02-29-2012, 04:43 PM
Chapter Seven: The Two-Faced Janus
Luke struggled so hard to conceal his past, it seemed there were two Luke Blades--the public and the private. The public face he wore was one of self-confidence, the daredevil illusionist who knew no fear. He was the man-about-town, the playboy surrounded by beautiful women. He had VIP access to all the trendy clubs in LA and Vegas. He posed for photos and signed autographs for his fans on the street. He even took time to visit terminally ill children whose only wish was to meet the master illusionist. He was a true celebrity, as far as the public was concerned.
But this public persona concealed a darker side of Luke. He was possessive of everyone and everything in his life. He kept a jealous eye on the personal activities of the Family, watching out for any signs of deviation or defection. He became a perfectionist, openly critical of any mistake he perceived, however small. Any flaw in the plan could spell the difference between life and death, he reasoned. His flashes of anger reduced many female members of the Family to tears, especially Beckie Winslow. As much as she loved Luke, she was also afraid of him. Her relationship with Luke is a classic example of "trauma bonding", where the victim still cares for the abuser despite the abuse, covering up the physical and psychological pain to protect him. No matter how much Luke made her cry, she always forgave him.
Only Nurse Soames was immune to Luke's rages. Twelve years dealing with street gangs in the ER steeled her against the temper tantrums and ego trips Luke displayed. She stood firm when the rest of the Family cowered. When Luke snapped at her or anyone else, she snapped back with equal ferocity. She was a fairly large, matronly woman who brooked no nonsense from her patients, even when that patient was Luke Blade. She was the dominating mother figure in Luke's life, one which proved over time Luke needed the most. As angry and egotisical as he would get, Luke always deferred to his "Nursie", however reluctantly.
But there was nothing that would cure Luke permanantly. The two faces were still emmeshed in his soul. He swung from one side of his personality to the other without warning. Psychologists theorized that Luke Blade was bipolar, but in reality it was a manifestation of FAS. As his fame grew, he became increasingly paranoid, more possessive to the point of obsession. He began fearing for his life when a death threat appeared one day that had been delivered among his personal correspondence. It had obviously been slipped in by someone from the "inside"; there were rumors it was a disgruntled Family member, but the culprit was never found.
Luke had always hated sleeping alone. He began taking more and more female company to bed with him, whether they be Family members, other celebrities or fans. Most nights he just slept, without any sexual congress whatsoever. They were like living teddy bears, keeping him safe and secure. Having two or even three women in bed was not at all unusual. He made it clear to all of them that he hated oral sex of any kind. When he did engage in sexual activity, it was for his own personal gratification, a form of masturbation on his part; he cared nothing for his partner's pleasure. The few women he slept with who were willing to talk confessed to feeling as though they had been "raped" when they tried to make love to Luke Blade. There was little if any foreplay; he simply got down to business. There was almost no tenderness in his lovemaking; they were there to "service" him. Women, to Luke, were just another perk of fame.
But Luke still possessed feelings, however carefully hidden. He still sought that special someone with whom he could share his life. He lived vicariously through Benny Weeks and his wife, Andrea. When the Weeks had their first child on Thanksgiving Day, 2006, a boy they named Lucas Benjamin Weeks, Luke was as estatic as though he had been the father himself. He was especially honored to be named godfather to the baby. Luke doted on his godson, whom he called Baby Luke. "I never knew what people saw in babies until Baby Luke came into my life," he said. Baby Luke was often photographed with his famous godparent; many of the pictures were a study of contrasts: the darkly menacing magician holding the sweet, innocent infant in his long, nimble hands. During an outdoor performance on Times Square, he worked Baby Luke into his act. The audience cooed affectionatly as Luke emerged with his infant godson in his arms. The tiny infant huddled against Luke for warmth in the cold winter weather.
Suddenly, Baby Luke sneezed. "Oh! No!," Luke said in mock horror. "He's catching cold!" Luke called for a "nice warm blanket" to wrap up the baby. A fan in the crowd produced a quilt she had made as a gift for Luke. He accepted it graciously and covered the baby in it. Then, suddenly, Luke shouted "NOW!" and whipped away the quilt. The baby had vanished! The audience was astonished. "Well, he's out of the cold," Luke quipped.
Andrea Weeks came out to the stage area, a bit indignant. "Luke," she said, "I told you to watch him, not put him into your act!"
The audience laughed. Luke just smiled sheepishly and took a bow. The baby, it turned out, was safe in Luke's RV. For all his daring and outrageous behavior, Luke never harmed his godson in any way. Indeed, he could be overprotective at times, shielding him from the photographers and overadoring fans. Baby Luke was more of a possession to him than a person. And like all his possessions, he guarded them jealously.