Saturday, May 2, 2009

Coffee, Toast and Monique

Monique Tonique is well known in the burgeoning metropolis of Baie d'Inde. A born and raised Baiedindeuse, she became the well known and much loved host of the local TV station's live morning program "Coffee, Toast and Monique". In the last five years, Monique has become part of the daily lives of many Baie d'Inde residents. It's easy to understand why: on the show, Monique comes across as a personable, engaging, caring individual, always smiling and seemingly interested in all of her guests, regardless of status. Outside of the show though, it's a different story. When the director yells out: "that's a wrap...", a different Monique appears. That Monique is snobbish and antisocial. Off-camera, Monique barely talks to anyone and cannot wait to get home to be with her beloved cats. She rarely goes to any of the functions where she's invited, even though station management puts a lot of pressure on her to do so. The only cause she supports, albeit secretly, is the local animal shelter.

Monique is comfortable with her duality. In a way, it allows her to create a separation between her public and personal life. For her, the TV personality is simply a role she plays; it just happens that they both share the same name.

But, like it so often is the case in life, events have a way of shaking our foundation, taking us out of our comfort zone. It was a Wednesday. Appropriately one would say, as Wednesday is the "make or break" day of the week; the day that causes the rest of the week to go by quickly or drag on for ever; a day with a split personality... As usual, Monique was getting ready for the show in her dressing room, going through the list of guests and topics. She was surprised to see the director of the animal shelter, Marie Mih, on the list. Although Monique was very secretive about supporting the shelter, Marie knew of it, and that made Monique uncomfortable. The first part of the show was uneventful, Monique being her usual TV personality self. Then came the time to introduce Marie; Monique took a deep breath and dove in.

Marie appeared, happy to be given the opportunity to promote the shelter she dearly loved. The interview started well, Marie not showing she knew Monique at all. But then, when the discussion turned to how best to support the shelter, Marie mentioned that the most effective way was to do like Monique and contribute monetarily. She was quite satisfied with her crafty answer since it allowed her to leverage Monique's fame and involvement with the shelter to promote the cause. In the interviewer's chair though, Monique turned white. She was livid; the wall separating the TV Monique and the real Monique was shattered in one single sentence. For some unexplained reason, Monique directed that anger at the shelter itself. She attacked and attacked the cause until Marie could not take it anymore and ran off the set, crying. Monique, seemingly unperturbed concluded the segment by stating that not only did she never support the shelter but that she thought it was an inhumane organization that kept animals locked up in cages and slaughtered those that could not be placed in homes. In a final verbal eruption, she said that such shelters should all be razed to the ground. A cut to commercial put an end to the segment. Everyone in the studio was silent. Then, for the first time since she had started with the show, Monique walked off the set without finishing the show, left the studio as quickly as she could and went straight home.

Viewers were flabbergasted. Never had they seen Monique behave that way or take such a hard stand on anything. Most viewers took it all with a grain of salt but a small group of hardcore Monique fans, calling themselves the Mistake FC (Monique Is Surely The Absolute Killer Entertainer Fan Club) took the last statement very seriously and decided to act on it. Under the cover of darkness, they went and torched the shelter, with all the animals trapped inside. When the firemen arrived, they could only watch as the flames consume the last standing wall.

Monique remained cloistered for a few days with her cats, not listening to the news, reading the papers or answering the phone. When she finally turned on the television, she was shocked with what she saw. There was Marie Mih, standing in front of what once was the animal shelter, explaining how many animals died and wondering how they would find the funds to rebuild. After the report, the news anchor mentioned that two other shelters in the region had suffered the same faith, all since the now famous episode of "Coffee, Toast and Monique".

Monique did not know what to do or who to turn to. Listening to her voice mail, she found out she had a few messages from the Mistake FC, asking for her blessings in their continuing attacks on animal shelters. Monique sat down in her comfy chair and started to cry, unwillingly she had led to the destruction of animal shelters and the death of hundreds of cats and dogs. Unable to come to grips with the reality, Monique quickly wrote a short letter, left her house and was never seen again.

After not having heard from Monique in over a week, the station called the police who went and visited Monique's house. The house was empty except for the cats but the police found the following letter:

To you viewers of the morning show and residents of Baie d'Inde,

I wish to offer you all my most sincere apologies. If I could somehow go back in time and avoid my Waterloo, the Wednesday of my downfall, I would. But that is not possible. As you are surely aware, I was very secretive with regards to my personal life. There was a reason for that: the real Monique is detestable and I didn't want anyone to know her. In the end, I failed. The Monique you saw daily on air, the front, some would say the fraud, allowed me to hide who I really was. My alter ego was solid except for one thing, my Achilles’ heel, my love for animals. This conduit between the two Moniques created the breach that lead to Wednesday's debacle.

Hearing what happened to all these shelters has hurt my very soul. No apologies could ever right the wrongs I caused.

With this letter, the last words you'll ever hear from me, I bequest all I own, all I have, to rebuilding the animal shelters.

Please take care of my cats...


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