Key To The Highway, Chapter 12: Always Something New

We began to move everything from Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Shreveport to  the Edivere estate. The publishing company. The recording companies. The film production companies.

It was all to consolidate everything. Centralize it all in one area. Even my eventual corporate offices would be moved here. 

There would be a company in every field. Scientific research. Medical research. Tech research. Educational research. Food service. Entertainment. The automotive industry. Construction. 

I would eventually branch out into every industry. I would even become an investor in numerous private startups. But I would make money faster than I could ever use it. 

I had made friends among club owners and restauranteurs. Several would help me start my teen club chain, others would help me with the nightclubs. And still others would sell out to me. Especially the more famous venues.

I knew a good thing when I saw it and I ended up with most of what had been the chitlin circuit as well as many clubs that had refused services to black bands during the days of segregation. These I bought mainly out of retribution for refusing service to some of the best musicians of the decades they had operated as segregated establishments. 

I would rename them, then reopen them. I would make them open to all artists and pay well. I would begin to tear down walls. 

To many in the south, I became known as a force of nature. I represented an end to their once proudly held way of life. An end to their tightly embraced hate and fear. 

I was a symbol of change. A sign of changing times. An omen of what was to come.

Most of all, I represented a change of ideals. I made them look at themselves for a change instead of at those around them. My perceived innocence revealed their hidden guilt.

I was a force to be reckoned with and I was only two years of age. I frightened the adults. I gave the children something to aspire to. 

A small community began to grow around the Edivere mansion. My home. These loyal employees would remain with the companies for decades. Even after I disappeared, they would remain loyal. 

***

The facilities in Shreveport, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans were turned into museums with gift shops. The warehouses would remain in use until new ones could be built later on down the road. Die hard fans would continue to send to the warehouses for replacement copies of worn out tapes and badly scratched records even after I disappeared. 

While I was never really a fan of the 8 track, I sold quite a few of them. I preferred vinyl and, later, cassette to the 8 track. Perhaps it was the cumbersome design that garnered my dislike, I don’t know.

In my heart, I knew that the 1970’s were the last years for the 8 track.I also knew that vinyl was coming to an end. At least for the mainstream. There would always be those who would collect vinyl. Just as there would be those who collected 8 tracks. 

But I knew that any entertainment company worth its salt would have to innovate with the rest of the industry or die. Hell. The best would be at the forefront of innovation. 

I intended to be at the forefront. Whenever there was an innovation, I would be among the first to adapt. If I had to leave for any reason, I would make sure that whoever took my place, for however long, would carry out my wishes. 

It was just good business to be adaptable. Something the oil and coal industries were unwilling to be. Something the automotive industry was unwilling to do as well. 

But I had learned a lesson their CEOs had not. I had learned that greed destroys everything it touches. Including the person who put their trust in its emptiness. 

The knowledge had been what had kept me grounded. I cared nothing for wealth. Or privilege. Or position. 

To my employees, I was just another one of them. An average person willing to work alongside them. Someone willing to learn every aspect of the business. Even at the age of two. 

And as such, I would earn their loyalty. Their trust. Their love.

I would never have need to advertise for new hires. My employees would remain and their children would become employees. I had no policy against hiring family, as we were all family. We were all one big family even though we weren’t really related.

***

I was unaffected by the free sex culture of the 70’s, I was too young. Hell.  I was still too young to be affected by the drug culture. 

I suppose that was why I was able to emerge from the 1970s relatively unscathed. I was too young for all the decadence. I was also surrounded by very responsible adults, despite my being exposed to people in both of those scenes.

Even with exposure to both scenes, they were so distant from me in my mind that I had little interest. I only cared about my work or, as I saw it, play. And my vision of changing the world for the better.

Sure, I was naive in many ways. Or perhaps simply blissfully and willfully ignorant. But it did not yet personally affect me. Not yet.

Key To The Highway, Chapter 11: Ride The Wind

Mallory and his children built the best production company the industry had ever seen. It would rival all the major studios in Hollywood. In many ways, it would become more successful. 

And again, I insisted on keeping it off the stock markets. It was kept a private holding. No investors meant no compulsion to sell. No option to try a hostile takeover.

It would forever remain mine. That was my intent. Even when I would hire a new CEO, they would not be able to negotiate a salary over $400,000 a year. 

I set the policies in stone. There would be no way to change them without my express permission. Not during my lifetime.

I even wrote a ‘tombstone’ clause that stated that no policy could be changed without physical proof – a legitimate obituary, picture of a tombstone with name and date of death, and/or death certificate – so that nothing could be faked just to change a policy that someone did not like. 

That meant that just believing me dead would not warrant proof. The proof had to be undeniable and legally recorded. Not hastily created for personal gain. 

The company could never be sold. Not even after my death. It was to remain in my family, whoever that might be. 

It was a brilliant move. It meant that my company had to operate under my policies indefinitely and Hollywood could never get rid of me. Or my legacy.

Perhaps I knew, even then, that they would become an overly gluttonous cannibalistic industry devouring each other in a feast of creativity that would destroy that very creativity. I just had no idea who would eat who. Nor did I care. Just as long as they could not devour my work.

The fact was that the cannibalistic feast had already  begun. Even in the 1970s. The number of studios had been greatly diminished. The amount of creativity, though, had not. 

What had started as a friendly competition had become a bloody and cannibalistic battle for supremacy. The casualties would be the fans, eventually. Zanuck was ailing. Disney was long gone. As were Samuel Goldwyn, Louis B.Mayer, David Sarnoff, and Howard Hughes. Oh how they would mourn what had become of their legacies. 

I bought back the rights to all the films I had made from the first books, all dealing with children and scientific advancements not yet seen. I re-branded them and released them again under the new company’s logo while I made new movies.  I even began a dozen television series, all of which became instant successes. I had learned the secrets of success as a producer. 

I would never take a salary from any of my companies. Instead, I made my money producing films, acting, making music, and writing books. What would have been my salary went back into the business. And so I would pattern all of my businesses. After all, I did not need the extra income. I made enough as it was. 

***

We had worked my ‘Baby Jay’ routines into our stage presence. We would do a skit in between our serious or sad songs to keep the mood light and to make the audience laugh. It worked wonderfully. 

It was almost as if the fans were glad to see another side of me. I believe that they loved my ability to laugh at my age, height, and perceived weaknesses. They also loved the irreverence that I exhibited. 

It all gave me a very human appearance, something I had lacked up to that point.it also made me extremely accessible. And open.

We even began building upon those routines, creating even more. My character was easy for some to identify with even if I was not. I addressed things that were hard for most to not identify with. Friendship. Acceptance. Love. Dreams.

I made fun of adults. Their prudishness. Their fixation with riches and fame. Their total lack of respect for children. 

I became controversial. But in a good way. And through the use of humor. 

Some adults took things too personal, but still, they had to admit that I had a point in it all. I never meant it to be too serious. And they knew it. Or they should have.

Thirty-six solo and dozens of band and studio project albums into my career, I was the most seasoned player even though I had only been in the industry for two years. Well, two years and six months. I’d been in continual tour for the first year and a half. I had been in at least a dozen countries. 

I could converse with anyone. Sing in any language. Play in a thousand different styles.

I had worked with all the major hit makers. I had performed onstage with some of them. I tolerated some, loved others.

It was what made me unique. I could do whatever was needed. It didn’t matter whether I liked someone or not. I would still work, at least once, with them.

The bands were also beginning to mix in some of my solo works. My vocalists had to travel with the bands in order to play their parts. And yet, they seemed to love the new opportunity.

Twenty-four albums’ worth of material was now being added into an already heavy show. In hindsight, it was the bands’ way of telling me that our time together was growing short. After all, most of the members were of retirement age and probably had about three more years left in them and none of their children wanted to take their place.

***

Almost from the very beginning, I loved the Tao Te Ching. It is such a poetic and timeless piece of wisdom. I put it into practice almost immediately. At the same time, I became extremely fascinated with the I Ching. 

I also immersed myself in the Vedas and Rumi. I had read and contemplated the Koran and Bible, but had discounted them both as incomplete. As I had done with the Rabbinic writings and the Judaic ‘Holy Books”. 

I had found that there was quite a bit more wisdom in the eastern philosophies. Hell. There was more wisdom in the teachings of Zoroaster. And in the pagan teachings.

Not that I felt that the big three were frauds. In many ways, they were important in their own ways. But, at the same time, it was as if they had been repainted and repackaged by Rome or by those who’d come after the original belief system. Multiple times. 

None more than Judaism and Christianity. After all, the Jewish histories had been destroyed under Xerxes. As had their original texts. It was more than fair to believe that the ‘histories’ and ‘laws’ that resulted from the reconstruction had been deeply influenced by Zoroaster’s belief system as well as the pagan myths of Persia. And Babylon. And every conquering nation that took control of Judea thereafter. 

Christianity had definitely been hijacked when Rome took it as the national religion. Their gods and goddesses had been combined with the message. Lucifer, the light bringer, had been made an aspect of the devil. As had the darker aspects of all the gods. 

And all in the attempt to make divine the assassinations and exiles of royal and political opponents. There was nothing remotely ‘Holy’ left in the religion. It had all been distorted.

Key To The Highway, Chapter 10: Road Songs

I had weathered my first ‘vacation well. I had forgotten none of what I had been taught and had gained insight into my biological family. I had a vindictive, selfish sister. Well, she was actually my half sister. 

I had a narcissistic  workaholic father who thought he could do no wrong. And I had an adorable, sometimes over protective mother who would support anything I did as a child. My mother loved horses. My father loved guns.

Even away from the road and studio, the music never stopped in my head. Nor did the business ideas. Or the concepts.

I had observed every trait, every nuance, of each of my family in quiet contemplation. I rebuked my sister in nearly every language I knew except English. I muttered in Creole to myself whenever I was upset. 

The only one who even remotely knew anything of what I was saying was my grandfather and he wasn’t saying anything. 

“Is he speaking another language?” I had heard my mother ask curiously.

“Not that I can tell,” he had replied, “even if he was, we would never rightly know. Doubt there is any book for it.” after, he had smiled knowingly, sought me out with a glance, and winked.

It had been his way of showing approval. He knew that I did what I did as a means of appearing as a normal child of my age. Just as he knew that I revealed nothing of what I knew in order to remain ‘normal’ in their eyes. 

Both of us knew that my father could never know. For my sake. My future depended upon the illusion I was casting. 

My father only desired two things. Money and control. He had failed at the former, so he exerted all his effort in the latter. And he ruled, at least in his own eyes, with an iron fist. 

But even that was mostly illusion. After all, a man who does not have control of himself cannot control those around him with any effectiveness. Thus, my father had no control. Just the illusion of that came from fear.

And yet, at this point in time, grandpa held him in check. And though he was cruel, he had to hide it. At least for now. But I knew. I could see through his serene illusion.

***

I was two years old and I was already a success. I already had a business that was making millions. I was already a millionaire.

Yet, the only thing that mattered was my talents. I had dozens of books. I had written my first nonfiction book after returning from my vacation, a sort of release of the angst that I had built up. The observations I had made. The psychologist had begun to emerge. 

My first book of poetry also emerged. The different emotions. The different aspects of life I had witnessed in a single house. The different personalities. 

It was a kind of child’s version of Ginsberg’s Howl. A scream for normalcy within the bounds of supposed normalcy. It became an instant classic.

I continued with my fiction as well. Writing was my release. My escape from reality. 

And I was becoming more professional in my style. More perfected. Less scattered. Less rough.

Jean was a respected publisher and editor. His works had been critically acclaimed when he was younger. When he was still writing. 

He was my editor and publisher. He would fix my errors and make the books printable. But even I knew that he would not be there forever. There would come a time when he would no longer be there to solve the problems for me. 

And so I worked hard at perfecting my craft. The lyrics I wrote, the songs I recorded, made it into print as well. As did my first attempts at writing plays. 

I was coming into my own. I was growing both in body and in talent. As well as in experience. 

Music legends passed through the studio and I worked with them all. The Moody Blues. The Hollies. Elvis. The Rolling Stones

I was the local oddity that drew a star studded crowd. And I relished it all. I invited the attention.

But it was in my second year that the fans began realizing that I was not the midget that they had believed me to be for two years. I was suddenly taller. More distinctive. 

My first year of growth had been nearly indistinguishable. But this second year, I was far taller than I had been. It was apparent. 

But the moniker ‘Baby Jay’ stuck because they realized that I had truly been a baby…though they could hardly believe it. Still, it had not dawned on the censors that I was a child. But, then, I was not the one singing my songs. I merely played the instruments. 

And, of course, I became more active in my second year. I began dancing around onstage while playing guitar, doing high flying kicks and becoming flamboyant to cover my shyness. And I was extremely shy. Even for a musician.

I suppose you could say that this was the moment that my reputation for being a flirt began to emerge. At first, it was a way to hide the fact that I was extremely nervous. Then, it just became a part of my act.

***

More roles came my way. Hollywood loved me even if I rued Hollywood. Well, I didn’t exactly rue Hollywood. I disliked what some of the power players were. The system was gluttonous. And cannibalistic.

It seemed to eat its own. Made me desire to remain apart from it. Thus, Jean called on a film producer friend of his who had retired before the heyday of the studio system went into decline.

Mallory Astor was an amazing man. Though around Jean’s age, Mal was still as active as a 20 year old. He had wisely split from Hollywood before the scandals hit and had never looked back. 

He had become an instant fan of my literary works and saw the cinematic potential of many of the novels. Jean had even prepared him for our first meeting. But not quite enough.

“Mal,” Jean began, “this is Jay. He is the author of the books you are interested in developing into films.”

“I know ya prepared me.” he stated, slightly surprised, “but I thought you were kidding about his age.”

“No,” Jean mused, “I wasn’t kidding you. Jay may be a bit young, but he is more than capable of all I told you. He has already earned his bachelor’s in business. He knows how to build the perfect business. He just needs a temporary adult manager to head his company openly. And now, he wants to branch out into film and television…and you are the perfect person to be that visible head of his company.

“You are experienced in the business and can train almost anyone to do what you did in Hollywood’s golden age. Just as I am able to train anyone to do what I do.”

“So,” Mal took a breath, “what is he looking for?”

“He wants to build a production company that will rival Hollywood,” he answered, “so that he does not have to fear that the so-called producers will destroy his books for the sake of their egos.”

“Well,” Mal chuckled, “that is the norm nowadays.” He paused and took another look at me. “Alright, I’ll do it. I will call my son and have him come in as well. Just add us to his family photos from now on.”

“Merci, Monsieur Mallory,” I smiled in appreciation.

“And you’ve corrupted the boy with your Cajun French,” Mal grinned, “bet that galls those bloated morons in Hollywood.”

“James, or ‘Jay’,” he nodded, “is multilingual. And yes, it drives most producers nuts. But it also works in his favor when he goes home to his own family over the winter. He can speak in almost any language and still seem to be babbling.”

“Well,” Mal beamed, “if that don’t beat all!”

“Indeed,” he mused, “but then, Hal Parvenue has always kept his word when delivering a unique talent.”

“And how is Hal?” the producer inquired.

“Aging,” came the answer, “like the rest of us. And ailing. He has heart problems.”

“That’s too bad,” Mal shook his head, “he’s a great man. Does amazing carpentry.”

Key To The Highway, Chapter 9: For Love Of Voodoo

In my second full year, my music began to take on a somewhat mystical – magical – quality. It was almost as if I could weave spells with sound. Musical voodoo.

Drum rhythms, unique to me, formed from the fusion of African, Native, and Caribbean sounds. Complex and mesmerizing, they wove an underlying pattern beneath the harmonies of the melodies that built the sound. All three cohered well. 

My guitar style, an eclectic mix of styles already being used in all the bands. Swampdog blues, a Cajun blues-rock style, was slightly more complex than the blues from which it had grown. Creole shaman’s blues, a mix of zydeco, voodoo drum rhythms, and blues, was just as complex…and a sight more psychedelic. Atomic blues, a blistering metallic blues, was darker and even more complex and fed off Native rhythms. Midnight blues, also a Native form of blues, was slightly less complex. Smokehouse blues was a wild raucous style that spoke of naughtiness. While, psychedelic blues was just that…a remnant of 1960s psychedelia that just happened to be more blues than anything else.

I combined them all into a sound unique to me. Voodoo blues. And I became the ‘master mage’, weaving my spells through my guitar. Or so it was claimed. 

My music was just the language of my soul. I had never intended it to weave anything. Except maybe a story. My story.

And a beautiful story it was. At least, in the beginning. Just a boy and his instruments. 

But Cajun, Creole, and Native sounds weren’t the only influences on my music. There was the Spanish, South and Central American, and the Romany…not to mention the Klezmer music of my Jewish friends who thought I was the bomb. In many ways, my style was a musical gumbo of everything I came into contact with. 

I suppose it was this fact that made it so magical. So hypnotizing. Spellbinding. 

At the same time, I was learning the finer points of the Voodoo religion. The nature. The concepts of magic. Its links to music, art, and nature. 

And the concept filtered into my music. Causing it to become even deeper. Even more magical.

***

Kisa w’ap fè?” Mama Tibideau inquired. (what are you doing?)

“jwe ak konsèp,” I replied. (playing with a concept)

“…ak majik?” She peered at me over her spectacles. (…and magic?)

“Wi,” I replied simply, “gaye zèl mwen yo.” (yes. Spreading my wings)

“Don’ know what I’m gon’ do wit’ you, Chile,” she giggled, “you be natural at it all. It jus’ flows from you. Like life itself desires you to cast a spell.”

“Wi, manman,” I replied. (Yes, mama)

“You gon be a formidable man o’ wisdom when you get older,” her thick Haitian Creole accent was both comforting and stern at the same time, “would hate t’ be de one who gets on yer bad side when you become a man. I have never seen such a chile, not one dat was a perfect union of body and soul and in such complete control of their abilities. My, my.”

Mama Tibideau had come to the States with Mac Tibideau back in the early 1960s after one of his successful tours. She was one of the most powerful Voodoo priestesses in Louisiana and believed that all her children should know what she knew. It did not matter to her that I was a white child, I was her adopted son and that meant I was to be taught the same things as she taught her daughters. I was family.

Looking back, I am grateful for this. It taught me that we are all one race. We are all of the human race. Color, creed, place of origin, gender, sexual preference, and gender identification mean absolutely nothing. Never, in my life since, have I ever been in the presence of another person as beautiful as her…though my third wife would come close.

But at the time, I was just ‘Baby Jay’, the blond haired, hazel eyed boy child that was everything and yet none of them. I was an adopted member of all the families who raised me and an adopted son of Louisiana. 

And at that moment in time, we were backstage. I had been practicing a song I had played since the beginning of my career. And though it was not mine, I was determined to put my mark on the song. 

“I came, chile,” she smiled, “to remind you dat you have three minutes and dey wants you onstage.”

“Wi, manman,” I responded, getting up from the chair I was sitting in, “I will head that way now.”

“Come, chile,” she put her hand on my shoulder, “I’ll take you.”

***

I loved the stage. I loved the sound of the crowds. It was a rush just knowing that I gave them such pleasure with my music. 

I hated being in a crowd, mind you. But being in front of a crowd was different. At least back when I was too young to know the danger they potentially represented. 

The sound of fans screaming for their favorite songs put me into a state of euphoria. It drove my innovations and improvisations on those songs. It drove me to make them my own.

I came up with the concept of ghost notes, notes that sounded even though they had not actually been fretted. I could make my fingers dance on the strings so fast that most people could not see what had been fretted. Sometimes, it seemed as if I had a second set of arms that allowed me to play double what anyone else could. Or pound out rhythms on drums that were seemingly more complex than anything ever done before.

Academically, I had learned three times more than any adult could. My accelerated courses were far more advanced than any high school graduate who was at my level, Sophomore year studies, in college. Some involved in the research project I was participating in had even begun hinting that I was a born prodigy…a genius. But I knew I was no genius. Just someone who was extremely fortunate

As a musician, I had already been to Europe once. As a solo artist, I still had yet to get started touring. And yet, my solo music was almost more popular than the bands I was touring with. I believe that, even then, those who had taken it upon themselves to teach me had begun to realize that the bands they fronted had come to their end and it was only a matter of time before I would have to go on alone.

Key To The Highway, Chapter 8: Let The Laughter Begin

I have always had a sense of humor. Though it tends to be a little more cerebral than most people are able to handle, it has always been there. Sometimes dark, sometimes absurd. The darker seemed, at times, to be a bit sadistic but had purpose. The absurd was typical childhood humor without the cruelty that often gets called ‘practical jokes’. 

This isn’t to say that I didn’t play practical jokes. I did. And often at the expense of those who were too slow to catch on what was going on…specifically those so immersed in greed, hate, and ignorance that they had no clue that they were being made the rube. Wealthy men and women often fell to my pranks. Hatemongers too. 

Some of my more elaborate pranks would not be pulled at this time as I was too small and not willing to plan anything big. But it was not my pranks that would grab attention. It would be the comedy skits I would begin recording at this time. 

They started as asides during recording, something to get the other musicians to lighten up and laugh. They soon grew into an opportunity to show more talent. Another side of me. 

And so, ‘Baby Jay’ grew into the first studio-only comic who was both self-depreciating and irreverent all in one. Playing off my actual age, I began piecing together the ‘baby’. By the time recording was done, I had everyone in the studio rolling with laughter.

Singles were made, small animated vignettes of hilarity playing off the character portrayed. They went over so well that I quickly became an underground comedy favorite. Adding to my myth and mystique, the comedy helped build the legend.

I also began becoming adept at playing cards. All forms of poker. Solitaire. Rummy. 

I could also call where the roulette wheel would stop. And the dice. And the slot machines. My grasp of mathematics allowed me to observe and note, then accurately predict. 

And though I was too young to be a danger, I would be officially banned from all casinos simply as a safeguard. If I were unable to enter, no adult could use me as a ‘good luck charm’. At the same time, this would work to my advantage when I got older.

But, at the age of one, I was not allowed in. not even under adult supervision. Except as part of the entertainment. Not that we ever played in the casinos.

***

I had yet to prove myself in the home of my biological parents. This would be the first winter I would spend with them. It would be my first winter of being ‘normal’. Whatever that was. 

I was not really looking forward to it, as I knew that I had an older sister I would have to fool as well as my own parents. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to pull it off. Especially if she got too rough with me. Luckily, I would be able to walk and babble. After all, the average one year old could ‘talk’. 

I just had to be careful how elaborate I got with my words. At the same time, I could speak almost any foreign language and still be thought to be babbling. It would be interesting to see how they reacted. 

As far as I knew, none of their close friends were multilingual. That would keep most from knowing what I was saying. It would make the ‘babble’ effect work well enough to fool them. I could practice my linguistics and not be suspect.

I just couldn’t do anything else. No martial arts. No writing. No music. Nothing to tip anyone off.

Luckily, the first winter would be short. It would go from October to January or February. After, I would return to my beloved Louisiana. It was my first vacation. I would treat it as such. 

But the vacation was still a moth or so off. I could be myself until then. I could practice my music. I could act in films. I could make people laugh.

There was also the social events that I hated. And the stage appearances I loved. And the classes that I relished. 

Life would be good until I had to go. I would be more than satisfied when the time came. Perhaps I would be ready for a vacation.

At the moment, I sat playing guitar. But not just any guitar. David Bowie had given me a brand new guitar shaped like a skeleton key. He had called it ‘the key to the highway’, a sort of joke referring to how music was always the key to freeing the wandering soul. 

The neck fit my tiny hands perfectly. I could fret it with such precision that I could get the precise sound I wanted. I could hit all the right notes.

I had retired the ‘toothpick’, the guitar I had designed and had been using, upon the receipt of the key. It just seemed right. After all, ‘the toothpick’ was getting a bit worn. And the ‘key’ resembled a normal guitar where ‘the toothpick’ did not. 

***

Night always brought dreams. Sometimes, they were nightmares. Mostly, they were enigmatic dreams. Riddles without clues. 

Being raised with a spiritual grounding, I saw all dreams and nightmares as messages. Some were prophetic. Others were more warnings against a certain course of action. Or against getting too close to certain people.

And being spiritual made me less religious. In fact, it made me non religious. I was a child of nature. Not a child of the unnatural.

And religion was unnatural. It lacked soul. It still does. 

Nature provided all I needed. All I wanted. I lived in my soul. 

I still do. A concept that most have a hard time understanding. It is a concept man has strayed from.

I was a soul in a human body, not a body given a soul. I saw my body as the car that my soul was driving, not as its prison. The uniqueness of my view set me at odds with most religious people as they always saw their souls as their possession, not as their only form of being.

Religion always taught that the soul was your possession. Something you could buy and sell. I came to realize that we did not own our souls. They were on loan, so to speak, to us. They were ours only in the fact that we were to repair the fractures already in it over our lifetimes and leave it better than it had been when given to us. They were not ours to sell or barter with. 

I also realized that religion’s fixation with the souls of those around it was wrong. The individual was never meant to control their fellow humans’ actions, but was meant to learn how to control themselves so that they could change their view of those around them through changing their internal world. Only by changing what was hidden within could one ever change the outer world. 

I had also realized that the truth was not an exclusive commodity. It was not held by just one ideology. It was everywhere. In everything. 

There was no single book that held it all. There was too much of it to be contained in a book. Or even a set of books. 

Key To The Highway, Chapter Seven: More Mature Than Most Adults

Most adults prefer fantasy to reality. It seems the basis of their religious beliefs as well as their political convictions. Children do not have that failing. Their fantasy is less complex.

Being a tad different has its advantages. It strips one of all illusion. Thus, there is no fantasy.

That doesn’t mean that I did not have an imagination. I did. I still do.

It just means that being different put things into perspective. Makes one think logically. 

It also means seeing through the facades of those around you. The religious leaders. The actors. The producers. The musicians. 

For a one year old, I was rather mature. I thought little of playing with toys, though I often had spare time. I thought most of the business at hand, whether it was music or writing…acting or building new businesses. Or just about my studies. 

At my accelerated learning rate, I had already earned a bachelor’s degree in every subject I was studying. And I had top grades, too. From what I gathered from the discussions I had overheard, I had the highest IQ ever discovered, and at such a young age.

No child had ever exhibited such a high IQ at such a young age. None had ever matured as quickly, mentally, as I was. I could read beyond the level of most adults. I could work out problems, mathematical and scientific, that adults were still struggling with. And all before I could tie my own shoes.

But, then, I would always have trouble tying my shoes which was probably why I preferred boots and slippers. There was nothing to tie. Nothing to trip over. 

I had designed my own costumes for the stage. They had been intended to hide my age. My appearance.

As a result, I had added to the myth. I had created a personna. An illusion of being older. 

I was a renaissance child. I was multi talented. Even those who knew nothing of the truth could see that I was no ordinary child. No ordinary person.

***

Dōshite son’na koto o shimashita?” Haido Matsumuri demanded. (why did you do that?)

Sore wa tekisetsudatta,” I responded simply.

We had been in the middle of lessons on the ways of the samurai and I had made a move that had both surprised and delighted my Japanese teacher. 

“Sōdatta,” he nodded, “shikashi, yosō sa rete imasendeshita. Anata wa mada sore o shiranai hazudesu. Anata wa kesshite odorokanai.” (it was. But wasn’t expected. You shouldn’t know that yet. You never cease to amaze.)

“Yatte mimasu,” I smiled. (I do try.)

“Anata wa tameshite miru ijō no koto o shimasu,” he smirked, “Kimi wa seikō suru.” (you do more than try, you succeed.)

High praise from the master. He rarely praised. Still, I was his best student. I was far better than his older students. I learned quickly. He knew I could be lethal if the need arose.

“I think Naruto Agisaki should begin teaching you the way of the shadow,” he said, his Japanese accent bending his English, “though I would hate to see what you are like with real swords. You are very dangerous.”

“Dōmo arigatōgozaimashita,” I stated, bowing in respect, “Arigatōgozaimashita.” (Thank you very much, thank you, Master.)

“Dōitashimashite,” he replied, bowing in a very pleased manner. (you’re welcome)

He left the gym and I continued to practice. A short time later, Shu Won Chow entered.

Zhǔnbèi?” He inquired. (are you ready?)

“Shì,” I responded. (yes)

“Ránhòu ràng wǒmen kāishǐ ba,” he instructed.

Aside from the linguistics and philosophies he taught, he also instructed me in every form of Chinese martial arts. These lessons began with kung fu and ended with Tai Chi or Wushu. Strenuous to relaxing. 

Like Master Haido, he rarely gave compliments. Strict and austere, it took a lot to surprise and delight him where a student’s actions were concerned. But, as always, I was the exception. 

***

I had spent my morning and early afternoon learning to fight. Sarge, my military tactics, military statistics, intel, and history teacher, knew better than to be a drill sergeant when instructing me. He also knew that any attack on me would be futile. I was dangerous, even at my young age. I was a living weapon.

He had spread the word to avoid me. I was his boy. His pupil. No one was to bother me.

And for the first four years, there would be no attempts made to prove him wrong. That made it easier for me. It kept me free to explore my talents. My strengths.

With an education most could only dream of, I could play the struggling student in school once I reached the age to be in public school. It would be necessary. No one could know of my true intelligence level. I had to play the average child.

Strangely enough, I already had a normal education. By normal, I mean a high school equivalency. After all, I had tested higher than most college students on the SATs. I had tested high on the military tests as well. I had placed higher. Much higher. 

Thus, they had seen to it that I learned what most children 2 years older than I was learning. I flew through kindergarten level material, then through grades 1-8. I even found high school classes way too easy. 

Thus, within a month, I had completed what would take 13 years for the average child to acquire. I had completed in one year what took most young adults four years to acquire. And I did it with nearly every subject within the core of the collegiate degrees I was going after. Medical. Political science. Business. Mass media. 

I was a walking human computer. I was a consummate actor. And I was only a year old. 

But I was well on my way toward my second year. Deadly, extremely intelligent, and extremely talented. That was the best way to describe me. And yet, it kind of fell short.

I was more complex than I seemed. And yet, I was still rather simple. After all, I was a child.

 

Key To The Highway, Chapter 6: For Reasons All My Own

Twenty-four films in a year. Twenty-four. I would get no awards. No accolades. 

Not that I wanted them. I was, however listed on all under and introducing. They weren’t huge films, not what would make the Oscars, but were all seen in Cannes and the Cannes Film Festival and garnered much acclaim as indie films with much promise. At least, that was what I was told. 

I really didn’t care. I had been paid. And I had been paid well. Not that I cared.

The money had been put away for my future. It would earn interest. It would make people claim that I was worth more.

But I had been more interested in the experience gained in acting. The time was drawing near when I would have to begin acting like a normal child. I needed to know how a normal child acted. 

And I had found out. A normal child, a child not like me, had a rather dull life. I didn’t like dull. I loved excitement. Music. Learning.

With the help of my business administration professors, I began building the perfect business plan. The financial projections. The internal structure. The core management team. 

I also began putting together my signature business policies. High employee pay. Relatively low CEO and top management salaries. Zero stock market presence. Zero outside investors or loans. 

Affordably priced quality products would drive our success. Products priced so that even our employees could afford them. We would be driven by demand, not supply.

Supply, after all, did not guarantee that a consumer would want or need. It only guaranteed that you would be stuck with a supply of a product that no one wanted or needed if no one bought what you had. It was a hallmark of greed, and grees was a hallmark of ignorance. 

I frowned on ignorance. Especially willful ignorance because it was always embraced by the bearer. It was their religion. 

And most religions preached ignorance as being important to their existence, which was why I despised religion. Rejection of fact was wrong. It created fools. 

***

A few months before I had been discovered, a president had stepped down and had been pardoned by his Vice President. It was this that had also evacuated US troops out of Saigon. Many of those soldiers would find the States hostile toward them. Most of them would come and work for Jean, Mel, and those who surrounded me. Eventually, they would work for me.

Those that did not would eventually find their way in a country that had changed seemingly overnight. Some would commit suicide. Others would end up on the streets.

It was one of those veterans who gave me an idea. So many had come home after losing a limb. Or having lost two or more limbs. Some were scarred beyond recognition. Others had been poisoned.

All had horrible memories of their time in the war. All wanted to find peace. And they all needed work. 

There needed to be solutions to these problems. I wanted to be the one to find them. But for now, I would plan. I would put together the best plan for a business ever designed. 

I had to be careful. There could be no errors. No mistakes. It had to be flawless. Nearly perfect.

I poured into it all my medical knowledge. All my technical knowledge. All my business knowledge.

Again, it would remain off the market. Private. Debt free.

And I would pour half of my growing fortune into it. I would be its principle investor. I would owe no one. 

I had already reached the position of multi-millionaire and needed something new to pour investment money into. After all, it was my money. I could do what I wanted with it.

I had already started my own entertainment company and re-released all my works on my record label. I had also republished my own books through my own publishing house. My next target with that business was to release a first film. But that would not be for a while.

My company was, at this point, assumed to be more an imprint of the original entertainment companies I had been with and not a stand alone corporation. And I had meant it to seem so. At least until I was deemed old enough to run them myself. 

But this new company. There was no parent company. Nothing to adhere to. I was going into uncharted territory.

Medical research. Pharmaceutical research. Educational research. Technological research. 

I wanted to have my hands in all of it. And so, I planned it all out. I worked out every single wrinkle I could find. Every weakness. 

Once the plan was done, I would wait until the time was right to start the company. Perhaps a year. Maybe two. 

It all depended on circumstances and feasibility. Timing was everything. Timing and location.

Jean made the arrangements for the labs to be constructed on his estate. The mansion, after all, would be mine. That made the estate mine as well.

***

Julian Lennon stood in Argyle Studios waiting for me. He had heard of the boy wonder who could outplay any guitarist and wanted desperately to try his hand. It would be a friendly competition between brothers that would span a decade. He would try to one up me and I would beat him every time. 

But this was our first meeting and the very first incarnation of the band Mother’s Little Helper, named after a tune by The Rolling Stones. He had flown, with his mother, from England to meet me. Not that he needed his mother, but she had begged to come with him. She had also heard about me. After all, I was an oddity.

To me, Julian represented a chance to make another friend. A chance to play with the son of one of the Beatles on a project. A chance to possibly form another band. 

What resulted was three albums worth of material. Material that would be the start of an all star project that would include so many others. Peter Green. Marc Bolan. Tommy Bolin. All before I was five. 

Peter, Marc, and Tommy would work with me right after Julian. Others would be sprinkled throughout the years to come. Sadly, I would lose some of those I would work with. But all would be my heroes.

A month later, John Lennon came to the Tibideau estate to record. This visit was off the record. He had gone against his manager’s advice.

His intent was to record with me. He’s heard the work that his son Julian had done with me and had decided to try his own hand at completing a project with me. 

With each, three albums worth of material would emerge. That material would make our first five albums. 

I would only regret working with a handful of musicians. All would be mostly ego and very little talent. Ted Nugent would be one.