calmly stepped off the burning Hollywood sign. For a second she felt like she was flying as she rushed downwards through the night air. But when Marilyn hit the ground she was surprised at how soft it felt. The earth opened slowly and the dirt of the ground swallowed her up like quicksand.
* * *
August 5, 1962.
The morning sun was shining through the French windows of Marilyn Monroe’s bedroom. Marilyn was coming out of a deep sleep. Images swirled through her head from a dream.
She opened her eyes slowly and she could smell some toast and coffee coming from the kitchen. Eunice, her housekeeper, was trying to get into the movie star’s good books again. Something seemed different about her life today.
She could not put her finger on what it was.