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Life without Mirrors

‘The edited biography of Madyson Peck’

n o d or G is r t Pa

Life without Mirrors The edited biography of Madyson Peck

Patris Gordon

For Corey, Zebina, Mum, Dad, Tash, Elete, Jordan, Blossom, Alicia, Nichaela, Shaquan, Grandmum, Granddad (bless your soul), family and friends – and of course, me and Zeb’s beautiful daughter, Kaila. I thank you all. Love xx

Š Copyright 2008 Patris Gordon The right of Patris Gordon to be identiďŹ ed as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication may be made without written permission. No paragraph of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted save with the written permission or in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright Act 1956 (as amended). Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damage. Printed in the United Kingdom Published by Blank Screen Publishing Tel: 07958 392014 E-mail: Cover model: Nicola Hall

ALSO BY PATRIS GORDON Pimp Theory The murder of Patris Gordon

Contents Age 33 The Beginning of the End


Age 36 The End of the Beginning


Age 3

Marsha and Marshall


Age 6

The Search Begins… In The Ghetto


Age 9

The Return of DC Jonathan Layne… & John Willis


Age 12 Moments of Reflection


Age 15 The Screenplay of a Sweet Girl


Age 18 The death of Marsha Simpson


Age 21 Life down south


Age 24 Hollywood a go-go


Age 27 The revenge of the past


Age 30 The past, the present or better yet, the middle


Age 33 Prelude… The Beginning of the End


Age 39 Finally Captured on Screen


The edited biography of Madyson Peck


Age 33 The Beginning of the End

Madyson stared at the throng of people around her. It was like a dream come true. She had finally made it. She gazed around awkwardly, extending her neck to see and hawk at the long list of film stars and celebrities whom had once occupied her television screens over the 33 years of her life and were now only within an arm’s reach. She wanted to blush as she caught eye contact with several familiar faces and they stared back, smiling, recognising her or occasionally blanking her gaze as if she wasn’t there. And to some extent, she wasn’t. Madyson’s mind was back in London, in Tower Hamlets, stuck in her tiny room, unable to do anything because she was bored, had nothing to do and her mother was again entertaining a new partner. Madyson blinked, returning herself to the present scene. How could she ever have imagined this to be real? She had made it to the 75th award ceremony of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Madyson inhaled softly because she knew there was a possibility that she could be the winner of an Oscar. She inhaled some more, awaiting her short and quiet count to ten to 3

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be over. She reminded herself, it was real. Gazing down at her gown, she studied the sequins of her outfit. It glittered in her view and resembled the extravagance of past Oscar winners, bright and suitably shiny. She believed her cleavage was way too much for the event, particularly after she’d seen the tabloid newspapers and consumer magazines’ coverage of the ceremony the previous year. They all focused on the dresses, not the awards, she remembered, and this year, she gathered, looking at her fuchsia studded silk outfit, it’d be more of the same. Despite this, a wide grin emerged across her face as she recalled her preparation for the show. She thought back to her new friend, fashion designer Isaac Mikazahi, who bestowed her the costly gown at last minute. She hadn’t anything to wear to the ceremony, and as he had so generously lent her something earlier in the year at an indie film festival, the $10,000 gown she was wearing tonight was easily something he could loan out. None of the other stars or film executives were planning to wear any of Mikazahi’s creations so when Madyson called him a few days before the ceremony, he quietly thanked the Lord. Of course, he wasn’t expecting any cash in return, as he understood her sudden predicament. “Oh, darling. Of course, you can wear something of mine. Of course!” Madyson could picture Mikazahi’s hand curling in excitement, as his gay pose was completely stereotypical and as camp as Graham Norton. 4

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“Are you sure?” she asked. “Positive,” he beamed. “Ab-sol-utely positive. Thank you, Madyson. Thank you.” Madyson regrouped herself quietly, taking it all in and held the hand of her date for the evening. Her date, Bryce Williams, a physically strong African-American male, with perfect chiselled jaw lines, tremendously handsome, thick in all the right places and beautifully soft-spoken, studied the movement of her hands. He returned her loving grip and felt the sweat from her palms. They had only been at the ceremony for 25 minutes and, because this year the organisers had decided not to provide the invitees with any dinner, this year’s host, Eddie Murphy, was set to appear on stage any minute to begin the night’s proceedings. Williams moved his attention from Madyson and slid over in his chair to Jim Carrey, who was sitting right beside him and making his outrageously gorgeous date laugh her stunningly attractive arse off. Williams laughed also, because the joke about Renee Zellweger of having no-se chance and lip-tle hope of winning tonight was admittedly funny. He inhaled quietly, examining the House of Field dress worn by Carrey’s date. She wasn’t famous, he quickly collected, pretty much like him. But she did look fabulous. Williams gave a swift glance over to Madyson, who was carelessly admiring the surroundings of the Beverly Hills forum, before moving his eyes back over to Carrey’s date. The multicoloured chiffon fringe cover5

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up and tiered dress was dazzling, enhanced by its bright colours of yellow, orange and red. Williams felt guilty for staring, and sensing Carrey would soon pick up on it, he swooned his attention back over to Madyson and squeezed her hand tighter. “Did you know that Sarah Boone, a black woman, invented the ironing board?” asked Williams, looking at Madyson directly. “And Alice Parker, a black woman, invented the heating furnace?” Madyson returned the look. Who would have thought that such a handsome guy like Bryce Williams, an up-andcoming actor with great facile timing for the profession, would also be a fool in the art of conversation? This was the third time he had mentioned his list of black inventors that night, making her wonder if he had taken a lesson in African-American history the previous evening, or if he was aware that it was affirmative action night and possibly no-one but black actors would win Oscars. When Madyson had invited him to the show, she hadn’t expected to be taking out Henry Louis Gates Jr. and now, she wasn’t really certain whom he was. She was unsure whether Williams was trying to impress her, or because it was the first time he’d been out with a black British woman, he felt an obligation to enlighten her on the historical background of their past generations. She sighed silently and conjured a smile towards him, nudging him softly at the same time. She hoped that he would get the hint and shut up. “Did you know…?” 6

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The sound of William’s voice trailed into the distance as Madyson’s listening reception failed to pick up on any more of the conversation. Her attention disappeared into the ceremony as other well-known actors and actresses continued to take their seats. There was Minnie Driver, Bruce Willis, Julia Roberts, Robert Redford, Will Smith, accompanied by his lovely wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Matt Damon, all taking their spots, not too far from where she was seated. She quickly noted that Driver and Damon had come separately, trying to disfigure herself from media speculation and more junk that would inevitably fill the gossip columns worldwide the following day. Just then, movie director Barry Sonnenfelt tapped her shoulder. Madyson turned her head and upon seeing whom it was, flashed a smile. “Madyson,





looking fab-oh-lous.” Madyson stayed seated. “Thanks, Barry. It’s not mine, of course!” “Never mind that, baby. We’ll get you into one of my pictures and you can wear five of those just for the opening credits.” He laughed, his weight shifting uncontrollably as he held the back of her chair. His tuxedo wobbled, and Madyson prayed that nothing leaked out. She inquisitively studied his comment and thankfully, she was mindful enough to realise when Sonnenfelt spoke in serious drove. She pictured herself signing a $20million contract for only one film, and could feel her 7

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throat becoming intensely dry as a result. She let go of Williams’s hand and gave Sonnenfelt her full attention. “Maybe,” she smiled. “Of course, of course,” said Sonnenfelt, no longer listening to her and rustling over his concentration to where his wife was seated, a few rows in front. “Hope to see your name up there!” He didn’t say anymore and shuffled forward, sliding his increasing frame pass Steven Spielberg and Michael Eisner and stretched to his seat, appropriately accompanied by a pensive look from his wife. As Sonnenfelt smiled nonchalantly to his spouse, Madyson sat still, observing the whole scene. What a player, she thought. He oozed self-confidence and knew exactly what to do with it. Her mind raced into over-drive. He bumps these famous people and smiles like it’s Christmas, what a player! Suddenly, an air of silence dispelled the undercurrent of excitement of the ceremony. The show was about to start and the nominations would soon be read out. Madyson’s heart pounded wildly. She looked over at Williams and caught his wandering gaze over to Carrey’s date, and quietly hoped that she wouldn’t ruin his career too much this night, particularly if she won an award and an evening at the Oscars became his claim to fame. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, we present to you: Bryce Williams. A sure pick to the Hollywood Hall of Fame. Or should we say, more like Madyson Peck’s date at the 8

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Oscars in 2003.’ Sure, Madyson thought, it was highly unrealistic that it would happen, but since she’d moved to America over a decade ago, many strange things had occurred. She didn’t want to think of them now, especially as Eddie Murphy had begun his intro speech and all Madyson could hear was the rest of the A-listed audience laughing. The evening drifted on, and awards after awards were handed out, followed by incredulous speeches, some memorable, others typically boring. Madyson was feeling tired as another television advert break interrupted the ceremony. It was the fourth break and it was clear they were saving the best awards until last. Desperate to go to the toilet, Madyson cringed because she feared something dramatic happening in her absence; she resiliently maintained against the aching of her bladder. “I hope ya’ll enjoying the show,” said Murphy. “Did you know that I’m the first black person to present the Oscars in its 75th year history, especially if you discount Whoopi Goldberg! Ha, ha… Oh yeah, and Chris Rock, ha, ha, ha.” Murphy suddenly played with his ear-microphone. “What you mean he ain’t present the show yet? Man, who wrote this stuff?” He continued on, purposefully slow, and exaggerated his feelings of the pre-planned introduction. “Oh yeah…and I’ll probably be the last black person as well ‘cos those awards look mighty expensive, don’t they?” There was a nervous trickle of laughter. 9

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“Hey, you don’t have to laugh, it wasn’t that funny, ha ha ha!” Nobody laughed. He took a huge breath. “Anyway, this is the part where it gets gooood. To present the award for Best Supporting Actress, please welcome to the stage, actors Jodie Winehouse and David Calley.” The clapping that followed their introductions showed what noteworthy positions Winehouse and Calley had established in Hollywood. Madyson watched Sonnenfelt emerge from his seat, only to be ushered down by his partner. Winehouse was tiny in size but busty in the front and stacked heavily in the rear. She had graced many magazines due to her physical attributes, and scoring a few film smashes helped her appeal grow by the day. It was rumoured that her next project would involve Tom Cruise and only a fool would bet against the film not being a box office hit. Calley, on the other hand, was ruggedly handsome, with his long frame towering the diminutive Winehouse. His cheekbones square, and his hair wafer thin, and his bulging eyes constantly protruding from his face made him appear uneasy. The actors walked over to the microphone and podium, whispering amongst each other and then Winehouse snatched at the sealed envelope on the stand. “When they asked me, ‘David, will you do the Oscars?’ I tentatively paused,” began Calley, sliding his way through autocue. “Then I said, ‘Of course, because, you know, it’s very rare that I get the opportunity to hold 10

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anything small, naked and golden in my palms.’” Another nervous laugh from the audience arose. “But David,” said Winehouse, joining in. “I think they were talking about the award, not me!” The predictable laugh followed, and Calley nodded his head to Winehouse to ignore the second joke on the autocue and proceed with the nominations instead. Small drizzles of sweat trickled across the forehead of Winehouse and she knew that this is what it was all about. She didn’t understand why the producers had placed her with Calley, who shadowed her completely and would dominate their small slice of airtime. She wasn’t





her regression and waited silently as she passed the nomination envelope for Best Supporting Actress over to Calley. Madyson sucked in her already firm stomach, glad that she hadn’t decided to go to the toilet, and suddenly appreciating that she was up against some seriously strong competition for this award. The list was read out slowly by Calley as were all the lists that evening, and it didn’t help push the suspense any. But this particular award seemed to take an entirety to get through and it would be a moment that Madyson would never forget, as Calley scuttled his way through with amazing slowness. Each name was then appropriately backed up on the large visual canvas behind the presenter’s heads, with the relevant scene of the movie from which they had been selected. 11

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“Our first name for Best Supporting Actress is Debbie Henry, for Last Night At Victor’s.” A quiet groan emerged from the auditorium and Madyson hummed silently as Williams bumped her arm in search for recognition. She ignored him and trailed everyone else’s eyes to Debbie Henry, the 45-year-old redhead, who had only ever starred in a porn film before landing her role in Last Night At Victor’s. Henry kept her head down, although the large screen ran through an unforgettable clip of her in action, holding the lead star in the groin area, and giving him a semi-serious monologue that sprouted her contempt for him cheating on her. Maybe fittingly, noticed Madyson, her scene was enhanced by the fact that you couldn’t see Henry’s face. You could only make out her rough-flowing red hair and her freckled hands, wildly emphasising the point she was making. Madyson gently cringed because she was all too aware the director of this film had an issue with strong women, and to allow them to speak with a full frontal camera shot while in speech was unfortunately a rare thing in itself. Never mind, Madyson added to herself. At least Henry had been nominated, that was the main thing. “Second person to be nominated is Madyson Peck.” Madyson froze. Her body became numb. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t breathe. She tapped her knee, hoping it would calm her nerves. Williams, Carrey and his date glared over to Madyson but she didn’t return the look. Madyson didn’t know what to do, or understand 12

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where she was. She was overwhelmed as her face illuminated the large screen before the audience and her role as a single mother and drug addict in Last Call famously played on it. The scene was over before she knew it and the other four names to be nominated were Jackie Rodgers, Tracy Marlow, Nicola Robson and Kim Adams, who she believed deserved to be winners more than she did. Her nerves were rising and all sound was momentarily lost as she held in her breath. Her belly became tighter and her heartbeat sped up furtively. She could feel the eyes on her and wished that it would be over. She was quietly disappointed that neither of her parents were able to see the ceremony on television but reasoned to herself, it was probably for the best that they couldn’t. She was visibly shaking and she had to keep her hands beside her legs, trying to steady them. “And the winner is…” It all went blurry from there. Madyson had blacked out, she remembered. She was 15, in the ABC cinema on Mile End Road watching Raging Bull and the film had just ended. There were only four people inside, as it was a mid-week and mid-afternoon matinee showing. She caught eyes with one of the men as she crawled out of her seat and started to make her way to the exit. He was ugly, skinny and his face was haggard like an half-eaten grapefruit. She ignored his return glance and proceeded to leave. Another man, maybe in his 13

Life without Mirrors

early twenties, strode out of his chair and followed Madyson to the exit. He hiccupped inappropriately, making Madyson twist her tongue and speedily continue to scurry through the row of seats to the stairs. The credits were still rolling down the screen and the white on black text kept the cinema to a dark semblance. As she walked towards the exit, she didn’t understand why the remaining third guy in the cinema was standing beside the doors, despite beating the other moviegoers to the exit. She walked closer to him but he avoided eye contact and slid out of the doors before she had time to realise what was happening. The doors slammed shut and the film’s soundtrack played loudly, even though the credits were now over. She squeezed at the doors in front of her in hope to get out but as she turned her back to ask the other guys what was going on, she felt a punch to her jaw, and could feel her world closing in from around her. “You’ve picked a fuckin’ good-looker this time, chief!” was all Madyson heard before the blackness surrounded her. “And the winner is…” Calley repeated. He held the envelope to his heart and whispered. “Madyson Peck!” No noise. Just silence. They hadn’t heard him. Winehouse was tapping his shoulder as if congratulating him. Calley moved closer to the microphone. “The winner, ladies and gentleman, for Best Supporting Actress is Madyson Peck for Last Call.” A raucous sound 14

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of pandemonium filtered the parade, and the eyes of everyone cast across the auditorium in hope to catch a glimpse of Madyson’s reaction. Madyson opened her eyes, awoken by the taps and touches, stares and prods of people around her. She hadn’t even heard her name being called, but yet, she knew. “Babe, you’ve won! You’ve fuckin’ won!” screamed Williams. Madyson didn’t acknowledge Williams and he wasn’t worried about it. He knew that the media would have a field day with this victory and his face would surely accompany Madyson wherever she was. She stood quickly, fully absorbing the flare of noise around her. The clapping of hands were signalling her attention and it was all for her. She targeted her body towards the stage, hoping she could make it there in one piece without stumbling or losing one of her heels. She glided past the outstretched hands of other actors and film buffs and made it to the podium. She kissed and stood next to the tiny Winehouse and the glowing Calley. Calley winked as he handed her the Oscar and mouthed the words, ‘Call me’. Calley and Winehouse then moved away to allow Madyson this magical moment of acceptance as an Academy Award winner. The noise, which had earlier taken her away from her recollection of the past, now simmered down before her. The auditorium appeared very different from where she stood, as all their faces – everybody – were clearly visible. Her idols and heroes sat before her. Even 15

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Barry Sonnenfelt raised an eyebrow as she looked his way. Her mind was racing. There’s Denzel, Bill Murray, Francis Ford Coppola and… err! Stuttering, her brain cells partially froze, and she remained stationery as she tried to dissolve what was she was supposed to do at that moment, and remember why this shiny award was glowing in her hand. “I’m not sure what…” she began, aware that she was shaking. She stared at her dress, thankful it was a Mikazahi design, although slightly worried about her cleavage. “…I should say. I have not prepared anything as you probably can tell. But I never expected this. Thank you all the voters who voted for me and I just would like to say thanks very much. Um…it really means a lot to me to be up here today because I’ve always believed somewhere inside of me that I could make it to this moment.” Madyson again paused, feeling a spruce of confidence overcoming her speech. But as her confidence grew, specs of tears rummaged around her eyes, urging to be released and dampen her soft cheeks and smooth skin. Madyson held them in, determined to say what she wanted without crying. “Of course, I would like to say thanks to the producers and directors of Last Call, Mike Levy and Wade Hodges,” she continued. “The casting agency, the people who went to see the film and everybody involved. Thank you for having the trust in me. And to all those women, who came before me, here in Hollywood, thank you. Halle, 16

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Angela Bassett, Vivica A. Fox, Aunjanue Ellis. Marianne Jean-Baptiste from England. You are all brilliant actors, who deserve this award as well. I mustn’t forget the women directors out there – Coppola, Patty Jenkins, Gurinder Chadha and Beeban Kidron - that are breaking the mould and will help women like me get more and better opportunities. Thank you!!” There was a respectable response from the audience as they sympathised with Madyson’s point of view. Madyson, however, wasn’t finished. The pressure of her flickering eyes during this moment caused tears to trickle down her face. She couldn’t hold them back. The pain from them had to be released. She reached up to wipe them. She saw Williams smiling in the near distance, and knew the time had come to share her pain with the world. “I’ve got… HIV.” A sudden gasp filled the air. It was followed by a deafening silence. Everybody stared at her, then switched their glares with puzzled, bemused glances to the person seated next to them. Madyson watched their faces, disguising their thoughts but also sharing their feelings with her. She had finally said it. It had been a long time coming. She wasn’t medically well and knew she should let everyone know. They would find out sooner or later, wouldn’t they? she thought. “I’ve got HIV – the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Yep, the thing that leads to AIDS. I just want to say no matter what you do or who you are anything is possible. 17

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Thank you all again for choosing me! I’ve always wanted to write screenplays that... ” Murphy, unprepared, suddenly stumbled back onto the stage, with a cream bun in his hand and a napkin tucked under the collar of his tux. “Err…” Madyson saw him and guessed that he had been sent to take her off the stage. She didn’t resist or cause a protest and simply walked off the stage. She had said what she always believed she would do in this situation, although not so brazenly. She inhaled a short breath, for she knew a backlash of such a statement would indeed follow her everywhere. The fretful TV director of the Awards ceremony was ushering his behind-the-scenes team to get ready for an unscheduled advert break. “What’s Murphy doing?!” Stagnate in his seat, Williams was unable to be believe it. He could see his chance of fame and fortune slipping away from his fingers. Carrey moved over in his seat, closer to his date, making Williams feel alone, trapped in a situation he had no idea about. Did he have HIV? he wondered. He threw his head back and tried to contemplate the future but the hissing and hushing sounds that accommodated the surroundings made that impossible. “Oh shit, this is Rock Hudson all over again,” he heard someone say. He saw Michael Summersbeck, the producer of Only When It Rains and many other high budget movies, strutting up through the aisle towards him. The face 18

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was a bitter one, a boiling colour evaporating his usual pale skin. He took a seat in Madyson’s vacant chair. “What do you know about this?” he urged. “Nothing,” whimpered Williams. “Don’t lie to me! Tell me what is going on!” “I don’t know anything. It’s as much a shock to me as it is for you!” replied Williams. Summersbeck






attention he was attracting. “Listen, nigger! If you don’t tell me what I need to know, you’ll be out of a job for life, do you hear me?” “I’ll find out,” said Williams, feeling the urge to cry. “You betta… because if that bitch has infected me or my family, oh, she’s gonna…” Summersbeck bit his tongue. He turned and saw Sonnenfelt directly staring at him and prevented himself from turning red. “Just find out!” Williams sighed heavily as Summersbeck turned his back and trailed off. He couldn’t believe what Madyson had just confessed and couldn’t understand why. She had admitted at the Oscars that she had HIV and had just told the world. Williams chatted his teeth, threw his head back and put his hands on his head, knowing he had to do something. Not just for himself but for the sake of his friends and family.


Life without Mirrors

Age 36 The End of the Beginning

Williams never found out anymore about Madyson and her disease. He was okay, though, after an immediate HIV test following the show proved him negative. But Madyson, it seemed, had disappeared. There were no press interviews, paparazzi sightings, or anything after this well-known actress had possibly revealed one of the most shocking statements in over a decade or longer. Many people thought that Madyson had possibly returned home to England and taken permanent residence there. But after the announcement at the Oscars, Madyson Peck had strangely disappeared. It was three years later, when the police found Madyson’s body: dead. People were right, Madyson had moved back to England, to London, to an area she was familiar with, and one that removed her movie status from her mind. But according to the mortician’s report after her death it appeared that Madyson’s body revealed no intake of HIV treatment over several years, and it was believed she died because of this. The report also added that once her CD4 (CD4 TIymphocytes) cells count had dropped below 200, there 20

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was an 85 percent chance of developing an AIDS-related condition within three years, especially if no treatment had been taken consistently. Madyson’s landlord found her unconscious, after he initially wanted to ask whether she planned to stay in his apartment after the tenancy agreement had expired. But for three months, Madyson failed to return his phone calls and emails, and when neighbours then complained of a bad smell coming from the flat, he found Madyson in the bath, naked and dead. The doctors were unsure as to how Madyson contracted the HIV in the first place and also declared it a mystery, as to why the actress never took any medication for her illness. “We could have used ART to stop the HIV spreading,” said one doctor at the biopsy, something that went unheard. The media soon picked up on the story that Madyson at 36-years-old had died of AIDS, and the subsequent documentaries, obituaries, radio segments all tried to capture some essence of the life that this stunning actress had lead. But typically, most of the reports were inaccurate and failed to present an unbiased view of who they thought Madyson really was or was unfortunately a product of. Each narrative focused on the rags to riches story of Madyson, documenting how she moved to America from England, beginning her road to stardom as a model, and moved to Hollywood in search of film success, and how she’d caught the HIV virus from a small blue movie she starred in (a blatant 21

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incorrect statement. The porn actress just looked like her.) An obvious part in their reports that also went missing was explanation of what Madyson did in those three years since her mysterious disappearance after the Academy Awards. Nobody seemed to know what really happened. Or better yet, nobody really seemed to care. In truth and reflection, Madyson had decided to revert back to a life she knew before the realisation of achieving fame and adulteration was upon her. She rented a small flat in Poplar, Tower Hamlets, which was fully furnished to a high standard and although, it couldn’t compare to the four-bedroom property she’d left in Los Angeles, it was big enough to fulfil her immediate needs. She wasn’t going to star in movies anymore, she decided, or be part of the news, or listen to other people’s advice. She was just to going to live life her way and write. That was her plan. She was going to write powerful and unstoppable roles for women. She would then send them off once completed under an alias and hopefully her message for the equality for women would at last be heard. And that’s what she did for three years. With money saved from her feature films, Madyson didn’t need to find work. She rarely went outside and only visited the supermarket and electrical stores in disguise as an essential part of her living. She occasionally attended the cinema but found the films she watched hadn’t improved since the last time she was reading 22

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scripts regularly or had appeared in a movie. And when most of her screenplays were returned, simply saying, ‘the theme was good – but it wouldn’t do well commercially. We wish you luck in finding a producer’, she felt frustrated and tempted to get in touch with her agent and personal assistant, who were still in Los Angeles. But she would never see them again, and knew they were still working with the same type of people in Tinsel Town so she declined her urges to go back to the life that she had built for herself. Not so easily dismissed, she quietly kept at it, though. Writing, revising, tapping at her laptop, in hope to become inspired by the current wave of macho titles from Hollywood that graced cinemas across the world. It appeared the only films aimed at women were unfunny romantic comedies, featuring pretty teen stars, or bubbly acting veterans, who hadn’t achieved any real status in the serious avenue of drama and were now in the genre of comedy to break a new market. Madyson believed there were dramas for and by women that could be seen by the masses, and not just within the given Hollywood movie template. But while she wasn’t writing, she often came across frequent dull and bored periods that made her confused. She sometimes felt like she should have been hanging out with other actors, or having a free lunch down Mulholland Drive with a director, promising her the world with his next picture instead of staying at home writing. The “hype” from these directors generally didn’t live up 23

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to the reality of the finished project, and Madyson was glad back then she could move from film to film without getting too emotionally involved with the project, and just making sure her role was performed professionally and adequately. However, from being alone in London, it proved to her that her position as an actress had no real significance to the movie’s output and success. She hadn’t realised but in retrospect, she’d block out any real feelings towards the films she starred in, happy then to attend premiere launches and see the joy of people’s reactions at seeing her face on the big screen. And when people commended her performance, it somehow felt worthwhile, her being an actress. Something she was destined to do. Maybe. Again, being away from the spotlight made Madyson question her deepest fears and when she started writing, another side of her personality came out. It was a side to her that she thought she had removed from the days she began modelling. She didn’t need to write back then. She was okay. Women were equal, she thought. Back then. But the further she denied her real beliefs about equality, the more she’d convey an image she didn’t honestly believe in. But it was this image, she always second-guessed, that paid the bills. Madyson was fairly relieved when she saw one of her old school friends in Poplar a short while after her return to London. She couldn’t believe that Janet Levy, a fat mother-of-two, still lived in the area. But upon speaking to Janet, it was poignantly clear Janet was 24

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only pretending to remember her. Janet hadn’t seen the Oscars. Janet hadn’t read the newspapers. Janet hadn’t heard the gossip. In fact, Janet had seen and read everything but her celebrity intake was so vast, not only would she not believe that she was talking to Madyson Peck at a newsagents in Poplar, but she had already moved onto the next flavour of the month. It’d been a year since Madyson’s declaration, and the former actress realised she was in disguise when Janet confusingly tried to remember her and it just didn’t click. Madyson looked into Janet’s eyes but it was pointless, and a day later, she wanted to thank her old school friend because this was exactly the reason why she had returned back to London. To become unknown. Madyson became unknown to a fault. She didn’t handle everything emotionally well as she thought she would, and puzzlingly, with the more she wrote, the more her feelings released themselves onto the paper in front of her. But in essence, she wasn’t speaking about her feelings to anyone, and the computer screen she wrote on obviously didn’t share her pain. Madyson didn’t make any friends within the three years. Internet chat rooms and listening to CDs were the only way she’d escape from her self-made secluded environment. And the local shopkeeper was as close as she came to regular interaction with human life. He’d continually offer to take her out on a date, throwing around his witty oneliners to entice her but it never materialised. She didn’t want it to. She did want it to. She wanted love again, 25

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but she didn’t know how to handle the responsibility that came with it. A therapist, possibly, she figured. Madyson played with her thoughts daily but didn’t act upon them, only nursing her bruised soul with food, drink, television and writing. Her four walls became her listeners, taking in the cries of pain, tears of frustration and moans of anxiety. The postman only stared at her when she explained to him that she needed a friend to talk to, you know. No, they didn’t know – and no, they didn’t want to know, or did they recognise her? Maybe she wasn’t as famous as she really thought she was. Maybe her life as an actress hadn’t been real at all. But what about her money, that was real, wasn’t it? Madyson wearily knew she had to write a successful script to finally be accepted within herself and from others but as she patiently waited for a few production companies to return their calls and follow up on their letters of interest, no meetings were arranged. Maybe she was missing something, she wondered. Missing an honest and captivating story that would depict the reality close to a true story. But she couldn’t find her angle of truth. She couldn’t because as much as she tried to deny it, her health was deteriorating by the second. Madyson cried, as she tried to understand why the discharge from her body was thick and painful. She sat in the bath, unable to remember her past life and where the infection may have come from. She thought the infection was under control. For at least two years, she was sure the condition was under control. But the 26

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recurring herpes had returned to harm her body severely and fatally. As other bacteria crept into her skin and bloodlines, the initial symptoms of large blisters had also developed. Madyson panicked at this situation. She tried to have salty baths to eliminate the pain, as well as drinking litres of water to clear her sore pores but her health wasn’t improving. She wouldn’t visit any doctors for fear they would tell her that she had AIDS. She didn’t want to hear it. She wanted to write stories. Powerful ones. But the herpes ulcers didn’t disappear this time. They maintained visibly on her body for over six weeks and Madyson blocked out the obvious reality that her HIV had progressed into AIDS. The scars of the herpes blemished into her skin and this convinced Madyson that she was becoming okay. There were spells when she didn’t eat or drink, and Madyson believed her frail state would pass, acknowledging it as a symptom of writer’s block. She didn’t go out anymore, she couldn’t. She allowed the perishable foods to rot in her fridge and smell. The drinks zoomed by their sell by dates, with only tin can food managing to suffice her hunger. Madyson didn’t do anything but sleep, eat, shit and keep her laptop open, determined to find inspiration. She could do it, she believed. An ultra-successful script was only a type away and she knew it wasn’t beyond her. But as she wrote, her condition worsened. Her breathing weakened. Her hair was falling out. She didn’t bathe frequently and her eyes struggled to open as she typed. However, her 27

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story was developing. Madyson could finally feel it. It was a dark winter’s evening in 2006. The sun had fallen, leaving the misty sky to dominate the view from Madyson’s flat in Poplar. It was a perfect setting for a tragic ending. And so, it happened. Another case of full-blown herpes grew larger upon her, and she was struggling to maintain any ability to coordinate her movements. She managed to run the bath and it overflowed just before she stopped the taps and crawled into the salty water to try and wash away the dormant virus. She weakly reached for her laptop nearby on the lower bathroom shelf, and placed it on the edge of the bath. She typed on it, and continued her story. But with only half an hour passing, Madyson’s frail body refused to respond to her needs and she slipped further into the bath. The soap bar under her buttocks made her drift even further under the water and her plight of any reaction had seemingly seized. Her hand let go of the laptop and it fell, bumping awkwardly onto the floor below, causing the computer to shut down. Madyson didn’t resurface from the dirty water. She lay still, invisible, and away her body drifted, to another place that knew her ability as a writer would be achieved and forever admired. Indeed, the story of Madyson Peck was far from over. Madyson’s old friend, Riley Manning, wanted to cry when he found out. He was in New York when he first heard the news and got in touch with Bryce Williams’s management to speak to the actor and find out some 28

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truth behind the coverage from the press and media. Williams thought that Riley Manning wanted to offer him a part in a movie but Riley wasn’t interested in Williams like that. He wanted solely to find out about Madyson. Riley flew over to London on Williams’s advice and the scene of Madyson’s flat in Poplar had become one of intense police, government and media scrutiny. Her newfound living conditions didn’t resemble the similar lifestyle of a Hollywood actress, and Riley was astounded by the size of the location. She had definitely come down a bit, he thought. He tried to see the connection or the reason why she would have moved back to Tower Hamlets but he suddenly remembered her announcement at the Oscars a few years back. Everything in the flat had been kept in order, clearly tidied up, and it was clear that Madyson rarely socialised in her surroundings. It became specialised interest that Madyson’s laptop contained stories she worked on, but none of them ever came to fruition. She’d taken the writing alias, Janet Levy, and a few broadsheets published extracts of her work, and a few film producers said they’d do something with the published work. But Riley knew better. Movie people were often full of talk, and so many things ever failed to reach the silver screen. He stared around the flat and hoped he would find something of himself within the small surroundings. He felt his eyes swelling up from just being around her presence, her spirit ultimately still lingering. She was 29

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gorgeous, he thought, remembering the last time he’d seen her. Tears dropped into his hands and he raised them to his face to cover his hurting. He’d known Madyson since primary school and couldn’t believe that her life had gone full circle and returned back there. He’d only been at the flat for 15 minutes before the landlord came back in and mentioned there soon would be tourists visiting the property and would be taking pictures. Riley nodded, understanding the need to leave. He walked around once more, studying the furniture, touching the table where she ate, rubbing the bed where she’d slept, hoping to see her life and dreams. He’d always loved her, he thought. The tears began to drop some more. Oh, Madyson, he whispered. Upon his exit, he caught a glimpse of something under a plant pot beside the dining table. He lifted the pot, and saw a floppy disk. He paused before picking it up, and knew it was a sign. He smiled. It was her way of keeping in touch with him, he believed. He rubbed his unshaven chin with the disk and was ready to race home to find out what was on it. He hid the disk from the landlord and thanked him for allowing him to visit the dwellings, free of charge. Riley didn’t realise he hadn’t even closed his front door, he was so anxious to find out what the disk had on it. He couldn’t believe it. Her life and dreams. He clicked open the A: drive on his computer and the world of Madyson revealed itself to him. There were pages and pages. His heart skipped several beats. 30

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A gust of wind told him to get up and close his front door, before he returned to the computer. The words of Madyson draped down in droves before his eyes. He was amazed. He saw his name in there. It was her life story. It was Madyson but she had written it in third person. Riley grabbed a drink, sipping slowly before swallowing a huge gulp. He printed out all the pages. He called his wife at his second home in New York City, telling her about his discovery and then curled up alone on his bed. He was going to read about the life of his only real love, Madyson, and he smiled at the title. It was called Life Without Mirrors: The edited biography of Madyson Peck.


Life without Mirrors: the edited biography of Madyson Peck  

A sad and tragic tale of fiction that looks at the life of a wannabe model and actress