Chapter 10

The Realm

Rolled up in his Hunter flannel sheets, lounged his Mac Book Pro, a Martin acoustic guitar, dead guitar strings, British and Italian Vogue, St. Claire’s, a half eaten fried egg smothered over nibbled-on-toast, and10 pairs of low-rise Levi’s, still wearing the price tags. Robbie Johns, joined his spoils in his king size bed to snack on cucumber sandwiches and sip Bollinger. Since his parent’s had settled on a wee cottage nestled on the Northeast Coast of England, he found himself back in London and homeless.  From his bed, he gazed across the River Thames, viewed London and constantly called for his assistant, Shelley.

“Shelley, have you heard from Nigel Stone yet?”

In a flash, she was in his room, Blackberry in hand, spoon feeding him details of every call attempt – 10am, reached his personal voicemail, left a voicemail message; 2pm, no pick-up, phone just rang idly; 330pm personal voicemail, again, etc.

“Would you like me to keep trying?” she asked.

“Now right there is the bloody difference between contacting a friend vs. contacting a colleague. Yes, if you wouldn’t mind trying again, I would appreciate it,” Robbie explained.

Shelley nodded and exited the bedroom. From the 2400 square foot Presidential suite nestled comfortably on the 7th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel at Canary Wharf, he did not recognize London. Alone, except for Shelley, he mostly stayed indoors, watched the telly and avoided the press. If not for his voice, he would take up smoking so he could use the balcony. With his band mates on leave for holiday, the sun rose and set in the lonely sprawling suite, one day bleeding into the next.

“Fuck!” he hollered to no one in particular.

“Robbie, are you all right?” Shelley asked peering in on her employer, “Robbie, might I suggest something?”

He nodded.

“Now that you’re a little more settled, you aught to think about getting a girlfriend,” she stated, sounding maternal.

Robbie shrugged, threw his fringe out of his eye and complained that since he had practically slept with every girl there was, he didn’t really see the point. From Shelley’s phone, Annie Lennox cooed, Why.

“Nigel Stone,” she said handing him her Blackberry.

Dragging his tight thin frame from the bed for the first time all day, naked, he reached for his white hotel robe. Taking the phone, he slid the patio doors wide and strode out into the uncommon bright sunshine. In the pouch like pockets, he had stored his Fendi sunglasses. Crossing back into the bedroom, he carried out the Bollinger and the rest of his sandwich.

“Nigel, it’s Robbie,” he said and waited for his reaction.

In Marylebone, Nigel sat surprised to hear from his old school mate’s little brother. He expressed to Robbie how proud he was of his accomplishments and how he used to see his mum in the market just running at the mouth about her little Robbie. Robbie,  smiled shyly and thanked him.

“What are you doing tonight?” Robbie asked.

Nigel explained that he was working on creating code for a new software product for the Tate Modern. Robbie suggested that he get out of that and meet him at his suite for a drink and a heady proposition. While Nigel hemmed and hawed, Shelley entered the room, and displayed an image of Nora, one that he had requested over an hour ago.

“Nora Frances,” Shelley whispered.

Viewing the iPad, he examined the image closely. Completely without patience, he handed the iPad back, and interrupted Nigel to tell him that he wanted him to be the drummer for his new project. Stunned, Nigel suddenly realized that his project didn’t need to be ready until early next week and that one more night wouldn’t hurt. He let Robbie know that he would call him as soon as he was on his way.

“Can I see that image again?” he asked.

Shelley handed it back and watched him stare, unblinking.

“She’s beyond belief! If I were Conlin, I would’ve locked her inside a vault,” he admitted, “well that settles it, I want her to be my designer.”

Shelley insisted that Robbie not let the woman’s beauty dictate her talent. After all, he had been approached by the most prestigious designers of the past and current century – Lagerfeld, Jacobs, McQueen, Eva St. Clair, etc. Robbie, disenchanted, insisted that although Nora was in fact one of the loveliest creatures he had perhaps ever seen, it was her lack of fame that landed her the job.

“I want to be responsible for putting someone on the map. I want to be the catalyst in transforming a career, a life,” he spoke as a philanthropist.

Shelley made no arguments and told him that she would contact Nora’s assistant first thing in the morning. Robbie, losing his patience again, insisted that he couldn’t afford to waste another day on this subject.

“We’ve waffled enough, please contact Ms. Frances’ people tonight before you leave. Who knows, if it all goes my way, which it usually does, I will have transformed two lives! I’m having a tub then a long shower,” he proclaimed, turned to leave then remembered, “Oh and Nigel Stone will be joining me for a…what the hell do you call it if you don’t know one hour from the next? A nightcap? A midday cap? Fuck, I don’t know, he’s coming by, so please let him in if I’m still in the tub. Cheers.”

“Robbie, I do have one more designer that you might consider. She too is up and coming but in Russia,” she quickly explained and handed him an image, “She is Rada Belov, a master of bespoke, they say.”

Robbie took in Rada’s classic features and soft green eyes. Practically throwing the iPad back at Shelley, he exclaimed that he was sick of meddling in bullshit. He decided on the Alexander McQueen fashion house for its unbeatable innovation and irreverence for homogenized fabrics.

Sara bit down on her bottom lip squeezing blood to the surface. Forced to taste her own blood, her wide brown eyes watched her husband dress. Per his wife’s instructions, he stretched a black t-shirt over his head and replaced it with a subtle plaid button up. He laced the buttons into their tiny slots and quietly requested from Sara that she stop biting her lip and sucking her own blood. Her lips would be swollen by morning and he didn’t want to have to hear about it.

“I’m nervous!” she admitted, “How often are we this close to royalty, hmm?”

“Jesus Christ love, it’s Robbie not the bloody Duke of Edinburgh,” Nigel gripped.

“Oh really Mr. Know-it-all? Other than that girl to sail around the world, he is the youngest male knight in England,” Sara tried to claim.

Nigel narrowed his eyes and questioned his wife’s knowledge. She admitted that she wasn’t positive however, she suggested that he ‘Google it’.

“He gets knighted for playing pop?” he said.

Like a mama bear, Sara attacked Nigel, reminding him that Elton John was indeed a knight; Dudley Moore, for fucks sake, was a knight so why wouldn’t such a talented, sensitive humanitarian genius be inferior to knighthood? The rant was heavy in the room’s silence. Nigel knew that Dirty Herberts was Sara’s favorite band and at times he questioned whether or not he should have waited until after they had married to share his secret of having grown up with the Johns family.

Sara continued, “And who knows if you play your cards aces high, maybe you will be knighted by the Queen.”

“Oh my God, Sara, love, it’s a drink with Robbie. You act as if I don’t know this little shit. Robbie was having his first wank while his brother and I were doing our first tours,” Nigel bragged.

“Well that little shit, is buying up half of London, while you and his brother are having the wank. Robbie Johns could change your future if you let him, that’s why he’s so invested in Shetfield, to transform lives,” Sara stated.

Zipping up his black 1960’s ankle boots he looked at Sara for a brief moment then asked, “This means a lot to you, huh?”

Kneeling at her husband’s feet, her eyes glistening with tears, she took Nigel’s hand in hers and confessed, “It means everything.”

He kissed her on the top of her head and promised that if Sir Robbie were to grant him a realm in the kingdom, that on behalf of Mother England he swore to accept the great honor. Angry, Sara quickly rose to her feet and called Nigel a bastard.

“Goddamn it Nigel is this what you want, blasted mediocrity? ” she said flailing her arms about her.

He gained control of her arms by the wrists and gripped them tightly over her head. Sara, like a windsock hung during a tornado, writhed and twisted her wide hips in a futile effort to escape.  Nigel’s dark eyes burrowed through her tears and took pleasure in her being helpless. She cursed at him and continued the wasted efforts of being released.

“Mediocrity? No not you. No, I’d forgotten that your latest designs were popping up in boutiques throughout London and New York,” he finally spoke, releasing her.

She rubbed her wrists and feigned agony, “What?”

“You have been on a Goddman sabbatical for over two years and the messed up thing about it is, I have no idea from what!” he hissed, “you went to design school and show nothing for it. Meanwhile, your best friend, who attended the same school, is about to become the next Donna Karan, or whoever.”

“I knew it!” she sighed.

“Oh rubbish!” Nigel hollered.

“I see the way you look at her,” she interrupted, “Don’t you even try to deny it. At Christmas time, condoning her sort of behaviour and what exactly for I am still not sure of. Is that what you want, to have an affair?” Sara accused.

Nigel ran his think hands through his dark graying hair and shouted back, “What are you fucking even on about! Jesus shitting Christ!”

Sobbing, Sara hiccupped her words, “It’s almost as if you were living vicariously through her.”

“I’m going to be late for your King,” Nigel scooped his house keys into his jacket pocket and left the house.