Every time a rooster in the pit screeched as a razor split its face or tore a tendon in its leg, Chris Harrison, host of television’s “The Bachelor” and also “The Bachelorette,” felt a wave of relaxation pass through his shoulders, sloughing off another layer of crystallized tension.
His whole body was an onion made of frustration and disappointment, and the vicious cockfight in the basement of this North Dallas Dairy Queen was the only thing that could reach him right now. Even though his rooster, “Rose Ceremony,” was pinned into a corner and bleeding to death, it was all worth it.
“Your rooster is gonna lose,” said Ashford Luis Levy, also known as “Dip,” on account of the large wad of dip that always made his lower lip pooch out.
Ashford Luis Levy spat into the dust, away from the fighting roosters, while Chris Harrison leaned far over the side of the pit, stretching out the arms of the green silk shirt that fit him like mold on a peach.
“Come on goddamit,” seethed Chris Harrison. “Don’t worry about your eyes, Rose. You don’t need your eyes. Eyes are a crutch.”
“Your rooster is gonna die today,” said Ashford Luis Levy. “I tried to buy him, but you wanted to make some kind of point, and now your rooster…your beloved Rose Ceremony… is gonna die.”
Chris Harrison had raised the pit rooster from birth. He had spent thousands breeding him, training him, and building the reputation for this monthly fight in this run-down Dairy Queen so that he would have a place to show him off. The razors attached to the rooster's talons were from Chris Harrison's own shaving kit.
There was nothing he could do. This wasn’t his town. He was going to leave, and all these people would be left behind. He suspected that Ashford Luis Levy had drugged his rooster somehow before the fight. There was no excuse for how lethargic and cowardly Rose Ceremony was being.
Chris Harrison’s phone rang. Not his regular phone. Not his sleek ergonomic smart phone, black and cold like a shard from a volcano. His Disney phone. The pink, rhinestone encrusted phone that served as a direct line between him and the Bachelor and Bachelorette television programs which he had been hosting for twenty years now. The phone with a Mickey Mouse LED screen.
The Disney phone did not have a vibrate function. It played “When You Wish Upon a Star” at full volume. There was no way to turn it off, except by answering it.
Chris Harrison answered the phone automatically, his eyes never leaving the violent thrashing that his rooster was receiving in the pit.
“Yes,” said Chris Harrison.
It was Judy Pickering, the head writer of the Bachelor. They had dated in college, back when he was on his soccer scholarship and studying broadcast journalism. He had wanted to work for the government. Maybe the CIA or maybe the FBI. She had wanted to be a writer. A real writer. Now she was married to her job in LA and he was in a pit watching roosters kill each other.
“Chris,” said Judy. “He’s gone cad.”
“Cad” was the term that Disney gave to any Bachelor (it was always a Bachelor) who went rogue and actually started fucking the contestants behind the scenes, not wanting to wait for the three chances in the fantasy suites that Disney would provide at the end of each season.
Technically, this wasn’t against any of the rules. Technically, there weren’t any rules. Disney was merely trying to help a man with a 90% human likability index or higher “meet his wife” by presenting him with twenty-five willing young ladies and letting this man test them, torture them, and eliminate them one by one until he was ready to propose.
But cads had to be managed.
“He pressed all the buttons on the elevator on the way to dinner at the top of the Space Needle and convinced Jennifer K. to blow him between floors. She was sobbing about it during her confessional because he didn’t even give her the rose. Can you believe that horseshit? She blows him and he won’t give her the rose. We actually took him in the back and explained how this was gonna look. He didn’t care. He was quite pleased with himself. He knows we will edit it all out so he looks good.”
“This guy seriously has a 95% likability index? This guy?”
“That’s what Disney says.”
“Which one is Jennifer K. again?”
“She’s teaches preschool to special needs children.”
“Right,” said Chris Harrison. “How does she test?”
“She’s got a likability index of about 67%. Everyone knows she won’t make it in the end, but she is sort of beloved on account of her weird haircut.”
“Oh, right,” said Chris Harrison. “The one with the weird asymmetrical bangs. “
“Anyway, we sent her home. But this is like the fifth time in two weeks. It is chaos here. What if word spreads to the hens? We could have a walkout.”
“I will be there in four hours,” said Chris Harrison.
Rose Ceremony was cowering in the corner, protecting his eyes while Ashford Luis Levy’s trim bantam slashed him and strutted around him in a circle. Chris Harrison stepped into the pit.
The crowd gasped.
He separated the roosters by kicking dirt at them and then brought the hard heel of his cowboy boot down on his blind rooster, crushing his cracker-thin skull as “Dip” laughed and clapped and cursed them both in Hebrew and Spanish.
The woman next to him on the plane recognized him. She kept asking him details about the current season. Oh, she was a proud citizen of Bachelor Nation. She was basically an admiral in the Bachelor Nation navy. She seemed to know that they were already filming. She wanted to know if the Bachelor was as sweet in person as he seemed on TV.
“Ma’m, I get this question all the time. You want to know if we set anything up, or if any of the girls are plants, or if the whole thing is staged. The truth, the absolute truth, is that everything we do is real. It’s the easiest job in the world. I can’t believe my luck. We help people find true love. It doesn’t always work out, but we try, don’t we? You have to believe in it.”
The woman sighed and tried to hint that her own marriage was on the rocks. Chris Harrison got up to use the bathroom, talked to the stewardess, got his seat reassigned, and instantly fell into a sleep so deep, dreamless, and dark that it was like having his mind scooped out and replaced with a wool sweater.
“How’s the narrative?” asked Chris Harrison, pouring himself a cup of coffee at the Bachelor command center, the craft services table where the five camera teams reconvened each evening to discuss each day’s conflicts and events and to draft memos on how their individual strands could be weaved together by the expert editors waiting in air-conditioned rooms in the Magic Kingdom.
Chris Harrison had handpicked each of these camera crews, selecting the sort of silent, angry punks that he himself had been when he was in his early twenties. Many of them had terrible drug problems.
“The narrative is tight,” said a green haired woman who had legally changed her name to Propane so that everyone would have to call her Pro. She was wearing a t-shirt that said “Childsafe” across the chest. “The narrative is kick. The narrative is beast.”
“What is ‘Childsafe?’” asked Chris Harrison.
“Oh, it’s this non-profit,” said Pro.
“Everyone in your generation works for some kind of non-profit,” said Chris Harrison. “That’s America’s future, isn’t it? Non-profit.”
The narrative was the all-important driving force behind each season of the Bachelor. They weren’t making a television show here: they were making romance novels. Each season was forged by the crucible of market forces, manipulated by scarcity, guided by the economics of scale, and crafted by rational choice operations. Love as capitalism. Love as Chicago School economics. Each season had a natural momentum with a clear beginning, middle, and end – a situation as composed and powerful as great literature.
In fact, they were better than literature. Romance novels ended. Each season of the Bachelor was an ongoing property that lived a staggering life beyond the confines of each formal conclusion. Each successful relationship that the series produced was a testament to the precision of the process. Each broken dream was a devastating tragedy that confirmed the worst about love, men, relationships, and television, and made the audience even more enraptured with the series.
If god is love, then “The Bachelor” was a show about the journey to find god.
“We are making realies,” muttered Chris Harrison. “Everything is realies these days. Don’t you know it’s all gonna be realies from here on out? Realies all the way down!”
“What’s a realie?” asked Propane, ever-attentive to the cultural cache of fresh-minted slang.
“Ha, I didn’t know you were even listening,” said Chris Harrison.
“Just be glad the camera isn’t on.”
“A hundred years ago, people stopped watching silent films and started watching movies where people talked,” said Chris Harrison, remembering his own childhood, remembering the last drive-in movie-theater in Jacksboro, Texas where the sound for the picture came from the radio in your car.
“The talkies killed the silent films,” said Chris Harrison. “The narrative possibilities of movies with real speech were crack cocaine in a world filled with pixie stix. But realies are even stronger. Oh, our realies are all fake. But there are real moments within the confines of the fake structures we build. Nowadays, to sell narrative, not only must it be a movie, not only must it be a talkie, it’s also got to be a realie.”
“Your ideas are always so totally fucked up and awesome and mean,” said Pro. “Anyway, the narrative for this realie is good as hell. There’s this girl named Jennifer P. who is outstanding. We had three Jennifers, actually, but he fucked the other two ones and then ditched them. Jennifer P. works in a beauty shop. And get this: she went to elementary school with him, and HE DOESN’T REMEMBER HER, even though she has had a crush on him for like twenty years. He keeps saying she looks so familiar. She keeps breaking down in front of the camera in private. It is totally lasso. It is totally drug.”
Chris Harrison knocked back the dregs of a pot of coffee that was as black and thick and greasy as bacon breakfast dishwater.
“So he is fucking all of them?” asked Chris Harrison. “Every chance he gets?”
“Oh totes,” said Pro. “He is cad to the max.”
“How come this is the first I’ve heard of it?” asked Chris Harrison.
“Well, it’s only week three,” said Pro.
“Tell me something,” asked Chris Harrison. “Has he advanced any of the women that he has seduced? Has he given out a single rose to any lady who has given in to him?”
Propane thought about it, running her long fingers through her ectoplasm colored hair.
“Wow,” she said. “I guess not. Wow, this dude is totally dark.”
Chris Harrison tightened his skinny necktie, getting himself psychologically ready to drop another date card. Be cool, Chris Harrison, he told himself. It is just like a penalty kick. Don’t think about scoring. Think about maintaining control of the ball after the kick. Think about what happens next.
“He’s a cad, we’ll handle it, the Disney people will put on the pressure, everything will work out.”
“It always does,” said Propane. “Don’t worry dude: a scandal will only make Bachelor Nation trust us more. It can’t work out every single time. Nothing works out every single time.”
Chris Harrison thought about an article he had read about the way pedophiles selected their victims. They worked their way into positions of power where they had access to a large group of trusting children. They were patient. They became priests, football coaches, guidance counselors, casting directors, and politicians. They started with light touching. They saw which children tattled and which parents reacted. They narrowed down their selection. They moved into more heavy wrestling and touching. Some parents were so oblivious that even if their kids complained they did nothing. Some of the children were so trusting and lonely that they seemed numb. They couldn’t handle the feelings. The sad, smart ones were the best. You could get them on your side. The predators narrowed down their victim pool to find someone completely malleable and completely unprotected.
This season’s Bachelor was hunched over in a leather loveseat, naked to his waist, sweating from the cocaine and whiskey in his blood, playing old emulated Nintendo Tetris at full volume and screaming at the massive flat screen television every time one of his blocks went awry.
“COME ON YOU WHORE,” he shouted, throwing his head back.
The windows of his Bachelor mansion rattled every time a line of blocks disappeared.
Knocking wasn’t working, so Chris Harrison used the silver door key that Disney had provided him with just in case a Bachelor was so hungover he couldn’t make it to a photo shoot or a charity luncheon and needed to be dragged bodily to a limousine.
Chris Harrison walked across the room and pulled the plug on the television.
The Bachelor stared at Chris Harrison with big sad eyes.
“I was doing better than I ever did,” said the Bachelor coldly.
“We need to talk,” said Chris Harrison. “You can play later.”
“Okay,” said the Bachelor. “It’s cool, it’s cool. What’s up?”
Chris Harrison tried to size the Bachelor up, trying to get some kind of sense of the best way to proceed.
“You want a little powder?” asked the Bachelor, also nervous. “Something to drink?”
“No thanks,” said Chris Harrison.
“More for me,” said the Bachelor.
“There is such a thing as too much cocaine,” said Chris Harrison.
“Man, dude, when people are giving you free cocaine to fuck girls on TV in front of their parents and all of America, you should probably do that free cocaine and fuck those girls. I mean, someday I will be in an old folk’s home and people will be telling stories about how they killed Arabs in Iraq and stuff and then it will be my turn to tell a story, and I’d better have some good ones.”
“Like about that time you did better than you ever did on Tetris?”
“Whatever,” said the Bachelor.
“Listen,” said Chris Harrison. “I need to know what is going on here. I am getting word from my camera teams that you are only sending the women home that agree to have secret sex with you. That is not a good situation.”
“Yeah, so what?” asked the Bachelor. “It is all consensual. Duh, it is SECRET sex. Some of the people on the camera crews have secret sex with these women, too. I’m not ratting on them. Does Disney want to leak a sex tape or something? Because that isn’t in my contract.”
“Never mind about Disney,” said Chris Harrison. “I need to know if this is gonna keep happening. Is this what your season is going to be all about?”
The Bachelor was silent. His eyebrows cramped up around the corners of his face. He looked confused.
“Maybe,” said the Bachelor.
“Are you truly taking this journey seriously?” asked Chris Harrison.
“Sure, man,” said the Bachelor. “Sure. I want to find my wife out there! I just want to make sure that I don’t miss out on fucking somebody who will fuck me for basically no reason while I whittle all the ladies down to one really, really special person. ”
“That does not seem like a very mature or healthy attitude,” said Chris Harrison.
“Come on!” said the Bachelor. “You would do the same thing. I am playing a little GTA in your Sim City. So what? So what? My journey is real. My journey just has a few more spontaneous blowjobs and anal exploration in hot tubs. I am looking for a wife here. I need to see these ladies from every angle. Including, you know, from the top down.”
Chris Harrison got up off the couch. He didn’t even make it to the door before Tetris blocks began to fall again, making his teeth rattle, making birds fly out of the single tree in the center of the perfectly manicured front lawn.
“I need you to find out everything you can about his early life,” said Chris Harrison to Propane, sipping goth black coffee through gritted teeth. “I want everything. Dental records, school records, criminal records, hip-hop lyrics he quoted on his Facebook page. Old MySpace posts. I want a comprehensive profile.”
“Okay,” said Propane.
Five minutes later, Propane found Chris Harrison again. He was sitting at his desk, just staring at the wall in silence.
“I found everything,” said Pro, handing him a flash drive. “A complete life history.”
“No,” said Chris Harrison. “I meant that I need EVERYTHING. Secret stuff. I want a complete psychological profile.”
“Yes,” said Pro, pressing the flash drive into his hand.
Chris Harrison frowned.
“I think you underestimate Bachelor Nation,” said Pro.
Chris Harrison kept frowning, staring at the flash drive in his palm.
“As soon as the Bachelor is announced, the internet goes to work,” said Pro. “There is no better detective force in the world than a million American teenage girls scouring the internet at once. There is this girl in Houston that archives everything they find in a password protected wiki. She gets a little stipend from Disney. She is thorough. Trust me.”
“I see,” said Chris Harrison.
“The CIA doesn’t have better reports about foreign dictators,” said Pro. “Everything is in there. This is a terabyte drive. It is mostly full. Good luck. I can only tell you that it is very well-indexed.”
“The CIA doesn’t have better reports about foreign dictators,” said Pro. “Everything is in there. This is a terabyte drive. It is mostly full. Good luck. I can only tell you that it is very well-indexed.”
“I see,” said Chris Harrison. “Do you think maybe you could help me go through all this?”
Propane stared at him.
“Does this flash drive plug into my Mac?” said Chris Harrison, closing his eyes. “Or….not?”
Propane took the flash drive out of his hand.
Three days later, while the Bachelor and Melissa the Patent Attorney with Thick Glasses and Giant Breasts were out on their traditional “jumping off of something high” date, Chris Harrison barged into the office of the Disney sturmbahnfuhrer who oversaw the Bachelor and threw several pages worth of evidence that he had printed out at Kinkos down on her desk.
“Nobody told me he worked for Disney before,” said Chris Harrison.
“So what?” she said. “It was forever ago.”
She was stoned and watching “The Little Mermaid” on a tablet.
“Do you think it is possible that he is harboring some long-held resentments against the company that nobody knows about or remembers? Don’t you think it is a bad idea to bring back a former child star to be a Bachelor star? Disney doesn’t have a very good track record when it comes to forming young minds, you know.”
“So what?” she said. “Almost every Bachelor we’ve ever had has worked for Disney at some point.”
“Really?” asked Chris Harrison.
“Yeah, when they were younger. It’s easier that way. They already trust the company.”
“I didn’t know that,” said Chris Harrison.
“So what? Who cares what you know?”
“He’s gone cad,” said Chris Harrison. “He’s gone super cad. He’s fucking everybody.”
“So what?” said the producer. “That’s the show.”
“It seems pathological,” said Chris Harrison.
“People love him. You are paranoid.”
“Pro, what happens to the fantasy suite sex tapes that Disney makes us film?” asked Chris Harrison. “Where do those go?”
“I don’t know,” said Pro. “I mean, I guess it is just leverage. They hold on to all that.”
“Do they pick it up and take it away from you guys?” asked Chris Harrison. “Or does Disney do all the filming for that internally? Who sees the films?”
“I’ve never seen you so interested in, like, ‘the production process’ before,” said Pro.
“I need to know.”
“Whatever Disney does with those tapes is totally obscure and hidden. It is the cream of the Bachelor, for sure. What is a romance novel without the steamy sex scene? But I guess only super VIPs get to watch that stuff. Maybe someday when we are all dead Disney will release full cuts of this show and show all the gross, awesome real shit that happens in these people’s silly, douchy lives.”
“Maybe,” said Chris Harrison.
Chris Harrison queued up Jennifer P.’s latest confessional and watched it again.
Jennifer P., the one who worked in a beauty salon and who had known the Bachelor since childhood, seemed far more focused and determined than most Bachelor contestants. Most contestants needed to be coaxed during confessional interviews into saying even the most trivial nuggets of emotional truth. It was like building a statue. When you edited out the interlocutor’s prying questions and skilled psychological manipulation, it was like removing the forms, leaving behind a seemingly-effortless marble facsimile of a real human.
But Jennifer P’s confessional interviews were a revelation.
She truly had feelings for this video game playing slug. Chris Harrison was a little bit amazed.
Chris Harrison buzzed the henhouse and sent for her to come visit him at the production office. She was quick as a bird.
That was the greatest thing about realies. Fact: the lowliest script proofreader would make you wait an extra hour if you called a meeting with them, just to be strong on you. But an unpaid contestant in a crooked emotional gameshow? They were as punctual as dividends.
“So what was he like as a kid,” Chris Harrison asked Jennifer P.
“He was so kind and sweet,” said Jennifer P. “He lived on the next street over and he would always help all the younger kids on his street make it to the bus stop without getting run over by cars. He would make sure they remembered their backpacks and their lunches. He just used to wrangle those kids. He was so smart. Just a little blonde boy with just the most beautiful blue eyes. He was skinnier back then. Not so many muscles.”
“What happened to him?” asked Chris Harrison.
“When he went away to go be on that show for Disney, everything changed,” said Jennifer P.
“You mean he got a big head?”
“No,” said Jennifer P. “It was something else. He got real bitter and brutal and cynical. There was still this perfect internal natural kindness in his heart. Nothing can get rid of that. But he was meaner now. I knew his sister, we were in the same grade, and she said that sometimes he would just spend all night crying for no reason. He would be away for six months out of every year, and then when he came home he was so restless and scared. Of course, we all worshipped him in school. How could you not? He was one of us, but he was also Lopez on “Kid Dance Dream Genius.” I’m not ashamed to say it: I had a poster of the show in my closet. He wasn’t one of the stars, but he was on the poster. I used to go in there and just sit and feel feelings.”
“So he was a big deal?”
“He was a big deal in our little town. He went away to go be on television, and it broke something in him. Maybe I can fix it, you know? I wish I knew what happened to him on that show. I wish I knew what they did to him to make him feel so small inside.”
Chris Harrison put his hand out to shake.
“Good luck on The Bachelor,” Chris Harrison said.
“Thanks,” she said, shyly.
“A word of advice,” Chris Harrison said. “Don’t tell him your secret until the hometown dates. That will be good television.”
“If I make it that far,” said Jennifer P.
“As long as you don’t sleep with him, you should be fine,” said Chris Harrison, surprising himself. He hadn’t intended to say anything about what was happening.
Jennifer P. laughed.
“No, seriously,” said Chris Harrison. “Don’t tell anyone back at the hen…back at the mansion. He’s sending home all the women who sleep with him. Just keep that in your back pocket.”
Jennifer P. did not seem shocked. She pursed her lips and straightened her skirt.
“I’m sorry,” the Bachelor told Dakota from Nevada. “I thought you would be the one. We had a real connection. Ever since you got out of the limo and you were dressed up like a living slot machine and you told me to pull your handle and then you kissed me for my prize. I thought we really had something. But I just don’t think we can continue on our journey together.”
“I understand,” said Dakota through sobs.
“I know you told me that you love me,” said the Bachelor. “And I have certainly been developing feelings of love for you, but our relationship just hasn’t progressed as fast as the relationships with some of the other girls and I don’t want to break your heart later.”
“I understand,” said Dakota. “Oh my god. I will miss you! You were my best friend!”
They hugged. She sobbed.
Chris Harrison was at the library, leafing though illuminated pages of Dante in the original Latin, trying to remain calm, trying to fight off the early stages of a panic attack that had been coming on for a week now.
His Disney phone rang. Everyone in the library glared at him. He pushed through the nearest EXIT door into a glass atrium. A buzzer went off while the door was open, but stopped as soon as the door clicked shut behind him.
“We just got an email,” said Judy Pickering. “It’s a really bad email. It’s a really, really bad email.”
“What is it?” said Chris Harrison.
“Well, there is this nonprofit called Childsafe that sort of lurks on the internet, scouring it for old child pornography and trying to find the children in it in order to find out where they are now. There is a massive amount of child pornography from the early 80s just circulating, you know. Those were the days of the first home video recorders. Anyway, Childsafe uses facial recognition software to scan elementary and junior high school yearbooks and match that up to the people in this old child pornography.”
“Okay,” said Chris Harrison.
“The Bachelor. He has come up positive in a tape. “
“Okay,” said Chris Harrison.
“I watched it,” said Judy Pickering. “I demanded to watch it. You aren’t gonna like this.”
“Okay,” said Chris Harrison.
“It looks like it was filmed in the studio for “Kid Dance Dream Genius.” You can sort of see some of the early KDDG promotional materials. Childsafe wants to know what to do.”
“Who was the producer of KDDG?” asked Chris Harrison.
“Chuck Wendy,” said Judy Pickering. “A big Disney guy. He produced maybe thirty shows for the Disney channel.”
“He’s dead, right?” asked Chris Harrison.
“He’s dead as fuck,” said Judy Pickering.
Chris Harrison sat down on the concrete of the library atrium. He kicked open the EXIT door. It started to buzz again.
“Chris? What do we do Chris? Mike isn’t returning my calls. I don’t even think he is in the country. I think he is St. Kitts, preparing the fantasy suites. Chris? What do we do?”
St. Kitts had a good bar and a bad bar. Chris Harrison and Mike Fleiss both preferred the bad bar.
“Chuck Wendy was giant for Disney in the eighties and early nineties. He build our cable presence,” said Mike Fleiss, the producer for the Bachelor. “He built the Disney channel.”
“And he was a pedophile,” said Chris Harrison.
“A giant pedophile,” said Mike Fleiss. “A tremendous, mighty, towering pedophile. The Jupiter of pedophiles. A brilliant, horrible, genius-level pedophile. And no one even knew until right before his second heart attack.”
The waitress brought their shots of whiskey. They drank.
“So one of the kids he molested files a lawsuit,” said Mike Fleiss. “After he’s dead. We knew it was gonna happen eventually. Disney manages to keep it under wraps, but the kid is pissed. He isn’t the suicidal type. He’s the homicidal type, if you catch my drift.”
“Okay,” said Chris Harrison.
Shots came again. They drank.
“I’ve seen the deposition,” said Mike Fleiss. “This kid is smart. He knows that he is about to bring down the entire Disney corporation. He is ecstatic about it. And then one of the lawyers asks him how they can possible make it right. Money? No, no amount of money will possibly shut him up. What then? The kid thinks about it. He says he wants Disney to round women up for him to molest like Chuck Wendy rounded up little boys. He is pissed. He says he has a mountain of poison inside him that he is going to have to get rid of if he ever wants to get married. He says he wants to torture these women on national television. He says that at the end of it all, he wants to be a star. He wants to be beloved for torturing these women, just like Chuck Wendy was beloved even though he was a child molester. The kid sits back and crosses his arms. The Disney lawyers call a recess in the deposition. And then?”
“Bingo,” said Mike Fleiss. “We have turned misery into gold, my friend.”
Shots came. They drank.
“We don’t really know how many people Chuck Wendy molested back in the eighties and nineties,” said Mike Fleiss. “But every time one surfaces, we offer them a million dollars and “The Bachelor.” They have taken our deal every time. Not every Bachelor contestant has been one of Wendy’s boys. But more than you would think. We get shit because all of our Bachelor’s have been white. It’s hard. Wendy liked brawny, dumb, white Southern California boys.”
“This whole show is just reparations for the boys that Disney molested?”
“Yep. And, obviously, the Bachelorette is reparations for women molested on the Bachelor. Everybody wins.”
“This is sick,” said Chris Harrison. “This whole show is sick.”
“Nonsense,” said Mike Fleiss. “We are doing good work. We are healing broken hearts.”
Chris Harrison was back in Texas. He hadn’t slept for days.
“Your princess phone keeps ringing,” said Ashford Luis Levy, also known as “Dip” on account of the bulging wad of dip that always pooched his lower lip out.
“Yep,” said Chris Harrison.
The bar they were in was so dark because it was the brightest part of the morning. They had been drinking all night, and the doors were locked, but the bartender was still serving them drinks.
“I fucking hate that song,” said Ashford Luis Levy. “When You Wish Upon a Star. Can’t you turn the ringer off at least?”
“Nope,” said Chris Harrison.
“Well, do something man,” said Dip.
Chris Harrison motioned to the bartender for another beer. A pint.
The bartender pulled the pint and slid it over.
Chris Harrison took a long sip, draining off the foam and three fingers worth of beer. Then he dropped the phone into the pint of beer. It didn’t stop ringing. The pint vibrated and rattled on the bar. Bubbles started to spill out of the top.
Finally, there was a sharp crackle and a bright blue electric flash. The song stopped playing.
Chris Harrison put his pinky in the pint of beer. It was warm. Smoke was curling from the top.
He took a sip. It was fine.