Chapter Three

I was right. The months had been long and hard and full of bad news. I wasn't able to go home during my summer break due to my job. My boss wouldn't allow me to leave during my carefully planned break, and I desperatly needed the money. I was working as a secretary for a big-time London magazine for the rich, famous, and posh, "The Londoner", which was a little less than fun. My boss, James D. Ross, or, as he prefered me to call him, "Sir", was a little less than felxible. He kept a tight schedule and never strayed from it. He liked everything neat and organized, and he demanded respect. He frequently screamed at me for wearing my hair up, or for sporting the new fashions, or even humming a tune while on the clock. "This is not your personal life Miss Layne, now is it?" he would ask me each time I showed up to work with nail polish, or even a stich of make-up on. He was constantly on my case about doing my work correctly, and he more than once threatened to fire me for various screw-ups, even the insignificant ones such as spilling a cup of coffee in the lunch room, or dropping a pencil in front of a client. To sum it up, it was hell at "The Londoner" for me, but, the job paid very well for a struggling college student, and I couldn't afford to quit and look for a new job. Besides, I'd looked and there were no other jobs availble in London for a person such as myself that would come close to even half of what I was making working for Mr. Ross, and Lord knew I was desperate for money. It just so happened that around the time that I thought I would be taking some time off to go home to Forthlin Rd., Mr. Ross decided to hold some sort of summer sweepstakes, so I was forced to stay and sort mail, reply to winners, and continue doing my usual routine for the long, boring months in which I could have been home.

The next time I got the chance to go home was the following year in 1962 for a month in August. Unfortunately, fate delt me a bad hand once more. Paul and the others were at it again for a second run in Hamburg. When I left for school again at the beginning of September I returned only to find that I had lost my job. Mr. Ross had said he needed someone who was going to be constant and consistant, not someone like me who wanted to take a month or so off to visit back home. "I need a dependable, responsible individual Miss Layne, which you have proven yourself not to be, good day," were his exact words to me. So, I found myself desperate for a job to get by paying rent and for food and other various expenses. Eventually, after many long, grueling hours of searching and interviewing, I found myself another job, a waitress at a local pub, which was even more demanding, in fact, it was worse in many ways. I had to dress to "please the customers," which were mostly male. Needless to say, it was rather degrading, but, money is money any way you slice it. I also had to deal with thugs and men who had one too many drinks. I couldn't count how many times I'd been assaulted, harrassed, or near being fired for refusing to serve another drink, or for refusing to head into the infamous "back room" with a customer. It was worse than "The Londoner" by far! In fact, if I hadn't screwed myself over and gone home for that month in August, I would even beg Mr. Ross for my job back, but I knew better than that. I'd never work there again.

All in all, the money at the pub was good, and tips were great, but there was something missing from that line of work. Something called class, something called purpose, something called dignity. But, quitting meant another month or two or even three of no money, and times were rough once again, so, I remained a waitress/batender/adult-babysitter, whatever you want to call it. But, again, I wasn't able to get home for the summer of '63, which was a major let down. So much had happened in the past year and I was anxious to see Paul, John, George, and meet their new drummer, Ringo Starr - I had never like Pete Best. John was married with a son, the band was popular beyond their wildest imagination, and I was nowhere near them studying and working at a miserable job. Even if I had made it home that year I wouldn't have been able to spend any time with the boys. They were either touring around England or playing at clubs like the Cavern.

In September, I entered my final year of college and the band, who had long been gone with the "Siver" and went simply by the Beatles, made plans to tour Europe where they were hitting number one singles left and right. All this time I was recieving letters from Paul telling me he wished he could see me and that the guys were doing fine. He often talked about the old times we had spent together back home in Liverpool, and everytime I recieved one of his letters, I found myself near a box of tissues to wipe away the tears.

He told me about the great success that they had been experiencing, and I found myself extremely jealous. He was off making money just by singing and living the luxury life without a care, and I was stuck staying up to all hours of the night studying for tests, only to fall asleep during class, then going to work where I was a practically borderline prostitute - which I never allowed myself to be. The closest anybody ever got to me was their hand bushing mine as I handed them a glass, and that was if they were lucky. I became very protective of my body after a near rape a few months back when I first began, but I was very stupid and niave back then. A man had had too much to drink and needed help getting into his car. He asked me very politely to help him get in, and since he hadn't been a problem inside the pub, I figured, "why not?" But, as I helped him, I discovered that he was in no condition to drive home, and offered to clock out and drive him to his flat. Of course, he accepted, and once we got in the car with doors locked, he made his move - obviously not as drunk as I originally thought. Lucky for me, someone happened to pass by and hear me screaming for help and proceeded to smash a window in to help me. Ever since then, I wouldn't let anyone near me. I never did tell Paul though - he didn't need to know, he didn't need to worry about me.

But those days weren't as terribly bad as they seemed. For the most part, the pub job was fun. There were many wonderful people working there, and we all looked out for one another. College studies were close to being over, and my various friendships with people I had classes with were flourishing. Anne and Rose and I had become the very best of friends, and were my only real girlfriends, considering I grew up as the only girl on my street surrounded by boys. We went out often, and I even had time for a relationship or two, none that were serious, but one that was serious enough for me to lose my virginity to. All in all, those final college days were full of wonder and excitment. These were the days of the calm before the storm, before my life was about to change drastically. Who knew that I was about to discover writing, or love, or America back then? I certainly didn't. These were the last real days of childhood for me, and events were happening that would set the wheels of my destiny spinning. These were the last real days of anything solid, anything calm, simple, and fun. These were the days before Paul and his emmence success and the whirlwind life of the Beatles.

These were simple times.

And then, in my final month of school, the Beatles invaded the United States. They had a number one single in "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and played to a huge audience on some television show, "The Ed Sullivan Show" . . . . and it all began . . . .

London in the winter was a magical place. Women bustled down the streets all bundled up in their coats and muffs, dragging their little children around by the hand, hurrying to wherever it was that they so urgently had to be. Every so often the busy business men came out to catch a breath of fresh air, or for a quick smoke, or to run to eat their lunch before their hour was up. But now, in the wee early hours of the morning, no one was outside and the busy streets of London were silenced, except for the occasional car speeding by. A thin layer of snow covered the sleeping city, glowing in the street lights and pale moonlight.

I should have been sleeping, after all, it was two a.m., but I wasn't tired. In fact, I had just gotten home. I had been out on a date with a sweet guy I had met at a local cafe, and he had just dropped me off at my house. My house. It sounded to so great to say! Up until last year, I had been rooming with two other people, Anne and Rose, in a tiny flat near school. But, last year the three of us decided we wanted to stay in London, and the tiny, four room flat just wasn't working. So, we saved up enough money to rent a house. It was small, but just about anything would beat that apartment. There were only two bedrooms, so we drew straws and the loser had to make a room in the attic.

I lost.

But that was alright because from way up here, I could see the whole city. The best damn view in the house. Probably the best damn view in all of London.

I slowly crept upstairs, trying not to wake my roomies. Each old rickety wooden step moaned as I tiptoed my way to my attic hide-away. Luckily, I made it upstairs without disturbing their peaceful slumber. I quietly closed my door and flipped on the lights. I had managed to make the most of my attic room, and it was actually quite cozy now. Pictures of my family and friends from Liverpool hung on the white walls, several special ones of Paul and me decorated my desk and walls by my bed. The last I had heard from him was via letter from Paris, France, before they left for the States. His letters had been more and more scarce since their their success. I understood why, of course, I mean, Paul would never just leave me out in the dark, but still . . . . . . . I really missed him.

I tossed my house keys carelessly on my bed and drew the shades on my windows down, blocking out the gentle moonlight and falling snow. I leaned against my desk chair and slipped off my painful dancing shoes. They hadn't broken in yet and they pinched, they were just a little too tight on my feet. I pulled out a nightgown from my cheery wood dresser and began to peel off my sweater top. Once again, I carelessly tossed it on the floor, when the phone rang. I made a nose-dive for it to stop the ringing so that it wouldn't wake Anne or Rose. Who the hell would be calling this late at night? I slowly brought the reciever to my ear and breathed in, "Hello?" In the background I heard several voices, cheering, and music playing loudly.

"HELLO? IS RACHEL THERE?" the voice on the other end yelled. Whoever it was, they were straining to hear and trying to outshout the noise in the background.

"This is she," I said, sitting down on my bed, right on my house keys. I jumped back up and brushed them out of the way, resting myself back down again.

"RACHEL! IT'S ME, PAUL!" My heart skipped a beat and my soul soared. It was Paul.

"PAUL! I've missed you so much, how are you? How're the guys? What's America like?" I pressed. I felt tears streaming down my face as I clutched the reciever tightly with both hands, anxious to hear Paul's voice. That lovely, soothing voice I so rarely heard. I heard Paul laughing on the other end.

"Slow down love! I've missed you too! I'm doing just wonderfully, and so are the others, especially after tonight!" he laughed. The voices in the background had gone down considerably, he must have moved into another room.

"Why?" I asked, settling down a bit, "what happened tonight?" There was silence on the other end. I asked again, "Paul, what happened?"

Again, silence.

I sighed and laughed and rolled my eyes, "Come on Paul, what . . ."

"Seventy-three million people," he inturupted.

I frowned in confusion, "seventy-three million people what?" I asked. There was that moment of silence again on the other end, but this time, the silence wasn't so quiet. The air was heavy with excitement and Paul's smile, stretching from ear to ear, I could hear, no feel, him grinning wide and bright over the phone, and I smiled to myself.

"Seventy-three million people watched the show. SEVENTY-THREE MILLION! Christ, crime rate went down in the city in the hour that we were on! You should have seen the audience! All of it, girls screaming! You couldn't hear a thing! The airport, hell, that was ten times worse! It was a sea of teenage girls screaming like it was . . . was . . .

"Elvis?" I chimed in. Paul let a roaring laugh go.

"No," he laughed, "if it were Elvis, you'd be there with them!" I smiled and eased back down onto my bed.

"Nah, my Elvis Presely days are over," I grinned. Paul snorted on the other end.

"Yeah, right, whatever you say love," he joked. I could just see the smirk on his face as he teased me about a certain childhood crush.

"Well, I certainly hope you don't expect me to argue with you over the phone about the issue! I haven't heard your voice in months, maybe years, and you're picking a fight with me! Some friend!" I laughed.

Paul laughed, "We're right back where we left off! At least you know that we haven't missed a beat or changed too much! But, you're right, as always! Let's talk about something worthwhile in the short amount of time that we've got. So . . ., Rach, what're you doin' up so late? Isn't it like, two or three in the mornin' in London?" he asked.

Even though I knew he couldn't see me, I nodded. "Yep. Two-fifteen to be exact, but that's okay, anything to get to talk to you, even for just a little bit," I said, trying to sway the question away from the reason that I was up.

"Hmm, you're trying to hide something, aren't you?" he asked. My mouth flew open, how does he do that!?! He always seemed to know when I lied to him, but that was because I would do something like bite my lip or fidget with my hands, but how could he tell over the phone?

"How do you do that?" I asked, laying down on my bed and turning the light down so that it wouldn't shine in my eyes.

Paul laughed, "How do I do what I do to you? I think the question is more of, how do you do what YOU do to me?"

I laughed and sighed at the same time, "Leave it to you, Paul, to make me smile and laugh, and leave it to you to refer to music at all times."

"I know because I know you, Rachel. I know you like a book, and I know for a fact that you are hiding something from me, aren't you? Come now love, what is it? You can tell me, I promise, I won't tease you if that's what you're worried about!"

I sighed and rubbed my forehead, "I was out on a date." Paul proceeded to make a series of "ooh" and "ahh" sounds along with kissing noises and I threated to hang up the phone.

"Alright love, I won't say anything. So . . . who's the lucky guy, eh? Anybody I'd know?" he asked, settling down a bit.

"Actually, it's not anybody that you would know. He's an American guy, from San Fransisco, in London on vacation with his buddies, his name is Robert Smith, but he just goes by Bob."

"And are we, umm, interestedin Mr. Smith?"

I laughed and smiled, "Well, yes. He's quite the gentleman. This was our fifth date. I think it might get serious."

"Serious?" he asked, with a sudden seriousness to his voice, very unlike Paul. "Are you sure you're ready, and are you sure he's a decent guy? 'Cause if he's a jerk, I'll come all the way to London and kick his ass if he hurts you . . ."

"Paul," I cut him off, "he's one of the sweetest guys I've ever met. He's funny, and sweet, and good-looking, and I really think this could escalate into something special. He took me out to a club dancing tonight, and we had a fantastic time. His intentions are honerable, as your father would say," I smiled. There was silence on the other end, and I could tell that Paul was thinking things over. I knew he was happy for me, and just didn't want to see me make any mistakes, and I knew that once he met Bob he'd love him.

"I'm going to have to trust you love, I'm still cautious, but if you really like this guy, then I say great and good luck!"

I let out a sigh of relief and smiled, "Thank you Paul, you know this means a lot to me. So," I said, "changing the subject, how're things between you and Jane?" I could feel Paul brighten up and smile.

"Wonderful, fantastic, glorious, and all of those lovely things! I miss her though, I can't wait to get home and see her agian. I can't wait for you to meet her! You'll love her, she's perfect! She could be the one . . ." Paul trailed off. I could tell by the excitement in his voice that he was really crazy for her and that she very well could be "the one" for him. I had yet to meet her, even though she lived in London as well. Paul had moved in with her and her family, and was living in London, but due to scheduling on both of our parts, we had continually missed one anohter. "That's it. When we get back, we're getting together so I can meet this Robert and you can meet my love, Jane. What do you say?" he asked.

"What can I say? Of course!" I laughed. "Oh, Paul," I sighed, "it's been so long since we've seen each other!"

Paul's voice dropped, "Yeah, it has. At least you get to see me on like, magazines and the tele and all! I don't have anything to remind me of you, except a picture or two from when we were younger. I don't exactly have enough room to bring anything more, and it's not like I get the chance to be alone and remenice about the good old times. I can't wait until this tour is over ..." he trailed off.

"Why?," I asked, "are the audiences giving you a rough time?"

Paul let out a deep sigh, "Nah, it's not like that at all, in fact, the audiences are quite welcoming!" Paul laughed a little, then his voice dropped again, breaking my heart. I knew he was upset about something.

"You really miss her, don't you?"

Paul seemed surprised by my resopnse, but answered dispite it. "Yeah. A lot. And you, don't get me wrong! I mean, the last time I actually saw you was ...."

" .... that day at the train station when I left," I finished for him.

"Yeah! Cripes, Rae, that was ages ago!"

He was right. It had been ages, and it showed. I hadn't been the same since. It wasn't that I wasn't able to go on living without him, my current living conditions showed that I was just fine and dandy on my own, but Paul was something that had been a part of my life for just so long that it was like a part of me was missing, or sleeping. Letters were great, phone conversations even better, but nothing was like being with him in the physical. I missed his smile, his laugh, the way he used his hands to talk, his eyes . . . I missed him. He's only half the person when it's two or one dimensional. There have been so many times in the past four years when I could have really used his presence. How many nights did I go to bed wishing that his arms were around me, and how many days did I sit and cry, starving for his touch.

"Yeah, Paul, it has been ages. Far too long."

"Rach?" he asked, his voice rising slightly.

"Yes," I answered.

"When I get home, I'm taking a week - no, two weeks off, just for us," he said. I would have questioned his promise, not because of him, but because of his hectic schedule, but, there was a certain tone of seriousness in his voice that told me he would make it happen, no matter what.

"That'll be nice."

A month passed until I heard from Paul again. It turned out that the Beatles were making a movie, and he wasn't going to be able to take those two weeks off like he had promised. "I'm really sorry love, I didn't know that they wanted us to do a movie, if I had known, I wouldn't have promised you," he had said. I told him that I understood and we said our good-byes (again) over the phone. Time passed and I graduated from college, but stayed in my house with Anne and Rose. Rose, in the meantime, had met a certain young man, Nate Carnes, and they had become engaged. Anne had also met up with someone, Ian Westerburg, and they were slowly but surely becoming serious. As for Bob and myself, we were still a hot item, and quite serious. Bob had decided to stay in London with me instead of going back home with his friends to San Fransisco. When he told me that he was staying, I had gotten angry and told him that that was a mean joke, but he was serious. He didn't have any place to stay, so we hauled up a cot into my room and he stayed with us, although the cot really served no purpose . . . .

I had done some shadowing and some student teaching while still in school, and, although I loved it tremendously, I found another passion in my life. Writing. For as long as I could remember, I had loved to just sit down and write, and I had an extensive collection. One day, while I was out, Bob went snooping in my drawers (which I was livid about!) and found several of my writing notebooks. They weren't much; only beginnings to stories that I never had time enough to finish. After I had cooled down about that fact that he went through my things without my permission, he convinced me that they were excellent ideas, and told me that I really ought to think about finishing them. I laughed and tossed the idea off, but the more I thought about it, the more it appealed to me, so, one rainy day, I sat down and wrote a good portion of one of my books and fell in love with writing all over again. Since it was far too late to change my major (which had been English, not that it hurt me any in writing), I graduated majoring in English and minoring in teaching. I never did follow through with the teaching thing, and I never went on to get my teaching licence. I, instead found a job at the London Press writing my own daily column. Surprisingly, dear old Mr. James D. Ross of The Londoner gave me a ring, asking if I would like a position writing for his magazine. Of course, I politely declined.

A year had passed since the Beatles movie, "A Hard Day's Night" came out, and I still hadn't seen Paul. We had continued to talk extensively over the phone, and through the occasion letter, but we still had not seen each other face-to-face since the day I left for London, five years ago. I saw his picture almost daily on the news, and everyday on magazine covers, posters, ads, and more. Everyone was talking about the Beatles, and everytime I heard their name uttered (and mind you, that was A LOT), I cringed. I missed them so much it was almost unbearable. I had managed to meet Jane Asher while Paul was off on tour. She wasn't exactly the most available person either. She was a famous actress and was touring doing plays, movies, and television appearances. I met her at a newspaper stand in September of '64. I caught a glimpse of her and recognized her immeadeatly. Sheepisly, I made my way over to where she was and introduced myself. Her eyes flew wide open and her expression seemed to say "It's finally you! You're HER!" She had told me that she had heard so much about me and suggested that we go out for dinner. We hit it off immeadeatly and vowed to try to keep in touch, even though her schedule was almost as tight as Paul's. She had confided that it was difficult being away from Paul for so long, and that she almost wished that he wasn't in the band. "It wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't acting, or he wasn't playing, but as it is," she said, "we never see each other, and it's so rough." I symphatized with her and she smiled. "He misses you a lot, Rachel. He talks about you non-stop. I really wish that you two could spend some time together, but Paul's flying around constantly, and never seems to plant his feet in one place!" She clued me in as to what his schedule looked like for the upcoming year, 1965. Turns out that they were making another movie and going on tour again, this time to more places for longer, plus, they still needed to get in time at the recording studio because they were aiming at releasing at least two to three albums that year. I was going to have to live without him again for a year.

I didn't see Paul all throughout 1965, although I heard from him often, and saw his face plastered everywhere around the city. But, even if Paul hadn't done all of those things, I still wouldn't have gotten to see him. My career was blooming, fast. My column was moved to the front page, and my first book, "The Rocking Chair," was released. It was mostly auto-biographical, but there was plenty of fiction tossed in to make it interesting. It was about a young girl in her early teens whose best friend loses his mother in a freak accident (there's part of the fiction). Of course, the novel is set in Liverpool, and the character of Robbie (short for Robin) is me, and Jack is Paul. The rocking chair bit was true too. In the novel, Jack's mother, Nancy, rocks Jack to sleep in it and always sits in it, and when she dies, Jack can't go near the chair until one day when he comes to terms with the fact that his mother is dead. This really was true. Mary used to sit in this one rickety old rocking chair, and when she died, Paul had the hardest time even looking at the chair. The book soared to the top of the charts and stayed in the number one spot on the best-sellers list for twelve weeks. In addition to my success, I was bombarded with reporters begging for pictures and interviews. I tried to keep my realationship with Paul low-key, or preferably, non-existant in the public's eye. Paul completely understood when I told him that I wanted to keep that quiet. "Don't worry love," he had said, "I won't say a word." But someone did, because soon, everyone knew that Beatle Paul and I were best-friends growing up. That's when the real craziness began. I couldn't leave my home without cameras flashing in my eyes, or the media yelling my name out, begging for "just one picture!" or "just one word!" By March of 1966, I had had it. I quit my job at the newspaper, and told the press that I was taking a long vacation, far far away from any distractions so that I could actually concentrate and write. I really had no idea where I would go. I think I was just hoping that they would leave me alone so I could stay in my house, but no such luck. If anything, they were there even more so, and just as annoying and persistant. Finally, Bob suggested that we go visit his family in San Fransisco for a while. I had never been outside of England, and so the idea of going anywhere, especially the States, thrilled me and I readily jumped on the idea. We packed our bags and caught a flight to San Fransisco in late March, early April. We stayed with his parents in their house by the bay innitially, but eventually found a place of our own across the city. In the middle of June, we came back to London for Rose's wedding to Nate Carnes, only to find out that Anne and Ian were engaged and were looking at a wedding sometime in the fall. We spent two weeks holiday in London, and although I was tempted to stay, California called us back in early July. It was only a matter of time until I heard that the Beatles were touring in the States and would be in California in late August for a while. I immeadeatly pounced on the opportunity to get tickets, but was offered something better. The local newspaper asked me to cover their concert, special, and they would provide me with tickets and backstage passes if I accepted. Of course, I accepted, but it wasn't without some reservation as to what I was getting myself into again. If I said 'yes' I would most likely fall in love with journalism again, and I wasn't sure if I was ready for that yet. But, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see Paul and John and George and finally meet this Ringo fellow! I was to cover their concert at Candlestick Park on August 29, and I was above and beyond psyched ................

"Bob, sweetie, have you seen my blue shoes?" I yelled from across the house.


"My blue shoes," I shouted to him, making my way into the kitchen where he hung over a pot of boiling soup, "the ones with the heel?" I was half-dressed and was trying to get the backing on my earing, but it wouldn't co-operate.

"I think they're in the hallway, you wore them the other evening to my parent's," Bob said, testing the soup and adding more spices from the spice rack to his right.

"Oh, that's right, thanks hun. I swear, when we're old and grey you're going to have to remind me to put my teeth back in, because I'll be wandering around the city, smacking my gums together!" I laughed.

Bob smirked, "Hopefully that won't be that soon!" I smiled and gave him a peck on the cheek and headed for the hallway to retrive my shoes. Leaning against the wall, I slipped them on my feet and took a quick look at myself in the full-lengh mirror hanging from the wall. It was a going to be a cooler evening for San Fransisco in August, and I knew I was going to freeze. I had on a dark bule navy skirt that ended just below my knee with a white, sleeveless, skin-tight, relatively see-through blouse. I tucked my short blonde hair behind my ears and did a one-over. The shoes were perfect, the outfit, perfect, the make-up, perfect, the whole evening, perfect. I was finally going to be able to see Paul again after so long! It had been six years since we'd seen each other in the flesh, and although I shouldn't be, I was nervous. What if he doesn't recognize me? No, I haven't changed THAT much! What if he's disappointed in what he sees? No, why would he be? He's Paul! My Paul! The one that I knew so much about, the one that knew so much about me! He would remember, he would recognize, he would be astounded.

As a last minute touch, I added a silver bracelet to match the silver necklace that hung around my neck. The locket that Paul had slipped in my pocket that last day before I left. I never took it off, and it was always around my neck. I pulled it out from it's position tucked inside my shirt and gazed upon it fondily. I gently opened it and saw Paul's bright, smiling face staring back at me. "I've missed you," I whispered. A tear trickeled down my cheek as I closed the clasp and let it dangle freely around my neck.

"You'll be fine. You're going to have a great time," said a voice from behind me. Bob had crept up and had his hands on my shoulders, staring into the mirror at my image with me. "You look beautiful. You look fantastic. I love you." And with that he wrapped his arms around me and rocked me back and forth. I swayed side to side with him, eyes glued on the image staring back at me in the mirror.

"I love you too," I smiled.

The concert started at eight, but the Beatles didn't go on until nine or nine-thirty. I wasn't the only reporter there, but I was obviously the most nervous one. I tremelbed with excitement as the last act fled the stage and I faintly heard and announcer introduce the Beatles, but then again, the shrieks of teenage girls was too deafening to hear anything clearly, even the music. From a distance I saw four individuals surrounded by police running out on the field. As they approached, I was able to make them out as, indeed, the Beatles. That's when the screams were drowned out by pure and utter silence and my heart flew right out of my chest. There they were. There HE was. It was Paul, my Paul, running to the stage before my very eyes. I stood in a trance watching as they plugged in their guitars and tested the microphones. I was pinned up against the stage by other anxious reporters and photographers wanting a piece of the Beatles, but I didn't care. As far as I was concerned, I was floating.

Suddenly, with the push and shove of other reporters and photographers, I snapped back to reality and realized that I had a job to do. In pure monotone, I began snapping pictures, not really caring if I got the audience, the back of my hand, or the desired subjects, the Beatles. I was just amazed that there they were, ten feet in front of me, and that they couldn't even tell that I was there. Then, I heard it.

"Hello San Fransisco! It's wonderful to be here!"

Paul spoke.

"Well, we haven't got much time, and chances are that you can't even hear me anyway, so we're going to get right into the show," he practically shouted into the mic. He then backed away and the sound of him yelling, "A-one, two, three, fawr!" faded in my ears. I had never seen them play live, and this was a once in a lifetime experience for me. I continued to take mental notes for the article, and snap some photos as well, but it was obvious that I was the only media person there that spent the majority of the time just being a fan and taking in the experience. Paul was radiant up on stage. It was a side of him that I had never seen before, or at least to this degree. He was having a blast, but somewhere in his eyes was a tint of saddness. Something was wrong. Even from in the crowd and even after not seeing him in six years, I could tell something was wrong. I felt a lump in my throat and tried to hold back my emotions, this was not the time, nor the place.

I snapped a few photos more and made a few more mental notes, and then, in the blink of an eye, it was over and they were exiting the stage. Paul and John came equipped with cameras of their own and flashed pictures left and right. I, along with several other reporters, began chasing after them, but for an entirely different reason. I raced to catch up with them, and make my way throught the sea of flashes to reach them. At one point, I came within feet of John, but all he did was flash his camera in my eye (not intentionally) and keep walking. I shot a few more pictures and then gave up. It wasn't worth it, nor was I getting anywhere. Besides, I was going to have the perfect opportunity to be with them once I got backstage.

Soon after the Beatles got inside, the sea of reporters disappeared. My guess was that some had backstage passes, or some just wanted to get the hell out of there, but either way, I was the only press person left standing on the field. Members of the crew began to immeadeatly tear down the set, being especially carefull with Ringo's drum set and various other wires strewn carelessly about the the mock stage. No one seemed to care that I was just standing there, getting in the way of the production, completely and utterly clueless as to what I was doing. I gripped my camera and notebook tightly, bending the pages and causing my knuckles to go white. I would have gone backstage, if I knew where to go. My best guess was to go through the same way the Beatles had, but where to go from then left me clueless.

"Excuse me sir, I ....." I said, trying to get the attention of some man breezing by me. Needless to say, he just kept walking, or running rather, ignoring me. I tried, but to no avail, to get someone to help me. Everyone seemed to be in some great rush to get things done and get out of there, and I was left, still standing, by myself in the middle of the field.

I started to panic. It wasn't that I couldn't find my way out of the stadium, it was that I feared that I wouldn't find my way backstage and I would miss my once in a lifetime opportunity to see Paul again. I suppose that I could go on living with the disappointment of missing my chance to see him again, and I'm sure that someday we'd meet up again. But who knew when that would be? For all I knew, it could be years until I got the chance to see him again, and by that point, we might be in two completely different spots in our lives. We could grow apart.

With that last thought, I shivered. I really should have brought a sweater like I originally planned, but as it was, I was left standing solitary in the middle of a now barren field, cold from the ocean breeze and cold with fear. I nonchlantly glanced at my watch, only to see another unfriendly face staring back at me. Well, at least this face looked back at me! It was too late. My fears were confirmed by the time, and I felt my heart fall through to my knees. Another wasted chance. Another six years.

I felt hot tears drown my face, washing my make-up off my face, revealing the vulnerable young girl, and washing away any illusions that I was a grown woman who could handle loss and could live her life on her own. I was still a girl. I was still that little girl running around in a faded dress, dirty from playing in the woods with Paul, carelessly playing and running around Liverpool. I was still that teenager who wasn't sure of herself, and Paul was still Paul, the one that convinced her to get her dresses dirty and reasurred her when she doubted herself. Paul was still the one I ran to when times were rough. And now, he was gone. Gone from that little girl's life, and gone from this little girl's life.

While I cried and felt sorry for myself, some stray men covered the grounds, checking to make sure that nothing was left behind on the field. I didn't notice that they had come near me until one of them touched my shoulder.

"Miss, are you alright?" he asked. I turned around, agast.

"Yes - yes, thank-you - I'll just be going right now," I said, wiping away my tears. I tried to wipe away any make-up that was running down my cheeks, but failed miserably and only smeared it more, creating black streaks from my mascara. I don't know why I bothered to use it, I really didn't need it. I had long, black, curly lashes, and whenever I wore mascara it only made me look tacky, but for some reason, probably nerves, I wore it. I'm sure I wasn't thinking when I did it, and I definately wasn't thinking that this was going to happen! I quickly picked my camera and notebook back up and turned to walk away, but the man ran after me.

"Miss! Miss, please, wait!" he shouted, catching up to me.

I kept my head hung down so that he wouldn't see the dried river of tears tattoed on my face. "Yes?" I asked, picking up my pace a bit.

"I'm sorry, I couldn't help but notice that you dropped your lens cap to your camera," he said handing me the slightly dirty lens cap.

I couldn't help but notice that the man had a British accent, and none other than that famous Liverpudlian accent that I was beginning to lose. I took the cap from him and placed it in my purse and lifted my head to get a good look of the man. "Thank-you," I said to him. He gave me a slightly questionable look, looking confused at first, like he had seen me somewhere before. Then, as it hit him, his eyes flew open and he began shaking his finger at me.

"I know you! You're that writer from London, aren't you?!?" I simply nodded and stuck out my freehand to shake his. "Wow! I'm a big fan, really, I mean it, a big fan! I'm Neil Aspaniall, I'm like the Beatles roadie . . ." he said, but I cut him off with a shriek of joy.

"Are you really! Would you happen to know the way backstage? I have this pass," I said lifting my green pass up from around my neck, allowing him to examine it, "and I don't know where to go." He smiled as he handed it back to me,

"I'm sure you'd like to see the guys, wouldn't you? Paul and John have told me so much about you, and George has thrown in his two cents several times as well. I can take you back there, they're just sitting down relaxing, having a few drinks, waiting for the crowds to calm down before they leave. I don't think they were expecting to see you, and I'm sure that it'll be a welcome relief for them to see an old friendly face! Especially after this tour ...."

"Has it been rough?" I asked as he led me into the same tunnel that the four had disappeared into earlier. He sighed heavily and ran his fingers through his hair.

"Especially rough. There have been countless bomb and gun shot threats, and the poor guys have been on their toes constantly. They can't wait to get home, and I must say, neither can I."

We walked the rest of the way in silence through the twisting tunnels and multiple doors. A few people were hanging around in the hallways, drinking or smoking, and talking quietly to a select few. I kept close to Neil, in fear of getting lost and of getting kicked out. In what seemed like light years later, we reached a heavily gaurded door at the end of a dark hallway. Neil held up his pass and encouraged me to do the same, and opened the door.

Back to Opening!

Back to Introduction!

Chapter Two

Chapter Four!!