Thursday, October 4, 2012

Chapter 16

It couldn’t be. Could it? This sort of chance encounter only happens in the pictures doesn’t it? But it was. It really was her. Standing before me in all her French glory. Tall, and dark, and devilishly gorgeous. The bitch. I know I must have had a rather shocked expression on my face because it obviously amused Marie. When she saw me a wicked little smirk curled up on the corners of her mouth and sent shivers down my spine. That woman was pure evil.

“Hullo again, Marie,” Paul nodded gentlemanly.

“Hey, Marie! How the hell are you?” Mick exclaimed, standing to give Marie a hug.

“Fancy seeing you here,” George said. “Is Claude with you? I’ve got some new Americanisms I want to try out on him.”

“Chris and Maggie are both American, you bleeding git,” John laughed.

Everyone in our group giggled and George’s face turned bright red.

“It’s a running joke between me and Claude, you bloody arse,” George shot back.

“Yeah, well in case you’re blind as me, Claude ain’t here,” John snickered.

George opened his mouth to say something back to John, but Paul interrupted.

“George, you’ll stop talking if you know what’s good for ya, mate,” he said.

Everyone howled with laughter.

“So, how long are you here for?” Mick asked Marie, his arm slung casually over her shoulder.

But John completely ignored him and turned Marie away from Mick to introduce her to me.

“Marie, this is Maggie Jones,” he said.

“Yes, we’ve met,” I said, refusing to take hold of her outstretched hand.

“Pleasure to see you again, Maggie,” Marie said, withdrawing her offer to shake my hand after I left hers dangling in the open.

“You two know each other?” John looked surprised.

“Oh oui,” Marie said. Then in her thick French accent added, “We worked together.”

“Pattie’s worked with you too, Marie. Right, love?” George asked Pattie.

“Yeah, we’ve worked together loads of times,” Pattie smiled.

“Yes, I know Pattie. Tell me, ‘ow you are?” Marie asked.

“I’m fantastic!” Pattie grinned brightly. “Bit drunk just now, you see, but otherwise fantastic!” she giggled.

“Well, you’d have to be drunk, to be with him, wouldn’t you?” John grinned.

“Now, now, Johnny, don’t be jealous just ‘cause your woman doesn’t even want to be seen with you in public!” George said.

“Are you looking for a barney, son? ‘Cause if so, I’ve got one right here for ya!” John shot back.

The two of them were working together very closely to entertain the group of us, but we all knew it was just in good fun. The silly faces they pulled at each other and the ridiculous voices they used were the biggest indication that they weren’t at all serious. Marie sat down with us, allowing Mick to chat her up for a while. And all the time, I tried my hardest to avoid eye contact with her so that I would not have to speak to her. John was seated between me and Brian Jones and every time his hand moved over to my knee, or around my shoulder, I would remove it, or slide away from him, closer to Brian, who was getting the wrong idea entirely. Still, I’m sure Marie caught his hand on me at least a couple of the times. At this point, everyone in our inner-circle pretty much knew about John and me, but Marie wasn’t a regular at "Camp Beatles" and I was not interested in her finding out. I had already gotten a taste of the kind of person she was, so I was confidant that she would go directly to the press if she thought there was something going on between John and me. As the night wore on, the seating arrangements were altered as people would get up to use the toilet, or to go and dance, or to cross the club to speak to someone else they knew. And somehow, it ended up that I was seated between Paul and John, while Mick and his entourage had slowly formed their own separate group on the other side of Paul. Christine, Neil, George, and Pattie were seated directly across from us and Marie was becoming cozier and cozier sitting on the other side of John. In fact, at one point I saw her hand resting very high up on this thigh and I’m sure I heard her whispering and giggling about something in his ear. And even though I was ridiculously jealous, with no real right to be, I just pretended I hadn’t noticed. And I continued to talk to Paul and Christine as if John and Marie weren’t even there. But, just as I was about to bubble over with jealousy, while John and Marie were still talking, and without even looking in my direction, John reached over and squeezed my knee tightly. Without him saying so, I know it was his way of telling me that he hadn’t forgotten that I was still there. And, though a tiny gesture, my heart just about leapt out of my chest with happiness. Smiling inside, but feigning annoyance on the outside, I reached down and removed his hand from my knee. But when I did, he grabbed my hand, intertwining our fingers and locking them together. I elbowed him in the ribs, but he wouldn’t let go of my hand. And then our eyes finally met. And I saw a look in his beautiful, light-brown eyes that twinkled mischievously. A look I was becoming very familiar with. He wanted to kiss me. And he wanted to kiss me right there; in front of everyone. I knew I had to stop it before it had even happened.

“Let go, Lennon, ‘fore I thump ya!” I said in my best Liverpudlian accent.

Everyone roared with laughter, including John, who temporarily forgot about trying to kiss me and let go of my hand.

“Say, Maggie, you’re getting pretty good at that, you know!” Paul said.

“Yeah, you’re better than Paul now,” George said dryly.

“All right, you. Keep it up, and I really will thump ya!” Paul shook a finger playfully at George.

“Come off it, Macca!” John said. “You wouldn’t dare take the chance of messing up your pretty face.”

“Well, you’re probably right. Me face is me livelihood after all, isn’t it?” he said, exaggerating his accent and batting his eyelashes wildly.

“Well, your face sure beats your singing,” George teased, and he and Neil both died laughing.

The joking and showing-off distracted most everyone, so I used their preoccupation to slip out unnoticed. If I had announced my departure, they would all have protested, so to leave without telling any of them was much simpler. Besides, everyone was so drunk and high they wouldn’t even notice I was gone, once I was. It was a good opportunity to leave before John got too carried away and did kiss me in front of everyone, namely in front of Marie. But I couldn’t very well leave without telling him goodbye. So, I hoped that when he noticed I had gotten up, he’d follow me. And sure enough, he did. As I walked through the crowd, I felt a hand grab my forearm and hold me back. I turned around to find John with a confused expression on his face.

“Where in the bloody hell do you think you’re going?” he asked.

“Home. Where in the bloody hell do you think you’re going?” I asked, playfully.

I didn’t want him thinking there was anything wrong when there wasn’t. I was simply leaving as a precautionary measure.

“What the fuck you going home for?”

“Because John, Marie’s here and I just don’t want anything happening in front of her.”

“What? Why should we have to worry about her? She’s nobody.”

“Because…” I started, but John interrupted me.

“Oh, I know. You’re bloody jealous! You probably heard those bastards saying how I shagged her a while ago and now you’re worried, aren’t you?”

I hadn’t heard that, but the newsflash didn’t surprise me in the least.

“Well, there’s one way to make sure it doesn’t happen again, you know. And that’s to stay here with me so she can’t have her way with me later in the loo,” he said.

I just stood there looking at him for a moment before I spoke. He was so thrilled by the prospect that I was jealous. His excitement was irresistible. Still, I wanted to test him.

“I don’t have any claim over you, John. Go ahead and do what you like,” I said.

The playful look on his face quickly vanished.

“Get away, Maggie, I was just fuckin’ around. You’re the only bird I want.”

I raised an eyebrow at him suspiciously.

“What? It’s true, love! I’ll get down on me bended knee and pledge my undying love to you if you don’t believe me,” he said, starting to bend down on one knee.

“No, John! Get up, you lunatic!” I laughed, pulling him up by the elbow.

He stood up giggling.

“Well,” he said in a comical voice.

“Okay, I’ll stay. But I have to tell you something about Marie.”

“I’m all ears,” he said, pulling a ridiculous face.

“No, really,” I giggled. “I mean it. Remember when I told you about me taking the dress home after a shoot because someone told me they’d have to cut it off to get it off me?”

“And she’s the one who done it?” he exclaimed.

I nodded.

“That bloody cow, I have half a mind to…”

“No, John, please don’t say anything. I just thought you should know. I mean, because she might say something since she already obviously doesn’t like me.”

“If she even looks at you funny, I’ll fucking smack her. The cunt,” John said, anger in his voice.

“John, really it’s not that big a deal. We just have to be careful around her.”

“Fuck that, love. We don’t have to worry about her. Now, come on,” he said, grabbing my hand and pulling me back to where everyone was seated.

I grabbed his wrist with my other hand and tried to pull my hand away, but his grip was too tight. He didn’t care who saw us. I wasn’t going anywhere. When we arrived back where everyone was seated, I saw that Marie was immediately focused on our hands. John noticed too, but he still refused to let go.

“Almost got away, she did. But I caught her!” he exclaimed like a madman.

“And I’m glad you did because I’m dying to dance and none of the rest of the girls will have me. But I know Maggie’s always ready to dance,” Neil grinned.

“Oh, sure,” I said, looking at John for him to let go of me.

“All right Neil, but keep your filthy hands off her.”

“Are you soft? He’s got to touch her to dance with her,” George said.

“Here, here, and here, only,” John said, pointing at the areas of my body that Neil was allowed to touch. Then he pulled a ridiculous face to let Neil know he was only joking.

I rolled my eyes and dragged Neil away so we could go dance.

The night wore on and every once in a while I noticed Marie glance over at John and me. But for the most part, she tried to ignore us, which was fine by me. I wasn’t sure if John had said anything to her while I was dancing with Neil, but I didn’t really care enough to ask him. She was leaving us alone and that was all that mattered. Our whole group decided to leave the Ad Lib about two o’clock in the morning and if three Beatles leaving a club together wasn’t enough, we girls were with them, as well as a few Rolling Stones, and their entire company. The attention we all attracted, drunk, stoned, and loud, was more than I’m sure Brian would have approved of in the first place, but the situation was made all the worse by the reporters and cameramen that were still waiting around outside when we exited. They were snapping pictures and shouting out questions right and left. Mick flipped them off, but I think he was the only person that even acknowledged their presence. The rest of us made for our cars, or taxis, and headed our separate ways.

And it wasn’t until the next morning that I thought about the fact that they had taken another photograph of John and me together. And I wondered if it had appeared in any papers that morning. And I expected a phone call from Brian any time. But when the phone finally did ring, it was Maureen, rather than Brian, who was calling.


“Yes,” I answered.

“Hello, love. Listen, I know it’s very short notice, but the boys only just decided we’re all going to get together to have a bite to eat at John’s this afternoon before they have to go into the studio this evening. So, I was just wonderin’ if you’d like to come over too?”

The prospect of going to John’s house, where he lived with his wife and child, was not very appealing at that point, but I figured it would look worse for me to only hang around with him when Cynthia wasn’t around than it would if I was there when she was too. Besides, Maureen wouldn’t be asking if it wasn’t all right with John and Cynthia, right? I wasn’t so sure about that, but for some reason I agreed regardless. Luckily just after Maureen and I hung up the phone it rang again and this time it was John.

“Hey, get your sweet ass ready, love, Neil and Mal are going to come around and bring you to eat me,” he said.

“Don’t you mean to eat with you?”

“Oh all right, that too I suppose,” he giggled. “Someone already rang you then?”

“Maureen did,” I told him. “Does Cynthia know I’m going to be there?”

“Cyn didn’t even know I was going to be there ‘til just a little while ago. Now, get ready. They’ll be there in a bit.”

And just as we hung up the phone there was a knock on my door. It was Mal.

“You have to be kidding me?” I asked, standing there in my robe.

“Why?” Mal asked, blushing at the sight of me.

“I just found out I was going to John’s, literally five minutes ago, and you’re already here?”

“You mean you’re not going like that then?” Mal teased.

I rolled my eyes at him.

“I’ll just be a few minutes. Have a seat. There’s a pot of tea on the stove,” I called out as I went back into my bedroom to change.

I put on a pair of black pants and a dark blue turtleneck. It was a dreary day and I hadn’t washed my hair, so I picked out a cute little black motorcycle cap to wear and put my hair in pig tails. I pulled on some black boots to complete the look and decided there was no time for makeup, so I opted for a set of false eyelashes and lip gloss. That was as good as it was going to get that afternoon and if anyone had a problem, too bad. When I went back into my living room I found Mal at my dining table eating a biscuit and drinking a cup of tea.

“Hope you don’t mind,” he said with his mouth full.

I shook my head and laughed. These guys were really beginning to feel very comfortable around me! He swallowed down his cup of tea very quickly and brought his biscuit with him as we left my apartment. Neil was in the car and smiled as I got in. But when I shut the door too hard, he winced and grabbed his forehead.

“Easy on the door slamming, love,” he said.

Mal and I just laughed. I was glad I wasn’t hung over. I already felt like I could barely face Cynthia as it was. I couldn’t imagine doing it with a hangover! We drove for a while before finally arriving at John’s beautiful house, which I had been to before, but had never really seen until now. It was absolutely gorgeous. It was on a slight hill with rolling grounds beneath it. And everything looked marvelously green in contrast to the grey sky. I couldn’t help but daydream about the two of us living on the estate and the wonderful times we would have together playing with Julian and lounging around on the lush lawn just blissfully.

“You gonna stay in the car then?” Mal asked, startling me out of my daydream.

I jumped at the sound of his voice then blushed in embarrassment.

“Christ, love. You were a million miles away just then,” he giggled.

I felt silly. How could I possibly be fantasizing about something so ridiculous? Something that had no hope of ever coming to fruition? Even on the off chance that John and I ever did get together, which had slim to no possibilities of ever happening, things certainly wouldn’t be fairytale-like. John just wasn’t that type of person. Christina had a much better chance of having a fairytale life with Paul than any girl, much less me, had the chance of having with John.

I followed Mal into the house, where everyone was laughing and talking loudly, and rock and roll records were being played loudly in another room. I could hear baby Zak crying somewhere in a different room and Julian was running and clowning around trying to get everyone’s attention. George Martin came up to me the second he spotted me and kissed me hello on the cheek. Frankly I was surprised he remembered me. We had only met a couple of times.

“How lovely to see you again, Maggie,” he said sweetly.

He was such an attractive and debonair man. I found myself staring at him stupidly.

“Nice to see you again as well, George.”

I was afraid to ask about his wife, because I was sure things hadn’t worked out after the weekend we all spent in the country together, so I decided not to mention her at all. But then I was at a loss as to what to talk to him about. Music, of course!

“How’s the new album coming along?” I asked.

“Superbly!” he said. “Just wonderful. The boys are on quite a roll. I anticipate this to be their best album yet! Have they played anything for you from it?”

“Um… Part of ‘In My Life,’ I think it was,” I said. “It was very nice.”

I didn’t want to mention “Girl,” or that John was actually the only one of them who had played me these songs, just in case Cynthia was anywhere around.

“Oh yes, brilliant song, that is. Tell me, what did you think?” George asked.

“Yes. Brilliant,” I said truthfully.

When I saw Maureen enter the room I felt a sense of relief, as it gave me a reason to excuse myself from George. I went over to her and we spoke for a while before Pattie and Christine made their way over and joined our conversation. And before too long, Cynthia also joined us. Maureen was telling us a story about Zak and Ringo, which reminded Pattie of a story she had about Ringo and George, which then triggered Christine to tell a similar story she recalled about Paul and John. And when they were done, Cynthia spoke,

“Speaking of John, Maggie, I’m so thankful you two are friends.”

I felt chunks rising in my throat and feared if I opened my mouth I would vomit right there on their floor. I looked at Maureen, but her eyes were fixed on her feet. Christine widened her eyes at me, but offered no help, and Pattie merely bit her lip in anxiousness as to where the conversation was headed.

“Well, Maggie’s been a great friend to us all,” Paul said, walking over to us from out of nowhere.

I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. Always the politician. I could just kiss that man.

“Eavesdropping on our conversation, eh, Macca?” Cynthia smiled.

“My ears perked up when I heard Chris telling stories on me,” he grinned.

“Well anyway, I just wanted to thank you, Maggie. It’s sometimes difficult for our boys to trust people they didn’t know before they got...”

“Wildly famous?” Paul interrupted.

“Such big heads,” Maureen answered flatly.

And we all had a good chuckle at that.

“Truth is,” Cynthia continued, “John’s been a bit unhappy for a while and since you’ve come around and given all the boys a place to hang around that the fans and newspapers don’t know about, I’ve seen a sort of change in him. So, thank you for being a good friend.”

I felt just awful. I didn’t know what to say. Cynthia didn’t know it, but she was essentially thanking me for having an affair with her husband. Or did she? Was it possible this was her way of telling me she knew about us without actually telling me? I hadn’t gotten a good enough sense of Cynthia to know that answer, but my ponderings were disrupted when George came over.

“John says to tell you girls that the food is ready. He also said to say that, ‘Yes, that includes you, Paul,’” George said.

Paul lunged for George and he ran out of the room cackling with Paul following closely behind.

“Sometimes I could swear they’re still children,” Christine shook her head and laughed.

Though I was still shaken up by what Cynthia had said to me, the rest of the afternoon went just fine. But I wanted so badly to get John alone so I could tell him what she had said. I wanted to ask him what he thought it meant, or if there was even any hidden meaning at all? Perhaps I was reading too much into it? Perhaps I was worrying for nothing?

Brian had been there, but he avoided me all afternoon. In fact, any time I even looked in his direction he looked away so as to be sure that our eyes wouldn’t meet. The guys left when Brian and George Martin did. And I was ready to leave as soon as they were gone. I certainly didn’t want to hang around where there could be another chance for Cynthia to speak to me. But I had no such luck. I was riding home with Christine and even after Maureen and Pattie left, she stayed to help Cynthia clean up.

“Really, Chris, there’s no need. We have a cleaning lady come in and I can take care of most of this by myself anyway,” Cynthia said.

“It’s no problem. Do you want to keep this leftover food or throw it out?” Christine asked.

“Oh, I’ll probably keep enough of it to eat for dinner at least, since the boys’ session isn’t going to be over until late tonight.”

They wrapped up the food and put it in the refrigerator. And I wiped off the counters and tables.

“Oh you don’t have to do that. But thank you so much, Maggie, really. You are such a blessing. John’s right for being so keen on you, you know. You’re a lovely girl. You ought to hear the way he talks about you,” Cynthia laughed.

My face turned hot with embarrassment.

“Honestly, I may have to get you to teach me a thing or two. I just haven’t a clue as to how to speak to him these days. It just seems almost as if I don’t know him at all sometimes. Then he tells me about the laughs you all have together and, well to be honest, I catch myself wishing you and I could trade places.”

I was frozen in place, staring at her. I didn’t know what to say, or if I should even say anything. But she never looked up. She went on cleaning as she spoke.

“Would make things more simple somehow, I think. Take some of the responsibility off me, you know. I know it’s horrible to say and I don’t really know why I’m telling you all this, but… Well, I suppose it’s my own twisted way of trying to become friends with you too?” she laughed uncomfortably.

There was a different tone in her voice. Jealousy? Maybe a little, but I wasn’t sure that was it. Confusion? There was definitely some of that. Hurt? That was most likely what I heard just now. There was a hint of pain behind her uneasy laughter and my heart ached for her.

“Well, I think we better be going now,” Christine said, trying to save me, but doing so just a little too late. “Are you sure you’ve got this?” she asked.

“Of course. You go ahead. I’ll see you two later. Oh, you will excuse me if I don’t see you out?” she asked. “I must go find Julian.”

“Don’t worry about it. We know the way out,” Christine smiled.

“Bye, Cynthia. Thanks,” I managed to get out as my throat felt like it was closing.

Christine and I walked silently to her car and didn’t speak until it started moving and we were pulling safely away from John’s house.

“Oh my God!” Christine said. “What was that all about?”

“I don’t know, but I feel terrible,” I managed. “I could just cry. Do you think she knows? I mean, honestly, Christine. Do you think that’s what she was trying to say?”

“I have no idea. But I don’t think there’s any reason for you to feel bad. You heard her. John’s happy to hang around you. And judging by the tone in her voice, she’s happy he’s happy. I think the problem is when he’s unhappy. And that is a problem between them… Wow. They should really divorce. They just… they really should.”

“Don’t you even mention it!” I said. “I do not want to be the woman that destroyed beloved Beatle John’s ‘happy’ marriage.”

“Happy? Were you just in the same room that I was in? That woman is not happy. She is far from happy, Maggie. And I think that has little to do with you.”

“Yes, but that is not how it will look in print and you know it,” I said.

Christine was silent. She knew I was right. There was no way for John’s marriage to end and he and I to have a happy relationship. Not right now. Not with the Beatles as popular as they were. And certainly not now that he and I had been photographed together. I’d be ripped to shreds for being the one who broke up his marriage. No. Any hope for a relationship was doomed. It was as simple as that.

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