Phillip closed his eyes, shut out the world for a while, and imagined going to sleep, he was tired enough. But the sun was raising and he thought of getting out of bed and closing the curtains, and then he thought of putting on his pyjamas but he just lay there exhausted, not sure what to do, or whether he was needed or why or: his mind was like a ball in a pinball machine, shooting from one side to another and he barely heard the door open.
Mike had been asleep for half an hour but Michelle couldn’t manage it. She was thinking about that strange woman standing behind Joe Strummer, her angular nose, large teeth, beautify mane and barely concealed contempt for all of them. The woman had looked like someone who had better places to be, different, other ways to deal with consciousness. She looked like she couldn’t care if the world ended. “I wonder what planet she’s from. I should’ve asked… “ Then her brain jumped to the look on Phil’s face when she sided with Mike. He looked, not surprised or hurt, he looked resigned and it was a look that suggested Phil had spent his entire life on the wrong end of just such a conversation. “I wonder if he thought about Mom, about Mom throwing him out. I wonder if he saw me in her, as if I’d betrayed him again even though what choice had I? I had to stand by my man and even if Phil had been my dad, isn’t that what we women do, right?”
Her stomach lurched as she thought that, as if she had said it but instead of it being the truth it was more like a half hidden lie somewhere below. “Do the right thing,” she said under her breath. Where had she heard it? “Do what I am meant to do, for love, for friendship. I brought him here, I forced the guy, he didn’t want it… why? My Daddy….”
Still her mind raced. What do we owe, and who do we owe it too? What we love, how does it work. And where was Mom?
Sleep wasn’t happening, so Michelle put on her jeans and a tee shirt and went into the living room, it was around 6am, and she was wide awake, clunked some ice into a glass and just that sound seemed to reverberate around the room, like the sound of jail doors. Somehow, Phillip heard it through the door, and then, though he may have imagined this, the pouring of the whiskey into the glass, and this he did imagine for sure, the spritz of seltzer water.
So restless, his mind so active, how he wished he could just shut it off and go to sleep, how he wished the past wasn’t so damn close all the time. He got up and went to the door and opened it a crack, just enough to see, but Michelle noticed it, and she motioned and spoke quietly. “Come on, detective, I see you there.” Phillip just stood there. “Come on, don’t be a baby, what did you think would happen?” He scowled, a sort of burdened grimace. “I’m sorry, I know I seem to be on the other side too often.”
“It doesn’t matter,” he replied.
“You keep on saying that and it keeps on mattering.” Phillip filled his glass with ice and a worried look crossed Michelle’s face, you could read the thought as though it was printed on a card and offered around at new client meetings. But Phil went for the orange and Michelle relaxed again and then she wondered how much it mattered. “Is this not drinking a problem?”
“It’s killing me.”
“The booze is what is killing you.”
“You sounded just like your Mom.”
“Insulting me won’t help matters.” That made Phillip laugh and the girl patted the sofa next to her. He sat down next to her, Michelle finished her drink and put it down, took his arm and put it around her and nestled into the crook of his arm. Soon she was sleeping and soon he was asleep as well. Peering at them from the Aftermath in a break from yet more rehearsals, Mick Jagger smiled at Susan. “She’s a smart one, isn’t she. She knows how to play all ends to the middle. She has some of her Grandpa’s business acumen, she has a way of looking at things very very clearly and using it. I like her.”
“You should tell her, Mick.”
“There isn’t time.”
“There’s time, Mick, she deserves it you know. We all deserve to know these deep things, they are as important as the Universe, maybe they are the Universe.”
“Well, she is sleeping now…”
Mick gave Susan a mischievous smile. “Come with me?”
“Blue would’ve, you know…”
“It might… but I’m not him…”
“Well, we are all…”
“Will you go and rehearse?
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