Memory Motel: A Rock And Roll Fantasy, Part Three Section 11: Then There Were Three
Part Three: In The Aftermath
15 – Fatou Diakité
Blue Eyes had told me where he was going soon after the Keith and Mick summit disaster and gave me instructions to work on the rest ppf the band. Ron Wood and Charlie Watts were musts, we figured figure out the rest of the band at a later stage of the proceedings. I thought of brining Keith with me to visit Ron but decided against it. The truth is, Keith’s handling of Mick left a lot to be desired, and at a worst case scenario I could bring him in later. I also thought Blue Eyes should have handled it, but Blue Eyes felt that Ron might not take a dog seriously and that added layer was something we didn’t need so I showed up looking prim and proper, aged myself 20 years. I wanted to look like an administrator instead of a sex thing or groupie or really anything except official.
Ron didn’t look pleased to see me but I didn’t let that bother me. I pushed by him and wondered about the mansion, a place so big it had an indolent, redolent football field air about it. “Blue Eyes says hello.” I said in American English.
“She made it to heaven? I am happy she made it, dogs deserve heaven as well. Where is she? I would love her to stay shere.”
:She isn’t here right now, but she will be back soon. I was asked to come here as a representive for simultaneously you and for everyone. Else. Are you enjoying the After Math?” I asked.
It didn’t take long to convince and I left with a promise that I would keep him informed and that he should just keep doing what he was doing. Then I went after Charlie Watts, who was playing drums in a jazz quintet with Charlie Parker and I tracked Charlie down to a little big club in what looked and smelt like late 50s Greenwich Village. He was playing drums at a little hole in the wall with an everything band, sometimes Charlie Parker, sometimes Nat King Cole, once John Coltrane, but always Charlie at the drums waiting patiently for his wife to show up and willing to enjoy the freedom to play jazz for, well, forever. Never tiring, never needing to leave the stage, neither drinking nor drugging, in a room that expanded at need but where every seat was front row. The audience would drop by for a song and stay for a week, it became an event in the Aftermath, a legendary never ending performance, one year, two years… I myself had visited numerous times.
You would have thought when the Stones died, Mick or Keith would have been stars still, but in their own way neither of them wanted anything to do with being musicians in that sense. Keith just wanted to hang out with his family and Mick well Mick had become Peter Pan to Blue Eyes Tinker Bell, even Ron, the most social of the band, went into his own private world and failed to connect (yet, always yet) with the Aftermath. But not Charlie. Charlie died, shook himself down, lit a cigarette, started the club and played there, welcoming anyone and everyone who wanted to hear him play.
Fame is different in the Aftermath: since everyone can be famous, most people tire of it, and it takes something else to break through into its own mass consciousness and Charlie had done what very few people did, he broke through all the thing that stop the new dead from becoming part of the greater Aftermath: he simply staked and claimed his stake. Once his family arrived he would be in a position to smoothly transfer, traverse, the worlds, and till then he enjoyed playing for everyone always.
Well and good, but how to convince a man who never left the stage to leave the stage. What I had to do, what I did, was cheat. The Aftermath had a huge interest in one way or the other the Stones making a decision and with that I pulled him out of his environment. It was not unlike what Blue Eyes did with Mick, pulling him out of the Island and back to the Universe. I sat at a table drinking dirty martinis with two friends for hours and hours and listening quietly to Charlie playing low key smooth jazz –the antithesis of his Stones stuff. It wasn’t all Charlie could play by any means, Ornette had dropped by before we got there and they performed a day of harmolodics, but Charlie loved the dreamy backbeat to trumpet exorcisms. He liked the coolness of jazz, it was his music and he lost himself in it
Charlie acted as though he had not a care anywhere, and it is true, he had not a care anywhere, but he was about to get one.
I could have brought in Keith or Ron, or even Brian Jones, who had been here longer than the others, but I wondered and wondered and wondered and I realized something: if Charlie stopped playing he would miss Shirley and he would be approachable. If. I could, of course, change myself to look like Shirley. Obviously, he would know I’m not his wife just from the aura, but it would work as a reminded. But it was too aggressively rude, too in your face, too offensive. So I thought some more and decided that a much better concept was to suggest her discretely, just a shade of eye, an expression on my face. I decided to remain black, indeed not to change at all and yet to subtle draw myself so that I was a reminded of the woman he loved. And slowly, slowly, I was a reminder, a tracing, a vibe of Shirley. I had been there two days without Charlie noticing me at all but then the moment I changed, he noticed me and the moment he noticed me the place went quiet and Charlie just stared at me. The longest gig of all time was over.
He stood up and walked towards me, sat at the table, and the rest of the club had scattered. We sat there face to face and Charlie said nothing at all for the longest. Finally he spoke: “Is she dead?”
“No, she isn’t dead, but she will be …” I replied.
So I had done my part, three quarters of the Stones were in bed.