"Call Harvey. There's a guy with a gun down there... This one's for real."
"Mornin', guv-ner." It was Jim Callahan, Chief of Security, who poked fun at me whenever he could. "How's His Majesty this fine morning?"
Callahan is a professional protector of rock stars. He's worked for the Stones before, and for other high-profile rock 'n' roll bands, too. Jim is a very large man, with a particularly large midsection which always seems to arrive first — before the rest of him, I mean. Callahan has been known to take a drink or two during the evening hours, although never in a manner which detracts from his vigilance, or his eagerness to protect the bodily health of his clients. I poked fun back at him whenever I could, too.
"I'm O.K., Jim, how's Operation Crowd Control? Punch up any kids yet today?"
"Never once did that, Gil. Never once."
Jim now had me by the shoulders, and was looking down at me.
"You never have to do that, Gil." He was speaking intently, and was rocking me back and forth ever so slightly.
"Sweet reason, instead. I say to them 'Look 'ere, mate, you're not gonna see Mick, or Keith, or any of 'em, so just drive on by. Right?' Always works, that. No need to hurt anybody, is there?"
"No," I said. "None at all."
We were both interrupted by Bob Bender, second in command, Security, who burst in through the front door. He had a very pained expression on his face.
"Call Harvey. There's a guy with a gun down there. A real weirdo. Wearin' a helmet, comin' from Stanley's barn toward the rock wall. This one's for real."
Jim Callahan ran outside, I nodded to Solveig, and Solveig called Harvey Thomasian, who's our Police Chief in town. Sure enough, Bob was right. Five hundred yards off to the east, picking his way slowly and gingerly toward us, was a man with a rifle and a funny hat. Outside on the gravel drive, Jim, Bob, and one of our local Selectmen, Howie Ferguson, were having a feverish discussion and waving their arms about. It seemed that Howie was volunteering to go down there and intercept this guy. A police car roared up, and out hopped young Joey, a rookie patrolman with a very large pistol strapped to his belt. He was unsnapping the leather thong which held the pistol in the holster, and an instant later the large gun was in his hand, and he was waving it about. Someone apparently told him to put it away, because he did.
I was still going to get a cup of coffee, even if it killed me, and so I lunged away from the window back into the kitchen, nearly colliding with Mick Jagger, who had just descended from his bedroom upstairs.
"Good morning, Mick," I said.
Mick walked straight by me, saying nothing, and continued in a beeline for the stereo, which was now playing Solveig's favorite "beautiful music" station at a very low volume. He snapped it off.
"Good morning, Solveig," he said.
Solveig didn't speak, and she had her back to us. She was working the orange juice squeezer.
"Great reception," Mick muttered.
"Well, I said hello," I said.
"Uhm... so you did. So you did. Looks like a bit of excitement out here, what?"
"Some guy with a gun down in the field. Could be a hunter. If it gets any worse, we're going to put you in the root cellar."
Mick didn't laugh. Perhaps he was thinking about his orange juice, or its squeezer. Didn't bother me any. I grabbed my coffee and went back to the office to see Kathleen, who was on her feet and in the middle of an emotional dispute with Alan Dunn.
"After all we're doing for you," I hear her saying, "and you bother us with things like this. No. I know of no cheaper way to get people from Logan Airport to Long View Farm. Here, look at it. This is what we're paying — either it's the limo or the rental car — take your choice. Really, Alan!"
"Guy with a gun outside," I offered, "and Mick's up."
"Mick's up?" Alan asked, straightening in his chair.
"Yup, in the kitchen now, with lovely Solveig."
Kathleen shot a glance at me, and smiled. "Probably that hunter friend of Stanley's. Does he have a funny peaked hat on? If so, that's him. The rifle's an antique that you have to load each time. He shoots rabbits with it."
Alan excused himself and headed back toward the kitchen, and his day's work. "Don't worry, Kathleen," he said on his way out the door. "We'll work all that out later. No offense intended."
"He's such a gentleman, isn't he?" Kathleen oozed. "Good thing he left. Don't have time to discuss the invoice right now. Keith just buzzed. He wants two bottles of champagne, right away. Says he doesn't care how we get it, or what we have to do. Wants it right away. Maybe Helen would drop a couple of bottles by. Can't call out, unless I get rid of these Stones watchers."
All the lines on the telephone were busy again; three of them blinking with people on 'hold'. Kathleen punched one of the blinking lights.
"Long View. No, you can't speak with Mick Jagger. No. No, really that's impossible. You're his brother! Come on now, do you expect me to believe that? I didn't even know he had a brother. No, really, you've got to get off the phone so I can get Keith his champagne. I'm going to hang up. Goodbye."
"It's so crazy, Gil, I don't know. Sometimes I think I'm losing it, like with that guy, Chris, who says he's Mick Jagger's brother! Let me see, Helen Howard. Eight-six-seven — Mick Jagger's brother, can you believe that! — six-seven-oh-nine. Like the girls who came by here yesterday in the rented limousine, thinking that would get them in. First they tried the roadblock down below, then the one on Route 67. Same story each time, said they were on their way to see Mick Jagger. What people will do! Helen? Hi, Helen, it's Kathleen. Listen, you've got to help us out...
I excused myself, head reeling, only to bump headlong into Solveig in the library.
"Geel," she said. Like Astrid, a sister Swede, Solveig called me "Geel," not "Gil." "Nancy's on the phone for you," she said. "She wants to know where Abigail should start school — Truro or North Brookfield?"
"Hello," I shouted into the phone.
"Hi," Nancy said. "I want to know where Abigail should start school — Truro or North Brookfield?"
"Nancy. I don't know. Next week, you mean? Listen. We're under siege here."
"I thought you were going to find a house for us to live in."
"Yes, I know, I wanted to. I want to. But you simply could not believe what we're going through here. It's a man at every pump. People working twenty hours a day. You've got no idea. I've put the word out about a house. No results yet."
"Kathleen says there're at least twenty houses on the market in North Brookfield."
"That might be. I don't know. But if it's next week you're talking about, you should start her down there, in Truro. This gig is still going to be happening a week from now — otherwise we could use the Farm..."
"Fine," she snapped. "That's all I wanted to know. I've got to go now. Goodbye."
"Nance," I said, are you sure that ..." But it was too late. She had hung up the phone. There now were several young policemen outside on the driveway, guns drawn.
All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.