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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9 - Deliverance
"The point she's trying to make is that she wants you to sit up andtake notice Damian. She's crying out for help. She wants you to be involvedeven though she's saying she doesn't," said Dave, squatting on the edge ofthe hearth as he often did.
"Do you think she wants me to persuade her otherwise?" saidDamian.
"I think she's sure about what she wants to do, but she needs yourhelp."
"Does she still think it's mine Dave?"
"The truth is, she doesn't know definitely either way, because youand John probably cross fertilised, so to speak."
"God that sounds disgusting! Look man. I've got nothing, nothing todo with fertilisation and that John person. We do not have bodily contact,alright!"
"Well I think she probably still loves you Damian," said Dave.
Damian looked hard at Dave and observed that his face was absolutelyserious, an unusual countenance for him.
"I can't get my head round that one I'm afraid Dave. We nevertalked about 'love' not even once. I wasn't in it for love. I didn't once say'I love you' to her. I don't remember her saying "I love you' to me. Inever thought of love. I thought of, of, of, I didn't think of anything."
"Sex, supper, warmth first thing in the morning and last thing atnight. Someone to chew the rag with, someone to chew the cud with, someone tosmoke a joint with," said Dave.
"Yeah, you could say. That sums it up. That's what a relationshipis. Christ man, We'd only been together a few weeks. I didn't commit myself toanything. I didn't ask Patsy to either. She committed herself biggest bytelling me she wanted to break it off. Breaking up conferred commitment on thewhole thing then, when there hadn't been commitment in the first place. Anyway,this is all crap."
"It's not answering your question."
"It's not answering my question Dave," Damian nodded."Speak to her Dave. Find out what she really wants. Find out if there'sanything I can do and what she thinks that would be."
* * * * *
The next few days were fraught. Damian wanted to go and see Patsy again,but thought it wouldn't help. He thought she wouldn't express her feelings withhim. He didn't know what his feelings about it were. He wanted to get on withhis music. He wanted his deal to come through. He wanted to block out the wholething.
Mainly, that's what he did.
Dave didn't really go to college any more. He'd dropped out totally andhad been officially banned from entering the grounds, but he still met peoplehe knew in the bars outside the campus. He met Patsy along with a small groupof her contemporaries. You couldn't tell there was anything wrong, either inher shape and size or her manner - while the group was around.
As soon as Dave got her on her own, she opened up to him as someone shecould trust.
"I need to talk to Damian again Dave," she said. "Wedidn't communicate too well the other night. We got bogged down with thoughtsand oughts and lost sight of what this is really all about."
"You seem pretty cool Patsy!" said Dave with admiration. Shesmiled, warmly, for the first time.
"Well I've had chance to think it through and the options are verystraight-forward."
Patsy paused for Dave to lead her into the next sentence. He did so witha flicker of his eye and a twitch of the mouth.
"I, well I, I've got to find," the next bits were harder toget out, "I've got to get someone to give me an abortion, carry out anabortion - whatever." She shrugged limply - it was a matter of fact.
"Right. Hmm. Do you know anything about that? I don't know anythingabout that. That's not the sort of thing I know anything about at all. I'venever met anyone who's had one. I don't know how you do it, where you go,"said Dave.
"Nor do I," said Patsy.
They looked at each other in silence. Dave smiled nervously.
"I've read articles of course. You see articles in the magazines.You read stories, books about it. You hear of someone who knows someone who'sgot a friend who's had one. That sort of thing."
"Can't get them on street corners then?" joked Dave.
"I think that's just the problem, Dave. I think you do get them onstreet corners. They're not exactly easy to get. They don't come on theNational Health. You can't go to your doctor and say, 'I want an abortionbecause I foolishly got myself pregnant and I've got my college course to finish,and by the way my mum'll have hysterics'. Probably if you go to your familydoctor, he'll tell your mum anyway!"
"It is!" They toyed with their drinks and eyed each other alittle before picking up the conversation again.
"Do you think Damian will help?" she asked.
"Do you think he's the dad Patsy?"
She shook her head doubtfully.
"That's not an issue any more. I've thought it through. That's notwhat this is about. What it's about is that I'm pregnant. By mistake. That'sit. It's a mistake. The timing's wrong. I'll be a great mother one day. I'llhave a husband. We'll have kids. We'll have a home. It'll be in the right placeat the right time. Right now this is the wrong time. That's all there is to it.I can even face my mum if I have to. That's not an issue. I need to finishcollege, get qualified, become a teacher, grow up. This, is wrong now. It'ssimple," she smiled confidently as she spoke and spread her hands in frontof her as a sign of the finality of her judgement. It was simple.
"OK. I'll talk to Damian about it. See what ideas he's got. He mayknow someone who knows someone who's got a friend who's had one, and knowswhere you go to get one! Something like that?"
They stood, kissed lightly and went their ways.
Dave travelled back to Bickersley Park on the bus. Dave travelledeverywhere by bus, even to Brixton to score. He had no idea how to help Patsybeyond being a go-between. Damian, he thought, was more likely to think of apractical plan. He thought Damian would help even if he didn't have to and thatwas the best way of playing it - not that Dave played it - he just dealt withthe truth simply in most things, despite his dopiness at times.
When he walked in to the flat, he found Damian had already left to go toa gig, this time in Norwich. Sheila had gone too. Bertie thought they wouldn'tbe back till some time the next day, maybe even longer. There was nothing elseto be done except wait. They smoked a joint and stayed home.
* * * * *
Damian spoke little on the way to Norwich. The Fiat dronedcharacteristically and prevented the need for conversation. His mind constantlyreturned to Dave's remark about Patsy and love. Whatever gave him theimpression that Patsy loved him? Was that something he wanted? For some reasonit bothered him more than anything had bothered him for some time. He looked atSheila sitting beside him and wondered how she felt about such things as love.Did she still love Lem? Hadn't she once said as much? If she loved Lem, why wasshe sleeping with Damian? If she loved Lem, why did she accompany Damian everywhere as if she was his?
"Are we more than just good friends, Sheila?" shouted Damianabove the din.
"What the bloody hell kind of a question is that Damian?" sheasked, poking him comfortingly in the ribs. He squirmed. She still didn't knowabout Patsy's condition.
"Well, Dave's been having some probing conversations with me latelyand I've been wondering about love, and that kind of shit. You know, whetheryou know."
"Whether you know what?" she said.
"Whether you know you're in love. How you know you're in love. Youknow - that."
"Are you wondering whether we're in love," she saidsuspiciously and ominously at the same time.
"No, I wasn't wondering whether we're in love. I hadn't thought ofthat. Not really. But I just wondered whether or how you know you're in love ifyou are in love. And I asked you if you thought we were more than just goodfriends."
"We're just good friends Damian. I know that. We're very good friends,probably better than most people who are just good friends, because we probablydo things together that people who are, more, much more than good friendsdo."
"How do you know?" said Damian, infuriatingly.
"How do I know which bit?" she said getting riled.
"Well you said, 'We're just good friends. I know that,' how do you know that? That we're just goodfriends and no more than that even if we are very good friends?"
"This is very specific!" she said. "Well, you see, I,love, Lem."
"Yes, I thought you'd told me that once. I thought maybe, you'dforgotten about Lem a bit and were just drifting, just… "
"That too! Just drifting. Just waiting. Just hoping. Justsurviving. Just… But enjoying myself with you too Damian. Not just usingyou. Losing me. I love being with you Damian. We're bonded by the sameglue!"
"But you know you love Lem?"
"I said so!"
"And will you find him one day?"
"I hope so!"
"And join him?"
"I think so."
Damian fell silent again and Sheila wondered what this had all beenabout.
* * * * *
Patsy glanced anxiously at her watch for the fourth time in fiveminutes. She had begun to bite her nails. She'd never been a nail biter, butwith every passing day she bit more. She pushed her own hand down below thetable top so that her mouth couldn't get at it and then sipped some coffee.Ugh, what a taste. She'd never noticed that bitterness quite so stronglybefore. She added an extra couple of spoonfuls of sugar and stirred so madlythat the majority splashed into the saucer. Then she was biting her nailsagain. She saw a dirty grey Fiat creeping past and almost rushed out of thecafé into Damian's arms. But the car didn't stop, it was the wrong Fiat.Thirty five minutes went by and Patsy was in mental agony. She was so tensethat she had to go to the bathroom and vomit. Or was that the effect of thepregnancy? Either way it was no fun. Patsy was not used to going up to Town onher own, but Dave had suggested that she meet Damian meet there, because itwould be neutral ground. She was coming out of the bathroom for the secondtime, when she noticed a tall, slim, lank haired figure slipping out of thedoorway and into the street. "Damian!" she shrieked so hystericallyand loud that heads turned her way. Damian looked back towards her and cameback in again. Lighting up as he spoke, he apologised for his delay and satdown to order a coffee for himself.
"Jesus, Patsy, you look terrible!" A nice re-assuring, tactfulkind of start to the conversation.
"I've been sick. I am sick. With worry Damian," she said andreached out a hand to hold Damian's sleeve, but then drew it back.
Damian looked tight-lipped at her and then at the end of his burningcigarette with great interest.
"Have you, have you got any news?" continued Patsy.
"About the abortion doctors?"
"Shsh!" She grasped his wrist this time, in earnest.
"You know my friend Roget?"
"Mmm. He's got a girlfriend whose friend had one just recently.He's offered to get me the contact details. Apparently it's completely legal,this deal."
"What do you have to do?" she asked.
'Two doctors. They see you and refer you to a clinic. It's verysimple."
"God, Damian," Patsy breathed a sigh full of relief - and fear- and gripped his wrist so tightly it hurt.
"So how're you keeping girl?" said Damian flippantly.
"Very frightened Damian, very, very frightened."
Damian was seized with remorse for his flippancy.
"Sorry Patsy. Shit. What a drag! I'm so sorry, man."
He looked at her sympathetically for a few moments, then looking at hiswatch, he said,
"Shall we go then? Roget's place is just round the corner fromhere. We can leg it in a couple minutes and hopefully he might have somedetails."
Damian paid for them both and they hurried out onto the street. Patsydrew close to Damian's side as they walked through the Soho bustle and intoLeicester Square.
"Dave says you've started to do gigs again?" she said.
"Right. Had to go to Norwich the other day."
Patsy drew closer still and slipped her arm through his.
"And what about this UFO place? I heard you played there to a rockaudience?"
"Yeah, quite frightening actually. Still they were a goodbunch."
"You mean they liked you?"
"They didn't throw bottles! No it's different. I like the vibe.More people, more sensitive somehow."
"And are you seeing anyone now?" Patsy slipped in cautiously.
"You mean relationship-wise? Well, no nothing solid. Me and Sheila,we have relations!"
"Yeah that too! No we, we're just good friends. I think that's whatyou say. We're just good friends. If Lem came back she'd jump on him like asack of coals! But Sheila, I can talk to. There's no pressure."
"I'm sorry Damian. I'm sorry I couldn't have been more like thatfor you."
Damian missed a pace and looked hard at Patsy. She was still going andhe tugged her involuntarily. She almost swung back to him. He held her otherarm and she was facing him squarely across the pavement. They looked into eachother's eyes for a second and then, swinging apart again, walked on, this timewithout the physical contact.
Damian did put his hand out to guide her as they approached the doorwayto Roget's studio.
"This way. Up these stairs."
He ran ahead up the stairs and pressed hard on a bell push. Roget cameto the door himself.
"Hi guys! Come on in," said the softly spoken slightly Frenchsounding fashion photographer.
"Rog, this is my friend, I told you about, Patsy. She's the one whoneeds… "
"Patsy… " he held out a hand. She grasped it and shookit. It felt friendly and secure. "You want to meet Sharon? My girlfriend'sgirl friend," he separated the words very precisely, "She's righthere, in my studio. She's been to see these specialists in Harley Street. Shecan tell you all about it. She says it's fine. Don't worry!" Roget was anexpert in the application of patter to calm the nerves. It was a necessary partof his profession. A very young looking and very thin girl drifted out of thestudio space beyond and towards them. In a dream, Patsy allowed herself to begreeted in a warm embrace from this total stranger.
Sharon smiled sweetly, "Come on, we can go into his office, hewon't mind?" she flashed a smile at Roget. They disappeared into a sidedoor.
* * * * *
"Look, Damian," Roget was handing Damian a lighted cigarette,and putting his hand on Damian's arm comfortingly, "She's going to need alot of help and support. If she can't get it from the father, then she has toget it from you. You said you weren't the father right?"
Damian nodded, "Well we're not exactly sure apparently," hesaid.
"Well whatever. But anyway. Patsy is a lovely girl. You are a luckyguy Damian."
"We're not going out. I told you that, didn't I?"
"Think again, buddy. This is one beautiful girl! Anyway, whatever.That's your business. I don't mean to interfere. But listen… she willneed help. This whole thing is easy. No problem. But not for them." Damianraised a questioning eyebrow, "Not for them. It's not easy for them."
"You said it was easy, now you say it isn't easy Roget. Put it tome in plainer English if you can manage that!" Said Damian, slightly playful,slightly frustrated.
"The process is easy. You see the guys. They agree everything. Theymake no deal out of it. They are completely professional. It is easy. Thegirls, they suffer more. Inside," he tapped the side of his head knowingly.
Damian nodded with incomprehension.
* * * * *
The girls emerged from the office. Roget smiled encouragingly at themboth.
"Soon everything is OK? You tell her everything she wants to knowSharon?"
"She knows everything."
"You will need to take money though," said Roget, "Theydon't like cheques."
"Money!" echoed Damian, "I hadn't thought of that. Likehow much money?"
"Hundred and twenty?" said Roget. Patsy clutched her stomach.All the confidence, all the comfort, all the certainty of solution in sight,drained away from her.
"Fuck!" said Damian. "Whoo!" He looked at Roget.
Roget shrugged. "But it's only money," he said. "What'smoney in exchange for a fresh start?"
Damian and Patsy made their way quickly and in silence back to the cafethey had started from. By the time they got there, Patsy was shaking andsobbing. They sat in a corner. No-one took too much notice. Sights like thiswere very familiar in this part of Soho. A tramp came up and shook his waggybeard at them. Damian shooed him away, then thought better of it and went afterhim with a sixpence.
They sat next to each other on the vinyl covered seat and, while Patsysobbed, Damian held her face in his hands and massaged her cheeks with histhumbs.
"God Damian," she said, "What am I going to do. Where canI get a hundred and twenty pounds from. I don't even know what that amount ofmoney looks like."
"Look, Patsy, don't worry, don't worry. We'll figure something out.There'll be some way we can come up with the bread."
She looked at him through a mist of vapour and collapsed against hischest in a further bout of sobbing.
"Do you want to come back to the flat?" he asked hesitantly."Talk it through with Sheila. You need a woman to talk these thingsthrough with. Sheila'll be fine."
Patsy eyed him doubtfully, then nodded agreement.
"OK Damian. You think she'll mind?"
"Course she won't mind. She'll be glad to be in on your secret. Godit must be agony not having anyone to talk it through with, just hanging on toit on your own at college. Come on back to the flat. I promise, we'll find away through this. We'll sort it out somehow. This is just a little obstacle onthe way. Life's full of little obstacles that you're supposed to solve, one ata time. That's reality man."
* * * * *
Sheila was out when they got back to the flat, but Damian made lunch forthem and they sat on the floor in his room eating without talking.
It was strange to have Patsy there, sitting by him again.
Damian did brotherly, chummy things like rub her shoulder or pat her onthe back, nothing which could be construed as pertaining to affection. Thenwhen they eventually talked, they talked about the weather, the garden now itwas summer, the neighbours, boring college, the state of Damian's deal.
"I've got to get hold of Ted again. I haven't spoken to him sincehe hung up on me a few days ago. I think things were just getting to him. Hedoesn't really want me to go away. I reckon he'll close the deal thismonth." Babble, babble, babble.
The front door clicked.
Relief of tension perhaps? Damian leapt up and into the corridor to seewho it was.
"Hey Sheila! Glad you're back. Guess who I've got here to see you!A visitor from the other side."
Sheila kissed Damian on the lips as she popped her head round the doorto look in.
Sheila was surprised. She went forward and immediately kissed Patsy onthe cheek, squatting at her side and placing her hands around Patsy'sshoulders. It was a greeting of genuine warmth.
"Few changes in Patsy's life at the moment, She," said Damian,"She's come here to escape, and get a bit of friendly support. Do you wantto tell her the story Pats?"
Patsy nodded thoughtfully, then drew in a breath to begin.
"Pregnant She," she said.
Sheila dropped from her haunches to her bottom and gasped,"Fuck!"
"That did it!"
"Well at least you're still happy!"
"Oh Patsy, I'm sorry. I'm sorry you have to say 'I'm sorry'.Normally under these circumstances one says 'Congratulations!'"
"Yes, you do," said Patsy sadly.
"Oh well," said Sheila, "look on the bright side, atleast you're… "
"I can't think of a bright side at the moment She," saidPatsy.
Damian slipped out of the room and on, out of the house.
* * * * *
Ted was in unusually ebullient mood as he leaned across the restauranttable to light Damian's cigar. He had managed a meeting today of epicproportions in which he had succeeded in signing two young, almost schoolboytalents, with prodigious stage musical writing capacity. So pleased was he withhimself that he had determined to make his peace with Damian, whom he respectedas an artiste even though he didn't understand a word of what he was on aboutnine tenths of the time.
"They are going to be huge, Damian, HUGE. Massive. They're onlyeighteen and already they've written their first musical. It's absolutelyFANTASTIC stuff. I've not heard anything like it since Oliver!. They're goingto be better than Rodgers and Hammerstein. I've signed them for the world,Damian, the WORLD!"
"What sort of advance did you give them Ted?" asked Damian.
"Massive. Massive advance. Well you have to fight off theopposition."
"What is it?"
"The opposition? The advance?"
"The music style."
"Oh, I see. Well, I'm not sure how to describe it really. It'scontemporary. It's got a beat. Some jolly good tunes. Great story ideas. Youknow, classic middle of the road."
"And these guys are still at school?"
"Well almost. Trevor, my plugger…"
"Yes I know Trevor, he got me the Don Quillie shows,"
"Of course you do. Well Trevor found them roaming round the BBCwith satchels full of sheet music round their necks and badgering people to letthem play them some of their tunes on a canteen piano. God only knows how theygot in there. But Trevor was about the only person who gave them a listen. Theydidn't realise he didn't work for the BBC and he told them he had a publisherfriend he could introduce them to. It was me! So I signed them!"
"What did you give them Ted?"
Ted tapped the side of his nose. "Well seeing as it's you Damian.Five hundred pounds!"
"Jesus Christ! You signed these two guys for five hundred pounds.What are you going to do for them Ted, that you couldn't do for me that is?Make them into stars?... Super!"
"No, I'm going to sit on them for a few months. Then when they beenpassed around a bit more, got themselves a good theatrical agent, I'm going topart with them for five thousand!"
"You're a shit aren't you Ted?" said Damian. "You're nothoping to do that with me are you?" he said bitterly. "That's notwhat you're up to is it?"
"Damian, what do you take me for? Some music industry scheister?I've always looked after you. I believe in you Damian. No, be patient. That deal is going tocome! I've got a meeting lined up. Steve Everest is red hot for you. It's justa matter of timing. Believe me."
Damian now also made a judgement about timing.
"I need some dosh Ted."
"Oh not more money Damian. Really, I'll never recoup what I've laidout in advances!"
"You just told me you believed in me Ted. How much do you believe?You haven't given me as much as five hundred in total in the entire time I'vebeen signed to you. I keep writing songs. Dozens of songs, I've given you.We've demoed them. We've cut acetates. I've been on radio. I've gone down wellat UFO, that must mean something. That's supposed to be the hippest rock venuein London. I'm a folk singer. I've been there and they like me."
"Damian, Damian. Don't get yourself so worked up. Of course theylike you. I've told you, I believe in you, Steve Everest believes in you. He's just waitingfor you to write something, just a little more commercial Damian, if you mustknow. That's the long and the short of it. He just wants a single out ofyou."
"Jesus Christ, Ted. Don't you understand? I'm not a pop act!"said Damian in despair. "I'll never be a pop act. I'm a folk singer!"
"You say that Damian. But look at Dylan. Look at Paul Simon. PaulSimon, a folk singer. See. A folk singer and now see him, a hit single. BobDylan. A folk singer. A massive hit. Massive singles. SO bloody big that thePRS payments are double anyone else's!"
"That's because the song was seven and a half minutes longTed."
"Well there you are! Big!"
"Ted, Paul Simon didn't get hit singles because he set out to writehit singles. He was writing folk songs. He was playing folk clubs. It was purefluke that one of the songs got dusted and dubbed and then released as a single- and then gotplayed. It's because it was basically a folk song - the kind of thing folk want- that it worked as a single. But he didn't set out to do it. Dylan. He didn'tset out to write a seven and a half minute pop song and say to himself"Jeez, this one's going to be a biggie. Bet my publisher will be pleasedwith this one!' He just wrote a song and it happened to be a hit. It wouldn'thave happened if he'd had to depend on the Beeb for air-time. They played itbecause the stations in the States had already got behind it."
"No Damian. YOU don't understand. THEY WRITE HIT SONGS! It doesn't matter howthey wrote them. Or what they intended when they wrote them. Or whether the BBCgot behind them or fucking KYNBC Jelly, or anyone else besides. It doesn'tmatter, the background to them. They wrote hit songs, they write hitsongs."
Damian shook his head. Ted banged the table, a sure sign that themeeting was about to close. Ted looked out for the waiter to call for the bill.
"OK Ted. Say I write this hit song. Better still, say I've alreadywritten it and you don't know it yet. Say I've got twenty hit songs sitting onmy shelf at home, on sheets of paper, demoed on acetates, just done with me anda guitar. Say it's already waiting. Maybe you've heard it already and liked itin its raw state. Maybe you just haven't seen it yet. As a hit, I mean."
"What are you saying Damian?"
"That the song already exists, on my shelf. We're pissing aboutwaiting for something that, that's around the corner, when we've got it staringus in the face."
"Bring it round to my office in the morning. If it's there, I'llhear it!"
"Ted, I need a hundred and twenty pounds. I need it Ted. It's not for me. But I needto know that I can have it. I need to know Ted."
"Bring that hit song round to my office in the morning and you canhave a thousand pounds Damian! It's that easy! See?"
Ted clapped Damian heartily on both shoulders, shrugged on his fancyjacket and strode off towards the door leaving Damian dumb-struck with a deadcigar in his hand.
* * * * *
When Damian walked back into his room, it was empty and in darkness. Hepoked his head round Sheila's door but that room too was without life. He satdown on his bed with a pile of papers and scanned through the words to hissongs. He was so familiar with them all, the tunes could repeat in his head asfreely and as often as he wanted, just as memorable to him as any other poptune. Why couldn't they be hit singles? Who was it that decreed - this one iscommercial - this one is a flop? He really did not know what the magic'ingredient x' was to turn something from one kind of number into another. Sohow could he possibly select the 'one' song from this pile of stuff to meetTed's challenge. Yet some people did know how to construct a sure-fire popsong, but were they Dylan? Were they Simon? Were they James?
"Shit, I'm just a bloody failure," he said aloud. Damianpicked up the guitar and played a few chords to remove his despondency, thenthumbed further through pieces of paper. He hit on one idea specifically andplayed it to himself. This was quite recent and hadn't been demoed yet. Heliked it. He thought he liked it anyway. He stood in front of the Frenchwindows looking out onto blackness and studying himself with his guitar aroundhis neck, reflected in the glass, as he performed the song to an imaginaryaudience. When he got to the end of it, he did it again. Gradually, he workedup more and more enthusiasm for the song, until he was performing it, in hismind, to a live audience. they were cheering and raving.
They loved it. It was a smash.
But would it be a smash in real life? What the hell was that noise?
"Jesus, breaking glass!"
Damian put down his guitar and ran out into the hall to see what thehell was going on. Someone was literally attacking the front door with an ironbar and shouting at the same time. What was he saying?
"Bloody well shut up. Shut up, you bastard. I'm trying to get somesleep up here. You bloody noisy, stupid, hippie bastards all of you."
Damian tore open the rapidly disappearing front door to face Mikley inhis pyjamas having a fit.
Fortunately, probably for both of them, at this moment, Sheila arrivedhome accompanied by Patsy and a couple of suitcases. Soothing female balm wasquickly spread on an otherwise ugly scene and Damian was persuaded toapologise, while Mr Mikley was persuaded to return to his bed.
"Come on, Damian. Help me drag the spare mattress from Dave's roominto my room. Patsy's going to be staying with me for a while until we've gother sorted out."
* * * * *
Damian took his guitar out of its case.
One half of him was trembling with the sensation of impending doom. Theother was telling himself off for making such a deal out it.
Ted kept him waiting. Well that was usual these days. But it was asmiling Ted not a 'busy, busy, busy' one that opened the door to him when allthe phone calls were done.
Damian sat in front of the oak desk and stared doggedly downwards,screwing up his face in that way all guitarists do. Ted leaned back preparedfor undivided attention.
Damian plunged in.
Twelve bars into the ditty, the phone rang and Ted took it. Of course.
"Hi Geoff! New York," he breathed confidentially to Damian.
Damian plugged on undeterred.
That is the way to do it. You may think that your publisher or recordcompany executive or agent or manager isn't listening, but he can take it in atone thousand yards with a banana in his ear, if he's any good at his job.
Damian wanted to stop and wait for undivided attention, but that isn'tthe way the industry works. The great and good survive. Damian came to thefinal re-run of the main refrain just as Ted was coming off the phone.
"Just play me that hook again Damian, I think I got it."
'I think I got it.' - a definite maybe - could this be a euphemism for'I think we have something'? Damian bashed into it one more time.
"Do it again Damian. It's getting to me!"
Was it that Ted wanted it to get to him or was there something there?
Neither of them knew, Damian didn't care.
He took it from the top and Ted tapped his feet and bobbed his headappreciatively. Ted stood and yanked open the door.
"Get in here Teresa!" he said.
Teresa? Was she called Teresa?
Chicklette came into the room and lodged her bottom on the sideboard.Ted nodded his head at Damian, the signal for reprise.
"This is my week! This is really my week! I am one lucky man! Whatdo you say Teresa?"
"Mmm," she said uncertainly.
"See, she likes it. You like it Teresa?"
* * * * *
"Get me Steve. Steve Everest. Don't just gawp at me girl. Getastride that thing of yours you're always playing with, get me the greatman!"
Ted was perfectly capable of picking up the phone and dialling SteveEverest's number. In fact he'd been speaking to him only during Damian's waiting-inperiod, a few minutes before. He'd been briefing him on the fact that DamianJames had a massive big biggie and that he just had to hear it, probably livebecause it was so hot that there was no time to demo it.
* * * * *
"Steve! How're you doing? I know!" He said in answer to theremark from Steve that he had only recently put the phone down from aconversation with him.
"Got the boy with me," Damian squirmed, "This is abiggie, Steve. I want you to hear it. Over lunch? No, haven't got it on tape.So new. So great to hear it live Steve. I know you're going to go for this one.Look, Damian's got to go out of Town for a gig up north this afternoon,"'Have I?' thought Damian. Ted winked a music biz wink. "I think you needto hear it right now Steve, while it's hot. I know it'll be hot next week. It'sa hit. But Damian might not be here next week. What do I mean? No, he's notdying of an incurable disease, but you know, guys like this don't stick around.You know. Been sticking around all year, well yes, but not with this number onhis hands. Getting a taxi right now, OK see you in a couple of minutes!YES!" he shouted as he slapped the phone down. "Think we may havecracked it Damian. Get your coat boy!"
"No coat Ted."
"Then pack the axe!" He was already running down the stairs.
* * * * *
The Fiat cruised along Harley Street for the third time, in search of aparking spot.
"Look if we can't find one this time, I'll drop you off and get onesomewhere else and come back and hang about," said Damian to a Patsy, besideherself with anxiety and emotion. "Everything's going to be fine Patsy,relax will you?"
"I can't Damian. I'm sorry, I can't. I've forgotten what the wordmeans," she glanced tensely at him, "Look for God's sake stop, I'mgoing to miss my appointment in a minute."
"OK. Here's the place. I'll be hanging around. Don't worry. This is it!"
Patsy ran across the road and up to the big, glossy double doors. Sheread various names on the brass plates and then chose one of the door bells.When the door was opened, she disappeared into the consulting rooms and Damiandrove off in search of that space. An hour passed before they spoke again.
* * * * *
"What did they say?" demanded Damian.
Patsy was crying and dabbing her face with an already uselesshandkerchief.
"It's not easy Damian. It's not going to be easy. I thought I justhad to pay the money and everything was going to be OK."
"What happened Patsy, tell me?" said Damian.
"He asked me lots of questions about my 'state of mind'. He told meoff a lot. He said I had to go to see another doctor tomorrow."
"Did he take all the money?"
"Well, yes. His secretary took it all and counted it out. God itwas all so humiliating!"
"Don't worry, Patsy, it's going to be OK. Roget's friend said thiswould happen?"
"I don't know. I can't remember. Maybe."
"What about this other doctor? I think that's what she saidhappened. You have to see two. See it's OK. It's what supposed to happen. Whatabout the other appointment? Where to? When?"
"At ten thirty tomorrow morning. In Hampstead. At some clinicaddress."
She held out a crumpled, moist scrap of paper. Damian took it andscrutinised it carefully.
"It says, 'The Sunrise Private Maternity Clinic' Patsy. This is OKlove. This is what's supposed to happen next. Stay cool man. You're going to bejust fine."
* * * * *
Ted Landsman was ensconced with Steve Everest. The conversation wasgolf. Then Pippa del Pontti. Then Damian James.
"Is he really going to be as big as Simon, Ted?" said Steve.
"Well how big do you want him to be?" Ted answered.
"As big as Simon!"
"Could be bigger!"
"Steve, don't put him down before you've picked him up. I tell youhe's red hot.
* * * * *
Damian and Patsy sat in the Fiat outside a white painted first classGeorgian mansion in a leafy side street.
"Ready?" asked Damian, Patsy nodded. "Sure you don't wantme to come in with you?" Patsy shook her head. "OK. Hit it!"
She stepped out of the car and ran to the doorbell. A moment later shewas gone.
* * * * *
The phone in Damian's room rang and then stopped.
Then it rang again, for almost five minutes.
After a brief rest, it rang for a third time.
Passing by, Sheila considered whether to answer it or not. Perhaps itwas urgent, to do with Patsy. She entered and picked up the receiver.
"Hello? No he's not here. Can I take a message?" she said."Oh right. I'll tell him. He'll probably want to come right away."
* * * * *
Patsy danced out of the clinic doorway and into Damian's waiting arms."They'll take me this afternoon. It'll be over by tomorrow!"
* * * * *
Sheila met them as they pulled across the gravel forecourt of St Joan's.She pulled open the car door with excitement.
"Get ready to go back to town Damian! Ted's got the deal! He wantsyou to sign it today!"