Charlie Watts turned, looked me straight in the eye, and lifted his glass
of Tequila. "Think if I ever grew up I'd get out of rock 'n' roll,
too," he said.
"Charlie Watts," I said. "What are you doing up this early in the
It was 7 AM, and I was getting no sleep at all in the water bed in the
Flat. I had been dreaming my nightmare, which had been recurrent for me
now ever since the Rolling Stones arrived. Was always the same. Nancy,
my sweetheart, making love to some other guy, yet smiling at me with
her tender, enigmatic Mona Lisa smile checks becoming ever more
flushed until I would end the dream and wake up terrified in the
heaving, sloshing water bed, aware once again that it was the Rolling
Stones playing upstairs on our new and gleaming sound stage, and that I
had gotten my wish. I mean, that the Rolling Stones had come to Long
Charlie Watts was alone in the kitchen in the Farmhouse, looking out
over the valley toward the east, and toward a sky which was now gray,
streaked with orange, just a few moments after sunrise.
"How'd the practice go last night, Charlie?"
"Gil," he said, "let me look at you."
Charlie was swaying slowly back and forth, seated on the wooden bench
overlooking the front porch and the deep valley below. There were
patches of mist in the low spots in the valley.
"Let me look at you," Charlie continued. "I want you to tell
one thing, Gil."
"What . . . and I want you to tell me the truth . . . what are you
going to do, Gil, when . . . when . . . "
"When you grow
Gil. What are you going to do when you grow
Charlie said each word by itself. Distinctly, and without any
consideration of count, or cadence.
"Jesus, Charlie," I said. "I'm already forty-one."
"Know that. Know that, Gil. Know that very well. But the question still
remains, what, Gil, are you going to do, when you grow
"Think about getting out of rock 'n' roll, for a start. I
now." I was amazed that I had said that.
"Ha, ha! Watts spoke. Ha, ha. That's already a
man. A beginning for us to con-tem-plate, the two of us.
rock 'n' roll. Which way, Gil? Which way is
of rock 'n' roll?
That way? Down past the riding ring? Ha! You really forty-one?"
"I don't know, Charlie. Sometimes I lose track. That's what it says in
the papers in the articles. I guess that's how old I am."
"Treated you easy so far, rock 'n' roll did. Unless you have an aging
portrait upstairs in the attic. Ha! Knew someone like you once. Looked
great, he did. Didn't show it all as much as me. And I've been showing
it a bit. But was that bastard ever miserable! You miserable, Gil?"
"Charlie," I said, "what kind of a thing is that to ask?"
"Aw, fuck," Charlie said. "Wasn't asking. Trying to say something.
Trying to say something to you, Gil, who's just forty-one. Played drums
all night, trying to say something in the morning. In Massachusetts. I
don't know why they make such a fuss over us. Never did understand it.
"You're the Rolling Stones, Charlie. That's why."
Charlie Watts turned, looked me straight in the eye, and lifted his
glass of Tequila. "Think if I ever grew up I'd get out of rock 'n'
roll, too," he said.
He then rose unsteadily to his feet, acquired some stumbling momentum
in the direction of the fireplace, the staircase, and his bedroom two
flights above us, just across the hall from Mick's room.
"G'night, Charlie," I shouted after him.
"Nite, Gil," he said softly. "Nite, Gil."