Monday, April 20, 2009

Ch. 43

Ch. 43

Everyone around the dinner table had great news this evening. Richie had gotten his solo deal and no one was more happier for him than Jon.

For now, Richie decided to concentrate on getting his friend better. The tour would be resuming soon and after that, Richie’s real work would begin.

Obie and Jon had spent the rest of the afternoon in the studio sifting through live recordings with the possibility of releasing a live CD. Trina was down there as well. Outlining a possible piece for Rolling Stone.

Juanita and Toby meanwhile made cookies. Lots of them so that Toby and his new found friends could sell them on the corner for a bit of pocket change.

"Jon, I figure that if I can make $100 dollars, I can pull my weight around here and get some of my own stuff for school." Toby said.

Jon was impressed by his acumen and ambition. He figured that if there was anyone who could do it, it'd be Toby.

"I bet you could buddy. I don't mind helping you if you need it." Jon told him.

Toby took a piece of fried chicken out of the bowl. It was his 3rd piece. Trina smiled as he took the chicken. His appetite was a healthy.

“I can do it Jon." Toby told him.

Jon gave him a high five. "Okay buddy."

"Toby, we got to go to the doctor's and get your shots for school after CPS comes tomorrow." Juanita said.

"Yes ma'am." Toby replied.

"So, no cookie selling until after lunch." Juanita told him.
"Okay. Jon, do you have to work tomorrow?" Toby asked.

"Some. Obie and I have some stuff to pick out. Would you like to help me?" Jon asked.

"What things?" Toby asked. "I never asked you what you actually do.”

Obie put a fork full of mashed potatoes in his mouth. He told the boy. “He 's a rock star Toby."

Toby giggled in disbelief. "No, he's not. I would have known."

"How?" Trina asked.

"You can't keep something like that a secret." Toby told her.

"I'm not keeping it a secret." Jon told him.

"Then what songs have you sung?”

Jon took a deep breath as he scanned his brain through the different songs he's performed over the years.

"Mmmm. Let's see. Living on Prayer, Runaway. Wanted: Dead or Alive." Jon told him.

Toby thought for a moment. He looked at Jon strangely.

Jon realized that Toby literally had no idea that he was the lead singer of Bon Jovi… Until now.

"Wanted: Dead or Alive? You're that Jon"." Toby asked.

Jon nodded "Yep."

Toby looked at Trina in astonished. Trina nodded. She pointed. "Jon Bon Jovi."

Toby's eyes got big. It explained the house, the bikes, the housekeeper.

"You're Jon Bon Jovi. And that means Richie is Richie Sambora." Toby pointed.

"Correct my little friend. " Richie told him.

Toby looked down at his plate for a minute. Suddenly, the smile he had turned to sadness. He looked at Juanita.

"Juanita, may I be excused." Toby asked her.

Juanita nodded. Everyone began to look worried. Toby got up and went up to his room.

Jon was alarmed. "What's wrong with him?" He asked Juanita.

Juanita replied. “I don't know."

"Maybe he needs some time to absorb everything." Obie told him.

Looking surprised. Kendall said. "I thought he knew."

He got up and put he and Toby's plates on the sideboard countertop. He turned around and said looking at Trina. “Me too. I've gotta talk to him."

"Do you want me to come with you?" She asked him.

Jon shook his head. "No I'll talk to him." Jon said as he exited the room.

Everyone sat silent for several seconds.

"Well that was enough to knock the wind out of a sail." Obie joked.

"Wonder why he got so upset?" Richie asked.

"Because he now thinks he's imposing. Big time rock stars... Why would they spend time with me? I‘m sure that‘s what he‘s thinking." Kendall told him.

“Let's not jump to conclusions." Trina told Kendall.

Kendall shrugged. "I’d bet the farm that he's feeling like he's been wasting everyone's time up until now."

"Why now? You'd think he would have thought so earlier." Obie said.

"He would have if he recognized Jon or Richie. But he didn't so-" Kendall said.

"Jon cares about him just as much as a father would love a son. That's shouldn't and won't change just because Jon's a rock star." Trina injected.

"Hopefully it won't. But don't be surprised if Toby bolts out of here. I did it with your family. Remember? " Kendall warned.

Trina prayed Kendall's theory was wrong. Period.

Jon attempted to walk into Toby's room. Since the door was partially open, he noticed that Toby sat on the edge of his bed quietly looking down at his feet.

With hesitation, Jon knocked on the door.
"Hey, can I come in for a minute buddy?".

Toby looked at him and nodded. Jon came in and noticed all the posters of motorbikes and athletes on Toby's wall. Toby had made this room his own and Jon wanted nothing more than for him to stay.

"Nice room." Jon told him as he continued to look around the room.

"You've never been in here before?" asked Toby.

"Not since you've been here. No. " Jon said as he sat next to him on the bed.

"I was going to tell you about the motocross on Saturday, but you're probably too busy to go." Toby told him.

Jon shrugged. "I’m not doing anything on Saturday. Where is it?"

"The new skate park. There having races all day. Winners get to go to Nationals in California."

"No kidding. I can go with you if you want. It'll be fun. You know how I like bikes." Jon reassured him.

His eyes began to flood with tears. "I'm not bothering you by being here?" Toby asked him.

"Toby, if I didn't want you. I would have had CPS come and take you instead trying to become your foster parent." Jon replied.

Toby's eyes widened. “You wanted to be my dad?"

Jon nodded. "I did. I still do. But, Juanita's going to take care of you as it looks for now. That's why CPS wants to talk to you both tomorrow."

"Oh." Toby said looking both surprised and relieved. "I can stay here?"

"You better stay here. I don't know what i'd do if you weren't here." Jon said.

"You'd be making out with Trina. Giving her "love eyes." Toby told him.

Jon laughed. "Love eyes?" He asked the little boy.

"When you look at her sometimes. You look all dopey and goofy.” Toby told him.

Jon looked stunned. "I do?"

"You do. Obie and I were laughing at you the other day. You were trying to give Trina a kissy." Toby laughed.

"A kissy?" Jon asked him.

"A kiss." Toby puckered his lips as if he were mocking a kiss.

Jon felt his face go warm due to the awkwardness of all of this. He asked the little boy.

"Do I really look like that?"

Toby nodded. "Worse."

Jon's face now was red. "Lordy. I gotta keep myself in check with you."

Toby agreed. "Be strong. Fight the power of the 'love eyes.' You can do it."

"I'll try. Man, I do really need to go on that motocross." Jon told him. Toby nodded. He put his arm around Jon. "Yep Jon. You got it bad."

Jon shook his head. "Man." he mumbled. "I can't believe i'm getting advice from an eleven year old."

Trina eavesdropped. She covered her mouth as she went back downstairs. ‘Love eyes?’ she mumbled. She giggled all the way down the stairs.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ch. 42

The next couple of weeks at Jon’s house picked up speed.

With the help of new vocal coach, Katie Agresta, Jon learned to pace himself with his voice and not overwork his instrument.

“Small goals first, bigger goals later.” Katie told him during their first lesson.

She knew how eager he was to get back on the road.

In between a brief hiatus between the Slippery and New Jersey CD’s, Jon had built a studio in his basement that he and the band usually used for demos.

It was there where he and Katie worked daily on his voice. During this time also, Jon was learning more and more about his own personal limitations.

Despite the tattoo he wore proudly on his shoulder. Jon was fully aware he was not Superman. If he wanted to come back and do all of this correctly, he needed to become more patient with himself and let his body heal in its own way.

Working on the small goals as Katie wanted, Jon began with scales. Painful as it was for his voice, by the time he mastered it a couple of weeks later, people were noticeably pleased with the difference.

Since Giants wasn’t going to happen right away, Obie delayed the "safety" issue into letting the press know that since everyone had come to terms the Giants show date would be moved to the end of the summer. That would give Jon two more months to ready himself and make his voice even stronger.

Trina kept herself busy with the Jersey Club scene, interviewing legends Southside Johnny and the Ashbury Jukes to even landing an impromptu interview with a “certain” E Street Band member after he visited Jon one night for dinner.

Doc came down to see Jon’s progress and to also finally meet the newest employee of Bon Jovi team, Kendall. He was pleased with the way both of them were improving. Especially Kendall.

When Doc visited, Jon began to feel an enormous strain between the two of them. No longer feeling like a valued partner who was running the course of his destiny, he felt as if he was simply a product of a machine where Doc no longer saw him as the person he was, but a thing where he could get as much money as possible for as long as it took.

Jon primarily trained with Katie in the morning, followed by a workout for ninety minutes. He then would usually jog with Trina introducing her to the sights and sounds of his neighborhood.

By the time they came back, the two usually shared some breakfast with Toby followed by spending as much time with the little boy as possible.

Jon loved indulging Toby with his love for dirt bikes and football. He never felt so relaxed during his time off. Ever.

He enjoyed his time with Trina and Toby so much that he felt himself at times racing through his vocal therapy just to be with the two of them for the rest of the day.

Jon and Trina did try to find Toby’s parents, but to their dismay, found out that his parents had abandoned him. Jon contacted Child Protective Services about becoming a foster parent to Toby, but because of his profession and until his lifestyle calmed a bit, CPS denied him.

Slamming down the phone receiver. Jon yelled. “What the fuck?”

Trina walked by the office. She peered through the door looking curious after hearing the crash of the phone against the desk. She asked

“Whoa, what’s wrong?”

Jon was angry. He raked his hands through his long brown mane and placed one of his hands underneath his chin. He motioned for her to come in.

“Shut the door.” He commanded.

She came in and shut the door as he asked. She sat in the chair across from him. His blue eyes were dark with rage.

“Jon, what’s wrong?” Trina asked. She had never seen him that way before.

“They won’t let me be Toby’s foster parent.” He told her.


Jon eyes were filled with disappointment. “They said it was my rock star lifestyle. They didn’t think it would be the best environment for a child.”

Trina was in shock. “What? They’ve never been here. How the hell would they know?”

Jon nodded. “I know. That’s what I asked the witch. And then she said.' We know. We read Page Six.' I’m like, half of that isn’t even true. Why don’t you just come and see what I do day in and day out? She’s like. 'Oh Mr. Bon Jovi, it’s not necessary. We do sympathize with you, however the roving nature of your profession is not a stable environment for an eleven year old. Perhaps when you’re not so much in the spotlight, we will be reconsider'….I hung up on her after that.”

“I don’t blame you. I’m dying to know now what is a stable environment? Him being used a punching bag? Or looking for his next meal in a trash dumpster?” Trina asked sarcastically. She hit his desk in anger. “Damn it!”

“I’m beyond pissed!” Jon said.

“Beyond pissed about what?” Juanita asked opening up the door. She walked in with a cup of steaming tea. She placed it on his desk.

“I made you that ginger tea for your voice that Katie recommended you have.”

“Thanks Juanita.” Jon said as he took a sip.

“Why are you beyond pissed? For once I didn’t do anything.” Juanita teased.

“They won’t let me become a foster parent to Toby.” Jon told her.

Looking surprised. Juanita asked. “Why?”

“My rock star lifestyle is too unstable according to CPS.”

Juanita laughed. “Do they know you?”

Trina laughed at loud at Juanita’s delivery of the words. Jon looked at both women blankly. They quickly erased the smiles from their faces.

Juanita sighed. “Thank god that CPS is coming here to interview me tomorrow then. Because I’ll them about themselves.”

Jon and Trina looked at each other wondering what Juanita was talking about.

“Wait a minute, they’re coming here tomorrow?” Jon asked.

Juanita told him. “Yes, I’m being interviewed to be that child’s foster parent.”

Trina smiled. Juanita winked at Jon. He was relieved. He walked over to her and hugged his longtime assistant/surrogate mother. He planted a cheek on her cheek.

“Thank you.” he told her.

“Thank you Jonny. It’s been years since I’ve raised a little boy. To get a second chance and still let him be here with you where he’s comfortable and settled, makes me happy... To no end.” Juanita squealed.

“He’s such a great kid.” Jon told her.

“And one day. You’re going to be a great father. I’ve never seen you feel this way about someone since-” Juanita looked at Trina.

Trina looked at Jon with an amused smirk.

“Since the Giants won the playoffs!” Jon teased. Trina rolled her eyes. “Oh God!” she told him.

“God nothing. God is Giants! They will win the Bowl this year. You’ll see.”

“Do I have to?” Trina joked.

“Yep. If its only once. It’ll be fun. Get seats on the field…”

“Get tackled by some guy named Tiny.” Trina teased.

“Meet Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor.” Jon chimed in.

“Get tackled by some guy named Tiny.” Trina retorted.

Jon walked over to Trina’s chair. He bent down to meet her. He played with her hair.

“I’ll protect you from Tiny.” Jon reassured her.

Jesting, she replied with a wink to Juanita. “Who’s going to protect me from you?”

“Me? No worries.” Jon replied.

Trina began to smooth back his hair. She also began to tip his head playfully back and forth. Jon looked at her strangely as did Juanita.

“What are you doing?” He asked.

“Checking to see why the halo no longer fits.” She told him.

Jon turned red. Juanita let out a huge belly laugh.

“Oh Trina! Girl, I knew you had it in you!” Juanita continued as she walked out the door.

“Trying to see why the halo doesn’t fit.” Jon mumbled as he got up.

Trina continued to laugh as they sat in Jon’s office.


Richie and Kendall were in New York City that same afternoon at the Polygram Records headquarters.

They were nervously awaiting news on Richie’s demo.

Richie was silent as he waited outside of Alain Levy’s office. He had spent a couple of hours explaining to the president of Polygram the origins of every song he presented.

Alain, just as passionate as Richie’s counterpart Jon, loved each song and had to for business reasons, question him on every choice. He knew that Richie poured his heart and soul into this solo effort, but as fulfilling for Richie personally this was, this also had to be marketable for Polygram. Just like any Bon Jovi CD would and could be.

Richie agreed. Although it’s a departure from Bon Jovi, he felt that his talents and writing could more than hold its own.

Alain respected that. He wanted to listen to the tape once more and then decide if Richie should record this particular CD or try again with other material.

Doc was in the room as well. He was very proud of Richie. The demo was good. Very good. He knew that if anyone could break out from Bon Jovi with a solo effort, it’d be Richie.

As much as Doc loved Jon’s business sense, Richie to him was the better singer while Jon was the better showman.

For Doc, each one had their own strengths and weaknesses. Doc just hoped that Polygram wouldn’t use their talents to pit one against the other.

Richie tried to peek through the door to see what was happening while Kendall calmly leafed through a magazine.

“See anything?” She asked while never taking her eyes off her magazine.

Richie tried to peer through but was unsuccessful. He walked back and sat next to her.

“Nothing. The two of them are both sitting there and not saying a word.”

“Maybe no news is good news Rich.” Kendall told him.

“Maybe no news is that I need to go back to the drawing board.” He said.

“Richie, that demo is good. What’s the worst that will happen? You’ll take a song or two out and add in probably one that you and them will probably end up liking better.” Kendall reassured him. She put the magazine down next to her.

“They don’t hate it.” Richie said questioning himself.

“No they don’t. It’s really good.” Kendall said holding his hand in attempt to calm his nerves.

“Doc better be sticking up for me.”

Kendall looked concerned. “You think he wouldn’t?”

Richie shrugged. “I don’t know. Jon’s feeling as if he’s some product instead of a human being when he’s around lately. I don’t want to end up feeling the same way about him. Doc’s been good to all of us.”

“It’s a business Rich. Doc for now has to look at it this way. I’m sure he loves Jon. In fact, I know he does because he told me, but there’s advance money that was promised and contracts that were signed and everyone’s on edge about that. Bon Jovi is a brand. Think of it like Coke or Pepsi. Why? Because Jon and Doc touted it that way to promoters to fill the seats. They’re excellent businessmen. It was a good thing they did in a way. Jon’s probably regretting it now because he planned too many dates and with his voice… He knows Doc is pressuring him to get better to fulfill the dates because of the contracts. Not saying that Doc’s attitude is right…But as a employee. I kind of get it.” She said.

Richie couldn’t get mad at her because he understood from a business standpoint as an employee where she was coming from and that’s where her opinion was coming from. He was impressed with how much she had learned about the music business in such a short time.

Just as Richie whispered “Thank you.” to Kendall. Alain and Doc opened the door.

Alain came out beaming at Richie.

“Hey man. C’mon in. Got some things to talk to you about.” the President of the label said to him grinning from ear to ear.

“Yeah?” Richie said.

“Definitely.” Alain said as Doc clapped his hands in excitement.

Alain acknowledged Kendall and Doc waved at her.

Kendall smiled. Richie did it. He was going to have his first solo effort. Nothing could be better.