337– Tour Manager
Philip Verleirer lay in bed the same night, the night before they took a plane to New York City. Everything in its place
That was it. Whatever will happen, shall have happen and there will be nothing left of Phillip or Hannah, or his woulda coulda been daughter, or Susan Joly –that striking ghost he felt some weird desire or kinship too or maybe in a sense both feelings fighting each other. Phillip just sat on his bed, hotel room booked, ticket booked. He lay in bed listening to Houses Of The Holy by one of those oddly magical connections through time, wondering where would he be a month from now. Back to drinking himself to death? Back to snooping on unfaithful wives, or would this transform him. Would this strange trip, just the four of them in search of a ghost, would thing change the world for him.
Two days before, Phillip had been sitting by the Fellowes pool, very near where the heart attack had fallen Stan Fellowes all those years ago, on his laptop, trying to figure out how to handle the trip, Hannah’s credit card by his side when Michelle sat down next to him. She didn’t say anything at all, didn’t even look at him really, and he just assumed there was connection between them, finally she spoke. “When this is over, will you leave the family.”
“I guess, I will, be you’re twenty-two so I am not that far if you need a friend, or a private eye.”
“You’ll keep an eye on Mike, right? Make sure he is doing the right thing and hasn’t graduated to the hard stuff?”
“I’ll do that for you…”
“I had a dream about you last night, you know.”
“What did you dream…?”
“I…” Suddenly Michelle became enraged, she slapped him hard against the face and then began to hit him, in the arms, chest, Phillip put up his hands to protect himself, her blows glanced off him now and she seemed to be hurting herself more than him. “What are you doing? Stop…”
She continued to hit him, sobbing, beating: “You were my daddy, and you abandoned me. That’s what you did. You threw me away, you couldn’t care less. Selfish, selfish man. You can’t bring it back now, it is over forever. I will always be abandoned by you and instead at least for now of standing for me, of standing next to me, of righting stuff you pretend it never happened. So fucking concerned over what everybody in the world realizes was an accidental killing, you ignored somebody who was alive, and who needs you and who even now, you don’t even know if you are my dad. You don’t care, you’ll just drop me where you find me as though you of all people don’t know Mom, as if you of all people can’t see what happened to me. I hate you…”
Michelle had been screaming all this at the top of her lungs so needless to dd, the other shoe dropped: Hannah came running towards them screaming, “Get your hands off my daughter, you villain, you murderer.”
Phillip wasn’t sure if he could take being thrown out of the same house twice in one life time, he also was having problems controlling his need for a drink. He just stood there, defeated while Michelle screamed, “No, Mom it’s me.” And Mom shouted, “He’s no good, he was never any good.” and Michelle said, “I just wanted a daddy” and Phillip started to walk out when Susan Joly was among them and she wasn’t amused.
“What is wrong with you guys? Everywhere I go people are fighting. This isn’t a vacation and it isn’t a reunion, this is a trip of the utmost important. You guys are literally on…” Susan stopped, said wait, and next thing Mike was amongst them. “Listen, you are on a mission for God, guys. There is nothing more important happening anywhere in the Universe, and beyond. This is the whole show. Look, Phillip is a loser who needs to come to terms with that young girl’s death. Hannah is a jerk who needs to give of herself to more than a night 23 years ago. Michelle is a gorgeous idiot, who won’t wait to learn what is happening and Mike better get his act together and put down the pot right now. You are leaving in two days, stop messing around and start planning. If you can’t keep it together now, when can you?”
Phillip is a big man but he uses his size with discretion, he doesn’t bully, but when it wants to intimate it isn’t difficult. Now, he didn’t scream, had no threat of physical violence at all, but he was intimidating in his rage. “I don’t take orders from ectoplasm”, he fumed at Susan, and if there anything you think you can do it to me, you better do it or stop whatever it is you think you are doing. This won’t work if you don’t estimate me accurately.” He dismissed her with a wave of his hand and then he turned to Hannah.
“I have never met a worse person in my entire life. You have been so terrible to me that I can barely stay in the same room as you. A moments generosity from you would have saved my life, instead you did everything in your power to destroy me for no reason whatsoever and I promise both of you that if it wasn’t for Michelle I wouldn’t be here. But I will put up with it because… because for one reason or the other, Michelle has concluded I am her father, or at least the man in the world who will perform fatherly duties and if I had known that I’d never have left her alone, I’d have been there for her all her life and now I never shall not share her life. So for Michelle I will even put up for the person who has done even more than my father to hurt me. For you, Michelle” he said.
It was a truth, people belong to those who love them.
Two days later Phillip sat in his room and laughed to himself. Poor Michelle, from no father to two fathers.
Susan appeared. Out of the business uniform he’d always seen her in, she looked younger, hair pulled back, jeans and a tee shirt, sneakers, “Have you calmed down?” she asked.
“I guess so,” he said. “I’m sorry”, he said.
“Don’t be sorry, you will need to lead these guys and anyone who decides to join in, so strength is important.” She paused, conjured a cigarette and lit it. “Did you know I chose you for this role?”
“Ha, should I say thanks.”
“I trusted you.”
“An alcoholic, washed up policeman? Why?”
“To save my everlasting soul?”
“No, no, nothing to do with the Aftermath. To do with here. Listen, nothing ever dies. No blade of grass, no flower, nothing. We are born to live on forever, and so nothing that happens here can affect you in that sense. But even so, you are still you.”
“Mumbo jumbo?” Susan smiled and what happened next she hadn’t planned at all. She leaned in and kissed Phillip. Once, twice, she pulled back and smiled. Susan wasn’t even sure this was legal, wasn’t sure she was even able to, but her body sure seemed to be functioning right and Phillip pulled her to him and they kissed again. “What are we doing here, Susan” he said as she took off his short and kissed his chest. “Loving thy enemy” Susan replied with a grin so wide it seemed to cover them both.
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