Keith Moon’s Fabulous Dallas Scrabble Game

by Regis Boff

Twenty or more naked women smell a certain way.

“He wants money,” Jim Callaghan said. 

It was the seventies, our hotel, seven or ten hours after the show had ended in Dallas.

“Do you have him?” I asked, knowing full well they did or calling me would have been a waste of time because “the hunt would be on” by all the security. I would have been irrelevant.

“Buttoned down, he can’t get away, but he’s been pestering for you,” he whined.

I got dressed and palmed a couple of hundred dollar bills and headed up.

His elevator opened to a sea of teenage girls wandering the drummer’s hallway like confused chickens. They cocked their heads towards me but drooped because I was a grown-up.

One of Jim’s guys was standing at the door to the Moon’s suite, being sturdy and earnest.

“What’s he doing?” I asked, putting the cop money in my pocket.

The likable young tough shrugged at me 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, one of Jim’s security guys, standing lookout at the bedroom door. 

He was naked except for the laminated security pass that hung around his neck.

Tiny was a goliath ex-New York cop who got shot and lived on a pension. He irregularly carried The Who’s only gun storing it on his ankle where he could not reach it in a crisis without a chiropractor. 

He had shoulder-length greasy black curly hair. His eyebrows, arms, and whiskers were testicular sparse. He resembles the sad outcome of a high school custodian’s wet mop attack on a fat black bear. 

Though gulpingly repulsive, Tiny always had the prettiest girls with him. He could outdraw Daltrey. Roger, of course, destroyed him on volume.

After a favor, he did me. I told him to order anything he wanted from room service. Passing by his room later, I caught him on his bed with a girl and two serving spoons. He had a glass bowl of forty or so ice cream scoops balanced on his stomach. They looked like life was at its summit. Tiny was not a man to fret the absence of inner experience.

Tiny bathed, as the tour joke went, only before major surgery.

“You’re a picture,” I said as I passed him to knock on the bedroom door.

Jim Callaghan cracked the door to peek at me. He was naked, “No clothes, governor’s orders.” was what he said.

I undressed except for my briefcase. I kept my shoes out of curious modesty.

I like hookers because they are a little like The Who. They are real. 

Seven of them were on his king bed, staring at something in its center.

It was a Scrabble board.

A forest of breasts had blindfolded the drummer. He batted a few to clear his view of me.

 “Well, finally, we took our time, didn’t we?” He charged.

“You better be winning,” I challenged him.

I lose his attention as he turns again to the board.

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

“Come sit, he patted the bed beside him seductively, shoving a blond to the floor. I sat covering myself with my leather case.

For the first time, I noticed Dougal, his lifetime best friend on the floor, stewing in four girls. Callaghan had returned to one corner and was working on swapping blowjobs for backstage passes. The exercise was stupid because the girls all had been paid for already by Moon. But Jim had been at this for so many years it was an erotic accessory for him. I think he started with the Osmonds.

“I have these ladies on the run, but the play is getting crowded. The board is very condensed.” Moon groaned competitively to me.

I glanced at it. Three words had found their way into the match, 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. They were beautiful by any standard.

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.” She carefully laid down “dog,” forever impressing four of the other girls who I judged must be on her team.

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 to his. 

My briefcase is likely the most valuable item on tour except for the guitars. Our security would rescue it before any attention came my way.

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 getting hold of a spray bottle of Fantastic from housekeeping or a new bag before breakfast.

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 is 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.

He fixed on a number, immediately giddy with relief that the stress of the mathematics was finally over.

Opening the case, I counted out the 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.