The Strange Afterglow


It seemed to vibrate, and glow as though from within. It had visible undulations and mescal-weavings about it. Its colors seemed hyper-saturated. It seemed to exude a human presence.

    I felt a great surge of relief the moment the large door swung up and closed on the Rolling Stones' F28 Fokker jet. They had come up with this airplane at the last moment, having first considered the charter of an old rickety Martin from Provincetown-Boston Airways at roughly one-tenth the price. The F28 was a beautiful, sleek airplane, and hired for this one trip to Philadelphia only. 
    There's no question about it, I actually felt the air seal when that front door shut, and I knew that I now had two months of arduous work, sleepless nights, and very fast pitches definitively behind me. I must have exuded this feeling, since I had people tell me how I looked later, and actually saw how I looked on the TV that night, and read about my apparent exuberance in the newspapers that next day. It was over. The Stones were gone, and I had been very lucky. A thousand things could have gone wrong, and not one had. 
    All this put me in a somewhat historical and melancholic frame of mind, and I beat a fast retreat to my offices in the Worcester Airport building, ordered myself a double gin & tonic, and started throwing things into my briefcase for the trip back to the Farm. This was the ending of a chapter for me, and I wanted to be alone. 
    And alone I was. Long View was empty when I arrived in the Jag, some twenty minutes later. No one was there. Everyone was either burnt, away on assignment, or in some other authorized but wasted state. The telephones were silent; no lights lit up on the keysets, no limos were waiting on the gravel esplanade, and there was no thundering din from whatever room Keith Richards happened to be passing through. But there were nevertheless mysterious and lingering signs — like the burning cigarette in the ashtray which in Humphrey Bogart movies signals the recent departure, or lurking presence, of human beings. 
    All the lights were on in all the rooms for a start. The beds had not yet been stripped, much less remade, and there were silly and inconsequential personal items lying about uncollected on the floors, on thc toilet seat covers, and on practically every other horizontal surface available. The place was empty, but it obviously had not been empty for long, and had obviously been very, very full only a short time earlier. I marveled at the silence, and thought Long View Farm looked all of a sudden very large again. 
    I found myself climbing the often photographed Escher stairs to the third floor in the Farmhouse — to "my" room. Or was it still Mick's room, and should I even be going up there? Of course I should. I owned the place, the Stones were gone, and it was my room again, right? I couldn't quite convince myself, however, and even considered knocking. Only, the door was open. As elsewhere, the lights were on, all of them. My airy hatch was sealed up with blackout curtains and brass tacks, per Mick's repeated instructions, and there was a bunch of obviously personal items left behind, which out of deference I didn't want to see. Instead, I later instructed Kent to preserve them all in a box somewhere, and not to tell me where the box was stored. In any case, the room felt eerie, dead silent, but very distinctly alive with itself. It seemed to vibrate, and glow as though from within. It had visible undulations and mescal-weavings about it. Its colors seemed hyper-saturated. It seemed to exude a human presence. 
    I was still an intruder in my own bedroom — there was no question about that. I wheeled about, shaken, and stumbled down the two flights of stairs and out onto the gravel driveway. Maybe I would run into Kathleen, or there would be some visitor to shoo away down at the bottom of the drive, or some paparazzi photographer down at the pond to console with the prospect of an eventual picture of Mick Jagger, even if not today. But the driveway was empty — perfectly empty except for my Jag, which was still cooling and dripping its little spots of oil onto the gravel, one by one. The photographers had all gone. There were no reporters in sight. There were no kids hiding face down in the mud, or in the branches of our trees, or behind Stanley's cows. 
    Long View was empty. The Rolling Stones had gone.


 All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.