It was a swarm. A barrage of flashing lights. A storm that obeys no pattern, only a will to seek and deconstruct. It sweeps in, surrounding me. Like ants to a piece of candy, I am consumed bit by bit.
Someone must have called someone from the plane.
I walked as quickly as I could, kept my hat on and head down. Dealing with this part of the job is a delicate matter. They are the eggshells I must walk upon for the duration of this love-hate relationship.
They pretend to love me one day, so they can hate me the next. Build the facade and take it away. I can do no wrong. I can do no right.
There are some who talk like they know me, pretend to care, and pay compliments while invading my personal space, trying to provoke me into conversation. Then, there are other who really don’t give a shit. They act the same as the first, but are a bit more open about the fact that they’re just trying to earn a buck. I hate them equally, but can, at least, respect the honesty.
Their questions, shouted at me from an arms’ length away, are designed to get a reaction. It’s best not to speak.
They use high-speed cameras made to take pictures without pause. The concentrated lights are blinding.
If I were to lay out, on a table, all of the photos taken by just one of the three-dozen cameras and sift through them, you would think that the simple act of me walking from the airport exit to the back seat of a waiting car at the curb took me twenty minutes instead of fifteen seconds. You would think I was here just to be spotted.
“Move, please. Out of the way! Get back—you’re blocking the car, ” Shouts someone. A few guys from airport security have moved in, pressing the mass of lenses back. They swoop in on either side, in front and back, left and right, trying to make a way for me to get to the curb.
I think Paparazzi is a preferred moniker, but really, the only difference between them and a stalker is a camera.
The stalkers move when they are told just to get in the way in another spot. They dart from a place directly in front of me to the doorway I am trying to go through, or to the car door being held for me, to the front of the car to get my photo through the windscreen; snapping frame after frame, ceaselessly. Every single second.
The flashing lights are disorienting. I press my hands to my face.
The car is running when I climb in the backseat. Marcus honks the horn, inching away from the curb.
They scatter like rats before we take off. Once we’re in a lane of moving traffic, there are at least five cars following us.
I lay my head back on the seat, waiting for the white spots in my vision to fade.