Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Eddie Whelan - Autobiography - In A Broken Dream - part 1

Dedicated to the staff of The Red Lion, High street, Stevenage. 
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Eddie read and re-read the postcard from Susan, AKA Madison, his wife. The postcard which during its journey from the Pine Court hotel Florida Keys to his Mayfair mansion home, had informed two continents she was leaving him, and setting up home with his accountant, Archie West.
He was trying to understand why she had not phoned and told him personally, but she was always one for public displays, which had been the reason his second wife had divorced him. It is difficult to plead innocent when you are all over the front page of the ‘Super Soar-away’ muckraker, with Mayfair’s ‘Miss February's tongue down your throat.
He had to talk to her, try to find out why she was leaving, and persuade her to come home. Eddie phoned a local travel agent. “I need a seat on the first flight to Florida, it’s an emergency.”
He was not bothered about the time of the flight or the seating arrangements, and having eaten airline food in the past, he really was not too worried about getting a meal. He was trying to make it as easy as possible for them. Finally, getting a seat on a no frills budget airline, he volunteered his Gold card number, and waited while the girl on the other end of the phone processed the details.
Sorry sir, payment has been declined; do you have another method of payment?”
Eddie could not understand why the card had been refused, his last bank statement was showing a healthy balance, but he was in too much of a hurry to worry about it; he gave her his Master card number.
Sorry sir that has been declined also.”
It was pointless asking why, she would not know, it just came up as declined, he knew that much. Eddie tried his bankcard.
Could you repeat your number please sir, I must have miss typed it.”
Eddie gave her the number once more. There was a moments silence and then...“sorry sir, this payment has been declined also.”
What? This can’t be happening. I’ll sort this out and get back to you.”
Frustrated, Eddie disconnected the call, and phoned the credit card company, and after wading through the security questions, he said. “I’ve just tried to make a transaction over the phone with my credit cards, both of which have been declined, can you tell me why?”
There were a few minutes silence, during which Eddie could hear the clicking and beeping of a computer and keyboard in the background, and eventually the voice on the other end of the phone said.
It would appear sir, this account has been frozen.”
What? Why?” Eddie demanded, nonplussed.
I am unable to tell you that sir, that information is unavailable, I suggest you contact your bank, they may be able to help you further. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
No, I don’t think so, thanks anyway.” Eddie slammed the receiver onto the cradle, picked it up again and dialled the bank. After a quick game of automated telephony bingo, Eddie was finally lucky enough to be connected with a human being.
I think there must have been a mistake with my bank account, my bank card has been rejected and so have my credit cards, I’ve just spoken to the company which issued the credit cards and according to them the account has been frozen, and they seemed to think that you, that is, the bank, would be able to explain what’s going on.”
I need to confirm the security questions sir.”
Eddie groaned, but proffered the information as it was requested. Finally, he was rewarded with, "according to our records this bank account has been closed sir, and control of the estate has been handed to the executor, Mrs. Susan Whelan.”
Sorry, what do you mean by the control of the estate has been handed to the executor? Only dead people need executors.” His usual sanguine outlook was wearing thin.
I’m sorry sir I can’t discuss this with you. I suggest you contact Mr. Whelan’s widow.”
But I am Mr. Whelan…”
I’m sorry sir, but according to our records Mr. Whelan is dead, so unless Mrs. Whelan gives me permission to discuss this with you, I can give you no further details. Is Mrs. Whelan there at this moment?”
NO, she seems to have done a bunk with my bloody bank account.”
Eddie slammed the phone down, and in desperation, he called his lawyer. After waiting what felt like an eternity for someone to answer, he was informed the lawyer who had dealt with his first two divorces, had died, and his cases handed over to an associate partner, Charles Caine. Eventually, Eddie was put through and he hurriedly explained his predicament. Caine listened politely, making the appropriate sympathetic noises in all the right places.
What do I do?” Eddie pleaded.
File for divorce Mister Whelan, I’m sure you may be entitled to legal aid, why don’t you ask at your local Citizens Advice Bureau?” With that, he hung up the phone.
BASTARD.” Eddie flung his coffee cup across the room: it smashed against the far wall, leaving a dark coffee stain on the paintwork.
Slumping on the sofa, he tried to take stock of his options; finding a new lawyer came instantly to mind. He suspected he had seen the last of his money, Susan, with her fixation for shoes, and clothes could empty Harrods at Olympic speed.
Noises off, filtered through his brown study, he sauntered in their direction to find the cause of the commotion. Derek Conboy, his personal assistant, driver, scooper-up-and- putter-to-bed, was at the front door and appeared to be facing down a phalanx of heavies.
Derek, what’s happening?”
Are you Mr. Edward Whelan?” The one who appeared to be the chief heavy asked.
Yes I am who are you?”
They’re from the Inland Revenue.” Derek told him.
Actually sir, I’m a Court Bailiff, and I am here to serve Notice of Possession.” The head heavy said handing Eddie a document.
Eddie glanced at the notice. “What…why? I don’t understand. I’ve just spoken to the bank and according to them I’m dead, does it have something to do with that?”
No sir, it’s for failure to pay tax for eighteen months.”
WHAT? Look, there has to be some mistake, if there was a problem I would have been sent letters, I haven’t had anything from the tax office, Courts or anyone... my accountant-was-dealing-with-my-tax returns.”
And Susan was dealing with your post wasn’t she?” Derek pointed out.
Eddie was beginning to get the picture… it was a Munch.
I have copies of the letters here.” The bailiff said, and putting his briefcase on the hall table, he helpfully produced the documents and handed them to Eddie who blindly studied the letters. There were words on the paper, he was sure of that, but exactly what they said he did not know, he could not take anything in.
What happens now?” He eventually managed to croak.
Normally sir, the occupier, which in this case is you, waits while we take an inventory, signs the appropriate forms and then he vacates the premises and we lock up the house.”
What do you need to take?” Derek asked, swinging into P.A mode.
A seizure order has been issued for the house and furniture to cover back tax, and Court costs. Mr. Whelan may get to keep his personal possessions. Oh, and he will also need to go with these officers, they have a warrant for his arrest.”
Why am I being arrested? I’m not putting up a fight, all I’m asking for is a couple of hours to pack my clothes…I don’t - can’t understand what’s happening.”
The warrant is for failure to attend Court sir.” One of the officers said, moving in to escort Eddie to the waiting Police car in the drive.
Derek?”
Don’t worry Ed, I’ll sort something out.”
Poor bastard, she’s really stitched him good and proper.” Derek observed as he shut the door behind them.
The bailiff had turned once more to his briefcase, and taking out a large note pad, a folder of paper labels, and, a small camera, he moved through to the lounge and began the task of logging the contents.
**
When Eddie attended Court three days later, the legal counsel, whom Derek had conjured up from apparently nowhere, reassured Eddie that he really had nothing to worry about; it was up to the law to prove he had deliberately intended to defraud the Inland Revenue by faking his own death.
But I didn’t try to defraud the Inland Revenue, or fake my own death; I hosted the Mercury awards last year, if I was trying to fake my own death would I be seen out and about in public?”
That’s the argument I will be using in Court. For someone who supposedly wished to disappear, you have been very conspicuous in the last twelve months, there’s your driving ban for one thing. However, by sending you the postcard telling you of her intentions to set up home with your accountant, Mrs. Whelan has made a very silly mistake.”
She isn’t an intellectual giant, I’ll give you that, and would you mind referring to her as the soon to be ex-Mrs. Whelan?”
Apart from anything else Mr. Whelan, you will have no trouble getting a divorce on the grounds of her adultery.”
Well, all I can say is, she’s had her divorce settlement. She isn’t getting another penny.”
If Eddie had entertained the notion for one moment, that the interest in his arrest and personal life had waned, he was unpleasantly surprised. Court number three where he was due to appear was packed to bursting: the gallery populated mainly by reporters, all with note pads, pencils, and recording devices at the ready. He had fallen from grace with a big splash, and his very public humiliation was proving to be more than a five-minute wonder.
Casting a speculative eye over the ad hoc audience, and idly calculating the percentage he could have taken had it been a ticketed event, Eddie took a seat and waited for the judge to arrive. Speaking only to confirm his name, Eddie tuned out, he left the talking to legal experts, if he opened his mouth, he would probably end up back inside for contempt of court.
A light tap on the shoulder brought him back from whichever plane he had been inhabiting. “Stand up, it’s over for now, you are free to leave.” The barrister whispered.
That was quick, what happens now?” Eddie asked as he followed the barrister through the double doors and into a side room.
Were you not paying attention at all? You are on bail until the police have finished their investigations, you have to surrender your passport as part of your bail conditions, and you have to report to the police twice a week, starting next Tuesday.”
So I’m not going to prison then?”
No, not at the moment, you are on bail until the police can ascertain if you had any willing part in this incident.”
But I didn’t, the first I knew of it was when the bloody bailiff turned up.” Eddie pleaded his innocence.
Look, just let the police do their work and keep your head down. If your accountant should contact you, or for that matter your wife, let the police know immediately.” Pointing through the glass panel in the door to a huddle of bodies milling around outside the court, the Barrister asked. “Would you like me to ask if you can go out the back way? There seems to be a bit of a crowd out there.”
Eddie glanced at where he was indicating there did seem to be a bit of a gathering.
No, I’m not hiding; I haven’t done anything wrong…this time.” He walked briskly outside, steeling himself against the oncoming storm.
There appeared to be just as many reporters outside the Court, as there had been inside, and each one was clamouring for his attention; he hadn’t had this much press interest since he was caught with the prostitute by the Submarine dock, in the Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth. The headlines in the papers in the days following the event, were full of allusions to ‘Torpedoes’ and ‘Going down’
Eddie, Eddie, can you give us a few words?”
Eddie, what are your plans now, what are you going to do?”
Eddie, Eddie. Look this way.”
The cameras flashed in quick succession as the newspapers fought each other to get the story. There were also TV cameras, the reporters thrust microphones in Eddie’s direction. Against all odds, he found a familiar face at the front of the crush, Eddie recognised him as his soundman from when he had the band.
Mr. Whelan, Eddie. BBC News, can you give us a statement please?”
Eddie recalled something he had seen a few days earlier on the telly; it seemed to fit the bill, he paused on the middle step before moving closer to his old sound engineer and his microphone, then he said. “I can’t say too much at the present time, anything I say could hinder the authorities in their enquiries. But, as soon as the Court case is settled, you will be the first to know.”
He heard the rapid fire of camera shutters as he continued down the Court steps to where Mr. Conboy was waiting in the car. Some of the reporters followed, intent on getting up close and personal, until Derek got out of the vehicle and casually sauntered to the passenger side. Employing an ex- army Sergeant as his Major Domo had been one of his better ideas.
Derek eased the car through the mob of paparazzi, inching slowly forward, through the crowd and causing a ‘v’ formation in the press of bodies, Derek was not stopping; the reporters and photographers soon got the message and sullenly gave way.
Spoilsports, I was looking forward to a game of chicken.” Derek observed, and continuing at a sedate speed, he drove off.
They had left the City and were tooling through yet another village, Eddie closed his window trying to shut out the rural odour, but it seemed to have developed a life of its own, and was now riding as a passenger in the rear seat behind him.
I’ve arranged for us to stay with my sister Helen and her husband Chris, in Norfolk, until your bail is lifted, it’ll give you a chance to plan your next move.”
Thanks Derek. What am I left with, from Mayfair?” Eddie asked, more for want of something to say, he really was not sure if he wanted to hear the truth.
Apart from clothes, which are in the boot along with your photos? CD’s, vynals, and your gold discs. They left your instruments, which I’ve put into storage...”
Where are they?” Eddie asked, interrupting Derek in mid-flow.
Rosie’s looking after them; he said he would baby-sit ‘til you find somewhere better.”
I couldn’t find anywhere better than Rosie’s.”
Your motorbike collection is on ice until the tax man decides if you owe him anything else. The police took the computer, I’ve saved the music files, e-mails, and all the other guff you clog your technology with, I’ve put the sticks in one of the cases.”
At least I’ve managed to salvage something from my third marriage then. I thought the first two had skinned me; but this one’s not only taken a pound of flesh she’s had ten pints of blood as well.” Eddie muttered moodily.
**
It was late afternoon when they arrived in the little Norfolk town of Holt. Slowing the car, Derek pulled up in the drive of a very nice looking Georgian building. His sister must have been waiting, she came out to meet them; Derek got out of the car and went to greet her.
Hello Dek, how are you?” She kissed his face.
Hello Eddie, it’s nice to meet you at last; Derek’s told me all about you.” She said brightly, as Eddie joined them. “Chris will be along in a moment, he just has a few things to sort out.” She told them as she led them inside.
Helen had cleared the table and put the kettle on, putting four clean mugs on the kitchen counter ready for the coffee, adding an extra cup as she heard her husband talking to someone as he came in, he had brought company.
I’ve discovered why the workmen couldn’t find the rectory, Helen.” Chris said as he came into the kitchen. ‘The signpost had been twisted round the wrong way. Hello Derek how are you? Hello, you must be Eddie Whelan, Helen said we were having guests, it’s nice to meet you at last.”
He motioned to the tall slim figure behind him. “This is John, Bishop of Norwich, Your Grace, this is Eddie Whelan.”
Ah yes the singer, hello.”
Oh, hello,” stunned by the sudden appearance of the Clergy, Eddie was trying to play catch-up with a situation which seemed to be slipping away from his grasp.
My wife caused quite a stir the other day at the W.I lunch, when she told them of the time she managed to sneak into your dressing room at the Rainbow, 1985 I believe it was.” Bishop John said.
Your wife got into my dressing room?”
Well she wasn’t my wife at the time.”
Wives of Priests and Bishops are not the sort of ladies I would usually find hanging around my dressing room.” Eddie said, delicately navigating his way through the semantic minefield.
Don’t say you can recall the incident.” Bishop John laughed.
No, no.” Eddie hurriedly searched long hidden recesses of his mind, pigeonholing a memory for further inspection later.
Derek turned his attention to the black and white photographs on the kitchen wall, and began examining them eagerly. “These photos are very good, where were they taken?” He asked, deliberately dragging the focus of the conversation to innocent ground.
My brother Andy took them over at Staithe. I think he has captured the atmosphere of the area.” Chris said.
He most certainly has”, Derek, agreed. “I would love to know how he achieved the metallic quality of the image.” He continued his enthusiastic examination of the photos until he was satisfied the tentative link between the Bishops wife and Eddie had been dismissed.
Derek, we should make a start unloading the car before it gets too late.” Eddie said pointedly.
Seeing the look Eddie was giving him Derek said. “Yes, yes you’re right. Please excuse us your grace, I can’t let Eddie do it alone.”
You could have warned me that we would be bunking with a sky pilot.” Eddie complained, when they were outside and he was certain they would not be overheard.
I rather thought the sign in the front garden would have given the game away, you know the one which said, Rectory. And please don’t call my brother-in-law that.”
I thought it was just another house name, y’know, like…like, The Beeches.”
My sister’s married to the parish Priest. I thought I’d mentioned it.”
No, not that I can remember.”
What are you worried about?”
Well I’m not exactly a saint am I?”
You put it about a bit, from what I’ve been told and read in your press cuttings.”
Yeah, the thing about that is…how can I put it? Ok It’s like this. What actually got into the papers, well…When press interest was starting to flag, or we needed a little extra attention, because of a tour or album release, things sort of… slipped out to the press. Photographer with a hidden camera manages to get into my dressing room, and snap shots of me in my skivvies with some girl, I think not. Believe me; back stage security was tighter than a ducks arse and for good reason, somehow, I managed to piss off a lot of boyfriends and husbands.”
So, what you’re trying to tell me is that it was all a set up?”
No, I’m trying to tell you that what got into the press was just the tip of the iceberg, they never found out about the unchoreographed activities... thank God.”
It probably seems worse in retrospect, I doubt you were any different from other bands of the time, come on, seriously, how bad could you have been?”
Let me put it this way, if your brother-in-law offers to hear my confession, he’d need to start very early in the month, I’ve been a bad, bad boy.”
Karma’s certainly got it in for you.” Derek laughed.
I don’t believe in karma, I think it’s something to do with there being three degrees of separation or something.”
Be sure your sins will find you out.” Derek persisted, laughing.
It didn’t feel like sin, no one got struck by lightning. One of them certainly had a religious experience though, as I recall she kept screaming “Oh God, Oh God.”’
He looked thoughtful for a moment, then gently nudging Derek he asked. “D’you think that one was the Bishops wife?”
Hauling the cases back to the house, they deposited them in Eddie’s bedroom and returned downstairs for some more, almost colliding with a middle-aged female on the doorstep.
Is Father Townsend in?” She appeared agitated.
Leading her inside, Derek left Eddie to sort through the luggage in the car.
He returned a short while later, with Helen and the middle-aged woman in tow.
Eddie, Chris, and the Bishop are heading over to Norwich hospital to visit Dr Carmody the Church organist; he has fallen from his horse. I’m taking Mrs. Carmody home. Sorry we have to abandon you like this.” Helen said.
No that’s fine, I understand.” Turning to Mrs. Carmody, he switched on the charm.
I hope your husband recovers soon. If you need a driver, Derek will be more than happy to take you anywhere you have to go.” Eddie said, determined to make Derek pay for enjoying his discomfort.
Oh sorry Mrs. Carmody, where are my manners. I neglected to introduce our guest, Eddie Whelan.” Helen said.
Oh yes, the musician, you have been in the news a lot recently. With my husband laid up in hospital, it may be fortuitous your being here. Do you mind if I ask, how’s your organ?”
**
Any optimism Eddie was feeling when he arrived at Norwich police station to answer his bail the following week, quickly evaporated when he discovered he was to remain on bail until the police investigation was complete.
How long is that likely to take?” Eddie was desperate. He had reluctantly attended Church on Sunday, and though his presence had not excited too much attention, he had a sneaking feeling that once the novelty had worn off things would change. He had tried as hard as he could to keep a low profile, and fit into life in the rectory without causing too much disruption to the daily routine, but given his history, it was proving difficult. He knew he would need to move on before anyone got caught in the fallout.
That’s difficult to say at this stage sir. A lot will depend on how long it takes to find Mrs. Whelan; she appears to have moved on from the Palm Court Hotel. Does she have friends or family living in America?”
Not that I’m aware of.”
Would you have any knowledge of her whereabouts?”
I wish I did, because then I’d know where to send the bloody divorce papers.”
So you haven’t heard from her recently?”
Not since that postcard last week, telling me and the rest of the world, she was going off to play Mummy’s and Daddy’s with my accountant. Can I at least get some of the bail restrictions lifted? I need to work, and to do that I need to be able to travel. I can’t go far, the police have my passport, and I have no money.”
You can travel anywhere in mainland Britain, just so long as you answer bail every Tuesday and Thursday.”
So, would I have to travel back here twice a week?”
No sir, all you would need to do is notify the relevant departments of your intentions, and report to a police station nearest to where you are working.”
What if I get offers of work abroad, can the restrictions be lifted for work?”
I’m sorry Mr. Whelan, there’s nothing we can do until the investigation is complete.”
Which brings me back to my original question, how long is that likely to take?”
As I said sir, it’s difficult to say at this stage.” The officer repeated slowly and with great deliberation, as if talking to a small child. “Let me explain it to you sir. It all hinges on how long it takes the investigating team to go through your computer and extract all the deleted files, and, how long it takes them to find Mrs. Whelan, or Mr. West. If they are satisfied the evidence supports your statement, your bail will be lifted.”
And if my ex-wife and accountant are not found, what then?”
That will be for the Court to decide sir.”
Eddie gave this a moments consideration before saying, “So, it all hinges on two people who have done their damndest to have me put away for something I didn’t do…right, I’ll be free in no time then, thanks.” He knew it was not the officers’ fault, but he could not help but feel a little irked.
Signing against his name in the ledger, Eddie loped off to find Derek, and after spending a fruitless five minutes scanning the car park, he spotted Derek’s car heading slowly toward him.
Derek pulled to a halt and leaned over to open the passenger door for Eddie. “How did it go?” He asked as Eddie climbed in and fastened the seat belt.
Susan has done a vanishing act from the hotel in Florida, and until the police find her, or my ex accountant, or evidence to prove I am telling the truth, I am on bail, and if they can’t find her or Archie, I’m back in Court.”
Bugger, let’s hope they don’t take too long to find what they are looking for.” Derek said, anxious to put a positive slant on the conversation.
No Derek, I hope they don’t, as I suspect they are looking for evidence I deliberately tried to defraud the tax man.” Eddie pointed out. Realising he sounded a little blunt he muttered an apology.
I didn’t think of it like that, sorry Eddie.”
That’s ok.”
I still can’t understand why she would tell you by postcard. Why not phone and tell you, and if she couldn’t handle that she could at least have sent you a text or an e-mail.”
Yeah, it puzzled me for a while, but I think it was deliberate.”
What to humiliate you?”
Surprisingly enough no, although if that were her goal she has certainly succeeded. She’s lost her edge, the Cliterati are losing interest in her, and so her pull with the flesh mags has slipped. She’s been looking for something to reignite her career, and to that end, she’s written her autobiography.”
Susan wrote her autobiography, did it herself did she?” This came as a surprise to Derek, if Susan could find someone to chew her food for her, she would.
Don’t be daft; she employed a ghost writer, which cost me an arm and three legs. It’s the story of a young girl’s journey from her humble working class background, to stardom.” Eddie said, tracing an invisible banner headline with his hands.
Pardon?”
That’s the strap line; I’ve seen the rough draft. Nine hundred and eighty-six pages charting her life from childhood to her first full page shoot at eighteen. She’s been touting it round the publishing circuit, but it’s been bounced back every time.”
So you think the postcard was her way of tweaking the press and trying to generate some interest?”
Right, but she hasn’t seen the flaw in this fantastically crafted plan of hers. If she has gone to ground, then how are the publishing houses, who will now undoubtedly be clamouring for the details of her meteoric rise to stardom, going to get in touch with her…Damn, take me back to the police station, I’ve just thought of something.”
Taking advantage of a convenient garage forecourt, Derek pulled off the road and easing the car into the on-coming traffic, retraced their route back to the police station in Norwich. Thirty minutes later Derek pulled into the car park, and parking in a bay close by the entrance, he waited as Eddie hurried back inside.
Whatever it was Eddie had thought of, it had not taken him long to share, it was no more than twenty minutes later when he returned to the car, smiling.
Right that should help the cause, want to know what it was I thought of?”
I admit to being more than a little intrigued, tell me.”
It occurred to me when I was telling you about Susan, that she must have some way of getting notice of any interest in her autobiography, so I suggested to the police that they should have a word with her agent. He is a bit of a shady bastard, if what she has told me in the past is anywhere near the truth, so I also gave them some information which will help should he decide to be less than co-operative.”
Nice one, will it be enough to get you out of the crap she’s dumped on you?”
I bloody hope so; now let’s get back I have some phone calls to make. I’m going to call my manager see if he can get me some gigs, or backing work, something that’ll pay.” He sounded eager.
**
Eddie gave his predicament a great deal of thought on the return journey to Holt, and by the time they had arrived at the Rectory, the outline was there in his head, all it needed was a little polish.
Can I snag some paper?” Eddie asked as Derek let them both in the front door. “I need to make some notes, thanks Derek.”
Eddie lingered in the hallway while Derek went on a raiding mission into Chris’s study. Swiftly returning with a dozen sheets of printing paper, and a pencil, he handed these and his mobile to Eddie before heading off to the kitchen to make them both coffees.
Eddie hurried to his bedroom, and casting Derek’s mobile to one side; he perched on the edge of the bed giving the topmost blank sheet of paper his full attention for a few moments before jotting down bullet points of the plan to reinvent his career.
Only when he was satisfied with the finished result did he reach for the mobile and phone his manager, Steve Lyle. The call was answered quite quickly with the non-committal response Eddie remembered from old, “Lyle management.”
Hello Steve, its Eddie.”
Eddie, I read the latest instalment of the train wreck of your life, is it true what the papers say, she told you by postcard?”
If the paperboy had been quicker, it would have saved the postman the journey, but down to business.” Eddie said, reluctant to submit his humiliation to further scrutiny. “Obviously this has generated a lot of renewed interest in me, and I need to exploit the publicity as much as I can, because I have to start working again.”
But why? You are pretty well settled from what I recall; you retired with enough to buy an island.”
Not any more. Susan and the bloody accountant rolled me. They told the bank I was dead before emptying my bank account.”
I must have missed that bit, I was crying.”
Tears of laughter Eddie suspected, but all he said was. “I’m touched. Look, I need work, studio, TV appearances, I’ll do Glastonbury, and Knebworth if it’s running this year.” He hoped he did not sound as anxious as he felt, managers had finely tuned desperation radars and they way they picked over dying careers put him in mind of vultures circling the Alamo.
Up to this point, Lyle had only been half listening; he had been wondering how quickly he could end the conversation. Whelan was a ‘Yesterday’ man; there was no money to be had there, he was in his fifties and well past his use-by date as far as Lyle was concerned. There was nothing more pathetic in Lyle’s eyes, than a geriatric rocker desperately clinging to his faded glory. These days the young bloods brought in the money, they were maximum return for minimum outlay. Give the girls something to make their little hearts race and their knickers wet, and they would spend every penny of their pocket money chasing a fantasy.
Steve randomly pressed a few buttons on his laptop, feverishly trying to think of some way to shake Eddie off. He vaguely remembered receiving e-mails from an organisation calling itself memorable music. They had been harassing him for months for acts.
He pulled their last e-mail from the trash section of his mailbox where he had dumped it, and quickly scanned their mission statement, picking out the relevant details.
They were a group of session musicians who had formed a business, and in his not so humble opinion, as they had no important contacts in the music industry (well he had never heard of them) they were nothing.
According to their promo-blurb, they had secured the entertainment contract for a chain of holiday camps, and were looking for acts from the seventies to the nineties to fill the golden night’s slot; yep, this would do. Two birds with one stone as it were. It would get this bunch of time wasters off his back, and give Eddie the impression someone was still interested in him and he had something to offer. Perhaps after strutting his stuff in front of the silver ‘stage door Jenny’s’ for a season or two, he would realise for himself he was yesterdays news, piss off, and write his memoirs.
There is a brand new promo agency looking for a headliner for a tour they have planned.”
I’m not sure Steve I’ve been there before. I dropped eighty grand knocking back offers because the ’92 tour was a certainty. Opening in Yugoslavia, remember?”
Well to be fair Eddie, the Bosnian problem was not the fault of the promoters.”
He checked the list of holiday camps the company had scheduled, and hurriedly added. “Look this is mainland only, and I think the prospect of Civil uprising in this Country is pretty slim.” Add half a bottle of ego-oil, and massage liberally. “They want someone who has had a seminal role in moulding modern music. This is a guaranteed deal Eddie, and one which will help to get you back on your feet again.”
Steve doubted this was actually true, he had seen the news reports, and reading between the lines, was still trying to work out how Eddie had managed to avoid prison. He wondered just who had come up with the idea of the Stonehouse manoeuvre, but in this business, has-beens did all sorts to reignite interest in their failing careers. His only concern was, when it hit the fan, there was a danger this organisation would drop Eddie like a hot rock, but that would be Whelan’s problem.
There was silence on the other end of the phone, Eddie was obviously considering it, so Steve Lyle let it ride for a moment and then said. “Look, I know you’re wary, so if you’re interested, I’ll contact them, and broker a cast iron contract, one which has to be fulfilled, no get out clauses, shall I phone them and tell them you are interested?”
Yeah, ok then, thanks Steve.”
Right, I will get the contract written up and printed off, and courier it to you. Where shall I send it, I read about Mayfair.”
I’m staying at The Rectory, Holt, North Norfolk.”
Steve silently questioned the address, wondering if it was a private rehab facility.
What’s the best number to get you on?”
The one I’m calling on, I don’t have access to the landline.”
Definitely private rehab, probably advertised as a spa, Lyle made a note to question the courier when he returned. “I will need it back by five, as I’m off later tonight to L.A, there’s a fresh new band I’m itching to sign.”
Ok Steve thanks and good luck.”
You too mate, bye.” The line went dead as Steve Lyle ended the call.
Eddie, feeling far more buoyant than he had of late, sat for a moment mentally replaying the conversation with Steve. A seminal role in moulding modern music eh? Well several bands said in interviews, his music had been a big influence on their own. Allowing himself this one little conceit, he gave a grin.
Good news I take it?” Derek said entering the room with coffee and chocolate biscuits; Eddie took his coffee and helped himself to a biscuit.
It’s looking promising; Steve is arranging something with a promo group who are organising a tour. He’s sending the contract by courier.”
Bloody hell Eddie that was quick, things are finally going your way.”
I know I still can’t believe it myself. I think someone up there must like me.” Eddie said, gesturing to the ceiling with his half eaten biscuit.
So when does the tour start?” Derek asked, sitting on the end of Eddie’s bed and placing the plate of biscuits between them.
Eddie shrugged, “not sure, Steve didn’t say, don’t even know yet which venues I’ll be playing.” Finishing the last of his coffee, he said. “I’d better phone Rosie, I’m going to need my gear back.” Eddie picked up Derek’s mobile phone once more, and called Rosie. His real name was Anthony Rosenberg, only a select few people had permission to call him Rosie, and Eddie counted himself lucky to be one of them, Anthony was a good friend to have in a tight corner.
The phone trilled a couple of times before, “Hello, the Music Place Anthony speaking.”
Rosie, its Eddie, how are you, how are Mandy and the kids?”
We’re all fine thanks Eddie. Mandy has been promoted, she is now deputy head of a special needs school, Jason is at Uni, and Sophie is busy with exams. How are you doing? I’ve been reading the news reports; you copped a bad deal there. It’s not like you to drop the ball, what happened?”
Eddy gave Anthony a brief history of events, prior to his court appearance, including the few details, which did not make it into the papers.
Bloody hell, have you managed to talk to Susan?”
No, she’s done a runner from the hotel in Florida. Both she and bloody Archie West have vanished. They cleaned me out when they left, so if there are any further court charges or fines, I’m screwed.”
I may be able to help you there, when Derek dropped off your gear, I checked it over, you might be able to turn a profit on the photo’s I found in one of your guitar cases, the news hounds are gagging for anything about you at the moment.” Rosie chuckled.
Photo’s, what photo’s? Remind me.” Eddie could not recall any photographs, especially any that may have been of interest to the papers.
Well, some were obviously taken in various hotel rooms; those are mostly shots of you with your guitar, there are a few of you asleep naked, very mundane. The most interesting ones though, were from the studio. I have to admit, I didn’t know a mike and flex could be used in that way, it would explain the happy noises on the backing track of climbing the walls.
That tripped a few cogs, and memories began to fall into place. “Leave them in the case.” Eddie said urgently, the Bishop might pay a return visit.
Are you sure? You could make at least fifteen hundred on the sale alone, more if they are serialized.”
Rosie...” Eddie warned.
Anthony laughed, “ok, ok, I’ll make sure they are hidden, and don’t worry about your gear, its safe here with me.”
I know, but Steve has thrown me a lifeline, in the shape of a promo group who are looking for a headliner for an upcoming tour. I’m going back on the road.”
Shall I bus your gear to you? I can drive it down this afternoon.”
No, its fine I’ll send Derek for it tomorrow. What’s the bill for storage?”
Don’t be daft it was only a few nights lodging, as if I’d charge you for that.” Rosie sounded hurt.
Thanks Rosie, I owe you, bye, love to the family.”
Eddie checked the time on his wristwatch. “Right, it’s just after eleven now, it’ll take the courier roughly two and a half hours to get here. Nothing I can do for a while, so I’m going for a walk.”
As he strolled into town, Eddie began to experience the first fizz of nervous excitement. It was always the way, the build up to a tour was far more nerve wracking for him, than the performance. It was a throwback to the early days of his career, when he and the band had been gigging in pubs, and he had the task of arranging transport and rehearsals, and then making certain everything would be available at the right time. When the band had embarked on their first professional tour, he had been persuaded to hand the logistics over to his management team, he was told it would help reduce the stress, but it had not. By the time the tour had ended, he was a nervous wreck, so exhausted it had taken him three months to recover. For him, the planning was a form of displacement therapy; it helped burn off the angst that went with performing.
His exploration of the town brought him to a little courtyard populated with shops. Who ever had done the conversion certainly had taste and an eye for detail. Eddie explored the shops, aimlessly browsing their contents. His attention was caught by a vintage clothes shop, he gave it the once over, intent on moving on until he saw a gold braded mess jacket, he was tempted, it would look good onstage with a vest top underneath, and then he remembered he had no money, he was broke. This time last year, he could have bought the contents of the whole damn shop with pocket change and thought nothing of it, but for the first time in decades, he had no money, and no access to money, and the thought depressed him.
It was as he ambled further up the courtyard that he saw the jewellers, there was a sign in the window advertising the fact they bought second hand jewellery, he pulled off the wedding ring he was still wearing, the marriage was over he would not need it any longer. Slipping the ring into his jacket pocket, he unfastened the two gold chains from round his neck, and entered the shop.
Are you still buying unwanted jewellery?” Eddie asked the assistant.
Yes sir, we will even take broken items, single earrings, watch chains, lockets without chains...”
Good, how much will you give me for these?” Eddie asked, interrupting the assistant in mid flow.
Taking an eyepiece from somewhere under the counter, the assistant screwed it in place, pulling one side of his mouth into a sneer as he examined the ring and chains. Removing the eyepiece, he dropped Eddie’s jewellery onto the dish of a small set of scales and made note of the weight. Then scooping the items up, he took a small plastic bottle and dripped a few drops of a clear liquid on the chains and ring. “One hundred and thirty-five pound sir,” he said after a brief calculation.
Eddie was not going to quibble, that was a lot less than the ring alone had cost, but as they had all been a present from Susan he no longer wanted them.
Fine, I’ll take it,” there was no hesitation; he would be a hundred and thirty-five quid better off, but it would not last long if he bought that vintage mess jacket, he considered going back to the shop and having the jacket put on hold, but decided against it, he could no longer afford luxuries, he had to be practical. Checking the time, he returned to the rectory. Father Chris was off doing whatever Priests did when they were not on the hotline to their boss, Helen was nowhere to be seen, and Derek was in the garden, mowing the lawn; Eddie left him to it and wandered up to his room.
Running his fingers through his mop of wavy hair, Eddie surveyed the motley collection of cases and suit bags on the bedroom floor. Grabbing a case, Eddie dumped it on the bed and began to explore the contents, it appeared to be mostly clothes, but further examination revealed the memory sticks. Eddie tucked them into a pocket inside the case, and moved on to the next one. This one contained more clothes, as did the next two, he did not realise just how many clothes he owned.
The fifth case threw up a surprise though, apart from, more clothes, Eddie found the small black leather bound box he kept his jewellery in, he opened it. Tucked away in a side compartment were the gold and diamond earrings he used to wear when he was on stage, there was also a small red velvet drawstring bag. He pulled it open and tipped the contents into his hand, two wedding rings, the rings from his first two marriages, he could not remember why he had bothered keeping them. He scooped up the contents of the box and tipped the lot into the small red velvet bag, ready to take to the jeweller, he wouldn’t get a fortune, but with what he already had at least he would be solvent for a while.
Eddie hurried downstairs, and was making for the front door when Derek came in.
I’m just nipping into town to the jeweller, I’m selling some stuff.”
Derek checked his watch, “The courier may turn up while you’re out, I’ll do it, I have to go into town and get a new spool for the strimmer.”
Oh, ok, thanks Derek, there you go.” Eddie handed over the small velvet bag, and returned to his bedroom. He emptied two of the larger cases, and began sorting through his clothes. His finances would not support dry cleaning while he was on the road, so he would need to take wash and wear only; he pulled a suit bag from the pile, unzipped it and examined the contents, it was one of his many stage costumes, Susan’s favourite, she had insisted he wear it the last time they...”best not go there” He muttered. Closing the zip, he dumped it on the bed, and selected another.
After an hour and a half of sorting, consolidating, and selecting, and re-sorting and re-organising, Eddie finally had a core wardrobe, and, stage wear. Finally satisfied with his choices, Eddie tidied the cases and bags away; the blue cases held his day wear, red cases his stage gear.
There was a third pile consisting of green bags and cases, was the stuff he no longer wanted, most of it had been chosen or bought for him by Susan, he would not miss it, Eddie hauled them into a pile between the bed and the wall. He had just finished when Derek returned.
I had to go all the way to Norwich in the end to find the right sized spool for the strimmer. Anyway, here you go, £170, the receipts in the bag.” Derek handed over the money.
Right thanks, is there a charity shop in town? I have some clothes I want to get rid of.” Eddie motioned to the pile of cases and bags between the wall and the bed.
There is a hospice shop at the top of the high street, it’s the one the Church supports, it’s called the Charwell hall Hospice. Would you like coffee?”
Please.”
Derek disappeared down stairs, returning a short time later with the coffee.
The courier from your manager has arrived; I’ve just seen him pull into the drive.”
Right, thanks, I need a pen.” Eddie hurried downstairs, and grabbing a pen from Derek in passing; he marched outside to the courier.
You made it in good time.” He said as the courier handed him the contract. He started to read it.
I was going against the flow, so missed the hold ups. The return journey is going to be the bitch; I’ll be in the thick of the traffic, so I’d appreciate it if you’d sign that smartish so I can get going.”
Sorry Sam I need to read it.”
And I need to eat, I’ve already had one bollocking from his nibs, if I miss his deadline I’m history, he has already said so.”
He’s threatened to give you the push, what’s his problem?”
The courier shrugged. “Who knows, midlife crisis maybe. I know he bought himself a nice, big shiny, red, penis extension when his wife threw him out. Like we couldn’t see that coming,”
Eddie said nothing; he considered that he was in no position to comment.
Oh come on man, that’s twenty pages.” Sam groaned making little ‘move it along’ motions with his hand.
Sorry Sam, but I need to cover my back.” Eddie ploughed on with the contract, trying to ignore the couriers agitated sighs. Finally, after what seemed to be a lifetime to Sam, Eddie signed the contract and handed it back.
His nibs said you’ll be contacted by Tony from memorable music later this evening, Bye Eddie.”
Thanks Sam.” Eddie tucked his copy of the contract into the back pocket of his jeans, acknowledging the parting wave from the courier, Eddie returned to the house.
In the bedroom, the coffee Derek had made was on the bedside table, picking it up, Eddie took a tentative sip and pulled a face, it was stone cold. Putting the cup to one side, Eddie turned his attention to the bags and cases destined for the charity shop. Picking up the two nearest cases, Eddie took them down to the car, and loaded them into the boot. He was on the return journey for more cases when Derek interrupted.
What’s up Ed?”
Nothing, I thought I’d load up the car with the stuff for the charity shop, get it out of the way.”
Good thinking.” Derek followed Eddie to the bedroom.
Two further trips, and the car was loaded, and Derek and Eddie drove into town.
Charwell hall hospice was set in the middle of a small parade of shops on the main street. Derek parked outside the shop, Eddie waited in the car while Derek went into the shop to talk to the manager. It was a matter of minutes before Derek returned to the car.
The manager, Trish, has asked us to park in the delivery bay behind the shop, she said if we stay here we could pick up a ticket.” Derek said as he got back in the car and started the engine. He drove to the rear of the parade of shops, pulling to a halt as the gate to the delivery compound opened and a small, slender middle-aged woman wearing a long jumper and leggings, waved.
Ah, there’s Trish.” Derek acknowledged her wave, and slowly pulled into the compound. Trish waited for the car to stop before she bustled over, doing a small double take as Eddie climbed from the passenger seat.
Where would you like the cases?” He asked, as Derek opened the boot.
Just through here please.” Taking two of the suit bags, Trish went to the open door at the rear of the shop, Derek and Eddie followed with two cases each.
Welcome to Aladdin’s bring and buy sale.” She joked. “Put the cases over there please.” She indicated to a small alcove, “We’re a bit short staffed at the moment, so it may be a few days before we can give you your luggage back.”
That’s not a problem, keep it, you may find a use for it.” Eddie said. He followed Derek back to the car, they returned with two more cases each and a suit bag tucked under each arm.
I’ve been looking in these hanging suit bags, are these clothes the ones you wear on stage?” Trish asked Eddie, acknowledging for the first time that she recognised him.
Yes, everything in the suit bags is stage wear, suitcases are day clothes” He explained.
Would you mind if we auction the stage clothes? Only we will never be able to sell them in the shop.”
No, that’s fine, if you think you will make any money on them.”
Only thing is,” Trish began uncertainly, “we are going to need some evidence of authentication, would you be able to write a letter or something?”
I may be able to do better than that; I probably have photos of me wearing the gear, either on stage or promo shots, would they do if I sign them?”
Thank you Mr Whelan, yes that would be perfect.”
When will you need them?”
The end of the week will be fine; I’ll keep them in storage until I can speak to our trustees. Thank you.” Trish led them back to the delivery bay, bolting the large gate behind them as they left.
Is there somewhere in town I can get the photo’s printed off for Trish?” Eddie asked. Derek gave the question a moments' thought before saying. “The supermarket in Norwich would be the best bet; it’s easier to find a parking space there. You will have to check which stick the photos are on though; I just grabbed a handful of blanks, and stuck the files on them and I didn’t get a chance to tag them.”
Do you have your laptop, or did you lose it to the bailiff?”
No, I was able to prove it was mine, it’s in my case.”
Right, can I borrow it when we get back, I’ll go through the files and transfer all the photos to one stick, it’ll make life easier when it comes to printing them off.”
Ok, how about we split the sticks, I’ll commandeer the computer in the study, you use my machine, it’ll speed things up.”
Sounds like a plan.”
**
It took Eddie and Derek the best part of two hours to hunt through the memory sticks and find the correct one, take it to Norwich and print the photos. Eddie wondered at the ease with which Derek made his way round the city, but then realized that as his sister lived in the area perhaps Derek had been spending a lot of his holiday time with her.
Will we have time to drop these pictures off at the charity shop on our way through?”
Derek checked his watch; it was almost four pm. “Yes, I think so. The shop closes at half five, but Trish is normally there until half six, or seven some nights.”
**
Derek pulled the car to a halt at the rear of the charity shop, and rung the bell by the gate to the delivery bay, and they waited. Eddie was beginning to wonder if this would be the one day Trish decided to go home early, when the gate opened.
Oh, Derek, Mr. Whelan, I wasn’t expecting you back so soon.”
Well I thought I’d get these too you as soon as possible, as I’m going to be busy and it may be difficult to get hold of me.” Eddie said giving her a large brown envelope containing the photos. “I’ve signed them for you, and if you give me a sheet of headed paper I can write a letter of authentication for you.”
Oh perfect, come on in, here Derek.” She handed him a small wooden sign with, ‘delivery’ written on it.
Eddie studied the sign, “What’s that for?”
It’s to put on the dash board, just in case the traffic warden is still hanging around.” Derek explained.
Trish waited for Derek, and then led him and Eddie into the shop, pausing to take a sheet of headed paper from the office. “There you go Mr. Whelan; it doesn’t have to be anything too complex.”
Eddie stared at the paper for a moment or two while he marshalled his thoughts, and then began writing.
Eddie Whelan, wore these suits, during his band Nighthawk World tour, in 1985.
Eddie Whelan.
That ok Trish?”
Brilliant, thank you Mr. Whelan.” Trish slipped the letter into a clear plastic holder and pinned it to the outside of the top suit bag.
The transaction was over and Eddie and Derek returned to their car. Derek removed the sign from the dashboard and hung it on a hook by the gate. Trish waved as they left, closing the gate behind them.
You seem to have found out a lot from one short conversation, or is there something else going on here?” Eddie asked casually as they pulled away.
Well I’ve been seeing her when I’ve been visiting my sister. We’ve been out a few of times, but she said it wasn’t going anywhere and found someone local.” Derek explained. Eddie registered the slight wistful tone, saying. “Oh sorry man, I didn’t mean to blunder.”
Derek gave a small shrug, “what can you do, it happens.” He said philosophically. “Better luck next time.” He muttered sotto voce.
Eddie had to admire his optimism.
**
Derek and Eddie had just pulled into the driveway of the Rectory, when Derek’s mobile began trilling. Derek checked the caller id not recognising the number he took the call, and then passed the phone to Eddie. “It’s for you.” He stopped the engine and climbed out of the car.
Eddie Whelan.”
Hi Eddie, I’m Tony from Memorable music. I have to say, we are really stoked to have you on board.”
Thanks, I’m looking forward to it. So, what’s the itinerary and what size house are you expecting per venue?”
If the bookings are any indication, the venue will be pretty much packed. We’ve got you headlining at Argent heath for two weeks in July.”
I’ve never heard of this venue, is it like the NEC?”
No, it’s a holiday camp, part of the Argent chain of camps.”
WHAT?”
That’s what we at memorable music do, we provide entertainment for holiday camps in the summer season, didn’t your manager tell you?”
No, he said you were a promo agency organising a tour, now why would he think that I wonder?”
I don’t know but it can’t be anything I’ve told him.”
So what exactly did you tell him?” Eddie knew some of the fly tricks venue managers would pull to get a name on board, especially if the venue was failing.
Everything, I’ve been upfront and honest with him from the start. I was one of five session musicians who got together and set up memorable music. We started by providing entertainment for the armed forces, engaging artists we had worked with over the years. The business grew, and when three officers sunk their retirement money into the holiday company, they contacted us to provide the entertainment. In his email he said he had spoken to you and you were thrilled at the idea of appearing, apparently you told him it would give you a chance to get back to your musical roots.”
That’s not what Lyle told me. I’m going to phone him, I’ll get back to you.”
Eddie disconnected the call, and dialled Lyle’s office only to receive a dead tone, he ended the call and tried Lyle’s mobile this line was dead also. Eddie scrolled through the contacts listing; certain he had given Derek all the business numbers as back up, for those times when he was otherwise engaged. He finally found what he was looking for, saved under ‘other business numbers’, not where he would have put Lyle’s home number, he dialled hoping he would get an answer, it only took a few rings and then.
Hello.”
Oh hello Monique, it’s Eddie, Eddie Whelan. Sorry to disturb you at home, but I’m trying to get hold of Steve there seems to be a problem with his landline, do you have another contact number for him?”
Why would I have a number for him?”
I just assumed he would have left contact details, I’m trying to get in touch with him, there’s been a screw up regarding the promo tour, I’ve tried his mobile and the office number, but they appear to be dead.”
I’m sorry I can’t help you, my useless ex-husband didn’t deem it necessary to leave a forwarding address when he closed his agency and took his sorry arse to America.”
WHAT? He didn’t tell me he was closing the agency, he told me he was going on a scouting tour. Oh this day just kept getting better. ” He was trying to keep an even tone; it was not Monique’s fault, by the sounds of things she too had been rolled when the Lyle express blew town.
Why should he tell you, he didn’t tell me, I was his wife and I’m the mother of his children, not that that has ever bothered him in the past. The first I knew of it was when Sam turned up on my doorstep an hour ago with a letter from him. If it’s any consolation, it came as a surprise to Sam as well. He has been sitting in my living room trying to work out how he is going to put his life together. The shit has given him two weeks’ worth of wages, when he owes him six; but then my ex screws everyone over eventually, when they’ve fulfilled their use, Sam, me, our kids, so why should he treat you any differently?” She snarled. Her bitterness cut through his preoccupation with his present circumstances. Eddie heard her sigh, “I’m sorry Eddie, this isn’t your fault, I shouldn’t have spoken like that.”
That’s ok, I understand, it seems he’s left us all up the creek. Take Sam’s mobile number and send it to this mobile, I’ll put the word out see if I can put work his way.” He ended the call, and sat staring at the mobile for a moment, the spell was broken, with no one else to focus on, his own dilemma came back with a vengeance. Eddie climbed from the car, slamming the door behind him, and began agitatedly pacing the drive. Derek watched him for a moment or two and then asked. “Is everything ok Eddie? Eddie…Eddie!” He stepped up to Whelan, blocking his path. Eddie’s head snapped round and he glared at Derek. “The call was from Tony at memorable music, there is no tour, it’s a two week stint at a bloody holiday camp.”
Oh for f… I thought Lyle said it was a tour, what’s going on?”
I’ve been screwed over, that’s what’s going on. Lyle has closed the agency and pissed off to America permanently, that much I discovered as I’ve just spoken to his ex-wife.”
What happens now?”
You are going to have to find alternative employment.”
That isn’t what I meant…”
Yes I know, but this gig probably won’t even pay petrol money, I won’t be able to pay you.”
I have money put aside, don’t sweat it.”
Derek, I have no money, what I earn will probably just about feed me.”
Eddie I’m staying, I’ll see this through. Seriously, though Eddie, what are you going to do, what are your options? I’m not asking because I have concerns over my future, I said I’ll see it through and I will.”
Eddie ran his fingers through his already tousled hair, leaving it even more dishevelled.
My options are limited.” He said inhaling heavily. “The contract has a very tight no get out clause, if I refuse to perform, memorable music can take me to court, in short, I’m screwed.”
So what’s the next move?”
First, I have to phone Tony from memorable music and apologize for basically calling him a liar.” Eddie opened the call logs app on Derek’s’ mobile, found the relevant number and called Tony.
Hello Eddie, that was quick, I wasn’t expecting to hear from you until tomorrow.”
Yes well, first of all, I need to apologize to you for insinuating you were lying to me. I’ve just tried to contact Lyle, and the bastard has pulled a fast one.”
How do you mean?”
It would appear we have both been pooched. He has closed his business, and buggered off to America, he hasn’t even bothered to leave contact details with his ex wife. He has dropped off the radar.”
Oh fucking hell.”
The gob shite knew I was desperate, if I knock this back I have no money, so I have no option really, I’ll appear.”
Eddie, we can’t hold you to this contract, I’ll discuss it with the others, and our solicitor and get back to you at some point tomorrow.”
Ok, Tony, bye for now.” Eddie finished the call and went to find Derek, who had wandered off to give Eddie some privacy.
Tony isn’t happy,” Eddie told Derek, who was waiting at the front door of the rectory. “I’ve said I’ll honour the contract but he wants to discuss it with the other members of memorable music and their solicitor. Come on let’s get in. Perhaps if I ask your brother-in-laws boss nicely, I’ll get a miracle.”
When will you know?”
Tony said he’d call me tomorrow. Will it be ok if I have a shower?”
I’m sure it will, but I’ll go check with Helen, back in a mo.”
Eddie continued up to his bedroom.
Derek caught up with him at the top of the stairs, “Helen said it’s ok to have a shower, and she’s putting the washing on so if you have anything that needs doing can you put it in the bathroom.”
Thanks Derek.” Eddie began stripping off as he reached his bedroom, he had only got as far as removing his shirt when the phone rang, Eddie checked the screen, it was Tony from memorable music.
Eddie, I’ve just come from a conference call, with the owners, and legal team etc, it’s not good news. The general consensus is that we can’t expect you to honour a contract which was dishonestly acquired, so we won’t be taking up the option. Sorry.”
Eddie groaned, while he had not been relishing the idea of performing at a holiday camp, it would have least brought in some money, and may have led to something better. “Is there any way we can broker a deal, just you and me?” Not that I’m desperate he added silently.
No, I’m sorry Eddie. The legal bods think it’s best to distance ourselves at this time. I’m sure you understand.”
Eddie understood alright, Lyle had crapped from a great height and he had been caught in the fall out. “Ok, right thanks.”
It may be that at some point in the future, we will be able to use you, we will let you know.”
“Yeah, fantastic, that’ll be great.” Eddie said with mock enthusiasm, he could smell a platitude a mile off. He ended the call and dumped the phone on the bed, and sat staring blankly into space for a moment or two, replaying the conversation in his head. “At some point in the future you may be able to use me? Not in this life time pal.” He muttered, continuing to stare.
Derek came in, hunting for dirty washing, “oh sorry, I thought you were in the shower.”
No.” Eddie snapped.
Is everything alright, you look annoyed. The kids haven’t been in messing with your stuff have they?”
What? No. I’ve just had a call from memorable music; they won’t be taking up the contract after all because it was dishonestly acquired.” He spat emphasising “Dishonestly acquired” with air quotes.
Eddie was on his feet, rifling through his holdall, He pulled out a tin of deodorant spray and applied it, threw the tin back in the bag and began hunting through a suitcase for a tee-shirt, selecting one and holding it up for critical examination, he pulled it on.
Can you arrange a private deal with them, cut Lyle out of the picture?”
Eddie shook his head, “I’ve tried that, Tony said they need to distance themselves.”
Go back to them in a couple of weeks or so and ask again, perhaps they will change their mind.”
No, they won’t, and I’m not going to go running after them...”
But if...” Derek made to interject.
No ifs, no buts, I’m not doing it.” Eddie growled. “I’ve had thirty years of running after people and jumping through hoops, playing by their rules and swallowing their shit, just so I can ply my art but it stops now. If I had taken charge instead of trusting others to do things for me, I wouldn’t be in this mess.” Eddie pulled his leather jacket from the wardrobe.
I thought you were having a shower.” Derek said, as Eddie made for the bedroom door.
I’ve changed my mind, I’m going out.”
Eddie...”
Derek I need some space, stay out of my way.” Eddie warned, and slinging his coat over his shoulder, he stormed away.
Derek checked his watch, it was just after seven, he would give Eddie forty-five minutes and then head out after him. He went downstairs and sought out his sister to issue a storm warning, finally finding her in the front garden where Chris was carrying out an oil check on the car, they looked up as he approached. “Thanks for getting the replacement spool for the strimmer Derek, how much was it?”
No don’t worry, it’s the least I can do.” Derek shifted uneasily looking at his sister. He was beginning to wonder if bringing Eddie to the rectory was such a good idea after all, he had worked for Eddie for five years and knew the kind wreckage he left in his wake.
There could be a problem, there is a problem.” Derek said quickly correcting himself.
Anything I can do to help?” Chris closed the bonnet of the car and began wiping his hands on an old rag, giving Derek his full attention.
Eddie has had some bad news, he contacted his old manager who conned Eddie into believing he had found him work touring, when in fact the job was just entertaining at a holiday camp. When the owners and the company responsible found out Eddie had been duped, they dumped him.”
That is a filthy trick to play, has Eddie had a chance to discuss it with his old manager?” Chris asked.
No, the snide bag of bones has f...flown the coup.” Derek explained, dropping his chosen expletive in mid-sentence in deference of present company. “I need to warn you, Eddie is not in the best frame of mind at the moment, and this on top of everything else, well, I have no idea what the outcome will be.”
He has had a lot to cope with recently. A life’s worth of problems is a bit hard to take in one slice. He probably just needs to blow off a little steam.” Chris observed. “Give him an hour or two and then go and find him.”
I’ll give him forty-five minutes and then I’ll go into town and keep an eye on him.”
Won’t he think you are over reacting if you go after him after forty-five minutes?”
Nah I’m being generous by giving him a forty-five minute head start.” Derek said checking his watch and heading for the door.
He isn’t likely to do anything stupid is he?” Helen asked anxiously.
Derek paused. “This is Eddie, define stupid.”

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Part 2 will follow next month - If Eddie's not gone out drinking

copyright J.M.Clark 2019

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