Memory Motel: A Rock And Roll Fantasy, Part Two Section Six: The Cheshire Cat
Part Two: Two Years later
“I know you love me but I can’t be concerned with your feelings now, this is about me and my child, if you want to live here and are willing to raise a real man’s son, and don’t try to pretend you are in any way important or much more than a, I don’t know, someone I feel sorry for, than do so. If not..” Hannah shrugged. “Than I don’t care if you think I’m cruel, if you had been a real man it wouldn’t have been capable of happening.” She almost smiled. “So it is lucky you aren’t a real man, isn’t it?
They were in their bedroom but Phil’s belongings were neatly packed in a suitcases and a maid scurried back and forth removing them to a different bedroom, she listened as intently as she could and all she felt was a deep pity for Phil. He was, after all, really one of them. The maid was an Italian immigrant, Nicole, who had been brought to the States by her Mom running as far as she could from the abusive father, who beat them both, and a son, who joined the army and died in some stupid friendly fire incident before he was 21 years old. Nicole’s Mom died soon after reaching Los Angeles trying to cross the street, another stupid accident, Nicole was raised by her older cousins, always with side jobs, always in bakeries and at cleaners, always rushing about. At 18 Nicole graduated High School and joined the Fellowes household (nobody considered it the Verlierer’s household because it wasn’t his at all) and she liked Phil not because he was effortlessly a gentleman with all the employees and not because he was handsome –though he was very handsome, tall muscular, he looked like a hero) but because he was working class. He belonged to them in ways Hannah and the rest of her extended family never came close to being.
The maids, waiters, servants, gardeners, had never believe the marriage had a shelf life but had been proven wrong time after time, the lack of fights, the lack of trouble, bemused them. When it ended it was an ice in the water return to the correct world order. Lying on her bed, Hannah had the calmness of a woman who couldn’t care less: it was like years of love and family fell off her. Phillip felt sick, he felt as though now even the second part of his life was an immense lie. Many years later, explaining it to a lover one drunken evening of regretted revelation, Phil said “It was like all the years we were together the bitch had had amnesia and then suddenly she remembered who she was, and the knowledge that I was no longer needed freed her forever. I went downstairs, got my bags and I haven’t seen her once since then”
Phil didn’t tell the lover, a transgendered woman though Phil never discovered it, what happened next. How in the downstairs bar he had a whiskey soda and then another and thought. How strange life was, how did it end so suddenly, how could anybody be so cruel to another person, to hit them so hard. How cruel can people be? Hannah’s face wasn’t a mask, she seemed actually pleased in herself. The way she seemed a little surprised at how cruel she can be and just not care. Hannah didn’t even look like herself to him, her expressions weren’t the expressions he was used to seeing on her face. They were crueler, colder, less tempered. Then, and he hadn’t notice it happen, the maid was standing by his side, close to him, her hand shaking a little. Nicole took his drink, drank swiftly put it down and kissed him with a strange passion. “Don’t believe her, Sir.” She said. “She is crazy, you are completely a man. Always a man to women, always a brave and attractive man.” Nicole didn’t know where this sudden passion came from, she wanted to mother and mistress him at the same time. She kissed him again and rubbed her body against him, realizing that if anybody saw them it would be her job. They kissed again and again and finally it was Phil who pulled away.
He went back upstairs, took his bag and drove off back to the hills where he had spent so much time with Callie and Dion. Lying on the grass, Phil had stopped drinking because he had work in a couple of hours, and that saved him from being imprisoned and let him off with an honorable discharge from the force, he imagined Callie and Dion were by his side, imagined he was telling them what happened and how they would answer them, Dion’s druggy slur, “The bitch, man, she was a bitch to you, I wish her bad things”.
Callie almost in tears, “anybody who hurts you Phil, they are my enemies and together we would get them, we’d be like gladiators, right? Going after them like gladiators.”
The moment Phillip left the mansion, Hannah regretted it. She knew Phillip well enough to know he would never come back. “Why did I do that? Why why why?” It was like the first rush of faith, or love, where nobody else really matters and everybody else who gets between you and the love be it Allah or Mick Jagger, was simply in the way. She saw Phillip as not a threat, but an irrelevance and there was a terrible power in her cruelty. But soon after she regretted for an hour, two hours, a day, until she heard how he had murdered a defenseless girl and then this huge rush of relief flooded over her. She stood by him if a quickie divorce constitutes standing by each other, and despite the lack of a prenup, Phil didn’t try for more money and wouldn’t have even if his life wasn’t such a complete hell he could not have cared less. Phil formed a Private Investigation company to finance his slow walk to an early death through alcoholic poisoning. Meanwhile despite her initial disappointment over a Michelle instead of a Michael, her daughters was so beautiful, and looked so much like Mick Jagger, Hannah wasn’t disappointed in God’s gift.
When Michelle was five years old, she fell down the winding staircase from the second floor salon to the ground floor lobby and was rushed to the hospital. The doctors told Hannah that all she could do was pray and so that is exactly what she did: she prayed and prayed and prayed. And somewhere in the morning hours, Dolly Buchwald, her Great Great Grandmother on her Mom’s side visited. At first she thought it was her Mom except she wasn’t wearing sunglasses and her Mom wasn’t dead and Mom was in Venice on vacation though when she finally answered Hannah’s email and promised to return if necessary or three days from then, when she was coming back for a party any way.
With all that was going on, Hannah was still a little disappointed she got a member from the second hand Jewish immigrant side of her family and not a beloved Fellowes. Dolly intuited it and half smiled: “So even racism for the beyond?”
“Uh oh”, Hannah said to herself. “I better watch myself, but she replied “No, no, no, thank you, thank you please all praise be to God and his son…”
“Do I look like a Christian…” Dolly snapped.
“No, I am so sorry please save my little girl, I beg you…” And Hannah fell to the floor sobbing in the middle of the empty floor.
“Don’t, please don’t. We look down on groveling in the Aftermath”, she replied. “Michelle will live, don’t worry, everything will be good little girl.”
“Thank you Grand… what should I call you?”
“Hello Dolly” she began to sing before disappearing.
“Daddy daddy…?” Hannah shouted after the figure.
Dolly’s head came back, like the Cheshire Cat. “You and your damn Daddy” she said but with a smile and a wink till all that was left was the wink.
The following fifteen years were a blur for Hannah and less so for Michelle. One deals with the reality that is handed to you but still, Michelle was convinced that everybody around her was insane and not just in a teen rebellious puberty blah blah blah way but from the age of seven, eight, with a Mom who held conversations with people who weren’t there and constantly. When she was six it was a norm to walk in on her mother having a long conversation with Dolly about anti-Semitism in the 20th century. Dolly had died trying to escape Poland in 1940, and held strong views on the matter. So strong she was stilla round to discuss. But if at six it was nothing important, by the age of eight it bothered her and Michelle began to seriously wonder about who her father was. At school, her best friend Georgina Baily-Storm, was another rich blue blood, a touch bluer than Michelle but Georgina didn’t think so because, cmon Mick Jagger. Michelle never mentioned Mick because 1 –who cared that her dad was the namesake of a popular Maroon 5 song that year and 2 –she wasn’t sure Mick sure was her dad. Other people did thought so, Georgina’s family sure did, and that everybody took this for granted puzzled. Michelle searched out a picture of a young Mick on line and cut and pasted it with a picture of herself and truly, even an eight year old could tell that the resemblance was alarming.
“Why don’t you tell Mick if you are so convinced? Mom? Answer me” Hannah was drifting off again.
“What? Why bother? He has like 20 kids and 100 grandkids, what difference does it make? He wouldn’t want to know.”
“Isn’t there a test?
“Stop. Just stop. You’re his daughter and I don’t want to hear about it.”
Well, it mattered to Michelle and in a world where she felt secure in just about everything, from her beauty to her brains, from ability to manipulate her life without much guidance from any one to her burgeoning sexuality, this was beyond her control and it upset her.
“I have mentioned it but if she knows, she won’t say.”