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.”