"Ballarat or Bust"...Chapter Ten...
Percolating coffee on the stove is mesmerizing, isn't it? And as I watched the bubbles pop through that glass carafe, the smell made me think of home.
Charlie never let us think of our past lives but brewing coffee has a way of luring your thoughts back to simpler times, before Charlie and the Family, before all this pressure and confusion, before Sharon Tate...
Tired and beaten, I leaned over the stove top like an old man and as I closed my eyes and let the aroma seep into my senses, a soft voice cut the stillness of my thoughts.
"Hi. Can I have a cup?"
"Sure", I stammered, my mouth incapable of working while my eyes were filled with the sight of her. She was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen and it was almost sacrilegious to have her standing Tex's galley kitchen. She was smaller and more frail than I remembered seeing on the silver screen; her honey-brown hair loose by her sides, with such an angelic face God himself could only have fashioned. I was face to face with Sharon Tate and for a brief moment, I forgot all this craziness and just fell into the aura of her.
She looked as much exhausted as frightened, with a mix of resignation and shock not yet worn. I wanted so to apologize for whatever Tex had done to her, whatever had been done to her friends, as if my presence in all this was guilt enough. But all I could do was stare and wish I had met her under different circumstances.
"Listen, is there anything I can get you, do for you? Do you need anything from the drugstore? I'm going out later; I could..." and I was stopped in mid sentence.
"No, no; I'm fine, really. Just a cup of coffee would be nice and some toast, do you think?" her soft voiced asked of me. Hell, if she had wanted toast on the moon, I would have stolen a NASA rocket ship to get us there. How did, could anyone say no to such beautiful woman?
"Yes, of course. I could bring it to your bed if you'd like." I blurted out, realizing after what a damn fool thing I just said to an angel.
"You're Tex's friend, Paul, right?" Sharon said.
"Yep. And that fool all curled up on the sofa is Bob. We've come into town to help with your move up to the Ranch. I mean, Tex has told you, I guess, about where we're all headed, right?" I inquired.
"Yes. He filled me in. I just want a chance to deliver my baby, that's all. Just a chance. And Tex said he'd give me that chance. I don't know what will happen to me and the baby after, well after I give birth...' Sharon trailed off.
"Hey, look, no one is harming anybody while I'm around. Charlie gave strict orders to take real good care of you and your baby. And you'll both be fine where we're going. We're fully supplied and we'll buy stuff today especially for you and your needs; don't worry about a thing, okay?" I pleaded.
"Yeah, sure, of course. No worries. I just don't want to think about anything anymore, just the baby, that's all. Just the baby." she whispered.
And with that last refrain, this gossamer beauty floated out of the kitchen and back to her room, leaving me with that coffee pot and my thoughts of her.This just couldn't be happening. How could anyone hurt her so? Her eyes looked so tired and the only glimmer of hope shone in them when she talked of her unborn child. What had Tex done to this women? To all the people up at Cielo? What had we all got mixed up in because of Charlie's orders?
And as I pondered the imponderable, I heard a second padding of footsteps reach my stove top and a smile on the face of Cupid a mile wide.
"She's something else, huh Paul? I cannot believe we are property holders of that babe; she is more beautiful in person than that sonofabitch Polanski portrays her on the screen. Why these beautiful broads go for the ugly producer types, I'll never know!" Bob spit out in a forced whisper.
"Listen, all we're here to do is what Charlie wants us to do, to get that chick up to Baker as soon as possible. And that is what we're going to do. So put your tongue back in your mouth and your dick back in your pants and let's get this show on the road before we're all spotted with her." I said.
"Hey, I come in peace, Man. Don't kill the messenger. Where's Tex?" Bobby asked through his yawn.
"Out still buying the dope Charlie wanted and all the supplies we'll need for Sharon's delivery. I guess he drained all her bank accounts - some $50,000 - and Tex is finishing Charlie's wish list for everything we'll need up at Barker to get us through the winter. The money comes at a great time but what a price to pay to see that sweetie so broken emotionally. I bet she was something special to be around before all this bullshit unfolded." I exclaimed.
"Yeah, sure, whatever, Man. But this chick is ours now and I for one am looking forward to those cold winter nights up at Barker, if you know what I mean!" Bobby snarled.
"Yeah, I know what you mean. But it'll be Charlie's call, right. Hands off til the baby arrives and then it's Charlie's call. What makes you think she'd look at you twice after the Hollywood set lived in her world? We're Slippies, remember Bob. We're not Hollywood Hippies. Our worlds have met but they never really mingled." I said.
"Yeah, yeah; I got you, Man. Wake me when Tex gets back. I'm going to go dream the dreams men dream when they have a starlet in the bedroom next to them!"
And with that flippant response, Bob scooped up a cup of Joe and padded back to the living room couch and his wet dreams of Sharon Tate.
And I, now a half pot of coffee short and on overflow in my thoughts, sat back in Tex's metal kitchen chair and forgot all about those simpler times, before Charlie, before The Family, before all of this mess.
And the coffee didn't smell good anymore...