I'm delving into things. The rating is "T" but it could be more or even less. I won't call the story dark, even if it could be, but if any of you have any literary knowledge, first paragraph is pretty damn telling.
We'll see where we go.
They say whatever happens when you are 14 will stick with you for the rest of your life. After all, Humbert had his fourteenth year and look at how he turned out. Not the most prime example some would say but for my side of the argument, it's spot on. But I had 24, though. At twenty four I was both at the top of my game and at the bottom of the charts, in love and out of it, putting all of the pieces together and searching about for the corners. I was about as mixed up as a man could get but my feelings, they were honest. They were real and they were pure. I might not have said everything that swam thru my head and heart, but what I did say was as honest as you could ever hope for them to be.
I won't go too deeply into back stories, dear readers, because I feel that you probably know them better than I do and could do a better job at telling them. All I can say is that at 26, my life changed. Jude decided that she was better off with Jaime and they spent millions on a shotgun wedding. I still remember the feel of her satin and lace wedding dress between my dirty fingers as I pleaded with her not to go through with such a joke; she did love me more than him and she knew it. She slapped me so hard that if I concentrate, I can still feel the stinging redness on my cheek. She didn't cry and didn't beg with me to stop talking; she walked out the strong and independent Harrison I knew her as and the wedding went according to plans. Four months later, Molly Andrews was born.
It would be more of a debauchery if I said that I was there in the waiting room when she was born or that I received a birth announcement in the mail or, more impersonal still, read about it in the newspaper. As my saving grace, there was none of that. I only knew she existed. Sadie had tried to contact me about the girl soon after her birth but I wasn't interested in the "love child" of my former heart and the bane of my existence.
I was an old man of 41 when my past came back to haunt me. I was in the middle of mundane paperwork in my dimly lit office when the ever bright and cheery receptionist nearly bounced into the room to announce that someone was there to see me. I tried to get out of the meeting, I swear I did, but there would be none of that and before I knew it, a tall, slim girl-angel stood before my desk. As cliché as it will sound, I was captivated. She had a frenzy of sandy brown locks that she kept her hands in and her eyes were as wide as history would allow me to remember; soft, melting grey-hazel. I wouldn't have called her beautiful but she had a charm, an air of amazement that seeped into my very own being. For such a plain little thing, I couldn't keep my eyes off of her.
I didn't know then that the tell-tale low-rise jeans with the frayed cuffs and unraveling holes and an army drab tank would be my undoing. I didn't know that I would place this one much higher than I had her mother. I didn't even know her mother was my old girl in question; not then. Maybe if I'd known, maybe I would have said "no" to listening to her song. Maybe I would have tried to tune her out. I didn't know so I let her in.
"Mr. Quincy," she addressed me so formally. "My name is Molly and, if you don't mind, I want to sing for you. I love to sing, my mother sang, so if you would give me the chance, I'd be really grateful. I love your work."
A part of me thought she meant the work I'd done with The Boys some twenty something years ago and I cringed. Did people really still listen to that stuff? I'd done so much more since then.
"Your producing for Ginger Blue was off the charts." She blushed when I leaned back and half-smiled. "I'm sorry; I'm babbling."
"Molly, sing," I instructed. She nodded sheepishly before taking a nervous walk to the tall bookcase that stood by the window. She tapped the heavy maple side a few times before slipping into a slow, steady beat.
There were no guitars or musical accompaniment, just the soul shattering words that flowed from her plum-tinged lips. I drifted along the soft scratchiness, the bass notes she sunk to on a stream of breathy vowels. I got lost in the simple words of her song. It would have seemed mediocre to a seasoned veteran of the music industry, the guys always looking for the next lyrical Shakespeare, but I found such a mediocrity comforting. There were none of the vocal tricks I came in contact with on a daily basis nor were there huge words to jumble up the meaning behind her message. It touched me, oddly enough. It was so raw, so naked.
She finished and the room was quiet once more. I stared down into the pile of manila envelopes and triplicate documents that lay strewn about my desk. I caught her discomfort with my silence from the corner of my eye, the way she rocked back on her heals expectantly. I was still trying to wrap my brain around what I'd just heard; she clearly wanted to know if she had a shot. I looked up from under my heavy eyelids and genuinely smiled.
"I think," her eyes widened exponentially, "that we definitely have something to work with."
Her face melted into sheer bliss and I could see her restraint in trying not to scream or jump around or something of the sort. I pulled out a clean copy of a demo agreement before standing and walking to where she stood beaming.
"Give this to your parents, let them read over it. If it's okay, bring them in tomorrow afternoon so they can sign it and we'll set you up in a studio."
He brow furrowed, her shoulders dropped. The seemingly never ending happiness dissipated from her face and she stared down at the papers in my hands.
"Mr. Quincy, I… I don't think that I can." She walked away from me and to the chair holding her bag. She slung the overflowing thing over her trim shoulders before turning back to me. My head automatically tilted, noticing what seemed to be heartbreak weighing her down. Heartbreak? It didn't make sense to me either but I'd seen that look and it was the best way I knew of to explain it.
"Why can't you?" She didn't offer an answer and it irritated me. "You come in here and go on and on about me wanting to hear your song and I do and now you're turning me down?" The longer she didn't say anything, the angrier I became. "What kind of game are you playing?"
My head was hurting and I felt desperate. I didn't know why I was so irate, why I was acting so unprofessional. I wanted her in my studio, though. I wanted her to sing for me - to me - again.
Finally, she spoke just as she'd sung, low and heavy.
"I'm not playing a game. I just… I came here alone."
"Okay?" She'd come to me alone, that I could understand on some levels, but what about these papers? All she had to do was get these goddamned papers signed. Again, irritation sunk in.
"My parents are back in Toronto. They don't know I'm here. There's no one to sign for me. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to waste your time."
So this is where it was going to end? I ran a hand through my hair, something I hadn't done in a long while. I weighed the risks of what I was thinking against the outcome of never hearing that voice again. I sighed heavily before walking over to the end of my desk and pulling a pen from the cup holder. I scribbled my name beside an "x" and handed the pen over to her.
"Sign above me."
She looked nervous, her hands shaking as she took the pen from me.
"Are you sure? You just said…"
"Never mind what I said. If you want this, sign above my name, otherwise have a good day."
As neatly as trembling hands would allow, she signed. I looked down at the name: Molly Andrews. Again, I should have known. I should have been paying attention to the small details but all I could think about were the repercussions of such an act ever getting out. I was sure she wasn't 18 and that the contract was in fact non-binding but no one had to know.
I pushed the paper aside and extended a hand out to her.
"I'll see you tomorrow, 10am, Miss Andrews."
Once again, she smiled another brilliant smile.
"I'll be here. Thanks again, Mr. Quincy."