Thursday, October 4, 2012

Chapter 5

Ringo entered the room and I wanted to die. I was more than humiliated.

“All right, love?” he asked.

“Ringo, I’m so sorry,” I said through sobs of embarrassment. “You don’t have to…”

“John sent me to make sure you were okay.”

John sent him? Of course he did. Why Ringo? If he had to send someone in, why couldn’t he have sent Paul, who is not only dating my best friend, but also knows the situation? Why send a married man into the bedroom of a girl none of them know very well? I couldn’t understand it. I was upset and frustrated and ashamed and embarrassed all at the same time. How was I going to talk to Ringo? Poor Ringo, tossed into the middle of such a mess, without a moment’s consideration.

“Ringo, I appreciate it, but I’m fine. Thanks,” I said trying to stop my tears from flowing.

“Well, if you don’t mind me sayin’ you don’t look very fine. Look Maggie, I know it’s really none of my business and I don’t know if you want to hear this or not, but I already know the situation between you and John.”

I cringed as he said the words and found it impossible to look him in the eyes.

“So if there’s anything you’d like to chat about, I don’t mind listening. Mo’s really taken to you and I agree with her. You’re a right solid lass and I think you make a nice addition to our little family here,” he continued while taking a seat in a chair that was near the bed where I was still laying.

“Ringo, does Maureen… Does she know?” I asked.

“Course not, love,” he said. There are some things between the Beatles that are better left between the Beatles, if you know what I mean.”

I smiled at Ringo knowing that meant he had no intention of telling Maureen about John and me. And the tone in his voice told me that it was out of respect for my privacy rather than his being worried what Maureen might think of me. I got the impression that he had no intentions of judging me for what had happened and that if Maureen did know, she wouldn’t either. Ringo was very respectful and didn’t ask too many questions about why exactly I was upset or anything else having to do with John for that matter. He mostly just listened to whatever I wanted to tell him, which wasn’t much. I certainly wasn’t about to tell him that I thought I was falling in love with John. Ringo assured me that everything would work out in the end and said I shouldn’t worry too much about it, “because worryin’ makes you older faster” and “no one wants that.” He and I talked for quite a while. It was really easy talking to Ringo. He was so friendly and open and normal. When we eventually stopped talking about John, we began on all sorts of other topics. For instance, why George Martin and his wife were there together even though they had been divorced for months, I think Ringo was trying to draw some sort of parallel between the two of them and John and Cynthia, but I don’t think I quite understood what he was getting at. We also sniggered about where Paul and Christine had gone and what exactly they were doing. Ringo told me of his theory on why Mal and Brian were late, not that he thought there was “anything funny about Mal.” He also told me how excited he was to be having a baby, and how he gave Maureen a hard time about giving him a son, but that he didn’t really mind if it was a boy or a girl. And by the end of our conversation I actually found myself laughing. Then all of a sudden I realized how long we had actually been talking and that people might begin to think it was a tad suspicious that we had been alone together for so long. There was a quick-paced rapping on the door, and then a familiar voice.

“I was thinking about calling out Scotland Yard,” John said through the door. “Is there any need or should I just send Mo in to deal with the two of you instead?” he asked.

“Sod off, John” Ringo yelled.

“Now, now Ringo, is that how you treat a concerned friend?” John asked in a scolding voice as he let himself into my room. “You know, we’re all out there thinking wicked things about what’s taking you two so long in here all alone together.”

“You’re not?” I asked horrified.

“You’re right, love. We’re not,” he giggled. “Actually I don’t think anyone’s even noticed you’re missing.”

“Well that’s a fine way to cheer someone up,” Ringo said pretending to be offended. “Some sodding lot of friends you are.”

John laughed.

“Seriously though, Mo’s gone for a kip and everyone else is otherwise occupied,” John said.

“Right. Think I’ll join her,” Ringo said getting up to leave the room. “You’re good then, love?” he asked sincerely.

I nodded my head and he smiled as he left the room.

“What’s that all about then?” John asked, squinting his eyes as if he was trying to see the truth.

“He’s sweet. Thank you for sending him,” I said.

“Oh like pure sugar, that one,” John said.

“Well, we better get out there,” I said.

“Now wait just a minute. You were falling apart when last I saw you, care to tell me what you were on about?”

“Just silliness, really,” I said climbing off the bed.

I decided if I really wanted everything to work out the way Ringo had said it would, keeping my feelings to myself, and carrying on with trying to be John’s friend was the only solution. I walked over to the mirror to check and see if I had cried all my makeup off and sure enough I had. John just stood there looking at me as if he wasn’t sure what to make of the way I was behaving.

“Oh, I look awful. I can’t go out there with everyone looking like this,” I said, running a comb through my mussed hair.

“You look perfect,” John said so no one would hear, aware that Ringo had left the bedroom door open when he left.

“Have Paul and Christine come out for a break yet?” I forced a laugh, pretending I hadn’t heard John’s comment.

“Was it me?” he asked nervously. “Did I cause you to…”

“No…” I answered quickly, not wanting him to get the wrong, or in this case the right, idea. “Not really,” I continued, reapplying a bit of mascara.

Then I decided John was right. I didn’t need anything else. All that crying had left my cheeks and nose just the right color of pink. Besides, who was I trying to impress, really? The only one of them that I wanted, I couldn’t have.

“That’ll do, I think,” I smiled at him. “I’m going to join the others now.”

As I turned to leave the room he reached out and grabbed my wrist. His touch sent shivers down my spine. I looked back at him and he was staring at me. Into me, as if he was trying to see into my soul, my true feelings. Or even worse, as if he already knew my true feelings and this was his way of telling me. Our eyes had met right after I had seen him kiss Cynthia, which was the event that had opened the floodgates of the feelings I had been holding back. And the look in his eyes then, after their kiss, seemed to tell me he knew how I truly felt. Perhaps, now he was simply hoping he had been right in what he thought he knew. Whatever he was thinking, I had no intentions of telling him my feelings for him. I looked away and gently pulled my wrist free from his strong hand. I left John standing in the bedroom and followed the sound of voices. And when I arrived at the same location where I had left everyone I was surprised to see that John had not been exaggerating. It seemed no one really had missed me or Ringo.

“Have a nice rest then, love?” Neil asked me.

I couldn’t believe it. They thought I had gone to lie down. I shook my head in agreement and they went on with their game of Monopoly. I looked around the room and observed who was present and who was missing. I saw that Paul and Christine were back, but now George and Pattie were gone. Were they having sex in shifts? Ringo and Maureen were gone as well, presumably napping. Surely she was far too pregnant for sex. Sheena was also missing, while George Martin sat quietly reading in a corner. Paul, Christine, Neil, Mal, and Cynthia were playing Monopoly and Julian occupied himself by drawing pictures on a large tablet of paper. Brian was at the breakfast bar talking on the phone. I looked out the window and noticed that it was pouring rain. That was English weather, fine one moment then raining the next. But I had gotten used to it in the time I had been living there. I took a seat in a chair and observed the Monopoly game that was going on, on the floor.

“Oooh, looks like Paul is beating everyone,” I said.

Paul grinned at me.

“Did you pay her to say that?” Mal asked disgusted.

“I don’t have to pay them, women just can’t help but cheer for me to succeed,” Paul said pompously.

“I was merely stating the facts,” I said. “Now when should I expect my pay?” I asked in a stage whisper and added an exaggerated wink.

Everyone laughed and poked fun at Paul and I breathed a sigh of relief, as I felt like I was beginning to better fit in with all of them.

“Ah, poor Maggie, still angry I beat you and Chris and Mike that night at my house?” he asked in a patronizing tone followed by a pouting face.

“You cheated!” Christine shrieked and elbowed him in the ribs.

I giggled. He had cheated, but Christine and I would have never noticed if Paul’s brother, Mike, hadn’t have pointed it out to us. It had actually been quite blatant, so we told him he must have been using his beauty to distract us!

“Now see here, you, that’s a filthy lie and I won’t have you spreading gossip like that about,” Paul said jumping on Christine to tickle her.

She laughed and struggled to break free from his clutches while accidentally kicking the game board sending everyone’s game pieces soaring through the air.

“Chris!” Neil yelled.

“Christ, I thought you two got all that out your systems earlier this afternoon,” John said entering the room.

Everyone howled with laughter and Christine’s face turned a bright shade of red.

“And Nell, whining like a wee little Aspinall, ‘cause your game’s been ruined. It’s not as if you were going to win anyway. You know either me or George always slays the rest of you. Then, maybe that’s why you’re playing now when we’re not playing, eh?” John taunted.

“John Lennon, ladies and gentlemen, Lord of Monopoly. All hail!” Paul stood in a salute.

“Too right, son,” John said. “Now start the bloody game over and I’ll teach you all as to how a master does it!”

They did and John won just as he had said he would.

Other than my meltdown on that first night in the English country, the weekend was in a word, magical. I socialized and played around with the Beatles as if I had always been part of their crowd. There were several more Monopoly games, as the weekend was bit wetter than everyone had anticipated. And when the sun finally did come out, we rode horses, had a large fantastic dinner outdoors, talked and laughed with each other for hours, and a few of us even snuck away for what Paul called “herbal jazz cigarettes.” I found that I really enjoyed smoking pot. It was very relaxing and made for a happier general atmosphere full of silliness and giggling. Although, I do think it sometimes made me slightly paranoid as well, and I did not care much for that aspect of marijuana. George and Sheena Martin left a day early, as their attempts to work things out had not seemed to have gone very well. They hadn’t had any blowups in front of the rest of us or anything of that sort, but it was like they might as well have not been there together for all the attention and affection they showed one another. Anyone could clearly see they had made the right decision in choosing to divorce. Brian also left a day early, as he had said he had “business awaiting his return to London,” though John said it was really “a few young boys awaiting his return to London.” I never really got a chance to feel like I was getting to know Brian. He was on the phone much of the weekend and the rest of his time in the country he was much too stoned to socialize with. Only I’m not sure his high was from pot. There was a look in his eyes when he was high that was very different from the look in our eyes. When we left, I rode back to London with Paul and Christine and this time John didn’t even suggest I ride with him and Cynthia. Though Pattie did suggest I ride with her and George, which I found to be a very friendly gesture. I got along with she and Maureen so famously, you would have thought I had known them all my life, though I still had not talked much to Cynthia. I made a few attempts over the weekend and she had always responded courteously, but it never went much further than that, just a response to whatever I had said or asked. And she never really made any sort of attempt to get to know me, which I found a bit curious, but was inwardly relieved about.

I returned to school that Monday reliving the weekend I had just had, barely able to concentrate on my studies. I was told we had taken a pop quiz in one of my classes on Friday and been assigned a paper to write in another and I felt a bit guilty about having skipped. I had, for the most part, gotten my wilder days out of the way when I was a teenager in America, and since my parents had trusted me enough to send me to college in England, I had taken it upon myself to act more responsibly. So, it had been quite a while since I had ditched school to go and have any sort of fun. I spent all week trying to make up for the one day had I missed. The paper we had been assigned on Friday, when I had been absent, was to be due on the next Friday. And between work and school, that weekend I spent in the country, would have been very useful in turning out a quality piece of work. But since I did not receive the assignment until the following Monday, I only had weeknights after work to write it. John called me a couple of nights when I had returned home from work, but I had to keep our conversations short so I could work on my paper.

“Oh forget the paper, love. What use is it going to be to you later on anyway? Besides, I need a friend to talk to,” he said sounding a bit desperate one night.

I felt awful about not talking to him, and I had to explain that making good grades was very important to me to prove to my parents that they had made a good decision in sending me to England.

“Well, now that is a good point to make, you know. Yes, aye, you should thank ‘em for sending you here every chance you get. Or maybe I should,” he added in a deep comical voice.

I giggled and told him I really had to go.

“All right then, love, but you’ve got to talk to me eventually.”

Friday came and I reluctantly turned in my ten-page paper. I was sure I could have written a better quality paper had I worked on it all weekend, but as it was, it would just have to do. That night I didn’t have to work and so when I got home, I went straight to my bedroom for a rest and whether it lasted until the next morning I didn’t care. A few hours later the phone rang and woke me and I answered it groggily.

“Hello?” I asked in my scratchy morning voice.

“Get ready, we’re going out. Be there to pick you up in a short while,” John said.

“But John I was asle…”

“And for Christ’s sake, Maggie, be sure not to wear whatever you wore to school. I can’t be seen with you looking like a bloody little school girl,” he said completely ignoring me. “See you in a bit, love.”

Then he was gone. I lay in bed for a few moments trying to decide what I was going to do. I decided I had two options. I could stay there and wait on him to arrive at my apartment, and then tell him I wasn’t going and risk him blowing up or, even worse, risk him getting his feelings hurt, or I could jump up and try to be ready before he got there. Not wanting to see him angry or upset, I chose the latter. I ran to my bathroom and washed my face, combed my hair, then applied just enough makeup to go out in. I never was really big on makeup. Just mascara and some lipstick usually did the trick. I was lucky to have a good complexion, so I hardly ever used powder. And blush, only on rare occasions. I ran a comb through my long dark hair and bangs and slipped a pink headband on to match the skirt I planned on wearing. I ran to my closet and pulled out a long sleeved black and white horizontal striped turtleneck and a pink mini skirt. I pulled them both on, then some stockings, then my black knee-high boots and ran back to the mirror to make sure my face and hair still looked all right. Then I plopped down on my sofa and picked up one of my school books that was nearby and began to read. Suddenly the phone rang. If it was John calling to cancel, I’d kill him. But it was Christine.

“What are you doing? Aren’t you coming to get me?” I asked.

“Coming to get you? What for?” she was confused.

“You mean you’re not going out tonight?”

“No, maybe tomorrow. Why?”

“Then who…” I said more to myself than to Christine.

“Are you going out?” she asked.

“Apparently,” I said realizing I hadn’t asked John who all was included in the “we’re” when he said, “we’re going out.”

Was it just going to be him and me? Surely not. That wouldn’t be smart on his or my part. If that’s what he was thinking I would just have to go with my first plan and turn him down at the door. Even if he was angry or upset. We couldn’t go out alone. We just couldn’t. Even if I would sort of like to.

“With who?” Christine asked.

“Oh, um… John and… um…”

“John and who?” she asked curiously.

Then there was a knock on the door.

“Christine, I’ve got to go. Talk to you later, okay?”

“All right, sure,” she said more confused than ever.

I answered the door to find John standing there. He was dressed in deep orange pants and matching suit jacket, with a black shirt underneath and black sunglasses. His hair was perfect. Not too combed, not too shaggy. He looked absolutely gorgeous.

“Um, I hate to tell you this, John,” I said, fingering for him to move closer to me. “But, the sun went down quite a while ago. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s dark out,” I whispered.

He lowered his head to look over his sunglasses and squinted at me. Then he scanned me head to toe and back up again.

“Where has the school girl gone?” he asked, and then after a moment’s hesitation added, “Know what? I’ve changed my mind. Let’s just stay in tonight. You look terribly uncomfortable.”

“I do?” I asked surprised.

I didn’t really dress like that very often, but I didn’t feel very uncomfortable.

“Yeah, real awkward like. We better just go straight to your room and get you out of that,” he said grabbing me by the shoulders and directing me toward my bedroom.

I finally realized what he meant and turned to face him while slapping his arm playfully.

“We’ll do no such thing!” I laughed and got him to giggling as well.

‘Well, a bloke can’t help but try,” he laughed then pulled one of his crazy faces.

“John, who else is going to be there tonight?” I asked.

“Neil and George are in the car.”

“And Pattie?”

“No Pattie, she’s over Mo and Rich’s,” he said. Then, turning and stepping out the door said, “Come on then.”

“Oh wait, I need a jacket,” I said.

“Sod the jacket, I’ll keep you warm,” he raised his eyebrows and make the funny sound he made in ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ during the scene where they were playing cards on the train.

I rolled my eyes and grabbed a long jacket in spite of his offer, and then followed him out to the car.

“Took you two long enough,” George said once we were in the car.

“Well, we had to have a quickie didn’t we?” John laughed.

I smacked him hard in the gut.

“We did not!” I proclaimed.

“Come on, they know I was only joking,” John giggled.

“At least now we do,” George said without missing a beat causing John to roar with laughter.

I just narrowed my eyes at John. I guess, George and Neil knew about him and me also. There was no telling who else he had told. The three of them giggled the whole way to the Ad Lib Club, talking about nothing in particular, and making just about as much sense.

“Have you guys been smoking?” I asked.

“A potty’s not a potty without a little pot,” John sing-songed.

They all howled with laughter but I wasn’t sure what was so funny. We went into the club and found a dark table in the back. Somehow there was always a place out of the way for us to gather, even in the most crowded clubs. George wandered off mingling with people and flirting with a few girls leaving John, Neil, and me at the table. John lit up a cigarette keeping his sunglasses on in the dark, smoky club. Then, to my astonishment, Mick Jagger stumbled over to our table, obviously drunk or high, or both, and I was more than a little star struck. There I was sitting with John Lennon and yet my jaw was hanging open at the sight of a real life Rolling Stone. He sat down across from me and conversed with John for a while about musical things and people I didn’t know. Though it wouldn’t have mattered, as I found myself completely unable to speak. I was transfixed on his mouth. That large mouth with those giant lips of his. I had never seen anything like those lips. They were abnormal-looking really. Yet, I had an overwhelming desire to kiss them, to feel what lips that big actually felt like against mine, but I controlled myself. Mick certainly was not as good-looking as John, or Paul, or even George, and I wasn’t at all attracted to him, but I was absolutely fascinated by him.

“Lennon, your bird is staring at me,” he said amused.

“She just can’t believe how fucking ugly you are,” John smiled at me and giggled.

I elbowed him.

“That’s not true! I’m sorry, my name is Maggie. Nice to meet you,” I said holding out my hand to shake his.

“Ah, from across the pond,” he said ignoring my outstretched hand.

“Mick, are you soft or something? Don’t just leave her bloody hand hangin’ out there,” John instructed.

Mick shook my hand and giggled. I smiled at him. His handshake was weak.

“Right… well pleasure, Miss Maggie. I’m off then,” he said stumbling away from our table and grabbing some girl’s ass on his way out.

“Bloody Londoner,” Neil said. “I still don’t know why you let him come around you like that, John.”

“Steady, son,” John replied as he took a long puff on a new cigarette.

“His handshake was like a limp noodle,” I said.

“Just let that be the only limp noodle of his you’re shaking,” John said.

And he and Neil giggled like schoolboys.

A few girls came and sat around us flirting with John and he tried to pretend not to be too interested in front of me but I, in turn, pretended it didn’t bother me at all if he was interested. One was even sitting on his lap whispering in his ear, no doubt telling him everything she was willing to do, but by that time George had returned so I focused my attention on speaking to him. I told him how nice I thought Pattie was and he smiled appreciatively. I could tell he was madly in love with her. He told me how they had met on the set of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and that at first he thought she was interested in John, but soon realized she only had eyes for him. It turned out she was engaged when they met, but she broke it off and soon they started dating, and everything had been going great since then. While George was telling me stories of him and Pattie, the girls sitting on and around John and Neil left and I could hear the two of them talking quietly. It was a bit difficult to understand every word over the band that was playing in the club, but I distinctly heard the words “an orgy I attended” come from John. Was he telling Neil that was where he knew those girls from? An orgy? I was very curious as to the context of that statement, but I did not particularly want to get into the topic of sex with him, so I decided not to pry. Besides, he was not a secretive person and if he wanted me to know about it, he would just tell me.

George and I finished talking about Pattie, so we included ourselves in a conversation John and Neil’s were having about drugs. John and George then proceeded to tell me about the first time they had experienced LSD. They were at a dinner party at a dentist friend’s house and he slipped it in their coffee without them knowing. They laughed until they were in tears telling me how scary it was but also how fantastic. I had not even smoked pot until the day we left for the country, so the thought of LSD scared me a bit. Neil then joined in telling me about his own experiences with it. Apparently he took it with them, the second time they did it, while they were in Los Angeles, as did Ringo.

“What about Paul?” I asked curiously.

“Paul was too fucking scared, so he shied away, but we’ll get him to do it someday. Mark my words,” John said with a wicked smile.

“I bet he won’t. He’s too afraid to open his mind, that one. What must he have locked away in there that he wants to protect so bad?” George said.

“Perhaps a little old man,” John said.

“Oh is that where he is?” George asked.

“Aye,” John nodded, then turned to me, “And you, dear Maggie, are doing it with us next time we do,” John said.

I swallowed hard, but didn’t respond to him one way or the other. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it, but I wasn’t sure I didn’t want to either. We talked and laughed until late into the night until I could barely hold my head up I was so tired. I finally threatened them to either take me home or I was going to call a taxi.

“Don’t be ridiculous, love,” Neil said. “We’ll take you home.”

So they drove me all the way back to my apartment with only a minimal number of, “Are you sure you live in London?” comments. And when we pulled up outside my apartment John asked if he could spend the night with me so Neil wouldn’t have to take him all the way home. The guys sniggered and I rolled my eyes.

“Stay at Neil and Mal’s and he won’t have to take you home,” I smiled while batting my eyes.

And they roared with laughter.

“You’ll want me one of these days,” John smiled and then pulled a crazy face. “And then I won’t be here.”

“Don’t hold your breath,” I giggled.

They waited for me to walk up to my door and get it open. I turned and waved at them and they drove off into the wee hours of the morning. When I got inside I went right in and collapsed on my bed too tired to remove any articles of clothing, much less my makeup. The rest of the weekend was uneventful. I studied for a few of my classes and talked to Christine on the phone about my experiences at the Ad Lib, but other than that nothing much happened. And I was thankful for the rest. However, when Monday morning came, as I was getting ready for school, the phone rang.


“Hello this is Professor Lennon, there’s no school for you today as Mo’s exploded and there’s been a baby,” John said. “We’re all going up the hospital for a visit.”

I had a mental image of the Beatles pulling up to the hospital and trying to go in to visit Maureen as if they weren’t the Beatles, and utter chaos breaking loose: Fans following them in and causing a disturbance; Nurses leaving their patients to care for themselves just to catch a glimpse of the famous lads; And patients having heart attacks and falling over dead at the mere sight of them. I thought about how much trouble having missed school on the Friday before last had caused me, but how could I refuse to go and see Ringo’s new baby when I knew how excited he had been about it? And what would one more day of skipping school really hurt?

No comments:

Post a Comment