Days Twenty and Twenty One: Mash-Ups and File Transfers

I was so wiped after the concert last night.  And work today was a joke in many, many ways.

Anyway, I’m not gonna lie.  Yesterday’s writing has gotten lumped in with today’s.  And a good chunk of today’s work time was spent retrieving files from my old laptop, because my new laptop was busy updating the operating system.  I figured I’d just let it do its thing while I sat on the other side of the room.

And then, when I had the new laptop back, I just started working on this short, kinda junky piece.  It’s an old character from years and years ago, and her story never really went anywhere.  I actually don’t remember what her name was originally, or that of her daughter.  So I’ve kind of caught up with her, and her life really didn’t turn out how my idealistic high-school brain had thought it should.  (Maybe that’s why her story stalled all those years ago.)

But I don’t really think this will go anywhere, and I don’t really have any other observations or tips from today (aside from maybe plan your schedule better to allow for more “oopsie” time…y’know, so you’re not staring at the computer screen, mostly asleep, trying to get some work done) SO, here:

            “Susanna?”

            “Yeah?  Do I know you?”

            The man stuffed his hands into his coat pockets, hunching his shoulders against the cold.  He kinda looked like all the other ones who’d come around, digital cameras and digital recorders hidden in their pockets.  Average.  Forgettable.  “No, no.  I’ve been, uh, I’ve been trying to get in touch with you.”

            I crossed my arms over my chest.  It was an aggressive gesture, but it also pulled my sweater closed.  Because I might be somewhat used to it, but it was still fucking cold.  “So?”  A lot of people had been looking for me.  That was why I’d retreated to this solitary farmhouse that probably needed a year’s worth of renovations. 

            “I’m Derrick Creever.”  When I didn’t respond—why would I?  His name meant nothing—he added in a rush, “With SunSpirit Records?”

            “Good for you?”

            “No, listen.  I saw you on The Dream.”

            Six years ago.  My last shot.  A reality competition for struggling artists.  Best and worst three months of my life.  I’d come in third, losing to a genius guitar player who’d since retreated to a mental institution for treatment of his long-standing struggle with depression, and a cherubic, pre-teen dancer decked out in rhinestones and pink feathers.  I’d seen the girl backstage with her momma; her recent descent into public tantrums and underage drinking binges weren’t surprising. 

            I sighed.  “What about it?”

            “Can we talk for a bit?”

            He wanted to come inside.  Not that I blamed him.  My slippered feet were frozen.  But I waited a minute, pretending to mull over the decision and decide to do him a favour by letting him in.  I didn’t say anything, just stepped back and held the door open. 

            He hurried inside, tossing me a quick, grateful grin.  He wiped off his boots before slipping them and his jacket off.  He left his boots on the mat and hung his coat. 

            “Come on back to the kitchen,” I mumbled, leading the way.  I walked past the sink full of dirty dishes as if it wasn’t there. 

“You have a daughter, right?  Is she home?”

“No.  She’s not here.”  I cleared off a section of the battered kitchen table and a second chair.  The piles of papers—more bills than I’d like to admit—found a new home stacked on top of more papers on another chair.  I dropped into my chair, running my fingers across the scarred wood table top. 

            Derrick Creever of SunSpirit Records lowered himself into the other chair. 

            I fought the urge to slouch.  “What did you want to talk about?”

            “Your song writing.”

            I shook my head.  “I don’t really do that anymore.”

            “No?”

            “No.”

            “May I ask why?”

            “No.”

            That seemed to knock him off-kilter.  What was he expecting to find, a house bursting with sheets of undiscovered genius?  He dug his thumbnail into one of the deeper grooves, a pale gash against the worn lacquer.  “Look, I…I was really hoping we could talk about a writing deal, or even a recording deal, if you want it.”

            Six years ago, I’d have kissed the man’s feet.  That was all I’d wanted: to quit waitressing, to make enough money from my music to support me and my daughter, to buy a little house in the mountains where I could write and Sarah could play.  I’d thought The Dream could give me that.  But now…  “I don’t know what to tell you.  I don’t have it in me anymore.”

            He looked around.  I’d lived in the same house for three years.  There was a lot of stuff hiding in all the nooks and crannies, covering every available surface.  I didn’t spend a lot of time tidying after myself.  But there was also a lot of stuff that should have been there, but wasn’t.

            “Sarah doesn’t live here, does she?” he said quietly.

            Those words burrowed into my chest, a barb lodging in my heart and twisting with the others.  He’d seen.  There were no children’s toys on the floor, or drawings tacked to the fridge with magnets, or any pictures of Sarah over the age of two.

            “Where is Sarah?”

            I shrugged.  “I don’t know.”

But she’s my daughter!

“I’m sorry.  I, uh…”

            “My mother went behind my back while I was on the show.  She had be declared an unfit mother.”

            “Oh.  Oh, that’s terrible.”

            “Hm.”  Terrible?  Sure, that was one word for it. 

            “Did you get a lawyer?”

            “I tried.  No one really wanted to take on the case.”

            “Oh.”

            “Yeah, so…I haven’t really done much writing in a while.” 

            “Yeah, okay.  Um, look.  I’m sorry for just coming out here like this.”  He dug into his pockets, finally pulling out a creased business card.  “If something changes…or if maybe you want to make a deal on the songs you wrote…before…call me.  I’ll, um, I’ll just let myself out.”

            I stayed at the table a long time, long after he’d gathered his coat, stomped into his boots, and left.  I stared at the card on the table.  It’s shiny, tribal-style sun logo gleamed gold in the late afternoon sunlight.

            I could sell the rights to the songs I’d written before.  Some of them were really good.  Good enough to carry me through to third place on that show.  A little extra money would be nice, sure.  Pay off a few bills.  But would they then come around, demanding more?  Or had the market moved on, so no one would recognize my songs anymore?  Actually, that wouldn’t really be so bad, as long as I flat-out sold the rights and didn’t rely on royalties. 

            The music industry had changed a lot in six years.  Everything was crossing over now.  No artist played just one type of music.  No song was a simple “country” or “rock” or “pop” song.  It was all classical-rock-fusion-with-twangy-country-undertones and pop-rock-dance.  

And that’s as far as I got today.  Weird Al is on @midnight now, so…yeah, I’m gonna go watch…

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