By Andrew Maben
It felt like flying. The sun, the blue sky, the quiet road out of town, the sea, and dunes, and Maggie laughing, hair blowing, nipples taut beneath the lacework of that blouse. In the end though, it would turn out to have been free-fall…
“Let’s have a picnic in the dunes.”
We both knew what was coming as we stopped, bought bread, cheese, pastries, wine. She smiled a cat’s cream smile to herself as she glanced not so coyly at my crotch. An all but empty car park. We filled a shopping bag with the provisions, a blanket, set out through the dunes. A walk of a few hundred metres brought us to a hollow, surrounded by sea grass crests, sheltered from the wind, hidden. We spread the blanket, sat, ate, drank wine. Smoking after the meal, Maggie lying back, eyes half-closed, that smile again. Her tongue tip on her lips…
I reached, touched a finger’s tip to her nipple. She arched her back infinitesimally, her knees beneath the white skirt parted a fraction, as I cupped her small breast in my palm. Lips parted she turned her face and I leaned forward for the kiss I had secretly desired through the years since I first saw her, in this same blouse, jumping on her bed…
Her hands found the buttons of my jeans, skilfully undone in moments, my pants pulled down. And then her lips and tongue encircled, enveloped and engulfed my cock, her enthusiasm surpassed only by her skill…
She kissed me again, lifted her skirt and spread her thighs wide, took my hand and pushed it firmly down until my fingers felt the moisture soaking the thin fabric. Impatiently she bent to strip off her underwear, thrust my head firmly to where the salty mediterranean scent and taste were all, until her hips bucked, a tremor shook her and with a gasping moan, a last shiver, she lay back. And reached down, pulled me up to lie atop her, guided my cock home…
We pulled our clothes back on, embraced and slept for several hours. On waking we fucked quickly, and found our way back to the car. It was late in the evening when we arrived back on the Boulevard Raspail.
“Shall I tell you a secret?”
It was the next day, Sunday, and we were lying naked and shined with sweat amid tangled sheets.
“Tell me anything you like.”
“You know I was here a couple of weeks ago?”
“Well, I went to a bar and met two guys. I went home with them and fucked them both. Two cocks inside me at once…” She rolled her eyes back with pleasure at the memory.
The next few weeks for me were idyllic. Work with Christian and Patrice was very satisfying, and time off now became truly recreational – Maggie’s voracious sexual appetite and taste for exploration introduced me to a whole new world of ecstasies, and she did enjoy behaving badly in public…
One evening we joined Jean and several friends in a Vietnamese restaurant near Place St. Michel. We were a rowdy, unkempt crew, and soon drew disapproving glances from the bourgeois couple at a nearby table. But it was when Maggie announced that she had a sudden urge to bite my arse, and immediately followed through and bent to nip my backside through my jeans, that it became too much for their delicate sensibilities and they summoned the waiter. After a brief hissed consultation, accompanied by frowning glances in our direction, the waiter hurried off to fetch the proprietor.
He stood respectfully listening to their complaint, and then replied in tones loud enough for all to hear.
“Monsieur, madame. If you cannot accept my friends, it is with regret that I must ask you to leave my restaurant.”
The looks of blank astonishment slowly turning to silent fury were a delight to behold, as huffily they donned their coats and left through the door held open in ironic politesse by our host, who moments later appeared at our table to offer his apologies for the unpleasant interruption of our festivities, and offering a bottle of saki as recompense…
Then there was the weekend that Christian asked if I’d care to work some overtime as we had fallen a little behind and there was a large room in need of a final coat of blue paint. Maggie was not prepared to spend the time alone and volunteered to come and help me. It was a warm day, it was hot work, we took off our clothes. Soon our skin was paint-spattered, and then we were rolling on the drop-cloths jacksonpollocking our bodies in blue as we fucked…
But Maggie was getting bored spending her days alone.
“Do you know where to buy coke in London?”
“Oh, I expect so. Why?”
“Well, I’ve been thinking. Keith and Anita still owe me some money. If you know where to get it from, I know plenty of people to sell it to.”
So I gave notice to Christian. I was sorry to be leaving him, he had been the best of bosses, supportive and friendly, full of pithy advice – “La préparation, c’est tout!” – both professional and philosophical, particularly his down to earth but whole-hearted embrace of anarchism.
And a week or so later we were once again on the road to Calais and headed for that long-postponed visit to Leslie…
We’d decided to try to be discreet about our relationship, however Maggie’s unrestrained demonstrativeness put paid to that soon enough. We had gone out to dinner with Leslie and her new probational boyfriend. At one point Leslie left the table to go to pee. Maggie, being Maggie, could not let the opportunity pass and leant across to give me one of her lascivious kisses. A kiss that she prolonged for several moments, time enough for Leslie to return and catch us, in flagrante as it were. The brief look of hurt and confusion that crossed her face, her brave effort to conceal it, gave me a pang of guilt. Her boyfriend helped pass by the moment by enthusiastically opening a conversation on some trivial subject or other. But the cat was unarguably out of the bag…
As soon as we got back to her flat, Leslie disappeared into her room, leaving the three of us together in the living room.
“So what’s going on?” her boyfriend asked. “I mean, it’s obvious, I suppose. But she’s been making me wait because she didn’t know what might happen with Andrew…”
Maggie quite deliberately placed a hand over my crotch before saying, “Yeah, it is obvious isn’t it? Well, you don’t have to wait any longer now, do you? Go fuck her! You’ll both thank us in the morning…”
And though neither spoke the next day, their pleasure was palpable, and from their smiles we could fairly infer their gratitude. But it was also clear enough that for us to stay any longer than absolutely necessary would be a strain for us all. So Maggie went off to the Stones’ office to collect her back wages. While she was gone I phoned Ros and was pleased to find that she did indeed have a connection for some fresh-off-the-plane-from-Bolivia and hardly-been-stepped-on-at-all cocaine.
In no time, it seemed, Maggie and I were installed in a bedsit in Shepherd’s Bush with half-an-ounce of coke and a brand new balance scale. We carefully made up twenty-five one gram bindles, setting aside the rest for our own use. After snorting a couple of lines each, and after she’d given me a particularly attentive blowjob, Maggie popped the bindles into her bag and set off to sell our wares.
It was late in the evening when she got back, a smug smile on her face, and waved a fistful of fivers in my face.
“We need to get more!”
And so it went…
Keith and Anita soon became our best customers, much to the chagrin of Spanish Tony, who was aggrieved that we sold to them at a fair price. And before long I was deemed sufficiently cool to be allowed to visit the house on Cheyne Walk. I was more than a little in awe, naturally enough, so I was more diffident with Keith than I’d like to have been. Nevertheless he was quietly friendly and struck me as thoughtful and intelligent, kind of quiet and somewhat in thrall to Anita. Anita… By this time she was long past the predatory sexual beauty of Barbarella’s Black Queen. She looked haggard, somehow at once bloated and drained, her complexion had lost the bloom of youth, her blonde locks lank and greasy, dark bags under her eyes, yet beneath a brittle veneer of charm her demeanour was still brash, imperious, demanding, supercilious and laden with contempt…
At home Maggie and I were still fucking, as they say, like rabbits, fuelled by copious quantities of coke, whose nerve-jangling effects we attenuated with hashish wine and quaaludes. It hadn’t been hard for Maggie to convince me of the economy of shooting over snorting coke. And the icy wash of clarity that swept mind and body was of an intensity as quasi-orgasmic as advertised. Oh well…
“You know, these ’ludes don’t really cut it for me. There’s a much better solution, you know.”
“Oh, really?” I asked as if I didn’t know, “What’s that?”
“Smack.” That sly smile of hers once more on her lips, leading me into temptation…
“And anyway, it makes sense. We already have customers…”
She’d somehow managed to connect with Grainger and Trina, a particularly dissolute junky pair who had been friends with Jack, back on Colville Terrace, and they’d been beguiling her with the prospect of access to heroin…
Shooting smack and coke together was spectacularly pleasant – the cool shaft of cocaine, then a lurch in the stomach, a sudden deceleration, a warm cosmic indifference riding a wave of euphoria. Very pleasant…
A spring and summer of sex, drugs, country jaunts, rock and roll and taking care of trade. It had its ups and downs.
Grainger and Trina took us to meet one of their dealers. Alex had been a dim light among the literary Beats, whose work I’d not read, a luminary nevertheless. However he may have been, by now he was a semi-comatose grotesque. He injected heroic quantities, sufficient certainly to slay if not a horse at least a sturdy pony, into a body bloated and infirm. He still mustered a certain baroque charm, but beyond the minimum required to conduct business he offered little in the way of conversation. Because of his insanely copious prescription that he filled daily, except Sunday but with a double issue on Saturdays, he almost always had at least a few jacks to sell…
At Dingwall’s one evening waiting to see what must have been a popular band – though who it may have been is lost to me – a long queue growing longer and going nowhere, and the bouncers deep in conversation were seemingly unaware of the expectant crowd.
Two guys behind us start jostling Maggie.
“Hey, man, there’s no point in pushing. No one’s going anywhere. OK?”
“OK…” He turned briefly to catch his friend’s eye…
And next I know, he’s head-butted me in the face, caught my nose a cracker. But we weren’t exclusively shooting coke, and my whole face was numb…
I looked at him, a bit perplexed. He looked back, bewildered. It looked as if he didn’t quite know how to deal with my standing there, to all appearances completely unaffected by his argument.
But those bouncers were not as unaware as it had appeared, and now they stood between us facing my assailant. It took no time for them to see him and his pals off the premises, and they were back offering profuse apologies. They escorted us solicitously through the door and upstairs to the VIP lounge.
“You’re sure you don’t need any attention for your nose?” I couldn’t detect any damage and I couldn’t feel any pain, so I assured them I’d be fine.
“OK then, enjoy the show. Anything you want is on the house.” Which may have something to do with my inability to remember the rest of the evening…
Very late one Friday night the phone woke us.
“Hey, man, it’s Keith. Listen, I can’t remember where I hid the stash. Heh heh…”, a self-deprecating chuckle. “So could you bring more?”
“Well, yeah…”, not entirely enthusiastic…
“Cool. Listen, I hope you don’t mind, I ordered a car for you. It should be there in ten minutes. He’ll take you anywhere you need to go and then bring you on down here. Is that alright?”
“Um, sure, Keith, yeah, fine. See you soon.”
Maggie was already getting dressed. We prepared a little package for Keith and soon enough we were in the back of a big black car…
It was a long drive. And it was dark, so there was no view to enjoy. She leaned across the seat to embrace me. After an eternity of silky caresses she looked into my eyes as she sank to her knees between the seats. I caught the driver’s glance momentarily before I put my head back, closed my eyes…
Keith was leaning on the lintel of the front door as we arrived, grinning, albeit a bit sheepishly.
“Yeah, well. I found it after all. Heh heh! But come on in and let’s get high!”
We passed a comfortably dull rustic weekend, whose highlight was a stroll on a lacklustre stretch of West Wittering’s beach and lunch at a pub, where Anita introduced us to Snowballs, a fizzy Advocaat concoction, whose main point seemed to be its reference to that other drug cocktail we all enjoyed so much.
When we got back to Shepherd’s Bush on Sunday evening, we noticed to our surprise on looking out of the window that the whole of the back garden had been dug up, as if for planting. It hadn’t been well cared for, indeed it did not seem to have been cared for at all, threadbare grass and a few feeble weeds had struggled with the hard packed dry cracked dirt. We wondered vaguely who was the enterprising gardener among our fellow tenants. But what had really happened was that Grainger and Trina, on hearing that we’d be gone for the weekend had taken it into their heads that we had buried some fancied copious stash somewhere outside, and armed with spades they had dug painstakingly through the dark hours of Saturday night and Sunday morning…
Not long after, Keith managed to burn Redlands to the ground. But that’s another story, and not mine to tell.
And then came the morning we got a frantic phone call from Anita. Maggie answered, her expression going through aghast to sympathetic to determined.
“Yes … What? … No … OK, yes … Bye.”
Then, to me, “Come on, we’re going to Keith’s.”
As we headed out for Chelsea she explained. There was an Italian couple who’d been housekeepers for years, and they had suddenly walked out, so Anita wanted us to come to help her out.
In the kitchen the three of us sat around the kitchen table. When Anita had come down for breakfast, instead of the usual table laid and breakfast prepared the table was bare, but for an envelope. She showed us the letter it had contained. In it the woman in spiteful tones said they were leaving and threatened to “tell the police everything” if they tried to pursue the recreants.
“So, Maggie, the children know you already. It would be so convenient if you could come back to look after them. And Andrew could look after shopping and repairs, and things…”
I should have been thinking about what Maggie had described as the ugly circumstances of their parting in Jamaica. I should have wondered just how convenient and for whom this proposed arrangement might be. But up to now Anita had been more charming than challenging, and we were beginning to feel like friends of the family, above and beyond our commercial relationship. So when Maggie turned to ask what I thought, I said, “Uh. Sure…”
“Wonderful!” Anita’s face lit up. “Let me go and talk to Keith.” And she swept out of the door.
After a bit the two of them came in and joined us at the table. I think there was tea.
“You’ll have to stop dealing,” Keith told us. “But don’t worry about your habits. We can’t afford much, but you’ll not be paying rent and we’ll keep you fed. How about £100 a week?”
And now I should have been worrying about autonomy and wondering who he was kidding with “We can’t afford.” But I was simply dazzled by this proximity to, if not exactly an idol certainly some kind of hero of some ten years’ standing. So instead I looked at Maggie, we both nodded, and we shook hands all around…
We simply departed the Shepherd’s Bush flat. We weren’t exactly overburdened with possessions. Clothes and a few knick-knacks were about the sum of it and it cannot have been more than half an hour before we were back in the car with our suitcases and a box or two.
We had a sumptuous room at the top of the stairs, all tapestry and draperies, a huge bed, bookshelves stocked with Arthur Rackham illustrated volumes of fairytales. And our own adjacent bathroom.
Life settled into a mostly pleasant domesticity, hanging out and getting high with interludes taking the kids for walks, going to the shops. My duties, such as they were consisted mainly of ensuring an adequate supply was on hand of champagne, caviare and cocaine, which were more often than not the sole contents of the fridge. Hardly onerous. And Maggie just took care of Marlon and Dandelion, and shot dope with Anita. Anita never mainlined though, prefering to dissolve her drugs in vitamin B12, for its restorative properties, and inject the muscle of her upper thigh…
“Do you want to go and see David Bowie?” asked Keith one evening. “He sent us some tickets, but I’m not really interested, so if you want them…”
Bowie. The memory of his pretentious posturing at Middle Earth still coloured my attitude, but we still played Ziggy at least as often as Roxy Music. The show turned out to be the epic farewell to Ziggy Stardust at Hammersmith. Keith’s seats were near the front but quite a bit off to the side on the right. Not sure how pleased he might have been about that… Bowie could certainly command a stage, but to me he still seemed a little too much the flamboyantly narcissistic poseur. But Mick Ronson played some real rock’n’roll.
Wider than usual cracks in Anita’s already imperfect mask appeared from time to time. Her sometimes peremptory behaviour towards me and Maggie could certainly rankle, though Bianca easily outdid her on the unfortunate occasion that Anita asked me to phone her for some reason or other. The pure snobbery of her “And who are you. Exactly?”, with its exquisitely timed pause before “exactly” was evidence of a finely honed contempt that I found equally despicable.
As Keith and Anita were about to get into a limo to take them to some event or other, Anita let loose at Keith with a caterwauling harangue that was ugly and embarrassing to witness, Keith’s placatory expostulations a woefully inadequate defence.
Getting back with the shopping one afternoon I was greeted by a laughing Maggie.
“You just missed Marianne Faithful. She was knocking and ringing for ages. She just wouldn’t go away.” She started to giggle. “So we opened the window and dumped a couple of saucepans of water on her.” Once again I stifled what little still remained of my better nature, which at this point was anyway half-drowned in an affected cynicism and my own warped snobbery of “cool”…
The Stones at Wembley!
“Here’s some tickets for you. I’m afraid you’ll have to find your own way, I’m afraid.”
Getting there was easy enough. We just stepped into the street and flagged a taxi. We arrived well after Billy Preston’s set had started, so getting in was not the hassle it might have been earlier, though it still took a while to get through security to the guest box office. Of course we had come prepared with drugs and works, but forgot to bring a spoon. As soon as Billy Preston’s set ended there was the usual rush for the toilets, so we waited until just before the Stones came on before going to shoot up. Maggie went first, used a bottle top to cook in, and returned quite quickly. I spent a frustrating time with the dope and the bottle top, but did eventually manage to shoot a very strong speedball. My recollections of yet another show completely befogged by drugs. In retrospect it’s easy to wonder just what the fuck I thought I was doing, but I suppose it seemed like a good idea at the time.
I do remember Keith perched on his amp during Jumping’ Jack Flash, head slowly drooping and his hands falling from his guitar. Mick evidently noticed the absent sound and glanced over his shoulder, a grimace briefly darkened his face and he began surreptitiously but frantically to try to get Bill’s attention. Bill was stolidly standing staring at the floor in front of him, concentrating on his playing, but did eventually seem to become cognisant of Mick’s gesticulations. Once Mick had Bill’s eye, he flicked his head pointedly in Keith’s direction. Comprehension dawned and Bill ambled across the stage to Keith’s slumped figure. He gave a prod of the foot. Keith shook his head fuzzily, and recommenced playing…
Getting back was a nightmare. While cabs are plentiful in Chelsea at pretty much any time, in Wembley at whatever ungodly hour it had become they were all but non-existent. And we’d wasted time hanging around the backstage entrance in hopes of finding a lift, so if any taxis had been there looking for fares they had all long since departed.
Keith had asked us to come to the Stones’ hotel after the show, so when we did eventually find a taxi we drove to Mayfair. We had to give some codeword or other to the doorman before being allowed into the lobby and onto the lift. We knocked on the door and Keith opened.
“Oh, hi. Yeah, come on in. have a seat.”
We squeezed together at one end of the sofa. It was not much of a party. Mick appeared.
“You remember Maggie, Mick? And this is Andrew.” A cursory disdainful nod before he squeezed past us, for all the world like some sheltered monarch avoiding contact with his pestilential subjects. Bianca seemed to have schooled him well. (Though by Maggie’s account she made his life a living hell – according to her, Fool to Cry is the true story of how he used to sit at Jade’s bedside and weep at Bianca’s supercilious cruelty…).
As it turned out, Keith’s invitation had an ulterior motive.
“Hey, man, d’you mind taking this back to the house. I don’t want to take the risk.” Yeah, yeah, I know, this is becoming a bit of a litany, but I should have been asking why the hell I should want to take the risk. But anyway…
A day or two later Keith told us the band had given him an ultimatum: either he clean up his act, or they’d get Ron Wood to play the rest of the tour in his place.
He and Ronnie had been spending a lot of time together over the summer, but, “We can’t have that now, can we?” It may have been rhetorical but I whole-heartedly agreed. To me Keith had always been the rock’n’roll heart of the band.
“So, I’ve found this doctor from Miami. He’s got some wonder cure. There’s this drug Lucidril, supposed to speed things up so you go through withdrawal in twenty-four hours. He says they give it to the astronauts so they can re-acclimatise when they come back from space. We’re going to meet him at the chalet in Switzerland. I wish I could afford the cure for you two, but I’ve arranged with M____ in Notting Hill to have a hundred jacks fresh from Liverpool on Saturday evening. So you can stay in town, Andrew, pick up the bottle, and fly to Geneva on Sunday if that’s OK?”
On Thursday I stood on the kerb outside Cheyne Walk as the five of them set off in a limo for the airport…
The next couple of days were a welcome peaceful respite from the constant low-level but unrelenting tension of life with Anita. I got high, lazed about the house, maybe I went for a walk. On Saturday afternoon I picked up the skag from M____, who turned out to be a sweet guy, like a shy schoolmaster, and a charming host.
Arabella threw a party on Saturday night – her mum was away for the weekend – so that night I strolled over to Mulberry Walk. It was good to see all the Avenue de Clichy crew again, and I enjoyed catching up over a drink or two. Or maybe rather more than two. In any case, as the evening was winding down I found I wasn’t that keen to walk back to Cheyne Walk, so when an attractive brunette who I’d never seen before this evening said she was going to drive home, I asked if she’d mind dropping me…
“Oh, it’s not mine.”
We were parked in front of Keith’s.
“Whose is it?”
“Keith’s. But I’m the only one here at the moment”
“Wow! Can I come in?”
I gave her a quick look around. We went out onto the back balcony, looking out over the garden.
“How about a kiss?”
“Oh. No, I don’t think so.” she smiled. “Thanks.”
And she led the conversation back to more general trivialities. Then after a bit of a pause.
“Um. Can I change my mind about that kiss?” as she moved in front of me, breasts brushing my chest. No need to answer that. Long. Slow. Inviting. She thrust her hips forward, undulating soft and slow. I squeezed a breast…
“Let’s go to bed.”
“Mmm, yes.” And a mischievous look. “But only if we fuck in his bed.” So we did…
I arrived in Geneva on Sunday afternoon. Goodness knows whence came the feeling of invincibility, or at least indifference, that let me amble through customs with ninety-nine Parke-Davis heroin pills. Oh, right. Heroin. But I passed through without incident, to find Maggie waiting with a big black Mercedes. We drove on the autoroute beside the lake, a glimpse of the Château de Chillon, then flying up into the mountains. At last we pulled up in front of a lovely chalet on a hillside. There was a limo there, luggage beside it that the driver was loading. Keith appeared at the door and we climbed a stair into a spacious living room.
“You’ve got your pills alright? Good. Listen, I’ve gotta go. The doctor and nurse will be here to take care of Anita, but she’s gonna be out of it for forty-eight hours. So take special care of the kids, yeah?”
And he was gone. We were allowed to stick our heads in at the door to greet Anita, who lay, just a little theatrically, in a big bed, nurse at the bedside. Maggie showed me our room, which was downstairs, white, quite small, but with a nice big bed and comfortable furnishings.
“I’m going up to see to the kids. Come on up when you’ve finished packing.”
Not such a long while later the doctor showed up in the living room.
“Right. Anita’s treatment is going fine. So, I’m not really needed here. The nurse knows exactly what to do. My taxi’s here. Goodbye.” Starfucker…
If the nurse knew what to do, Anita soon made sure that she would not be able to do it. The next morning when she came to find us she was more than a little distraught.
“I cannot stay a moment longer! She refuses her treatment. She demands heroin. I give her. She insults me! I’m going!” And she left, too…
“I’m going to talk to Anita.” So now it was just the cook, Anita and Maggie. And me and Marlon and Dandelion, now alone in the big living room. Marlon was a blond and smiling blue-eyed four year old, Dandelion dark and quiet, two.
We enjoyed a beautiful few days. Behind the chalet was only the mountainside, pine-wooded once past a broad meadow, where we’d walk, the children prance. Or all piled in the Mercedes, we took a drive to view the Alps, which were as picturesque as expected. Anita, I seem to remember, was especially pleased at Les Diablerets, recounting local legends of demons. Was her hinted at, or more openly suggested, interest in Crowley’s Magick, ironically academic, or the sign of a deeper, heartfelt embrace of The Law? Maggie had tales of naked dancing around a fire, casting spells when last she’d been here. I don’t know. Anita popped off to London for a few days, leaving the kids with us. If I’d ever watched the news, or opened a paper, I suppose I’d have known they had a court appearance, but they’d never mentioned it…
Idylls don’t usually last.
“We’ve got a problem,” said Maggie one morning.
“Oh yeah? What’s that?” I imagined perhaps something on the order of discovering that there was beer in the fridge but no sign of a bottle-opener. No. It was a bit more serious.
Maggie rummaged in a drawer, pulled out the Parke-Davis bottle. There were maybe ten jacks left.
“Ah, Anita and I got a bit carried away…”
A bit carried away? That had been supposed to be a months supply at least, now barely days away from being exhausted. And then what the fuck..?
The three of us sat down for a meeting.
“Someone will have to go to London.”
“We’ve got lots of Nembutals…”
A few calls to London offered no hope of immediate resupply in any quantity. Somehow it was decided that I would immediately go cold-turkey, with the assistance of Nembutal to put me under, while Maggie and Anita would eke out the smack that was left until I was well enough to fly back to London.
The next two days passed in a barbiturate fog interspersed with bouts of pain, sweat and aching muscles, Maggie wiping my fevered brow with cool damp towels. Though all in all withdrawal was far less of an ordeal than descriptions in junk-focused literature had led me to fear…
Sometime in the morning of the third day I felt well enough to get out of bed, and leaving Maggie full of Nembutal and semi-conscious, I ventured upstairs and sprawled in a chair in the living room. Anita was there.
“Ah, hello, Andrew. How are you?”
She was sitting in a beanbag chair, wearing some kind of baggy muumuu, knees raised and her feet tucked under her.
I managed to mutter some sort of reply, but in the state I was in conversation was beyond my capacity. All my nerves seemed hyper-sensitive, my brain felt bruised, and vision had something of the quality of the end of a none-too-pleasant acid trip. All of which combined to present Anita to my consciousness in far from the best of lights. Her pallor took on an almost fluorescent green tone, her bloated flesh doughy and glutinous… She let the hem of the dress fall back into her lap, revealing her legs. Then, to my mounting horror, she slowly spread her thighs. Her flesh, of which I’d dreamed so many times in what now seemed another life, was from some nightmare worthy of Bosch, her green-tinged, swollen thighs marred by red blemishes that shrieked in contrast with the surrounding pallor. And still the gap between her knees grew ever wider, until at last her cunt was fully exposed to my sight. No matter how much I might once have thought I’d give anything to be in this situation, in my present state her pussy resembled a particularly vicious and splenetic moray eel peering from its lair. Was this an invitation, or was she simply oblivious? In the moment I neither knew nor cared, though later events did give me reason to wonder. My stomach turned, and nauseated I struggled to my feet.
“I think I’d better go down and make sure Maggie’s alright,” I managed to mutter as I fled…
My ensuing trip to London was far from successful. M____ in Notting Hill told me there would be no delivery this week, and of all our other possible sources only Alex was able to offer anything at all. More from kindness than any other motive he agreed to part with a small bindle of brown Chinese heroin, enough maybe for Maggie and Anita to do a couple of hits each to take the edge off…
I phoned the chalet to let them know.
“So, I could hang around another day or two until I can find more…”
“Hang on…” A brief pause as the two of them conferred.
“No! Come back now!” No good hungry can’t wait junkies, as Uncle Bill might have put it…
Anita was disgusted with what she regarded as my incompetence.
“Next time I will go,” she declared. “Phone M____ and make the arrangements.”
M____ promised to have a bottle of a hundred jacks waiting for her on Saturday. I stayed relatively clean. We had a little hash that the stolid Swiss visitors had donated, but I avoided anything else, and so could appreciate the beautiful surroundings and enjoy playing with the children. Maggie and Anita however were in a sorry state, swallowing Nembutal and barely ambulatory. But somehow we managed…
Then on Friday evening the phone rang. It was M____.
“The deal’s off. I’m sorry.” And he hung up.
I told Anita.
“No. That is not possible. You must call him back.”
So I did.
“Hey, man, I think you at least owe us some kind of explanation.”
“Bobby Keys just told me that Keith’s dead. And he’s going to tell the police he OD’ed on my stuff unless I bring him some dope. But he’s in some rehab clinic, for Christ’s sake.”
“Well, I think we’d know if Keith were dead. But let me make some calls and get back to you, OK?”
I phoned the girl from the Stones’ business office whose job it was to handle crises at any hour of the day or night.
“No, of course he’s not dead. Don’t you think you’d be the first to know?”
“Well, yeah. Exactly.”
“He’s in Sweden. Let me give you the number of the hotel… Ask for Mr. Dino.”
Moments later Keith picked up the phone.
“Hello. Yeah,” he mumbled.
“Hello, Keith, it’s Andrew. You’re not dead then?”
He chuckled. “No, I’m not dead. Not yet anyway. What’s up?”
I told him about my conversation with M____.
“So that’s what happened to Bobby. We were wondering. He just kind of disappeared after the Frankfurt show…”
I called M____ back.
“No, of course Keith’s not dead.”
“That’s a relief. But Bobby’s being a real drag. He says he fell in love with this chick in Germany, and she’s convinced him he needs to clean up. So he came back to London and checked himself into this clinic. But the trouble is he has a phone in his room. You know how it is with hungry junkies… So first he calls me up and offers to buy brand new instruments for this youth orchestra I help out with in the Gate if I’ll bring him some dope. Well, I’m fucked if I’m going to walk into a rehab clinic with heroin for a patient. So I told him no. So he called me back a while ago and told me Keith’s dead… But I guess it’s OK. Tell Anita to come tomorrow as we planned.”
Early on Saturday morning we drove Anita, all dressed up and looking her not-so-brilliant best, to the airport in Geneva.
“Bye, Anita. Have a good trip!” She found a porter for her luggage and off she went…
On Sunday evening we were back at the airport. I waited in the car. Soon enough Maggie and Anita were getting in. Anita sprawled in the back seat, slammed her door.
“Fuck you, Andrew!”
“Wow. Why? What did I do?”
“Just fuck you, Andrew.” And she turned away to stare from the window. Maggie glanced at me, raised an eyebrow. We drove on in poisoned silence… Eventually Anita spoke again.
“You arsehole. You speak to much on the telephone.”
“Yes. When I arrived at Heathrow the customs man stopped me. They made me go into a room and strip-searched me. It was horrible. You talked too much.”
“But, Anita, if anyone had been listening they’d have known we were out and you wouldn’t be bringing anything in. They’d have waited until you were leaving.” And obviously – after all, here she was safe and, within the limits of her native malevolence, sound – no one had troubled her on her exit. Indeed, it seemed possible to me that Customs might well have been so put out by her irascibility the last time that they weren’t prepared to undergo another performance…
“Fuck you, arsehole! I don’t like you. You’re fired!”
Right… That was unexpected. But this was the point at which I wondered again about that recent pornographic performance. Could it really have been an invitation? Was this now the hellish fury of a woman scorned? It’s preposterous certainly, and probably vain as well, to imagine that this woman who had lived with both Brian and Keith, who may or may not have fucked Mick, and presumably could have pretty much had her pick of men, that she would even recognise being rejected by me, let alone put out over it. But on the other hand, here we were, more or less fucked with no real rational reason for it…
Next day brought a reprieve of sorts. Faced with the prospect of trying to look after her children on her own, with just the cook to prepare meals, Anita found she had to back-pedal a bit.
“Look, I wonder, would you stay on a few days until I can find someone else? Of course we’ll pay you, and we’ll give you a month’s pay and tickets back to London, or wherever you want to go.”
So of course we stayed a few days. It might have given some satisfaction, but to have just stormed off to leave her in the lurch, without having any idea what we’d be doing next, would have been rash…
I phoned Roger and Michele in Paris, told them what had been happening.
“But that’s great,” said Roger. “I’ve got jobs coming up until March at least and it’s more work than I can handle on my own. Come and stay with us!”
And not so many days later a taxi arrived to drive us to the Geneva airport. As we stepped outside, “I’ve put a curse on you!” Anita informed us…