20th December 1998
"Can we talk?"
"I think so."
Gypsy heard the hushed whispers as he lay on his couch in the main lounge of Chilvers; glad to be out of hospital at last. The snap and crackle of the blazing logs in the grate was a comforting sound as the flames sent flickering patterns out into the gloom. At his request the lights had been dimmed, and after a hectic afternoon, greeting his family who had arrived for the Christmas holiday, he was trying to sleep. Erica was sleeping in her pram beside him and Jo sat at the desk by the window, writing a last minute letter to her parents. Now Trish had come in.
Gypsy sensed Jo approaching the couch. Keeping his eyes shut was a trick he used quite often when he wanted to be left alone to think. He kept them closed now, waiting for Jo and Trish to leave the room. They didn't and Gypsy could not help listening as they talked in low voices.
"Is there something on your mind, Trish? You've been very quiet lately."
"I don't know how to put it."
"It's about Sandy and Gypsy isn't it?"
"How did you know?"
"A woman's intuition?"
"Sandy loves him."
"Don't we all."
"Not like he does."
"Oh, surely not!"
"Look, Trish, I know what you're going to tell me. Shana and I were sisters, remember? Come on, Trish, out with it"
"I thought...I thought it was a schoolboy crush, that it would stop when we married, but it hasn't. I've never said anything before but Sandy talks in his sleep and it isn't me he calls out to. I didn't want to come here in the first place. I should have stuck to my guns and insisted on getting a place of our own in London because I knew I'd have to take second place. My father would have financed us."
"Gypsy needs him, like he needs all of us; that means you as well."
"No he doesn't; not any more. He's so much better now, and out of bed, and becoming more independent. He doesn't need Sandy now, but Sandy won't leave. He says he must stay here but I want to leave. I want my husband back. You say Gypsy needs him, but I need him more. I'm pregnant, Jo." A tense silence fell upon the room and Gypsy heard only the crackling of the logs followed by the opening and closing of the lounge door. Knowing Trish had left the room he relaxed and turned his head to look at Jo. She was looking straight at him. She walked to the couch with a strained smile on her face. "Sneaky! I might have known Big Ears was listening."
"I wanted to be left alone," was Gypsy's simple explanation. "What do I do, Jo?"
Jo laughed dryly. "Why ask me? I'm beginning to feel like an agony aunt around here."
"I'm sorry," Gypsy felt hurt. "I didn't mean to sound as if I was using you."
Jo caught hold of his hand and squeezed it. "Stuck on this couch or in your wheelchair, I suppose you don't have much choice. Using people is the only way back to sanity. I'm sorry too. I didn't mean I don't want to help. Dig your heels in and fight, Gypsy. People only get used when they want to be."
Gypsy looked up into her eyes and seeing the understanding twinkle, he said, "What can I do for Trish?"
Jo's hand squeezed harder. "Your Scorpion mind should come up with some bright idea, only don't make it so crazy you sting yourself instead; promise?"
Too late, a plan had already taken root. "Would you and Ed help me?"
Jo cocked her head on one side and eyed him warily. "No doubt you'll drag us in at the deep end with you, okay, you can count on us. Just get it over with before your dad comes home."
23rd of December 1998
"You should have been a masseur," Gypsy remarked as he relaxed in the biscuit and green sitting room adjoining his bedroom.
The early morning routine of massage, bathing and dressing half way through, Ed. stood beside him, expert fingers working on Gypsy's neck muscles. "I thought about it once but I guess Physical Therapy's more my scene."
Gypsy gave a soft groan of satisfaction; no one could doubt Ed's talents for easing the aches and pains, often coming to him in the night when the pain was bad, to rub and gently massage away the tension till he could sleep again. He seemed to know without being told where his touch was needed, where to place pillows and heat pads to give him the most comfort and relief from lying or sitting for long periods. Ed knew just how to handle him, lifting him as easily as he would a helpless baby. Now he touched a painful spot and wrung a gasp of pain from him. "Sorry, just making sure you're still awake."
"If I fall asleep, you only have yourself to blame."
"Just don't forget you've got Erskine coming at eleven thirty. Looks like those Hines have been after him again. I told Hine myself yesterday he was wasting his time. Don't they ever take no for an answer?"
"They don't know the meaning of the word. They might be offering a bigger slice of the cake than I'm getting from TAB Records but I want no part of their kinky set-up. I met them once, the Christmas I put Guido out of business and I don't want to get involved again."
"They propositioned you?"
Gypsy frowned as Ed turned him over, and he stared up at the ceiling. "I am not sure, Ed. As I've said before, the drugs and the booze could have made me have hallucinations and bad dreams so I'll never know what was real and what wasn't. All I know is, I ended up with that envelope full of' promises."
"Yeah, I remember Manuel tellin' me how he disposed of it. So what's bugging you? They've got nothing on you."
"Erskine said TAB Records are in trouble and I'd hate it if the Hines took them over. Sooner or later I'll be on their books anyway, but I wish we had the capital to take TAB over ourselves."
"Maybe someday you'll do it."
"You always wanted to own your own record company, didn't you?"
Ed had almost finished by the time Sandy was due for his eight thirty appearance before leaving for college. They usually enjoyed a chat and a coffee, but this morning he strode into the room, his eyes going straight to Ed's hands at work. Gypsy felt rather than saw the flash of jealousy before Sandy turned away to drop his music case on the couch. Looking tired and more than a little irritated, Sandy helped himself to coffee from the tray on the table in front of the fire and Gypsy caught Ed's enquiring look; time for action. "Ed, you ought to teach Sandy a few of your tricks; then you could have a break when you wanted to."
Immediately Sandy's face reddened. "No thank you. I've got enough to do already." He sat down on the couch to drink his coffee and sort his music case out, taking more interest than usual in its contents.
Ed followed Gypsy's lead and said, "You might have an idea, there kid. You aren't the best of sleeping partners and I could do with some other mug taking over night duties now and then. Maybe I'll get back to acting the old married man again." He rolled his eyes skyward in a silent prayer of hope.
Gypsy laughed. "Are you telling me Jo has forgotten what it looks like? How about it, Sandy?"
Without looking up, Sandy said stiffly, "You 'ave a nurse, ask 'im."
Ed glared at him, the charade he and Gypsy were playing, forgotten. "Sean has enough to do during the day, man."
"Like what? Breakin' 'is back, is he?"
Gypsy realised his plan was not going to work. "Okay, Sandy, it was only a joke. Forget it."
But Sandy had got the bit between his teeth. "Well just what does he do all day? All I see is 'im tinkling on the piano all day."
"He does what he's paid to do," Ed snapped at him. "It's a pity you aren't here every day to see him working." Gypsy could feel Ed's hands losing their gentleness. "And night-nursing isn't in his contract of' employment."
Gypsy winced. "Take it easy, Ed. Sandy, I said it was a joke, so leave it. Ed you're hurting me. Leave me be."
"I said stop it; now."
The damage was done. Sandy grabbed the rest of his papers, rammed them into the case and stamped out of' the room, slamming the door behind him.
Ed stared at the door then down at Gypsy. "That was a close one."
"What? My plan is almost up the shoot and you're nearly pulling my arm off."
"Sorry." Ed patted Gypsy's sore arm. "I sure hope you know what you're doing"
Gypsy sighed. "Sandy and Trish had another row last night, I heard them. Do you think he would leave if I told him how I feel? He'd accuse Trish of being stupid and would dig his heels in even further."
"Okay." Ed shrugged his shoulders. "Yo's th' bossman." But the gentleness did not fully return to his hands and Gypsy knew the man was not happy with the situation at all.
After lunch Gypsy lay in his room pretending, for Sean's' benefit that he was asleep, but sleep would not come at all, he felt too low. It was hard not to cry, real hard. Lately, the rows between Sandy and Trish had been loud and bitter, forgetting their bedroom adjoined Gypsy's. Even the solid walls of this Victorian portion of Chilvers failed to dampen the sound of their raised voices. Trish had accused Sandy of loving Gypsy more than he loved her and he had denied it. She had told him to prove it by leaving Chilvers and Sandy had stoutly refused to leave as long as Gypsy needed him. After further heated words Trish had come out with what was really hurting her the most. "Damn you! You can't even have a hard on without thinking of him. What kind of husband are you?"
Much later, Sandy tried to sort his tangled thoughts out. It was the little things he had noticed at first, the cooling of Gypsy's attitude towards him, preferring Ed's attention more, and the dwindling enthusiasm about getting the new album finished. Two singles had hit the charts in rapid succession but now nothing seemed to interest Gypsy except Erica and his own slowly healing body, demanding Ed's soothing administrations more and more. Did they think he was blind to what was going on? He had walked in on them often enough and had seen things, the quick movement of Ed's hands away from Gypsy and the guilty look in his eye, the halting of conversation when Sandy entered the room. All that talk about Grafton and Don being the only loves in his life? Just how many men had there really been? Was Ed the latest catch? Sandy had seen the light at last - Gypsy didn't need him at all!
Tomorrow, he and Trish would leave to spend the Christmas holiday with her parents. It wouldn't take long to pack and move out permanently. Trish had wanted to do that for weeks now. Maybe she had been right all along. He hadn't told anyone about the man he had met last week. The man, a professor of music, had told him he was interested in his work and wanted to offer him at least one year's free tuition on composition and arrangement at his own Paris conservatoire. Like a fool he had refused the offer and now he was sorry. He wasn't doing all that well at the RLCM. Perhaps if he gave the man a ring, he could soon be on a plane to Paris.
Sean came out of the chemist and noticed a battered blue Ford Cortina parked by the kerb. He started walking along the pavement, knowing the driver would follow him. He turned down the next entry and waited. The car turned down the entry and stopped to let him get into the back seat.
They drove around the town for a few minutes before the driver glanced at Sean through the rear mirror. "Well?"
"I think I may be able to get closer to Gypsy. It looks like his friend is moving out. That means he'll need me even more."
June 23rd 1999
"Push. Come on, you can do better than that; you're not trying."
"Try harder, come on."
"You mean you won't."
"I mean it, Ed."
"I don't hear you so well."
"Why don't you just get lost?" If only people would leave him alone. Six months had gone by since Sandy had left Chilvers and it seemed as if people around him were deliberately trying to occupy his time. If it wasn't Ed manipulating him like a puppet on this treatment mat in the, gym, driving him through endless exercises and therapy; it was Erskine pushing him to finish the latest album and discussing proposed guest appearances. TAB were after him for another hit single to boost the balance sheet he had helped change from red to black, but he just didn't want to work anymore. Nothing jelled. All he wanted to do was lie in the peace and quiet of his own lounge with Erica for company. She was almost one year old and knew who her daddy was, all right. Jo said he was spoiling her, having her with him so much, but Jo didn't really understand. He had to have his baby with him; she was the only link he had with the woman he had loved.
Lying on the mat with his foot braced against Ed's broad chest he couldn't feel any power behind his muscles at all, he tried to concentrate on the thigh muscles, tried to straighten his knee. Nothing happened. He wanted to cry. That was easy, he could cry all he wanted and everyone would say it was because of losing Shana. That was what he wanted them to believe, wasn't it?
He reached out with his mind to try and make the link but, again, he was stopped by a solid barrier. "Dear Lord, please let me try." The last time he had made the link had been on the night Trish had her baby. He had known about it in the semi-darkness of his bedroom, the link made possible because for a fleeting moment Sandy had thought about him and his advice when Shana's baby had been born. He had heard the baby cry and had known the tears in Sandy's eye as he held his son within seconds of him being born. If only he could make the link again, just once more..."Please Lord; just one more time?"
Tuesday 24th July 1999
Congratulations on the birth of your baby son. We are so glad to hear everything went well and that you are feeling fit. Gypsy would have written to you himself but once again he has a severe cold and does not feel well enough. He seems to be having cold after cold these days. In my last letter, I said Gypsy was being encouraged to walk a few steps each day but even this milestone in his recovery has made no impression on him. He still feels so low. Eddie says it is a natural reaction after such a traumatic accident, but Manuel is worried enough to have cancelled all his own engagements until Gypsy is better. On top of all this, Gaskin and the boys have asked to be released from their contract and have gone on tour with another of Erskine's protégés…
"Sandy, I'm home." Trish's greeting, as she let herself into their tiny Paris apartment, made Sandy jump. He folded the letter up, thrust it back into its envelope and dropped it back into the tissue box where Trish had hidden it with all the others. Putting the lid on the box, he pushed the dresser drawer shut and left the bedroom. He would give her another week to own up about the letter and the other two that had arrived a few weeks before; then he would tackle her about them. He embraced her, kissed her tenderly and said nothing.
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