Long Cold Winter: Chapter Eight

1974. Nixon was now embroiled in a scandal. Watergate, they called it. Political intrigue. It began to sour Matt on politics.

Musically, Rock-n-roll was advancing. Bands like KISS, Aerosmith, Humble Pie, Styx, Lynnyrd Skynnyrd, Bad Company, Blodwyn Pig, not to mention many others were pushing the musical boundaries. They were the signs of what would be.

But Matt wasn’t ready for rock. Or, at least, not metal. Right now, he was a part of a country band. Jerry and Rafe had talked him into being pianist and vocalist. Rafe played a mean steel, Jerry played a set of mean drums, Michael and George played guitar, and Steve played bass.

He’d been a part of this group for nearly a year, but he knew he wasn’t going to be with them long. Jerry and the gang were already talking about Nashville, and he did not really want to move. At least not to Nashville.

Besides. He still had to be near his mother. Just to prevent any of his siblings, should she have any more, from becoming payment for drugs. And he knew, without any doubt, that she was bound to have one or two more before her lifestyle caught up to her.

Luckily, she had not gotten pregnant since giving birth to Lady Jane. Of course, being in the swingers clubs, she was no longer with her previous husband. Mr. Grey had gone on to younger pastures. Much younger. And mama had been left to her own designs.

As disco built momentum, mama began to sink into its powerful grasp. There were drugs there. Everything she was into. And sex.

Lots of it. Mama couldn’t do without sex and drugs. And it was open. Out in the open.

It was nothing to go into a disco club and see naked men and women having sex. Hell. Drugs, especially cocaine, was done right at the tables. Reminded him of the tales of prohibition speakeasies and their contraband alcohol. It was reason enough for Matt to avoid those places.

But Matt was already smoking and drinking. But he wasn’t yet a partier. Sure, he drank a beer or three, but never enough to get overly buzzed or drunk. Not yet. He enjoyed playing sober too much. Besides. No one liked a drunk piano player.

And, at the moment, there was no age limit on smoking and drinking. At least, not that he knew of. Maybe he got away with it because he was famous. Who knew?

He didn’t. Nor did he care. He didn’t hurt anyone with his social drinking. Or his smoking. It wasn’t like he was doing any hard drugs or anything. No, he was doing less than most.

In two more years, he could move back to L.A. and buy that mansion he had always wanted. Or San Francisco. San Diego. Or even Hollywood.

When he did, he would make sure the house was big enough to move his sisters into. And whatever other siblings may be added between now and then. Hell. He would be old enough to live on his own.

Of course, he was dating a young lady. Someone he had met at a diner. They had been dating for two years. But he wasn’t ready to settle down. Not yet.

And so he had refrained from sex. Not wanting to put a child through what he’d gone through, he refrained. He did not want to be as his own father was, absent. But she couldn’t understand. A typical groupie. Only there for the fame, the sex, and whatever else a performer could offer. But never love.

Maybe he was just misreading the vibes she was giving. Maybe she wasn’t just a groupie. Maybe she was trying to tie him down before he was ready. He had to sit down at some point and have ‘the talk’ with her. Find out what she really wanted.

At seventeen, he was still too young to think about a family past that of his sisters. They were more important. They needed him more than anyone else. Even mama.

No one else could ever hold that much importance to him until he saw all his siblings grown and on their own. It was just the way he was. No one had ever given him the attention, but as sure as hell, he would make sure his sisters and other siblings-not yet thought of-got it. And the education. They all needed a good education.

He’d graduated early from home schooling. Being on tour, it had been the only way he could get a good education. But he would make sure that the rest got a good public schooling. No private crap here. He was too humble to believe that the rich would accept motherless children into their midst. Least of all, any who were being raised by their brother.

The only reason the rich ever noticed him was because he was probably more wealthy than some and even with the rest. Well, maybe not most. But quite a few. No one was ever even with the billionaires. Nor even thought of as peers. Not unless they were billionaires themselves.

Eat the rich. That was his motto. Screw them all. What did they know?

He had come from the bottom. The very bottom. But he had been lucky. He’d had teachers who knew what he was capable of. And mentors who saw his greatest potential.

He had been an extreme example of the rarest realization of the American Dream. Success beyond one’s wildest dreams. Life as a legend before twenty. And already a myth had begun.

Fuck the myth. It wasn’t the reality. Reality was that he was the son of a hippie. And he’d had to fight his way clear. And he always returned when he heard rumors of another sibling. But only long enough to secret it from his mama’s home.

Jerry now sat in front of him. “You goin’ to Nashville with us?”

He shook his head. “I can’t. Got too much here to do.”

Jerry sneered. “Like what?”

He bristled. “Tell me, Jerry. Did you grow up in a hippie commune?”

Jerry was startled. “No, man, you know I didn’t. Why?”

He looked away. “Well, I did. At least for thirteen years, anyway. I have to stay here and keep watch on my mom. She ain’t exactly what you call loyal to any one man and tends to give birth to children without the desire to take care of them. I move to Nashville, I risk allowing her to use a helpless child as payment for drugs or more sex.

“I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I allowed one child to have to grow up in the hell I did. Sorry, man. But I have to stay here. Maybe we’ll see each other ’round?”

Jerry flinched. “Sorry, man. I didn’t know. yeah. We’ll see each other ’round.”

So that was it. the band was moving on without him. Maybe it was for the best. Perhaps a jazz band might want his skills. He watched the guys as they all packed.

Maybe he would move Sara in here with him for a while. And perhaps give into his lusts. And hers. Maybe he would give her what she wanted.

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2 thoughts on “Long Cold Winter: Chapter Eight

  1. That makes two of us. My first real memory, that I can recall with clarity, was the death of my grandfather in 1978. everything else before that is hazy. All I can remember was that he was a kind man and things were fairly peaceful while he lived with us.

    I am glad that you are enjoying this story. In the timeline, I am only going through the important years in his life, whether it has something to do with his political views, or with his private or professional life. In the chapters where I return to the present, someone he cares about will show up, whether it is a sibling or someone else.

    All this will culminate in his “redemption”. While I had to research the decadence of the 60s and 70s, I remember well the decadence of the 80s and early 90s, not that I shared in it. I was the awkward boy in high school that was too shy to ask girls out. I was considered an outsider, if you go by the caste system as described by many 80s “brat pack” movies (Pretty In Pink, The Breakfast Club, etc.). The only redeeming quality I had, then, as now, is my creativity. I had many girls who came to me to write lyrics and poems, but was never considered someone they would want to take home to meet mom and dad.

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