Exit | Entrance | Living it up | Living it down | Waking up is hard to do | Stress and distress | Spring green and mushrooms | Depressing stuff | Deliverance | Departure
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©Marcus J Brierley, 1999
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8 - Depressing stuff
"I shall kind-of miss Saturdays," saidDamian cosily squiggling Sheila's nose as she lay curled up in his arms whilethe film technicians pottered around them, possibly for the last time.
"Why, are we doing away with them forever?" she asked.
"I mean this," he waved generally in thedirection of the activity. "Wes's asked me to write some music for thefilm. That'll be fun. I get to see the film and compose something as it goesalong."
"Can you do that sort of music?"
"Don't see why not. Seems easy enough. Just sitin front of a mic and doodle with the Fender."
"Just like normal then?"
The crew finished sorting out the lights and theprops and discretely left the room, the signal that action was not far away andeither hordes of actors would troop in and start doing their thing in front ofthe camera, while Rufus bossed them about, and Damian and Sheila had a sort ofearly morning cabaret. Alternatively they were expected to vacate their bed andretire to the bathroom, where with a bit of luck there would be nobody sittingon the toilet or applying late make-up.
Wes had said that this was the last day's shoot andit would soon be a wrap. Damian was new to that expression and rather liked it.He tried it out on various other folk like Ted, 'it's a wrap,' he said after adozen takes in the studio.
By lunch time it was a wrap.
Everyone was hugging each other and crying. Everyonewas saying things like,
"See you at Cannes dear," "Lovelydahling," and "Rarely great dahling".
Even Damian and Sheila got the feeling of sadnessmingled with relief. They were all off to the pub for a farewell binge.
Pubs were not generally Damian's cup of tea and hedeclined the invite for inclusion in the party. Instead, he plugged in theFender and set fire to the strings. Wesley had to bang very hard on his door togain access.
"Well, I want to thank you thoroughly. In fact,I can't thank you enough. In fact, you've been a hell of a sport allowing us,all of us to march all over your life for the past six weeks. The fact is, it'sbeen a success. I don't know if we'll ever sell it or get it shown, but thefact remains we've done it and its done."
"Well, thanks for your thanks, Wes," saidDamian, "I really appreciate it. Actually, we came to enjoy it after afashion. It made a change from just waking up in the morning. Waking up andfinding different folk in your room wandering about while you're dozing, it'sdefinitely, well different, more interesting than every other day of the week.So Sheila and me were quite sad that it's over."
"Still, your involvement is only just about tobegin Damian! We've been editing as we go and we've got a rough cut almosttogether. By about Wednesday, I'd like to invite you into the dubbing theatreto take a look and see where you want to begin with the music."
* * * * *
Wesley called for Damian on the Wednesday as plannedand together they went up to Wardour Street, into a little dubbing studio toreview the cut at its definite maybe stage. Wesley and Rufus had spent not onlyall of the five hundred pounds of the literary prize, but also a sizeable loanfrom Rufus's mother in addition. None of the actors had been paid, nor everwould be. Film and processing had been covered and there was enough in thekitty for a very small amount of studio time.
Damian watched intently as the story unfolded onscreen in what he could scarcely recognise as his own living room.
"What we're looking for," said Wesley,"is something atmospheric and moody. Doesn't have to be continuous tune,and we know we're not going to get a big orchestral sound, because it's onlygoing to be you with your guitar. But something romantically atmospheric iswhat we have in mind. Can you do it?"
"Going to need some thought, this," saidDamian, scratching his chin contemplatively. "How does it all work?"
"Right, well, we need to polish up the rough cuta bit and we can just about afford to do that. Then you need to look at it,maybe looped, that means they cut up the sequences into short loops which willrun over and over as many times as you want. You record your music ontoordinary tape at the same time as you can see the picture. Then it's copiedonto magnetic film so that it can be synchronised to the picture using thesprocket holes. Got it?"
"And we do that recording here?" askedDamian.
"Here, anywhere. There are lots of littledubbing studios about like this. Mainly all in Wardour Street, next door, upthe road, whatever. We do it where we can get down time."
"Down time. Time when they're not so busy withbig paying work. We can get it at a cheaper rate. Usually in the middle of thenight or something like that. No problems with the middle of the night?"said Wesley.
Damian shook his head. He was already thinking of howhe was going to tackle the interesting experience of making music to picture.
"When do we start?"
The next couple of weeks was filled with all nightsessions in Wardour Street during which Damian improvised precariously around ahalf dozen or so themes, with lots of sustains and vibratos. Rufus gave somehints at further development, Wesley expressed himself delighted and finallyanother wrap was declared.
A few days later, Wesley was back in the Damian'sroom for another favour.
"We're having a grand showing of the film,"he splendidly proclaimed, "I've managed to persuade my literary agent tocome down to see it and I'm proposing to invite the cast and crew too, to makeit a kind of party atmosphere."
"Lovely," said Damian, "and where areyou planning to hold the event."
"Well I had considered that we might use one ofthose preview theatres in Wardour Street, one that's owned by the dubbingtheatre people, but unfortunately we haven't been able to pay our bill as yet,so that isn't an option. Anyway, it just isn't big enough for everyone. But, onthe other hand, I thought what would be really nice - really, really nice -would be to have the whole thing here!"
Damian did his thoughtful-while-scratching-his-chinlook and started to reach nervously for the Fender, always a good way ofgetting rid of unwelcome people with their unwelcome ideas.
"That's a lot of folk in my room all at one timeWesley?" this was intoned as an uncertain question even though it wasclearly phrased as a statement.
"It is! It is a lot of folk in your room, but onthe other hand, it is a very big room Damian. It is a big room and not onlythat, it would be a super, super, jolly enjoyable party. You would have a topliterary agent here in this very room. You would have a gathering of all sortsof literati and glitterati, mainly of course the actors and technicians thatyou already know so well. You would have all these lovely people here. And you did the music, Damian. Let's notforget that. The music. Nobody's seen the film with the music and you did it, so there's anadded reason for you to host the entire event." Wesley concluded withpanache.
"Flattery, Wes, flattery, that's all thisis."
Damian was also pleased by the persuasiveness of thepitch.
"Right, when's it to be?"
"I've got everyone lined up for Thursdaynight," said Wesley presenting his fate, accompli.
"This Thursday?!?" said Damian.
"This Thursday. Problem? Gigging?"
Damian gulped visibly.
"No, it's cool, man, just cool."
"Brilliant! You're brilliant Damian. I knewyou'd come through. That's why I was confident enough to organise everythingand order the catering and so on yesterday, which was the last possible momentby which I could get it confirmed!"
"So talk me through it," said Damiandeciding wisely that resistance was now futile.
* * * * *
"Gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous," gushedLavinda Critchley-Froop as she glazed across the astonishing breadth ofDamian's room.
"Divine, simply divine," she said as sheshook vigorous hands with every blushing young actor and actress who arrived atthe party.
"Splendid, perfectly splendid," she said asthe film show clack-clacked to a close.
His room was about as packed as Damian had ever seenit. All his stuff, there was not much of it, had been folded up and moved toSheila's.
Much beautiful antique furniture had been shiftedfrom Rufus D'Gere's room at the front of the house and Damian was marginallyapprehensive that Rufus might now claim the Room for his own as an incumbentapparent.
Indeed, at one point, Rufus had added palpably to hisapprehension,
"You know, my furniture really quite suits thisroom Damian."
Damian shuddered and rushed to the bathroom to smokesomething calming.
Whilst he felt at ease with the actors, couldbelittle Wesley, ignore Rufus, tolerate Dave, enjoy Bertie, adore Sheila, longfor Patsy, pester Ted, hope for Lem - he was absolutely and utterly terrifiedof Critchley-Froop who dominated the entire evening with her intellectualbanter and ceaseless references to other 'important writers' who were among hermuch cared for flock. Or was it just her name which was so terrifying? Anyway,the party wouldn't last for ever!
The antiques were returned to their rightful owner.The actors went home to bed. The remains of the tucker was scooped back intoits troughs. Damian's room was restored to its spacious emptiness. Theprojector and screen was packed into the rent-a-van. Wesley was teed for a longcareer of literary luminance. The film was never shown again.
The next day Guilio Antonioni rang from his hotelsuite in Bond Street.
"Damian! Ha-ha! Bread! Ha-ha-ha! It is I,Guilio. I am here in London! Can you visit with me? I would like some bread,ha-ha! And some of that new thing - the L and the S and the D. Can you get mesome of that thing Damian?"
"Guilio, hi. Look, I'm not really into gettingstuff for folk man. You know that's not my scene man."
"Oh Damian. My good friend. What am I to do. Iam here in London all alone, Damian, and I waant some faahn. I waant to turn onDamian, to tune in with you, to do the dropping out again. How can I turn onwithout you to help me buy the bread?" he pleaded.
Damian gave in.
"OK Guilio. I'll meet you in Town, then we'lldecide what to get and where to get it. Shall I come now?"
"Not now Damian," said Guilio, "I havethe fashion editors of half of Europe arriving at any moment to my suite. Theyare seeing my winter collection and they will be here all morning. Then thebuyers are coming. Oh it is saach a long day!" he almost moaned, but theexcitement of the show was evident in every 'aa' of his voice.
"OK, so when's convenient then?" saidDamian somewhat dryly, he had a definite sensation of ever so slightly beingused.
"Could you come this evening Damian? Could youcome around six? Everyone will be gone around six I think. Could you come thensay?"
"I could come then if that's what you wantGuilio."
"And bring the lovely Patsy with you Damian. Ican't wait to see Patsy again. Do bring Patsy too!"
"I'm sorry that won't be possible Guilio,"said Damian even more dryly than before, "We're not going out any more.We're not seeing each other any more, I'm afraid."
"Oh Damian! I'm so sorry!" Guilio soothed,"Oh Damian, please forgive me, I didn't know. Of course you realise, Icouldn't know."
"Is Sheila around? Do you still see Sheila? Sheis lovely too. I would like to see Sheila if you can bring her along. Thatwould be a great pleasure."
"Sheila's possible Guilio. Sheila lives here inthe flat with me and Sheila and I are good friends right now. I'll ask her whatshe's doing tonight and if she's free I'll ask her if she'd like to come along.Is that OK?"
"Oh Damian, that would be waanderful. I shouldlike that so maach. I should like to see Sheila again. Yes please do!"
Damian was ready to hang up but Guilio had a furtherrequest.
"Would you be able, able to get the bread, Imean the hashish before you come. We could start off with that then, right awayat six. Then we could have some dinner here in my suite. And then - what else?That LSD?"
"Mmm. I'll have to see about that Guilio. I'mnot sure about any of that. It's possible I can lay my hands on the hash. Butthe acid, that's harder. Today's not the day for getting hold of thatstuff."
"No deliveries of the LSD today? Ah such a pityDamian. I have been so looking forward to that. But never mind. We'll see.Whatever you can do, I will be so grateful. And the beautiful dinner we willhave. So Damian. You know where to come? I have told you? My hotel suite?"
"Same as before Guilio?" said Damian.
"Before was Dorchester I think. Now is Westbury.Better right in the centre of London for the editors to come to. The HotelWestbury. Do you know it Damian?"
Damian was not on talking terms with five starhotels, but took the address and the suite number and promised to be there ontime. Guilio oozed dying gratitude. Damian returned to the sack and dreamed ofsweet success.
Later, he rang Ted to see if there was any news onthe record deal. But Ted was in a meeting. Call him tomorrow. Tomorrow, maybethere was a deal. Maybe it was going to be tomorrow.
Damian did a few things, time fillers. He was glad ofthe Guilio thing. It was a treat. It was boring to be used as a gopher, but itwas fun to frequent five star places even if your host was fat and greasy.Damian grabbed Sheila in the kitchen.
"Fancy going to see Guilio? Guilio, the Italianshoe man?" he said.
Sheila wrinkled up her face. Part of her thought itwould be fun. He had sent her a pile of shoes so generously, and she lovedthem. She should be more than grateful to Guilio. Part of her said, 'thisreminds me of Lem.' She wanted to be reminded of Lem, but she didn't. If Lemwas around then she wanted Lem. If he wasn't even in correspondence, then hedidn't exist and she preferred to forget him entirely. But Guilio would knowabout Lem, she felt sure. Maybe she wanted to know what he knew. Then there wasthe part of her which said, 'bopping with a rich guy from Italy, even if he wasfat!'
"Yeah, OK!" she said.
Damian borrowed some dope from Dave and was set.
He made no attempt to fulfil the extra request. Hefelt sure Guilio was not mentally available for the big trip, since he'd passedout just smoking a little pot. What would he make of blowing his mind? No,Damian didn't want the mind of a rich Italian on his conscience.
He and Sheila waded through endless stream of trafficinto London in the Fiat.
* * * * *
The Westbury Hotel, squashed in between the tallbuildings of Bond Street, was a-bubble with hum, the bustle and babble ofbeautiful birds with big busts and their boys with bank balances to match.
Damian dimly sensed his own dress style was just toofar out for this particular set. Frosty glances from doormen and porters madeit obvious. Rock respectabilia was some way off. The value set by Sotheby's onthe kind of clothes Damian and Sheila were wearing was way into a futuredecade. Nevertheless, they made their way on brass encrusted elevators to asuitable level and found the suite of the crazy shoe designer from Milano.
"Whoo!" said Damian as he entered the hotelsuite.
If his own room in the flat represented a classapart, Guilio's at the Westbury was even more impressive. The floor of the mainroom, in which there was also a king-size double bed, was literally covered inboots of all shapes and sizes and so was the bed.
"Welcome Damian, welcome Sheila! It's waanderfulto see you. It's so good that you could come to visit with me! I am so pleasedto see you. And did you bring the bread? Ha-ha-ha!" Would Guilio ever lethis joke die a natural death? "The boots, Sheila, help your self! Try themon! See what you like! You can have them all! The show is over. I don't needthem any more. They laaved them!" Guilio was already halfway high with noadded ingredients.
They finally got beyond his doorstep greetings andinto the room itself.
Sheila did not instantly rush into undignifiedexcess, trying on of all the samples, instead she sat politely in an armchairand waited for things to settle down. She eyed the boots surreptitiously,however, and liked what she saw.
Damian sat too, keen that the atmosphere settled intosomething less frenetic.
Guilio perched on the edge of the bed, but was stillselling boots to anyone who would listen. He picked up a snakeskin and calfsample and handed it out to Sheila,
"Please. Please try. It will be your size.Everything is your size. I have remembered your size. I have made it all so youcan help yourself!"
"Are you serious?" said Sheila, genuinelyamazed. She pulled on the boot. It looked wonderful. "Have you got theother one?" she asked.
"Other one? I have many other ones. You can see!They are all here!"
"No, I mean this is a left one. Do you have aright one?"
"A right one? Ah-ha-ha-ha! I make that mistakebefore don't I?" he said. "I knowthere is something wrong when Ileave Italy!"
"You don't have any right ones?" saidSheila unfortunately unable to disguise disappointment in her voice.
"I send you them, my laave. I send you them. Ipromise I send you them. I promise before didn't I? I send you them didn't I?You get the shoes Sheila? I send you them, I promise. You will be happy."
"Thank you Guilio. I'll be happy!" saidSheila and immediately felt guilty for being disappointed
Sheila chose. The boots arrived in time for winter.
Guilio couldn't wait to smoke hashish. He made Damianroll up immediately, while he observed intently.
"Now how to do that with the papers. You show meagain when we have smoked this one." He dropped even further into italicswhen he was impatient for pot.
Guilio got stoned rapidly, sooner than he ought tohave considering the small amount he was taking. But this was exactly as he hadbeen before. He didn't hold it in even for a moment.
Guilio had apparently already ordered food and itarrived shortly afterwards with a flourish. Guilio demanded a joint betweeneach slice of roast and passed out before the pudding.
Damian and Sheila sat back in the comfortable hotelchairs and looked around them.
"Do you suppose he does this in every country hegoes to?" said Sheila, more as an assumption than a question.
"I should think he does, though I don't think hegets much practice at blowing spliffs. A couple of drags and he's a gonner.What'll we do She? Piss off or stick around till he wakes up?"
"Well there's plenty here to keep us occupied,but I don't know if I can take any more. I'm the same with the food as he iswith the dope. It's such a shame 'cos he's a lovely guy."
"Do you think so?" said Damian withoutconviction.
"You don't like him do you Damian?"
"Well he hardly fits into the stereotype of thecool young dude." They both fell about laughing for a bit. Guilio stirredsomewhat, slouched in his chair.
Damian searched around under the food trolley andpulled out a portable humidor which he opened. "Fancy a long cigarShe?" he asked, waving one in the air temptingly. They each lit one andpuffed smoke-rings towards the chandelier.
"This is the life you know She," saidDamian. "I've always wanted to be a rich dude, living in swanky hotels andsmoking these things. Instead, all I get is these things!" He jabbedaggressively at the sad-eyed roach which sat deathly in the ashtray.
"Think we need to clear up this stuff and chuckit down the loo in case someone comes in to clean and knows what it is?"
"Not a bad idea," said Sheila, "I'lldo it." She rose and set about clearing away all suspicious debris.Shortly afterwards, they departed, leaving Guilio snoozing sweetly in hischair, it was obvious that he was going to have no more 'faahn' that evening.Not with them.
* * * * *
Damian was annoyed. No, seriously pissed off. Hewasn't stoned yet.
"Right Ted, look I know I've phoned you a dozentimes this week, but the point is that you haven't told me that you've got mydeal sorted out this week and I'm going to keep on calling you until you can tell me. You're getting fed up with me phoning. I'm getting fed up with phoning. Whydon't I stop then? It's my job to keep phoning. One part of my job is to write songs and Ido that. I do it pretty well. People tell me, they keep telling me that I dothat pretty well. The folk on down at UFO dig the stuff I write pretty well andthey should know. I manage to keep on writing it even if you don't get me thedeal that you've been promising to get me for the past six months. The otherpart of my job is to keep phoning you to make sure that you get me the dealthat you've been promising me for the past six months. In fact it's prettynearly twelve months. I had a deal. Well shit I know it wasn't a good deal, that's why I wanted another deal. Yes you said it wasn't a good deal. You got me out of the deal. Yes Ted, I'm listening.Ted you listen.Ted, you've been saying that the new deal is coming through for a very longtime. I realise that I don't know how hard it is to pin these people down. ButI'm not supposed to realise how hard it is to pin them down. That's your areaof expertise. When I meet them they say everything's great and they really like my stuff andthey think they can give me a deal. It's supposed to be you who closes thedeal. Yes I realise that these people have more on their minds than me alone.But it's your job to make sure that I'm on their mind when they think ofsigning someone. It's my job to make sure that I'm on your mind when you'recalling them to make sure. Yes, I realise I am on your mind, that's because Ikeep on phoning. But when are you going to get the deal signed? Ted. Ted. Fuck. He's hung up. Shit I hate it whenfolk hang up. I feel hung up, strung up."
"Who said shut up? I won't shut up. Shit, whyshould I shut up. I've been waiting nearly twelve months for that shit to getme the deal he's been telling me he's going to get me for twelve months and hehangs up. Fuck."
Silence descended very briefly. Damian sat forlorn onthe floor next to his bed. He looked miserable as sin and felt as if he'd justbeen jilted. He was confused, misused, disused. Then he started sobbing. Thesewere the loud sobs of an attention seeker seeking attention. Sheila heard himand came answered his call.
She sat next to him and stroked him. He looked at herand rubbed his nose against her nose and rubbed his thigh against her thigh. Herubbed his chest against her chest. It was a pretty good distraction. They bothallowed themselves to be distracted. Sheila knew it wasn't a deal. Damian knewit wasn't a deal, but for the time being it was the only deal each other had.So they had each other.
Just as they were coming to a climax, a noisy comingwith plenty about it to signal its imminent arrival, Dave walked into the roomand sat down on the bed next to them. They puffed to a leisurely halt out ofdecency. Damian felt sure this had happened before somewhere.
"Jesus Christ, man, you are unbelievable!"shrieked Damian. "You are the absolute limit. You inconsiderate, stupid,unthinking, impolite, miserable bastard. This is beyond belief man. How thebloody hell do you think it feels to be busted in on at a time like this. Don'tyou know about knocking, waiting, being invited in? This is the limit, beyondthe limit. This is the end. You have to go. Jesus Dave, what are you doing justsitting here on the end of our bed?" This deal was over.
Sheila pulled a blanket around her body and shouldersand hurried out of the room considerably distressed. Dissatisfaction isdissatisfaction in any language.
Dave didn't budge but instead looked steadily atDamian, held out an open pack of cigarettes towards him and flicked his lighterinto flame,
"Sorry man. Didn't mean to bust in, but I've gotsomething serious to tell you and I thought you'd want to know about it.Now."
Damian's heart suddenly fluttered in fear - who hasdied? Who has left the world that he should know about?. He accepted thecigarette involuntarily and looked deeply into Dave's face.
"Patsy's pregnant," said Dave.
Damian exhaled rapidly and pulled himself into asitting up position.
"Say that again," he said.
"I went over to College to get some of my artstuff that's been hangin' around there for some time and I bumped into Patsy.She says she's pregnant. She's very worried and she wanted me to tellyou."
Damian's mind raced. When was the last time she andhe had done it?
"Did she say whose it is Dave?"
Dave shook his head.
"I don't think she's quite sure. She didn't say,to be honest, and I didn't think to ask. I kind-of assumed, since she wastelling me to tell you, that she thought it must be yours. But I don't knowabout that. You'll have to ask her. She's very worried Damian. She needs totalk with you about it. With you."
"Why me? Why does she want to talk about it withme? Unless it's mine. But I don't know about that. How long is it since shewent? It's, what three months?"
"Maybe only two months Damian. Maybe three, butthat's enough to do it you know. I don't know. Anyhow, she wants you to get intouch with her. She needs you to help her out over it. I think. She needs totalk about it with you anyway."
Damian rolled over and faced away from Dave.
"Let me get myself together. I'll go rightaway." Dave left the room.
Damian rose and went to the bathroom to wash up. Hepulled himself together steadily as he considered the implications of this newturn of events and whether they would or should involve him in any way. He hadlonged for contact with Patsy. He had missed her in more ways than he couldever have imagined. Sheila was a sport and a friend. She had become a lover,but it was more a component of their mutual support system than because ofpersonal commitment. Patsy was different. Damian pulled on clean clothes andwalked briskly out to the Fiat.
It was so long since he had traced the streets intoCollege that he'd practically forgotten which was the shortest route. In facthe did get so confused at one point, he took a wrong turn, leading him back onhimself and further away than when he had started. Or was that simply a part ofputting off arrival?
It was time for afternoon tea when he drove inthrough the College gates and looked around for somewhere to park. Damianstrode into the coffee lounge, a little hunched and self-conscious. Hisappearances within the College grounds or buildings were now such a rarity thathe was certain that he stood out.
He wasn't widely observed but a couple of bareacquaintances said 'Hi' and wanted to get into questioning him about his radioappearances. But he wasn't set for deep conversation on that topic or anyother, at least with them. He stood in the corner of the crowded room andpeered about looking for that familiar profile, the one he missed so much. Heturned to someone else he knew vaguely,
"Seen Patsy?" he asked.
"Don't think I've seen her in College thisafternoon." was the quick answer. "Maybe she's down in Halls or withher chap."
Damian nodded and lit a cigarette for something todo. He waited a little longer and exchanged a few furtive words with some otherstudents who were delighted and also impressed to see their almost famousstudent colleague in College for once. But his responses were perfunctory andthey determined that it was Damian being cool or simply too big for his boots.He turned on his heel and headed down to the Halls.
As he approached Room 206, he noticed how his heartwas banging against his rib-cage. The sensation was so strong he thought hewould disturb the entire corridor's inhabitants with the noise. He stoodoutside the door and listened for a moment before knocking softly, stillgravely unsure of whether he come or go.
He waited a moment longer and pressed his ear againstthe wood. There was not a sound. He reached down and grasped the handle,pressing gently downwards and inwards, but the door was firmly locked. Hestraightened, rubbing his thumb against his chin in silent contemplation, heturned away from the door to go, half relieved, half bitterly disappointed.
He'd taken half a step when Patsy unlocked the doorand pulled it open. A thin column of electric light spilled into the dingycorridor. She stood in the doorway, her hair in a tangle, her eyes reddenedwith current crying. She looked up at the figure of Damian and held out a handto cling on to. Damian clung. He drew Patsy towards him and put his arms roundher body to hold her tightly against him. They stood for a moment half in theroom, half outside it, and then she pulled him in.
They didn't make a sound until the door was firmlyclosed with the key turned once more in the lock. Damian held Patsy's face inhis hands and looked closely into her eyes. A tear or two traced its wanderingtrack down her muddied cheek, then she pressed herself close to his chest andsobbed openly. Patsy's current way of life was crying.
Damian resisted speaking as long as he could andallowed Patsy to become calmer - to be used to the fact that he was thereamidst her anguish. Finally he held her away from him so he could see herresponse in eyes as well as words and said,
"Patsy, is it mine?"
But she heaved more troubled breaths and the questionsimply served to trigger a fresh bout of tears. So Damian waited a whilelonger.
He sat with his hands palms turned upward in his lapwaiting his turn to take hold of the situation again. At last, Patsy reachedout for his shirt collar as something simple to hang on to and wiping hermascara stained face on both it and her hands, she managed to make a littleordinary conversation.
"Do you want a drink or something, Damian?"she murmured softly.
Damian shook his head. She nodded positively."Go on Damian, let me make us a drink. Coffee or tea, just something hot,something steaming, do you want one?"
Damian sensed that this was more of a holdingactivity than a necessity intended to help her re-compose herself, so this timehe agreed. Patsy went off to the kitchen at the end of the corridor to boil akettle. He waited patiently till she came back with the mugs, more in commandof herself.
"Dave told you?" she asked.
"I came right away," he said. "He saidhe thought you wanted to see me and, of course, I - wanted to see you."
"Thanks Damian." she smiled bravely,sniffed and sat down on the bed next to him, almost like old times.
"So how're you feeling then? When d'you findout?"
"I knew a couple of weeks ago actually. I got itconfirmed today."
The actual mechanics of such things as"knowing" and "finding out" were a total mystery to Damian,but he nodded supportively as if he did understand.
"Does anyone else know? You know, like apartfrom… "
"Dave and you? Not really. It's not the sort ofthing you stand on the bell tower and shout out for the whole college to hear.Not if you want to stay on your course!" Patsy did her best attempt athumour.
"So like who does know then?"
"You and Dave," she answered simply.
"Not the other guy? Or whatever?"
"Not the other guy Damian," she said withabsolute certainty in her face.
"But do you need to tell the other guy Patsy? Imean, should you be telling the other guy Patsy? Like do you know man?"
"You mean do I know which of you is the daddyDamian? I think I know! I think I should know! I think I can tell whether it'syou or not!"
"You seem pretty sure Patsy?"
There followed a thoughtful silence. Neither wantedto break it. Each followed a train of thought of their own in which the otherwas to blame in some way for the circumstances in which they now foundthemselves.
"Did your deal come through Damian?" saidPatsy suddenly. "Dave told me you were on the verge of a deal withTed?"
"Mmm, not quite. No not. Yet. He hasn't sortedit yet. It's not signed. I don't know about that right now. Let's not talk aboutthat right now Patsy. There are things to think about. Things to thinkabout."
Damian drifted off again into small privatewonderings. How could she possibly know if it was his, or not. If she had beensleeping with someone else as well. Did it matter whose it was? What was hisresponsibility if any? What was right to do now? What did she want to do now?Should he help her, whatever it was?
"Patsy, love," the 'love' was slightlyaffectionate, slightly condescending but he meant well, "I need to know ifthis, this pregnancy, is to do with me. I know you think it's to do with me andyou seem to be pretty sure about it. I don't know how you can be pretty sureabout it unless you haven't been seeing another guy. But people have beentelling me you've been seeing another guy, and I guess you've been," hemade a swift palms up gesture, "doing it? You've been doing it with thisguy and so, well couldn't he have been, you know, careless, or anything?"
"Well we were doing it. Yes we were. I'm sorryDamian."
"Don't be sorry Patsy, you can do what you want.You can do it if you want with, you know, whoever, you want. We're not, weweren't, you know, married. We weren't, we were, free to, do, dowhatever." He mumbled, he fumbled to a halt with another awkward gesticulation.
"I'm sorry Damian, because I'm sorry. I'm sorryI broke up with you. I'm sorry about that Damian. It was a hell of a mistakeDamian. It was a hell of a mistake." She shook her head and rubbed it inher hands.
Suddenly he'd had enough of this poky little collegeroom.
"Fancy a drink?" said Damian.
He needed to be able to change the subject and yetcontinue to consider it in a new environment. Patsy nodded unenthusiastically."Let's go down to the Man o' Kent. It's opening time any time. Comeon."
He held out his hand and she took it, allowingherself to be pulled up from her seat on the bed.
They went down to the Fiat and drove to the HighStreet. The pub was not quite open, so they hung around outside for a fewminutes and until they could go in. Damian hadn't been here for months. Ithadn't changed. The same musty, disinfectanty, beery mixture of stale tobaccoand cleaning products. Patsy sat in a corner at a small, round, marble-toppedtable by a window. It was cold and uninviting. Damian ordered a couple ofginger-beer shandies and brought them back to the corner.
Handing her the glass, he looked closely at heragain.
"Patsy, it was your choice to go. I was happy. Iwas happy with you. I know I was miserable to be with. I am miserable to bewith. I just. I'm totally into my career that's all. I know I'm an egocentricselfish bugger. I think artists are. But, you went, Patsy. You started withthis other guy and, well, we were together, I don't know, six months? fourmonths? you didn't get pregnant. Now you are pregnant. We aren't going out so,so, is it me? How can you tell?"
Patsy looked uncertain and started silently countingon her fingers. "I worked out when we last - did it - and… I don'tknow absolutely Damian. I, I've been very stupid, really. Just not verycareful. Not careful enough. I met John before I finished with you Damian. Ihad a few drinks with him. You were always tied up with your music. We weren't,we'd stopped having that special relationship. Our relationship. We'd lostcontact somehow. It's not hard to see how! You were going to bed at six in themorning, waking up at three in the afternoon, or thereabouts. I was going in tocollege for lectures and living a normal life. I still am living a normal life.Your life is, different from mine. We lost it before, we, we broke up. Andthen, well John seemed. I thought that he was more my type."
"What about now?"
"It's silly. I was completely wrong you know.Well about him anyway!"
"Not wrong about me?"
"About breaking up?"
"I didn't think we could have a future. We werejust so very different, you and I," Patsy rubbed her eyes again and thenspent some time straightening her dress, pressing down towards her abdomen,towards her thighs.
"You wanted me to come now?" said Damian aftera minute or two's silence.
Patsy nodded. The she looked at him with the samekind of intensity that he'd been regarding her.
"If it is yours, what do you think I should doabout it?"
"Whoo! That's a big one! Me take a decisionabout your life?"
"Well, if it is yours, it's not exactly just methat I'm asking about and there's a big chunk of your life tied up in theanswer."
"I find it hard enough taking decisions about mePatsy. I can't take decisions about anyone else. I can think about very smallthings at a time. I can think about writing or not writing. I can think about,well not much else."
"But when you write you think? You think whatyou write about. You describe important thoughts in your songs. You work thingsout in your songs. You do Damian! This baby's a small thing." She meantthe bump not the potential.
"Mmm." There was more silence while eachconsidered the other's thoughts.
"What do you want to do about it Patsy?"Damian asked at length, looking at his fingers. He turned to her to see herreaction.
"I don't want to give up college," Shesaid. "I'm frightened Damian."
He reached out to touch her shoulder. It was not awarm gesture.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to do," shemurmured. "I didn't think it could happen to me. God that's so corny. ButI just didn't, so I don't know. My parents'd die."
"If they knew?"
"If they found out."
"I don't think it helps you to think what theirreaction might be right now," said Damian, "I think you've got towork out what you want to do."
"Not what you want to do?"
"I don't want to do anything!"
"What, you want me to have it?"
"That's not what I meant Patsy. You have leaveme out of it Patsy. I don't figure in it. We ceased to be. It didn't work outfor us. I've got my life, you've got yours. You just have to think ofthat."
She stopped slouching and sat up, downed the rest ofthe drink and said,
"Take me back to the halls please Damian. I hateit here."
Amid silence, they drove back to the halls ofresidence and Damian dropped her off at the door. They didn't even say'good-bye'. Patsy just stepped from the car and turned away. Damian drovehurriedly back to Bickersley.
An hour later Patsy called him from a phone box.
"I want to get rid of it Damian," she said.