I all but expected a herd of elephants to charge across the rickety old wooden stage. The amp blew out for the second time that evening as I pushed through the chorus frustrated at the old surroundings. Brian did a bad job booking us to play there. They weren't equipped to handle Beatle mania around there. The damn fuses had shorted nearly three times and Mal had to rush up there and fix em with his emergency kit. The fans were nice enough but girls were sneaking into these rich bastards seats. I was almost glad they had because any more prim and proper clapping and I might have lost it. The dressing room was worse then at Cyrano Theatre, a closet in the poorest slum in Liverpool would have suited me better.
A distinct aura of violence could be felt from the back stage slowly creeping through the floorboards of the stage. The unruly riot was making its way closer and closer as the lads and I tried to imagine it was as invisible as the air we breathed. Nevertheless, we knew better; we all knew it would poor to the stage in a matter of seconds. As each drop of sweat slithered down my face and dropped to the steaming surface, a twinge of impatientness escaped my body. With each closing drop, I expected them to flow past the current like the ripping tide and tear everything in their path. The audience took in all the pleasantries around them unaware they would be the victims of the wolves behind the red curtain of hate. I grew to hate that curtain with every fiber of my body; however, I loved it for the temporary protection it promised. If it were only stronger like the wall, I created to hide my deepest feelings. Now there was some strong foundation or so I told myself anyway. You can make yourself believe anything if you repeat it enough times. I suppose that is how multimillion-dollar companies take advantage of the average working ignorant middleclass citizen quick to listen to anything that will make them feel excepted or complete.
I quickly discarded the mind-expanding surrealism to focus on the growing issue at hand, an angry mob. Now I was more than familiar with your average everyday drunken buffoon who would make the most horrible ruckus during a performance from the Hamburg Days. I was also casually growing to be familiar with the teen mobs that grouped around us as much as possible. However, tonight there was a different mob at hand or rather a mixture of mobs at hand. When I first noticed the commotion, it appeared that a photographer was yelling at Mal or at least that's what it looked like through the corner of my eye. The Beatles were reaching a point where we began to book regularly solid and members of the press were becoming increasingly hostile about not getting to interview/photograph us. Mal was trying his best to reason with the photographer but the loud bantering in French became more and more prevalent as each number finished. Each time I tilted my head back another person sided with one of the opposing groups adding to the growing hysteria. As the last chord fled my fingertips, the fight surged onto the antique stage area.
Panic surfaced as punches flew, in every direction a team of security added to the growing braw. George reached for his beloved guitar in desperation hoping that it would not be crushed by the unruly masses. He clung to it tightly like a lost child as I reached to the distant microphone. I ducked as the nightstick gave a hard blow to an angry photographer. Each step I took increased with chaos or another development that must be dealt with. I grew tired of every dilemma and monodrama at hand and only wished that the microphone wasn't so many miles away. I dropped to the floor again to avoid another hard blow but this time my timing was not so precise and I fell like lead to the splintery surface. I staggered forward as a fan trampled me running away from a security guard hot on her tail.
A young woman threw herself on top of me and dug her talons into my weary flesh. I froze in absolute horror as my mind flashed to the horrible misgivings of fans crushing my body and spirit. I had come so close to death. So close to failure, so close to giving up all hope, and fell to the mercy of a somewhat kind soul. It was obvious that I was saved out of duty and not love after her dry comments about not getting to change. Her slave driver must have known enough about our growing popularity to insist that I was saved perhaps to tell the heroic tale to the press or to ask for some form of money, time, and publicity in the future. Mrs. Muir was a smart one all right and acted so unknowing too. Nevertheless, the kindness was a horrible visaud for a devil worthy of Lucifer's court. Perhaps I was reading too much into this. That was one of my worst habits reading into things that weren't there when I felt threatened or that my life was in danger. I glanced painfully at the young creature intent on squeezing the life out of her hero. Did she know she was driving me away from her by pulling me closer? It never dawned on most of them that I wanted to be treated normally once in a while. I love the attention but if I settled down it wouldn't be to someone who treated me like "Paul McCartney."
She was not blessed with beauty well at least physical beauty anyway. Come to think of it if she was treating me like a rock star instead of a human being then she didn't have inner beauty either. Her jet-black hair was tied back into a messy bun flowing out in every direction. She was as thin as a toothpick pardoning the cliche and was in desperate need of some fashion sense. The poor thing had on a hideous old lady looking sweater much to big for her delicate frame with a long flowing skirt well past her knee. Her eyes were enlarged by her thick glasses, which she carefully pressed up her nose as they slipped with the increasing sweat on her face. She buried her face in my back and began to cry on the bettered remains of my once young skeleton. I was burdened with guilt at the site of someone so desperate that this simple encounter could bring them to tears of joy later expressed to her children when she was older. Maybe the tears were for the knowledge that this fleeting moment would be brought to an end and she would never see me again. I didn't know why she was crying and the more I thought about it the further I pushed it to the back of my mind. The guilt was released as she let go of me and jumped off the stage into the dark hallway of confused passer byres. I was somewhat startled since no one had to force her but she went of her own free will without anyone even asking. Something I would reflect on later but I had to reach the microphone if it was the last thing I did.
"Attention everyone," I bellowed as the microphone squeaked, "if you would all please get off the stage then we will personally deal with whatever problem you have. The fighting needs to stop so we can finish this concert in an orderly manner. I shouldn't have to remind you that fighting wouldn't solve any problem no matter how big it is."
Some of the men walked back stage but police rushed in their place and the fighting continued several minutes before it finally ended. I had escaped with only a few cuts on my back from the girl who had stepped on my back with those bloody high heels. George came out ok too and only stretched a leg muscle leaping to save his guitar. John and Ringo escaped the barnie untouched, lucky bastards, as we sang the final song of our concert. We bowed politely and ran backstage through the torn curtain.
"Well lads hate to tell you but there's been a slight change in plans," Mal said meekly.
"We're still having the party, right?" Ringo asked to the deadly silence swallowing the small room.
"I'm afraid not," Neil mustered, "I know how you lads had your heart set on it but we don't thinks it's the best idea after what happened today backstage."
"When we get to the hotel can't we talk to Brian about it over the phone?" John complained.
"Well I got to talk to him about whether or not you lads will allow anyone else backstage here in France. My guess is that there won't be anyone who isn't crew here for the next couple of days at least," Neil complied.
"He better not let anyone backstage again, cause I don't want anymore permanent scars from out of control barnies," I reply bitterly.
"Well hurry up to the car and your going first this time Paul so we don't have to worry about you getting separated or trampled to death," Mal ordered.
"Yeah Macca no more near death experiences okay," John examined. I smiled weakly as I thought of how overly dramatic I must have seemed the past few days. Or was it how overly dramatic my life had been the past two days. I shook the notion as I dashed to the car prepared to make the journey without falling into the pits of hell created by the rowdy fans. My find fluttered with the newfound success as I slammed the door shut and the tearstained faces were out of sight. Alas something was going right for a change or at least for the time being.
I traced my finger against imaginary lines on the window as the boys rambled on about amazing feats they accomplished in the fight. I quickly lost interest having nothing exciting to add that wouldn't sound like bitching and sulked deeper into the seat. I didn't feel right sitting there so idly; usually I would have been bragging about punching so and so or at least stretching the truth about it to impress the lads. Now I just sat there with a stony expressionless face watching the scenery flash past my eyes and out of my vision. I felt a massive piece of my existence torn or misplaced. Why was I so lonely? Life on the road had been a common occurrence for several years so why was it egging me on now. Perhaps it wasn't being on the road that was causing me to feel so depressed but if it wasn't then I needed to find the true source of this pent up anxiety. I hummed softly to the sound of the passing traffic a catchy tune but abandoned it as we stopped against the curb.
"Hi girls," John mouthed as he dashed to the door.
"There weren't many girls there at all," Ringo evaluated panting slowly in rhythm as the door closed behind us.
"Yeah just a bunch of slightly gay looking boys screaming Ringo," George giggled. Ringo punched him in the arm defensively to amend his broken pride while we waited outside the lift. John put on his cripple face as we walked into the almost filled lift. A young child clung to her mother with fear at John's repulsive face and thought that he was trying to hurt her. A smile of satisfaction took over his face as he turned idly to a gentleman with a large briefcase in his left hand a newspaper rolled up under his arm.
"Excuse me sir but I was wondering if you happened to know the latest stock prices for T and A Inc?" John asked sarcastically.
"T and A? I don't believe I've heard of that one before," he said befuddledly.
"I'm not surprised," George muttered under his breath stifling a giggle. The man sat there bewildered not realizing the joke or at least that John was far from serious about wanting to know anything financially inclined.
"Well last I heard it was going to take the market on by storm in a matter of weeks," John lied, "it's a definite winner or so I heard at least."
"Well I'll have to get some of the T and A. How much do you think it will cost."
"I don't know I'd say about 100 pounds for your sort," John blurted. We all left in hysterics leaving the man confused at how a stock with a starting price of 100 pounds was worthwhile to invest in. Well that's the trouble with the rich and elite they can't appreciate a good gag when they hear one among other things.
"You all are gonna have to be quiet while I'm on the phone long distance with Brian," Neil sounded. The laughter soon ceased as the nimble fingers swooshed around the phone.
"I hope Brian agrees not to allow them back stage anymore. I hate putting on a fake smile for people," John whispered.
"Yeah me too, it drives me bloody crazy going out of my way to make THEM feel comfortable," George added.
"You should be more grateful we get paid at least," Ringo frowned.
"Ringo's right we've all been led astray by the hand of guilt," John mocked pleadingly, "will god ever forgive me so I can join him in his humble life of poverty and caring."
"Enough of the blasphemy for one day," I said crossly, "you're going to get yourself in trouble if people hear you talk like that."
"You tell me that all the time but I haven't gotten myself in trouble once," John retaliated, "in fact, I bet I'll never get my mouth in trouble for accidentally saying something "blasphemous" about religion in a hundred years."
"Well I wouldn't bet on it even if the odds were a million to one in your favor cause its only a matter of time before you do," Ringo laughed, "we all say things that we don't mean to intentionally and I'm with Paulie on this one mate. You can't control your tongue or opinion worth shit."
"Oh yeah," he said dejectedly, "well maybe I don't want to be mates with someone who can't trust me and brings down me self esteem."
"You're the most full of shit person I know Lennon," George huffed, "but I guess I'll put up with you till I can make it big on me own."
"Well anyone is better off on their own than with John," Mal argued. John made a fist in his direction and he teasingly quivered and backed away. We were all back in hysterics again.
"Keep it down," Neil demanded.
"As I was saying Brian the whole show was a complete disaster," Neil said returning to his conversation, "yeah uh huh, uh huh, uh huh, they what? You're serious. Well I must say that is definitely surprising but we all knew it would happen eventually." Our ears perked up with interest at the mention of a somewhat excited Neil a rare occasion indeed.
"Well I'll tell em what we decided," he finished, "yeah its good to hear from you. Yeah I'll tell them that too. Alrigh' see you in a couple of weeks bye."
"What's this THING you're going to tell us?" I inquired.
"Well lads looks like I got some good news and bad news," Neil examined, "which one do you want first?"
"Bad," we all shouted in unison.
"Well I hate to tell you but there isn't any. In fact as long as you're in France no more worrying about people backstage," Neil replied.
"But what if we wanna bring a girl back there eh?" John said wiggling his eyebrows.
"Well I suppose we could allow that but only if they're with you at all times I don't want miscellaneous women walking around understood," Mal relented.
"Yes mummy," George coughed.
"I heard that," Mal barked.
"Don't you boys want to hear the GOOD news?" Neil shouted.
"Sure why not. Come on out with it we're all DYING to know the other good news," Ringo whined.
"Well with sarcastic remarks like that I don't know if I want to tell you anymore," he reconsidered.
"Oh come on Neil, tell us already," I begged, "we promise to behave and listen."
"Hey what's all this "we" shenanigans I didn't agree to anything," John defended, "one for all and all for me."
"Oh Lennon hush up and give it to us straight Neil," George said bitingly.
"Well it just so happens that you lads are number one in America," Neil cooed smoothly.
"You're jokin," John replied, "how soft do you think I am?"
"No jokes today John. That was the little detail I promised Brian I would mention over the phone," he said nonchalantly.
"I'm with John on this one. You're just pullin our leg for givin you such a hard time earlier," Ringo replied.
"Think what you want but I'm celebrating," Mal smiled, "I heard them mention it when you all were arguing about John keeping his gob shut."
"You're really serious," George replied questioningly eyeing his face for guilt.
"Of coarse he is you twits," I argued, "we've been waiting for this so long Neil knows we'd kill him if he teased about it." A cheer filled the air as an enlightened mood soothed the souls of the room. I dreamt of this precise moment my entire life and now reality was merging with the fantasy. I felt a surge of new knowledge and power numbing at my fingers tangled around the half empty champagne glass. We're the first British band that's ever made it in the States, an awesome responsibility, but one I know I won't take very seriously. In fact, why on earth would anyone want to be serious or responsible? That's not what rock and roll is about anyways. Rock is about fancy cars, big houses, and tons of money but most importantly: it's about women. After years of idolizing Elvis, you could hardly argue that the women weren't plentiful, cheap, and easy. Making it all the more easy to cheat on Jane or rather "expand my horizons" as the lads so delicately put it. Thoughts of more meaningful relationships were muddled like my slurring speech at my overindulgence of wine.
"Eh Mal," I shouted," come give me a piggyback ride."
"Why on earth do you want a piggyback ride?" Mal inquired.
"Cause it'll give us good luck," I slurred. He looked befuddled by my persistence but seemed to see no harm giving into such an easy request. He carried me around for a couple minutes but quickly got tired and lugged me over the couch as I toppled over George.
"Easy there mate," he said steadily," I think me back is broken you miserable swine."
"Your exaggerating and you know it," Ringo instigated.
"Yeah well if he landed on you then you would know what I mean," George cried, "he's bloody heavy he is."
"Enough bickering you two," John cut, "I would like to propose a toast. To the toppermost of the poppermost."
"Here, here," we echoed in unison clinking our glasses.
"Now Mal how about getting us a few birds up here?" Ringo egged.
"Yeah we can't have a party without birds," John added.
"Sorry boys but this is going to be a private affair tonight. I already told you that Brain said no girls tonight on a count of what happened at the show tonight," Neil explained.
"Ahh... Neil your no fun," George whined. He stuck his tongue out which made us all giggle at how horrible funny he looked. We could hardly keep still we were so excited jumping off the walls is purely a euphemism to the chaos we were causing. Smoke and laughter filled the air as the hours passed. I guess an overwhelming experience will have anyone act a little foolish put no one focused on the petty details. When the thick smog seemed unbearable, I excused myself politely and went to the balcony.
"Don't get to close to the edge Macca. You had quite a few drinks tonight," Mal said protectively.
"I won't," I muttered closing the door behind me. I gazed at the twittering lights of the city as the Eiffel Tower came into focus. My eyes began to sparkle at the thoughts of romantic love in the city of Paris who considers it its main attraction. A smile plastered my face at the thought of Ms. Stevens. If this were "Funny Face" than she would be Audrey Hepburn and he would be, Fred Astaire and they would be secretly falling in love. I took Jane to see that if I recalled correctly. I sat on the oversized lawn chair pondering this meaningless detail as I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes.
What was I doing with Jane anyways? Did I really love her or was I just using her as my other woman to fall back on after I got tired of being a playboy. She was sweet, young, and beautiful but there were no life bonding qualities that made her essential for my existence. Why worry about life long relationships now if I don't plan on getting married for at least another couple of years. But I suppose those marital instincts are kicking in now that I am a grown man and want the family that was so tragically snatched away from me as an adolescent. Well at least I read something about people who lost a parent often wanting to start families of their own in a magazine and assumed that I came from a qualified background to fit this atypical scenario. I looked idly in at the bustling party and began to lust the noisy surroundings compared to my quiet haven. I slowly took one last slip from my glass before entering the rowdy party.
"Mal would you deliver this perfume to Ms. Stevens?" I asked feeling a sudden urge to be near her in my closet loneliness.
"Sure later tomorrow I'll be more than happy to," Mal relented. With that, I melted into the party feeling a sense of accomplishment on this momentous day. By 5 am, we were too tired to continue the celebration as our eyes longed to fall with gravity's aid. Our bodies drained with exhaustion found quick relief as they hit the old worn out mattress.
A familiar tune echoes with the waves as I walk aimlessly along the beach. I feel lost but am still calm because of the freedom I have to walk at my own leisure without being harassed. I ignore my self-conscious thoughts as I walk toward a beautiful woman laughing at the water's edge. Her companions seem to be in a sense of awe about her as they well should be at a creature of such beauty. My hand trembled as I extended it to her in fear and agony that she would despise the very presence of a man only mediocre to the caliber necessary to merely look at this immortal on the dusty shore. She takes it humbly but slaps it to my face in a violent manner. I wince in pain as a distinct laugh pierces my ears. Sure enough, there she was the girl in the old lady sweater with the very long skirt and the mess bun laughing in great ecstasy at my new misfortune. I run to tackle her but fall over someone's misplaced beach chair and fall at her feet as if to kiss them. She arched them delicately and her hyena like laughter sputtered as I slowly arose to take what little dignity I had left and leave this forsaken crowd. As my eyes make their final upward descent to my utmost joy the distinct eerie face was returning from the pounding sea. Everything becomes a blur but that mysterious compelling woman who I rush to in anguish trying to escape the humiliation I brought on myself by my overbearing behavior. I needed her more than I needed anyone else in my entire life and I wouldn't let her travel alone like I had in that previous dream. Unfortunately, she was with someone I didn't recognize...