Long Cold Winter: Chapter Fifteen

1984. The Strategic Defense Initiative, or The Star Wars Program, was only a year old. So was Misty Morrow, Matt’s daughter. But his marriage had failed, as he thought it would.

Molina had run off after Misty’s birth, and after her plan to milk Matt dry failed. When her bank account ended up overdrawn and no more money was put in, she knew she had been played. Her plot had been discovered and averted. Prevented. Her account had not been the real account. He had proven smarter than the average rock star.

Rainbow had taken over as surrogate mom for little Misty, not that Matt had asked her to. She just naturally did so. At seventeen, she was a straight ‘A’ student and cruising for a Rhodes Scholarship. She excelled at sports, music, and theater arts. Hell. She excelled at everything. So did Star.

But, then, all his siblings were top in their classes. Even the youngest. He was proud of them all. His influence had greatly enriched their lives. His pressing to learn music. His love of books and writing.

But he had failed to be the best example, and he knew it. He had finally succumbed to the lure of drugs. And his drinking had become worse. A lot worse. He could no longer hide it.

Two failed marriages and his guilt over not going to visit his mother had pushed him over the edge. He was finally too disgusted with his chosen political affiliation to want anything more to do with them. Nixon had begun the process, and now, Reagan’s off the wall ideas and absent-minded speaking mistakes. He’d hoped that Reagan would return the party to its former glory, but he proved to do more damage than good.

And that, alone, was enough to push any good man to the brink. The country was going to hell in a hand basket. He dreaded the idea of Bush getting into office. The guy was just so inadequate. Inept. Incompetent.

He was worse than Reagan. Matt was just glad that there would be another four years before that was even a possibility. He just wasn’t happy with the prospects of seeing Ronnie back in. Maybe he would vote Democrat this next time.

But he was sinking deeper into drugs. They were like sex. Addictive. Dangerous. Alluring.

Blow. Junk. They had both become staples in his self-medicating. Unlike his mother’s choice to dabble for the joy of it, he was trying to kill the pain. And, in turn, he was slowly dying.

Of course, junk was also called ‘boil’. Lynnyrd Skynnyrd immortalized it in the song The Needle And The Spoon. The crash was worse than whatever hell you were trying to escape, but you were trapped. Coming down, you had the shakes. the jitters. The itch.

Blow wasn’t much better. Powder. It ate away your nose and destroyed your heart. But once hooked, it was hell getting off of it.

But John Lennon had gone clod turkey and written a song about it. Wasn’t his best, but it was a crash course in reality. Weaning oneself off drugs was pure hell. A hell Matt didn’t want to face.

But he knew he had to. But he would wait. He wasn’t ready yet. He would plan on it next year. Or the year after.

He was in no hurry. The pain wasn’t going to go away that soon, so why should he give up his medicine? Yes, he knew that he had a loving family. He loved them too. But he didn’t love himself.

He sought out a well known psychiatrist. Maybe she could help him work his way through the pain enough so he could start loving himself again. Or maybe not. Who could tell.

He began going to her once a week, at first. Then, as the year progressed, he went more often. She stopped being his psychiatrist when they became involved personally. But, by then, he knew that no shrink would ever help him get through his hell.

His affair with her was brief, but he learned more about himself than he’d ever known. He now knew that he would be able to beat the drugs. On his own. But he would try rehab first.

He also learned that he needed a woman in his life, but had no clue why his relationships never lasted. Oh, and he really didn’t hate his mother. He had just hated what she had done to her life. Yet, he was doing the same thing. Just in a different way.

How did he allow himself to be caught up in such a messed up mess? It wasn’t like he had it planned or anything. It just seemed to happen. The downward spiral. The wasted youth.

Wasted youth. hell. What youth? He was now twenty-seven and on top. He’d been on top for nearly two decades. But he had never been a child. Not once.

There had been no GI Joe. No Saturday morning cartoons. No movies in the theaters. Nothing fun. At least not just for him.

He’d had no alone time. He had always been at work. Never idle. And what did he have to show for it?

Gold and platinum records. Nothing more. Popular songs. Popular bands. Awards out the yin-yang.

But nothing he could feel worthwhile. In the end, his legacy would be nothing more than the money he made. No one would remember the music. Or the musician.

Movie stars were remembered as pretty faces. Television stars, too. But musicians were rarely remembered unless they made it into the rock-n-roll hall of fame. And even then, they might not go on being remembered.

Songs were covered by other artists only to become synonymous with that artist, never to be recognized as the original artist’s contribution. It was a shame. Almost sinful. But it was the way of the industry.

It used you up until you had nothing left to give. Or it gave you a good five years, then you were a has-been. Teen idols had it the roughest. Pretty boys with a voice.

As long as they had the looks, they had the world by the balls. But once they grew up, they were no longer wanted. Women in the industry had the same problem. Hell. Music was worse than the movies.

He shook his head in wonder. How the hell did he last so long? had it been his willingness to evolve as an artist? Or just because he had what it took to outwit the industry?

He looked at the first record in the line on his wall. 1967. His first studio album. He had been a pianist. Nothing more.

Now he was a guitarist. A drummer. A vocalist. A producer. A writer.

He could be anything he wanted in the industry. Do anything. Hell. He was a writer of hits! Everything he wrote went platinum. Or gold.

It just depended on how long it stayed on the charts and how many copies sold. Like anything else. It all came down to demand. Once the demand was gone, his career was too.

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