Long Cold Winter: Chapter Seventeen

1988. He had been clean for three years. He marked every anniversary with a small celebration with his four children–and the four siblings that remained at home. He was finally somewhat at peace. He’d found renewed purpose in life. His family.

His visit with his grandparents had eased his mind. He found that they had not been all that bad, just a little premature in their handling of mama. Sure, she had been the oldest of three kids and needed to set a proper example. But that had been no reason to banish her and they realized it too late.

Mama had long since vanished when they sought to reconcile. And by the time they had caught up to her, she was dead. Her death had cut them both very deep, in ways they would never recover from. Or forgive themselves for causing it.

In Matt, they saw his father. Tall. Handsome. Successful.

His father had been, after all, the boy they had chosen for their eldest daughter. Little did they realize the monster he had been. Not until he had been accused of rape, a year after Matt’s mama had vanished, upon the word of no less than five other women. But he had fled to Vietnam and the service of his country to get out of paying for his crimes. But, by then, it was too late to mend what had been done.

But looks and success was where Matt’s resemblance to his father ended. Where his father had been arrogant and condescending, Matt was humble and kind. For all his riches, Matt was nothing like his contemporaries. Or his father.

Tobias Morrow had been the son of a wealthy man. Born and bred to be aristocracy. Taught how to take without permission. Destroy his opponents through ruthless business deals. Bred to not have empathy or show emotion.

Everything Matt was not. And his grandparents saw the marked difference. Matt was more like his mother, though he preferred not to think so. Independent. Kind. Loving. Generous. Full of life.

And though his innocence was gone, he was still the same he had always been. And he found his grandparents accepting of him. When he began opening up about the others, they listened intently. He could see their pride seeping through their masks of seriousness.

But that meeting had been a year ago. Now, he kept them up on how the others were doing. Star was now in college. UCLA. An ‘A’ student.

Marnie would be the next to leave, being two years younger than Star. Then, Lady Jane. Well, unless Albert continued the way he was. Then he would graduate early, at the age of thirteen, and go on to wherever he was planning to continue his education at.

He had done well. Even his own kids were smart as could be. He marveled at it all. He couldn’t contain his pride.

He had made up his mind two years ago, that he would no longer go on the road. He stepped away from performance and took up being a full time producer. He liked it better than the performance aspect. He didn’t have to travel. He didn’t have to be around the after concert parties. The orgies.

Most of all, he was no longer around the long lines of groupies. But that scene was beginning to die out. HIV and a better awareness of AIDS had nearly destroyed it. Besides. glam-rock was on its way out. So was classic metal.

And he was worn out. He would continue to play around and record his own material, but he would not go back out on the road. His would be mostly demo work to sell his songs to other musicians. Other bands.

He was known as a hit-maker, a writer of platinum-bound songs, so he had a shot as a simple songwriter. And a producer. Hell. He was better than the so-called best. He had been around longer. Had a better ear for sound. Knew what really mattered in music.

Marketability was the industry standard, not his. Heart was his standard. And love of the craft. Nothing could ever replace either of those. If a song didn’t have soul, it was meaningless.

If it didn’t mean something. Stand for something. Or make someone feel something, it was meaningless. Empty.

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll was fine and good. But a good love song needed to make two people want to fall in love. Or, at least, feel the love. Music allowed you to make a stand. That had always been its purpose.

Party anthems were like lite beer. They sounded great, but had less meaning. Except to those whose lives were so empty that all they looked forward to was the next party. And Matt had never been a partier.

Gratuitous sex in songs was like gratuitous sex in movies, television or books. It didn’t fit. It told nothing about the cost. Or the lack of feeling and fulfillment. Or even the lack of restraint.

It was like watching porn. It lacked a plot. It was nothing but a cheesy song about sex. And really served no purpose other than to make the writer and performer rich.

He really didn’t care much for country’s plethora of drinking songs, either. Alcohol really didn’t solve all those problems. In fact, he would wager that it tended to cause even more problems than it could solve. Really.

In fact, it was drug of choice for men desperate to get into bed with an unwilling woman. Get them drunk, they’ll do anything. That was the typical male mentality. But not Matt’s.

Of course, in his prime, Matt could have any woman he wanted. Even now, he could. But he preferred to live life without right now. He’d had too many bad relationships. He didn’t want any more.

He would patiently wait for the right one to come along. Someone who wasn’t after his money. Or the fame. Or the glory.

He didn’t want any more one-night-stands either. No more sex for just the sex. He wanted someone to settle down with. But would he ever find what he was looking for? He didn’t know. Maybe.

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