28 – Mick Jagger
“Where are we?” I asked Blue, who was now a twenty something dashing young man. And so was I. I didn’t look like me, I looked a bit like Jean Paul Belmondo, and Blue Eyes looked a lot like Alain Delon and we were both dressed sharply , matching black suits and skinny ties, Blue behind the wheel of sky blue. I didn’t recognize the make, “Well?” I asked Blue.
“Jaguar F-Type” he replied.
“Nice, but were Ferrari’s out of stock?”
“Har har…” Blue said and took his eye from the road as we headed straight into another car.
Bump. Dead again…
“Oh damn”, Blue said, “let’s try it again.”
So we left the mangled bodies and were back on the road, slowing down only to look at the wreckage as we drove past it. “Who was the poor bastard?” I asked.
“No idea”, Blue replied/ “But I bet I’ll be finding out soon enough.”
“Where are we? It looks like Monaco.”
“Right first time…”
“This is Earth…”
“You mean the real world? I am alive again?”
“I figured a little trip back to earth was in order. I never get a vacation, and this is gonna be tough. I know you love the South of France…”
“Are we gonna drive to Cannes?”
“I think so, right. Why not? It is a beautiful day. June 29th, 2026… back among the living, Mick.”
The wind was blowing in my hair and my shades kept the sun at a distance. Bob Marley was on Spotify. Nothing was any different to heaven really and yet in a deeper meaning, there was something simply different to life than to the Aftermath. Maybe it was just a sense of danger, fatality, and the passing spin of the time. The air smelled less lush and intoxicating than my Island but I preferred the air on earth. It smelled live in. I began to chuckle and then to laugh. I couldn’t believe I was here again. I was alive. “How long do we have?”
“I figure we’ll spend a week and then rejoin the Stones. They’re rehearsing as we speak. They got Ronnie Lane for bass….”
“Not sure if he is up to it… maybe.”
We drove down the mountain to the seashore and followed the coast for hours, a winding, sloping, smoothing trip. If I jumped out the door right now I could well die. I could die at any second if I wasn’t careful. An idea popped into my head. “Girls?”
“I don’t see why not. Unless you get rejected.”
The smell of life made me feel almost drunk and suddenly I wanted a drink. “Hey Blue, I guess I just can’t want something.”
“Neither can I, let’s get checked in first. Ok.”
“Where are we staying?”
I flipped open my British Passport Michael Avid. I guess it will do for a week.
We checked in to a two bedroom suite. Blue poured us a couple of scotch and cokes, and I could feel it tingle on my brain… “I’m gonna shower, then let’s walk down the Croisette, we’ve still got a couple more hours of sunlight, then we can have dinner and go to club.”
I took a shower myself and as the water rolled over my body I wondered at this miracle. Obviously, dead people didn’t come back to life very often. Lazarus, Jesus, and that’s about it. It felt magical because it felt as though things that were undeniable ever were now real and happening. This was, in fact, a true miracle and Blue was, in fact, for everything I can figure that the word means, God. Blue was the original thought that we are all part of and not only had I slept with him, we were also friends. We were going out on the pull. And then we were gonna save the Universe. So many things I want to ask him, her, it, but I don’t know where to begin. What does this mean?
The Croisette was so alive, it seemed to be seething in the afternoon sun, warm for the time of year. We were dressed identically. Like we just walked out of a Truffaut movie. And while I knew this area, the rich man’s weather of Cannes, I hadn’t know it like this, in the full breadth of youth, in decades. Just walking down the street, looking at the beaches and the sea, tilling on the beach, the throngs of people, the wide sidewalks, the smell of salt: in was money yes, but money hadn’t been my problem in a long long time, but it smelled of a sort of joy in specialness and I was a month away from 80 when I died and at that age, all the money in the world won’t save you… you are just old. People get old, I gave Blue a dirty look. “What’s your problem.”
“Whose idea was this growing old? It really stinks you know.”
“Ha, grow old, stay young, nobody is ever happy…. you should know by now the cost of everlasting life…”
“Just ideas, we run out of ideas… Always thinking never calm….”
“Do you spend much time on earth?”
“Yeah, I’m here a lot in earth time, since the beginning of course. Before here, I’d live on other planets as well. I like lifespan. It started as a thought, expanded into many thoughts, split into thought and matter and changed into many sorts of matter. And that’s where we are.”
“What’s our future, Blue?”
“I mean earth…”
“Oh, not very good. You’ll self-destruct but along the way you’ve done some magical stuff so, they give us this but they take away that…”
We walked and walked, towards Germany, in straight line, aimlessly and then turnws around, the sun was going down fast. “Do you get lonely?” I asked him.
“Not the way you do, and you are getting lonely.”
“I’d like to see my family again. It is different here than in the Aftermath, I feel the tug of yesterday overpowering me. It is like my life came and went and now what is it? I know what they can’t know for certain.”
“Let’s sit here.” Blue said and we crashed down at an outdoor bar and artist scotch and beer chasers. One round two rounds three rounds. I wanted to get fucked up, I wanted to get out of this place I was and just become, I dunno free of the life and death struggle about to happen. Blue met me drink for drink. We began talking to a couple of girls sitting next to us. I recognized one of them, she’d been preteen sitcom star and then a teen idol maybe ten years ago, gone on to movies, it hadn’t happened, then a reality TV show and finally a pop album that broke big around a year before I died. I’d heard about her, how she made her way up the ladder, a not unusual story and one that had left scars large enough to discuss.
Her friend was more her one person entourage, anywhere but Cannes she’d have probably added a couple of bodyguards as well, but in the outside confines, she allowed Blue and I to drink and talk, we acted somewhere between blasé and blasted. The girl, Marianne O’Hagen, was bottle blonde, tall, lithe, and interested and she short cut us through the bullshit world before ordering another round, turning to her friend and saying conspiratorially, “Come on, Grace, let’ss go powder our nose.” Blue dug in his pocket and gave her a small envelope. “This is pure”, he said. Marianne bent down, picked it up, and kissed him. “Thanks doll.” She said and I guess that settled who was with whom.
“Not exactly God like”, I said with a raised eyebrow.
“Don’t be so judgmental.”
“Gimme”, I replied and Blue laughed and handed it over.
By the time I got back so were the girls. “The thing is, entertainment business is a business and the world treats it sentimentally. But when you’re an eleven year old girl sucking off a TV exec for the third lead in a YA pilot, it doesn’t feel so sentimental. No choices, very little ways around the traffic in Hollywood. These are the laws of the business, and for a mix of semen and spittle on a young girls lips, well, the rewards can be pretty terrific. Right, Grace.”
“Yes, boss.” Grace said with a smirk. “You graduated fast.”
“Fast, not fast, Grace. Sex is an easy commodity if you make sure you get what you want from it. My parents did what they needed to but it wasn’t that bad. I know some girls who fucked their dads as well, like that is child abuse because there is no upside on it. It is all down.”
I nodded. “Back in the sixties…” I started. And then stopped.”
Blue picked it up. “Yeah, it kinda was different before but by how much. Every generation thinks they invented sex w hen in fact I invented sex.”
“Oh, really?” Grace replied. “Are you good at it.”
“I am good enough to treat you well, Grace. Even if you prefer girls.” I glanced over at Grace and she smirked again.
“You think I’m a dyke?”
“Gender fluid,” Marianne added.
“And you, Marianne?” I asked.
“I’m a dabbler, I like pretty things… like you. You have a certain, I dunno, self awareness.”
“I’ve been around myself.”
“UK. Trying to break through with a blues band, wrong time and place.”
“yeah, essentially the biz is always bullshit till you’ve made it.”
“And you’ve made it.”
“It is so Junior High, you know, such a huge pecking order of fame and fortune and, selfies and blowjobs. The stench of success, is it worth it. I guess. At this time in my life,m I’m gonna be 30, I know nothing else and fortunately I’ll be able to spend my life in this world of hope and dreams… hopeless dreams. “
It was past one in the morning and still the Croisette hadn’t thinned out.
“I wanna dance”, I said, turning to Blue. Wanna club it.
Blue nodded and Marianne said “another toot and w’ll come with you.”
We walked down the Croisette and Marianne made her way to me, and in the light of the moon I could see her clear, lush lips, minimal make up, starry eyed, heart shaped face like the wonder of a love,. She took my arm and she moved well. I knew women and I knew women who knew men and she knew men. I wanted to ask why she chose me over Blue and then I thought, “She really hasn’t, we wills wap and pitch and change and shop later. Being alive, being dead, being alive, it seemed like an immense secret about life was before, about the nature of decay, the passing of time, the rattling of our bones the consistent randomness og incident at the heart of life, the life that lives to live: it is like this powerful force bent on self destruction. These people , all these people, planets, things up there, everywhere: everything pulsates with a beat that doesn’t exist aftermath even as we want it to, even as we draw towards it in the Aftermath, once we are back here there is a quality to life, perhaps its simple ephemeral nature that makes it better than death. For me, for now, as a 25 year old man with a stunningly beautiful woman next to him, it felt as though there was nothing that I wanted more than the freedom to live here. I think what I really wanted was for me to life forever and for everything else to die. The equality of the Aftermath dragged me down. I needed the royalty of being the only one. What I wanted was what Blue had –I was a god but not the God and, yeah, Blue would claim he isn’t the God either, that the God the way I mean it doesn’t exist but I’d been around Blue for a couple of years now and I had figured out there was stuff none of us quite understand. Here, in life, we walk around in a glorious daze and there, in the Aftermath, we walk around in an infinite daze. There are no words, everybody gets what they want and then they don’t want it. Everybody makes the life they want and then destroys it.
That’s what bothers me, the nagging sense that absolute nothingness might be better than this, than not only should the Universe close down but also so should the Aftermath and the only answer clear to me, it is all worth while for the smell of the sea on this glorious late night.
“Deep in though?” Marianne asked.
“I wonder, Marianne. Are you happy?”
“A little bit, right now.” She replied and her voice lost a little of its edge, its sureness and its exasperation. “I have never found a love that could fulfill me, maybe just all those guys when I was a kid. I felt brutalized.”
“Well, you were brutalized.”
“Yeah, in a way. I guess you feel like your normal life is indeed normal. “
We walked to a nightclub and past the line waiting to get in, courtesy of Marianne. In the VIP area we bought a couple of bottles of courvoisier, hit the coke and then I dragged Marianne out onto the dancefloor. This was my world, it was what I did and what I did best and while anemic but hard beat trance played I could feel the blood and guts, the bottled up rage of life that dancing has always been, explode. It has been years since I really danced and the beats seemed so bass heavy and creaky that I had to battle them to get off. Then I suddenly felt self-conscious, how Mick Jagger did I want to be? I scaled back the hips but not the feet and in an unconscious alcohol and cocaine induced coma my entire body seemed to be all bones jerking forward and backwards. I looked up for the first time and Marianne was smiling at me, as I clapped my hands above my heads and slithered up to her, kissing her roughly and backing away as she followed me and I kissed her again, never missing a beat, never a doubt and Blue was next to me as well and I kissed him as well. Everything raging through my mind as time rushed forward and stood still, as though every single sensation ever known was at my fingertips, as though I could feel the beat and the taste everywhere. Blue slipped us all some ecstasy and time went into a freeze frame. In essence there was no difference between this here and doing it in the Aftermath but here he seemed real and there it seemed like a virtual reality game. “When you get used to the Aftermath, it will be like this”, Blue whispered in my ear and I believed him but it wasn’t there now.
The DJ was a master of the self-evident and I realized that instinctively, this wasn’t the electronic self-destruction of an experimental dance track, this was drop the bass, drop the bass, and tingling in with that twisty sound of beats was something else as well, the slow fuse build up to an explosion. I wanted to fuck Marianne so much and I pulled her close to me and pulled away, in the middle of the dancefloor, slamming my feet to the beat, hands above my head, sweat pouring off me. How long? How long?
By the time we were back on the streets, the sun was slowing rising and the streets were finally quiet/ “Are you coming to our room?” I asked Marianne.
She nodded her head and the four of us walked slowly back.
Soon we were a tangle of sweet sweat, chemicals, sex. All four of us jumbled up like one big body. And then it was over and we slept.
I woke up first, went for a cigarette, and then some water and then I put on my pajama bottoms and stood on the balcony overlooking the Mediterranean. What if I jumped over the balcony. I’d been at a party once where a girl I’d been kissing, in Gibraltar I think, went on to the balcony and leaned against it and it crumbled and she fell to her death. I’d been watching her from inside and when she began to fall I could see it and I rushed out but all that was left in my ears was her screams and her body falling, arms and legs like a fly after you sprayed bug killer, flaying arms and legs and following and following. I could see the image right there in front of me but what was a tragedy now I saw as nothing, a mental makeup game. A way to waste time before wasting all time.
I went back to bed and closed my eyes and dreamt in ways I don’t dream in the Aftermath. Here it wasn’t a choice but a necessity. I was still in Cannes but many years ago, on my wedding night with Bianca, waiting for my drug supplier. I’d given her the royal treatment, after us the most important person there by far. I looked cool in yellow flairs and a silk multi colored shirt with large lapels. My hand was shaking and I could barely light my cig. Somebody lit it for me. It was Andrew, I have no idea what he was doing there. I was holding her hand but she seemed angry at me, she is showing some contract or the other and I begin to read it but the words become all jumbled up and I can’t make them out.
Then Blue comes in and he asks to see me in private. Bianca is screaming at me but I ignore her and go into another room with him. We go into a huge dining room, a table goes from one end of the room to the other, longer than a football pitch and every inch is covered by drugs, all kinds of drugs. From one end to the other all I see is coke, heroine, crack coke, pills, and teaspoons and Bunsen burners, and needles, and pipes. “Is this enough?” Blue asks. “It is the happiest day of your life, Mick. Look in the mirror, kid.” He say/ “You’re Mick Jagger and people want you, don’t you feel wanted.”
I don’t say anything, I just cut up lines on the mirror he gave me and start snorting and snorting, and Blue says: “That’s not coke, that’s smack.”
My face goes blue, I am going into cardiac arrest. I am dying. And I’m scared because I’ve forgotten about the Aftermath, I’ve forgotten everything, and the terror has me paralyzed. I am lying on a bench on the lower east side, near Ludlow street, it is nighttime, like maybe a little past midnight. And I am shaking and throwing up, like I have the DTs and my friend is pushing me, I don’t know who it is, I can’t see her face. People are walking past me, I could die and no one would care, I try to stand and I can’t do. “I’m going to spend the night here”, I say but there is no one there even as people pass by. Ignore me. “Am I homeless” I think but I can’t say the words because I am too ill to speak.
Awake with a jolt and I miss my kids, my Grandkids, suddenly I feel this nostalgia for Mick Jagger, yes, 80 year old Mick, world famous Mick, rock star Mick. I miss my home, my house, I miss the Patriarch leader who had done it all and come out on top of life. I’d do it all again, I might do it all again: so much, so secretive and personal and hidden from view. I own a house near here, a mansion. I want to drive by, drive in, just to say hello. I m sure they’ve changed their codes but maybe they haven’t. I go to the wardrobe and unpeel a fresh white shirt and clap on the pants to a fresh pressed suit. Smooth shiny black shoes. I look in my wallet. Drivers license, credit cards, money… I start to leave, quietly but there is Blue right in front of me. “Don’t try and stop me….” I say, warningly.
“I wasn’t going,” Blue replied. “Here are the keys to our jag. Your family are there you know. They will probably arrest you but I can always bail you out.”
“What if they don’t? What if I decide to never return to the Aftermath.”
“You can do that as well, you know, kid. I figure you’ve got five years before the Universe ends. Enjoy it.”
“Then let it.”
“Then let it.”
I leave, it is not that early, maybe 10am, when I get in the car and drive towards Nice, then into the hills, the roads narrow and winding, like it just exited from a stylish Hitchcock movie. I knew this area very well and I slowed at the curves without even thinking about it, second nature, but not everybody is as smart and maybe 100 yards from the entrance to my mansion this snazzy sports car I recognize very well because it was mine once, and it is barreling straight for me, suddenly, right in front of me. I go left, she goes right. In my mind, I am thinking about yesterday, if there is an accident we aren’t in the aftermath, people could die. We skid round and round and I am calm for myself because I have nothing left to lose at all, but I recognize the woman behind the wheel and I am very skid, suddenly her car car (my car) is on two wheels, like a bucking bronco, and then it is flipping to one side, and it is a convertible and if it rolls over she dies and so so does the child buckled into a seat behind her. My Granddaughter no doubt, one of the ones I have never seen. It bucks, swerves rolls over. Again and again and again, and then it is crashing headfirst into a tree and then it explodes and I jump out but I can’t get to the car. Everything is head, and smoke, and the entire car explodes again and I am on the ground, buckled to my knees. I should have read my Bible more closely, God is a motherfucker, you don’t cross him up and I am much more scared then when I died, much more scared then I have ever been. The girl must have been two years old.
And then, like a movie everything stops and rewinds, everything is going backwards, like a sci fi story or something, and the entire last 30 seconds rewinds and this time we swerve away and we are in the clearing at a standstill. “Thank God,” I say to myself, and this voice in my head says “Technically I am not supposed to do that, you know.” And I laugh in relief. My Granddaughter is behind the wheel and my Great Granddaughter is right next to her white with fright. I leave the car and run towards them. “You kids alright?” They don’t answer. I open the door and take my Great Granddaughter out of the car and hug her. “You’re Okay baby, you’re okay”, I say.
Oh yes, those strange bonds, she snuggles her head into my neck and begins to cry. My Granddaughter is coming out of the shock. “Anyone injured?”, I ask. And she looks up at me ?”
She shakes her head. “No, no. I’m so sorry, I lost control. It’s an old car and I just, I should be a better driver.” and she begins to cry.
“I better call the police.” I say.
“No, please don’t, everything is fine.”
She is close to me and I can smell alcohol on her breath. She notices my look. “I had a stupid fight with my husband. Can you drive us back, I live near here. I’ll send somebody to pick up the car.”
I nod and we clamber in my car and drive the few minutes to the main gate, she speaks to security and we drive in to my old home. It looks the same. I am surprised it wasn’t sold. “Nice place”, I say.
She nods. “My Grandfather was very rich, he left it to my Mom and we live here. Like the entire family seems to congregate here from time to time.”
“That’s why you’re here?”
“Yeah, but my husband gets jealous and he always pulls this crap.” She is holding her daughter who is sucking her thumb contentedly, it is already ancient history. “Here, we are.” She says. “Would you like to unwind for a little while, please come in.”
So I go in and it is something like a Mick Jagger mausoleum. Pictures of me and the kids, platinum albums, me with head of states, me as a kid, as an adult, with various exes… both moving and a little weird. “A Stones fan?” I ask, warily.
She laughts at me. “He was my Grandfather.”
“Really, cool. What was he like.”
“He had his Mick moments and he had his Granddad moments… I liked him. I wish he had met my daughter.” The girl was still in my arms, still hugging me, though quiet now. She looked very blonde and a little tired and she sucked her thumb and looked up at me questioningly. “So odd”, my Granddaughter said. “She doesn’t usually take to strangers… you are handsome though.”
“Thanks, so I’ve been told!” But I managed a blush when I said it.
“London, I’m vacationing with friends.”
“It’s a beautiful area isn’t it. My Grandpa loved it.”
“Sure, he recorded Exile On Mainstreet here.”
“Long before we got here.”
“It was, I bet the South Of France was different then.”
“It was, my Grandpa loved it here. He’d spend weeks walking around his garden over there, and playing music in the corridor. He was kinda mythic, you know. I thought he’d never die. We were all so devastated, what an outpouring of love. It was like everybody kinda stopped and realized that we had just lost royalty, like what the Stones brought musically, it could never be matched at all and was gone for good. The end of the 60s, the end of rock, the end of so much. For me as well, I felt vulnerable in ways I hadn’t.”
“Perhaps he is watching over you right this moment.”
“Perhaps, I mean, I am not very religious but I would be so happy to think he was. In heaven, looking down. But you know, whatever I can do in my life it can’t compare to him.”
“Who would want to, right? You can’t live his life, this world is tough enough without trying to live up to something you can’t. You know, so much of it is just luck and timing. Some of it might be his genius but lots of geniuses remain unknown, never heard or known and then some Londoner hits it bigger than big. What can you say and do about it? It just is and you just are. All you can be is who you are, you can’t be in a shadow.”
“True, but you don’t live it.”
“Sell the house, sell the memorabilia, live your life…. That’s what I would do.”
“Having a baby helps, because I want her to have a wonderful life as well and I feel that… maybe this sounds stupid, but at least in some sense I have done my duty to mankind… you probably think I am being silly, don’t you? The thing is, I know how this world treats the great and the gifted and I also know the great and gifted by association. Do you see what I mean?”
“Yes, but I get the feeling it isn’t all it might be either. You feel more or less than human. It is strange, maybe in the aftermath we all become Mick Jaggers?”
“I hope not…”
AT that point an assistant came in and asked for her car keys. “Don’t worry about anything, Ma’Am. I’ll get it all done for you, I’ll get it handled…” Just relax, and calm down.”
“Police?” she asked.
“We’ve heard nothing.” The assistant gave me a nasty look, I had outstayed my welcome. I nodded. “I will be leaving right now.” I replied to the look.
“You don’t have to.”
“Actually, I do. I have to save the world.”
“Me as well?”
“You as well.”
I got in the car, put on some Johnny Hartman, and let the wind blow through my hair, I drove back to the hotel. There seemed no choice, I felt caught in fate and also ready for the run of fate. For Blue, who saved my children and save me, and saved all of us. The strangest of Gods and yet… what other God could we have. What other God should we want? A God who lives well beyond daydreams of winning or losing, loving and hoping, but in the heart of them. A God who is what it thinks it is and we are what we think we are, and they coincide, with both strengths and weakness. God, Blue, isn’t us, he, she, it, has a staticness about it, that we don’t have, even when we are dead. Yet the longer we are dead the more like Blue we are, until we become Blue and Blue becomes us.
The truth is, Blue came first and then the Aftermath and then the Universe and the three work together, are all part of the same thing. I don’t think Blue is sure what would happen without the Aftermath, what will happen when it ends. But it doesn’t think it will be good for the Aftermath if it happens before its time.
Perhaps there is a deeper magi, a deeper world than even these that we know, that Blue knows, perhaps there is an Aftermath after the Aftermath… perhaps an endless fragile, infinite mysteriousness. It is odd but not odd that I should love Blue, God, so much. Not odd I should love that little girl and I just know she deserves her life and I will do everything I possibly can to give it to her, to provide a world she owes to her. She must live.
The Rolling Stones must play one last time.
“My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment.”
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