“Nursemaid, Heavyweight, Gatekeeper to the Stars” by Dan Bronson

At the end of the business day, these assets walk right out of the vault and put themselves at risk….The only thing I know about publicity is how to suppress it.

I’m a nursemaid.

Six-two. Built like a heavyweight. A dandy scar across my cheek. And what do I do?

I babysit…for the studios.

One studio, actually. Titanic Pictures. Big. Unsinkable.

Like the ship.

They call the spoiled children I look after “stars.” You know.

“Up above the world so high.” They got that part right.

Some of them put a lot of effort into getting high and staying there.

“Like a diamond in the sky.” That’s how they see themselves, and that’s certainly the way the studio bigwigs see them. Diamonds. Gems. Assets.

Money in the bank.

BearManor Media, 2021

The problem is that at the end of the business day, these assets walk right out of the vault and put themselves at risk.

Risk of exposure as brawlers, drunkards, whoremongers, and worse. That’s where I come in.

My job is to protect them from themselves.

Think of it this way.

You walk onto a studio lot…if you’re lucky enough to get past the guard at the gate, and you see row after row of identical buildings – big, maybe not as big as blimp hangars but almost, with high white walls and rainbow roofs.

You spot an elephant door cracked partway open on one of them, sneak inside, and find a construction crew putting the finishing touches on a set that outshines the Taj Mahal.

Soaring staircases.

Glistening gold domes.

And in the middle…a pair of massive wooden doors carved with the inviting figures of unicorns, satyrs, and lovely ladies pursued by handsome lords.

The gateway to romance!

You slip past the carpenters and painters, through the doors to the other side, and are confronted with a blank wall, its heavy insulation spilling from the tears and rents of years of use. Aside from that…

…nothing.

Nothing except, perhaps, a pile of construction trash.

Just then a guard discovers you and escorts you out the gate, warning you never to darken the studio’s doorstep again.

The sound stage set and the stars who act on it, they’re a lot alike – constructed images with nothing much behind them but trash. And me, I’m that guard…except I’m better at my job. If it’d been me, you’d never have gotten onto that stage, never peeked behind that door.

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

I’m the guy who keeps you from looking behind the curtain and who, if you do, makes sure you forget what you’ve seen.

I try to keep you on that yellow brick road with visions of the Emerald City dancing in your eyes.

My official title?

Publicist.

Right.

The only thing I know about publicity is how to suppress it.

Let’s call a spade a spade. I am, like I said, a nursemaid, though I guess I should say, for the sake of accuracy, I was a nursemaid.

After all, that difference in tense – my trip from “am” to “was” – is really what this story is all about….

The above is excerpted from Chapter One of Someone to Watch Over Me by Dan Bronson (BearManor Media, 2021).

Dan Bronson has had many careers: college professor, story editor, screenwriter/producer, memoirist, and now, novelist. Dan-Bronson.com

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