Part III: And in her eyes, you see nothing.
While Sunday passed like an unimportant event, Marnie wondered about the gorgeous men on table number nine the previous night. She had finished her set, sent a message for the handsome, big-eyed man in the red dinner jacket, and had simply lost track of them after that. Oddly, it had been because she was giving out an interview to a local magazine. Apparently, in the space of two days, word had spread about her and her seemingly boneless flexibility, and the whole of London was out to find out about her. But for all the excitement of having met The Beatles, she had no clue what became of them that night. The last thing she had seen from the dressing room vents was the image of some buxom blonde nearly rubbing her huge breasts against John’s nose while Paul, chatted a –smaller- friend of hers. The interviewer had caught her just as she had begun to dress back up in her regular clothes, and her interview took near an hour. After that, the boys had already left.
Monday morning, Marnie got out of bed as usual, putting up her curls in a tight bouffant atop her head, put on her little miss Money Penny outfit and headed out to the office. It seemed difficult to believe that so many great things had happened in one weekend, and yet, she had to go back to her regular job as a secretary in a publicity agency. She was five minutes late, and there was a long line of sweat trickling down her right temple when she arrived.
Her boss never saw her go in. While she saddled herself on her chair and pulled out her activity agenda, the huge man, roughly in his mid to late forties and sporting a stomach the size of a sceptic tank, caught up with her.
- Been up to any good, love?- He smirked.
- Your contracts are on your desk, Mr. Mills called, says his check bounced twice now and wants a full refund, and you also had a memo pending for signature regarding the new campaign for Hamlet Cigars. That’s about it. Good morning, by the way, Sir.
- It IS a good morning, isn’t it?- Marnie failed to notice he was staring at her super thin legs. – I couldn’t have been more rested this weekend… What did you do, Miss Drew?
There was something in his intonation that sparked a red alert flare in Marnie’s head, but she respectfully smiled at her boss. –Just went clubbing, sir. Thanks very much… had a lovely weekend…
- Well, just so happens I went clubbing too…- He leaned on her desk, and Marnie caught a disgusting whiff of drunken breath, probably stemming from the night before, or maybe early in the morning. There was no telling. – A mate of mine told me about this wicked dancer at the Imperial Tenor’s…
Marnie huffed as she put her glasses on and turned her back to her employer to face the type writer and continue with three letters she had left unfinished. – Well, sir, I’m sure you had a good time, then. –She swallowed hard.
- There was indeed a dancer there… -He walked around her and once again stood in front of her. – She’s an animal…
- Is she now?- Marnie addressed a single, quick look from under her glasses, and then returned her sight to her letters.
- You know damn well what I’m saying, Miss Drew…- He suddenly put his hand in front of her, and unlabeled her to continue typing. – From now on, I want you to dress like that to come here… -He took one hand to her face. –You should show what you have, love…
Marnie pulled her face away and looked up into his eyes harshly. –Mr. Gaunt, I have work to do, if you please…
- I am your boss here…- He smiled, seeming more and more disgusting to Marnie each passing second. –I say, forget about those letters and come into my office… I want you to take a memo…- He stood straight and walked into his office. –Now, please…
There was a foul smell of danger in the air, yet Marnie knew well enough how to defend herself. She took her memo pad and a pencil, and followed her boss into his office. She sat down on the chair across his desk and stared him square in the eye. –I’m ready…
The huge man grinned again and stood up, walking to close the door behind him. Marnie swallowed, regretting the moment she had agreed to follow him into the office. She shuddered when she felt his hands on her shoulders. –Dance for me, Marnie…- She tried to stand promptly, but the force of his hands was much stronger. –You’re not leaving here until you dance for me…
There was no doubt about it: She was scared. She knew that there was no way she would let her boss, her ugly, fat, foul-breathed boss have his way with her, especially not when she knew she could have someone the likes of John Lennon or Paul McCartney, or Mike McCartney, or even that gorgeous, blonde fellow they had taken with them that Saturday night. But trying to run would be pointless, so she decided to use more wit than force.
- Very well…- She side-grinned cheekily. –Clear up your desk, Sir…
- Lenny…- He smiled a dirty grin. –Call me Lenny…
Visibly excited, he walked and allowed Marnie to stand up while he cleared his desk and then, he stood, eagerly, in front of it. –Dance!!
Marnie removed two pins from her hair and her luscious curly mane dangled down over her shoulders, making the man gasp. She bit her lower lip in the most enticing way she could, and began a softer version of her glorious go go, as she walked closer to her shocked employer, who had obviously begun to form a sickening erection. His breathing got heavier when Marnie licked her upper lip and put a leg up on the desk, bearing it all the way up to her upper thigh, almost showing the first half of her groin.
The man released a moan, and suddenly took two steps forward, taking her from the back and digging his fat lips into her neck. –I want to fuck you, here and now…
- Good luck…- She giggled, and before she could even think anything else, she
took a right fist up to his nose like her daddy had once shown her. While he bent forward grabbing the bloody septum, a pointy little heel went flying straight into his gonads, and Marnie winced at the sight of the boy scout tent under his pants. She took her leave and rushed out like a bat out of hell, taking only her purse and coat.
She ran all the way down the stairs and almost tripped over, losing one of her shoes in the narrow flight of stairs. She cared not. She rushed outside and flagged down a taxi, getting into it and disappearing from sight.
She rushed over to Mam Sheila’s. Ingrid had a day job and would probably go to Marnie’s only in the late afternoon. Marnie certainly wasn’t going to head for her apartment to be alone. Her boss, or now former boss, knew where she lived, and she feared he would go there looking for her, making matters a little bit worse. Much as she disliked it, Mam Sheila’s was the only place she could think of.
She stood before the huge door and banged her open fist repeatedly, still trembling. In a matter of seconds, Tyson, the butler opened up.
- Miss Drew! You’re here during working hours, what a surprise!! – He smiled, but his face fell the moment he saw the anguish in hers. –Won’t you come in?
- Thank you, Tyson. – Marnie pushed her way past the butler and ran up the stairs frantically. –Mam Sheila!!! Mam Sheila!!
The older woman stepped out and looked in both directions of the hallway. She finally turned her head down to the grand staircase where Marnie was running up.
- Good heavens, girl, what is this unseemly racket?
- Mam Sheila!!- Marnie hugged her, receiving no reciprocal embrace.
- Marnie, for heavens sake, get your act together…- Mam Sheila pulled away with a bewildered sneer. –Now, follow me, sit down and we’ll talk properly…
There were times when Marnie really did want to establish a tight bond with Mam Sheila, especially since she was the only relative left for her. But the woman always made it incredibly hard for her. Marnie began to have second thoughts about telling her the whole story, so she cleverly edited it while she followed the dour woman into what Marnie now called the “Scolding hall”. It was the large room where Mam Sheila had smashed her crystal egg, and it was the same room where everything else took place. Visitors, appointments, necessary conversations, business, tailor fittings, everything but eating and sleeping took place in that grand room with the huge fireplace and leather couches under a huge crystal candelabra which dated back to the eighteenth century. And come to think of it, Marnie could not remember a single day when Mam Sheila was anywhere else in the huge manor. There was a grand piano that was always kept in tune but was hardly ever played, facing a lovely panel window with a great view of a smaller version on the gardens of Versailles. Mam Sheila’s manor was, in itself, a smaller version of some sort of imperial mansion, large by any standard, but still not stately enough to be a palace.
- Very well, then…- Mam Sheila sat down in her little black leather couch. –May I ask why you are storming here like a rabid dog?
- I… I just got fired, Mam Sheila, I… Well, not officially, but I’m not going back there… I’m not.
For once, the woman seemed touched, especially when her stubborn niece’s eyes shone with tears, something she had seen only once before, when she collected her from the children’s’ home in New Jersey.
- Well, that’s unexpected…- she put her cup of brandy down on the little round table beside her. – May I ask why?
- Yes, you may…- Marnie tried to joke, but seeing she had failed miserably, she continued to tell her story. –M… mister Gaunt, he.. he tried to have his way with e, and I… I defended myself…
- How… did you… “defend” yourself?- Mam Sheila tilted her head slightly, almost fearing to hear her niece’s reply.
Gulping and almost anticipating the look of shock on Mam Sheila’s face, Marnie lowered her head. – I… smashed his nose and kicked his groin… I lost my shoe as well...
- Oh, dear…- Mam Sheila covered her mouth, seeing as to the fact that despite her niece’s violent reaction, there would have been little else to do in such a situation. Punch or get raped? So she decided to shock the youngster. –You did well, child…
- What?- Marnie shot her eyes back up. –You said what?
- The question is “what did you say”? And I said, you did well. – She sat back again and took her cup back. –Very un-lady like, and definitely caused by that tiny little thing you’re wearing, but all the same, well done…
Marnie knew that the real reason behind the incident little to do with her current attire, a grey skirt which reached right above the knee. She never wore her teeny little dresses to the office. But all the same, to hear Mam Sheila say “well done” had been the most gratifying words she had ever heard from the rigid warden.
- Do… you mean that?
- Oh, gracious, girl, you think I’d go for a man who was trying to do his dirty stuff with you?- He gave her a reprimanding glance. –Not that you’re THAT chaste, anyway, but well, being forced into things is quite a different issue. Now…- She stood up. – Do you have any plans for work of any sort?- She turned sharply to look at her niece. –Please don’t say you’ll go back to swing your head in that… dance bar!
Marnie hadn’t even thought of any possibility of going in there as a steady job. Daddy had offered her employment, but only during Gig and Jig weekends. She had no clue how things would move from there.
- No, actually I have no plans…- She ran a hand through her hair.
- Well, I suggest you move back here to St. John’s Wood were you belong, since there’s no way you can pay the rent of that, err… “flat”, or condominium, or whatever it is you wish to call that hole you were living in..
- No way…- Marnie laughed. –I’ll find another job, you’ll see…
Mam Sheila sighed, sensing another upcoming debate with her niece. – Really? Another secretarial job? Marnie, you could be in Moscow, dancing before the president! Or in Germany, or before the king of Spain, or…
- To hell with the King of Spain!!- Marnie chuckled. –I’ll do secretarial work a hundred times before I dance Ballet for a living!! I love my little flat in Soho, I love my neighbours and I love my friends, Mam Sheila! I’m not moving back here! I can’t do a single thing here without you scorning at me!
- Well, maybe if you learned to do things the right way…
- You mean, YOUR way!!- Marnie stood up. – I can’t sit down, I can’t walk, I can’t even BREATHE without you telling me how to do it! Has there EVER been anything, anything AT ALL about me that has been right before your eyes?
- Nonsense, girl!- Mam Sheila slammed her hand on her chair. – You have potential to be a very refined person, yet you choose to be part of the riffraff!
- I said…- Marnie paced up to her. –Has there EVER been anything about me that hasn’t bothered you? Anything?
The two held each other’s stare for a long while in a silence that was more deafening than any noise. Marnie pressed her lips and nodded assent. –I thought so…
Mam Sheila stood suddenly and inhaled hard to shout at Marnie like a million times before, but instead, all that came out was a pitiful yelp and a gasp as she bent over, hand over her stomach, slumping back as she gagged.
- M… Mam Sheila??- Marnie leaned towards her. –Mam Sheila??- She ran out of the Scolding Hall, and shouted down the halls. –HELP!!! PLEASE, SOMEBODY!- She then ran back to her aunt, who was by now seated back and panting as if she had just ran up and down a hill. –We’ll get you a doctor, Mam Sheila…
- Don’t think for ONE MINUTE that you’ll get me anywhere near a hospital…- She panted heavily. –I’ll disown you if you do…
- But Mam, I…
- DON’T YOU DARE!!- The stubborn old woman turned with all her energy to her niece. – Do you hear me? I forbid you from it!
Marnie huffed an angered huff. –You stubborn old bat!!-
- No hospitals…
- All right, but at least we’ll call a doctor…
Mam Sheila would have certainly said “NO” to Marnie’s face, had she not turned her head around when Nana and Tyson entered the room, followed by one of the hundreds of cleaning housemaids that had paraded in and out of the manor since Marnie could remember.
Between Tyson and Marnie, they took Mam Sheila up to her bed (however reluctantly) while nana called a doctor.
Marnie felt like the smallest dirt fluff in all the world. True, Mam Sheila had a way of enervating her like no one… But all the same, she was her one and only kin, and the thought of her falling ill because of her own behaviour was a burden far too heavy to carry.
The doctor arrived shortly afterwards, and begged to be left alone with his patient… And patient was hardly the appropriate word for Mam Sheila when the doctor asked her to lift up her dress. Marnie and Nana could hear glasses falling and things smashing on the floor before there was some modicum of peace within the room.
The doctor emerged a half hour later, sweating and visibly annoyed.
- She’s a bit difficult…- Marnie explained.
- Indeed, miss…- huffed the doctor as he ran a hand through his hair. – Is she you mother?
- No…- replied Marnie abruptly. “She wishes…”, she thought as she phrased the right sentence for the doctor. –She’s my auntie and warden… Well, was till I came of age, really…- She grabbed his arm. –Why? What’s wrong with her?
- It’s hard to say, yet. It could be an ulcer, but it’s early to tell…- He pulled out his prescription pad and began to jot down the name of a medicine. – Here, it’s a painkiller. It should work on her… But I’d really like her to have some exams done…
- She’ll never do it…- Nana shook her head. –I can very much bet she won’t even have her medicine.
The doctor shook his head. – I just don’t know about that, but she’ll have to. If she gets any worse, please call me. And please try to talk some sense into her. She needs those lab tests. Rather I need them to scratch off the chances of anything other than an ulcer, which is otherwise easily treated…
The doctor handed the paper to Marnie, while Tyson showed him out.
Marnie tapped on the door and stepped in. – Mam Sheila?
- Come in, girl, quickly… and close the door behind you…- She replied weakly from her bed.
Marnie pulled a chair and sat beside her. –Are you better now, Mam?
- Somewhat…- The woman replied. She then turned to look at her. –Tests, like I needed them.
- But you do! What if this isn’t just an ulcer?- Marnie shrugged. –You have to cave in from time to time, Mam…
- I will not go and undress myself before some stranger in a white coat. –Mam Sheila replied harshly. –That’s that. I’m all right. Just buy that pain medicine, and I’ll do just fine. Now go on home, and think of what I’m proposing…
Marnie had a million arguments against Mam Sheila’s proposal, but not wanting to anger her aunt further, she simply nodded and walked out of the room, closing the door as she left. – She’s a piece of work, that one…- She rolled her eyes when she reached Nana.
- Go on, darling…- Nana gave her a comforting hug. –You go home, I’ll deal with your Mam, all right, love?
- Cheers, Nana…- Marnie smiled, and bounced her way down the stairs, for the door.
Still terrified to go home, she decided to take a spin through Regents Park. There was one spot there she had always loved. It was a spot that during weekends became a favourite place for children to go and feed ducks and geese, but early mornings, and during weekdays, it was almost empty. There was a large pond, like a small lagoon, lined by weeping willows. In the springtime it was generally quite lovely, as the tulips, poppies and roses would line the bottom part of the willows while the sun reflected its rays on the golden little shockwaves constantly spreading under the paddling of the ducks’ feet. Now it was only September, but the day promised to be a lovely one, at least weather wise. It was only about to be ten, so with the occasional exception of a man jogging in the morning or old ladies walking their little Yorkies, the place was almost deserted.
Marnie had been a regular there in her early days in London. Nana would often take her to ride a bike, or to learn how to skate. Feeding the ducks was also one of her favourite pass times. With a nostalgic grin, she reached into her purse, pulled out some biscuits she had saved for her lunch break and, crumbling one by one in her hand, she threw them into the pond. A smile arose on her lips as she saw how ducks, geese and swans turned to her, swimming in her direction, quacking happily as they shook their feathery tails.
- Here, chick, chick, chick…- She smiled as she tossed another handful of crumbs
into the water, and laughing soundly as she took another step towards the pond. It had been ages since she had last held the crumbs in her hand for the ducks to eat directly from it, so she propped herself forward, leaning over the edge, reaching out as she made more crumbles in her hand.
- HEY WAIT!!- Was the last thing she heard before she felt something or someone
push her from her bum, making her fall face first int6o the water. The ducks and geese feathered and fluttered away making an angered pandemonium over losing their lunch so abruptly.
Marnie gasped as she stood up, her clothes soaking wet and her hair flattened against her face. With her left hand, she removed her hair from her face, still gasping, and was once again met by the huge hairy face of a sheepdog, slurping her mercilessly
- Get off me!!- She whined.
- Bad girl, Martha, bad girl!!- Scolded the owner.
- Martha??- Marnie looked up and her eyes met those huge seemingly expressive eyes that always refused to speak. A very embarrassed Beatle’s jaw dropped to the floor.
- M… Marnie!! God! I’m so sorry!!!- He turned to look at the sheepdog and shouted at her. –Get over there, you!!
Slouching, the dog went to sit down by the bench while Paul leaned over and reached out for Marnie. –Ere, luv, ‘old my ‘and…
Her lower lip quivering in frustration, she stared daggers at Paul. This was just one of those days. She reached out and took Paul’s hand, if only to pull him into the water. With a loud and sudden “ARGH”, Paul also fell into the pond, emerging only seconds later in the same fashion, mop top wet over his forehead.
- Pfff!- Paul gagged and stared, wide-eyed, at Marnie. –What the bloody ‘ell did you do tha’ for??
- BECAUSE!!- She shouted. –Because you left and didn’t wait for me Saturday night, because I just got sacked, because my boss tried to fuck me, my aunt had a go at me, got sick in the bloody process and because your dog just ruined my only teeny little moment of joy today!! AND… I just lost my other shoe!!
Paul stared at Marnie and found it impossible to be angry. Her hair was a lot longer than it appeared, especially now that it was wet, it easily reached her belly button. Her mascara and eyeliner were smeared down her miserably pouty face, she was drenched and even in her own squeaks of frustration was some sort of joking intonation that Paul could have easily recognized in John Lennon.
Paul chuckled and with one hand, put the fringe back. –Ok, serves me right.- He giggled. – But we was waiting fer ya fer about an hour on Saturday, mind you…- he looked around him. –Ever seen 101 Dalmatians?
Marnie kept a straight face until she remembered the Disney flick, when both dog owners are thrown into the pond in Regents Park, no less, and also because of their dogs. Then Marnie broke into giggles. –I’m sorry…- she said. –I can be a bitch from time to time..
- What’s going on here?- Came the voice of the bobby as he paced towards the giggling duo. – Get out at once!!
- Sorry, constable… Paul explained as they both sopped out of the pond. –We lost balance is all…
- Indeed…- The PC eyed them up and down before continuing his round.
- Oddly enough,- He side smiled. –‘E never sez a blind word when Martha jumps into the pond, like.
Marnie nodded and shivered.
- Cum ‘ead. – Paul got out of the pond and reached out to help a soaked Marnie out as well. -You need to get dried off… I reckon you don’t want to go back to yer auntie’s…
- No, not today, but I do have to get home…
- Tell you wha’…- he offered. –Cum on over to my ‘ouse, I’ll lend you sumthing to wear, although…- He eyed her up and down. –I think even Jane’s things would be a bit big fer ya, but it’s better than nuthing…
Marnie nodded and followed Paul to his car. –Come along, Martha…- He said and then whistled as the dog merrily waltzed behind them. Despite the clear blue sky, a cold breeze had unleashed, and while Martha frolicked around chasing squirrels and butterflies, Paul and Marnie shivered their way to his car. Marnie expected something like John’s huge Rolls, but was shocked to find a teeny little green Mini Cooper parked. It was awesome how he managed to fit dog and people in it. Opening the door, Martha happily jumped into the back seat, and then he let Marnie in.
- It’s a simple model, this one..- He shivered as he sat behind the steering wheel, blowing breath into his hands. –… has no heater, so, I think we’ll ‘ave to cope with it till we get ‘ome…
Marnie observed in silence how Paul struggled to fit one leg into the tiny vehicle and then the other. It wasn’t until then when she became aware of the fact that he had legs that were not only slightly bowed in the middle, but also went on for miles and miles under his now drenched jeans. He wore a pair of loafers, and she could tell he had his bare feet under there. Aside from that, he wore a pink shirt (again) with buttons from the middle section going up to his neck, no sleeves, and unbelievably white arms with a soft fluff of black hair on each forearm.
-So…- He said as he spun the wheel in reverse, looking back. – What’s all this about you getting sacked and yer boss wanting to, err… You know..
- God, what a twit…- Marnie crossed her arms in an attempt to warm up. – He saw me at the Imperial Tenor’s on Sunday, so he must have thought I was some sort of tart…
- Well, I reckon it ‘appens. Many blokes take dancers fer ‘ookers, you know… It’s just a stupid cliché… - He smiled at her. –Personally, I don’t think you look like tha’ at all…
Marnie held on tight, while Paul seemed to spin into the curve like some sort of Formule One pilot. He laughed when he saw her panic stricken face and just shook his head as he leapt out of the car and opened his front gate. Two of the girls outside took the chance to peek into the car, seeing Marnie, wet and miserable. –Oi, look it’s ‘er again!!!
- Ah, not too friendly today, are we?- The other sneered.
- Fuck… off…- Marnie said, not even looking at them.
- All right girls, leave ‘er alone…- Paul said nicely, in big contrast with Marnie’s claws out attitude.
Slamming the car door behind him, he turned to Marnie. –Just take my advice, luv… Be nice to these ones. They’re the eyes and ears of the world…
- So I’ve heard…- Marnie shivered as Paul pulled over in front of the main door of the house. –But what when they try to eat my liver?
- They’re ‘armless…- Paul laughed aloud as he pushed the seat forward for Martha to climb down. –Go on, girl, let’s go…
The huge, hairy dog ran straight behind the house for the garden while Paul opened the front door, standing to the side to allow Marnie in. As she stepped indoors, loud hissing and mewing was heard before what seemed like a couple of cats disappeared faster than the speed of light.
As Paul stepped beside her, his arm brushed hers ever so lightly, but it was enough. Her skin rose in goose bumps and she had to lower her face in order to avoid meeting his stare. – Cum on in…- He opened the door to the main lounge. Marnie stepped in, looking around.
- And Mike?
- Gone ‘ome… Caught an early flight to Liverpool, ‘e did. That’s why I’m up right now, dropped ‘im of at Gatwick, otherwise, I luv to sleep in, at least until eleven…
- Aw!- Marnie moaned. –I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him, man!-
- That’s quite all right. ‘E left these fer ya…- He took another envelope of photos and handed it to her. –‘E just chose the better ones to take ‘ome, the cheeky sod.
Marnie turned with a smile. –Who else has been scavenging on these?
Paul stared for a few seconds, bit his lower lip and turned his face away. – Look, the way you are now, I think it’s better if you just went on and ‘ad a bath, or you’ll catch pneumonia…- He ran past her and disappeared up the stairs while he shouted out at her from the staircase. –Go on in, luv, I’ll just go and run it fer ya… Make yerself at ‘ome… oh, and err…- He peeked through the railing. – John took about six pickies frum there…
While she could hear Paul humming, his footsteps over the wooden floors above her, Marnie paced around his messy, stuffy and yet overwhelmingly cosy living room. There were a few pictures of him and Jane on the walls, as well as a lovely shot of the three McCartneys, their dad included. Over to the right, there was the huge telly she had seen before, and placed on top of it was a platter with dried up food leftovers in it. She chuckled, as she remembered all the times Mam Sheila had gone haywire whenever she left a dirty plate or a muddy trainer laying around. Turning around, she saw a small statuette of a ballerina bending over, her foot high in the air as she did a pirouette, her little china feet bound in little china bandages inside the little china dancing shoes. Marnie put a finger on it and ran a delicate hand up and down the leg.
- Bath’s running…- Paul appeared again and stared at her as she touched the delicate china figurine.- Like ballet, do ya?
- No, not really…- she smiled. – It was shoved down my throat. I love dancing, but Mam Sheila wouldn’t let me dance anything else other than ballet…
- I think Ballet’s luvely..—Paul sat down, towelling his hair with a huge, red towel. God, he looked so good… - Very delicate. Jane and I go to see it often…
- You don’t strike me as the ballet seeing type. – She smiled, looking at him.
- Oh, I luv a lot of tha’ stuff!!- He smiled back. – I luv classics and all tha’. I mean
yeh, I’m into pop, I play rock music and I’m a new member of the generation, but there’s something about the classics tha’s just too bewildering to me. You just keep finding new things, fer instance…- He went to his turntable and, being secretive, pulled out a record from it’s sleeve. When he put it on, it was a lovely instrumental, with lots of pipes and horns and violins, sounding new, yet quite classical. – Sound familiar?- he did the same brow dance John did, up and down, with a little grin that spoke more of pride than anything.
- I’m not too sure…- Marnie shrugged.
Paul turned and handed the jacket sleeve to her. Marnie’s eyes widened when she read the head title: The Family Way, Movie Score by Paul McCartney.
- You did this?
- Yep…- he leaned against his huge telly and crossed his arms. –I never would ‘ave been able to, had it not been fer the classics… I just didn’t see anything too rocked out in this one…- He turned to stop it.
- No, let me hear!!- Marnie protested. –It’s quite lovely!!
- I’ll tell ya what’s luvely, the overflowing bath on the first story of this ‘ouse!! – Paul laughed. –Go on. There’s towels in the white cabinet above the toilet, you can find shampoo and soap all around the bath, feel free to use anything. I’ll leave yer garment ‘anging outside the door knob, all right?I ‘ave sum plastic ‘angers in the loo, you may want to ‘ang yer clothes out the window to dry…
- All right, but let the music run…- She grinned as she took her leave, pacing up the creaky Georgian staircase. As she headed for what obviously was the bathroom, curiosity once again got the best of her, and she peeked in through a partially open door. The master bedroom… There was a huge king size bed with red satin sheets, a lava lamp that was very much like hers and a few portraits which, apparently, had his own name on them. There was a small window which obviously faced the front yard. There were a couple of couches on each side of the window, and a connecting door to the bathroom she was about to enter. On the side facing the bed, a huge dressing walk-in closet was close to exploding with clothes, mainly his. On his bed -ah, the ever dreamt of Beatle bed- was a small yellow dress, which Marnie assumed Paul had pulled out for her to wear. It suddenly struck her… It was his girlfriend’s dress. She was invading terrain she never should have been remotely near, even. She took three steps back, feeling the lush blue carpet on her bare feet, and made her way to the bathroom. She was delighted with the tub, a huge, black and white tiled sunken bath, with jars of all shapes and sizes around it, containing all sorts of bath and shower goods: Soap, scented bath salts, bath oil, bath capsules, lotions, shampoos, conditioners and all else that could possibly have been created for the purpose of personal hygiene. She turned the taps off and, cautiously removing her clothes, walked to both doors, the one in the hall and the one from his room, to lock them. Cute as he may have been, she wasn’t too keen on being seen naked so easily, especially because, to her mind, there wasn’t much to behold, anyway. She had always been small breasted, had never had much of a bum either, and was all around skinny. The only body part she was proud of was the narrow waistline she possessed in contrast with the slightly rounded hips. Perhaps even the little yellow dress would be too big.
She could hear the lovely music playing from the bottom of the house until it was over. It was funny for her to even think of what any of those girls outside would do to be bathing in Paul’s huge sunken tub, or even set foot past the big green gate. It seemed amazing how hard it always was to get in touch with your idol when you looked for it, but when you didn’t, it seemed to come with amazing ease. She reeled back, remembering how it had all begun. John in the Imperial Tenor’s… Paul in The Bag O’Nails… It just seemed too easy to be real, and it brought her a huge riff of laughter. The Beatle-nut inside her was still struggling not to detach the Beatles from the men, even if Marnie Drew desperately wanted to see them otherwise… especially Paul, who seemed so intriguingly complex, yet so easy to talk to.
She reached out for a little bottle of shampoo, and poured it into her hand. As she began to lather it on her head, the smell reached her nostrils like the most delicate perfume ever. It smelled of him.
Marnie shook her head, wondering what was taking over her. It’s not like she even had a crush on Paul! Sure, he was good looking… No, in fact, he was devastatingly gorgeous in a perfectly boyish sort of way. John had always appeared to be the interesting one. And he was, every bit to that. Yet she had not seen him since the previous Saturday, and even then, they hadn’t had the chance to talk. Then, Paul’s words came to her mind. “John took about six pickies frum there”… Was that good? What the hell did that mean? What would John do with those, anyway, especially when everyone knew he had a wife at home?
She meandered around such thoughts when a soft and muffled piano began to sound from not too far away. Marnie rinsed her hair, finished her bath, and cleaning the huge tub as best she could, dried off, reached out for the dress (which Paul had now placed, as promised, on the door knob), hung her wet clothes outside the window and stepped out, hoping to get a glimpse of a real Beatle in action. She tiptoed carefully, aware that she was wearing nothing under the summery little dress, following the sounds up the stairs and down an even messier corridor. The walk led her to a vague cloud of weed, mixed with mild music coming from a piano and a guitar… and who played the guitar?
She paced a lot more slowly, and was able to pick up another voice.
- But if you change frum’ tha’ to tha’, my chord won’t sound the same…
- Ferget it, man! It’s good all the same!!
- All right, just a suggestion…
- Good enough, but we’ve already ‘ad the entire Sgt.Pecker thing filled with yer fuckin’ suggestions, luv. Let the other ‘ave a cop at it, all right?
- Hey, relax, man! Sgt. Pecker... geez...
- I’m not annoyed…
- Yes you are… You plonker.
- Make me…
- All right…
- ARGH!! You cunt!!!
- Give it yer best shot, then!!
- Careful, watch the wires!!!
- It’s not even plugged you clumsy git!
- Wait, yer gonna knock over me….***SMASH*** …bass… You clumsy fuck…
- Ere, boy, I’m gonna cripple you so good…
- You’d never ‘it a man in glasses!!
- Cum ‘ere!!
The playful noises could only be two people. Marnie tapped on the door and opened it to find two glazed-eyed Beatles making a mess. Paul was once again wet, only with tea. John lay on the floor face down, with Paul sitting on his bum and twisting his arm as they both laughed.
- Male bonding, I see…- Marnie grinned, making them both stop the game, and sheepishly standing up.
- Look!! ‘e poured tea on me shirt!!- Paul pointed at him.
John laughed as he pointed at Paul. –Should ‘ave seen ‘is face… he just went like “AAAHHH”…
Marnie laughed. –Probably same as this morning…- She walked inside and kissed John on the cheek. –You just slipped away on Saturday, didn’t you?
Marnie could feel Paul’s stare burning her skin while she spoke to a smiling Johnny.
- Well, no ‘arm done. Our son ‘ere’s got yer address and number, ‘aven’t you Paulie… PAUL!!
- Yeh? Wha’?- Paul suddenly turned to him.
- I said, do you know what ‘appened to Agnes Brown the day she lost ‘er ‘ead in a crowd of wheelers?
- You wha’?- Paul frowned, confused.
- Never mind…- John looked back at Marnie, who was having a hard time in containing her laughter. –So anyway, what became of ya, eh? You just went up into yer dressing room and disappeared frum sight…
- Who is Agnes Brown?- Paul asked almost to himself as he sat down, confused.
- I was being interviewed…- Marnie took a seat on a piano stool, noticing Paul’s face had suddenly become slightly harder… and still said nothing.
- Oh, yeh!!- John nodded with a smile. – Hey, Macca, did you see it?
- See wha’?- Paul spoke from behind the piano, where he had begun to plink plank a few notes randomly.
- God, son, where the fuck are ya today, then? Look!- John took out a newspaper from a fabric carrier bag he had with him, and went through the pages. He stopped, and folded the paper as he handed it over to Paul. –Right ‘ere… see?
Paul did his “Paul frown” as he read aloud. –New go girl shocks Lundun with groovy dance sessions at The Imperial Tenor’s…- he glanced up at Marnie. – Look at tha’…-
His voice sounded excited, so did his little grin. But his eyes again, told a different story. Disappointment? Jealousy? Confusion? Anger, mayhaps? There was no telling. He guarded it mighty well. But there was definitely something else in his glare.
- She’s gonna be bigger than The Beatles…- John nudged Paul. –Ever ‘eard of them?
- Oh, yeh, four Scousers, are they not?- Paul faked a notoriously polished Queen’s English. – They should really, really mind their speech…
- Indeed…- John continued the gag.
- Hear, hear…
Marnie giggled and leaned against the door frame, while Paul handed her the newspaper. She looked at it, and saw her photograph, up in the cage, black and white dress and white dancing boots. – I look awful…- She sneered and handed the paper back to Paul.
- You’re daft, you are…- John giggled as he shook his head. Paul remained quiet, staring at her. His silence, his entire and sudden change of attitude made Marnie churn and wonder in curiosity. What was he thinking? What was he feeling? Was he aware of his own effect on people? John made no secret of his real self, for anyone who had a decently functional grey matter could easily see behind his behaviour; But for someone as generally expressive as Paul, he could hide it real well. It was then when Marnie understood what John had meant when he had said that Paul was the PR man of the band.
- I think I look terrible…- She frowned and turned to Paul, leaning on the black grand piano. –What do you think?
Paul gulped and stared into her eyes for what seemed an eternity. He turned his eyes back down to the keyboard and absent-mindedly continued to plink on the notes at random.
- I like the pickie… But…- He looked up at her, and in a gesture that shocked even John, Paul smiled and spoke, not just with his lips, but with his eyes which, for a brief second, sparked a light of life of their own. –…I think the real thing is worth more than what any photo could possibly ever depict…
John glanced at Paul, his eyes as wide as the little glasses in front of them. Marnie took it all in. The brief seconds in which Paul had spoken, he had apparently said more than what he had in three or four days. In an attempt to find out more, she turned to John and hugged him. – Oh, I just got complimented by the cute Beatle!!- She joked.
John smiled instantly and responded to the hug. –That’s all right, luv, ‘e may be cute but there’s little else to him…- Paul’s plinking stopped, and he just rolled his huge cow’s eyes to John as he continued speaking to Marnie. –Ever seen ‘is feet?
- Wha’… JOHN!!- Paul stood up with an amused and mockingly angered grin on his face.
- Known the bloke fer years, luv… I can tell ya…
- Shut it!!- Paul raised his finger and pointed at John as he began to blush.
- ‘E’s got a teeny, shrivelled little….
- ENOUGH!!!- Paul tackled John away from Marnie and punched his arm repeatedly. While John rolled around the couch in deep hysterics, Paul turned to Marnie, panting, eyes wide open and blushing furiously. –I… err, well, that is NOT true, fer starters…
Marnie was also laughing by now. It seemed that there was only one person in the world able to effectively crack the thick ice between Paul the impresario and Paul the human being… and his name was John Lennon.
Once things quieted down, Marnie sat on the uncomfortable-looking leather couch, seemingly calm yet giddy for being a witness of Beatle wit in process. Apparently, once they stopped horsing around, they could really get down to serious business. Paul fished out a couple of good tunes on the piano, vague sketches of random tunes and very heavy honky-tonky riffs in vaudeville style. John rarely sat at the piano, instead he played his guitar and came up with strange, intricate and unusual music patterns that seemed to loop one into the other like some sort of “intentional coincidence”. One was very classic, the other very innovative. It was almost as if each of them plastered their true personalities… While John always seemed to thrive in the new, Paul remained loyal to the tried and true. One wanted constant change, the other searched stability. One was very acid and poignant, the other was melodic and traditional. One was a pointy rhombus, the other was a conservatively round circle…. The extrovert and the diplomat. One was Paul and the other was John.
At some point, Marnie excused herself to see if her clothes had dried off. She had left them hanging out the bathroom window to dry and it was already closing to three o’clock in the afternoon. But she was shocked when she noticed they were not there at all. Now, she knew she wasn’t going mad; She was a hundred percent sure she had left them there, so, what the hell had happened?
She walked back up and told the boys about the missing garments, including her underwear. While John –who was now seated behind the piano- broke into a second fit of giggles, Paul stood up, and pressed his lips together with an angered. –Bloody ‘ell…- He ran a hand through his hair and paced through the room, grabbing Marnie’s hand as he pulled her down to the second story of the house. Marnie got a first hand quick tour of the home of a Beatle, who, by the way, had her hand clasped in his. He dragged her along to the bathroom and let her go only while he peeked out the window. Like her, all he saw were the empty hangers.
- This is so fuckin’ daft….- He moaned again as he walked out, once again grabbing her hand and pulling her around, out the WC ensuite, down the hallway, down the stairs, past the main door and out the cobblestone driveway. He began to twist the knob of the huge green gate and peeked out, still holding Marnie’s hand in front of all the apple scruffs.
- All right, you lot, this is NOT funny!- He protested. –I know one of you nicked ‘er clothes, now give ‘em back!
The girls all held irreparably evil grins while one of them spoke. –But we didn’t take ‘em…
- Look, Jo Jo, I’m a nice bloke but I do get mad when people start picking on me or me mates…- Paul shook an angered finger before her face. –I know it’s not the first time one of yer climbs over me fence, and god knows it’s easy to reach the bathroom window, and I know one of you took Marnie’s clothes… - pressing his lips together, he addressed a reprimanding stare at all of them. –Cum ‘ead, ‘and them over…
- Hey, isn’t that one of Jane’s dresses?- A hefty girl with a thick Texan accent said as she held her laughter, staring at Marnie from head to toes. – I think it looks better on Jane, at least she has a nice body to fill it in… You look like a church bell in it…
All the girls laughed aloud while Paul shook his head from side to side, getting angrier each passing second.
- Well, - Marnie replied with a cheeky grin. – At least I don’t look like a hippo, like you might…
The girl’s smile disappeared, and a stare of sheer hatred left her eyes in Marnie’s direction. Paul bit his lip, not quite knowing which side to take, but fully comprehending Marnie’s anger.
With a sigh, Paul pulled Marnie back inside, and turned around to address the girls. –You know what? Maybe you lot should go ‘ome fer the night, I’m really not too happy with any of you right now, and I don’t wanna go around saying nasty things I know I’ll regret, so… go on ‘ome, all right?
As he closed the gate, they were both able to hear one of the girls shout out. –Now you’ve gone and made him angry with us, you stupid cow!!
Paul was about to re-open the gate and begin his long withheld speech of obscene Liverpool lingo, but Marnie held him by the arm. –No, never mind… - She shrugged with a huff. –You’d break their hearts…
- Yeh, well, they keep breaking mine.- He pulled out a cigarette and lit it as he shook his head. –I’m really very sorry about all this. They’re quite mellow when Jane’s around, but sumthing sort of clicks wrong with ‘em when she’s not ‘ere…
- Forget it…- She smiled. –However, I think it would be wise not to take this dress with me, you know…
Paul nodded and ran a hand through his hair once again. – I hear yer…- He bit his lower lip as he thought of a possible solution. Suddenly, the angelic face was twisted with a hideous sneer. –This is really quite silly, but… - He looked her in the eye. –You might want to borrow sum of my things, per’aps… - He clenched his teeth. –I know you’d probably look like Dopey frum Snow White, but…
Marnie broke into a healthy, long laughter, which in turn made Paul chuckle.
- So much for all the flattery I’ve been hearing!- She gasped as she tried to control the giggles.
- I don’t mean it like tha’…- Paul smiled back. – I mean…
- Oh, stop it, you’ll bust a vessel!- Marnie gave him a friendly nudge as they walked back into the house.
Paul walked ahead of her, knowing he’d probably end up seeing more than what he was entitled to if she walked up the stairs ahead of him. As they headed up the stairs, they were both able to hear John singing something all the way from the little studio room. Paul stopped halfway up the stairs and pulled her to the side with a mischievous grin.
- Shh, listen to tha’…- He winked at her, unaware that every time he did that, she went close to turning into froth. – It’s his egg- man song…
- His what?
- Shh!! Listen…- He took a finger to his lips and turned his head to the door
Marnie pretended to have her eyes set on the long staircase ahead, but truth of the matter was that she was sinking in the sight of his profile… Perfect, she concluded. Eleven out of ten, no doubt. Huge, black, curly long lashes, a fine, straight nose that was, apparently, the most beautiful nose she had ever seen, at least so far. Pouting lips, upper lip ahead of lower lip, both fleshy and ready to be bitten, rounded chin with an almost imperceptible dimple, a long neck with a dark shade of what could later on become a fairly bushy beard all around the jaw; small ears, half of them covered by a small batch of shiny, black hair… No doubt about it, the judges would give this one a high rank in a male beauty contest. She reasoned Paul was not the handsome type… And yet, he was the single most physically perfect man she had ever met. He wasn’t the man wild hero stories are made of. Not big, chiselled and manly, not a body worthy of Tarzan, even if there was a Jane there somewhere… More like the perfect beauty of a Greek statue. That was it… Not handsome, but overwhelmingly beautiful.
John’s song reached her ears as he sang out a line, apparently ad-libbed, something about knickers going down. Paul turned to her with his usual frown. –‘Old on, that wasn’t there before!!- he whispered.
- Song inspired by recent events, I reckon.- She put the hair behind her ear.
Paul shook his head with a chuckle and continued to pull Marnie up the stairs to his bedroom. –Cum ‘ead. Let me find you sumthing before John gets any more ideas…
- Yeah, like seeing me wearing men’s clothes won’t be enough reason for him to laugh at my expense.
Being in Paul’s room a few hours earlier had been one thing; but being in the room with him in it was quite another. It took great effort to continue acting casual and not project bedroom eyes of any sort. Marnie remembered how a friend in the Royal School of Ballet had classified the Beatles into different activities. When asked who her favourite Beatle was, she had answered something like “Paul for shags, John for piss ups and giggles, George for deep conversation and Ringo to hug at night like a teddy bear.” Seeing Paul as he ruffled through piles and piles of trendy and obviously expensive clothes, Marnie began to wonder if maybe her friend had a point. Maybe one COULD slip each of them into those categories. Then again, Paul seemed material worthy of analysis, more than a “shag” experiment. Marnie definitely was intrigued to discover what hid under the perfect façade of diplomacy. But then again, his entire body language as well as his physique left a lot to the female imagination, and did, in fact, make it hard to imagine anything aside from… well, shags. Maybe if he opened up just a tad, she may begin to consider… She shook her head violently, ridding herself from all those ideas as Paul finally pulled a pair of pants out and dropped them on the bed.
- I know it’s not quite yer style, luv…- He said as he put his hands on his hips with a loud sigh. - …but it’ll get you ‘ome well enough. These are a bit tight on me now, although… Well, you try ‘em on, I’ll let you ‘ave one of Jane’s belts. Tha’s a lot easier to conceal. I think John may be able to give you a ride, anyway. Now ‘ang on, I’ll look for a shirt, or sumthing…- He once again took a dive into the closet, while Marnie stared at the pants. They were too long for her and too short for him, and apparently the same math applied to the waist size. But the garment itself was a lovely, psychedelic purple with green patterns emblazoned randomly. Quite a trend setter, this McCartney. It was easy to tell he probably had a lot of contacts with the trendy, top class society, all the while maintaining a simple frame of mind. Finally, Paul emerged with a white shirt and a small belt. –Ere, you’ll ‘ave to roll the sleeves up, though…-
- As well as the trouser legs…- She giggled. –Thanks a bunch, Paul…
- Don’t mention it…- He smiled back and threw the cigarette butt into a large and empty trash can. –I figured it’s the least I can do. Those girls can be quite a difficult bunch when it cums to my female mates…
Had he just said “mates”? Marnie shuddered as she tried her best to give him a hundred million pound smile.
- It’s understandable. I guess they all want to be the future Mrs. McCartney…
Paul returned a glare and a silence so confusingly anguished, it made Marnie wonder if this was one of those rare moments of brilliant exposure. He gulped and once again bit his lower lip.
- Well, at least somebody does…- He mumbled as he walked past her. –I’ll leave you to get changed, all right? Let us know when you want to go, I’ll ask Johnny if ‘e can take you.
With his leaving, he clearly marked that the point was not to be discussed any further.
Marnie was left with a burning sensation in his stomach. “At least somebody does”, he had said. What was he talking about? “At least”? Was he blind, or something? What did he mean, “at least”? Millions of women would give all four limbs to have that name and bear him dozens of pretty-faced, long-lashed, black-haired babies, and he knew it. Or did he?
“Ok, so he’s insecure… about what?” Marnie thought as she slipped into the pants which were, as predicted, too big for her. She solved the problem using Jane’s little brown belt. The shirt was made of thick cotton, so she didn’t worry about “transparency” issues as she rolled up the sleeves. She turned to look at herself in the mirror, and couldn’t avoid laughing at herself. Indeed, Paul had been quite accurate when he had said she’d look like Dopey of Snow White. It also seemed hilarious to be wearing the clothes of a man millions of women dreamt about day and night. This was a man who was a constant topic of discussion, comparison, jealousy, masturbation, elation, glorification and a hundred other “ations”, and yet, there she stood, wearing his clothes and looking too dishevelled even to be a hippie.
“At least somebody does, at least somebody does…” She thought as she rolled up the trouser legs “What the bloody hell is that about, like he didn’t have any proposals? I’ll bet his mailbox is filled with them every morning…”
She walked back out and up into the music room, already fearing John’s sharp tongue. As she knocked on the door, she was able to once again pick up the faint whiff of steaming marihuana.
- Cum in, let’s see you model yer outfit!!
Shyly, she took a couple of steps inside, and as feared, John’s face shone with the glee of a child whose teacher is about to sit on a chair-full of thumbtacks. Paul just turned and stared, and stared… and stared some more.
- Well, all them luvely little news over this bum! – John joked. – A teenager from the Height dresses better!!
- Tell him, they’re HIS clothes. –Marnie nodded towards Paul, who still stared.
John laughed aloud and paced towards her as he put his jacket on. –I’m taking you ‘ome, ‘e sez…- He pointed at Paul. – It’ll be embarrassing, with you dressed like such a scab, but…
- She looks fine, John, leave ‘er be…- Paul mumbled as he finally turned his back on Marnie.
It was obvious now that Paul was no longer in a sociable mood. John sighed and shaking his head, walked to the door. –You can really be a drag sumtimes, son…- He took Marnie by the arm. –Cum ‘ead, luv, let’s leave ‘im to ‘is moping….
Marnie followed John and stopped just as they had reached the bottom landing of the stairs. –Wait, I can’t, I…- She pouted and ran back up. – Hang on, I’ll be right back..
She tapped on Paul’s studio door and gently opened it. –Paul? When can I give these back to you?
Paul raised his eyes to her and grinned sadly. –Keep ‘em. You look fine in them…
- No I don’t…- She laughed. –I look like…
- You look fine. – He insisted poignantly, staring her square in the eye before returning his eyes to the piano keyboard.
- Ok…- after a brief silence, she spoke again. –Look, Paul, if I said anything that may have hurt you, I…
- No, you didn’t…- He sighed. – It’s not what you said at all… - He looked up into her eyes. –I just… I can’t… I…-
Here it came.
- I can’t figure you out…- he finally blurted. –I really want to be yer mate, or sumthing, but… - he shook his head. –I can’t figure you out at all…
Paul’s words shocked Marnie to no end. She felt her jaw drop to the floor while he continued. –You’re smart, talented, not to mention beautiful, but it’s like… you ‘ave sumthing in yer ‘ead, all the time, and you don’t let a soul inside…- He trailed off just as he noticed he was giving his own game away. Realization hit him as his own jaw hit the floor. They were mirroring each other. And both had begun to feel like they were standing naked in a forum filled with screaming apple scruffs.
After a quiet stare, Paul looked back down at the piano. –I think you’d better go… John’s waiting fer ya…- And away he went into a world of absent minded piano plinking.
Marnie stepped out with a sigh, feeling not only nude, but deeply shocked and insecure, not to mention saddened by the fact that the cute Beatle had just about literally kicked her out of his home. Each step she took, she knew it would have to be one of the two to crack first, and she honestly didn’t want to volunteer to be first…
John stood by the door, fidgeting and biting his nails when Marnie descended down the stairs.
- All set, then?. He smiled. –Let’s go…
- Right.- Marnie smiled, using her best mask, as was her way… and Paul’s.
John searched his pocket as he and Marnie cruised the cobblestone driveway, and just as they reached the green gates, Marnie turned her head. There, on top of the white ledge, stood Paul staring at them as they left, like a ghost staring at his past.
After a quick rush of goose bumps, Marnie sighed and turned to John. The handsome, auburn haired Beatle grinned at her as he opened the green gate. –Give ‘im a couple of days, luv, ‘ell be as good as new.
- What’s wrong? What did I do?- Marnie shrugged after seeing from the corner of her eye how Paul’s figure had disappeared.
- You did nothing, luv. ‘E’s just in a hurry to…- John stopped, knowing he was short of betraying his friend’s trust. –Never mind, just don’t feel bad, all right? Yer innocent, free of all charges… Cum on…
The giggles from the girls outside were unavoidable. One of them was even cheeky enough to point at Marnie. –I love your clothes, darling!!
- Yes, fab, aren’t they?- Marnie said to her as she shook her head in the same cheeky attitude. –They were Paul’s, by the way. Too bad you’re not the one wearing them, you’re really missing out.
John stifled a laugh as he led her to his car, which was, by the way, another teeny little Mini Cooper. Marnie shrugged and turned to John. –What happened to the Rolls?
- You didn’t think I’d be driving that bastard meself, did you?- John laughed as he opened the door on the right to get behind the wheel. – I let Les do tha’… This one is Cyn’s…
- The missus…
- Oh, yeah…- She nodded as she stepped inside. –Hit’s amazing how people can squeeze into these little things, isn’t it?
- If I only begun to tell you of all the things I’ve squeezed into in me life…- He glared at her with that somewhat tantalizing stare that was so Lennon it was scary to behold. Marnie, however, laughed heartily.
- I can’t even begin to imagine… starting by all of them…- She pointed at the apple scruffs who continued to snicker and point at Marnie.
John sneered. –Ha, haha.. Them? They don’t bathe in weeks, tha’ lot…- As he started the engine and began to drive off, one of the girls continued to shout all sorts of horrible things at Marnie, until John lowered his window and sneered at them. –Shurrup, you stupid little cow!- he shouted, and away he drove, giggling like a kid who’s just thrown a brick through a window. Finally, he turned to Marnie. – Them girls are either yer best mates or yer biggest fuckin’ nightmare. Paul gets them the hardest. Ringo, George and I live right outside Lundun, so it’s not too bad. Actually, we get sum pretty decent people, blokes a lot of the times, who just want to shake yer ‘and and take a photo of yer. Sumtimes I even ask them into me ‘ouse…- He chuckled. –You should see the bloody faces they make, man, you’d think they’d reached Nirvana, or sumthing…
Marnie stared at John as he spoke. Like Paul, he had a body language all his own, only not quite as different as Paul’s. John, however, had a mesmerizing quality that she failed to see in anybody else. It all boiled down to one thing: An overwhelmingly magnetic charisma. That was all there was to it, and even if it were more, Marnie would probably have no words to describe it. John could easily hypnotize the pants out of anybody with just as much as staring. His voice, nasal and coarse, was able to reach parts of the mind one didn’t even know were there. One couldn’t be around John and not feel that immediate shockwave his personality emanated, whether the person in question liked him or not. One thing, however, was for sure: John was every bit as interesting as she had always thought he would be, but maybe Paul was too… Even more, perhaps, because Paul was not at all what he seemed. With John, it was a take it or leave it sort of thing. He was exactly what he reflected to the world. Paul on the other hand, turned out to be a lot more complex than what he had always seemed to be.
It amused Marnie to see John slouch down on his seat whenever they stopped at a red light, so as to avoid stares from other drivers. During one of these stops, Marnie sat, with one leg up on the seat, looking at John. –How on earth do you fit down there?
- I don’t, I’m fuckin’ achin’ all over. Is the shaggin’ green light on yet?
- Bloody ‘ell, why does it take so long?
Marnie stared ahead at the road. She held her breath when a crowd of teenaged schoolgirls wearing their school blazers with “Long Live The Beatles” pins on them crossed right in front of John’s car.
- Stay… low…
- Screamers ahoy…
John made himself into an even smaller ball, looking up at Marnie with a wince that was either wholeheartedly playful of the result of serious pain, if not both. –I ‘ave a cramp on me left leg!!! Argh…
- There, green light’s on!! Sit up!!!
- ‘Ang on, I can’t move me clog!!
- Foot, majesty, foot!!!
Cars had begun to honk their horns at them, just as John once again settled back on the seat and drove away. The look on his face, despite the obvious pain, depicted amusement. God, it was so easy to tell how John felt, unlike his Beatle friend and partner.
Marnie stared with a grin. –Get a lot of this, then?
- You’re the Beatles Fan, you should know. – He spoke, as he turned left from Regents Street to Oxford Road. –What is it that makes you birds go bats? We’re not that clean, we are definitely NOT wholesome and sure as ‘ell we’re not fuckin’ lovable, so…
- The world doesn’t know that.
- Well, you do now..- John smiled as he looked into his rear view mirror into the cleavage of a lady driver behind him. –What’s yer opinion on the Fab Four now, eh?
Marnie bit her lip and looked in the other direction, thinking of words that would describe yet not reveal her real opinions. – You’re every bit as fun as I had imagined.- She smiled.
- Reality, - He sighed as he spoke, -leaves a lot to the imagination.
Marnie nodded acknowledgement. For someone as witty and fast as John, he seemed remarkably calm at times. And truth be told, he could really come up with great thoughts. It seemed John’s life was ruled by a set of regulations all his own. It took Marnie a while to fully understand what he had meant, but unlike Paul, it was easy to, once the words had been laid out. All the while, she was still trying to crack the mystery of “At least somebody does”.
They took an indicated turn on Firth Street, and John pulled over. -‘Ere we go, that’ll be three and sixpence, miss… Cash only.
Marnie chuckled. –Can I pay you with a measly glass of water and a joint?- She looked at him, her black eyebrows arched over her huge green eyes.
- Weed, eh?- He giggled. –Mighty naughty, are we? Yer auntie raised a fine little swine…
- Aunties do that…- Marnie nodded, following the joke. –I’m sure you can tell me straight.
- Me? Naah. I’m a volunteer in the red cross, I’m a virgin and I’ve never ‘ad a thing to do with the drug scene.- The comment was followed by a loud cackle. –Mimi’s dun a right proper job on me, ‘asn’t she?
Marnie was laughing hard. There was more to John’s words than just the words themselves, but rather the intonation and flair with which they came out. Cards on the table, he was a riot, much like Paul’s kid brother.
Looking around for his safety, Marnie beckoned him out of the car, and John rushed swiftly across the road and up into her home right on #13 Soho Square. Given the fact that he had removed his glasses to avoid recognition, he bumped nose-first into the door, and had to touch it to feel where he was going. “The man is a blind as a bat”, Marnie amused herself thinking.
When they reached her flat on the third story, Marnie noticed the door was open. She knew the only other person who had a key was Ingrid, so she turned to John as he rubbed his face and placed the glasses back on top of his nose. –I think my friend Ingrid’s here…- She grinned and turned back to the door, only to do a double take on John. –I’ll get you a bag of ice for that.
She pushed the door open and dropped her belongings on a pouf. –Ingrid?- She called out.
- In the bath!!- Came the reply.
- I have heavy stuff to tell you. –Marnie grinned as she beckoned John over to take a seat, putting a finger over her mouth so he’d remain quiet to surprise her restless friend. –You’d better come out here, love.
- I swear Marnie…- Ingrid shouted from the can. – If you were in Cavendish again today and you didn’t screw the brains out of Paul McCartney, I’ll have to smother you in your sleep, so help me!
With her jaw almost touching the floor, she turned her face to John, feeling her cheeks blush madly, while John grabbed a satin cushion to stifle his laughter.
- Get out here!!- Marnie shouted while John still tried desperately to catch his breath.
- Hold on, I’m…
- Aw, all right, all right!!- Rumbling noises came from the bathroom while Ingrid collected all her things. Out she came, paddling wet feet across the carpet, wrapped in merely a towel and her hair dripping all over the clothes she held in her hand. –Marn, this better be good, or I swear I’m gonna k… k…
Still gagging from laughter, John looked up at her. –Well, Paul didn’t get any today, I’m afraid, but frum the looks of it, you look ready fer it!! Nice towel!
It took Ingrid roughly two hours to be dressed and dry. Two hours, basically because the first was spent with her trying her best to get a grip after seeing John Lennon in Marnie’s living room. The other hour was used to detangle the hair which had gone dry while still tangled after a bath.
After that, the evening was spent drinking expensive wine, smoking pot and playing poker. John had originally suggested strip poker, saying he was terrible at the game and could very well end up starkers well before they, but the girls declined nonetheless, and all that was gambled in the end were cashew nuts and pretzels. Twice, John was banned after pulling an ace and then a queen from his sleeve, or better said, from under the table. The only objection John saw to the evening was that there would be no “crumpet”, a statement to which the two girls responded in the shape of an angry rain of cushions.
As the evening wound down, Ingrid lay, knocked out on a pouf after one too many glasses of Chianti, while John and Marnie looked out the improvised balcony, staring at passers-by.
- I really don’t know what to do next…- She shook her head. – I really don’t want to go back to Mam Sheila’s… I love it here…
- It’s all right, yeh…- John looked back. – It’s cosy, in a groovy sort of way.
- Right… try telling that to my auntie…- she shrugged and huddled into her big, woolly jumper. –I honestly don’t understand if it’s her or if it’s me, you know…
John turned to her completely, and removed his glasses as he tried his best to fix his mesmerizing stare into hers. – Give us yer story, luv. I won’t tell if you don’t…
It had been too easy. John wanted to hear and to be heard, and it was plain to see it wouldn’t take much for him to completely break the barrier and spill the beans.
Marnie gulped hard, wondering if maybe John’s personality had the same effect on everyone, or if it only worked on her, and as an obvious deduction, on Paul.
- Ok…- She sighed as she turned her face to the window. –What is it that you want to hear?
John stared at her, almost afraid to say something the wrong way, and after a few moments of hesitation, he swallowed, hoped for the best and opened his mouth. –How was it fer ya? Life, I mean…
Marnie was able to hold his stare while a turmoil began to stir up like a labyrinth of thoughts and feelings.
- Very well…- She licked her lips and finally addressed her sight back out the window, words slowly leaving her lips like she were painfully spitting out needles and pins. – My life was perfect once… I wasn’t rich, I wasn’t stunning, I was just, Marnie, you know… When my dad died, it was like…- She sneered, trying to find the right words. – It was like someone punching a hole on a perfect record, you know… But then, there IS no perfect record, I still had my mum. She and I were tight, really.- She chuckled with a memory. –My dad used to call me bagel mouth, and mum always made extra chunky bagels for me because of it. She was a great cook. One of my greatest memories is that of a lovely smell of biscuits in the oven as I returned from school. But, like they say, nothing good lasts, does it?
- I ‘eard tha…- John shook off the ashes of his churning cigarette and continued to listen.
- Well, one day, mum and I are out shopping for groceries, and she just… She fell down. She never walked again. It turns out that I was ten years old when the fuckin’ doctors diagnosed my mum with Lou Gherig’s disease…
- And what does tha’ do to yer?- The Beatle tilted his head to the side.
Marnie shrugged and sighed. – It paralyses your body gradually. First it starts with a tickle, or a numb foot, or something of the sort. Then you can’t feel a thing, and finally, your nerves die out and you can’t do a thing. One day mum was all right, dancing with me in the living room, the next day, she falls down at the supermarket. It was the beginning of the end. – She reached out for one of John’s cigarettes. Marnie didn’t smoke tobacco too often, but she did enjoy the occasional fag once in a while… Like after sex, or during any form of intimacy, such as this one. John lit it up, still holding his stare at her. –Thanks…- She exhaled the smoke. – Mum was lucky, though… Most people can go on for years and years with this thing… Mum went to bed one night, and died in her sleep. It was that simple. No gasping, no choking, no anguish. Simply….- She grinned the saddest little smile John had ever seen in any woman. –…went in her sleep. I was thrown into a home till Mam Sheila got me out. Been with her ever since.
- And ‘ow old were you?- He asked very softly.
- Thirteen.- Marnie pressed her lips together. –It was bad at first. My parents were very liberal, free spirited and all. Mam Sheila is quite the opposite… The only way I could ever get to dance was when I promised I’d go to the Royal School of Ballet….
- You’re a ballet dancer?- John replied in surprise.
- Of sorts. I can do it, doesn’t mean I like it, though…- She shrugged. There was a brief silence while the sky slowly went from pink to blue to black. – I really wish things were different for me… It’s like a bad dream, you know, it started when I was ten, and I won’t wake up. It’s not always a bad dream though, but a lot of the times it is…
- And ‘oo’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?- John replied softly.
Marnie turned to John. His glare had changed, and he suddenly seemed the warmest person she had ever met. The stare wasn’t cold or distant, but comforting, embracing and deeply understanding.
Some unknown feeling took over her, or rather a feeling she had long ago tapped, apparently, without much success. Her eyes welled up in tears as she fell into John’s embrace, a warm hug that proved more soothing than any dance, any joint or anything else at all so far. John just held her in silence, a silence most welcome to her.
- God, I know it, I know it all…- His voice finally broke the silence. –I swear, yer story sounds like something anybody could ‘ave said about me own… Me dad left, me mum died, me auntie brought me up, quite iron ‘anded, Mimi… God, I ‘ear you so good…
They stayed there for a few minutes, in a quiet and very mutually comforting silence. Both had been only children, with maybe John’s exception of a couple of half sisters which he hardly ever saw. In their heads, they had begun to wonder if maybe this was what having a sibling of the opposite sex was like, someone who could understand, who had lived the same experiences and who knew first hand what pain and frustration behind a happy mask were about.
Marnie almost asked about Paul…
But if she had managed to get through to John in little over a weekend, then by God, she’d crack the other nut all by herself… and maybe, just maybe, get herself another brother.
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