189 PAPA WAS A ROLLING STONE

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PAPA WAS A ROLLING STONE

At noon I went around to Digger’s door and knocked, figuring I’d maybe get in the driver’s seat for once. The too-loud voices of daytime TV came faintly through the door and then it opened. He stood there in a white undershirt and boxers, bloodshot and unshaven. If the can in his hand had been beer instead of Sprite he could have passed for a trailer park movie extra. “Hey, kiddo.”

“Just wondering if you wanted to have some lunch.”

“Feeling sorry you blew me off last night, huh?” He gave me what could only be called a loving sneer. As a matter of fact, I did feel kind of weird about yesterday, but I wasn’t about to apologize and his remark made me want to tell him to go to hell. He backed up, his way of inviting me in, and in I went. I probably should have said something like meet you downstairs or whatever, but hey.

The room was on a corner of the hotel, a half-suite with windows on two sides and the bathroom around the bed from the door. He went directly into the bathroom and began running the water. Digger always shaved with the water running very hot, which used to drive Claire crazy because he could use up almost as much water in one long, painstaking shave as a normal person did in the shower. Once my sisters got to be teenagers there was never enough hot water in the house. I sat down in a chair by the window. He could talk while he shaved.

“Did you know Remo came in last night?” I said. I could see him when he leaned forward to be close to the mirror.

“Sure did,” he said. “At least, I found out this morning. Good thing, or I’d be at the friggin’ airport now.”

I thought you said he could take a cab. That was what I was thinking. But if I said it I knew it would be pointless antagonism. If he was nervous about my having talked to Remo, he didn’t show it.

“Oh hey,” he said, feeling under his chin. “You know that new James Bond movie?”

“No, what new James Bond movie.”

“It’s coming out at the end of the year.”

“Uh huh.” Like I’d know about that.

“They’re trying to update the old Bond franchise, make it appeal to the younger crowd. Do a soundtrack album of hip songs. A radio-ready thing.”

“Great idea,” I said, not sure where this was going, but guessing.

“I brought the idea to Mills, you know the studio owns BNC now anyway, and it looks like it’ll be a go. Mills a’course wants you to do a song.”

Aha, relevance dawns. “Something new, or use something old?”

“Something new. Increase your radio presence, give fans one more thing to go out and buy.”

“Who else would be on this thing?”

He moved the razor with small jerky movements, not smooth like you’d expect. Maybe this explained why he cut himself so often. I was once again glad I’d trained myself onto the electric shaver, even if I only used it like every third day. “Pretty much all from the BNC roster. Mills can tell you more.”

Uh huh. I thought about what Remo had said last night, about Digger wanting to be a deal maker. I was going to wait until we were sitting down eating somewhere to bring this up, but this opening was too good to pass up. Some time in the past few minutes I had finally decided on my strategy to get the most out of him. “Pretty sweet,” I said, nodding. “So what else is cooking with DMA?”

“Ho ho!” he said, and put the razor down to rub his hands together. “Just a sec.” He bent over the basin and began rinsing his face, filling up his hands with water and thrusting his face into them. I tried hard not to wonder if that was what I looked like when I rinsed my face.

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