Part X

Daddy John and daddy Paul

There was a long lasting period of inactivity from there. On April, we all celebrated Jane’s birthday, and soon after that, she was off on tour with a theater company for a week. My birthday was not too far away, either. I missed my life back in New York, but was too wrapped up in my new job and my therapy to even give it any serious thought. That time from Jane’s party I had forgotten to call my friends, but I had my doubts they’d believe my stories.

Nonetheless, exactly a month and a half since I had left, I called them. I knew my friends well enough to know that every Saturday they’d sleep over at Sharon’s. So, I knew for sure that they’d be there. Jess was out on a date with Neil, so I had the phone and the hotel room to myself.

The phone rang three times before Sharon’s mom took the phone. After small idle chat, she passed me on to Sharon.

- Hello?

- Hey, spunky! – I smiled.

- RITA??- I heard her shriek. I knew then she would be pulling the phone into her room where Lindsay sure would be. – Rita McCormick?!

I could hear Lin snicker Oh, God!

- That would be me…- I giggled. –How are you, guys?

- Worried as hell, is how we are! – Sharon laughed. –Where on earth are you, woman?

- You won’t believe this…

- After what you did back in school, I think you are capable of anything. Now, where are you?

I sighed before answering. –London.

Gasps and shrieks from the other side of the Atlantic. –How the fuck did you get to London? Why are you there?

I lay down on the bed. –Long story, man. The good thing is I have a job…

There was a long pause. –So you’re not coming back?

- Maybe not for a year or so… - I sighed again. – I’m going to therapy.

- You know…- Sharon sounded angry. –You left and didn’t even say goodbye. We called and called for weeks, and there was never a soul picking up the phone. Why didn’t you say goodbye?

- Did you actually hear that I’m going to therapy?- I raised my voice a little.

- For what?

- I have no clue, really… I just went mental suddenly. –I fiddled with the phone cable. – I never told you the story, did I?

I went on to tell her about the Ed Sullivan Show, the attack, how I ended up at the Beatle suite, Brian’s offer to pay for my therapy if I needed it, in exchange for my silence about the issue to the press. Naturally, everything was linked to my current situation, the party and my new job, walking around in nice garments from Harrods around the store itself, modeling for fifteen pounds per week. They were amazed, not to mention excited.

- So, after all this is over, and you’re done with the therapy, will you come back?

- Maybe…- I smiled. –If I don’t become Jean Shrimpton… -I laughed out loud. - …which I doubt! But my agent has been really great, you know.

I heard Lin snatch the phone from Sharon. –How about The Beatles? Still see them?

I smiled. –Yeah, frequently. I’m friends with Jane Asher, for one. I haven’t had the luck of meeting John’s wife… - I toned my voice down and looked around even if I was alone. - You spit on this one too, all right?

I could tell they both had an ear stuck to the receiver. –Yes!! What!! Tell us! – Sharon squeaked.

- Well, here goes… - I sighed. – Beatle George has a girlfriend named Pattie, John is totally disloyal to his wife, Brian Epstein is gay, Ringo Starr is a great dancer and Paul is a frugal womanizer…

- BRIAN EPSTEIN IS GAY???- Lin shrieked.

- Shhh! – I heard Sharon tell her before talking to me again. –Rita, are you serious?

- Every bit serious. – I spoke softly. –But you better not tell a single soul, all right? I was trusted with this stuff, not even Jesse knows about this.

- Jesse left law school?- Lin spoke softly

I turned to my side. –Just for a bit. I think I’m staying in London for the duration of the year at least. She has to go back for the beginning of next term in September.

- You lucky, lucky woman. – Sharon spoke to me. –You get to be a Beatle person.

- Naa, not really. – I mumbled, beginning to feel sleepy. – The guys are off on tour again in a couple of weeks. Off to Australia, I believe.

- When are they coming to America again? – Sharon enquired. – Can you send us passes?

I laughed hard. –I’m not sure I could do that! But I do know there’s a second American tour planned for August… After the release of the movie.

Another loud shriek pounded my ears. –They made a movie??

- Yes! Yes! – I held the phone away from my ear. – It looks like a funny one too! Quit screaming!

- I can’t believe you’re over there doing this! – Sharon spoke excitedly. I could tell she was about to cry.

- And how’s all that business of therapy going?- Lin spoke softly.

I smiled. –It’s going along fine. Sometimes I believe I hardly need it. Especially lately; I stopped having nightmares ever since I got here. – I shrugged. Then I thought for a second. –Hey, here’s a thought. If the boys go to America in August, maybe I’ll go with them. You know, to visit you guys! What do you think?

- As long as you promise I’ll meet Ringo! – Lin raised her voice again.

I told them I had to go, as I didn’t want to finish all my wages in a single call, and I certainly didn’t want to burden Brian with long distance phone bills. After a warm farewell, I hung up the phone, and drifted into restless sleep, only to wake up to the sound of my own screams.

I was running down a hallway, scared and sweating. It looked like the alleyway of the attack, the one behind the Ed Sullivan Theater. I could hear the steps of my attacker as he approached. Even if I knew he was walking slowly he caught up with me, despite the fact that I was running as fast as my legs could carry me. I passed in front of an old broken mirror, and saw my face. It was I, but I recognized myself as a seven or eight year old child. I then heard Jesse calling out to me. She, too, was a child. –C’mon, Rita! C’mon! – She yelled. I ran to her, and taking her hand, we both ran down the endless hall. When we reached the dead end, we turned around and saw our attacker. Once again, I could not see his face, although I recognized the grime and dirt from the alleyway attacker. There was nowhere to go. Jesse turned and hugged me to her, and we both closed our eyes.

- NO! NO! ! – I woke up screaming. Jesse had arrived from her date with Neil, and ran to me from the bathroom. She sat next to me as I panted. It was as if I had been legitimately tired from running. My heart was pounding incessantly and I had sweat pouring down the back of my head.

- Rita! Not again! – She held my hand. –It’s ok! I’m here… It was just a dream.

I sat up, gasping for air. I remembered the doctor had told me to ask Jesse about something. Between pants, I turned to her.

- Jesse, help me… Please help me…

- C’mon, you know I will!

I looked her in the eye. –Do you remember anything about Steve Kometski? Mom’s old boyfriend? Please, help me remember…

Jesse turned white and slowly released my hand. It took her a while to regain composure, but never lost eye contact with me. –Why do you want to remember this? – She spoke, tears welling up in her own eyes. – It has taken me years to forget, and you want to remember?

I knew then that the doctor had been getting somewhere all along.

- Help me… - I wept bitterly. –Please help me…

Jesse stood up, shaking her head as she stepped back. –I can’t… Not with this, Rita. Please, ask for something else, but not this…

- Jesse, please!! - NO!!- She yelled at me. –NO! LEAVE ME ALONE!

She ran out, looking almost as disturbed as I felt. And I felt miserable, tired, confused and angry. Now, for the first time ever, Jesse turned her back on me. I sat on the bed, crying, calling out my sister’s name as she stormed out the hotel room door.

I got out of bed in tears, trying to find her. I looked out the door into the hall, but she was not there at all. I was tired of this, of all of this. I went back into the room, got dressed and went out in the hope of finding her.

At the lobby, I turned my head from side to side, looking for her. Nothing. I asked the desk if they had seen Jesse, but the receptionist shook her head and shrugged. I desperately ran out into the streets, shouting out her name. –Jessica! Jessica! Jesse!

After an hour of searching, I fell to my knees on the sidewalk. If I could have made a wish at that moment, it would have been for the floor to open up and swallow me whole. I cried on the floor for what seemed hours. Given the fact that it was a little past three in the morning, there was no one around. Finally, an old man came up to me and took me by the arm. –Miss! Please, miss! Can I help you?

Back on my feet, I stared at the man and shook my head, running away as far as my legs could take me. What I would have given to have Paul’s shirt at that moment… Or Paul himself, for that matter. I ran until I felt the weight of the world felt much too heavy on me. I stopped, panted, and saw my vision go black as my legs gave to the burden.

I woke up to a bright light. –What’s your name? – A woman’s voice accompanied a small flashlight.

- Rita…- I mumbled, not wanting to see or hear anything.

- Where do you live, Rita?

- New York. Where am I?

- Soho Square, dear. Hospital for Women.

The woman turned off the flashlight. I blinked a couple of times, adjusting to the light in the room. It WAS a hospital. Oh, great! Just great!

The woman turned out to be a harsh looking nurse, short, fat and a bit aggressive. –And what were you doing, I ask you, out in the street at that hour, Rita?- She spoke, closing a curtain.

I crossed my arms over my chest. - I … was… looking for my sister…

She sat down on the bed. - Is she younger than you are? Have you filed a report to the police?

- No, you don’t understand. - I sat up on the bed. -She and I had a fight last night, and she stormed out, and…

- I thought you said you lived in New York, dear.

- I do! Or I did, I…- I took my hands to my head. - God, would you please just call the Royal Horseguards Hotel in Whitehall Court??

- Very well…- She spoke and brought a big, white phone in. She dialed and waited. - Yes? Yes. I need to call the Royal Horseguards Hotel, please… No, old mum, I have no idea what the number is, or else I would be calling directly, wouldn’t I? …The Royal Horseguards Hotel. Thank you very much…- She waited and tapped her hand on her apron. After an eternity of three minutes, she spoke again. - Hello, Royal Horseguards? Yes… Yes, I’m calling from The Hospital for Women at Soho Square… Yes… Yes, there is one woman here named…- She looked at me.

- Rita McCormick. – I spoke

- … Rita McCormick, who claims to be a guest of yours… An American, yes… Oh, is she? - She gave me another quick look, this time in awe.

- I know, sir, but we could not take her elsewhere, she has no identification or security card… Yes sir… Of course, sir… Thank you. Very well… Tara, then. - And she hung up. - Well, dear, it seems you are a VIP guest over there… They have been looking at you all night, you know… One Mr. Eppy Brianson with some Doctor…

- Oh, No… - I took my hand to my face. - Dr. Buckley will kill me…

- Well, that’s not quite the name I received. Some Doctor Winston O’Boogie…

My loud laughter interrupted her.

- Oh, do you mind! - She shouted at me. I had to bite my tongue to hold my giggles. - Anyway, Dr. O’Boogie was asking about you as well as a girl, your sister, I believe…

My sister… I hated Jesse. She had left me, just like our father had. For a brief, shameful second, I was glad she was worried. I then turned away from that thought, ashamed of myself.

- So? Are they coming?

- Yes, apparently they are to send a car over for you. It will be a while, we’re not anywhere near…

I stared at her. - What happened to me?

- You passed out. - She spoke as she roughly fluffed my pillow. - Exhaustion and dehydration. You had been running around for a couple of hours, I believe. Plus, with the cold weather, mild hypothermia set in. But you look fine to me.

Having said this, she took the report and went for the door. -Your clothes are on that chair. Dress up, and I’ll send someone to inform you when the car gets here to get you.

I was alone in the room. I stood up and found I was wearing a hospital gown. I felt ashamed: Yet another bill for poor Brian. But this was all Jesse’s fault. She should have told me what I wanted to know. Then all this would have been avoided.

Only half an hour later, I sat on the bed, looking at another young woman whom I had shared the room with. She slept soundly. As soundly as one could wish to sleep. Maybe she was dead… Maybe I would have liked to be dead.

A mild knock on the door interrupted my train of thought. - Miss Rita McCormick? - A young nurse, much kinder than the first, stepped into the room. -There is a man named Eppy downstairs, waiting for you…- She giggled.

I looked at her with a grin. -What?

- I’m sorry…- She took her hand to her mouth. - I just think it’s an odd name to have. Is that his real name?

Yes… Backwards. - I smiled.

The girl looked confused at first, but then smiled again. - Well, I think it still sounds silly…

I saw she was holding her report board and a notebook under her arm. Her notebook had a photo of The Fabs on it. I smiled and shook my head. If only she knew…

I stood and walked down the hall with her, and saw Brian, who greeted me with open arms and a worried scorn. - Rita, love! We were so, so worried! Your sister called just about everyone there is to call! Where were you?

- Beats me, Brian. I was looking for HER!

The elegant manager stared at me awkwardly. - I don’t understand…

- Yes, well, you wouldn’t understand if she doesn’t tell you the whole story, would you? - I snapped. Seeing the shock in his face, I sighed and ran a hand through my hair. - I’m sorry, Brian… I’m sorry. This isn’t your fault…

- That’s fine, love. - He beamed suddenly. - Let’s just get you back to the hotel shall we?

- No, I don’t wanna go there any more. - I shook my head to the sides.

Brian grinned. -That’s fine, then. John and Paul have this flat near here…- He whispered to me suddenly. - They use it for their rendezvous, if you get my meaning. You can stay there, if you like… I have been making sure it’s suitable. If you want, your sister can move in later on.

I replied to Brian as we walked to the car. - I wouldn’t want to interfere with their lives, Brian… I mean…- I almost felt embarrassed as I scratched the back of my head. -Where will Paul and John go when they wanna… err…

- Maybe we’ll go to yer ‘otel room!

I looked up. John was there, wearing a hat and dark sunglasses and smiling as he opened his arms.

- Dr. O’Boogie! - I laughed as I ran to him.

He gave me a tight hug and looked into my eyes, seriously. - Gone spare, ‘ave you?

I looked down. - I think I am loosing it, yes…- I felt burning tears sting my eyes. - Jess let me down… she left me…

- Aw, Rita! - John opened the door for me and helped me in. He followed me, and Brian followed him. Once inside the plush vehicle, he spoke to his chauffeur. - We are going ‘ome, please, Les…

The car spun. I was going to John’s house? That meant I’d finally meet the famous Mrs. Lennon!

John looked at me, a stare so serious it froze my blood.

- Your sister’s been going barmy over you, you know…- He lit up a cigarette. - She called Eppy, then Eppy called Jane who woke Paul up, then Paul called me, then I called Eppy… blah, blah, blah… anyway, we all ended up at the ‘otel, waiting for ya. Yer sister was crying and all. Jane was completely potty, kept going on and on like…- He imitated Jane’s accent. - Oh, I hope she’s all right, I hope she’s not lost, and so on…- He put his arm around me. - Why would you run out on us like tha’, then, hey?

I sighed. -I was looking for Jess… Then it hit me, you know. I just thought, she doesn’t care… And I just kept on running.

- But she DOES care, Rita! - Brian touched my knee gently. - She was so scared…

- Plus, fuck her! - John shocked me with his newly improved Beatle confident lingo. - The rest of us were going mad with worry, you know… We like you as well…

That "fook her" brought a smile to my face and a frown to Eppy’s. Not a choice word, really, but it just showed John trusted me enough to loosen up his verbal tradition.

- You don’t like my sister, John? - I giggled.

- Not as much as I like you, luv…- He touched my chin with his finger. From the corner of his eye, he looked over to Brian, and an evil smile appeared on his face. Oh, no.

- Gizz a kiss!!

Without warning, he landed a huge smack on my mouth. Not like the one from the party, but a kiss nonetheless.

- John Lennon! Behave! - Yelled Brian. John then leaned back, his hand on his stomach, laughing harder than what I had ever seen him laugh. I sat there, reeling from the shock. I knew he had done that just to be a pain on Brian. Seeing the look on his face, I couldn’t help giggling a bit.

- John, you are terrible! - I laughed as I cleaned my mouth. - Just terrible!

- Yeh, I think me manager would agree, wouldn’t you, now, luv? - He turned to Brian, blinking repeatedly as if he were flirting with the man.

Even Brian had to laugh at that one. One had to giggle around Mr. Lennon; it was unavoidable.

The car took a turn into a driveway, and pulled over in front of what seemed like a huge house. I figured this was John’s house.

- Just bought it.- He smiled proudly.

Getting out of the car, I saw that there were a few other cars parked in front of the house. Once I shut the car door, the front door of the house opened. Out came running a huge, hairy sheep dog, followed by a blonde woman with long hair, holding a small male child, roughly a year old. John walked up to her. - Hello, luv. - He gave her a quick kiss on the lips, and then shuffled the little boy’s head with his left hand. - Hey, Jules! - So THIS was Mrs. Lennon… and the heir to the Lennon name. - Cyn, -he pulled her by the hand. - This is the bird you ‘ave to pound fer not letting any of us ‘ave a decent night’s rest. Rita, cum ‘ead! - He called me over with a single movement of his head. - This is me wife, Cynthia and me son, Julian. - He took the boy’s hand and waved it, speaking with a childlike voice. -‘Ello, Rita!

As I approached the door, Paul walked out and stood by it, staring at me with a look of obvious concern and relief. Paul…

Cynthia smiled as she handed the baby over to John, who took him and immediately went to give him to Paul.

- Hello. - Cynthia shook my hand. - So you’re the famous Rita, hey? - Even though her accent wasn’t as strong, one could still tell she was another Liverpudlian.

- Famous? Oh, no, I don’t think so…- I smiled as I shook her hand.

Paul walked over, holding the baby, who was pushing him by the cheek with his little hand. - Where on earth ‘ad you been, then, hey? - He stared at me somewhat angrily. His look alone made me cringe and sizzle. Baby in one arm, he suddenly hugged me with his other arm, and spoke to my ear. - You scared us all ‘alf to bloody death, ‘ere. Don’t do tha’ again! - His breath on my ear sent a flash of goosebumps all over my body, and a shock of electricity almost made all my hair stand on its end.

- Eah, Paul, mind yer language around me son! - John spoke as he paced towards the house.

- Anyway, I think you ARE famous! - Cynthia walked next to me as Paul, Brian and I followed John into his house. - You were on the papers this morning… From Jane’s party, you know…

I had forgotten about that. - Oh, really?

- Yes… I’ll show you in a minute. - She smiled and went back to Paul. - Ok, Paul, give us. ‘ere…- Paul handed Julian back to her. He looked at me and barked in a very Lennon-like way. - You know, you ‘ad us up all night.

All I was wishing for was another hug. - I’m sorry. - I mumbled. - I didn’t mean to…

- RITA!! - Jane screamed from the end of a plush livingroom, and ran to me, jumping around my neck. No more hugs from Paul, I guess. - It’s so good to know you are fine!

I raised my eyes and saw Jesse sitting on the couch. Mad as I was, I could not overlook the fact that she looked like she had been crying all night. She looked at me, and slowly stood up. Jane moved a couple of steps back, and a tense silence took over the entire room as Jess walked over to me. She stood in front of me for a few seconds, staring into my eyes. It took a few seconds for her to sob a painfully long. - I’m so… so sorry, Rita…-

My heart caved in, and I too began to cry as we hugged each other tight. - I’m sorry too…

She pulled apart and smiled. - We will talk later, I promise. If it will help you, we will talk… Just not now, all right? - She caressed my hair and huffed. - God, Rita! Do you know what I have been through? What would I have done if something had happened to you, huh? Don’t do this again!

- Jessica McCormick, I was out looking for you! - I laughed. Although I knew she had failed to see the ironic humor in it all, she laughed with me.

- Let’s get something to eat, ok?

We hugged again, and Paul and John began to make fun of us with some inside joke, singing a slow parody of Elvis’s "Love Me Tender". John took the lead while Paul impersonated the sound of a mandolin.

The rest of the afternoon was spent lazing around and having a picnic in John’s garden. Without their pretty suits and matching jackets, John and Paul looked more like two ordinary mods rather that Beatles. This, according to John, was because they were NOTHING but ordinary mods. All the while, Julian kept staring at Martha, while Paul was stubbornly dedicated to making the little boy - Say Paul! Go on, then, say Paul! -

After a while, I looked at Cynthia. - Hey, Cyn, you mentioned something about Jane’s party…

- Oh, yes! - She stood and promptly went into the house. - Be right back - Once again, she gave the baby over to John, who for a second time tried to give the child over to Paul.

- Naa, mate, ‘es you son… YOU play with ‘im fer a change. - Paul laughed as he made funny faces at Jules. God, I just loved the way those words came out of his mouth. I tried to structure the pronunciation of what he had just said in my brain: Naa, maze, ees yer soon, yew play with ‘im ferra change! I giggled at the thought of writing a school essay in Beatle lingo. That would have been fun, or Foon!

- Aw, go on, Paulie! ‘es ‘appier with you!- John whined.

- Yeh, that’s cus ‘is daddy hasn’t the foggiest how to play with ‘im. - Paul took a grape to his mouth. He then sat up and crawled over to where John and Julian were. - Eah, shove up, you daft twit. ‘Ere, I’ll show ya…- He took Julian and lay him on the floor as John moved slightly to the side. He then picked up a toy and began to tease Julian with it, all the while talking to him. - ‘Ere Jules! Who’s the dandy lad, then, hey? - He turned over to John. -You talk to him funny, ‘eel go spare! - Just as Paul spoke, Julian began to giggle out loud, making Paul laugh as well. -There, see? ‘Ere, cop this and ‘ave a go. - He gave the toy to John who was now unavoidably smiling at his son. Soon enough, John, Paul and Julian were engrossed in the little game.

Jane and I stared at the whole thing. I had a smile on my face, but it just seemed to pass by her. I was a bit surprised she wasn’t ooh-ing and ah-ing over what we were looking at. Trying to make her talk, I spoke to her.

- You’re a lucky woman, Jane… That guy will one day be one hell of a dad.

Jane nodded. - Yes, well… Not ANY TIME SOON, I hope. - She bit her sandwich.

- Why not?

- Are you serious? - She turned and looked at me. - He has it all made! He has nothing to worry about. But what about me? I have a career I want to enjoy as well, you know! I’m not a northern girl like Cyn. I don’t see myself looking after Beatle Paul’s every need, you know.

I could NOT believe what I was hearing.

- So, this is not a serious thing? - I spoke, hoping Paul wasn’t paying attention.

- Oh, yes it is. - She bit her sandwich again. Once she swallowed, she continued. - But he’s going to have to see that being with someone does NOT mean one has to give up her entire life to fit his every need. He needs time to learn all this too.

Woe was me! I would have given everything up to get at LEAST a second hug that day! And here was Jane, who had the man in the palm of her pretty hand, and was not willing to give anything up to take care of him.

Before I could jump on Jane to rip her open and eat her liver, Cyn came back with a newspaper. She sat down next to me, and saw with a smile how John and Paul played with Jules. It was a bit saddening to realize John had no clue how to approach his own son. I had no doubt in my head that he adored the child, but he just didn’t have the faintest idea how to be a father. After a while, Cyn opened the paper. - There, see? - She pointed at a picture. Jess, Jane and I all looked inside, as Jane read aloud in her flawless english:

- Friends arrive at the Asher household: Beatles road agent Neil Aspinall escorts American fashion model Rita McCormick and her sister Jesse into the home of Actress Jane Asher, girlfriend of ever growing popular Beatle Paul…

She stopped and sneered. I knew she would be upset about that. But I smiled. Unlike her, I thought of being connected to a Beatle as an advantage to move on. - Does it actually say, Fashion Model Rita McCormick?

Jesse smiled. - I think you’re getting popular, kiddo!

I suddenly felt I was out to take the world! I was growing, I was working, Jess would help me… And if Jane didn’t want to get really serious with Paul, then…


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