Hey everyone! Since D.O.R.K. is coming out in just THREE SHORT DAYS, I decided to post a little snippet from Chapter 1 here on my blog as a teaser. This part takes place after Madison’s father’s best friend, Cass, comes to Kentucky from Beverly Hills for a visit. I think the rest is pretty self-explanatory. Enjoy!
“Dad,” I say entreatingly, “please tell me the truth. Do…” I swallow. “Do you really own a mansion in Beverly Hills?”
His right hand goes up to rumple his ear-length brown hair, and he sighs heavily. Dad closes his eyes tightly, and then says, “Yeah… It’s mine. I gave it to Cass when you were a baby.”
WTF. Who gives away a mansion?? “Dad, what the hell did you do that gave us $7.8 million?”
He chuckles a little. “$7.8 million isn’t even the half of it.”
My eyes grow wide. He said isn’t, not wasn’t. “Whoa… Daddy, are we still rich?”
He sits down on the bed next to me and says, “Hand me the laptop.” This time his voice is soft and non-threatening. I hand him the laptop, and he goes to YouTube and searches, “M.A.D. documentary,” and chooses one of the results on the next page.
M.A.D…. Oh, yeah! Looking through the results, I suddenly remember where I’ve seen that acronym before. It’s a stage name.
Before he plays the video, he pauses it, and turns to me. “I’m showing you this because you girls are right. You need to know the truth. But before we watch this, just know that I…” He sighs, and swallows hard. “I kept this from you for a reason. You may not understand at first, but just know that I love you, and I would never purposely hurt you.” I nod slowly, not sure what to expect, and he presses play on the video.
The video opens with the title in bold white letters:
“The Disappearance of M.A.D.”
It continues with an introduction to the life and background of M.A.D., a rock star who was big in the mid- to late 90s. His band, Weep With The Willows, was last active during the year 1998, and wrote songs that made it onto the Top 100 list. Millions of people worshipped him back then, and now I remember hearing his songs on the radio when I was younger and seeing them in the “other” results when I was learning music on YouTube. The guy in the pictures they’re showing looks eerily similar to younger pictures I’ve seen of Dad, although it’s hard to tell with all that guyliner.
“M.A.D., born Michael Andrew Daley, became a legend in his time,” the narrator says. “But one night in December of 1998, all of that changed for good. A little baby girl came into his life in a wicker basket, which was covered in pink ruffles and ribbons.” A picture of the basket with the baby in it is shown. “The basket was left at Daley’s mansion in LA by a dark-haired woman in a ski mask and black clothing, and there was a simple note tied to the basket which read, ‘She’s yours. Take good care of her.’ At first sight, Daley knew that the baby girl was his, and he announced her arrival to the world. Madison Daley, popularly known as ‘The Basket Baby,’ became America’s sweetheart and at first, her arrival into her father’s life skyrocketed her Daddy’s career by drawing attention to his music.” They show an adorable picture of Dad and me that is currently hanging in a frame on my wall.
Dad pauses the video to give me a chance to breathe. He goes to Wikipedia while I’m processing everything, and opens it up to M.A.D.’s page. Dad scrolls down and points to the “Born” section, which reads:
“Michael Andrew Daley
August 4th, 1970 (age 44)
Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, U.S.”
This can’t be real. It has to be some kind of late April Fool’s joke, I think to myself, but Dad goes back to the video again, and the narrator says, “Not long after presenting his little girl to America, Daley made the decision to retire from his music career to raise her. When she was only six months old, he gave his mansion in LA to his lead guitarist, Cassidy Meriwether.” CASS was a guitarist?? “He disbanded Weep With The Willows and left the spotlight, never to be seen again. That brings us to the question: Where is he now? The answer? No one knows for sure, but many suspect he is living a quiet, concealed life in his hometown in Kentucky.” Dad stops the video again, not needing to show me anything else.
My heart races and my head spins as I sit there in front of the laptop trying to make sense of what I just heard. “Dad… what the hell?” I know it’s a dumb response, but at the moment I can’t fabricate anything better.
“I know this is a lot to take in,” he says, putting his arm around me. “We left LA because I wanted you to have a normal life. The life of a rocker’s kid can be rough, and I just didn’t want it to ruin my little girl.”
I hear what he’s saying, but it isn’t really processing. I feel like I’ve had all the breath sucked out of me. My dad, a rock star. I’ve heard his music before and I didn’t even know it. He doesn’t even sing or play the guitar now, so how would I know? “Prove it,” I say suddenly, and his eyes widen in surprise.
“Prove you’re M.A.D.,” I say. “Sing me one of your songs.”
“Uh, okay,” he says, swallowing. “It would sound better with a guitar.”
I stand up and go to my closet to fetch him my black electric guitar off its metal stand. When I hand it to him, Dad takes it from me expertly and puts the strap up and around his neck and shoulder. I hand him a pick from the top of my tall white dresser and plug in the guitar for him, and he takes a deep breath. He’s shaking a little bit, and he closes his eyes. Is Dad actually nervous right now? I don’t think I’ve ever seen him nervous. Holy hell… It’s got to be true. He dives into the intro of one of his best songs, and as I watch him, a tsunami of tears rises in my eyes.
I can see why he was famous… His voice is as smooth as honey, but it’s powerful and it’s got a bit of a growl in it, too. His guitar skills are honestly even better… it’s not everyone who can pull off the lead guitar part while singing simultaneously, especially when it wasn’t their part to begin with. The lyrics could use a little work—clearly they were not the reason he had a legion of fans in the 90s. It’s just… him. He’s oozing with star quality, and I never even saw it. Dad plays through entire song, just to prove his point, and when he’s done, my tears begin to fall, and I whisper, breathing heavily, “You really are him.”
He takes off the guitar and lays it down beside him, and hesitantly opens his right arm to me. I sit down again next to him and start crying for real. “I’m so sorry, sugar,” he says as he embraces me tenderly, and I shake my head against him.
“Oh, my God… Don’t be,” I sob, yet I’m smiling. “This is the most amazing thing ever.”
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