She sat on the toilet seat, toying with the phone in her hand. Her eyes glistening with tears she had yet to cry. Several thoughts competed for prominence in her head. The need to make the call and confirm everything. The reason why she needed to confirm what she had been told much earlier. And, a small part, looked for reasons to put off the call for now and an even smaller part that looked to not dial the number ever.
With a sigh, she decided its best to rip off the band-aid. To get the call over with and let the chips fall where they may. She tapped on the contact and a face much like her own appeared above the number. Like her own but older and wiser for the experiences she had had.
She raised the phone to ear as her heart beat grew faster.
"Lauren?" came a familiar voice. A voice full of concern.
"Mum," Lauren replied. "I need to know, for you to confirm. Who he is."
"I told you," her mother replied. "Is that's what's going on? Where are you?"
"You know where I am," Lauren replied tersely. "I just want confirmation of what you told me."
"Very well. Your father was a member of Dead Liberty."
"Which one? Matt Butler, Zach James, Pat Walsman or Chuck Lucas?"
"I told you, Pat."
Two Months Ago
"He's a real prick," an uninvited voice whispered into her ear. Just barely loud enough to be heard over the crowd screaming to get the attention of Pat Walsman and the rest of the his band, the Terminal Toads. It had been a bad idea to come here but it seemed like the best chance to get to talk with Patrick Walsman. The man who, according to my mother, happened to be my father.
Lauren turned to give the man a piece of her mind, only to freeze when she saw him. The man Matt Butler, the former lead singer Dead Liberty. He looked so much younger than Patrick, his eyes still had sparkled with life too she noticed. "Mr Butler?"
He put his finger to his mouth, shushing me then cocking his head for me to follow before turning and walking through the crowd away from the hotel. The hotel where my dad now resided. A quick look back, she figured my best chance of getting in would be with the man asking me to follow him.
They sat in a small Starbucks, on the corner of the block, and sized each other up. After he'd directed to her to a table, got her drink order and fetched them.
Matt opened the with the gambit, "you don't seem like his usual fan?"
"I'm not. Well, I've grown to like your stuff recently. I just needed to meet him. To talk with him."
"Just needed to talk to him," she told him. "But, if I don't get to talk to him it won't be the end of the world."
"Would you like me to get you in?"
"I'll try, after all without me they wouldn't have much material."
"You make their clothes?"
He laughed, "no, I still write songs. Most of their songs, material, is written by me."
"Oh. So why don't you sing your own songs?"
He answered her with a question that didn't make sense to her, "why did Dead Liberty break up?"
"All but Chuck ended up in rehab and you didn't like each much once you sobered up," Lauren parroted back what she had read.
He laughed, "almost right. Patrica and Zit were in rehab. I on the other hand needed surgery on my vocal cords. Couldn't sing once I'd healed."
"Oh. I'm so sorry. Why didn't they just carry on? I mean Queen and Inxs did with the same name."
"Dead Liberty was my band according to Patricia. He needed his own."
"But that means making a name for yourself all over again, right?"
"Kind of. Their first single they did was a re-recording of a song we had intended to release. Pat recorded a replacement vocal and released it using the Terminal Toads name."
"Nah, I gave my blessing. My version of it is on the Dead Liberty greatest hits album that's coming for Christmas. Besides, I like my new life. I don't live in hotel rooms anymore and I don't have to suffer being around people I hate."
"You hated them?" she asked, surprised to hear that.
"At the end. We'd been friends in high school, went to college together and dropped out together when we got our deal. The life, growing up and the like caused us to drift. Before we knew it, we didn't like each other very much. The booze and drugs helped us cope, kept the machine running and the money coming in."
"So, if you don't like one another can you really get me in to talk with him?" Lauren asked, suddenly afraid that she should have stayed in the crowd. Maybe one of the band would have picked her up as a groupie or something. It suddenly felt like that would have been a better bet.
He smiled, took a sip of his coffee before answering. Lauren felt like he did it to tease and frustrate. "We're friends again. Time apart made all the difference. Well, except for Zach."
"Found god. Runs a cult now," he told her then broke up laughing. When he stopped, he answered her puzzled look, "he's an ordained priest now. Or was. Haven't heard from him in forever."
She pondered that then asked, "And Chuck?"
Sadness washed over Matt's face. To gather his thought's he took another sip of his coffee. "Chuck died a year back. Heart attack. I go see his widow and two kids whenever I can. His wife was his high school sweetheart."
"So they were together forever. It must have been hard for losing him after all that time," Lauren offered.
"Nah, they broke up just before we took off," he begun. "But once we broke up, he went looking for her. Won her heart all over again and married her."
"Second Chance!" Lauren squealed. Referencing the Terminal Toads massive hit from three years ago. It had also shown up on a few movie soundtracks in the last couple of years.
"Yep," he nodded. "That one's. My royalties for it go Chuck's Sheryl and her kids now."
"That's so good of you," she offered with a smile that showed she genuinely thought that. Lauren then directed the conversation to a question she wanted to know about, "so, is it true about bands and the groupies?"
"What about them?" Matt asked with a mischievous look on his face.
"Err.. Was there a lot of them hanging around? You know, like sex and drugs and rock'n'roll? Was it like the TV and movies? Orgies and different girls in different cities?"
Matt blushed at that, "hmm. Yeah, that happened. More some. Less for others. I'll admit I partook of it at the start but it grew old quickly."
"Who was the pussy hound?"
"Err.. That would be Pat, mostly. Chuck had his moments though. You'd know when he would go wild, he'd be all depressed for a week or two then go hog wild."
"Well, at the start, for a few years, I'd compete with Pat. But then I grew tired of it all. I wanted something more."
"Did you find it?"
"There was a spark with one girl. Never got a chance to see if it could be more. Tried with a few people in our orbit."
"In your orbit?"
"People we'd be around. The stars that went to the awards shows, record launch parties and movie premieres. A group of them always seemed to be at the same shows. Met my ex-wife at one."
"Turned out our marriage was a transaction for her. Something to raise both our profiles. She wanted extra fame, I wanted kids and a picket fence as they say. But even with that I thought we were good together. She even talked kids when her modelling career ended."
"So what happened?"
"Band broke up and I disappeared from the limelight. She divorced me and took up with the boyfriend she had on the side that she swore was just a figment of the media's imagination while we were married."
"What a fucking bitch. Where is she now?"
"Modelling career ended, now she a TV star. Hosts all sorts of shit no one in their right might would watch. Bitch also married the boyfriend and the fuckers had a couple of kids together."
"Oh fuck. Matt, I'm so sorry. That must have hurt?"
"It did. But then I remember she was never truly mine. She had him on the side the whole time. Probably her true love or something."
"Wait! Did you write Rented Heart?"
He smiled and nodded.
"I loved that song, Lauren San Deigo sung it like she knew that pain."
"She does. We had a long conversation when she took the song on. She thought I knew about her situation," Matt told her, his voice trailing off at the end.
"So you live around here?" Lauren asked, looking to leave that subject alone.
He nodded and asked about where home was for her.
The conversation continued on from there. With Lauren managing to extract from Matt stories about his life. While she offered some of her own background to him. They never got back to talking about Patrick Walsman though. Not at the coffee shop or at the restaurant they went to together that night.
A week later, he did get her backstage for a Toads concert and into the after party. Where she did manage to corner Patrick and tried to ask her questions. Unfortunately, she couldn't get anything out of him and left when he wouldn't stop hitting on her. She didn't think he'd get very far, even if she had given in. Not with the amount of drugs and booze in his system.
It did sour her on the idea of getting to know her dad. Upset, she left the party with Matt rushing to catch up. He finally caught up with her and consoled her as she cried on his shoulder in the street, in the Limo back to his place. Then, he showed her he loved her as they made love for the first time.
She lived with him from then on.
"How sure are you?" Lauren asked, biting her lower lip as she asked.
"One hundred percent. There's only one singer for a group."
"SINGER?" Lauren cried out.
"That's what I said."
"Pat wasn't the singer for Dead Liberty, mother!"
"Sure, he was. Just like he's the singer for Terminal Toads."
"Matt Butler was the lead singer for Dead Liberty," Lauren informed her. Stuttering as she did so.
"MATT!" Her mother cried out. "How could I be so silly as to forget that. Matt's your father."
"Well, mother, I've got news for you," Lauren told her as she reached for the object on the bathroom sink. Her skin turning pale as she examined it.
"What's that dear?"
"Well, it seems my father is going to the father of my child."
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