Chapter 31 2009 - Heartless

Cory’s attempts at revenge had failed miserably, and he had given up his quest. He realized that the dark path he had chosen had not achieved the ends he had envisioned, that the devious attempts to gain I’s attention and ruin him in a spectacular public manner were all prone to failure. He decided that he would try a more positive, direct approach. He would write him a letter.

Dear I Mall,

I hope this finds you well. You may not remember me, but I first met you back in 1982, when you and your wife stopped in a small bar in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I was playing drums, and my style not only intrigued you, but you offered to help me start a career. I must admit that your lack of response left me heartless, and full of anger for many years. I would like to hope that this method of direct communication might possibly open up again the possibility that we may work together, that those wounds that have so deeply affected me all this time may finally be healed.

Please consider contacting me, and I wait for your reply.

Signed, Cory Heart.

Cory sealed the envelope, and put it in the mail. His last, final attempt to seek out the recognition he thought he so deserved.

When I received the mail from Cory, he too was surprised. He had tried for some time to make contact, and could not understand why there had never been a response. He was also surprised that Cory’s return address was nearby. He had always assumed that Cory had remained in Wisconsin. Rather than write him back, he contacted him by telephone.

“Cory, this is I Mall. It’s so good to hear from you after all these years.”

“I was afraid you’d forgotten about me, I waited for your contact, but never got anything.”

“I tried over and over again to contact you, but my letters kept coming back. I had given up, then saw how successful you’d become, and figured that you no longer needed any assistance from me. I read about your meteoric rise, and was very happy for you. I did send my congratulations, but that came back as well.”

“My meteoric rise? How do you mean? After I left Wisconsin, I had no end of rejection. I barely was able to support myself, no thanks to you. As much as I tried, nothing. I only wanted some advice, but you couldn’t even give that.” Cory abruptly hung up the phone.

I was stunned. “What a heartless response. I guess failure can do that to you.” I remembered his own struggles with fame and decided to be the better man and give the kid a second chance. “Kid?” he thought to himself. “He’s got to be in his forties by now.”

Rather than risk another hang up, he decided a personal visit was in order. He looked up the address on the letter he received and punched it into his GPS. It was in the next town, but in an area with which he wasn’t familiar. A thirty minute drive and he was knocking at the door.

It opened, and a bedraggled figure, barely recognizable as the young man he had once encouraged looked out at him.

“What are you doing here?”

“Our call was disconnected, so I thought a personal visit would be in order. Let’s start this conversation again.”

“I have nothing to say to you.” The door slammed.

I pounded on the door, relentlessly until Cory gave in and answered.

“Haven’t you done enough damage? Can’t you just leave me alone?”

I couldn’t believe this was the same person. The letter he had received sounded sincere and courteous. The door appeared to be open to continue the conversation from many years before.

“Hear me out. I followed your career. I applauded your success. I was thankful that, despite my being unable to contact you, you had the big breakthrough with ‘Sunglasses at Night’. I thought that it was a clever reference to our meeting in that bar, where you never removed your sunglasses. I didn’t know that it was a gimmick.”

It was Cory’s turn to be stunned. I had thrown out so much inaccurate information at him that he stood there speechless for a full minute. Finally, he spoke.

“Your think I’m Corey Hart?”

“Of course I do. That’s what you told me back in 1982. ‘Just send me a letter care of this bar to Corey Hart.’ That’s what I did. It came back.”

“I am Cory Heart. H-E-A-R-T. And no ‘e’ in Cory. I thought I got past that years ago, and here you bring that up again.”

Once again, it was I’s turn to be confused. “You’re not the Corey Hart that sang ’Sunglasses at Night?’ A successful recording career and great popularity especially in Canada and internationally as well?”

“No, I’ve never been to Canada. I tried making it in a world where Corey Hart became popular, but my attempts were always in vain. I was always told, ”There’s already a Corey Hart. We don’t need another. Maybe you should change your name.’ That was never an option for me, I was born long before him.”

“When were you born?”

“I was born in January of 1962. He was born in May.”

“Long before?”

“Long enough.”

“Well, Cory, I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. I had no way of knowing. You never spelled your name for me, you never took off your sunglasses. How was I to know? No wonder the letters kept coming back. I was sending them to the wrong person!”

I looked thoughtfully at the ground, then continued, “Are you still interested in pursuing a music career? I’m not that active anymore myself, but I can do what I can to help you get started.”

“That was a dream of mine for many years, but the dream faded. I’ve learned to accept my fate, my lot in life. It’s not what I would have chosen, but it’s what I got.”

“What you got was the shaft, I’d say. You deserved better. I believed in you, and I think that you had the talent to go far. Think you still do?”

“I haven’t played drums for over ten years. I’ve lost touch with the instrument. I’ve moved on.”

“Then what can I do to make it up to you? Name it, and it’s yours.”

“If I asked for a million dollars, would you give it?”

“If I offered a million dollars would you take it?”

Cory considered the question for a moment. “Actually, I guess not. I’d rather have earned it on my own. I’m proud to be Cory Heart. I’m proud to have survived, if not thrived. I wouldn’t take your million dollars.”

“But would you take a job where earning a million dollars could be a possibility?”

“Of course I’d take that job. Do you have one?”

“No, not at the moment, but I know where a talent like yours could come in very handy, working in the studio, backing up other musicians. In time, I bet you could even find your own voice again and make the mark you have sought.”

“I told you, I’ve lost touch with the instrument. I can’t play.”

“Can’t, or won’t? It’s like riding a bicycle, once you’ve learned, you don’t unlearn. Can you come to my home studio for a tryout? Do you know where I live.”

I was hesitant to admit that he’d been there before. “I have a general idea.”

I wrote down the directions and passed them to Cory. Come by tomorrow, and we’ll jam.

The next day, Cory arrived as promised, and I led him into the home studio. Cory sat behind the drum kit, and I plugged in his bass. Cory started with a steady beat, and I added some bass lines. Cory began responding with some alterations of his own, and I began adding his melodic runs that he had become famous for. Cory started making magic, and the two of them discovered that music made together was a new magical, mystical experience.

“What did I tell you? You haven’t lost it at all, you’ve just buried it. All it took was the will to let it reveal itself. We can make this happen.”

I took Cory to a local recording studio, and introduced him to the local producer. Explaining Cory’s untapped talent, he convinced him to allow them to recreate what they had done in I’s home. Impressed, the producer agreed to put Cory on as a studio musician, ready to sit in with whomever wanted to record. Cory’s ship had finally come in, and I had finally found his protege, one who would finally find success.