chris catalina

2

“Jenny had come to stay for a few days as soon as we moved into Friar Park – and suffered those freezing nights in the hall – also Chris O’Dell, a pretty blonde American girl who had been working at Apple. She came home with George late one night. He had asked her to live with us for a bit to help with the house – and I confess I was miffed. I was convinced he was playing around big-time and that any girl who came into our lives was an immediate threat. Whatever nice noises they made to me, I knew that they wanted George. As a result, I had virtually no girlfriends. Jenny was the only one I knew I could trust. So when Chris walked in through the front door, looking like Goldie Hawn and chatting confidently with George and Kevin, the new roadie, I guessed he had brought her home because he intended to sleep with her.

Chris and I got on well together; we cooked, went into Henley to do the shopping and hung out together, and it was all good fun. I liked her, I wanted to be her friend and she clearly wanted to be mine. That made me even more frightened: I knew that if George came on to her I would lose her. I decided to bite the bullet. ‘Chris,’ I said, ‘I’d really like to be your friend and – I’m sorry, I’ve never said this to anyone in my life before – you will only be my friend as long as you don’t let George have you.’

‘Okay,’ she said, ‘that’s a deal. I’d rather be your friend.’ And we still are friends. And, of course, George tried – she told me, so she was clearly someone I could trust.”

Patties remembers Chris found it possible to resist George and be Pattie’s true friend.

Top photo: Jenny, Pattie, Chris, Friar Park 1970
Bottom photo: Pattie and Chris, Catalina Island 2012

“I’m not saying he is guilty, I’m just saying we should keep an eye on him.”

Jean sighed, hands digging into his pockets. “So you’re asking Madame? Because he’s not guilty?”

“He’s not guilty yet.” Rebecca waved a finger, spinning around to face him as she walked. “Who better to dig up some dirt for us?”

“Well, I suppose you’re right.”

“Of course I’m right. Come on.”

She slipped down the back alley past the bar, Jean padding along behind her, before hammering on a well-hidden door tucked behind the building, a pattern evident to her knocking. A gruff welcome sounded from behind it, and she burst inside, Jean following with a soft sigh and a smile.

“Hey, Chris.”

“Evening, Madame.”

The older woman glanced over from the stove, raising an eyebrow, before chuckling, the usual assortment of bracelets clinking on her wrist, dressed in a deep velour housecoat, glamorous as ever. “Well, well. To what do I owe the pleasure at this hour? Troubling business?”

“Something like that…” Rebecca sighed, slipping off her own jacket, rolling her shoulders. “Something to be discussed in the dark, anyway. Sorry for bothering you.” 

“It’s not a bother. These things do crop up from time to time.” Jean peered over her shoulder, sniffing lightly at the pan she was stirring, before being batted away with a scowl. “Hot chocolate.”

“Didn’t strike me as a fan, Madame. Is there spare? That smells good.”

“It’s not for me.” She tutted lightly, ignoring the whine from Jean, before stepping back to look at Rebecca. “So, your business?”

“Yes.” She pulled a pile of papers from her pocket, dropping them on the wooden table. “We need a special number on this guy. He’s been skulking around, sniffing for details about the State Alchemist programme. Just something strikes me as strange. Think we could do with knowing more about him, don’t you?”

“Well, you aren’t wrong.” Chris reached over, lifting one of the photos, eyes narrowing as she stared, before nodding, and placing it back on the table. “I’ll do what I can for you. Do you have a name?”

“Yes.” Rebecca started, another piece of paper adding to the pile. “He-”

“Grandma, is it ready yet?!” A small voice echoed as little feet bounced down the stairs, and a little boy stopped at the door, catching the door frame, before staring. “Oh.” He waited, scanning the room, before slinking over to Chris, wrapping his arms around her leg, peeking around at the two guests with a giggle. 

“Aren’t you going to say hello?” Chris chided softly, hand reaching down to gently muss the boy’s hair as he stepped out from behind her, grinning shyly.

“Hi Aunt Rebecca. Hi Uncle Havoc.”

Jean offered him a gentle wave and smile. “Hi, little Chief.”

Maes!” Rebecca knelt down as Chris stepped back to the stove, gently squishing a cheek as she kissed him, the little boy beaming as she did. “I didn’t know you were here!” She brushed the dark hair from his eyes with a fond pat on the head. “Are you having a sleepover with Grandma?”

“Yes! Mama and Papa have a han-quet tonight,” he announced proudly, chest puffing as he pushed up the sleeves of his pyjamas, Rebecca cooing softly at the soft lisp as she stood back up.

“Banquet,” the older woman corrected, Maes huffing slightly before looking up at her, bottom lip protruding as he pouted, pointing a finger.

“You said you’d read me a story almost ten minutes ago!” Chris raised an eyebrow as she glanced down at him, a determined, stubborn little face scowling back at her, before rolling her eyes.

“You are so like your father. Go, wash your face and pick a book, and I will be up.” The little boy squealed with delight, disappearing back up the stairs, almost tripping over his own feet. “Properly!” She hollered after him, shaking her head as she gave the pan a last stir, before taking it off the heat.

“He’s such a sweet little thing,” Rebecca sighed, smiling as she watched after him, before grinning smugly at the older woman. “I didn’t know you offered bedtime story reading.”

“Only to special customers.” Chris chuckled lowly, decanting the pan into two mugs. “Roy-boy and little Elizabeth are at a state gala dinner, so I said I would have him.” She glanced at Jean’s hopeful gaze on the pan, before sliding the second mug across to him, and he beamed in delight as he picked it up.

“I hope you get good rates, nanny to the Fuhrer’s son and all.” 

“Better rates than I get playing nanny his subordinates, anyway.”