Offstage, Mick walks in a manner which I would call "determined." Jaw set, eyes seemingly riveted on an imaginary finish line, he glides along evenly, one foot in perfect cadence after the other, head level, no bounce up and down at all.
It was mid-afternoon, and there were five grown men standing up in the parking lot behind the barn. They were staring at the ground, then looking up to talk and gesticulate, then looking back at the ground again. Mick Jagger was among them. So were Keith Richards and Charlie Watts. Bill Graham was there, who was in charge of booking the concert halls and stadiums for the tour. So was Mick Brigdon, who works for Bill. They were discussing the large traveling stage which they'd use on tour, and had applied masking tape to the pebbles of the parking lot in order to mark out a half-sized scale model. They paced around the model, speaking sometimes two at a time, and on the subject of the stage — its selling points, its weaknesses, its cost, its construction schedule, and so forth. There was no apparent consensus. Keith, for one, stalked off to his more customary post in the Game Room, leaving a warning and a threat behind for others to consider. Charlie seemed out of patience, eyes rolled occasionally to the top of his head in evidence of boredom. Mick, who had been listening mostly, chin resting upon the knuckles of his right hand, motioned to Bill Graham, and the two of them stepped outside the masking tape markers. Mick spoke briefly, Bill Graham nodding in agreement. Then Mick separated himself somewhat from Bill Graham, slapped him approvingly on the upper forearm, and turned to walk down the gravel drive — toward the Farmhouse, and the back entrance to the kitchen.
Offstage, Mick walks in a manner which I would call "determined." Jaw set, eyes seemingly riveted on an imaginary finish line, he glides along evenly, one foot in perfect cadence after the other, head level, no bounce up and down at all. It would be unlike him, for example, to pause along the way, take a kick at the railway ties which line the edge of the back drive at Long View, and pick one of the wild roses growing there.
No, instead, Mick has already made it down the stairs, and is crossing over the red brick patio, past the picnic table, and has pulled open the wooden screen door to the kitchen. It slams shut, rattling the plates on the shelves over the dishwasher.
"Good afternoon, Solveig," Mick says.
Solveig was once again at the electric orange juice squeezer, applying half-oranges one at a time to the spinning porcelain appliance.
"Hello, Mick." Solveig uttered the words with infinite weariness, sighed, and then shook her long hair over onto her shoulder and ducked into the pantry, nearly colliding with me. I folded shut my purple phone book, grabbed up the three pink slips for me stuck between the pantry phone and the wall, and figured I'd leave the pantry to Solveig, in order that she might collect herself in peace.
"How's your shift doing, Sergeant Solveig?" I joked with Solveig every now and then, too. Solveig looked at me, and just shook her long blond hair in reply, head bowed towards the remaining stack of pink slips piled beneath the pantry telephone. Her lower lip was quivering, so I got out of there.
"Well, well, aren't you Mick Jagger?" I said, rounding the counter in the kitchen. "How's the stage construction division doing? See you have things all blocked out up there on the gravel driveway."
"Can't talk," he gasped. "Taking my pulse . . . seventy-eight . . . seventy-nine . . . eighty . Coming down lower and lower. That jogging. Really works."
"And the stage? How's it working? Gonna be built in time?"
"Dumbbells," Mick said. "Buncha dumbbells. Got to watch over every little thing, I do."
I thought I'd change the subject. "How did you like the restaurant last night in Sturbridge?" I asked. It had been "'reservations for two' in the name of Hall, please. Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Hall. Your best table, please. What? In that case let me speak with your supervisor. You are the supervisor? All right. This is Gil Markle. I own Long View Farm, the recording studio in North Brookfield. Yes. Yes, that's the one. You read about it yesterday in the paper? Yes. That's us. So listen. Two, please. Yes, him. But the reservations are under 'Hall.' It's very important you say 'Hall,' and not his real name. Yes. It's that sort of thing they're worried about.
"Your best table, right? By the fireplace. Okay. I'll call you in thirty minutes, and you can tell me if they got there O.K., and how things are working out.
"No, really, that's quite all right. Just serve him a good meal and try to screen the other clients away as best you can. They'll ruin his meal, if you let them."
Mick seemed relieved at the prospect of discussing something other than the stage, and had a basically good report for me. "Oh, all right, you know, Gil. All right. Always a bit the same, though, with people wantin' me to sign their little daughter's menu, or something like that."
"Yeah. That's a drag," I said. "But if it didn't happen, I bet you'd be more upset still."
Mick shot me a glance, smiled, and let the fast ball pass, without swinging.
"You know though, Gil, there is something you could do to help. Funny request, this, so bear with me."
"Shoot, Mick. Your slightest request... "
"Well, it's this phone call I'm expecting. This is a call I want to take, you know? But I don't want anybody to know about it. Don't want people to know that this person called me. Got it?"
"Like if my wife was here, and my girlfriend called, I'd want to talk to the girlfriend without my wife knowing I did. Sorta like that?" I was laughing.
"Yeah," Mick laughed back, "sorta like that." And he scribbled a name down on a piece of paper. A man's name I no longer remember.
"That's the one," he said. "Wanna take that call... "
" ...without anybody knowing about it," I said.
"Yeah," Mick laughed again. "Thanks again for the restaurant last night. Jerry loved it."
"No problem, Mick" I said.
Mick turned on his heel, fixed his gaze on a point some distance away, and walked off. No bounce; no detours. The audience was over. Mick now wanted to be somewhere else.
All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.