Pluto's Child

by DJ

Chapter 33

Too late, Sandy found Gypsy slumped in an armchair, still in his jeans and sweater with one sleeve pushed up above the elbow. Ed was kneeling at his side holding his arm steady while a stranger stood over them both, ready to insert the needle of a syringe into the arm below a firmly tied tourniquet. Diving forward Sandy wrenched the doctor's arm back and ripped the syringe from his hand, sending it flying across the room. He pushed the stunned doctor away as Ed rose to his feat; then he turned on Ed and jabbed a warning finger at him. "You lay one finger on me, Ed Thompson and I swear I'll ram your bloody teeth down your throat, big as you are." They stood glaring at each other, toe to toe.

The doctor got over his surprise. "Just what do you think you are up to, bursting in here like this? How dare you interfere between a doctor and his patient?"

Sandy wished he could choke the man. "He might be your patient, but 'e's my mate." And to both Ed and the doctor, he said, "Bloody crackers is what you are! 'E doesn't need any bloody drug; both of you should know that, you especially, Ed." Pushing both men roughly aside Sandy knelt in front of Gypsy and drew him up off the cushions until he was sitting upright. His eyes were glazed and he stared blankly at Sandy who shook him gently. "Come on, Mate, for God's sake get a grip on yourself. You don't need any bloody shot in the arm! All you need is someone to 'old your bloody 'and. I've pulled you through before, and I'll do it again, so why don't we get some food into you an' get you into your gear before the cameras move in, eh, mate?"

Slowly Gypsy leaned forward until his head was resting on Sandy's left shoulder, and his voice was a mere whisper. "What's the point, I'm nothing any more."

Sandy pushed him back and shook him harder. "Stop talkin' like a bloody idiot, man. The prophecy said you'd want to give up, didn't it? Well, you're not goin' to, see. I won't bloody let you."

Gypsy's glassy stare changed to a deep frown as Gypsy's muddled mind absorbed Sandy's angry words, then things began to make sense and tears filled his eyes as he let his head drop forward. A sob escaped him. "I can't go on, Sandy, I just can't."

Sandy drew him close to hug him tight."Yes you bloody can, mate." Then he rose to his feet, lifting Gypsy with him. "You're goin' out on that stage even if I 'ave to carry you, and you're goin' to sing like you've never done before; and I'm goin' to be with you, right on that stage." Oh, God, what am I saying? Trish will kill me !

Gypsy stared up at him. "On the stage? I - I don't understand."

Someone behind Sandy breathed a sigh of relief. Sandy looked over his shoulder and saw Erskine and Manuel standing in the open doorway; t hey had heard it all.

The doctor had already turned away, in the process of hunting for the syringe, while Ed stood watching in brooding silence, his eyes alive with admiration at Sandy's courage. Sandy whipped out his handkerchief and dabbed at Gypsy's eyes. "I just 'ope I don't make a bloody fool of myself in front of those Cardiff cousins of mine, they'll be crammed like sardines in my Auntie Hannah's sittin' room, just to watch this bloody show."

"But Sandy, you've never been -."

"No buts, otherwise I might get cold feet an' change my mind. One stage is the same as the next; this one's just a bit bigger than Bernie's, isn' it? We're goin' to be just fine, and there'll be wide eyes in Trentham tonight, all right." Gypsy's dazed expression had returned, but this time from his disbelief that he had heard right as Sandy turned him to face the makeup table.

By the time the cameras moved into the dressing room and Monclare himself had arrived, Gypsy was sitting, resplendent in the white Spanish shirt and black pants, working on his make-up. Behind him, on the settee, Sandy sat between Manuel and Ed, dreading the scene Trish would create, once she received the note he had sent up to the box. He eased the collar of the green velvet jacket and snow white dress shirt, borrowed from the wardrobe department, and listened to Gypsy chatting calmly enough with the program presenter, answering an endless stream of questions about himself, the show, and his engagement to Lorna. The presenter only hit one sore point and that was the presence of Monclare, hovering in the background between checking Gypsy's pulse-rate every few minutes. Gypsy passed it off as a fact of life he had to put up with. The presenter asked him if he ever suffered from pre-show nerves, he smiled and said, "Of course I do. My knees are knocking and my heart is flapping about like nobody's business. What is my pulse rate now, Doctor, one twenty, one twenty five?"

Monclare smiled self-consciously. "A little faster, actually." He seemed relieved when the door opened and Erskine came in to interrupt the interview. " Two minutes, Gypsy." Ignoring the camera and the presenter, he added, "Time to go."

As Erskine led the way out of the dressing room the camera man b acked out ahead of Gypsy to catch every possible moment of the timed walk to the wings, the star's entourage closing in behind in well rehearsed order to escort him through the crush in the corridor. Sandy was right behind him as one reporter thrust a mike in front of him and asked if Miss Basset and his daughter would be in the wings to watch his entrance and wish him well. Gypsy paused and Sandy placed a hand on his shoulder and spoke on his behalf. "Miss Basset 'as already taken Erica 'ome, they watched the show this afternoon." I t was not until they had reached the wings that Sandy realized he had actually spoken on the air; on camera; on a live T.V. show? H is legs turned to jelly as he gave Gypsy a quick hug and headed for the grand piano to the left of the keyboards, only just making it before the tabs rose and the orchestra went into the intro. From the angle the piano was placed Sandy could still see Erskine and Manuel if he leaned forward a little and as Different Hats and the dancers went into action, he saw Manuel giving Gypsy a pep talk, his arm tightly round his shoulders. The presenter's voice boomed out above the orchestra, "Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen, MISTERRR...GYPSYYYY... DIIIAAAZ." and both Erskine and Manuel gave Gypsy a gentle push onto the stage. Sandy's forehead beaded with sweat. No turning back now!

As the audience erupted with rapturous applause, Erskine breathed a prayer of relief and remembered not to cross his fingers. One didn't do that in a theatre, bad luck and all, that. Manuel still looked worried as Gypsy went full blast into his own signature song, and Erskine nudged him. "D on't worry, Manuel, He's where he needs to be; while he's performing he's not thinking of other things, is he? Let's hope Ed and Sandy can keep him there, right?"

Manuel sighed. "You are right, of course, Erskine, as always. He could not have a better manager than you. He looks really good tonight, doesn't he? I'm glad he decided to wear that shirt after all; it looks part of him, don't you think?" Erskine gave him a sideways glance. Poor Manuel; he was under just as much strain as his son. It wasn't just Gypsy who needed someone to support him.

The show itself was in four parts to give Gypsy a short break in between; the gaps being filled by his dancers and his band. The first part showed 'Gypsy the pop-star', the second 'Gypsy the gifted musician', the third 'Gypsy the dancer' and the fourth 'Gypsy the lover' and when he came off stage after the first part to change his costume for the now famous black pants and beaded bolero, his first question was, "Any news?" When Erskine shook his head, he made no comment; he just stripped down, wiped the sweat away and got into his blacks. He drank a glass of hot water and ate an energy bar, and returned to the stage carrying his guitar and flute.

Up in the box, Trish sat like a statue, unable to tear her eyes away from the sight of her own husband reliving his early days, playing the old songs and, having the same old kicks with Different Hats. Trish knew Sandy had been taken back in time to when they were a still in school. He was where he wanted to be, accompanying Gypsy's musical wizardry and sailing with him through the songs that tugged at many a heart-string, and had the audience yelling for more. Towards the end of the last number, Trish quietly left the box and made her way downstairs to the wings, pass ing several theatre employees and a few of Gypsy's roadies who had tears in their eyes; their own emotions made all the keener knowing their hearts has been touched by someone who's own heart was full of grief at that very moment, and with every tear she saw, with each touch of melancholy she felt around her, she felt the chance of a new start with Sandy slipping away from her, knowing she was fighting a battle she had no hope of winning. Sandy would never leave, unless...

When Gypsy and Sandy came off stage for the second break, and saw Trish in the wings, Gypsy went straight to her and hugged her warmly. "Hi, h ow is my very first girlfriend?" As soon as he kissed her, he felt the barrier she was trying to create, and drew back from her. "I think we had better talk, right?" During the hurried walk to his dressing room with roadies and security men forcing a way through the crush, he kept one arm tight about her waist, leaving Sandy to trail helplessly somewhere behind them. In the lounge, Gypsy did not stop but walked Trish towards the inner sanctum. She did not want to go but he would not let go of her. He turned to face Erskine, Manuel and everyone else who expected to enter, as was their right. Holding them back with a look, he said, "No, please; I want to talk to Trish alone. I wo n't be long, I promise."

Erskine looked annoyed and pointed a thumb over his shoulder at two strangers. "This is Inspector Todd and Sergeant Eddison. You're going to have to talk to them sometime; might as well be now."

Gypsy's head lifted in a warning gesture. "I mean it, Erskine. Give me five minutes and I'll talk my head off to whoever you please." He pushed Trish into the inner sanctum and closed the door. The two of them were alone now, but Gypsy did not speak. Trish waited in the middle of the room, facing the shower, trembling. She waited for Gypsy to come to her. He did not move from the door and she looked over her shoulder at him and found him gazing sadly at her. His eyes seemed extra large, extra luminous. "Oh, Gypsy, don't look at me like that, please! I can't bear it; I can't think when you look at me like that. Damn you, you know what I'm thinking!

Gypsy looked down at the floor. "I think you know what I want to say."

She turned away from him, her hands clasped tightly together. "Sandy and I are going away; we're going to make a new s tart. Please don't spoil things for us; I couldn't bear it."

"Do you really think you can make a new start, when there's really no need? There's nothing really wrong with what you have now, only what's in your mind."

Trish whirled round to face him, her anger in the open. "There wouldn't be if you left Sandy alone. Everything was all right until the show, now you've spoilt things again. If you must know, we're going to California; a producer by the name of Monty Carey has offered Sandy some work on a T.V. series, and we're flying out the day after tomorrow."

If Trish had hit him in the face, Gypsy could not have looked more hurt. "The day after... he never said anything!"

Trish looked away again, wishing she had never opened her mouth. "We were going to tell you after the show, but seeing you on stage with Sandy... I couldn't help myself, I'm sorry."

"But don't you see," Gypsy said as he came away from the door at last. "Taking him away won't solve anything. Sandy and I have been apart for three years and nothing has changed between us. The only way you and Sandy are going to survive together is for you to accept what we mean to each other." He came to her and, turning her to face him, he took hold of her hands. "All my life, I' ve wanted just a little love. When I thought I'd found it, someone took it away from me. Benito, Tony, Mamacita, Shana, they are all gone, and now, possibly Lorna and Erica. I have no-one else but you and Sandy; and now you want to take him away from me." Tears welled up into his eyes and he tried to blink them back. He let go of her hands and sank onto the chair by the make-up bench. " I can't let you do it, Trish."

In her heart, Trish wanted to shout at him, " No, no! You're not having him, he's mine ." but seeing the figure of desolation and grief that once had been so alive and brave, the anger died from her lips. "Answer me one question, Gypsy, when he stayed with you at the apartment, did you make l0ve?"

She saw Gypsy's shoulders stir and thought she was right. But he said, "No; I'd never do that to you and Sandy. We wanted to but we found we didn't have to. Both of us were shocked at what we found that night in Bev's house, and I needed comfort that only he could give me. You see, Sandy had already made up his mind about leaving for good, and it's only you who is making it hard for us to cross the barrier. Shana understood; and Lorna is...was...willing to understand. If only you could, too." He raised his hands to wipe the moisture from his face, smearing his make-up a little but not caring. He gazed up at her. " We are like children, Trish, longing for something which is forbidden, and the more it's withheld the greater the longing until it becomes an obsession. The moment the longing is recognized for what it is, the longing fades to a level at which there is a lasting fondness and an everlasting, joyful memory, knowing it is there to have at any time, but will probably never need again. I need him so much, Trish. I need him now. I have no one to turn to; there is no one else."

"You have your dad."

Gypsy shook his head. "He's cancelled some of his own tour dates to be with me; I Can't expect him to stay for more than a few days at the most."

It took Trish only a moment to realize where she had been going wrong, to see at last what Sandy had been trying for so long to show her. With a sigh she went to Gypsy and kissed him then went to open the door, to call Sandy into the room. Pulling him through and shutting the door again, she reached up to kiss him. "I think I know you better now," she said, as he gazed down at her with a mixture of confusion and curiosity, "I've been a bit of a fool and very selfish, I've been looking at the wrong side of the moon and now I've come round to the bright side. I think I like it better." Kissing him again, she added, "Jo wants to go home, Sandy, she's too upset about Erica to stay any longer, I'll wait for you at Chilvers." The last thing she saw as she went out into the lounge was Gypsy weeping with his head in his hands and Sandy moving, quickly, to his side.

In the lounge she ignored everyone and walked quickly towards the outer door. Barney opened it for her and as she stepped out into the crowded corridor, she heard Erskine say softly, "Now there goes one hell of a lady." Keeping her feelings under control, she braved the deluge of reporters and made her way back up to the box. There she burst into tears; glad to have Jo's shoulder to cry on and her arms to hold her tight. "Oh, Jo, you were so right. If only I'd listened to you!" Jo didn't need to ask her what she meant; she just tightened her embrace and shushed her quietly.

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