A Languid Resolution on the Pensive Minor

Between my late teens and mid-thirties I wrote hundreds of songs, so my interest in prose did not come out of left field. The majority of my lyrics told stories of working-class struggles in the vein of blue-collar rockers like Springsteen and Mellencamp. From them I learned about relatable narratives and characters and how they gained the ears of everyday people. Desmond Child, co-writer of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” knows all about the power of a soaring chorus and killer riff but he’d be the first to say the words are what make the song, in much the same way that the soul, not the clothes, make the man.

Tommy used to work on the docks, union’s been on strike
He’s down on his luck, it’s tough, so tough
Gina works the diner all day working for her man
She brings home her pay, for love, for love

She says, we’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got
It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not
We’ve got each other and that’s a lot for love
We’ll give it a shot

Woah, we’re half way there
Woah, livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear
Woah, livin’ on a prayer

Tommy’s got his six-string in hock
Now he’s holding in what he used to make it talk
So tough, it’s tough
Gina dreams of running away
When she cries in the night, Tommy whispers
Baby, it’s okay, someday

Nine hundred million views and counting on YouTube, and it’s all down to the gritty yet uplifting story being told. Almost all of Bon Jovi’s hits were co-written by Desmond Child, a gay man of Hungarian descent. I’m sure it’s safe to say he knows what it’s like to have to crawl across broken glass where others walk blithely unencumbered. And so do I. Being raised by a single mom on the steps of poverty opened my eyes very early on to the drudgery of life. Seeing her come home from work dead tired and reeking of perchloroethylene, the dry-cleaning solvent that contributed to her early onset dementia, was, well, difficult. I suppose that’s what made me dream of becoming a platinum selling recording artist who could buy her a house and a car and personally see to it that she never had to work again.

I wrote many songs for her over the years but the one she liked the best was called, The Stain He Left On Her Could Never Be Cleaned. All I remember now is the first verse and chorus, which went like this:

She served up éclairs when she wasn’t at school

Her boss’s hands were greedy and cruel

And in the back room, he had his way

On a day like any other day

The stain he left on her could never be cleaned

The tears she cried at night could never be seen

The baby she had in the bathroom was hers to raise

And none of her friends ever saw her in school again

Perhaps my high hopes for the song would’ve been dashed by the fact that it was a little dark for top forty radio even though it featured a big shiny chorus with lots of major chords, and a languid resolution on the pensive minor. Then again, Pumped Up Kicks, by Foster The People is well on its way to a billion views yet it’s written from the perspective of the Columbine school shooter.

I’ll be discussing aspects of my music, or at least what I can remember of it, here and there throughout this memoir. For now, I’d like to return to the mall, specifically to the storage room where the garbage bags were kept before I took them out to the dumpsters prior to collection day.

On the Monday after visiting Darryl it became abundantly clear to me that I did, in fact, have nothing better to do despite my parting words to him. The missing girl had been gaining exigency in my thoughts since watching the video of her in the washroom stall. It was the way she sat there motionless, frozen by traumatic imagery that probably played out endlessly in her mind, before she finally entered the contents of the paper into her phone and then crumpled it up in disgust and disposed of it. The pained look on her face spoke volumes about the disposable life of a sex-trafficked minor—a look that haunted me for the remainder of the weekend, robbing me of sleep. Come Monday morning, I was as exhausted as I was hellbent on finding what I knew in my bones would be an important lead, although not one I would ever show to Detective Constable Brent.

I had developed a system that allowed me to quickly narrow down the location of a discarded item should I be asked to find one. Which is to say, inside the storage room, I grouped garbage bags together if they were from the same area of the mall. Requests for me to search through my trove of trash for accidentally or intentionally discarded items, a day or two after the fact, happened every now and then. Most of the time I’d conduct my searches on behalf of elderly folks who, in senior moments, had thrown out their eyeglasses, or their pill organizers along with the wrappers from the food court sandwiches they had eaten. On rarer occasions, I’d be forced through the needle in a haystack rigmarole because Darryl’s minimum wage underlings didn’t get paid enough to physically apprehend the meaner, more professional looking thieves. Yelling out a warning from a safe distance was more in line with their paygrade: “The cops are waiting outside the mall, so you might wanna toss the diamond ring in the garbage now before you’re caught with it,” was an effective line of reasoning, as it kept the pilfered merchandise inside the mall and prevented right hooks to the jaw. Unfortunately for me, it meant combing through the contents of the many bins that lined the corridors, sometimes for hours on end.

Anyway, I worked late that Monday, under the guise of sweeping and mopping the storage room, and while doing so I was able to locate the garbage bag containing the mysterious piece of paper. Earlier in the day I went to see Darryl in his office and asked him to show me the food court footage again. The second time around I paid more attention, thus I was able to pinpoint the exact moment the girl was passed the note. Shortly thereafter, she got up and went to the washroom with her trafficker following close behind, keeping a watchful eye on his lucrative asset.

Darryl, was, of course, pleased as punch with my renewed show of interest and wasted no time bestowing the virtues of his unofficial channels.

  • It appears my spy camera, as you called it, turned out to be an extremely important instrument of the greater good.
  • If I can find the piece of paper, and if it contains important information like a phone number, and if the phone number belongs to someone who knows what happened to the missing girl, then and only then will I say your spy camera was an instrument of the greater good.

He spun back around dejectedly in his chair and continued with the paperwork he had been working on when I knocked on his office door, interrupting him. The look on his face made we want to say something encouraging, so I said I was thinking about conducting my own investigation into the well-being of the missing girl, and if it turned out I located her, then he would be vindicated and therefore a hero for risking his job and reputation in the name of the greater good.

  • Now you’re starting to see the light, Andy. This is the safest mall in the world and as long as I’m here it’s going to stay that way, which is why I’m leaving the camera up in the men’s washroom.
  • There’s a spy camera in the men’s washroom too?
  • All in the name of superlative security.
  • I’ve used that fucking washroom before.
  • I know, but I don’t sit there staring at you while you’re wiping your bum or anything. Relax.
  • Relax? You have video of me pissing, shitting, and then there was that time I—I…
  • Yes, you choked the chicken that one time. It’s okay, almost every male does it, perhaps not during work hours, or in a public place, but they all do it. Not me though, I’m well beyond that vulgar pastime.
  • It was during my lunch break, Darryl, and I was only in there because the employee washroom was out of order.
  • Don’t worry, I hereby promise to never say anything about it, like you promised to never say anything about my unofficial channels… However, if for some reason you decided to break your promise, or if you try to remove the camera in the men’s washroom, then let’s just say I have enough insurance to make you reconsider.
  • I thought we were friends.
  • We are friends but if you decide not to be my friend by breaking your promise then I’ll do the same.
  • My promise will not be broken.
  • Good, and for your information, I did not put a camera in the employee washroom, meaning you have unsurveilled options.

8 thoughts on “A Languid Resolution on the Pensive Minor

  1. I don’t know. I can write lyrics all day long and never get a winner. But the musicians can compose the most trivial drivel, and as long as it’s got that spark, regardless of what the words are, it can become a hummed ditty.
    “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “He’s never near you to comfort and cheer you
      When all those sad tears are fallin’ baby from your eyes
      He might be thrillin’ baby but a-my love
      (My love, my love)
      So dog-gone willin’, so kiss him
      (I wanna see you kiss him, I wanna see you kiss him)
      Go on and kiss him goodbye, na na na na, na na na…”

      The people need their breakup songs!

      Like

    1. Very true, Jan. There’s been dark number ones. One of the darker huge hits of recent years was Pumped up Kicks by Foster The People, a song based loosely on the Columbine massacre.

      “Robert’s got a quick hand
      He’ll look around the room, he won’t tell you his plan
      He’s got a rolled cigarette
      Hanging out his mouth, he’s a cowboy kid
      Yeah, he found a six shooter gun
      In his dad’s closet, with a box of fun things
      I don’t even know what
      But he’s coming for you, yeah, he’s coming for you
      All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
      You better run, better run, outrun my gun
      All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
      You better run, better run faster than my bullet”

      800 million views on Youtube

      Like

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