Chapter 47 1984 - Todd

I had settled into his life of retirement at thirty, five years later than he had originally predicted on his tenth birthday. He still remained busy, and enjoyed the fresh air of his estate, walking the dog, and feeding the wild birds. After a particularly nice afternoon out, he returned home. Angela met him at the door.

“There was a phone call for you while you were out,” she told him.

I was a bit surprised. He preferred the experience of direct contact, and most whom he knew made it a practice to drop by, even unannounced. Everyone was welcome.

His curiosity was raised, “Oh? Who was it?”

“Some fellow by the name of Todd Rundgren. He called about an hour ago,” Angela revealed.

“A hint of recognition crossed I’s face. “Todd Rundgren ... Hmm.... Seems I've heard of him before somewhere. Wasn't he a record producer several years back?”

“I think so,” indicated Angela, “I think he had a musical career on the side as well, though he was never particularly successful. I remember reading that he released an album that pretty much destroyed his career.”

“That’s right,” I recalled. “He moved into a direction that did not sit well with the fans, and when he tried to go back to writing pop hits, he’d lost all credibility.”

Angela pointed her finger at I, “Don’t be so quick to criticize,” she warned. “You’ve been down that path, too. You were lucky to survive.”

I was a little worried, “I hope he isn't going to try to get me to start playing again. That's all over. Did he say?”

Angela gave I the message. “No, just left his number. He's staying at the motel down the road. Why don't you give him a call?”

I capitulated. “Yeah, I guess so. What's the number?”

“It’s right there in you hand,” she said.

“Oh, yeah, right. 543-1024?”

“That's it.”

I picked up the phone, punched out the number and waited for an answer.

Angela was curious as she heard the one-sided conversation.

“Hello, this is I Mall.” He paused. “Yes, Todd, I’ve heard of you.” He rolled his eyes. “Oh, I see. Hold on.” He covered the phone with his hand and spoke to Angela, “Are you OK with a visitor?”

“When have we ever been not OK with a visitor?”

I resumed his conversation on the phone, “Sure, come on over.” Yet another pause and then, “Alright, see you then.”

He hung up the phone. “He'll be over in a couple of minutes.”

“That means he'll probably stay for dinner,” Angela surmised. “Or if he isn’t expecting it, we can at least invite him. I'd better get something ready.”

“What are we having tonight?” I inquired.

“I think it'll be those steaks I bought last weekend,” she stated matter of factly. “He should be quite impressed since not too many people can afford them these days.”

“Now you know we’re not ones to show off our affluence and we're not here to impress him. He’s been around. I’m sure there’s little that impresses or surprises him these days. He's just coming over to talk business. But just the same, don't burn them; I think that the usual ten seconds puts too much of a char on the edges. Try eight or nine.”

“Be glad to,” Angel admitted, thankful for modern conveniences. “You know how I hate to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.”

Angela left for the kitchen, and I stepped over to the piano. He began to noodle out a tune. Angela returned from her brief stint in the kitchen and inquired, “What are you playing?”

I was totally absorbed in he composition of a song. He replied without thinking, “The piano.”

Angela was mildly exasperated. “I know that, but what song?”

“Oh, just something that came out. Maybe I can work it into something.”

“It's very pretty. But you’ve retired. Why are you writing?”

“Well, you can take the musician away from the music, but you can’t take the music out of the musician. Sometimes these things just happen.”

As if interrupting I’s thought train, a knock came at the door.

“That must be Mr. Rundgren.” I was lost in his own formality and said, “I'll get it.”

As I opened the door, there was Todd Rundgren. He sang out, “Hello, it's me!”

“Ha, Ha, yeah I get it. Your big ‘hit.’ Come on, come in,” he called over to Angela. “Angela, Mr. Rundgren is here.” That damned formality. What had gotten into him?

Todd could sense a bit of tension and asked I, “Please, just call me Todd. I’m just a real man like you.”

I introduced Todd to Angela, and as he did, he took her hand and kissed it elegantly. “A pleasure.”

“I’ve just made some dinner, won’t you join us?” Angela asked.

“Of course, thanks. I’d be honored,” replied I.

Angela shot a look towards I, “I was speaking to Todd.”

Todd chuckled and replied, “Yes, thank you.”

They sat down at the table and I was anxious to find out what this was all about. “Let's get down to business. What's on your mind?”

Todd began, “I'm sure you know this is an election year.”

I nodded. “Right, I'm already a registered voter. My parents were really into that election stuff. But sometimes it’s not too good to get involved. It nearly broke them up when I was young. They were split on the candidates. I guess my dad eventually got his way, though. Ol’ Tricky Dick made it to the White House after all. And look how that turned out. And I swore that if Reagan got elected, I’d leave the country. Well, unfortunately he did, but I’m still here. So much for commitment.”

Both Todd and Angela were surprised by I’s mini-tirade. It was so out of character for him, but Todd continued.

“That's good, but it's not important right now. What I came to tell you is that I'm running for the president this year.”

“Why? Is it one of those pledge marathons?” I countered. “Well, you can count me out. Like I told you, he's not even my party and I wouldn’t consider supporting him in any way.”

I’s ire was unexpected, and Todd tried to calm down the situation. “No, no, no, no, no. I'm running for the presidency. I want to be elected.”

“So what does that have to do with me?” I protested. “I've got nothing to do with the election.”

“I'm looking for a campaign manager and you sound right for the job.”

“What makes me sound so good as a campaign manager?” I was intrigued, but unconvinced.

“You've got the notoriety I need to shove me to the top. I saw the results of your world reform crusade. If it wasn't for you...”

I and Angela looked at each other with a smile, “He's playing our song.”

Todd was confused, “What?”

I responded, “Oh, nothing. Go ahead.”

“Well, if it wasn't for you, “ another chuckle but Todd let it pass, “we might not be sitting here today. With the threat of a nuclear holocaust at the back door...”

Todd was surprised as I shot out of his chair and ran to the door, he opened it and peered out. He returned, confused but relieved.

Angela asked “What's wrong, I?”

“I thought Todd said there was about to be a nuclear holocaust at our back door!”

Todd assured I, “Just a figure of speech. I didn’t mean it literally.”

I responded, “Well watch it with those figures, I nearly flunked school math.”

Angela was getting a little flustered at I’s erratic behavior. “I, will you quit clowning!”

Todd tried to resume his decorum. “Anyway, I'd like to point out how with your inspirational ‘World Theme Song’ you caused the world to settle back in peace again. That's what I need working on my side.”

“We already have candidates running in both parties. What party are you running for?” I asked.

Todd simply replied, “The Treed party.”

“Treed?”, I scoffed. “Never heard of it.”

Todd replied, “Of course not. I just made it up this morning.”

I was getting skeptical. “Why Treed?”

Todd explained. “Do you know what a cat does when he's chased up a tree by a dog? He fights back! I feel that I've been treed by the politicians of this country and I'm ready to fight back. Will you do it?”

Todd’s explanation made sense, in an odd way. He was starting to get through to I’s suppressed political support leanings.

I conceded. “Looks like I've been Treed. Who's your main opponent?”

“Well, besides the major party candidates, of course, there’s Senator Davis from Northern California.”

“Have you given any thought about a running mate? You have to think geographically as well as politically on that one,” I advised.

“I'm originally from Philly, but since I've relocated to L.A. it looks like my best bet is someone from the South.”

“What, you’re talking Mexico? Brazil?”

“No, I'm thinking more on the line of San Diego, but I don't know anybody in San Diego.”

“Who does?” I countered.

“Maybe I should focus my attention on Alabama or Arkansas.” Todd considered.

“What's so special about those states?” I asked.

“I've got some old musical acquaintances down there. Some fellows from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Black Oak Arkansas live there.”

I thought a moment, “Treed, hmm? I can see the headlines already Todd Rundgren Easily Eradicates Davis!”

Todd agreed, “It does sound good. Now all I need is a theme song. I’m hoping that where else you come in.”

I moved over to the piano and started playing the song he’d earlier become lost in. The lyrics came out naturally.

It's 1984 and time to vote once more.
For once you really do have a choice.
A wizard, a true star has raised his voice.

In music and in song he has carried us along
And he's conjured up a most devoted crowd.
Corruption in the states won't be allowed.

On the sixth of November you've got to remember
To go to the polls and vote.
I know you won't be sorry, with Todd there's no worry
And your hopes won't be so remote.

Utopia it's not, but with a vote for Todd
You'll find that it's one step nearer.
We need something, anything to stop fear

In music and in song he has carried us along
and he's conjured up a most devoted crowd.
Corruption in the states won't be allowed.

On the sixth of November you've got to remember
To go to the polls and vote.
I know you won't be sorry, with Todd there's no worry
And your hopes won't be so remote.

Todd’s election as president would have marked the first time a rock star had rocketed to the Oval Office, but it was not to be, at least for the time being. Todd’s support by I raised his awareness as a household name, but ultimately failed to win the presidency, guaranteeing four more years of a Reagan administration.