Mick's eyebrows arched. He's still holding his empty plate in one hand. I could see that this was going to have to be quick. Just time enough for the abridged version of my prepared speech.
It was time for the Rolling Stones to leave Long View Farm. Their first really big show — the first of two back-to-back performances, and in front of 80,000 persons, was scheduled for Friday, in Philadelphia. So they would leave Long View on Thursday. It was now Monday, or Tuesday if I'm wrong. Dr. Rose, who's Jane Rose's father, and a semi-retired physician, had stopped by with his wife and had given vitamin B-12 shots to all the members of the band. That's a no-nonsense measure designed to eliminate the possibility of any sore throats, fevers, or other infectious diseases. It's almost impossible to get sick once you've had a shot of vitamin B-12.
Billy Maykel, the local Svengali and chiropractor, had stopped by and had cracked all available backs. Mick requested the treatment, but once Billy was on the premises, his popularity spread like wildfire. Keith, once "cracked" and relieved of a bothersome shoulder pain, instructed Woody to "get cracked, too." Bill and Astrid came next. Patti Hansen officiated at the assembly-line back-crackings, which occurred downstairs in the barn, just outside the sauna. She "got cracked" herself, and immediately joined the ranks of the proselytizers and converted. The Rolling Stones thought Dr. Billy Maykel was a genius, and he's still prescribing adjustments and diet changes for them by mail. I "got cracked," too, over in the Flat, and was briefed by Maykel on the state of the spines of the members of the band.
" Mick's the worst," Dr. Billy said, gravely. "Don't see how he can carry on, in the state he's in. Internal organs? I don't want to talk about it. He's better now, though. Three consecutive sets of adjustments I've put him through, and he's obviously improved. Now, Gil, breathe out. That's it. All the way out."
"Hmmm. Not doing too well yourself, if you want to know."
"How so, Billy?"
"Liver, Gil. I've been telling you this now for years. Liver."
"Whaddaya mean, 'liver'?" I asked Dr. Billy Maykel.
"You know, Gil. Without my telling you. You're also not doing the pressurepoint exercises either, like you've been told. There, get up. That should loosen you up for a while. Your fourth lumbar was way out. Not as far as Mick's though. His was practically out of joint. Keith, he had another problem altogether..."
"Please, Billy, don't tell me things like that. They're all better now, though, you say?"
"No problem. They'll perform in Philly, if that's what you're asking."
That was good for me to hear. Didn't want it said that we'd sent the Rolling Stones out into the world in anything less than fighting shape. I thanked Billy, and made my way across the driveway to the Farmhouse, feeling particularly light on my feet. The cracking had been a good one. It was now suppertime, or just a bit later than that.
Cracking of the back loosens up the mind, that's why I'm a fan of chiropractics. I was thinking particulary well, all of a sudden. Hallucinating for a start; then tying the rush down to earth, in the form of a determination — of an intention. Always works, that. If you start with an hallucination, and then focus, you're home-free-all. The thing will then happen. Some shrinks will charge you $250 per hour, and still not tell you that.
Tonight, I intended to say goodbye to Mick Jagger.
Mick and I had been circling around one another for almost two months now — keeping our distances, playing our roles, each very well. We had only good things to say about each other, but had never done so directly, to the other, one-on-one. That would have been superfluous, and possibly dangerous to boot. Mick Jagger wasn't a person for me; and I wasn't aperson for Mick Jagger. We were instead two intelligent men caught up in rock 'n' roll, with clearly defined objectives. Mick figured temporarily on the horizon of my objectives; I figured temporarily on his. And that was fine with the two of us.
All this aside, I still wanted to say goodbye to the man, and had been rehearsing my goodbye speech for at least a month now — tinkering with it, scrutinizing it for any remaining traces of ego, bombast, and bravado, and waiting for my moment. It was now very shortly to arrive.
People were just getting up from the table, after an evening meal which must have been fish, since there was a profusion of empty wine bottles in evidence. White wines, from Bordeaux. I know. I selected most of the titles. A fire — large for the month of September — was raging in the fireplace. Keith would occasionally throw on a log. So would Woody, and Charlie Watts. One of them, at least, had done so. I rounded the corner by the fireplace, toward the table, just as Mick was rounding the fireplace, empty plate in hand, heading toward the dishwasher. It's a sign that guests are fully at home at Long View, and aware of what has to be done to keep the place running, when they take their empty plates back to the dishwasher. Mick was doing just that, which impressed me. Now was the time. He knew this, too, and we stopped, facing each other some six feet in front of the blazing fire.
"So," I said, jauntily, "looks like you're on your way. Seems like you just got here."
"Right, Gil," Mick said. "Very pleasant stay, I'd like you to know. Very pleasant."
"Something I wanted you to know, Mick, on your way out. Something I've been meaning to say to you, for some time." Mick's eyebrows arched. He's still holding his empty plate in one hand. I could see that this was going to have to be quick. Just time enough for the abridged version of my prepared speech.
"Thought you'd like to know that you've made me a free man.
"People often say the opposite to you — I know that. Complain that the Rolling Stones captured them, dragged them along, imprisoned them in a series of events they couldn't control — burned them out. I've heard it all." Mick was now listening intently.
"But you did the opposite for me, I want you to know. Finally, after years, I don't have to worry any longer about bringing a bigger and better band to Long View Farm. That cross is off my shoulders, once and for all. And that's a very liberating feeling, and I wanted you to take the credit for it. There's one man, at least, whom you've made free."
"Very nice, Gil," Mick said. "A very nice thing to say."
I believe Mick would have said more, had he known that this little ceremony was going to occur. We smiled at each other, we shook hands, and he continued on his way to the dishwasher. He was thinking about what I had just said as he slid his plate onto the counter. I could tell.
All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.