Memory Motel: A Rock And Roll Fantasy, Part Two Section 1: A Mission from God
Part Two: Three Years Later
“I just heard from Mick?”
The phone had sounded like thunder and it released waves of nausea and Phillip threw up on the wooden floor, and then threw up again and then this woman’s voice he didn’t recognize made his head ache in multicolored waves of horror and he said, “Who is this?” and stumbled to the fridge, opened the icebox and took a slug of freezing cold Bacardi White.
“Mick”, She repeated. “Mick Jagger”.
So he put the phone down on her, took another shot, and found a halfway decent looking cup, a little residue from this mornings? Yesterdays? Who knows when’s instant coffee? Phil filled it to the rim, took a sip and a gulp, and his hand stopped shaking and he walked back to the sofa and lay down, somewhere between hell and hungover. He turned on the TV, it was 11am, day? Thursday. The phone rang again, he let it ring and then figured, “look I’m crazy, why not talk to another crazy?” He lit a smoke and answered. ‘DON’T PUT THE PHONE DOWN,”the woman screamed at him and whoops, there went the Bacardi all over the leather couch. “It’s me, Hannah Followes, Phil. Don’t put it down, please I need your help, please. I spoke to Mick, it’s true I really did.”
He fumbled around for a pen and paper and finally just went online and started a Word document because well, because he knew Hannah Fellowes.
“When did you speak to him?”
“Just now, an hour ago, he spoke inside my head, It was definitely Mick and he has an assignment for me… Not an assignment, what do I mean?”
“I have no idea,” he replied, knocking back half the cup with a muffled gag.
“Like Joan Of Arc.”
“A mission from God?”
“Yeah, I’m on a mission from God.”
“I haven’t heard from you in twenty years, Hannah, why me? Go on your mission, handle it yourself.” He’d heard maybe fifteen years ago that Hannah was a professional psychic, or a charlatan which is how he’d describe it… or maybe just nuts. A concept he might have found all less bizarre if he’d known about Hannah’s fall from grace as she attempted to raise a daughter, without Phillip, or Mick, or her husband. She had the looks and she had the residue of a dream to be an actress and the skills to make men love her: they were usually less than shocked at her age, and pleased with her skills. Phil wasn’t really thinking at all, not with with this hangover. No, not hangover, a perpetual dance of death where days are running into months into years, and getting steadily worse where his years at the LAPD were a very distant memory.
“No, Phil please, Mick, it was Mick. You owe me.” She claimed.
“How do I owe you? For what?
“You loved me…”
“You dumped me.”
“I was wrong but it was a long time ago, if I could go back I’d make it up to you. I know you were trying to help me but I couldn’t be saved at the time. Now I am saved.”
“So let Jesus help you.”
“Please, please, please.” Hannah was crying now, deeply, sobbing, like scary. Phil took another slug of Bacardi and went to get some more.
“OK, Mick Jagger has been dead for years but he has come back to visit with a little slut he fucked, got pregnant and who dumped you the day you dumped me… Got it..”
“He wrote a song about me.”
“We’ve had this discussion before. He wrote “Memory Motel THIRTY YEARS BEFORE HE MET YOU” Verlierer sort of cringed at the sound of his own voice, and a life that had spiraled completely out of his ability to control it or do much with it but sit back in shock at how fast it could all unravel.
“I had his daughter.”
“At least we know whose daughter it isn’t, don’t we.”
“I didn’t call you to fight this battle again, Phil. It is over. Anya grew up without him or you and now he is dead.”
“Or not dead apparently”
“No,” he could tell she was thinking, “Mick is dead but he wants us to help him and we are going to do it.”
“No we are not.”
She paused, like she was thinking again and then said. “Call me on Monday and tell me what you think.”
“No, I won’t…”
“Yes, you will.”
The phone went dead. Hannah stood in the middle of her room looking at her cell, the air conditioner blowing in the background, her tiny house off Sunset quiet as a tomb and she said, to no one visible. “I’ve done as you’ve said, will it be enough.”
And in her brain she could hear Mick reply. “It will be enough.
Verlierer stumbled back to the kitchen; he’d been awake less than half an hour and was already ready to fall back unconscious again. He rolled a joined, the weed tumbling between his finger and falling on the floor. The place stank of stale clothes and puke and chemicals, it seemed like a grave, a place where things came to end, the way Hannah’s betrayal had lead him to a wreckless , bloody mistake and the way his career concluded in a blaze of front pages and world condemnation. Innocent guilt or guilty innocence, round and round and round it went for years and yet never closer to the truth, or perhaps there was no truth closer than the obvious: he was drunk, he fucked up an unwarranted arrest and a teenage girl died. Then he lied about it and got away with it except you can’t hide from yourself ever and so all he could do was seethe in guilt and quit forever.
Slowly but surely the drugs and alcohol and memories got a grip on him and his work as a P.I slowed and his sense of any purpose in life slowed and now it was creeping towards the end. A terrible robbing him of everything, just the way he had robbed the kid of everything.
Two hours? Time for him to cry again?
Phillip went on Apple Music and played some Stones, drunk enough for the hangover to have gone away and not quite drunk, drunk enough to pass out, he dance naked around his apartment, making modied Mick-Brown movements smacking his hands in the air and singing to the old hits; singing loud, screaming about how it’s just a kiss away, remembering the night he met Mick, the night Mick stole his gal, got her pregnant and ruined his life. Moving his head and bobbing and weaving like a secondary actor in “The Replaceables”, the drink filled his brain and the music filled his head: “It’s over,” he thought to himself. “My life is coming to a final end”. And then, another voice, “Or maybe it isn’t., maybe there is more to come.” It was the first voice of hope Verlierer had heard in decades, his entire Private Investigator years had been just one terrible job cheating wife, cheating husband, break into computers, pictures, video, sitting outside hotel rooms, documenting other people’s horror without a hope. And as the alcoholism tightened its grip, the breaks between cases became longer and longer and, any friends, any family, they had all abandoned him so long ago. Like an island drigting to the mainland, he spent his life regretting just about everything. No, wait, don’t cry yet., he told himself, hold it back then you’ll enjoy it more later: betrayer and betrayed, the loser of the world. Please to meet you… if you meet me.
Verlierer stumbled, fell to the floor, and beat his fist on the floor and cried and then he cried some more, and then he fell asleep but not what you’d expect from a true drunk, from a drunk drunks running out the end of the line, not the dead sleep, not the unconscious dreamless sleep that should have been his reward for poisoning himself, for reaching the bottom and never coming up. Instead he dreamed and as Phillip went through it, it was even more than a dream. At 64 years old, Phil had the bloated look of the professional drunk but in the dream, well when it began he was sitting in a Japanese restaurant and there was a huge mirror to the side and he wasn’t the aging loser at all: slim, blonde hair cu very very short, maybe 22 years old, a smooth variant, somewhere between punk and teddy boy, slicked back, leather jacket, smart and sneering. Then he look at his table and there was rainbow sushi infront of him, and chopsticks and then a voice said. “You don’t look well enough for that”, with a slight sneer in his voice. “Don’t think you can ‘andle that? Do you…?”
A young Mick Jagger, his hair blowdried so heguessed it was the 1970s, his eyes half shut and a sneer on those legendary lips, he chopsticked with absolute ease and sort of half laughed at Phil and half shook his head, turning to a woman, maybe in her 40s, sitting next to him. He pointed at the P.I. with a stick, “This is the best you’ve got for me?” he asked.
“Trust me, Mick,” she replied, but not in the subservient manner you’d expect a paid employee to do. “He can handle it, he is better than he knows and better than you think. He is the best choice anywhere.”
“Then why doesn’t he look the role, people should look like what they are.”
The woman rolled her eyes, “I thought you’d begun to get the After Math, Mick.”
“I get it, I get it.” Mick turned and looked at Phil, his face darkened and he aged in an instant. Truly aged, from someone one step away from his 20s, still youthful, handsome, to an older man, a mature man: “Are you ready for this Verlierer? Everything is hanging by a thread, and I need somebody very competent to deal with the concert here. You need to be a leader, are you a leader?”
“Well, that’s an easy one”, Phil thought to himself, “I can answer that”. He shook his head and smiled for the first time in awhile. “I couldn’t lead anyone anywhere, I can’t deal with my life to deal with anyone elses. You’ve got the wrong guy, Mick. I’m just waiting to die, that’s all I wanna do and I’m close to it.”
The restaurant which had been a hub of noise and clatter –all plates clanging and drinks sipping went entirely quiet and the entire room seemed to fall on its axis, and spin, so Phil took a piece of sushi and dipped it in soysauce before popping it in his mouth.
“See what I mean?” The woman said. “That calmness will get him there, that calmness is what this enterprise needs. Hannah doesn’t have it. Phil has the skills to follow the clues, the temperate to answer back and the cool not to be phased… He is our man.”
Phil smiled smugly to himself but before he could respond, he was back at that night and the teenage girl was dead right at his feet like she always is, blood drenched, splattered and gone. There was nothing on the dock, nothing left of the breaking and entering Phil had interrupted, just this dead teenage girl and Phil gasping for air and quite aware he had just ended his life as well as hers. Where had she come from? Why was she there? Why had he shot at shadows? Whoeever they were they weren’t there and whoever she was was there and there was nothing left to be done but wait for the breathalyzer, wait to explain himself, wait for the honorable discharge and wait and wait and wait for this girl to get up and walk again.
One part acid flashback, one part dream but mostly the feeling of and the place of that moment came rushing in on him, and Phil closed his eyes and Mick was looking at him with a malevolent smirk on his face and the woman was shaking her head with a bemused shrug. “Nowhere to hide here, son.” She said to Phil, chewing on a carrot stick. “Here have this.” She handed him a rum and coke and he gulped it down and before he was halfway through it, Phil felt like he didn’t want to drink anymore.
Mick faced him. “Bewildering isn’ it?” Mick asked. “But we know all about you, we know more than you do and she” lifting his thumb in the woman’s general direction, “knows more than I do. And I know everything, son.”
“But all three of us know this: nothing has been what it seems since I slept with Hannah and everything has snowballed since then and if there is anything left in your life, and there is mate, it is all tied up here somewhere and you are going to have to straighten up and tighten up and get this all sorted. You have to be what you could’ve been before it all got messed up. And this is the only way it is going to happen.”
Phil went for his rum and coke but it was water now and the woman smiled. “You know you are done with that now, don’t you Phillip?”
“I don’t know, I don’t know…” he said, and he stopped drinking and let his mind go black for just a moment and he was still on his couch though his soul was hovering above his body and he looked at his life with one long look, and it made him so sad. He had been alone for so many years, he’d forgotten what people were, he couldn’t remember anything but this constant oneness with himself, this long never ending drag downwards. “What do you want me to do?” He asked.
“How long does he need?”
“About two weeks.”
“He won’t die, now, will he?”
“I can’t promise you that, but I really don’t think so.” Then she turned to me, “You’re gonna wish you had”
“It will be like Keith and heroin withdrawal.”
“Similar but not the same.”
“Then you’re in big trouble, mate. I’ve seen Keith so sick he couldn’t move, he would simply throw up on himself, shit and pss himself, completely all he could do was pray for it to end and it should be like that, maybe worse for you. But you’ve got to sober up, you can’t do it if you’re not sober.”
“Excuse me, Mick”, the woman interrupted. “When you get back go through one more day of drinking and deal with everything that is pending. Pay three months rent, electricity, al that stuff. Contact Hannah and tell her you will meet in on June 15th, she’ll balk, ignore her, ignore her calls, we will sort her out. Meet her at her home, she wll tell you more then.”
And then Phillip was awake on his sofa.
He ran to the fridge, two bottles left. “That will get me through today”, he thought to himself, “And then he took a hard slug and the hangover began to recede, he gulped it down. “I don’t know what that was”, he said aloud to the walls and the floors before settling onto Apple Pay and finding the deluxe Exile On Mainstreet and drinking some more and more and blasting it through the apartment. “I don’t what but I know this: it wasn’t a dream and it wasn’t a hallucination and it wasn’t death and it wasn’t life: it was yje magic, magic, a miracle. I have no doubt…”
Now he was babbling, writing, banking on line, after twenty years of wanting to die, he wanted to live. He wanted to know what happened now. “Why me? Why not me? Well, murderers tend not to be God’s chosen. Or Mick’s chosen. He is my black swan because if Mick Jagger lives on then maybe somewhere that girl, Gloria Abigail, is somewhere, maybe as bad as it was at least she still exists. Please, God, let her exist. And if she does…”
And if she does, Verlierer was going to find her and speak to her and know her and… well, whatever Mick and that woman wanted from him, that was what he would do at any cost. He finished the second bottle and passed out and when he woke up it hadn’t begun in earnest but it was coming and it probably wouldn’t kill him, she had said, but it might, he lay there, the Stones still on, he didn’t look at the day or the time, the hangover was coming, the Delirium tremors, the hallucinations, it wouldn’t be long, hours from now, and all he could do is let it gnaw his insides out and remember what it was he was doing and why he was doing it. One moment, Gloria was laying on the floor, her black afror matted and clotted in the deepest red and then, in his imagination, Phil could see her stand back up and she was fine, she was alive, she was smiling, she lived on forever and it would never end because she would never ever end.
For what was coming, if she would just get up off the sidewalk and walk towards him, he’d do anything Mick wanted, anything Hannah or her daughter or anyone wanted from her, just let her be somewhere, just let her be happy and then it started. His body began to tremble uncontrollably, his stomach contracted, he broke into a cold sweat and then a hot sweat and then he defecated and urinated on the sofa and felt like he was really going to die: completely alone in the world he just lay in pain, incapable of moving, incapable of anything much more than this sorry sense of worthlessness. Phillip knew at least some of it was always the drug in question but more of it had been the guilt of a man with blood on his hand. He lay in bed and thought about his life and about how, half a century in, Phillip had managed to fail and everything he had ever attempted. Including Hannah, women, love,. Love, he never quite got the balance right, he never figured out the line between adoration and self-delusion. And he paid and paid and paid