I picked up the phone.
Jim who was at least half deaf shouted into my ear, “Well, you will never guess, fucking hell!. He wants to see you right now, You should bring your case, and I wouldn’t overdress if I were you.”
“And you have him,” I asked?
“Buttoned down like a shirt collar mate, but I would hurry.”
He hangs up.
I put on a white starched shirt; jeans, shoes and a leather sports coat. The same outfit I had worn since I was twelve.
At the elevator, I palmed a few hundred-dollar bills to handle any police that might be sniffing around unhappily in the hallways on the way up to drummer’s suite.
On his floor, a half a dozen teenage girls looking as if just snatched from gas clothes dryers milled listlessly against the hallway walls.
Like chickens alert to flying corn, they cocked their heads when they heard the elevator open but ignored me disappointedly because I looked like an adult.
One of Jim’s guys was standing at the door to the Moon’s suite being muscular and earnest.
“What’s he doing?” I asked him, significantly more relieved now for not encountering any police on my trip. The likable young thug shrugged, “He’s been calling up hookers for the last couple of hours with Jim, Tiny, and Dougal.”
Moon’s living room was empty except for Tiny who was standing guard at the bedroom door.
Tiny is a four hundred pound ex-cop who according to his legend was shot and partially disabled on a call before coming to work for The Who and Jim. He occasionally carried the band’s only gun. He kept it on his ankle where he could not reach it in an emergency without a chiropractor. He had shoulder length black curly hair and an uncut testicle sparse beard. On a good day, he resembled the aftermath of a vicious high school custodian’s mop attack on a fat black bear.
Tiny bathing, as the tour joke goes, only before major surgery.
He was also naked.
“You’re a picture,” I said to him as I passed to knock on the bedroom door.
Jim answered, “ No clothes, no clothes,”
I undressed, except for my shoes and case.
More than twenty naked women smell a certain way.
Half of them were staring at something in the center of Moon’s king bed. Keith was concentrating too.
It was a Scrabble board.
“You better be winning,” I challenged him.
“We are finally here, are we, took our time about it, didn’t we?” he says to me, as his head bobs up from his private forest of breasts.
“ I had to get more cash,” I lied, knowing that this answer always settles him.
Even hardened whores calmed in Keith Moon’s atmosphere. Not one even looked up at me.
“Well, you’re in time enough, I may need to buy a vowel,” he loudly confused our two most important American letter games, Scrabble and Wheel of Fortune which must have had a British equivalent somewhere from in his past.
“Come sit; he patted the bed beside him. ” I have these ladies of the night on the run, but the field of play is getting blurred, and the board is very condensed.”
I glanced down and saw that five words had found their way into the game so far but none of the wooden squares forming them were touching each other.
“You guys ever play this game before tonight?” I said to the girls.
A stunning black girl with bruised blood colored hair and long shoulder length bone earrings heaved out in a sexy dark voice, (it reminded me of a lonely cow’s “moo”). “I got one,” and carefully laid down “dog,” forever impressing four of the other girls who I reckoned must be on her team against the drummer.
Moon kicked the board off the bed in a losing hissy fit.
Sullenly he pushes himself up to lean on the puffed pink silk headboard. He motions me to sit beside him.
I don’t sit next to naked men often and so I worried about sweat.
“Can I hold it?” he draws my eyes to his with a begging look, and I handed him my case. He flattens it to his stomach and balls and says brightly, “Does it have lots of money tonight?”
“You bet,” I said.
He tosses the case to the middle of the bed, and the girls lunged on it like it was a jungle musk satchel.
I was half thinking of how early I could get hold of a spray bottle of Fantastic from housekeeping in the morning.
Moon, his mouth now on my ear, says in a British spy voice, “I have my eye on that little brunette down there, think she could be mine?”
I have this job owing to two strengths; I am trustworthy with money, and that my reality was not easily overwhelmed by the unreality of anybody else’s.
“A top tier shot,” I returned enthusiastically, “she has not taken her eyes off you, even while her mouth is on my case.”
Jim and Tiny know their call girls, they looked like movie stars.
“Ladies, the case please,” he ordered putting his arms out like the prongs on a forklift.
“I will need quite a bit tonight,” now back to me. “How much?” I said.
He gravely calculated, employing his demanding ” pin the tail on the donkey” arithmetic.
“Twenty-thousand might cover it,” he said, now nearly giddy with relief that the stress of the mathematics was over.
Opening the case I began counting out the money. The girls surrounded me like cats watching a toilet flush. I handed it to Keith and made him sign for it, which he did, dramatically sweeping my pen in semi circles like a crashing propeller plane, before landing close enough to the dotted line.
He picked up the cash and tossed it to Dougal who caught some of it.
Photo courtesy of Peter “Dougal” Butler