38 – When Worlds Collide
Hannah was lying in bed watching the local news, no mention of Stones or ghosts, just the usual mish mash of death and mayhem and sex and fascism, when she saw the outside of the Plaza on the TV screen. She turned it up as a large black man was filmed with a tattered bag entering through the revolving doors. The voice over claimed, “Mr. Jones was the only survivor of the crash that took the life of rock royalty Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and the other members of the Rolling Stones and their entourage.”
She felt her heart miss a beat and her breath explode from her lungs, her hand tremble. She celled Phillip but he didn’t reply. She texted him. Still no answer. She got dressed and rushed down the lobby but looking for what. She went back upstairs and googled “Jones Rolling Stones”. Elijah Jones, a roadie, on the plane with his fiancée, a back up singer, by a complete miracle, lived.
“This is no miracle”, she said to herself. “This is no coincidence.”
Hannah called Phillip again and again, they needed to talk with him, they needed to include him in, he had to be a part of this…
Hannah called to the lobby and asked to be patched in but there was a do not disturb on his room.
She paced some more and then her cell rang. Phillip listened and told her to wait, he had a friend in the NYPD who could get them Elijah’s room number.
Another wait and it was nearing 1am when Phil called back “He is in the Liberty Suite. I’m gonna leave the kids here and I’ll be back within half an hour.”
“Are they safe?”
“Are you kidding me?”
By the time Phillip was back in the room, Hannah had had a coupla 100 melt downs. “Why didn’t they tell us, why didn’t they warn us. This is a sign…”
“A sign of what Hannah, what is there to sign? We will tell this guy, he will call the police on us, and then either Susan will convince him it is real and he will join in or she won’t and he won’t. It doesn’t change anything.”
They went down to lights and rang on his door. No answer. Banged on the door. No answer. Hannah started to ring again but Phillip stopped her with a wave of his hand. “He ain’t answering, let me handle this.” Phillip pulled out his wallet and rifled through cards till he found a Universal key card and opened the door with a dip.
They walked in on Elijah about to pick up the phone. Elijah was a big man but Phillip was bigger and faster. “we just want to talk.” Elijah said. “No harm, no fight… look at her…” he said pointing to Hannah.
Elijah took them in with a glance, he couldn’t quite place Phillip. A police detective he thought and then thought better. But Hannah reeked money and whatever they wanted it wasn’t to mug him. “Speak quickly,” he snarled.
“We’re on a mission from God”, Hannah said, and Elijah went back to reaching for the phone.
“No we aren’t” Phillip said quickly
“No, we are…”
“Hannah, we aren’t…”
“Then you explain it…”
“Will one of you say something and then get out,” Elijah interrupted. He got out of bed and walked towards the window, looking out to 5th Avenue. “Just say something and leave me.”
For the first time, Verlierer looked at him and he recognized the signs of intense, overwhelming grief. Then he remembered that Elijah was the man who lost the fiancée. “I’m sorry, “ Phil said, and he meant it. “I have an idea of what you are going through.”
“I don’t think you can…”
“I don’t expect you to believe me or Hannah. Hannah is my ex-wife, she used to date Mick Jagger. The stones are performing tomorrow night in Central Park and God has told us to bear witness. “
“Do you expect me to believe that for a second? I think you are both seriously out of your minds and I need you to leave now or I’ll calls security.”
Hannah came towards Elijah and took his hands in hers. “Of course we don’t expect you to believe us. We don’t believe us but either Phil….” Phillip stuck out his hand, “Phillip Verlierer” he said and Elijah ignored him. “…and myself, my daughter and her boyfriend are having a mass hallucination, or we have to see the Stones in concert”
“They are giving one final performance tomorrow night in Central Park. Come and see…”
“Why would I do that…?” He asked Hannah, and as they touched hands he felt something stir inside, a sort of affection, maybe a desire. Something that took him by surprise.
Hannah felt it too and she withdrew her hand quickly and wondered what this mean, then she dismissed it and yet she kept close to him. “Don’t be so sad, Elijah, I know you miss that singer but you’re not alone in it and maybe you can see her, or maybe it is a complete waste of time and none of it means anything, but maybe just maybe we are telling the truth and now for the first time since the crash you are back on the right track.”
Elijah smiled at her, a real smile, from somewhere he had forgotten all about. “You’re a very nice person, I haven’t met any one nice in so long, it’s been… hell.”
“I know,” she said with a glance at Phillip. “And I know you’ve been through something that is as hard to imagine as what we are going through ourselves.”
Phillip rolled his eyes and sat on the sofa, when a brown Pomeranian with the brightest of eyes jumped on his knees and settled itself on his knees. “That’s just Blue Eyes”, Elijah said. “She’s harmless”.
“Unlike Hannah”, Phillip said in a mumble, as he stroked Blue and closed his eyes, then Phillip was asleep, the sort of sleep that doesn’t happen, fast, peaceful but also moving and calming. He was lying on his back with Cassie Landlow, dead so long ago now, but eternally young and Dion Terrain, also lost memories for too many years, Blue Eyes made a fourth, and they were staring at the stars in the warm early morning, it would be a scorching day, you could tell. The three were holding hands and Blue Eyes had its head in Cassie’s lap. The Stones were playing in the background and his Mom was also somewhere there, he couldn’t quite see her, but he could feel her somewhere just in the corner of her eye and she was holding Michelle’s hands and they were whispering together in a conspirator manner. They looked so gentle together and Mom looked so peaceful, so over these things that were hurting her in life and Michelle, when she talk to Phil about being a father, there was something so missing piece about her, her voice, her reactions, there was something so very wrong about it all and here that piece seemed filled to him.
Susan wasn’t there, and that’s how he knew it was a dream, because Susan would have been there for him if he was being visited, she wouldn’t leave him alone. But the young girl he shot, Gloria Abigail was there and she was holding Cassie’s hand. “If this is a death premonition”, Phillip thought to himself, “I can live with it.” This is the way he’d dreamed of his life, a knit of family surrounding and protecting him.
Then he was awake with a jolt and Hannah and Elijah were sitting close together, their knees just touching, sharing something. Phillip knew the look and really, do we indeed fall that fast? They seemed like a couple already. “I know it is just like life to lose Keisha in the very moment I found her, and now where is she?”
“I hope we can find her together, I hope we can bring you some peace, I want to see you happy, Elijah. I want…”
“I’m going to bed,” Phillip interrupted them. “See you tomorrow.”
Michelle and Mike were in the living room when he let themselves in, he watched them drinking southern comfort and cokes and self-consciously licked his lips, that desire hadn’t come close to going away. He explained what had happened and Mike was both interested and indifferent. “I’m forming the Pagans again.” He said.
“I really think he should as well. I can manage the band and really, he can do this.”
“I can really do this, Phillip,” Mike said nodding his head. “I though rock and roll was a misstep but it was the only step. It is why I am here.”
“You are here to write about it, kid. Keep your eye on that and then when we’re ready to get deeper into your career we can back..”
“No, no, you’re not listening,” he snapped. “I,” then taking Michelle’s hand, “We have seen where our future is, it is here playing rock music. That’s where we’re at.”
“First, let’s work the concert tomorrow and then let’s talk.”
“Whenever I find myself in a situation where the answer isn’t clear to me you know what I say? What would Joe doe? That’s what I say. Because I have no fucking heroes, I only beliece in a sort of decency, a sort of punk community and I believe in Joe Strummer and I believe in the Clash and treating people with dignity and respect, and helping people. Something you know jackshit about.”
“But that’s what you’ll be doing…”
“Who will I be helping? How do you know we are on the right side.”
“Because we are, that’s how I know. That’s all that matters. Trust your instinct. Like Star Wars, Mike, use your force for decency.”
“What if we are on the side of the devil.”
“Do you really think there’s a devil?”
“Anything is not merely possible but likely…”
“Will you stop…”
“’Please allow me to introduce myself…’ You don’t know and neither do we. I abdicate. I’m done. We’re not going to the concert tomorrow.” The two men stood face to face and Phillip resisted hard the urge to deck him. “I always felt I would be using Michelle if we worked on my music together but she is too rich for me to matter much and I am where I need to be in the city I love and here we can do it. We can be bigger than the Rolling Stones. It is what must be. You’re not an artist, you don’t understand how it feels to find yourself in the one place you need to be, to bring what you have to the world. There wasn’t enough in LA, it isn’t the central jumping off point Manhattan is. We’re closer to Europe here, we are next door to Europe. Do you understand, this is the center of my life. Let’s go to bed, Michelle…” he said, but Michelle ignored him and knowing better than to push it, he went off by himself.
Michelle grinned at Phillip. “Let me punch him, just once…” Phil said.
“Sorry, I’d like to but no.”
“Can you deal with him?”
“Can I? Sure.”
“Maybe, but I want him to be a man, I want him to grow up and I really like this side of him. It is why I got involved in the first place and I don’t want to step on his self esteem, on his ambition. He wasn’t ready two years ago, but now I think he is and maybe we aren’t needed for this ghost hunt.”
“Your Mom won’t like it.”
“I come into a lot of money when I hit 21, either she funds me now or Grandma will and she’ll never see us.”
“And Mick Jagger?”
“Send me a postcard when you find out who my dad is.”
Michelle left to be and Phil ignored the bottle again and sat down. “Susan?” he said.
But he didn’t get Susan. He got Fatou Diakité
“My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment.”
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