Chapter 7

Following an extremely long pause,* Alison gasped, and swayed unsteadily on her silver Converse-clad feet.

Second only to her famous host, Ringo Starr was her favourite drummer and solo performer. Although often maligned as the least capable – and, to many, least attractive – of the Fab Four, for Alison he was the personification of raw, percussive arousal. He was their Thor, bringing thunder to the great sprawling land of Beatlestan. He was the blackest of all the Beatles. He was sex on two Liverpudlian legs.

As a hormone-filled college student, dabbling in libido-enhancing soft drugs, Alison had even written a prize-winning thesis on sexual imagery in Ringo Starr’s masterwork, ‘Octopus’s Garden’. And now, here was the subject of that thesis, standing on Phil Collins’ doorstep, shaking the raindrops from his still-lustrous bouffant.

She could barely stop herself from screaming his name. But her ripple of girlish Beatlemania was tempered by the expression on Phil Collins’ face.

The glint of sexual intention in the ‘Sussudio’ hitmaker’s steely eye had been replaced with something more defensive. He lowered the antique swordstick, but retained a firm grip on it, as if expecting the former Beatles man to come at him, suddenly. The atmosphere between the two men was tense, like a drum skin over-tightened by a clumsy roadie.

“Ringo,” said Phil Collins gruffly. “Well, s’pose you’d best come in. You are soaking wet. You can borrow some of my clothes, I think we’re about the same size.”

“That’s very kind of you, Phil,” said Ringo Starr, in the lugubrious tones made famous by ‘Thomas The Tank Engine’. “I’ve walked a very long way today, just to come and see you. I knew you wouldn’t refuse me some hospitality. After all,” he added meaningfully, “i think you owe me, don’t you?”

Something told Alison that now was not the time to ask Phil Collins what this could mean.

As the three strode down the corridor, Alison couldn’t help but allow a shudder of pleasure to pass through her increasingly desire-stricken body. For the last twelve hours she had been on the cusp of seducing one of the most famous men ever to get behind the kit, and now, ‘Against all Odds’, here was his even more famous counterpart. The night seemed to throb with possibility, like the 12″ remix of Phil Collins’ ‘Don’t Lose My Number’.

As if he was reading her thoughts, Ringo Starr – who had, until now, not even acknowledged Alison – suddenly let his hand rest on her luscious, perambulating buttocks, barely covered by her black dress. He let his fingers sample the firm, gently yielding flesh, with the practiced ease of a man who has drummed on some of the world’s best-loved tracks. Including ‘Hey Jude’.

Alison made no attempt to remove his wandering hand. She felt as though she had been touched by greatness. Or at least, a man who had sat just metres from greatness on a regular basis.

“Who’s the skirt, Phil?” said Ringo Starr teasingly. “She brightens the place up.”

“This is Alison. She’s the maid,” muttered Phil Collins, his eyes fixed ahead of him, his Converse slapping on the polished mahogany of the hallway floor.

Ignoring the hurt expression which flickered across Alison’s pouty lips, he clapped his hands. Abu, the Monkey Butler, descended from the picture rail, a package under his arm. He scampered up to Ringo Starr and placed the package at his feet, then retreated to a safe distance, and growled distrustfully at the sixties legend.

Opening the package, Ringo Starr shook out a baggy, fawn-coloured suit. “Collins Couture at its finest,” he said dryly. “Thankyou Phil, this will do adequately. Now if you’ve no objections, I’d like your maid to show me to my quarters. I will require assistance in dressing.”

“But I don’t know where they are!” exclaimed Alison breathlessly, as a new clap of thunder rumbled in the distance.

“That’s alright,” whispered Ringo Starr, placing a well-manicured hand on Alison’s bare shoulder, and moving so close that she could feel his famous beard tickling her neck. I’m sure we can find them together.”

Phil Collins wordlessly handed Alison a set of keys. A Genesis Key fob had been overlaid with a handwritten sticker which read THE PETER GABRIEL SUITE, FLOOR 18. Then, with a surly grunt of frustration, Phil Collins mounted a purple mobility scooter, and sped away down the corridor, taking the corner at speed, and vanishing from view.

“Looks like it’s just me and you,” said Ringo Starr to Alison, taking her hand. “Tell me, are you a fan of Harry Nilsson and fine wine?”

“Oh yes,” breathed Alison. But as they walked towards the great staircase, she could not help but remember the sudden change in Phil Collins’ demeanour.

Phil Collins had, she reflected, once sung that it took ‘two hearts’; but now, it seemed, the unexpected presence of a third had thrown that equation into disarray….

*Almost two weeks, in fact. Sorry.

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