At Ian's Place - Part XV, in which Phil Goes Over Some Things

Right. Phil wants to go over some things. 86 the shower and decompression time. I slumped onto a corner of the big wooden coffee table, poking at the rug with my sneaker, octopus on my mind. Phil had his mando out already, leaning against one arm of the love seat, plinking.

"Libby, I get the feeling you're not a person who likes surprises." That made me look up. 

"Not bad, Phil." He is the perfect accompanist, after all. Plink, plunk - he was accompanying himself. I turned my attention back to the carpet...or the thing under it.

"I don't figure Ian's given you any logistics." Phil laughed wryly. "So you got any questions, you can ask me."

"Dude, I haven't had time to formulate questions yet." Hell with it -- Ian did say I should show Phil. I stood up. "Here. Lemme show you what I did."

I pushed the coffee table up against the love seat, dragging the rug along with it. Phil's attention latched onto a tentacle immediately.

"Well got damn. What you got there, Libby?" He lay the mandolin back in its case on the love seat and helped me roll up the carpet, huffing a little when his knees hit the floor. I stepped back and watched him. Like I always did, he ran his fingers over the texture. "That's really something, Lib. Ian seen it?"

"Yeah, he said I should show it to you. So you're also a painter? How come you never said anything?" I was studying Phil's face while he studied the octopode's eye. 

He blew a strand of hair out of his face, then tucked it back into his ponytail. "Hell, I never say anything." We both laughed at that. "What made you do it?"

"I don't know. Muses? And then I regretted it, of course..."

"Of course."

"And then I didn't. But Ian likes it, yeah." I felt better; this was the interlude I'd needed. "So what are we doing, Phil? You had some things you want to run by me?"

He wasn't done admiring my paintwork yet, but he started talking as he got up and walked an arc around the octopus. "Know where the studio is?" 

"Um, I have the address somewhere..." I looked around as if I might see the studio address somewhere, then slumped back on the coffee table. I remembered Cosmo was on his way back with my portfolio. Maybe I could keep the topic on art for now. "You didn't answer my question, Phil." 

"Still waiting for a question, Lib." The smile on his placid face was only a twinkle in one eye. I had missed that wry twinkle. I had.

"What do you paint? Do you paint? Ian's outed  you already. Just spill it." 

Phil let out a chuckle then. "I majored in architecture. Bet Ian didn't tell you that. But yeah I've dabbled on some canvases throughout the years. Tellyawhat. Next time you're set up in here, I'll paint and you can play accordion." He was really pleased with his little joke. But he caught my mood quickly, and that twinkle turned into a question unspoken.

"Yeah, I don't know that I'll be working out here again. Things are sort of in flux..."

"Everything's changed. I get it. I'm real glad you came out for this. I like our song."

"I just threw some words together." I felt too tired to blush; the longer I sat the more I folded into the table. Standing up seemed wise, so I did that. "You want some coffee, Phil?" 

Phil had the mando in hand again, noodling. I poured coffee for Phil and listened to what he was playing. It was our song, but sweeter. Lonesomer. He looked up.

"You like it? Bare bones of the melody haven't changed. But you have to smooth things out in the studio..."

"Dude, I love it. Play it again?" 

"From the top, ma'am." 

Truth be told, I could barely remember the lyrics as we'd written them, but there were lines that came to mind as I'd read through the new version Ian emailed me. I sang along with Phil's playing, but still the wrong words came to my lips.

"He took the hearts out." I was referencing discarded lyrics, blaming Ian, though it likely wasn't his decision.

"Sorry, Lib. You know that happens sometimes."

"No, it's cool. You're putting them back, with the music. You gonna play it like that?"

Phil grinned in earnest. I couldn't remember seeing that before. "You got a good ear. I was hoping you'd notice. Yeah, I intend to play it like that. You know what you do, you use those lyrics in something else. Write another song." He let out a small guffaw, like he remembered my response last time he suggested such a thing. So I repeated it for him.

"Remember Harper Lee? Maybe I only got one in me." 

"Nah, that ain't true. You expecting someone?" 

Cosmo's quick rap on the door punctuated Phil's sentience perfectly. 


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