Chapter 3

William "Bilbo" Brandt was at a turning point.  For the last year or more, he had been talking privately with session musicians, tour promoters and anyone he could trust about writing a new album and running away from the band.  Now, things were heading back to a status quo with Rejection Letter, and he wasn't sure he was ready to go back to the good old days.

Billy had been a musician since he first went into the attic of his parents' house, picked up his dad's telecaster, and never looked back.  That guitar was never played on stage, because he thought of it as a relic with poor sound and rotten strings, but every now and again, he looked at it in the display case and wondered how his life would have been if he had never found it.  Maybe he would have gone to University, maybe he'd still be at the local fire depo, but he knew his life had been turned around by that scratched, battered and completely unusable guitar.

He understood how pivotal some moments are in a man's life, and wished he had the sense to detect them, and think carefully about the consequences.  That ability would have been very handy when the private telephone for his hotel suite rang and he trudged across the thick carpet to answer.

"Mr. Brandt, this is Jessica from Hotel Reception.  You have had several dozen phone calls since your interview, and as instructed, I have done what I can to take messages and keep them away from the band in general.  Your agent made that very clear, and given the nature of some of them, I can see why..." Brandt smiled - last year, he had read through a list of phone messages from one long hotel stay, and despite his years and maturity, some of the girls had asked things that made him blush.

"I'm sorry for the extra work it must have caused you, Jessica.  Did you know there's a couple of really cool songs named after you?" he asked, genuinely.

"I'm familiar with the one by the Allman Brothers, but I don't know any others, sorry." Brandt smiled for a moment - the song she mentioned was much better than the one he wrote and released a few years ago.

"Don't worry about it - anyone that knows the song you're talking about is alright with me.  Was there anything important, or even coherent in the messages you were left for Yours Truly?"

"Well, there were about twelve messages that started with the lovely sentiment: I'm single and my measurements are, but I'm sure we can skip past those..."

"Agreed - especially if any of them are from young men.  I'm not anything-phobic, you understand, it's just not my thing."  The slight intake of breath from the girl made Bilbo think that he had been on-target with that guess.  There was always at least one.

"Moving on then, there is a sponsorship deal from a local comic-book and collectables store just off the Old Kent Road that think you would add a bit of glamour to their May Madness sale - shall I pass that on to your agent?" she asked with a ruffle of papers.

"Do it, see what Chaz thinks and he'll let me know.  You're very good at this, you know."

"I've been in the hotel business for about 10 years now, Mr. Brandt.  I managed to deal with one of the Rolling Stones bizarre requests for 3 days in a row, and Black Sabbath know to tread carefully around me - you're a peach by comparison."

He smiled, put down the handset and changed the line to speakerphone.  "Are there any sensible calls that we've missed out, Jessica?  Hah, that song's going to be stuck in my head all day now."

She paused enigmatically for a moment.  "I'm not sure.  The same woman called for you four times during my colleague's last shift.  We couldn't tell if it was important or not, and that's why I've waited a little while to tell you.  The caller was named Sherry Carlyle, just giving her telephone number and the phrase: he has to speak with me - he'll know who I am.  Was she right?"

Brandt sighed, all calm and composure lost in an instant: "Everybody should know who Sherry is.  Whether she knows it or not, she has an album full of songs dedicated to her, from a man that never really forgot her.  I never released most of them because they seemed to be making me into some sort of lovesick idiot, but I never thought she'd call..."

Jessica provided the number, and hung up the phone.  Just another ordinary day in a London hotel, she thought to herself.  At least he didn't try to get her to come up to the room like most of them.

The End

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