Keith Moon’s Fabulous Dallas Scrabble Game

by Regis Boff

Twenty or more naked women smell a certain way.

“He wants money,” Tiny said on the Dallas hotel phone.
“Do you have him?” I asked. It was seven hours after The Who show had ended.
“Buttoned down, he can’t get away, but you better come he’s been pestering for you.”

I palmed a couple of hundred dollar bills as I got out on Keith Moon’s floor in case I ran into any police sniffing around.

Teenage girls wandered the drummer’s hallway like confused chickens. They all cocked their heads towards the sound of my elevator, alert for any flying corn but were disappointed because I was a grown-up.

One of Jim’s guys was standing at the door to the Moon’s suite being brawny and earnest.
“What’s he doing?” I asked, calm now for not engaging any police. The likable young tough shrugged like muscular people imagine they can, “He’s been ringing 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 sentinel at Keith’s bedroom door.
Tiny was a colossal ex-New York cop who got shot and lived on a pension, I think. He irregularly carried The Who’s only gun. He kept it on his ankle where he could not reach it in a crisis without a chiropractor. He had greasy black curly hair and an uncut testicle sparse beard. Having been up for at least two days chasing Moon, he somewhat resembled the consequence of a high school custodian’s wet mop attack on a fat black bear. He was a simple and good guy.
Tiny bathed, as the tour joke went, only before major surgery.

He was naked except for his laminated security pass that hung around his neck.
“You’re a picture,” I said as I passed him to knock on the bedroom door.
Jim Callaghan answered, just as unclothed, “No clothes, governor’s orders.”
I undressed, except for my briefs and my case.

The drummer was holding three girls and struggling to focus on something in the center of his king bed.
It was a Scrabble board.
The balance of the space on the bed is taken up with hired women of shapes and sizes, all likewise concentrating like cats sharing a flushing toilet.
He glances up at me, “Well, finally, we took our time, didn’t we?”
“You better be winning,” I challenged him.
I lose his attention as he turns again to the board, peeking through his private forest of breasts.

“Well Regis, you’re in time enough, I may need to buy a vowel,” he loudly confuses our two most important American letter games, Scrabble and Wheel of Fortune which must have had a British equivalent somewhere in his past.

“Come sit, he patted the bed beside him, shoving a blond to the floor. I cover my lap with my bag and obey.
“I have these ladies of the night on the run, but the field of play is getting crowded the board is very condensed.”
I glanced down and regarded that three words had found their way into the match 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. One or two expressed some confidence.

A stunning black girl with bruised blood-colored hair and long bone earrings heaved in a dark voice, (like a lonely cow’s moo), “I got one,” carefully laying down “dog,” forever impressing four of the other girls who I judged must be on her team against the drummer.

So Moon kicks the board into the air in a losing hissy fit and banishes the poor black girl off the bed. She promptly goes from pride to tears, her spelling days over and in tatters.
He pushes himself up to lean on the puffed pink silk headboard beside me. I don’t sit next to naked men regularly, and so I worry about sweat.

“Can I hold it?” he draws my eyes with his then gives a begging look to my bag. I hand him my case. He flattens it to his stomach and balls and says brightly, “Does it have lots of tonight?”
“You bet,” I said.
He tosses the case to the middle of the bed, and the girls lunge on it like it was a deep jungle musk genital pouch.
I was half thinking of how early I could get hold of a spray bottle of Fantastic from housekeeping or a new bag.

Moon, his mouth now on my ear, says in his whispering British spy voice, “I have my eye on that little blond down there, think she could be mine?”

I have this job owing to two strengths; I am trustworthy with money, and my reality was not easily overwhelmed by the unreality of anybody else’s.
“Please,” I offer, “she has not taken her eyes off you, even while her mouth is on my case.”

Jim and Doughal know their call girls.
“Girls, the case please,” he commanded, 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 began gravely calculating, employing his taxing ” pin the tail on the donkey” arithmetic.
“Twenty-thousand might cover it,” he said, immediately giddy with relief that the stress of the mathematics was finally over.

Opening the case, I counted out twenty packets, handed it to him 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 threw all the money to Doughal who couldn’t disengage his hands fast enough from women’s body parts, so most of it hit him on the head.
Jim and Doughal sprang for it before the girls did.

On my way out, I told Jim to pay the girls himself, if he could, and to drop the balance back to me at the next show.

None of it ever comes back.