A young woman lay in depression for the duration of a whole week. Marnie just couldn’t stop the hammering in her head after opening up to John. It had been the first time she had opened herself to anyone, even Ingrid and Nana, who knew her story but had never seen the depth of the wound. It seemed odd to believe she had poured her heart and soul out to a man she had known for little over a weekend, let alone a man whose face was one of the most sought after faces in the showbiz industry, but John had struck a deep nerve. After her own tears, and while Ingrid snored blissfully in the living room, John too had opened up his life’s story to Marnie. It was as if they had both lived the same life in a split frame of circumstances; A change of life, being raised by someone other than a mother and a father, the loss of their parents, having no close brothers, aunties with arms of steel, and an all around feeling of loneliness that was well hidden behind a thick layer of sarcasm, wit and a cynical outlook on life.
The rest of the week she ensconced herself in her little Soho flat, wondering how she would pay the rent, how she’d make ends meet and how NOT to go back to St. John’s Wood with Mam Sheila. On another part of her mind, and despite her struggle not to think, she had a certain chap named Paul constantly battering her brain cells. She was aware that the ball was in his court now. He had her number, but she didn’t have his. She knew where he lived, but she really didn’t want to feel like she was pestering him by going on over and over to number seven. If he at all wanted to get in touch, he would.
But what if he didn’t?
To make matters a bit worse, Marnie received an envelope with a lawsuit form her boss, demanding some overwhelming sum of money for physical assault. She had never had the need for lawyers or anything even remotely close to any form of legal issue, so she was stuck in a crossroad. She knew that Mam Sheila would probably see to her defence, maybe even pay her fine, but after that she’d have the burden of her auntie’s “I told you’s” for the rest of both their lives.
By the time Friday morning rang ten, Marnie decided she’d had enough. She got out of bed, rang Ingrid at her office and asked her where she could find Daddy. If Janet McVindow had not yet returned from America, she would gladly fill in for her… and maybe even accept the job permanently. Ingrid told her that Daddy was definitely at the Imperial Tenor’s, given the fact that he lived in the flat right above the joint.
Marnie drew a thin line of black kohl and put her huge mane in a ponytail, which she tied with a green ribbon, matching both her eye colour and the cute baby doll dress she wore with a set of black boots. After spaying a vague cloud of Vanilla scented perfume, she made her way out of the flat, and took the usual stroll up to the Imperial Tenor’s, making heads swivel and turn, earning herself whistles, sighs and gasps of both lust and jealousy from just about everyone around her. Miniskirts and minidresses seemed to get shorter and shorter, and even when September was now turning into a cold October, women wore little over a pair of knee socks, fishnets stockings or simply bare legs under the little garments.
When she stepped into the Imperial Tenors, she noticed how dreary a club was in the early hours. Chairs were stacked up on the tables, the lingering smell of old cigarette smoke and spilled drinks rising from the sticky floor as she paced through the dance floor. Marnie glanced at the dancing cage she had seen lots of times before she had actually been inside it.
- Can I help you? - Came a heavy voice from behind her.
Marnie turned and saw Rick Rock standing there. Upon seeing her face, the huge bouncer smiled. –Oh, fancy meeting you here, princess…
- Will you ever grow up? -
- What, more? I hardly fit into my clothes at it is, love. - He leaned over and kissed her cheek. – Can I be of any assistance to her royal highness?
- I’m looking for Daddy… -Marnie sat on one of the rounded seat cabinets. –Is he here?
- He’s upstairs, counting tickets…- He leaned against a concrete post. –Need anything?
Marnie gave him a wide-eyed grin. –Yes, I need to talk to him.
Rick Rock shook his head with a smile as he looked to the floor. –Stubborn little girl, you… Hang on; I’ll see if he can see you…
It took daddy five minutes to forget what he was doing and rush downstairs to Marnie.
- Hey, lovely! How are you today?
- In desperate search of permanent employment, thank you very much…- She grinned and stood to give the limping club owner a kiss on the cheek. –Is Janet back yet?
- Yeah, she’s in London…- The man shrugged. –But you’re the one the audience wants now. You’ve been in the papers now, love, you’re some sort of local celebrity, everyone wants to come and see you now!
Marnie’s eyebrows formed an inverted V. –Y.. you’re gonna sack Janet?
Daddy sighed and sat in front of Marnie. . - You have a better suggestion?
- I don’t want her to get sacked because of me!!
- Ahem…- Came Rick Rock’s voice. Marnie and Daddy turned simultaneously and saw him leaning against the same concrete post. –I think it would be fair to let the audiences decide. If we have a dance match between Jan and her, let the customers vote for the best one, and the best one stays.
- I sense I’m going to get myself yet another big fan…- Marnie hid her face in her hand, thinking of all the apple scruffs.
- It’s better than just sacking Jan, don’t you think? - Rick Rock shrugged.
Daddy was pensive, and finally, he nodded. – Right, then… No cage. - He looked at Marnie. –Of course, I wouldn’t want to force you into an unpleasant situation, love, so you have to tell me if you agree…
Marnie stared from Daddy to Rick Rock and back to Daddy. – A dance contest? You mean, like… In front of the crowds? - She gasped and looked down. –N… Not tonight, I hope…
- No, this would be tomorrow night, darling. – Daddy held her hand, patting it reassuringly – All the invitations for the VIP’s have already been sent for tonight. We’d have to rush out and have some new ones done for the special event tomorrow, so…
- And who’s dancing tonight?
- You, I hope…- Daddy pleaded with his eyes. – You know I’d pay you good, love, probably better than Jan.
Marnie sighed as she thought, and after a few silent moments, she huffed and stood up.
- Might as well…- She put her bag over her shoulder. –I need to pay for a lawyer, I won’t be able to if I have no money…
- Lawyer? - Daddy also stood with a frown. –Why? Are you in trouble?
- And then some…
- Why? What happened?
Marnie once again sat down as she told Daddy her story of her sacking as well as how she socked her former boss a couple of good punches. Daddy giggled and nodded as he listened. –Well, serves him right, I say well done, girl. – He laughed his usual, big, loud, healthy laughter. – And he still has the balls to try and sue you?
- Seems that way…- She put a big, thick black curl behind her ear.
- Well, tell you what…- Daddy stood up and escorted her to the door as she listened patiently. – If you do win the contest tomorrow, if you decide to stay, well, I’ll make sure you’re completely covered legally. I’ll find you a great lawyer; you won’t have to worry about a thing, all right?
- But I have to worry about getting the spot first, right?
- You’d be great here. But we’d also have to be fair on Jan…. – He shrugged. –She may be an obnoxious cow, but she’s been dancing here for about five years now, so she deserves at least a shot.
With a big smile, Marnie turned and hugged Daddy. –Thanks so much, daddy. I won’t let you down, you’ll see…
Marnie walked back home, not quite knowing what to do. She was getting big, it seemed, and Mam Sheila always read the papers. But not taking the job when her rent was due the following week would be a stupid move. Then there was the issue of Janet McVindow. Even if Marnie was perfectly capable of standing up against oddities, the last thing she wanted was a go-go girl catfight. And from what she had been told, Janet was no cutie pie, even if she appeared to be. There were many things to consider, including the nagging feeling that Paul would not go to see her…
She let herself into her flat, and slumped back on her bed, wishing for enough money to buy herself a bottle of that Chianti that she, Ingrid and John had terminated only a few days earlier.
The phone rang, and Marnie grumbled her way out of her bed to the tiny lounge, where she plopped down on a pouf and took the receiver to her ear. –If this isn’t a very good and cheap lawyer or one of the Beatles, I’m hanging up…
The laughter on the other end of the phone could mean only one thing.
Marnie instantly remembered the glass dome inside Paul’s solarium, and how his kid brother’s laughter almost brought it down all over her, at least in her mind.
- Well, I could ‘ave been a banister, yeh, but unfortunately Paul took the best share of the action, and ‘e took the only remaining Beatle spot, so…
- Michael McCartney, you have no clue how happy I am to hear your voice, man!!! - Marnie felt herself smile. – Just how on earth did you come by my number, son?
- Well, Paul never checks his pockets when he sends his jackets to the dry cleaners, so….
- You cheeky little…- Marnie gasped. –The number I gave him at the club!!!
- You are terrible.
- I’m a dirty low life, I know…- He giggled. –But face it, you luv to ‘ear me voice every now and then…
Marnie sank into the pouf. –No kidding… Are you in London or still up there where you went without saying goodbye?
Mike moaned aloud. –Aw, stop tha’! I felt terrible! Did Paul give you them pickies frum the club?
- He told me you went and took out the best shots back with you, you little pig…
- Damn right, luv! I’ve been telling everyone to go down to Lundun…
- So you’re in Liverpool.
- Yeh… But mind you, I finished five film rolls on yer, and I think I only left you with about ten or eleven pickies, at most…
- Indeed…- She frowned. –So you took the rest?
Mike chuckled. –Mr. Lennon, Mr ‘Arrison and Mr. Older brother…
- What? George Harrison took some? - Marnie sat up suddenly. –When?
- I dunno, luv, you ‘ave to ask Paul…
There had been a certain way in which Mike had said “Older Brother” that made Marnie a bit restless.
- How many pictures did you see were scavenged from the lot?
- Well, Lennon insisted in taking the ones where you look funny…- He laughed. –Claims ‘e likes you best like tha’. George only took a couple, where there’s all of you girls in the line. I luved them, bloody Paul, just gave ‘em out like soddin’ candy… And our kid took, well…
Mike sighed. –‘E took quite a bit. Sum of which make you look all natural and smiling, like. Most of them were the ones I took of yer when you was at ‘is place, in the solarium.
There was an eerie silence. The more she tried to understand that guy, the harder it seemed and the more walls she encountered. Was it possible that one could only know Paul through another sense, a sixth sense, other than hearing, touch, smell, sight and taste? If he had taken those pictures, her best ones, why hadn’t he shown any interest at all? Was he interested, or did he just think of her as some sort of walking piece of art of sorts? In fact, what the hell did he really think of her?
- Anyroad, I ‘ave to go to Lundun this weekend, and I’m bringing Angie with me…- He chuckled. –Not Judy, luv, Angie…
- Oh, piss off…- She laughed.
- She’s dead keen to meet you, you know. I told ‘er about all yer crazy antics and yer swingin’ and all tha’ and she sez she’d luv to see yer in action. I’ll be there tomorrow morning… Are ye dancing tomorrow night?
It was reassuring for Marnie to hear Mike would go. At least now she had a cheerleader of sorts… and maybe it meant Paul would go too.
- Yeah, great thing to hear you’ll be there, too. They’re setting me up to dance against this other girl who used to work there, or who works there, like to see who gets the job, you know…
- Booo!!! Go, Marnie!!
- I’m glad to hear you’ll be there, Mike. It’s reassuring. Try to coax more people, too…
- Sure, luv, I’ll bring daddy bloody Crimbo if I ‘ave to, but you’ll get a decent cheer, you can count on tha’…
- Gear, then. I’ll ‘ave to call our kid and tell ‘im I ‘ave yer number, or ‘ell probably go potty…
- I don’t think so…- Marnie replied sadly.
- Wha’ makes yer say tha’, then?
- I think I may have made him angry…- She sighed. –I think I said something that sort of upset him…
Mike sneezed over the phone and then spoke again. –Sorry… wha’ was tha’ again? You said sumthing wrong? Now you long fer yesterday?
- Sort of…- She chuckled. She went on to tell him the story of the previous Monday, how Martha had pushed her into the pond and how in turn she had pulled him in as well, how Paul had allowed her to have a bath; Mike found the part of the theft of her clothes especially funny. But when she told him about how Paul had lost his humour when he said, “at least somebody does”, there was a clear tension in the line.
- …And what’s more…- She shrugged. -…He just told me to leave, just like that. Not rudely, more like the typical “I think you’d better go” thing… I still have his clothes neatly folded somewhere in my closet, I really DON’T want to keep them, but I know I can’t just waltz in there like it was my home… I honestly don’t know what I did wrong…
- I think I can see why ‘e’s got a sulk on…- Mike sighed. –And yer right, it’s not a good idea to go there right now, Jane got back yesterday…
Visions of seeing Paul in the club on Saturday night crumbled down in a horrible cascade of disappointment. She continued to listen to Mike as she gulped a hard knot in her throat. – Do you know Jane? I mean, ‘ave you seen ‘er in any of ‘er films and telly ads and all tha’?
- I think so…- Marnie frowned. . - She does that Breck thing, right?
- Yeh, that’s ‘er… Anyways, she and Paul ‘ave been at it now fer…- she heard him count. - …four years now. Paul’s just recently gotten over all the touring havoc the lads ‘ad to go through with the Beatles, and ‘e just wants a nice ‘ome to cum back to, you know… A wife, a couple of babies, maybe… But Jane’s really career oriented, you know. She just keeps going off on tour. They fight all the time because of tha’. Remember in the glass ‘ouse, when I told you ‘e was ‘eartbroken? It’s because of this, you know. ‘E just wants ‘er to marry ‘im, settle down and all tha’, but she’s got ‘er career as ‘er first priority…. So our lad goes around a lot, you see. ‘E’s always been randy, but I know tha’ once ‘e ties the knot, tha’s it fer ‘im, ‘e’s off the meat market. But to be honest, I see at least another good two years before she sez "I Do”. God knows ‘e luvs ‘er to death, but I just dunno ‘ow long it will take fer ‘im to see Jane’s not fer ‘im any more…
The silence that followed was broken a minute later when Marnie huffed a very short and to-the-point –Wow…
- So you see, tha’ sort of gives yer an idea…- He chuckled. –Now she’s back and them ugly scruffs ‘ave quite probably grassed on ‘im about you being there… Guaranteed quarrel, tha’…
- Oh, no…- Marnie sank her face in her hands. –I don’t want to cause him any trouble… I didn’t mean to…
- And if I know me brother, ‘e’ll vouch fer ya. Jane knows how catty them scruffs can be…
- Aw, stop. ‘E’ll defend you, basically because you did nothing…
- That’s not the thing…
- Then wha’?
Marnie kept silent and swallowed a hard lump of saliva and truth.
- I’ve had a tough week, Mike. I’ll talk to you when you get here; God knows I’d really like to see you.
- Fine, then. I’ll give yer a ring or sumthing… maybe you can take Angie shopping or out fer tea or whatever, while I set the lad straight…
- NO!!- Marnie sat up suddenly. –Please don’t say a word of this to him…
- No, luv!! - Mike laughed. –I meant I want me pickies back! I’m not daft, I won’t tell, don’t worry…
After a friendly goodbye, Mike hung up the phone and Marnie was left with the receiver in her hand, peeping insanely until she reached out and put it down.
So, that was it… Jane Asher. Man, she hadn’t thought about that one. Like many Beatle Fans, she had made the worst mistake: Think about them as perennial bachelors.
- Marnie, Marnie, Marnie Drwiscky…- She whined as she stood and walked over to her bedroom. –Way over your head, way out of your league…
Huddling up in her bed, she fell asleep again and didn’t hear the moment Ingrid stepped in. a few hours later.
- Wake up, man! - She shook her. –You’re dancing again tonight!
- Mhh? What??
- Get up!
- All right, hang on…
Marnie rubbed her eyes and grinned while Ingrid quickly changed clothes and did some of her makeup. –We’re a tad late, love…
- Do you know what I’m up against tomorrow?
- Yeh…- Ingrid turned with big incredulous eyes to her friend. – Daddy called me at the office to tell me. You’ll beat her by a mile, I wouldn’t be too worried…
- I really don’t want to get in a fight, Ingrid. - Marnie whined.
- Love, any of us wishes we had the chance to kick her arse, if only just for a small minute, so don’t you go on moaning about it. –She turned back to teasing her long, blonde hair. –Have you heard anything from any single Beatle?
- A Beatle brother…- Marnie grinned as she climbed out of the bed. –Mike called from Liverpool. Says he’ll be here with his girl tomorrow…
- AAAWWWW! - Ingrid turned to her, eyeliner in hand. –Mike has a girlfriend?
- Yeah… Quite taken too, you should see how his eyes glitter when he talks about her.
- Aw, fuck it! - Ingrid stomped her foot on the floor. –I really like him… And what about John?
- Not a peep…
- Huy…- Marnie stuck a hand in her hair. –He’s a mess, that one…
- Oh, never mind. - Marnie smiled as she took off her clothes and slipped into a completely different dress. – He’s just complicated.
- Do tell!!
- Wish I could…- Marnie shrugged. –Unfortunately, I don’t think I have enough to say anything that you don’t already know. Except that Jane is here now.
- Aw…- Ingrid sneered. –There he goes…
- What? - Marnie turned with a smile. –What do you mean, there he goes?
Ingrid shook her head and turned back to the mirror. –Cut it out, Marn. You can tell from a mile that you really had it for Paul…
- Rubbish, love. John’s my…
- Yeah, yeah, John’s your favourite… However…- She once again turned to Marnie, pointing at her with the tip of the liquid eyeliner. – You had John here all night, all smoochie-smoochie like, and not ONCE did I see either you or him throw passes at each other. But I can’t even begin to imagine the look on your face if that had been Paul on Monday.
Marnie turned unavoidably red. Much as she hated it, she had to admit that she was deeply taken by Paul’s charm; Part of Paul’s charm was his mystery, and his mystery was what she wanted to crack. It seemed it was mutual, too. Marnie caught her own feeling of despair whenever she thought that Paul might not go to the Imperial Tenor’s that night. To her, it would be like performing in a school play for the parents of every other kid, except her own.
After the thunderous silence, Ingrid sighed and gave it a rest. –I’ll go fix us some tea before we leave, all right?
While Ingrid was out of the room, Marnie rubbed cream on her long, skinny legs as her mind dowsed into the whole situation. Paul intrigued her… Yeah that was it. But then, why would she blush insanely whenever she thought of his mellow, doe eyed glare? Maybe because she had now been confirmed… They saw each other, like a mirror, and one is not always proud of his or her own reflection. Yeah, that had to be it. In his eyes, she saw nothing, and yet, everything seemed to be in there somewhere. But why was it that she so desperately wanted him to show up to see her dance? Well, one doesn’t always get to befriend a Beatle, right? It was not an every day chance, was it? It would be a crying shame to lose touch with him.
She was busy trying to find suitable excuses for her thoughts when she was brought back to reality by the sound of Ingrid opening the door for someone.
Marnie peeked out and took a few steps down the hall. She was shocked to find none other than Janet McVindow, looking just as cute as ever, and also royally pissed off.
- So you’re the big new swinger, right? - She nodded as she looked around. –You and I need to talk, love…
- So, who are you, anyway? - Janet smirked in irony. –Are you any good at all? In fact, who the hell knows you?
- Look…- Marnie raised her hands, knowing that if she didn’t say something fast she’d lose her patience and an argument would be born. –I really don’t want to….
- You think you can just come in and make a maelstrom out of everything while I’m gone? - She walked to Marnie, pointing a furious finger to her face. – I think you have to remember, love, it’s ME people want to see at the Imperial Tenor’s! I AM The Imperial Tenor’s as far as I’m concerned…
Marnie stared at her with a cynical grin. –Nice to see you back, Jan… how’s your American mate, Morrison?
- Don’t you dare fuck around with me! - The seemingly harmless blonde cutie replied with the voice of an army sergeant. – Who the hell do you think you are?
- Her name’s in the papers, Janet. –Ingrid shouted from the kitchen. - Check there, if you don’t know who she is.
- Shut up, Ingrid! No wonder you’re with the backup line…
- Where you will be as of tomorrow…- Marnie continued to grin. – I very honestly didn’t want to get into all this with you this way, but while you’re here, I think I’d better warn you… Daddy’s been keen to hire me, but he thought of your sorry arse, so we’ll play a fair game… Tomorrow we’ll have a dance contest. There the audience will decide who stays and who goes… I’m sort of the news over there right now.
- … And I’m afraid that the only news regarding you, Jan, was from a couple of Venereal Disease programmes…- Ingrid laughed again.
Janet huffed, lips pressed together, and once again shook her little ringed finger to Marnie’s face. . -Don’t you think for one second that this is over, love. I aint finished with ya yet, got that?
- Blah, blah…- Marnie turned her back to the feisty blonde. –You can see yourself out, love. I would, but I’m afraid I don’t want to, so…
Janet turned and walked furiously to the door, when she stopped at hearing Ingrid’s voice. –Oi, by the way, Rhino’s Horn is great to get you back on track, I heard…
She stood close to Ingrid’s face. –You said what?
- She said, Rhino’s horn is great to get you back on track. Popular Chinese remedy, now that you’re in Soho, you could take a spin through Chinatown and buy a packet…- Marnie smiled cheekily as she walked to the furious dancer. – Word has it you’re sort of frigid, is it true?
With a final angered huff, she turned and stormed out in a furious fit, while Marnie and Ingrid laughed insanely. The had remembered Paul’s flushed comment a week earlier, and that had proven of great advantage to quieten the obnoxious young woman down.
- She’s gonna be a handful, you know…- Ingrid chuckled as she took the tea tray out to the living room.
- Like I cared…- The curly haired girlfriend sat and poured herself a cup. – Honest, if I can’t dance there, I’ll find another job. It’s no big deal, man, but I don’t have to take that shit from anybody, you know. Not that it was so important, anyway.
- It is to her…- Ingrid replied, - It was her gig and now you’re all over the news. You know that interview you did the last time?
- Yeh, so?
- Well, Daddy told me that three of the Beach Boys came all the way from America just to see you dance, love. THREE BEACH BOYS!!
Marnie’s smile widened. –Which ones?
- How should I know? I hate the Beach Boys! Point is, word of you reached America while Janet was still over there, man! You’re taking her spot! - Ingrid laughed as she stirred two spoonfuls of sugar in her little yellow cup.
- Well, that’s what she gets for running off with that…- She snapped her fingers trying to remember. –What was his name?
- Oh, them!! - Ingrid replied wide-eyed. –Morrison, man! He’s the leader of what people say is this really gear new American band called The Doors, up and coming supposedly. I read some reviews of them. Quite frequently, the play at a club named Ondine’s in New York.
- The groupie in Janet McVindow has now led her to the old Americas, eh? - Marnie laughed as she stood up. –Let’s get ready. I’m not sure if she’s dancing tonight or what, but if she’s there, probably so is her following. I really want to be sure I know what I’m up against.
With an agreeing nod, Ingrid took the unfinished tea tray back into the kitchen, and after five minutes, both girls headed up to the club.
Marnie hadn’t quite picked it up yet, but she was suddenly aware that people pointed at her as she passed by, and some even honked their car horn, giving her the thumbs-up. It made her stomach queasy. Even if she had enjoyed the cheers and the popularity at the club, being famous was not something she had ever really contemplated on a grand scale. Upon reaching the club, shock took over as both girls noticed a huge wave of camera flashes, and the usual loud chanting from the line waiting to enter the venue, -MARNIE!!! MARNIE!!! MARNIE!!!
- Jesus, this is getting big. - Marnie gasped. –You don’t suppose…
- I know Mick Jagger must be here. - Ingrid gulped as they entered the back door with the aid of more bouncers they didn’t know. –If Janet McVindow is back, so is Jagger…
They were met inside by the overwhelmed greeting of the other dancers. – Bloody hell!! You must be a witch!! - The dancer named Leah smiled as she kissed her cheek. – I’ve worked here for six years, and the place had never been THIS popular…
Anita stepped into the chat as she slipped the dress over her bare breasts. –Only when the Stones showed up one day, remember?
- Oh, yeh…- Came the chorus of girls.
- No, love, even then it wasn’t as crowded as this.
- Is Jagger here? - Ingrid asked, wanting to confirm her theory.
The girl named Faye turned to her, huge spikes of teased red hair being submitted to layer after layer of hair lacquer. – I think Tom Jones and the Beach Boys are in the VIP line, but I dunno about Mick…- She giggled. –Beach Boys, man! God, I’m so bloody HOT for Denny Wilson!
- No, I like Mike Love better…- Anita interrupted.
- Oh, he’s here as well.
- Ok, girls, listen up!! - Daddy stepped in. Everyone knew Daddy was gay, and therefore, no one cared whenever he showed up in the dressing room, even if it meant seeing a bunch of sexy topless girls. – Tonight we have a huge crowd, and apparently tomorrow it’s an even bigger one…
- How many heads tonight, Daddy? - Leah called from the boudoir, where she was applying glue to the longest lashes she could find.
- Roughly two thousand…
The gasps came out in unison.
- Two thousand? - Marnie bit her lip.
- What can I say, chickie? They love you… I’m just wondering where we’re going to sit them all….
Hannah, the tallest dancer in the line, huffed aloud. –Yeah, that and the fact that Janet is back…
- Oh, she’s not!! - Came Anita’s sneering and disbelieving reply. –Is she dancing tonight?
- No.- Daddy sat down. – But tomorrow…
- Oh, yeh, the contest! - Hannah spoke
Leah put a hand on Marnie’s shoulder. –We all vouch for you, Marnie. You are far better…
- Not to mention nicer…- Faye giggled.
- Well, girls, today you do your best routines. The line won’t be dancing tomorrow…
- WHAT??? - Came Marnie’s anguished cry. –What do you mean, “no line”? Just me and her, up there?
- Of course! - Ingrid shrugged. –Tomorrow the crowds will be choosing between you and Jan, love! Why would they want the line there? Not much point, is there?
It was plain to see Marnie was short of having a cardiac arrest.
- Love, I’m sure you’ll do fine. - Daddy shrugged. – In fact, take my advice… Don’t dance too brilliantly tonight. She’s bound to be in the crowd, and she’ll steal your moves…
The proud peacock in Marnie suddenly took over. Her panicked face straightened, and she gave Daddy an arrogant smirk. –I’ll dance as good as I always do. I’ll just make up some new moves for tomorrow…
Daddy smiled back and gave her three gentle pats on the cheek. –You have spirit, love…
- Daddy, who’s playing tonight? - Jo, the last dancer, spoke as she left the WC.
- The Who…
- WHAT?? - Came the unanimous reply.
- The Who…- He smiled. – I think they want to see what you can do with their stuff, Marnie. Oh, and I’m sorry, but…- He pressed his big old fat cockney lips together. – I’m afraid there are no bugs here tonight…
“I knew it, goddamit all to fuckin’ hell, I knew it!” She lamented in her own brain as an otherwise aloof grin left her lips in a nod of acknowledgement while the rest of the dancers made a loud –Aaawww! -
- …But you do have something waiting for you… Over there…- He pointed at a large door with the empty walk in closet.
- Oh, yeah!! - Came the unanimous smiles from the girls.
Marnie paced to the closet and opened it to find a huge bouquet of flowers, the biggest she had ever seen. Mam Sheila had always ordered fresh flowers every day to decorate the hallways, and by the end of the day, she ordered to have them thrown out. Marnie had once shocked Mam Sheila when, entering the teenager’s bedroom, she found it lined with huge bouquets of all the flowers that had been thrown out the previous day. They were still beautiful and had no reason to lie in a dustbin somewhere. This memory struck her as she kneeled in front of the gorgeous flower arrangement and read the tiny note attached.
Bad case of the cooties. Must stay in the pool table. Please “humbubblely” accept
these weeds as proof of purchase and support for your wiggles. Tonight will be the end of today and tomorrow will be Saturday.
Have invite for big wiggler’s “contesticle” Will see you then.
A weepy hello,
John John the sailor’s Son.
- God, why can’t he just talk like normal, ordinary folk??- She laughed aloud.
- I had to read it, I’m nosey…- Hannah grinned. –But what the hell does it all mean, man?
- Is it from the John we all think it is?- Anita giggled.
Marnie sighed and slipped the note into her pocket. –One and the same…
She met the hopeful stress of all the other girls –with the exception of Ingrid- and had to say something. –He’s just a lovely man, you know….
- But isn’t he married?- Jo shrugged. –I mean…
- Yes he’s married.- Marnie huffed. –But we’re just really good mates, I think. We have this really great thing going…
- Mates… right…- Leah turned and re-touched her eye liner
Hanna chuckled. –Marnie, you can’t expect us to believe that a girl fan who gets flowers from a Beatle is “just a friend”, in fact, any man who brings flowers is definitely after something else…
- Bullshit!- Ingrid laughed aloud. –Believe me, they’re mates, I’ve seen them in action. All they do is cuddle, talk and drink like sailors. Besides, it’s not THAT Beatle she’s after…
While all of them gasped, Ingrid covered her mouth with both hands and gave her friend a look that read “OOOPS” all over it. While Marnie stared daggers at her friend, the unavoidable rainfall of questions began.
- Is it George? Is it?
- No, I’ll bet it’s Paul!!
- Oh, Paul! He’s so lovely!!
- Remember his little brother, taking all them photos?
- Go on Marnie, let on!
- Aw leave her alone, it’s her business!
- Have you met all of them yet?
- God, if you have, you really MUST introduce me to Ringo…
- Yeah! I haven’t seen HIM here!
- No, silly!! Ringo’s a family man!
- So is John, and he comes here!!
- Leave her alone!!
- God, Hannah, you got your knickers in a twist!!
- Well, which Beatle is it, then? And is he after you?
- Tell, tell!!
- Go on!!!
- You lot are a pain in the arse…
- We won’t tell!!
Marnie huffed aloud. –All right enough!!- She sat down violently on a stool and glued the lashes to put on her eyes. – If you must know, I get on very well with John, no, I’m not after him, and yes, I get on well with Paul, thank you very much, but I’m NOT after him either, or John or George, who by the way I only saw once… And no, Leah, sorry, I can’t introduce you to Ringo, because I haven’t met him …- She turned to the mirror and after powdering her nose, she lay one lash on one lid and then the other. -You nosey lot...-
While everyone chuckled and giggled, Ingrid walked over to her. –God, I’m sorry, I was just trying to get them to leave you…
- What’s done is done… I don’t think they’ll know a thing now… Besides…- She turned to Ingrid. –What makes you think I’m after Paul?
Ingrid smiled coyly. –Errr…. Did I actually SAY it was Paul?
Marnie stared at Ingrid, blushed and stood up, pulling the skimpy little black and white outfit down. –You realize we have to go shopping. Tomorrow I have to give this back to the original owner for her to use, you know…
- Yeah…- Ingrid side smiled, knowing she had definitely hit home with her guess.
Marnie questioned herself strongly. “After Paul? Am I after Paul? No I’m not…Or am I? Don’t be ridiculous, he’s not even your type… But then… No… No, don’t be dumb… What if maybe there’s more truth in it than I…” She stopped herself when she heard Daddy clapping in his usual form.
- All right, chatterboxes!! It’s show time!!- He walked up to Marnie. –Got my VIP tables to the fullest.- He winked. –There’s a couple of Beach Boys there, Tom Jones, Keith Richards, Michael Caine, Terence Stamp and The Shrimp, Andy Warhol and David Crosby of The Byrds. There are a few others, but no bugs at all… Sorry…
- Is by any chance my dear friend McVindow out there? - Marnie asked as she zipped up the white boot.
- Oh, didn’t I tell you? She’s sitting with the VIP’s… Came over with Mr. Jones…
Marnie paled. –I’ve fuckin’ had it…
- Oh, nonsense!! - Daddy laughed and hugged her reassuringly. – You’ll win them all right over. By the way!! - He stopped. – A gentleman dropped something here for you…
- A gentleman? - Marnie sneered, fearing her boss may have been in the surrounding areas. – What gentleman?
- Dark, bearded chap, bowler hat…- he walked past her back into the walk in closet and produced a package wrapped in brown paper. – He said it was very important to deliver this to you, straight into your hands.
Marnie took the package with a bewildered scorn. It was a roughly medium sized bundle tied with a couple of cords.
- When did he bring this? - She said as she put it on top of the boudoir and proceeded to unwrap it.
- Earlier today, just seconds after you left. - Daddy said as he sat down. – He looked pretty disappointed to have missed you.
Ingrid turned to look at Marnie. –Love, we’re on in five minutes.
Marnie continued to tear through the wrappings, and stopped cold when she recognized a fabric… It was a small dress… it was hers. She hadn’t seen it since…
- Oh, my God…- She gasped, putting a hand to her chest. – Ingrid…- She turned a pair of turquoise green eyes to Ingrid – Ingrid… My dress…
- Oh, God, he brought it back! - She gasped even louder, making the other girls begin to suspect something.
- Please tell me he’ll be here tonight! - Marnie looked up to Daddy suplicantly.
- I dunno, love… I’m not sure if he had a ticket, but maybe tomorrow…
- Damn! - She pulled the dress out and a note fell to the floor. She reached out and read to herself.
Here’s your dress. I took the liberty of sending it to the dry cleaners. I’m terribly sorry about the mess the other day. These girls can be mean when they make it their purpose. I really wanted to call you, but (speaking of dry cleaners!!) I left your number and address in my coat pocket, and I never saw it again. Come to think of it, I never saw my jacket again, either… Jane found your dress when Martha dragged it in from the garden, which implies one of the girls must have climber over my fence again and dumped it there when I wasn’t home for her to find. Don’t worry, it caused no trouble. I think she believes me more than what she believes them. Anyway, I know you’re probably really mad at me because of my behaviour the other day. I’m sorry I got so stroppy. I’d really like to see you sometime, so we can talk it out, ok? I lost your number, but here’s mine: 671.02.83 and 671.02.88 Please, please, please call!! I feel like a turd. But I guess you knew that already.
PS: This is a lovely dress. You should wear it more often. Not that you need anything to be beautiful. And I meant it when I told you that you could keep my clothes. I honestly do believe you looked nice… Homey nice.
“Ok, I have the phone number of a Beatle. And what in the world is Homey Nice?” Were Marnie’s first moonstruck thoughts.
- Well? Happy? - Daddy grinned at her
- Daddy, you made my day!! - Marnie leaned over and kissed his cheek.
The plump man released a laugh. –Lord it can’t be that good!! - He smiled and walked to the door. –Go on, girls!! Dance time!
Marnie had a surge of adrenaline as she rushed down the stairs, a huge smile plastered on her gorgeous face. Ingrid rushed past her and whispered something to her as they both reached the curtain behind the stage. – This time, you shag ‘im till you both pass out, all right? - She nudged her and giggled. –I knew it!!!
When The Who took over the stage after Daddy’s announcement, the crowd went insane, and Marnie began to believe they were the reason for such a numerous turnout. But when it was time for the girls to bounce onto the stage, there was an equally loud roar. Still from behind the curtain, Marnie could see Roger Daltrey himself shouting MARNIE!! MARNIE!!
She was announced. The crowd lost it. Marnie walked on the stage and addressed her stare to the VIP area. She wasn’t looking for The Beach Boys, or Tom Jones or Andy Warhol or anyone of the sort. Rather, she wanted to see the look on Janet’s face when she saw what she was wearing. But Janet was nowhere to be seen.
And as The Who opened with a trademark screeching of Pete Townshend’s guitar, the girls began to dance to the catchy and most popular tune, called “My Generation”. More people than usual invaded the dance floor, and it was easy to see that most of the extra bouncers were there to protect the band form an imminent and otherwise unavoidable scratch and tear session. Keith Moon screwed up much in the same style as the bass player of that first band, simply because he was unable to stop staring at Marnie.
From her cage, Marnie stuck to a slightly less dramatic act; The music was loud enough. But the audience began to moan, so Marnie took to her old split and tear and stretch and bend. Like all the previous times, sweat trickled and splashed all over the place as she finished an ill- prepared routine which looked as professional as if she had planned it for months.
One song down, the band instantly started on another, and Marnie and the girls had no chance to recover from the previous dance. All the same, they continued. Soon enough, two of the three Beach Boys had mingled with the crowd in order to get a better view of this awesome dancer. The Who stopped making mistakes, even when Mr. Daltrey couldn’t stop addressing winks and kisses to the girls.
When they were about to explode into their third song, daddy begged them to allow the girls to have a short break, and thus, off they went into the dressing room.
- God, that was merciless…- Anita huffed as she plummeted on a chair. – These fellows obviously have no idea what it takes to stand there moving your hips and arse non stop…
- Well, we lived through that one. - Ingrid drank from a glass of water.
- You won’t be able to even breathe past the next…
All the girls turned simultaneously to see Janet standing there, a smile so wicked it made all of them cringe, except, of course, Marnie.
- All right, the game is up, get lost…- Marnie sighed. –Your part is not on till tomorrow…
- You did well… - She eyed Marnie up and down. –… for someone as plain and skinny as you…
Marnie side grinned. –Just goes to show, love. I don’t need to look like a big-titted girl scout to be better than most.
- You think I can’t do what you just did up there? - Janet laughed. –Silly bitch. I’ve been here for over four years, and you think you can…
- About two, if you count all the times you don’t show up. –Ingrid sneered.
- Like when you went off with Roger Moore halfway through the show and the Gig and jig had to be cancelled. –Hannah spoke with another scornful stare. – You come here and think you’re Queen Shit when you left us high and dry last weekend? You should be on your knees, kissing Marnie’s feet for standing in for ya.
Janet raised an eyebrow and turned to Marnie. –Well, thank you very much. You’ve been an averagely good replacement, now will you take off my stage clothes and hand them over?
- Not until I finish my set. – Marnie held her stare. –Maybe you have some fans out there, but most of the people out there are waiting to see ME, love, not you, basically because I… CAN… DANCE. Something maybe you should learn to do.
Janet sighed and shook her head. –Stupid little girl… You with your flat tits and your flat arse and your skinny legs? Maybe the reason all these people are here is because you look like the circus freak! You don’t even fill out my boots, love! – Marnie’s bravado began to disappear, basically because Janet was hitting right where it hurt. – Your hair is a disgrace! I mean, from what Ghetto were you extracted? YOU ARE HIDEOUS!
- At least she showed up for the shows, you slag! - Ingrid stepped in.
- And besides, she’s everything BUT hideous! You WISH you could look like ’er fer FIVE MINUTES…- Came the voice from the door.
There, stood a man, black hair slicked backwards under a bowler hat, a well-trimmed beard over a black and white suit and thick seeing glasses over a pair of very large, very sad, intricate and expressive eyes.
Ingrid and Marnie gulped; the other girls looked on, unable to see underneath the disguise, and Janet laughed a mocking chuckle.
- Aw, Marnie, it’s you night in shining armour!! - She pointed at him. –You see? Only old fellows think of you now! I mean, how old is this geezer? Forty? Fifty?
- Twenty-five, actually…- He smiled.
An even louder laugh came from Janet’s mouth. –You what???
- You ‘eard…
- In your dreams, granddad! - She slapped him on the chest. – Marnie, are you at all capable of making this man get a decent hard on at all?
- Well, she’d probably be better at it than YOU ever were, Jan…
Janet’s smile disappeared. – What?
The “man” began to imitate a woman in foreplay. –Oooh, Paul, you like tha’, eh? Do you? Mmmmhhhh… Right…- He laughed. –Still use them funny purple knickers, do yer?
Jan’s face went white. –Oh, My God…
- I swear, it’s easier to get a dead woman off than you. In fact…- he walked to her with a cheeky smirk. -… I think Marilyn Monroe still thrills me more than the memory of yer naked arse…
- See? I told you she was frigid!! - Ingrid laughed, pointing at Janet.
- I don’t know who this bloke is, but he’s my hero…- Jo laughed aloud.
Janet stared at the man, her face frozen with shame and anger.
- You may be the cute one, McCartney, but maybe you didn’t get a rise out of me because your dick is so small, you couldn’t get a rise out of an African aunt…
- Wh… what di.. did she just call him?- Faye quivered.
- At least I know how to use what little I’ve got. It must be bad to 'ave a little and be no good at all, right? - Paul laughed.
Swallowing bile, Janet turned her face to Marnie. – I want you out of that dress tomorrow, and I want it clean. There’s no way I’ll wear it just like that after YOU’VE been in it…- She approached her with her finger to her face. – And if you think I’m just about ready to give up my job because of a fuckin’ Beatle, you got another thing coming to you, duck.
Having said this, she took her leave, and everyone in the room encored in a round of applause.
- All right, now…- Faye stood in front of him. –Did we hear Janet say McCartney, or are we delusional?
- Err, nope, you ‘eard right…- He nodded and removed the thick glasses. His eyes and his smile were unmistakeable. He held his hand out to Faye. –I finally get to meet all the other luvely dancers!! I’m Paul, and you are….
- F… Faye…- She began to weep. –Y… You’re my.. favourite…
- Aw, Ta. - He hugged her, and Faye almost fell to the ground as he turned his back to her. –Ok, you lot! Who are ya?
One by one, and trembling like jelly, each of the dancers introduced herself.
By the time he was through, Paul turned and saw Ingrid talking to Marnie, who sat on the far corner of the room, looking glum.
- Old on, ladies…- Paul said to them as he walked across the small, crowded space to talk to Marnie. –You ok, luv?
- No…- She whispered looking down. –She’s right…
- Aw, bollocks! - Ingrid replied.
- Bang on, it’s bollocks…- Paul nodded.
Marnie looked up to Paul. No it’s not…- She bit her lower lip. – I’m nothing, Paul, honest. I’m skinny, I’m bitchy, I’m not even a nice person.
Paul sat next to Ingrid and leaned forward. –My God, are you going to let tha’ catty slag get you down? - He chuckled and held her hand unexpectedly. – I swear, you are ten times the lady. You dance far better, and god ‘elp me, if you look so fab in men’s clothes… Tha’ sez sumthing, don’t it? - He touched her cheek to raise her face to his. –If you ask me, I think yer quite luvely…
- Oh… My… God…. - Ingrid said, trying to control her internal Beatlemaniac.
- Ingrid, luv!! - Paul stood up and removed the face beard from his face. –Yer looking as luvely as always! – Quick kiss on the cheek, and Ingrid fell, gobsmacked, on the chair. Paul then turned to Marnie again. –Feel better?
- I guess…- she shrugged, and then looked up to Paul. – I… spoke to Mike, earlier today…
- I know, the dirty little wanker took me little paper, sod it! - He laughed and shook his head. –Did you get yer dress?
- Yeah, Daddy gave me the package…- Marnie nodded, trying to hide the fact that her skin had gone up in goose bumps.
- Read the note?
- Well, what do you think?
Marnie rubbed her arm and sighed as she looked down. –C… can we talk after the show?
Paul smiled and looked around him before re-addressing the girl. – Any suggestions?
- Well, they didn’t recognize you…
- I’ll ‘ave to re-glue this bastard on, won’t I? - He sneered.
- To go out for a drink? I mean, I…- She bit her lower lip. –My place.
- Yeh!! –Paul snapped his fingers and pointed at her, so much like him. –You live round ‘ere, right? - He took his fingers to his mouth in a thoughtful manner (so Paul-like, it was painful to behold) and nodded. –Right. I think we can ‘ave a nice chat over a cuppa…
- There’s one thing, though…
- Yeh? Wha’?
Marnie knew she’d probably hate herself for what she was about to say. –I, err.. I heard your girl’s back… Won’t she be upset?
- No…- He shrugged. –I don’t think she even cares much. I asked ‘er to cum but she said she ‘ad sum reading thing to do… a play. –He shook his head and looked down. –Like she ‘adn’t been gone long enough, I reckon she’s sonly looking fer excuses, if you ask me…- His eyes met hers again. –I’ll wait up ‘ere, then…
- What? You’re not gonna watch the show?
- Are you mad? - He laughed aloud. – Without this thing? They’d eat me alive, luv!
- But John has been here! And you were here last weekend as well! - Ingrid finally came back from her temporary coma. – I mean, you can’t see the show from here!
Paul sat back, making the chair squeak. – Well, last time around there were like six ‘undred people, luv… Right now, it’s a lot more, you know…
- Fine girls, back on the stage!! - Daddy came back and all the girls suddenly turned to the door. Marnie smiled at Paul and gave him a gentle squeeze on the shoulder. –Maybe you’re right… You should stay up here.
- I can quite see the cage frum these vents, at least. –He smiled. –That’s all I want to see, really…. -
Marnie turned around and laughed as she ran a hand through her hair.
- Oh, and Marnie!!!
- Hmm? - She turned her head to Paul.
- Err…- He bit his lip and walked to the door. –Tha’ thing about me ‘aving a little… Err… you know…- He blushed. –Big fat lie, all right? Not true…
All the other girls giggled, making Paul blush with an even greater fury.
The dance was over a bit later than usual. The Who would play sets of two daces out of every three songs, so the girls ended up covered in sweat, exhausted and a tad dehydrated. All the same, Marnie was positive that she wanted the job, regardless of what Mam Sheila’s opinion was.
Going up the stairs, Paul and daddy received them with a big round of applause.
- Fantastic as usual, ladies!! - Daddy shouted.
- Best one yet! - Paul admitted with a nod.
Marnie turned a bewildered stare to Paul. –I… thought you couldn’t see from here, how did you…?
- I took the liberty of taking him over to the Jockey’s booth…- Daddy smiled and gave Paul a suspicious pat on the back. –Lovely lad, this one… Would have never guessed who he was, earlier today…
- Yeh, well.. - Paul smiled diplomatically and took a couple of steps back. –I try…
- You succeed…- Ingrid smiled as she towelled her hair. – You’re no George, but…
Paul burst into hysterical laughter while all the other girls addressed a gasp and a “how dare you” stare over at Ingrid. Marnie chuckled and began to walk for the little dressing closet, when Paul called her over. –Hey, dancer!!!
When Marnie turned, Paul tossed her the dress he had rescued from the apple scruffs. –Wear this. It’s gear on you…-
While Marnie got changed, she began to feel an urge, almost like a red alert sign, telling her to really draw her line. Asking Ingrid over would not be very good if Paul wanted to talk to her, and yet, being alone in an apartment with the single most wanted male in the world at the time? It could get, well… funny. With John, it was different. It felt like having a big brother offering his back; John was, to her mind, the sexiest shoulder to cry on. Even if she had always found John so interesting it was sexy, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that Paul was just adorable, both physically as well as personally. But what was even better about him was the challenge he posed; Getting through to him would be hard, but the trip to his brain would certainly prove interesting. Little did she know that Paul was already packing his mental bags to travel the same route into her mind.
Ingrid stepped into the little room and whispering loud, she shook Marnie by the shoulders. –PAUL MCCARTNEY, MAN!!! - She hissed between gritted teeth. – Beatle Paul, bass player of the Beatles, universal heartthrob, world’s cutest trendsetter, most wanted man in the planet… He’s after your arse!! - She jumped up and down trying hard to stifle her own giggles.
- No he’s not…- Marnie huffed and turned her back to her friend. –Now, shush and zip me up, love…
- Are you blind?? - Ingrid laughed quietly as she slid the zipper up Marnie’s super thin back. –You do realise his girlfriend just came back from her tour and he chose to come here to see you instead…
- And word has it he has a few girlies ensconced in different parts of the country…- Marnie turned back around with a smile and bent over to tie up the lace of her black boots. –I really wouldn’t like to be girlie number five, or anything like that…
Ingrid shook her head. –I… want… to kill you… right now…- she huffed. –You have the man in a silver platter!!!
- No I don’t! -
- You stubborn arsehole, yes you do!! - Ingrid stomped her left foot on the floor three times.
- Yeah, whatever…- Marnie grinned and tied her hair up as she reached for the doorknob.
- Marnie, look…- Ingrid suddenly grabbed Marnie’s wrist. –I’ll go off with Anita tonight. You have the place all to yourself. Now, all right, you don’t have to bone him if you don’t want to, but just let go! - She suddenly seemed to beg. – Allow yourself the chance to be happy…
Marnie returned Ingrid’s supplicant stare, except she had no words. Her friend meant well, that much was obvious. She limited herself to a grin and a quick kiss on the cheek. - - Thanks, girlfriend…- And out she went.
The sight she then saw scared her, not because of the sight itself but because of what it stirred up inside of her. Paul was sitting on the large leather couch, surrounded by all the dancers. Faye was stroking his hair, asking him questions on how he managed to keep the long tresses so silky and shiny. Hannah sat by his side, one hand on his knee. On the other side was Jo, and Paul himself had a long arm wrapped around her shoulders. Leah and Anita sat on the floor around him, gawking and smiling at everything he said. What was more, it was obvious to Marnie that the man felt like a Greek God. All he needed was someone feeding grapes into his… oh… Well, they were pretzels, but Hannah had that field pretty much covered.
Marnie swallowed hard, unable to recognize the burning sensation in her stomach. She shivered and a hot flush ran from her head down to her feet and back. Had she been a cat, she knew she’d have the hair in her back standing like needles on a pincushion. She had never felt this sort of thing before, but seeing Paul in such dire pleasure was certainly not a gratifying sight.
- Ahem…- she smiled in his direction.
- Oh! - He smiled back non-chalantly, and shaking himself away from the multiple claws of the dancers, he stood up. –Ready? - Just as she was about to insult him, he walked to her and removed his coat. –Ere… It’s chilly outside, and you’ve been sweating. Put this on. - Gently, he stepped behind her and wrapped her shoulders under his grey suit jacket, which by the way, smelled of sandalwood shampoo, fresh soap and a tad of male sweat. The smell and the action instantly disarmed Marnie. It wasn’t until that moment when she realised, to her very own shock and bewilderment that the ugly feeling that had risen in her only seconds earlier had to be jealousy.
- Thank you…- She managed to muster under her breath, looking into his eyes.
- I still insist…- He smiled his Paul smile at her, almost turning her into extremely malleable putty. -… You should wear me clothes… You don’t need all this getup to be pretty…
While all the dancers gasped, (and while Faye took to sitting because she had lost her balance with a huge dizzy spell after hearing him), Marnie stared into his gaze… He was talking to her, in his own “eye language” so to speak, and the words were simple to understand. They begged, they pleaded, they wanted… They said, “Let me know you… Let me in”.
Marnie smiled and looked away, proud to have taken the first step into his thoughts. She figured it out then; it was all in his eyes. He was in perfect control of it, but when he talked, he did so through his eyes. He could contain all his emotions within them, and yet make it so hard to see what his thoughts really were. Marnie related it to the thought of tormenting a child by placing a huge candy bar behind a glass cabinet under key, right there, at a perfect height and distance, and still the child is unable to touch it and eat it because of the glass barricade. You can see, but you can’t touch… You can touch but you can’t feel. That was what Paul was all about. There had to be a key to the glass cabinet, because at least now, Marnie knew she wanted the candy bar.
And Paul knew she wanted it… what worried his own head was what she wanted it for.
- Hey, how are you kids planning to go? - Daddy asked then as they reached the first landing of the stairs.
- I thought the back door would be a good idea…- Paul shrugged. –I’ve got me car parked just around the block…
- Are you mad?? - Daddy sneered. – There’s a line of a hundred people at least! Both back door and front door are swarming with people, love. You’ll never make it alive. - He thought for a minute, and then turned to Paul. –Give us your car keys.
- What? - Paul chuckled.
- I’ll get Rick Rock to bring your car over… The rest of the bouncers can see that you two leave safely…
- Who’s Rick Rock?? - Paul asked, bewildered and obviously reluctant to give up his keys.
Marnie touched his arm with her fingertips and failed to see his skin rose in goose bumps under her touch. – He’s the head bouncer here. He’s quite reliable.
Paul huffed, pressed his lips together and reached into his trouser pocket. –‘Ere, be sure my car gets ‘ere alive…- He handed the car keys to daddy. –Green DB6 Aston Martin, right around the corner, car plates LLO840D…- he winced. –Bought it last year, pleeeze take care of it, eh?
Rick Rock was summoned, the situation explained to him, and told he was NOT to leave the car alone under any circumstance until the owner and company were safely in it and away. After getting one too many supplicant stares from the Beatle, Rick Rock finally went off to get the car. It was then agreed that a better idea would be for Beatle and dancer to leave separately. Bouncers would take Paul into his car, and Marnie would sit and wait elsewhere. Daddy summoned another bouncer and asked him to escort Marnie to the corner of Oxford and Charing Cross, where Paul would pick her up in his car.
Although it was complicated (and although Paul lost an entire shirt in the process), the plan worked. Marnie had to wait ten minutes before seeing Paul’s car pull over. He didn’t look too happy, especially when it meant driving topless around London at midnight in early October, when the weather wasn’t agreeing with such circumstances. Marnie rushed over and got inside the car, telling Paul how to get to her place. It was a short drive, and before they knew it, they were in the middle of Soho Square. Friday night in Soho was naturally jumping, so Paul was pretty much behaving like John, slouching down on his seat. Marnie removed the coat he had put on her shoulders and told him to rush out as fast as he could as soon as she opened the main door to the apartment building. The moment Marnie beckoned him, Paul rushed over like bolt lightning, watching out for cars, fans and trying his best to clasp the jacket over his bare chest. Once upstairs, Marnie allowed him in, and panting, he sat down on the poufs, looking around him while she rushed into her room to get his white shirt, the one he had loaned her a few days earlier.
- So this is the Marnie pad, eh? - He sighed as he settled back.
- Yeah… sorry about the mess, but…
- Oh, like you ‘adn’t been to my place, luv! - Paul giggled as he fidgeted with what seemed to be a round, scented candle. – This place is actually quite cosy, you know… Poufs in the living room? Very fab…
- Yeah, well...- she emerged with the white shirt. –I couldn’t afford a proper set of couches, so… Here, catch…- She threw the shirt at him.
- Ta…- Paul caught it and after putting it down on the pouf, he proceeded to remove the coat. Marnie couldn’t stop herself from giggling, and Paul looked up at her as he held the shirt in his hands again. –What do you find so amusing? - He asked with a bemused grin.
Marnie shook her head and laughed. –Oh, nothing, it’s just that…- more giggles.
- What? Am I fat, or do I ‘ave like three nipples or sumthing? - He giggled with her.
The thought of three nipples made Marnie look in the opposite direction. –That’s horrid!!
- What?? - Paul asked, flustered, as he looked down at his chest. –Why is it so ‘orrid?
- No, no!! - She turned back with a smile, raising her hands. –The thought of three nipples is horrid! I was just thinking of the fact that I have a topless Beatle in my flat. But it’s not you, Paul, you actually look really…- She trailed off, noticing she had probably gone and put her foot in her mouth.
Paul stared at her and waited for her to finish. She could feel him, burning clean through her like laser. –Yeh? - He asked softly. –I look really…
Marnie swallowed. –You look fine. - She nodded with a grin. –Fancy some tea?
Away she sped into her kitchen and quietly leaned on the fridge. “Man, that was close…” She thought as she sighed with relief. “Watch it, Marnie, get a grip… Christ, he’s so lovely…”
In the living room, Paul pressed his lips together. “Shit, I was so close!! I’m sweating bloody bullets with this one.” he thought. He put his shirt on and unavoidably caught the scent of both fabric softener and Marnie’s perfume… It smelled of vanilla. He took his now clad arm to his nose and inhaled deeply, closing his eyes. –Oh, dear God…- he heard himself mumble through the fabric.
- What are you doing? - Marnie grinned as she leaned on the kitchen doorframe.
Paul turned suddenly, startled. –Err, nothing, I…- He buttoned the shirt. – I dunno what you used to wash this thing, but it smells fab, luv…
- Oh, just your usual detergent and softener…- She sat down, waiting for the kettle in the kitchen to whistle. She leaned both elbows on her knees and in turn, leaned her face on her fists. – I always put a bit of perfume on clean clothes, too…
- Vanilla…- he nodded as he did the final button. –Quite nice…
There was an eerie and tense silence as they both stared at everything but each other.
- So…- Marnie finally sighed as she sat up and rubbed her arms with her hands. –We have to talk, do we?
- Yep…- He swallowed and looked down at his hands. – I wanted to do sum explaining regarding my behaviour the other evening, but…- He looked up at her, and his stare was so severe it made Marnie shudder. -… You ‘ave to promise tha’ when I’m done, you’ll answer me a couple of questions…
“ Whoa, this is it. Any question is worth THIS!” Marnie thought as she nodded and whispered an otherwise mousy –Ok…
Paul pulled air though gritted teeth and ran both hands through his hair. He sat back and from the look on his face he was obviously trying to find good words to speak up without blowing his cover.
- Ok…- he sighed, and leaned forward, elbows on knees, hands clasped together, face down as he took yet another breath. In the same position, he looked up at Marnie. – ‘Ave you ever been in luv?
The question had taken Marnie by surprise. – I… In love? - She bit her lower lip. –I… don’t really know…- She put her hair behind her ear. – I must have been, I guess…
- No, no, no…- Paul stood up and paced the room. .-When you are, you just know it, Marn. You’d remember sumthing like tha’… you can’t sleep, you can’t think, you can’t concentrate on anything… Like, you go over to ‘Arrods to look for a pair of sunglasses and you can’t even see how they look on you because all you’re thinking of is how they would look on the other person …- he turned his face to her. –Know what I mean?
Marnie swallowed hard. So that was it? It scared her to death to think that had never happened before… Until recent days.
- No, then… I guess I haven’t…- She shook her head.
- You’ve missed out, then…- He grinned and sat back down. – It’s fab, as long as you get the person in question to be with you… After you’re said yes to, you know, when yer finally luved back, you finally get to sleep, and you sleep like you’ve never slept before…
- And when you don’t? When you’re not loved back, I mean? - She asked wide eyed.
Paul paled. . -Well…- He bit his thumbnail. -… It’s similar, but…- He chuckled. –It ‘urts… It’s the same thing, only with longing and humiliation on a grand scale. - He sighed again and sunk into the pouf as deep as the rugged piece of chunky furniture allowed him to. – When I first met Jane, I…- he hesitated, noticing he was about to pour his heart out, still wondering if he was doing the right thing. He glanced over at Marnie. Her smile alone was enough encouragement. - … I was really there, you know. I ‘ad all me ‘opes high… You know, first part of a romance, all pink clouds in silver bloody lining, floating through the days like cotton candy… Then, time goes by and the infatuation disappears… the luv, mind you is still there…- He closed his eyes. – And it’s just there, you know, getting nowhere fast. - He opened his eyes again and, not moving an inch, just looked at Marnie. –Ever thought of ‘aving kids? You know, getting married, settling down and all tha’?
It took great effort to hide the nerves behind her reply. – Yeah, sure…- She shrugged. –I’m not sure what sort of a parent I’d be, but I’d really like to give what I didn’t have.
Paul grinned. –And wha’ is tha’, then, eh?
Marnie held his stare. He had her. He had her right in his paw, dammit! She swallowed hard and felt her eyes begin to well. –A… family…
Paul sat up and leaned forward. –Yer auntie?
- She hates me…- Marnie looked down, and even if she had her face well hidden, Paul saw how a tear fell to her lap and turned the light green shade of her dress into a darker one. – She hates my life, she hates everything I do…- She looked up at him and cleaned her eyes. – Sorry, I hate getting all sappy…
- It’s fine…- Paul smiled at her, but like he had never smiled before. It was like he had discovered the hidden treasure cave of the Irish leprechauns, or something. Marnie was startled, but understood exactly what was going on. She wasn’t caving in, not now. At least not until he finished his share of the deal.
- Yeah, well…- Her face suddenly hardened and his smile disappeared. –It’s still not good, you know…- She stood and went to the kitchen, hearing the kettle whistling. –Why do you ask?
Paul followed her to the kitchen and leaned on the doorframe while she poured the boiling water into a teapot. He leaned on the doorframe, stuffed his hands in his trouser pockets and crossed one leg over the other
- Need ‘elp with tha’?
- No, thanks…- She smiled and turned to him with a hard look. – Why do you ask?
- Basically…- He looked around and then began to stare at his nails as he spoke. – I really want to settle down, you know. I’m twenty-five, I don’t want to be forty when me first child is born…- he put his hand back in his pocket. – But I think I may be the only functional link in tha’ equation…
- Really? Why is that?
- Jane’s not into the whole thing as I am…- He looked down. – I just, you know, want to get married, raise a family, do all them things a dad is supposed to do with ‘is kids…
- Have you proposed? - Marnie looked at him.
- No…- He answered bluntly. –I don’t see the point…
- Well, have you ever thought that the reason why she’s not going for it is because you haven’t?
- Naa, we’ve talked about it repeatedly. –He toyed with a fridge magnet. –She wants to ‘ave at least another year or two before we marry… and then maybe another year or two to ‘ave a baby…- He huffed and grimaced. . - Christ, I’ll be thirty by then!!
Marnie leaned on the fridge and crossed her arms, staring up at him. –Because she wants to work?
- Right…- he returned her stare. –I mean, I understand it means a lot to ‘er, and I’m not asking ‘er to quit it all cold turkey, you know, but…- He pouted and sneered as he looked down, shuffling his foot on the floor. –Maybe just enough to be a mum, you know. It’s mad enough with me being a Beatle and all tha’, you know, there ‘as to be at least a degree of stability in tha’ place…
- It really means the world to you, doesn’t it?
Marnie turned and played the same card he had played on her. –Why?
Although Paul didn’t have tears in his eyes at that moment, his expression changed radically. His pout grew tiny, pressing his lips into a small little mouth, his stare saddened, angry and tired. There it was, the cabinet was opening. Marnie reached out and touched his shoulder, as if she were reaching for the imaginary candy bar. The moment she did, he shot his now overflowing glare into her eyes. It was an outpour of such dimensions, she had never imagined. She understood Paul’s reason to keep it under a lid.
- B… Because… I…- He hesitated
- I want a second shot…- He spoke, his lower lip quivering with visible uncertainty. – When mum passed over, Dad ‘ad Mike and I sent over to me auntie Gin’s… I never got a chance to say goodbye to mum. Tha’ really ‘urt… It really did. It still does. I know ‘e meant well, you know, but it ‘urt us both so bad…Mike and I would ‘ave much preferred to be a family then, cry it all out together and… you know. But me dad pushed us away instead, ‘e was scared to let us see ‘im all broken up. So, I… I want a second chance, you know, to prove I won’t be scared, I won’t be afraid to let MY children feel luved, feel like they are important to me and tha’ I need them … - He finally looked down to the floor, and Marnie too saw how a single tear fell to the cold mosaic in the kitchen. – I don’t want them to grow up wondering whether their dad is proud of them or not…
To see Paul like that made her entire world swoon. Deep down, he was similar to John, only maybe a little less lonely. Yet, for the love of her, she felt his pain. And in a matter of seconds, she too was crying. Never had she felt the suffering of another person like it was her own… Or maybe it was. She also wanted to feel loved, wanted and understood. So Paul’s words were probably a reflection of her own emotional state. While she and John connected in a painful and healing way, it seemed Paul’s needs were as deep as hers.
It seemed natural to embrace him, and as they did so, he sank his face in her shoulder. –Is it too much? Is really too much? I mean, what if I’m wrong?
Marnie held him at arms length. –You’re NOT wrong.
When he saw she was crying with him, his stare went from pain to amazement…. And then to something else she couldn’t quite pinpoint.
- I… I’m not?
- No…- She whispered, sniffing. – I’ve been looking for that for the last twelve years…- She gave him a sad grin. –I’m sure your Dad does love you, Paul… I don’t see why he wouldn’t…- She looked down.
- I’m sure yer auntie luvs yer, too…
- I don’t think so…- She mumbled, still looking down.
He lifted her face with a finger. – I don’t see why she wouldn’t…
Her stomach turned and her heart did summersaults. Slowly and gently, they leaned forward and began to close their eyes… and when their faces were one scarce inch away, the intercom buzzer rang.
- FUCK IT!!!- Marnie wailed, making Paul take a step back as he cleared his throat.
- I’ll err… I’ll go to the, err.. the loo..- He excused himself and without even asking where it was, he found his own way.
With a huff, Marnie pressed the intercom button. –Yeah, what?? - She moaned.
- Marnie, it’s Nana… please let me in…
- Ok…- Marnie sighed and pressed the other button. She knew that Nana would only be there when there was news.
Marnie opened the door; one look at Nana’s face, and she knew something was very wrong.
- Marnie, may I come in, love?
- Yeah, please…- she let the fat lady inside, just as Paul was leaving the loo.
Nana looked at Paul, did a double take and then turned to Marnie. –Dear God… This is…
- Paul, ‘ow do you do? - He reached forward and held his hand out. He had obviously washed his face after the tearful moment, and he kept glancing over at Marnie with an inquisitive expression.
- This is Nana, Paul…- Marnie introduced her as the chunky lady shook Paul’s hand. – She’s been sort of my caretaker since I arrived in England. – She turned back to Nana, who blushed and grinned as Paul landed a gentle kiss on her hand. -Want tea Nana? I just fixed some for Paul and I…
- No thanks, love, I… I just came real fast to let you know…- She cracked her fingers nervously. –You was on the papers this morning, love… Something about a contest at the Imperial Tenor’s
- Oh, no…- Her face paled.
- She saw it, Marnie…- The older lady gulped. – She’s been going absolutely gaga since earlier today, claims she’s going to disown you…
After her talk with Paul, it was easy to understand why she suddenly blushed and began to shake like a leaf. – But… But it’s a job!! And I need to work!! I love dancing….
- Look, I know darling! - Nana held her hands. –We all do, and I’ll bet you do great at it…
- Bloody understatement of the year…- Paul chuckled. –What’s wrong with ‘er dancing, then?
- According to Mam Sheila, everything…- Marnie looked up at Paul. –According to Mam Sheila, I should be in Madrid before the king of Spain, instead of dancing go-go in a club and talking to a Beatle. In fact, if she knows you’re here at all, it’ll be even worse, I shouldn’t be here with you now….
Her words stung. Paul leaned back nodding as he looked to the floor. –Ok, then, I err…- He looked at her and smiled the saddest grin she had seen on him yet. –I best be off, then.
Before the anguished stare of the young dancer and the confused frown on Nana’s forehead, Paul stood up, took his jacket and swung it over his back. – So, then…- He grinned again, obviously torn, and waved his little Beatle Paul wave. SLAM, the cabinet shut tight again in front of her face. . -Tarrah…
And away he went.
It took Marnie ten seconds to start sobbing insanely. –God, Nana, what do I do?? What do I do? Either way I lose, Nana, what do I do?
- First, you run down the stairs and get that lovely boy back into your pocket before it’s too bloody late, you silly cow!! - She ushered her with an angered sneer.
Marnie didn’t need further encouragement. She ran down the stairs, stormed out the door and raced towards Paul’s car, which was just pulling out. She literally threw herself in front and Paul had to step on his breaks suddenly and in time for Marnie to just lean her hands on the hood.
Paul stepped out of the car, shaking and wailing. –Fer God’s sake!! What the hell do you think yer doing, Marnie?? I could ‘ave ‘it you!!- He wailed at her as he walked to her.
- I want a second chance…- She panted.
Paul stopped cold, remembering his words. –You wha’? - He asked softly.
- I want to be able to show…*pant* that I can stand on my own…*pant, pant*… I want to be able to wake up and not worry whether the things I say or do are going to make me lose someone I care about…*pant* I want to belong in a family, for the first time in years…- She looked up at him. –I think I said something wrong… But I don’t want to long for yesterday, like I have for all these years… Please… I’m…*pant* I’m sorry for what I said up there… I don’t want to lose you.
Paul stared at her, and the few seconds he took to react felt like ten minutes to Marnie. Without need for further words, Paul shook his head from side to side and, in a single movement, pulled her to him in a very warm embrace.
- I’ll show you…- He said as he rocked her in his arms. – Yer not alone, luv… I just… what you said up there, after what you told me, I really didn’t want to be in the way… I’m sorry…
- I’m not afraid any more…- She spoke. – I’m not going to let anybody get between my friendship with you lot. I’ve had it…
- Look, honestly, I think yer a luvely bird, Marn…- Paul held her at arm’s length and smiled at her. – I really don’t want to get you into trouble. I know what family means to you as well…
- You’re NOT in my way. – She swallowed. – I know it took guts for you to come over and speak to me like you did up there. I’ve been trying to figure you out since I met you. - Her giggle denoted an obvious change of moods, from angst to amusement.
- Yeh? - He arched his brows over his huge eyes. – Makes two of us…
- Are we good, then?
Paul sighed, and gave her a hesitant little kiss on the cheek. –Yeh. We’re good.
Marnie took a hand to her cheek as Paul walked back to his car. After a few indecisive seconds, she caught up with him and asked him to open the car window.
- Yeh? What’s up? - He smiled at her, almost making her melt.
- Would you… or maybe John, you know, come with me to Mam Sheila’s tomorrow?
Paul widened his eyes like two huge dinner plates. –Yer asking the bees to fly near the spider web?? - After Marnie nodded sheepishly, Paul shook his head with a giggle as he looked down. – Why would you ask us fer tha’?
- Well, I just sort of thought that maybe if Mam Sheila met you, she’d see you’re not half as bad as she makes you out to be…
Paul huffed and looked up at her with a bemused and adoring grin. – Right… I see where yer trying to get… Yer worth it, I suppose…- He thought for a minute, mentally reassessing his agenda, until he obviously hit a notch, and wincing, he leaned his head back on the headrest of the car. –Crap, I can’t make it! Jane and I ‘ave breakfast at ‘er parents’ place on Wimpole. After tha’ I promised I’d go with ‘er to a screening test, or sumthing…
- John? You think maybe…?
- If you can get ‘is arse out of bed early enough, he might…- Paul laughed.
- I don’t have his number…
- I’ll call ‘im fer ya. – Paul frowned in an assertive expression that was a mix between winking, pouting and grimacing, another trademark Paul move that was generally accompanied with a tiny nod. Marnie had begun to record each and every expression like she would a dance move. –Not a good idea fer you to call ‘im, you know. Cyn might think sumthing tha’s not really there…
- And what number are you planning to give for him to call, may I ask?
He thought for a minute, and pressing his lips as he always did, he slapped his forehead with his left hand and sneered. –Tha’s right, Mike took it!!!
He reached out into his glove compartment and desperately searched for a pen. All he came up was a black marker. He pulled his right sleeve up, and using his left hand, he took the black marker to his arm. – Ok, ready…
- On your arm? - Marnie sneered.
Paul chuckled. –Yeh, in big black undeletable numbers so I don’t ferget to write it down when I get ‘ome…
- Ok…- She sighed. – Four zero six…
- Yeh…- he wrote.
- Five three, five two…
- Five three… five two...- He encored, and then put the lid back on the pen. –Ok, got it. – He looked up at Marnie. –You got mine, eh?
Marnie grinned and reached into her pocket for the note he had left as a part of the package. –Right here…- She shook the paper and put it back. –This and one from John.
- John? -
- He sent me flowers and a note of gibberish…
Paul laughed aloud. –Tha’ would be ‘im, yeh!! - He toned down his laugher. – You err…- He looked up at her, squinting. -… You two ‘ave a… you know, a thing?
- No, no!! - She shook her head. –Just a really tight friendship, I hope…
- You ‘ope?
Marnie nodded, and Paul smiled with relief at the implication of the emphasis Marnie had put in the words “I hope”.
- Well, then. – He smiled. –Call me?
Marnie rubbed her arm. –Won’t it be a problem with Jane?
- Naa. –He winked at her. –I’ve told ‘er about you, and all… I think she’d like to see you dance, although I’m not sure if she ‘as the time or inclination…She’s more into ballet, and all tha’…
- Fat chance she’ll see me doing ballet…
- I think you’d look beautiful…
The silence broke all the barriers, as they stared at each other with somewhat goofy, moonstruck grins. Paul then cleared his throat and looked ahead. –Well, then, best be going… I’ll see if I can go to see you tomorrow…
- I need all the cheers I can get.
- I’ll see what I can do. Mike’s bringing Angie… Aw, shit!! Tha’s another thing I ‘ave to do, get the sod from the airport!! Man, I forgot I ‘ave to get up early!! - He turned to her and gave her his best Beatle wave. –See ya later, luv…
And after asking her to take a step back, he pulled out and sped down the road.
Marnie stood there, staring with her silly grin still tattooed on her beautiful face. It was as if all the burdens had suddenly been lifted. With a sigh, and once the car was out of sight, she went back up to her flat, to tell Nana what had just happened. Given the fact that it was closing three in the morning, Marnie arranged an improvised bed with the poufs for Nana to stay. The following morning, she had to go out on a shopping spree on Carnaby with Ingrid. Nana had volunteered to stay and wait for John’s call, and if all went well, the three would go and try to talk some sense into Mam Sheila’s stubborn brain
Although deep down she knew it was a lost cause, Marnie was unable to sleep at ease. The contest was the next day, she had a fat lawsuit on top of her dresser, her auntie had threatened to disown her, and yet, there was another feeling of anxiety she was now becoming familiar with…. It had to be it. The jealousy fit in the dressing room, the shivers, the goose bumps, the quasi kiss in the kitchen, the thoughts she constantly had about him, it all pointed in the same direction. Paul had been right.
“You can’t sleep, you can’t think, you can’t concentrate on anything …but after you’re said yes to, you know, when yer finally luved back, you finally get to sleep, and you sleep like you’ve never slept before…”
- Paul…- She whispered as she hugged her pillow. –What the hell have you done to me?