Offstage, Mick walks in a manner which I would call "determined."
Jaw set, eyes seemingly riveted on an imaginary finish line, he glides
along evenly, one foot in perfect cadence after the other, head level, no
bounce up and down at all.
It was mid-afternoon, and there were five grown men standing up in the
parking lot behind the barn. They were staring at the ground, then
looking up to talk and gesticulate, then looking back at the ground
again. Mick Jagger was among them. So were Keith Richards and Charlie
Watts. Bill Graham was there, who was in charge of booking the concert
halls and stadiums for the tour. So was Mick Brigdon, who works for
Bill. They were discussing the large traveling stage which they'd use
on tour, and had applied masking tape to the pebbles of the parking lot
in order to mark out a half-sized scale model. They paced around the
model, speaking sometimes two at a time, and on the subject of the
stage its selling points, its weaknesses, its cost, its
construction schedule, and so forth. There was no apparent consensus.
Keith, for one, stalked off to his more customary post in the Game
Room, leaving a warning and a threat behind for others to consider.
Charlie seemed out of patience, eyes rolled occasionally to the top
of his head in evidence of boredom. Mick, who had been listening
mostly, chin resting upon the knuckles of his right hand, motioned to
Bill Graham, and the two of them stepped outside the masking tape
markers. Mick spoke briefly, Bill Graham nodding in agreement.
Then Mick separated himself somewhat from Bill Graham, slapped
him approvingly on the upper forearm, and turned to walk down
the gravel drive toward the Farmhouse, and the back entrance
to the kitchen.
Offstage, Mick walks in a manner which I would call "determined." Jaw
set, eyes seemingly riveted on an imaginary finish line, he glides
along evenly, one foot in perfect cadence after the other, head level,
no bounce up and down at all. It would be unlike him, for example, to
pause along the way, take a kick at the railway ties which line the
edge of the back drive at Long View, and pick one of the wild roses
No, instead, Mick has already made it down the stairs, and is crossing
over the red brick patio, past the picnic table, and has pulled open
the wooden screen door to the kitchen. It slams shut, rattling the
plates on the shelves over the dishwasher.
"Good afternoon, Solveig," Mick says.
Solveig was once again at the electric orange juice squeezer, applying
half-oranges one at a time to the spinning porcelain appliance.
"Hello, Mick." Solveig uttered the words with infinite weariness,
sighed, and then shook her long hair over onto her shoulder and ducked
into the pantry, nearly colliding with me. I folded shut my purple
phone book, grabbed up the three pink slips for me stuck between the
pantry phone and the wall, and figured I'd leave the pantry to Solveig,
in order that she might collect herself in peace.
"How's your shift doing, Sergeant Solveig?" I joked with Solveig every
now and then, too. Solveig looked at me, and just shook her long blond
hair in reply, head bowed towards the remaining stack of pink slips
piled beneath the pantry telephone. Her lower lip was quivering, so I
got out of there.
"Well, well, aren't you Mick Jagger?" I said, rounding the counter in
the kitchen. "How's the stage construction division doing? See you have
things all blocked out up there on the gravel driveway."
"Can't talk," he gasped. "Taking my pulse . . . seventy-eight . . . seventy-nine . . .
. Coming down lower and lower. That
jogging. Really works."
"And the stage? How's it working? Gonna be built in time?"
"Dumbbells," Mick said. "Buncha dumbbells. Got to watch over every
little thing, I do."
I thought I'd change the subject. "How did you like the restaurant last
night in Sturbridge?" I asked. It had been "'reservations for two' in
the name of Hall, please. Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Hall. Your best
table, please. What? In that case let me speak with your supervisor.
the supervisor? All right. This is Gil Markle. I own Long
View Farm, the recording studio in North Brookfield. Yes. Yes, that's
the one. You read about it yesterday in the paper? Yes. That's us. So
listen. Two, please. Yes, him. But the reservations are under 'Hall.'
It's very important you say 'Hall,' and not his real name. Yes. It's
that sort of thing they're worried about.
"Your best table, right? By the fireplace. Okay. I'll call you in
thirty minutes, and you can tell me if they got there O.K., and how
things are working out.
"No, really, that's quite all right. Just serve him a good meal and try
to screen the other clients away as best you can. They'll ruin his
meal, if you let them."
Mick seemed relieved at the prospect of discussing something other than
the stage, and had a basically good report for me. "Oh, all right, you
know, Gil. All
Always a bit the same, though, with people
wantin' me to sign their little daughter's
"Yeah. That's a drag," I said. "But if it didn't happen, I bet
more upset still."
Mick shot me a glance, smiled, and let the fast ball pass, without
"You know though, Gil, there
something you could do to help.
Funny request, this, so bear with me."
"Shoot, Mick. Your slightest request... "
"Well, it's this phone call I'm expecting. This is a call I
to take, you know? But I don't want anybody to know about it. Don't
want people to know that this person called me. Got it?"
"Like if my wife was here, and my girlfriend called, I'd want to talk
to the girlfriend without my wife knowing I did. Sorta like that?" I
"Yeah," Mick laughed back, "sorta like that." And he scribbled a name
down on a piece of paper. A man's name I no longer remember.
"That's the one," he said. "Wanna
that call... "
" ...without anybody knowing about it," I said.
"Yeah," Mick laughed again. "Thanks again for the restaurant last
night. Jerry loved it."
"No problem, Mick" I said.
Mick turned on his heel, fixed his gaze on a point some distance away,
and walked off. No bounce; no detours. The audience was over. Mick now
wanted to be somewhere else.