It is easy to get swept up in the dramatics of adult life.
It is easy to forget, amidst the chaos and madness of responsibility and 'big person things,' the needs of the abandoned few.
It is easy...and all too quickly the runts of the litter who do not fight for survival are swallowed up whole by events and machinations of their more powerful, louder and more abrasively 'look at me' out-there counterparts. Such is the case in any family unit...whether human or animal...the weak fall at the feet of the strong. The little ones are forgotten...left behind.
Which begs the pertinent question...what will become of little Bethany Black?
Perhaps you've seen her...the tiny waif in red or black dancing through the halls of theBurlesque Underground, constant shadow of her 'Uncle J' (Jasper Black), supposed daughter of Betty and Jett, friend of little Betsy (an adopted orphan who seems to enjoy more privileges and attention than she).
Perhaps you know of her...and her obsession with cats. Perhaps you have spoken to her and heard firsthand her chilling explanation for the 'banana' she carries around clutched in her tiny hand...perhaps those wide dark eyes have gazed up at you in blessed ignorant innocence as she proudly declares that her 'science teacher' has given her 'exercises' to practice with that mushy, slowly rotting piece of fruit.
Perhaps you too know that if she is 'good' and practices well...then he will give her a 'surprise.'
Rumors of child abuse are rife within the sordid Black Family history. Stories of fathers molesting daughters and impregnating them, children being bought and sold for thousands of dollars...these things are almost par for the course when one discusses the Burlesque Underground - though the validity of such gossip and hearsay is of course unsubstantiated. None of the Black Family are ever available for comment - save the occasional lewd suggestions and allusions by Jasper himself - who so does love to 'stir the pot' during a Thursday evening show.
But one must of course separate fact from fiction.
It is highly unlikely that any adult - no matter how powerful, rich or influential - would openly flout the rules in a public forum and dangle an exploited child before the eyes of an audience, the media and the law. That the Black Family openly and almost indulgently encourage Bethany's rather 'colorful' stories with little more than smug amusement or an air of annoyed boredom speaks more about the child's emotional and mental neglect than it does lend any real validity to her tales.
Whatever the truth...talk of Science Teachers and their 'bananas,' of being locked in the 'basement' and fed sweets through the window as Jett Black 'plays with his mannequins and red paint,' of Betty Black teaching her brother-in-law how to 'bake cakes and muffins' naked, and whispers of childishly concocted plots to 'drug and have sex with my Uncle' must be for the moment be ignored as we examine the bigger picture.
For those who frequent the Burlesque Underground it is not hard to see the overt love and adoration that is freely given to the children of the Family. Betsy and Bethany regularly enjoy quite public displays of physical affection not only from Jasper, but the House Submissives and extended family...as well as quite a few of the venue's regulars and clientele - the Underdwellers, as we call them. Their safety during the evening's events is never in question - however questionable their presence within the building in the first instance may be.
But that is the crux of the matter, is it not? Just what are these little girls doing in an 'adult playground' that quite overtly promotes erotica, fetish, freedom of sexuality and...burlesque?
Dr Amanda Gordon, former President of the Australian Psychological Society says: "Childhood is meant to be a time of playfulness, learning and fun...when children see sexually explicit dance routines or advertisements that model children on sexy adults, they can learn to link their appearance to being sexy and successful in the real world. Children imitate behaviours without understanding the potential implications..."
To many, Bethany Black is the perfect example of the negative effects that 'nurture' can have on 'nature.'
And how not, when she is surrounded by men and women flouting their sexuality at every turn - when her own mother spends most of the evening high on valium and red wine? When the most influential male figures in her life strut about the stage flagrantly speaking of sexual fetish and in some cases wear fetish gear and spiked high heels?
Let's not forget the 'Paternity Test' debacle from NYE, when resident and self-proclaimed 'pervert' Jack Lad took it upon himself to steal a supposed copy of a doctor's report claiming that Jasper Black was in fact Bethany's father, and not Jett Black as the Family claimed.
Royal watchers were quick to dismiss Jack's claims: "Jasper isn't stupid enough to knock up his brother's wife...I don't care what people say about them. Family is everything to the Black's...and the three people Jett treasures most are his wife, daughter and his brother. If there was foul play...well...that list would get a lot shorter very quickly, if you get my meaning..."
However a close friend of the Black Family says that the truth of Bethany's lineage has been known for years.
"It's no secret that Betty and Jasper have their 'thing.' They have an arrangement with Jett and Bethany is a part of that. I mean c'mon...Jett hasn't been intimate with his wife since he married her - if ever. It's a celibate 10 year marriage of convenience during which there has appeared an 8 year old offspring. It doesn't take a genius to figure it out."
"It's convenient for them all," agrees another 'relative,' "Betty has a lot to endure with the Black boys and their 'exploits,' She cleans up Jett's mess, so to speak, so it's Jasper's duty to make sure that she's happy, in every sense of the word. And how could she not be, with all those pills and drinks he's constantly plying her with?"
And where, amongst all this, does little Bethany sit?
Yours truly, Black Light reporter May. B. Sunshine managed to have a brief chat with the youngest member of the Black Family late on NYE - far later than any 8 year old should have been up. We found her smoking on the front balcony, those wide doe-eyes gazing emptily out into the street.
When asked if she was all right, she had this to say:
"Why wouldn't I be? It's not true. Jack Lad is a dirty liar. He just doesn't want me and Uncle J to be together...I can't have sex with my father. He has to be my Uncle. It's not true!"
Grave concerns for one so young, by anyone's standards, particularly considering the subject matter.
There are of course those who argue differently. If you believe the age-old psychological theories about the sexuality of young children...Bethany's 'fixation' is a normal and healthy part of her development.
Says Sigmund Freud: "In forming a distinct sexual identity a girl’s decisive psychosexual experience is the Electra complex — daughter–mother competition for possession of the father..." (or in this instance the Uncle) "...when children become aware of their bodies, the bodies of other children, and the bodies of their parents they gratify physical curiosity by undressing and exploring each other and their genitals; thereby learning the physical differences between “male” and “female” and the gender differences between “boy” and “girl”. When a girl’s initial sexual attachment to the mother ends upon discovering that she has no penis, she then transfers her libidinal desire (sexual attachment) to the father and increases sexual competition with her mother...thusly setting the bar for all sexual partners in the future."
Royal watchers are all too eager to make allowances for Bethany's 'addiction'.
"Have you looked at the male role-models in that child's life? Jett Black is rumored to be a violent misogynist yet gets about in women's clothing, Jack Lad is by all accounts touted as dangerous to the little ones...the only person that seems half-way sane and decent is Jasper...he's the one picking up the pieces, he's the one providing the food and the shelter...by default he's the best choice and the Alpha male. Of course she would be drawn to him!"
Well and good - except for the fact that this 'role-model' spends most of his hours drunk and engaging in all manner of debauchery within the Underground walls - at times carelessly in the presence of the children. And if the New Year's kiss that a number of eye-witnesses saw him give his 'niece' is anything to go by...Jasper Black is no safer a harbor for Bethany than the rest of the brood. As for her 'little friend' Betsy...well...one can only imagine how a child would feel having a vagrant orphan brought into the family and named heir to the fortune before oneself (particularly by one rumored to be one's father).
No matter which way you look at it and despite her own billion-dollar inheritance - life has not been kind to little Bethany Black...and by all accounts no one expects it to get any kinder in the near future. With another illegitimate child on the way for her 'Uncle J' and an ever-increasing amount of fans, friends and foes milling within theUnderground each week, the road ahead seems bleak at best.
And so the little girl will continue to wander alone in the woods, keeping to the shadows, all manner of nasty beasties snapping at her heels as she winds her way through the dark.
That Bethany Black will fall is almost certain.
The only question that remains is: which of the Big Bad wolves will make a meal of her first?
Mark 10:14 "Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not...and he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them."
All characters and story lines remain the property of N.Ristovski and the Underground. All character writings within the Underground are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013. Natalie Ristovski.