The Who #2
by Regis Boff
“Keith needs to see you,” said Dougal. He had clearly been up with Moon all night. He had on only one shoe.
“Fuck”, I whispered to the pit in my stomach.
“Why?” I searched.
“Wouldn’t say,” said Dougal.
Nothing about talking to Keith Moon at 8:30 in the morning could be good for me. We were in Chicago on a four-day layover, it was my first Who tour. I had been scared since it began.
With my beds covered in contracts, I had to throw “Tiny,” our four-hundred-pound, ex-cop, security guy out of my room before his breakfast came. He would be disappointed, but brightened when I told him I would pay.
“How much does he want? I said.
“Wants to talk, not money,” Dougal shrugged.
“Fuck, Shit, fuck,” I screamed at the pit in my stomach.
I put on my jacket and picked up my bag of cash, and together we headed out the door almost tripping over Tiny, who had decided to wait there, in the hallway, for his breakfast.
Keith Moon was having tea at a small Victorian table for two against the suite window that faced whatever lake was next to Chicago.
He reminded me of an old Judy Garland in her last catastrophic years following the “Wizard of Oz.” His pink, frilly negligee contributed to this theme. He was wearing Dougal’s missing shoe.
“Spot of tea, Reg? he offered, not aware there was not a second cup. “Did you two take in some theater before you rushed back to help me?”
“I wanted to pick up more money downstairs just in case.” I had learned that just saying “more cash” would deflect him. It worked like Dramamine. Moon would only much later realize the money I gave him was his.
My entire first tour he regarded me as a magically tall cash fountain.
“I have a disturbing confidence to tell. It could break-up the band. I have finally slept with the wrong woman. She has ignited a nursery of agony in my genitals.” He paused here and searched our faces for some sympathy or recognition.
Dougal broke first, ” You’ve got the clap?”
Moon leaped up clumsily and clamped both hands over Dougal’s mouth. “Quiet!” he whispered, “this is our grave intrigue, no one can ever know.”
Dougal nodded, and he let him go.
I was by now ahead of the first problem, ” I’ll get a doctor over this morning. ”
I called the hotel manager who arranged a doctor to come to Keith’s suite within the hour. I pulled out some tickets and told Dougal to have the doctor call me to arrange the bill.
Everyone satisfied; I then made one of my best mistakes ever. ” You better let the girl know, ” I said to him.
“The girl?” he asked as though I had demanded the definition of a two hundred letter word, “What girl?”
“The girl you got it from,” realizing as I said it how gullible I was.
“There is no girl; there are constellations of girls. How many month’s have we been on tour this time? Months? Why that’s a minimum of eighty nights. The tip of an infectious iceberg!
Around noon, I got a call from the doctor who said our drummer had a particularly nasty strain of Vietnamese gonorrhea. I told him I would tell Keith to expect him soon with an injection.
When I told Moon, all said to me was, “He should bring all he can find. Come down.”
I got to his suite, and they were both bent over the dining room table with pencils, drawing up lists of names and rough “connect the dots” diagrams.
Women moved like buffalo around the free range of this band. Sex was not exactly uncommon. The two of them, ( Dougal almost never left Keith’s side), had managed to remember a large number of girls they both had slept with over nearly twenty cities. ‘Moon’s iceberg,’ as we were later to call it, made notifying the potential girls unimaginable without also calling the National Center for Disease Control.
We settled, the three of us, on identifying all the people Moon knew for certain had shared one of his girls. I would call them and make them come to get their shots.
Our doctor made a fortune as this investigation evaporated quickly into a ‘cash and carry’ operation. To my great discredit, I knew that innocents were being harmed, but the drummer, once he got into the melody, simply could not stop implicating all in sight. Nearly everyone on tour with The Who was English. Britains are always the last ones to realize a trick is being played on them. They came over willingly and dropped their pants.
It was unavoidable not to claim certain record-breaking statistics that day. The doctor bill being certainly one. It was also without a doubt the most significant pandemic in Rock history.
It also may have been the funniest full day of my life.
There was a picture taken of everyone standing or kneeling together in the suite, like a baseball team card. The little Indian doctor was sitting in the center holding a lap-full of Who tickets and a syringe. I don’t know who has that photo today.