"See?" Goldie said. "See? . . . Don't need anybody sayin' the Stones are comin' here. . . . Don't need any of this. Things tough enough as it is. Let me be, Gil, until you're free 'a all this nonsense."
There was a pleasure still dear to me, even during those days of Stones mania in Central Massachusetts, and that was leaving Worcester a half an hour or so earlier than anybody at the Farm thought, and detouring to Bridgehampton on my way home. Bridgehampton is a very down-to-earth town. Divorcees come to live there after the breakup of their marriages. A lot of mainline truckdrivers live there. A lot of mainline drug users live there. I'm told that guys sometimes hide out in Bridgehampton if they're running from the law. Crap-shooters, drifters, busted-up confidence men, and teenage thugs all pass each other silently on the streets of this town, ignoring each other, going about their business, and saving all gossip, palaver, and currying of favor for the late afternoon and early evening hours, and for one of two local pubs — either the New Goldener Spa, or the Raging Rose Saloon. It was the latter for me, this fine afternoon — the Raging Rose Saloon. I pulled up in a cloud of dust, top down in my blue XK-E. Sat there for a minute, hi-fi blaring at me through the six speakers recently installed in my twelve year old sports car. I was listening to the tape I'd made of Keith Richards.
A face appeared in the window, gaped querulously at me for a minute, and I shut off the tape deck. It was Goldie, formerly of The Pub in North Brookfield. Before that I don't know. Goldie generally wore an apron, and ran this place in Bridgehampton all by herself — junkies, crooks-on-the-lam, divorcees, and all. Goldie had a lot of miles on her, and it showed in her face, which was creased with pain. Yes, pain you'd have to say. Goldie looked old, but she really was quite young. Twenty-something.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Goldie drawled at me, now standing in the doorway to the Raging Rose Saloon, and smoothing her apron.
"Whadd'ya tryin' to do, upset the clientele?"
"Goldie," I joked. "You ought to be happy to have me. Other club owners are. Tends to stimulate business, they tell me."
"Got no need 'a that. Got no need 'a reporters nosing around here. You know the kinda' folks we have hangin' out from time to time. They don't need the publicity. Board 'a Health people comin' in the next day and tellin' me the dog can't stay, and that the back of the bar needs sweepin' out. Don't need any 'a that.
"Look," she said with particular emphasis, pointing to a large American car which had just pulled into the dirt parking lot. "Don't need this, either. Underage most likely, crazed with all this talk about that stupid band 'a yours. Don't need any 'a that."
Goldie was right. Some kid looking about seventeen years of age had just slid into the Raging Rose parking lot, splashing the left front tire of his father's car into one remaining deep puddle. He had three girls with him, and two other guys. The girls acted as though they had just achieved the satisfaction of a consensus concerning me, and concerning my automobile.
"That's him," the one girl said. "He's got to come first. To check things out. Him and that car of his. Gotta be the right place."
Another car pulled in. Only three young people inside this time, but every bit as much full of themselves.
"Hey, hey," someone from the first car shouted to the second car. "Stones."
Everybody in both cars jumped out, slamming the wide car doors shut behind them, and began to work their way past Goldie and into the bar. Goldie didn't bother to check I.D.'s. She was fuming.
"See?" Goldie said. "See? You go on home to that farm 'a yours, and let me be. Don't need anybody sayin' the Stones are comin' here. Don't want the Stones comin' here, and you better tell those guys from the Telegramand Gazette that it's hurting business havin' them here each night, takin' up a booth all night long, nursing one drink apiece, watchin' the door like they always do, and playin' those damned Stones records on the jukebox. Don't need any of this. Things tough enough as it is. Let me be, Gil, until you're free 'a all this nonsense."
A third car pulled into the parking lot, indistinguishable in regard to its appearance and the motives of its occupants from the first two. Kids, looking for the Rolling Stones. And then another big car pulled in. Driver giving the "thumbs up" sign to the kids who had arrived only a few minutes earlier, and who had apparently pumped some dimes into the phone as a favor once they thought something might be going on — that the Rolling Stones might be coming.
I could see I wasn't going to get any sunset drink reverie here at the Raging Rose Saloon, so I smiled at Goldie, took the six or seven steps back toward my blue convertible, sat down into it, and left the parking lot with a roar and a splash through the same silly puddle. I waved goodbye to Goldie with two fingers, through the rear-view mirror. She was still standing in the doorway to the Saloon, arms akimbo. She was making sure I left.
All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.