James (Jim) and Mary McCartney lived in a suburb of Liverpool, England called Allerton in a tiny brick house on 20 Forthin Road. In 1941, John and Constance (Connie) Layne moved in next door and the two young couples became good friends.
In June of 1942, Jim and Mary gave birth to their first child, a boy, named James (after his father) Paul. By Mary's wishes, the baby boy went by Paul. About two months later, John and Connie became pregnant, and in May of the next year, 1943, they brought a baby girl into the world; Rachel Alexis Layne, thus bringing us up to speed.
The two children were raised together like brother and sister and became the very best of friends, relying on each other for everything; compainionship, friendship, and recreation.
Of course, as children do, they played outside, adventured in the woods, and goofed around with each other. When Paul's brother, Peter Michael - gone by Michael - was born in 1944 he became part of the "group," which was really only Paul and Rachel.
As with all friendships and lives, there were ups and downs. As the two grew older their lives became more complicated, which only drew them closer together. By the time the two were aged thirteen and fourteen years old they were the closest of friends, as were their parents, when tradgety struck both households.
Mary, who had been battling breast cancer, died suddenly, leaving both the McCartney and the Layne families in a state of shock and misery . . . .
We had been sitting in the park in silence for over and hour, just lying on the blanket looking up at the stars. Paul was completely silent, which was very unlike him. He usually chatted up a storm about anything and everything, but tonight, he was quiet. I sat there in the cool moonlight studying his face, his emiotions, wondering what he was feeling, thinking - but it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. I could read Paul like a book, but lately it was a bit difficult. He was suffering. I swear I could see a tear run down his cheek in the dark. He sat up and sighed, staring up at the sky.
"Do you think she's in heaven, Rachel?" I sat up level with him and looked up at the star he was looking at, and smiling a tiny smile.
"Yes, I do. I think she's up there on one of those stars watching down on you, a bit upset that you're so sad, but she's smiling like she always did," I said taking my eyes of the star and looking at Paul. His eyes averted to meet mine and he forced a smile.
"Yeah, she probably is." He looked down to the ground where kalidascope specks of moonlight were dancing on the ground through the treetops. "God, Rachel . . . I miss her," he choked as the tears came. He started bawling, burying his face in his hands.
"Oh, Paul," I cried, wrapping my arms around him to comfort him like a crying child. I rocked him back and forth while stroking his head and making "ssh" sounds. He reached up and threw his arms around me and cried into my shoulder, all the time trying to hide it. "I miss her too, Paul," I told him, "we all do."
After about five good solid minutes of crying Paul backed off and apologized for the way he lashed out. "Nonsense Paul, you needed that - and so did I," I admitted. That was true. I needed a good cry without fearing embarrasment or shame just as much as Paul did, and confining in each other only seemed natural. Paul smiled one of his secret smiles, one from the real Paul, the Paul hiding inside that not many people got the chance to see. I was lucky, I got to see that wonderful, real side of him hiding inside.
He really had needed that cry, it was long over-due. Mrs. McCartney's death had really left a hole in everyone's life, not just Paul's or his family's. Everyone in town missed her. She was just the greatest woman. She had this warm, friendly smile, and there were lines on the corners of her lips and cheeks from smiling so much. Her face used to be bright and vibrant, but ever since she had gotten sick that shining face seemed to dull a little bit. She looked worn-out and tired, but she still smiled, and she was still the same, bright, happy, warm woman that she always was. Nurse McCartney used to give me cookies that she made, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, whenever she had the chance to make them. She was a wonderful cook, and ever since she died, my mother had been cooking for Paul's family, or one of his aunts, but no one made cookies quite the same.
Paul had really been battling since her death. He didn't smile nearly as much as he used to, and he didn't seem to have that same bounce in his step. He just moped about, saying he was all right and all, but I knew better. He had been hiding things inside of him for the longest time, and he just snapped, burst, broke down right then while crying. I was relieved, actually. We all thought that when Paul did snap, that it was going to be something drastic, something harsh, something terrible. But, as it turned out, all he needed was to cry, to show himself to someone, to be held and told that things were going to be 'okay.' I glanced over at him and smiled silently to myself. He was wiping the stray tears off of his face with his shirt sleeve, trying to hide any evidence of the fact that he had been crying. His eyes then met mine and I smiled even wider. It must have been contagious, because he too was smiling.
"Come on love, I'll walk you home," he said pulling me up off the ground and brushing the stray strands of grass off my clothes.
Once we were back home he gave me a hug and whispered "thank-you" and opened my front door to see me off to bed. I looked into his eyes to make sure he was all right, that he was going to make it in the end, more or less for my own sake, to assure myself that one day I'd have the real Paul back. I looked up to see his eyes full of many emoitions - pain, confusion, saddness, anger, and there, in the background, hiding behind the other feelings was that undying McCartney charm that refused to give up. He was going to be okay, he was far too stubborn to let Mary's death control him for the rest of his life. There was my Paul, way back there, sorting things out in his mind. That cry earlier had helped millions - just to get it out and share it with someone had made him feel better. He didn't feel so alone anymore, there was someone helping him through this, someone who was battling the same emiotions. I could tell all this just by glancing at his eyes. He smiled as he whispered a "goodnight" and closed the front door.
From there Paul did get better, as did Jim and little Mike. Mary's death brought Paul and Mike closer together and it brought Paul and Rachel even closer. Sharing their memories of her and sharing their tears brought them together and from there, their relationship flourished. Every waking moment was spent together just talking, laughing, and now with the purchase of cheap guitar, singing. Paul had convinced his father a while ago to buy him a guitar, but now he was taking it seriously and was a bit obssesive. But that was all right because he was good at it, and he had a great soothing voice . . .
"How does Estella feel about her life and her decisions at the end of the novel?"
Paul didn't answer.
Instead, he plucked out a few notes on the guitar and started humming a melody. He groaned and sat up from his slouching position in the chair and propped the guitar up on his knee. He extended his arm down the long neck of the guitar and fiddled with the knobs at the end, plucking strings and adjusting the sound to find the perfect pitch.
"Out of tune . . ." he mumbled correcting the sound.
"Paul, you have to study for your test . . ." I pleaded. Without looking up he raised his hand,
"Ssshh . . . later, listen," he said as he ran his thumb down the in-tune strings filling the air with music in a perfect chord. "Ahhh . . . hear that, Rach? Perfect." I rolled my eyes from across the room on the bed. I was supposed to be quizzing him on Charles Dickens', "Great Expectations," but he was avoiding my questions and paying more attention to his guitar. Now he was strumming and singing along to some little diddy he was making up, smiling at me, knowing that he was annoying me with his actions. I tossed the notebook up in the air and sighed,
"You are impossible Paul!" He only laughed and broke into "Clarabella," one of his favorites, only he was replacing the Clarabella's with my name, and ruining the song. I laughed at him and he made a face at me as I rose from my seat on my bed. "You're going to fail this exam, Paul, and you'll never move on to the tenth grade and you'll be stuck with me next year and you don't want that!" I joked. He laughed and layed his guitar down gently on the floor next to the chair, careful as not to break it.
"All right, all right," he surrendered putting his hands up, "I'll study, inspired by your nagging and in fear of sitting next to you in English class next year!" I smiled and picked up the tossed notebook and found his sloppy, scribbled notes on the classic novel and began to quiz him again.
"Oh, let's see if there's anything in here that's legible . . ." Paul groaned and threw a pillow at me, hitting me in the side of my head. I shot him an angry look which was greeted by one of his angelic "I-could-do-no-harm-I'm-a-perfect-polite-little-boy" looks with his hands crossed in front of him. I tossed the pillow back at him and yelled at him to get serious . He rolled his eyes and groaned and put forth somewhat of an effort in answering the questions - some of which were actually correct, or at least close to the actual answer. After about forty-five minuets of "Great Expectaions" Paul was through.
"Come on love, let's do something," he pleaded with me, "one more minute of this and I'll lose it, let's get out of the house, please Rachel? Please?" He was down on his knees, hands clasped, begging me to let him out. I tried to ignore him, but Paul on his knees begging was too much.
"All right, all right! Get out! Go run, play, do whatever, leave - you're hating this - go!" I gave in and threw up my hands. He jumped up off the ground and grabbed my wrists,
"Let's go love. Ivan Vaughn's home, let's visit him," he said leading me out the door. What else could I say other than,
"Dad, I'm going out!"
About fifteen minutes and six blocks later we were at Ivan's house. Ivan was in Paul's class and the two of them were friends, which was how I had come to know him. The three of us had hung out last year and a little this year. Ivan had been hanging out with other lads and the three of us hadn't been hanging out as much, but we were still good friends.
Ivan greeted us at the front door with hugs and laughs,
"What're you two doing here! Paul, how's it going mate?" Ivan asked, shaking Paul's hand and patting him on the back.
"Not bad Ivan, not bad. Rach's been trying to get me to study for English - it hasn't been doing much good!" Paul laughed with Ivan.
"Well love, I've not seen you in ages! How're you doing?" he asked while hugging me.
"Great Ivan, I'm doing well, but I'd be better if Paul would study once in a while," I said giving Paul a nudge. Ivan laughed,
"Not very likely!" He guided us into the house and brought us each a cup of tea and seated us in the living room. "So, Miss Layne, what're you up to this summer? We've only got, what, three days?" Ivan asked passing the milk to me.
"Well, I don't know. I guess I'll just hang out around the city and see what happens."
"Just hang around, eh? No big plans?"
"Nope, just whatever happens I guess."
"And what about you Paul?"
Paul shrugged and put the tea down that he was sipping. "Probably work on the guitar, maybe write some songs, hang around. You know, probabaly the same as you'll be doing."
Ivan laughed, "Yeah, probably. I'll be hanging out around me mates as well. I've got this one, John, who's crazier and wilder than I am! He's truely mad! Wild one, I tell you!"
"Ah, I don't think that's possible after meeting you Ivan! No one is crazier than you!" Paul joked.
"Hey . . . McCartney, sod off," Ivan said. Paul smirked and sipped his cooling tea. "So how's your guitar coming along Paul? Driving Rachel nuts?"
"Not yet," I answered, "but he's getting close!" I laughed. Paul playfully shoved me in the shoulder and answered,
"It's gettin' better. I just found the chords to "Twenty-Flight Rock" and I've got all the words. It's great, and Rachel enjoys in no matter how much she complains!" he smirked with a cocky look plastered on his face.
"I'll bet she does!" Ivan responded with a laugh.
The rest of the visit was full of jokes, laughs, and playful shoves and before we knew it, it was dark outside and time to get home to rest for our final tests the next day. While walking out the door we made plans to get toghether soon, sometime after school was out. Ivan was seeing us out the door as his face lit up.
"Wait! Paul, Rachel . . . what're you doing next month?" Paul and I exchanged funny looks and broke out in laughter.
"I don't know Ivan, I don't even know what I'm doing tomorrow let alone next month!" Paul said laughing. Ivan blushed and answered,
"Well . . . I mean . . . just keep the early days open. They're planning a fete at Woolton and me mate John's band might be playing and I'd love for you to attend," Ivan said.
"Sure Ive, we'll be sure to keep it open," I yelled, walking down the street with Paul at my side. I could see Ivan's smile widen and him wave enthusiastically to us. I turned to Paul and laughed, "no one, and I mean no one, is crazier than Ivan!" Paul smiled and wrapped his arm around me. We walked home like that, Paul with his arm around my shoulder and me, smiling and leaning my head on his shoulder.
Weeks passed before Ivan called either of us again. In that time, school had ended, Paul had advanced in his guitar playing, and I had convinced him he had a great voice and so now he was confidently singing. Of course, he tried to get me to sing, but I was too embarrased to sing in front of him.
"Aw, come on Rachel, I'm your best friend, I've known you for forever and now you're embarrased to sing in front of me?!? Come on love!" He had pleaded, but I still declined. He eventually got a few notes out of me, but that was it. "You've got a beautiful voice love! Beautiful, melodic, sweet - yet twangy and untamed! You're great, what're you embarrased about?" he had questioned. I could only shrug and tell him to start practicing, to which he laughed and started strumming away.
Around the second or third of July we got a call from Ivan with the details of the Woolton fete and his friend John's band, the Quarry Men.
"You'll get on well with him," he told Paul of John. Of course, Paul was excited just to hear that this John Lennon character had his own band. We were to meet Ivan at the Woolton on the sixth of July around noon. The Quarry Men played their set at two o' clock, but he wanted us to get there early to see the other bands. We got there early because Paul was too excited to wait. He would have ran the whole way there, but I kept yelling at him to settle down and walk.....
We got there at eleven-thirty, a half hour early. Paul payed for the both of us and grabbed three empty seats near the front.
"Where's Ivan?" Paul asked impatiently.
"Paul McCartney, you're as bad as an impatient three-year-old! He'll be here, we are early you know!" He blushed, embarrased at his anxiousness to see the Quarry Men and at how impatient he was being. "Relax Paul, he'll be here and you'll get to meet this lad, John Lennon," I comforted him, rubbing his shoulders. Looking around I found the grounds to be quite appealing and safe. It was a church party, but seemed more like a backyard bash. Cheap wooden chairs were set up facing a tiny, elevated, wooden stage decorated in ribbons and amps. Off to the side were tables serving drinks and other refreshments. Young couples bounced around together and young, single girls anxiously hung around the stage hoping to catch the eye of some band member. I snickered at the sight of them, "how pathetic," I thought. Hanging around the stage hoping to snag a guy they didn't even know just because he stood on stage with a guitar, or was perched behind some cheap drum kit.
"What's so funny?" Paul asked.
"Hmm?" I responded, quite intelligently.
"What's that your're snickering at? Come on, share love," Paul pleaded.
"Oh," I said leaning back in my chair, "just finding it funny how obsessive people can be about people they've never met, and probably never will. They think they're in love with these people - but they don't even know them! I mean, they could meet and completely hate each others personality - yet these girls think that they're in love!"
"You mean like those crazy birds going crackers over Elvis?"
"Exactly!" I said, then blushed. I had a little thing for Elvis, especially the way he swivled his hips and belted out such rocking tunes with a tinge of blues in them. Paul just smiled, he knew of my infactuation. I smiled and shook my head, getting back to my point. "Look over there at those girls," I pointed over at a small groups of girls flirting like mad with the lead singer of the group that was playing. Paul followed my finger and started laughing at how pathetic they were.
We sat there laughing for a while at the girls, but were inturrupted by Ivan's smile and wave. "Ivan!" Paul and I called out simontaniasouly. I waved over to him and he began to make his way through the growing crowd.
"'Ello Paul, Rach - awaiting the show?" Ivan asked taking a seat next to Paul.
"Are you kidding? I practically had to run to keep up with him he was so excited!" Everyone laughed at Paul's eagerness to get here and settled down to hear the next band up. An hour later, which seemed more like an eternity later, the Quarry Men came up.
"This is them! See that one with the curly hair at the mike?" Paul and I nodded.
"Yeah, what about him?" I asked.
"That's me mate, John Lennon. He's great, but his guitar playing could use a little practice - but don't you dare tell him I said so!" Paul and I watched in wonder as the band started up with and old classic, well, sort of, "Come Go With Me." Paul turned to me with a smile, he knew that I loved that particular song, even though it was a little difficult to understand what he was saying. John was obviously the leader of the band, taking the lead vocal and yelling at the other members with what to do. He was dressed in a plaid short-sleeved shirt and tight, worn-out blue jeans. You could tell that the Quarry Men were a skiffle group from first sight. I think the washboard and "gaurenteed not to split" guitars gave it away, but nontheless, they were good. They had a style and an energy like no other, and John had a raunchy voice that carried many emiotions. Complex man. He was older by five years at the age of seventeen and seemed to have an amazing presence. Once their set was over Ivan asked us what we thought.
"Amazing! That John has a . . . well, let's just say I'm impressed!" Paul yelped excitedly.
"And you Rach?" Ivan pried.
"Great, they were absolutly wonderful," I beamed.
"Would you two like to meet John?" Ivan asked. Paul was silent. He looked over at me with eyes so wide I thought they would pop out of their sockets. Paul's silent gape was an answer enough for Ivan. "All right then, he's over there by the refreshments," he said as he led us over to John, who was standing by himself underneath a tree. "John, ey, mate! Great show!" Ivan said extending his hand to John.
"Ivan! Glad to see you made it, even happier to hear you enjoyed the show! And who are these two wee little ones you've brought along?" said a half-way tipsy John. He had a beer in one hand and his guitar in the other. He reluctantly put the guitar down to shake hands with Ivan.
"Well, this would be one of me school mates, Paul McCartney and his friend - and mine - Rachel Layne."
"Pleased to meet you John," Paul stumbled out. John just snickered and mumbled a,
"Hello." He then turned to me with a sleek grin on his face, "And you must be Rachel, nice to meet you," John said taking my hand in his.
"Hello John, lovely to meet you," I said, blushing as he bent down to kiss my hand. We sat there talking with John for a while, mostly about music, and, with a little edging on by Ivan, Paul took John's guitar and played "Twenty-Flight Rock."
"It won't sound very good. This is a right handed guitar and I'm a lefty - but I'll do my best," Paul warned. Dispite the fact that it was difficult for him to play, it still sounded great and it really impressed John. So much that Paul was invited to join the band. He was speechless and completely surprised. His response had been,
"I'll think about it and get back to you," but it was more like, "Thank God you asked, I've never been happier in my life - yes! yes! yes!"
I think John was more impressed by the fact that Paul could tune a guitar and that he knew all the correct lyrics to "Twenty-Flight Rock" and that's what prompted him to ask him to join the band.
"Eh, well, think about it quickly mate," John said, "I've, uh, got to go - see ya Ivan, Rachel, Paul." And with that, he grabbed his guitar and ran off. Ivan felt the need to explain why John had run off so quickly,
"He lives with his aunt, Mrs. Smith, and let's just say she's not too keen on his musical interests."
Paul looked like he was going to burst with happiness. He had a smile that streched from ear to ear and was quite contagious. Soon, I was smiling with him and chatting with other people about the bands playing. From what I heard, everyone had like the Quarry Men, especially all the young girls. Before we knew it, it was dark and I was starting to get tired. I began to search for Paul (we had split some time ago - quite unusual) and found him talking, waving his hands vigoursly, deep in conversation. I silently laughed to myself. Paul was one of those people who couldn't get a point across without using their hands to illustrate.
" . . . and so I just used the piano my dad has in the living room. It's quite simple when you think about it. I can show you if you like, I just live over there," he said as he pointed behind him to hit me smack in the face. "Oh, Rachel love! Sorry dear, didn't see you!"
"It's all right," I said, rubbing the sore area on my cheek where he had nailed me.
"Lads, this is my dear friend, and neighbor, Rachel Layne, Rachel, these are the members of the last band that played, the Jackets," Paul introduced us. Smiles and waves went all around the circle of six or so.
"Paul, I hate to tear you away, but it's getting dark and the bus leaves in twenty minuets or so. We really ought to get going," I told him.
"Oh," he said turning to the others, "well, I suppose some other time then. Nice to meet you all," and with a smile and a wave, we left the fete.
While at the bus stop waiting for our ride home to come Paul asked, "what did you think of John?" I kicked a stray bottle cap littering the grungy streets of Liverpool and shrugged.
"I don't know, he seems nice enough. I wonder what he's like when he's not pissed." Paul snickered.
"Should I join the band?" he asked. I looked up at him and saw him staring at me intently, a dead serious look on his face. I sighed,
"You're good Paul, very good, you know that. I think that if you didn't put your talents to use it'd be a great waste. They could really use you," I told him.
"So is that a yes?" he insisted. He was still staring at me intently and almost looked worried.
"Yes, that's a yes," I answered. He smiled and wrapped his arms around me,
"Thanks Rae, I think both of our lives are about to change," he said to me, himself, the stars, and soon enough, the world.
Back to Opening
Back to Introduction
On to Chapter Two!