1994. They’d lived a quiet life. Tawny and Lynne were two. Juanita was pregnant again. She had recorded two albums after giving birth to Tawny and Lynne and both had gone platinum. But she had known from the beginning about the fickleness of the industry and she decided that two was enough.
Besides, the kids were more important. And she could always help Matt produce other musicians. Hell. They were a formidable team.
He had taught her all he knew. How to search the perfect sound out. How to bend the track just enough to iron out any flatness. How to master the best album. How to engineer.
She took it all in and to heart. She loved Matt more than any other man she’d had in her life. He had been the only one who’d treated her as an equal. She knew that she was his queen. And he was her king.
Together, they ruled the home. And his older kids accepted her as their mother. They loved her. And she loved them.
She thought of them as her own. She was able to get them to do things around the house. clean their rooms. Wash their own clothes. Take turns vacuuming, setting the table, and doing the dishes. Hell. She could get them to do their homework without any fight!
Tim J. had faded into the past. His last mention had been in the paper. He had beaten his lats wife to death in a drugged up rage. In public.
When the police tried to arrest him, he began trying to run them over. It had resulted in his being shot to death. Sad. He had been so talented. Such a good producer.
Unfortunately, he had also been filled with such rage. Such pain. Such irreparable fractures. He had been unable to cope with it all.
Fame and fortune had just added fuel to the fire that had consumed him. Caused his self destruction. Matt had tried to help him, but Tim had refused. Seemed he thought he could handle it on his own. He’d been wrong. Now, he was dead.
Matt was glad of only one thing. Tim had left no children behind. At least, not that Matt knew of. And that was a good thing.
But how many women had suffered through Tim’s violence. How many women had he hurt? It didn’t make sense. None of it did.
He had gone to Tim’s funeral as a professional courtesy. They’d parted on less than friendly terms six years before when he took Juanita away. Well, not really took. It had been more like Tim gave her to him with the remarks he’d made. And the man had not been welcome back in Matt’s studio after that.
But it was at the funeral that Matt learned just how deep Tim’s pain really ran. And why he had been running away from it. Tim J. Timothy Joseph Martinelli. An Italian-American with a taste for rap. A knack, really. He’d been a poor kid on the street when the Mob had discovered him.
Tim’s father had been a drunk. And a violent one. That was where Tim had learned the violence. Both against children and against women. If Papa Martinelli wasn’t beating Little Tim, He was beating his mother and sister. And big sister ran away, at the age of twelve, to get away from the hell.
By the time Tim was twelve, he was also on the streets. But not because he ran away. No, he was there because his mama had died and papa Martinelli was always too drunk to care where his son was. And it was the street that taught Tim the hardest lessons.
He ran with the gangs. Sold drugs. Picked pockets. Robbed. Committed theft.
By thirteen, he was into running a prostitution ring with a few Mafia-linked teens. By sixteen, he’d been convicted of kidnapping, extortion, and assault. By nineteen, he was so deep in the Mafia that he could never find his way back out again. And they had backed his rise in the music industry. He was this generation’s Frank Sinatra.
He infused his rap with classic pop-jazz sounds and R&B rhythms. He was an instant success, making the Mafia money. Innovative. Provocative. A true pioneer.
By the time he had met Matt, the Mafia had already lost interest in him. His extravagance and decadence had turned his business deal with them sour. He was costing them money. Drug money. He was using more of their drugs, their profits, than he was selling.
And his women were questionable. Ex-hookers. Ex-porn queens. Or simply drug addicts. The only exception had been Juanita. She had been none of those things.
She had merely been a naive nineteen year old girl whose loneliness overruled her heart’s warnings about the man. By the time she woke up enough from her daydream to see the truth, she was already married to him. And that was when she met Matt. But that was in 1990. and the divorce from Tim was long over. She was now happy.
And Tim was dead. Killed by his own penchant for violence. Had life been different for him, had papa Martinelli been a kinder man, Tim might have been decent.His life might’ve gone differently. But He had been an exception, not the rule. He had been too weak to stop the cycle.
Lilianne Martinelli approached Matt at the funeral. Unlike her brother, she had found peace. And she had avoided the paths he had taken. She looked well. She smiled sadly. “I am glad you came, Matt. I know he did not part company with you on friendly terms, but he had no clue what a friend he truly had in you.” She turned to Juanita. “Getting as far as you could from Tim was the best thing you could have done. I just feel bad for the family of his last wife. She was such a sweetheart. So gentle. And he beat her to death. Right where the whole world could see it. for no reason.”
Matt nodded. “Yes, we read the article in the paper. That was just sad and ugly.”
Both Matt and Juanita hugged Lilianne. Juanita looked at her. “If you ever need anyone to talk to, feel free to come over.”
Lilianne smiled. “Thank you.”