The Cup Bearer
"Oh? What about me?" Gypsy asked.
"Oh. I might throw you a few pennies now and then" Trumble smiled and turned to Manuel. "I only have to hear a demo once to know whether my hard earned pennies are going to be safe. How much will the renovation estimates for this place come to?"
"Roughly hundred thousand pounds and that's only for the basics and builders don't come cheap. But we can do quite a bit of the work ourselves which will reduce the labour costs considerably."
"What work?" Gypsy asked, frowning at Manuel. "Is there something I should know?"
"None of your business, son," Trumble said. "You just keep warbling like you were just now and leave the rest to your manager, namely me." Taking out a cheque book he wrote a check and tore it out. Handing it to Manuel, who did a double take when he saw the figure. "That's double your estimate. Get yourself a decent architect. As of now I am your main financial backer, and I know someone else who'll come up with the rest of the money you'll need and won't want too big a slice of the profits. My fees, by the way will be ten percent of your net earnings. In return, I will use my expertise to take you to the top of the entertainment ladder in less than five years or I cancel my fee; and I'll put that in writing. First you need to make a top class demo disc I can take to the media. For that you need a good sound engineer and mixer. I have an acquaintance who owes me a big favour and knows that basement recording studio like his own kitchen. But this offer is not limited to Gypsy, Manuel. I have a few colleagues in the classical world who would be interested in you, now your CDs are selling well, but they'll want the better class of recording under your own label which my friend can turn out. Both of you also need to set yourselves up with a website so punters can buy your CDs over the Internet. That way you could tripple your current income without much effort. I take it you have a good solicitor?"
"One of the best in London."
"Good, you're going to need one. I'll send you outline contracts as soon as possible, one for Gypsy and one for you. Have your legal man pull it to pieces, if he can. Add any clauses he thinks will be beneficial to you. Send it back and I'll have my legal man do the same till we manage to meet in the middle and we've got contracts we all agree on."
Manuel stared again at the cheque. "This is more than I ever expected. Thank you, Erskine; how will we ever thank you?"
Trumble smiled down at him, and waved his cigar in the air. "My dear Manuel, you and your son are going to thank me by turning my pennies into pounds, and with interest."
Gypsy shook his head in wonder. "But I'm not ready."
"Then you'd better starting getting yourself ready, hadn't you, dear boy." Trumble fixed him with a wicked smile, "First rule of the game, never argue with Uncle Erskine; because he knows best."
Gypsy looked bewildered. "I need a band."
"In the future maybe, but not for that song and others like it; you need an orchestra."
"A what?" Gypsy laughed.
"Trust Uncle Erskine, my boy. Trust Uncle Erskine. Have you enough songs to make up an album?"
"I've got about ten good ones."
"Find a few more to be on the safe side."
When Manuel walked Trumble to his car, he ventured to ask the man when things would start to happen. Erskine pursed his lips and said, "I hear your son is due in court soon. Any idea when?"
"Not yet. He could be called any day now."
"Do you believe he killed that man?"
"The man got what he deserved but I am sure it was an unfortunate accident."
"I think the same; otherwise I wouldn't touch the boy with a fifty foot pole. The thing is, we need to get that demo done and into the hands of interested parties before the trial. If we wait till after, they won't even listen to it. Let's give their noses something to sniff at. The punters love a good sob story and will buy his CDs out of sympathy. After he's in the clear I'll push the good people into action."
"And if he is found guilty?"
"My money says he won't, Manuel, but if he does, you get your legal men to push for an appeal. Your boy is going to walk free, sir. I've already put my money on that."
When George heard of the arrangement, he smiled happily. "Excellent, Manuel; you get that rehearsal room finished, and I know just the right dance teacher who'll be happy to help."
"You leave that to me, right?"
On the following Monday, workers finished gutting two of the front bedrooms, and demolished the dividing wall between them. The floor was sound and in good condition so it took only six days to transform the new space into a creditable rehearsal room. An investigation into the state of the woodwork panelling the workers found behind a plaster cladding, revealed it to be well preserved oak. Manuel and Steve, Gypsy's new minder, decided to just varnish it to match the flooring. A sound engineer came in to install a sound system and a glass company arrived on the last day to install floor to ceiling mirrors along the wall opposite the windows. The next day, George brought the new dance tutor to Chilvers.
Gypsy and Shana were already practising to a James Last tape in front of the mirrors, when Madame marched in. She was a tiny wizened old bird of a lady with white hair and sharp black eyes. She carried a long black cane and as soon as she walked through the door she rapped it on the floor several times, and shouted in a heavy Montmartre accent, "Wrong, wrong, wrong! 'Ave you forgotten everyzing I 'ave taught you, boy?" As Gypsy stared at her with his usual frown of wounded confusion, she held out her arms and said with a smile, "Come 'ere and give Madame a kiss."
Shana watched a look of recognition replace the confusion as Gypsy hurried towards her, "Madame? I remember your stick; you used to beat time with it. You're Madame Marsaud!" They hugged each other tightly, although she finally had to tell him he was crushing the breath out of her. Gypsy was all smiles as he stared down at her then hugged her again, this time more gently.
George walked in, smiling triumphantly as he winked at Shana.
"How did you find me?" Gypsy asked his old dance tutor.
"I do not find you, my little star," Madame replied. "Monsieur Sherbourne came looking for me. When 'e told me about you, I could not refuse to 'elp so, 'ere I am, straight away."
"What about your other pupils?"
"What other pupils? I 'ave none; I am, 'ow you say, a lady of leisure. I am retired and I do what I want and go where I want, and I teach who I want. And I wish to teach you, just like I taught you in Nashville. Now, I forget, I almost call you Emilio but I am told you are now Gypsy; and zis, I believe is your dancing partner, yes?" She turned to look at Shana and gave her a slight bow. "Very nice; very petite." Shana found herself doing the same and went forward to be introduced. "Shana, what a lovely name; you 'ave 'ad ze dance lesson, yes?"
"Yes, Madame, many years ago"
"Zen you will 'elp Gypsy wiz 'is lessons yes? You and ze little mam'selle I 'ave just met in ze 'all. She 'as already given me a taste of what is to come. Quite a character she is, no? Not to worry," Madame said, examining the practice room. "She will soon find who ze tutor is and who ze pupil is."
"You wanna bet on that, Madame?" George said with a chuckle.
"Indeed I bet," Madame said sternly. "Gypsy calls me 'is little French bird, but 'e will tell you, zis little bird 'as a sharp beak. Take my word, Monsieur Sherbourne, I know 'ow to 'andle a child wizout appearing to be an ogress. I zink we will begin right now, Monsieur. If you would be so kind as to 'ave Miss Lucia brought in 'ere, suitably attired for ballet, I will see what suitable music zere is in 'ere."
Once the dancing lessons had been established, everyone was so happy for Gypsy that they almost forgot the black cloud of his trial looming ever nearer. The monthly medical report brought good and bad news. The good news was that his speech was almost back to normal and would improve with continued therapy, and his psychical disabilities were slowly fading with the constant loving attention of his father and the staff at Chilvers; the latter carefully chosen for their skills. The bad news was brought by Grafton brothers who paid them a visit one afternoon. Their faces were grim as Thomas asked Manuel if they might have a word with him and Gypsy.
"We've had a tip off about the case the prosecution are building against Gypsy," Thomas said as he took a folder from his briefcase. He sat down beside Edward opposite Manuel and Gypsy and opened the folder. He looked up at Gypsy. "Their argument is quite straight forward, basing their case on your alleged involvement with Guido Gomez before the date of his death. Also you had the murder weapon in your hand when you were found. The police have affidavits from Sandy Roberts and his father to that effect. The prosecution have also had a witness come forward who will testify about your past life including your involvement with our brother Tony, and -"
"Who is this witness?" Manuel asked.
"Peter," Edward replied, watching Gypsy very carefully.
Gypsy stared back at him; his eyes innocent of all knowledge of the name. "Peter? Peter who?"
"Peter Grafton," Thomas said. "Tony's son."
"Do I know him? Tony, he's your brother?"
Manuel watched Edward and Thomas exchange guarded looks before Edward addressed Gypsy in a grave voice. "Gypsy, do you remember anything at all about your days as a child?"
"What is the earliest thing you can remember?" Thomas asked him.
Gypsy's brows knitted together in a frown, and he took some time before he said, "Living in a village, with my mother. Someone hurt me and I...I ran away." The frown deepened and he gazed down at his tightly clasped hands.
"Do you remember what happened after you ran away?" Edward asked him. "Otherwise, Peter is going to tear your defence apart and make you out to be a child prostitute who lured Guido Gomez and possibly Tony into sexual liaisons."
Manuel saw Gypsy's eyes widen in horror, and he rose to his feet and asked Edward to step out into the hall for a moment. Once there, he rounded on Edward. "That was a cruel thing to say, after what my son has been through."
"Cruel maybe; but far less than he'll be subjected to when he stands in the dock."
"But to say it so bluntly; I cannot allow this. George warned us to tread carefully, to let him remember in his own time."
"We have no time for that. My nephew is a devious character and still smarting from Tony disowning him in favour of Gypsy. He's dangerous, Manuel, and I would dearly love to see him shown up in court as a liar, but I cannot do that on my own. Gypsy has to stand up to him and have a crystal clear mind when he gives his evidence. Unless he remembers everything about his past life, and is able to defend himself, the court will question his ability to remember what happened at eight Visick Street on the day of Guido's murder."
Manuel shook his head. "No, Edward; unless George sanctions it, I will not force my son to remember anything which will be detrimental to his recovery."
"In that case," Edward said, "your son will be found guilty of murder and will go to prison for a long time."
The following day, the police arrived to question Gypsy. Manuel and Gypsy had spent long hours, searching Tony's diaries for details of his young life, and Gypsy had ended up in tears as he slowly remembered things up to the point of Guido's death. Gypsy's solicitor, Thomas sat with him and Manuel as the officers conducted the interview in the music room, and argued that Peter Grafton had offered the prosecution a much exaggerated account of Gypsy's life on the island of Tamarigo, including the theory that he was already a child prostitute before he arrived in England. There followed a lengthy interrogation about his involvement with Guido and his pornographic schemes. By the time the police left Chilvers, it was clear that the case against Gypsy was a sound one; that he had arranged to meet Guido at the Visick Street house, intending to kill him to stop him revealing that Gypsy was still a prostitute. Gypsy was devastated, even more so when Thomas explained later that the only defence he had was to reveal all he had gone through, and to bring events into the open which Gypsy wanted desperately to forget. That was the day his memory started to open up like a flood gate.
It was also the day the headaches and the nightmares began once more. A week later, he suffered the worst nightmare ever, and woke the household with his screams. Shana ran into his room to find him cowering in a corner, trembling and sobbing. She gathered him in her arms and gently rocked him, and it took several minutes to calm him down. Others rushed in including Manuel, but Shana waved them away, knowing they couldn't do any more than she could. She tried to coax him back to bed but he refused to move, clinging to her all the more fiercely, "I can't go through with it, I can't."
"The trial?" she asked him.
Gypsy nodded his head and clung to her more tightly. "P-p-please d-don't let them d-do it to m-me, Shana. All that s-stuff about m-me, I d-don't w-want an-y-one to kn-now a-b-bout it." The stammer was back with a vengeance
"Is that what the nightmare was about?" Shana asked as she stroked his head. His hair was almost back to normal and he looked more like the boy she had fallen in love with, but she knew she loved him no matter how he looked.
"Yes, Gui-do was there, and all… the others, what they d-did to me, I c-can't get them out of m-my m-mind, and I'm re-living things o…o…over and… over again. I c-can't stand it an-y more. I just w-want to for-for-get it all, I just want t-to d-die."
Shana didn't have the answer to his pleading, and she felt so helpless. She could only ask God to take away the dreams that were hurting Gypsy. "Come on," she said at last, "back to bed." Gypsy shook his head vigorously and she added, "It's okay, I'll stay with you."
Gypsy looked up at her and shook his head." No, you sh-shouldn't."
"It'll be all right," Shana said gently. "I promise."
She helped him stand up and led him back to his bed, and slipped under the duvet with him. He turned his back on her and she moulded her body against him, put her arms round him and told him to go to sleep. It took a few minutes for him to stop trembling, and Shana lay holding him close till his breath was even and she sure he had fallen asleep. Then she put out the light and lay awake, long into the night, before she fell asleep.
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