I froze as he entered the room. It was really Paul, it was FINALLY Paul. It had been years since I had last seen that face, that smile, those eyes......
He didn't look up at first, and mumbled something about getting some sleep at last, but when he finally did lift his eyes from the ground, he too froze. The room fell silent, and Paul and I locked eyes. He stared at me almost as if he weren't sure if I were real or just another mirage or desperate wish he had. He stood across the room, stiff, and unsure of himself. Those brown-gold eyes focouced entirely on me, absorbing my presence, my being, myself.
Paul hadn't changed one bit in my eyes. I still saw that little boy that threw frogs at me and pulled my hair as a child, that raging teenager that had so much feeling inside and sang silly little ditties to me late at night in my garden without our parents knowing a thing, but there was something different in his apperance. Of course, there were the obvious physical differences; he was taller and considerably more defined in his features. Those chubby legs he sported as a child had thinned out and baby fat was replaced by muscle, and his arms had done the same, defined and shapely, one could tell even through the sports coat he wore over his now broad, stong shoulders. His face had also thinned out, and a slight five o' clock shaddow of a stubble carpeted his features. His chocolate hair was longer, obviously, and his hands seemed more real, more manly, more experienced, but the one thing that had not changed one bit were his eyes. They were still four, seven, tweleve, eighteen years old and bright and gleaming as ever. There was one thing that was beginning to grow in his eyes though, and as well as I could read him, I couldn't tell what feature or characteristic was beginning to bud and grow in the garden of his heart and soul.
John released me and backed off a little to give me my space, which I was grateful for. No one had said a word yet, and the air was heavy beyond belief. I could feel eight pairs of eyes dangling on my every move, but the only pair that mattered were Paul's.
I tried to open my mouth to say 'hello' but nothing came out. I tried so hard to say it, but I just couldn't form the words in my head, let alone my mouth, and as I tried for a third time Paul rushed towards me in long, even, strong strides. I tried to move towards him and meet him half-way, but my feet were cemented to the ground, and I couldn't have moved if my life depended on it. The only thing I could do was open my arms to collect Paul in my hungry, waiting arms, and fill them he did. He hugged me fiercely, wrapping his arms aroung my waist, squeezing me tighter than ever before in the most desperate needy hug of my life. I burried my face in the base of his neck where his shoulder met his neck and cried sobs of joy. I could feel his cheek pressed up against the side of my head as he squeezed me tighter, almost as if he were trying to pull me inside of him. He tried to speak, but the sound only came out as sobs. John, Ringo, and George left the room to give us some privicy and to be courtious. As soon as the door closed from the last person leaving, Paul gently pulled me away from his body to look me in the face, my tear-streaked face. He pulled together his thoughts and mouthed words that I couldn't understand, intangible words that he was struggling to say. I could see him mentally fishing for the words he longed to say, and try to apply every thought to saying them out loud.
"You're finally here," he cried, tightly gripping my shoulders. My insides melted and I threw myself back at him, burrying my face in his chest, crying happy, warm tears. He gathered me in his arms, more gently this time, and craddled me almost, rocking me slowly and gently side-to-side. I took the opportunity to breathe in his scent, that familair, yet distant and new, smell of a genius, a star in his own right, and the best friend I could ever have. His touch was different as well. His hands were more callused than before, and his body felt so much more muscular than before. He felt so strong, not that he hadn't in the past, but he just felt so much more ....... I don't know, stonger, real, ..... older.
His arms were warm and comforting and I felt safer there than I had in years, even the primitivly warm embrace of Bob couldn't compare or ever make me feel this way. I closed me eyes and went sailing back to Liverpool, to Allerton, to my house on Forthlin Road where Paul and I grew up. Where we began to discover ourselves and each other in ways we never imagined possible. Once, when I was very young, Paul's older cousin, 15 year old David, had been baby-sitting us and showed us a scary movie with monsters and ghouls and witches and the like. Both Paul and I had been spooked, but me more so than him. That night when I tried to sleep I kept imagining the monster coming to get me, and I was too petrified to leave my bed. Growing up, Paul's bedroom window was across from mine, so I threw my marbles at his window to try to wake him up so that I wouldn't be alone. He did wake up of course, and proceeded to climb out of his window and up to mine so that I wouldn't be alone and so I could go to sleep. That wasn't the only time he had "rescued" me so to speak, and being held in his warm embraced reminded me of the fact that no matter what the problem, I could always go to Paul. He smelled like Liverpool and music, woods and frogs, games and dates, parties and coffee houses, endless afternoons and peaceful nights, and friendship and love.
I pulled away from him for a second and stared in his eyes, "I love you," I said, a tear trickling down my cheek as I did so. He smiled and wiped the tear away with his thumb and softly kissed my forehead.
"I love you too, Rach," he said, pulling me close to him once more. I stayed there in his embrace for a little bit longer and couldn't bring myself to leave his arms. It was safe here, warm here, loving here - why would I ever want to leave? But of course, all good things must come to an end, and this good thing was no exception. Paul gently pulled away from me and let me go. He wiped a few tears away from the corner of his eye and smiled that wide, crooked smile of his. "I can't believe it's been so long since I've seen you!" he lauged, trying to pass off the fact that he had missed me so terribly much.
"I know," I said returning the smile, "we've got a lot of catching up to do!" Paul laughed and agreed,
"Aye, we do, don't we? But, this isn't exactly the place to do so," he said waving his dominant left hand around displaying the stuffy, sticky, congested room. "What do you say we sneak out and go for a walk?" A wicked smile crept across his face, the same smile he used to have when he suggested we do something dangerous as children. I couldn't help but laugh at that face. His eyebrows arched, lips spread from ear to ear, crooked teeth shown, eyes blazing - it was almost comical, and was definetly a great idea, but sadly, quite dangerous.
"Paul," I began, "isn't that rather dangerous? I mean, what happens if you get recognized or - or what if someone from the Klan is here and finds you? You're not exactly their favorite person, even if you weren't the one to make that comment ....."
"Rachel, love, calm down! You of all people should know that the Klan stays mostly in the south, not here in California! And if someone should recognize me, I'll calmly sign an autograph and they'll leave us alone! Besides, I would wear a disguise, I've done it before. I know how to do things like this, I'm a pro." I laughed and shook my head at him.
"All right Paul, lets go out."
We tried to escape the baseball diamond in perfect cognito. Paul adorned an old, tattered hat that looked like something straigt out of the 30's, complete Frank Sinatra. He tucked in his long hair as best he could inside his hat, and pulled the fron down a little to hide his face. He was about to walk when he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. "Ech," he said, pulling at his drenched patterened shirt. It wasn't until now that I had realized that he was soaked from sweat. Beads of persperation rolled down his face, which seemed to glow, like an angel. The little light in the room reflected off his face, causing him to stand out form the room. Ultimeatly, he was disgusting, yet, I couldn't help but overlook the fact that he was covered in sticky sweat. I mean, after all, it was Paul. I'd seem him worse than that. Besides, the sweat was more of a sign of his hard work and accomplishment than it was a disgusting human feature. He lifted the hat off his head, causing his wet hair to fall like twigs all over his face. He shook his head, and all I could think of was him shouting "oooh!" in that perfect Beatles signiture ending.
That's when it hit me. He was more than just my childhood friend, more than just "Paul," he was "Beatle Paul!" He was famous worldwide! This was the face that I'd seen a thousand times covered in mud from romping in the woods after it rained, smiling brightly, crying, laughing, and battered and bruised, but, it was the same face of the man in "that band." He was the man whose face adorned young girls badroom walls, the face that was on the news, the face on the records, posters, magazines, and newspapers! I mean, I was staring at Beatle Paul McCartney! There were girls out there that would kill to be here in my shoes now.
I'm going to change clothes first love, okay?" he asked while peeling off his sports jacket. He tossed it onto the couch and headed over towards the closet across the room where George had been sitting. "Hmm," he muttered to himself, rubbing his chin and taking a step back to observe his choices. "How about Japan, love?" he said reaching into the closet and pulling out a red silk shirt with a grey sports coat with red and green pin stripes.
I kept staring at him. He'd gotten so ..... big! He even looked older than he did before, his fingers longer, older. His hands looked older, more experienced. They probably were. Who knew what those hands had come in contact with, touched, held, felt, what magic they had created. Those were the fingers that had once upon a time pulled my hair, squashed bugs, and thrown stones, now, they were the ones that made magic, that made the inner thoughts and feelings from deep within his sould and mind tangible to the world. These were the fingers that strummed "Yesterday" and made this world sound better. These fingers made people happy, brought joy to the world, made it a better place. These fingers, these hands, had some sort of magic to them, some sort of essence, or power rather, that begged to be shown to the world. Paul's hands shined, they glowed, they shone. There was a constant, steady beam of light that grew from his fingertips and reached out to touch the soulds of those around him. But this light was special. You couldn't see it, you could only feel it. If you felt it, you saw it, and once you saw it, no toher light anywhere seemed half as bright, or even half as warm or lovely or .....
"Rach? Are you okay?" Paul asked, waving his free hand in front of my face. He had moved and was now standing in front of me, his right hand on my shoulder, outfit draped over his outstreched arm, and his left waving vigorously in front of my face. "Rach? Are you ...."
"I'm fine," I said, taking his left hand in my right and holding it, stopping it from waving in front of me. "I'm fine," I said again. He had look of concern on his face, which suddenly brightened and broke out into a great big smile, fully exposing his long, horse-like, slightly crooked teeth. He pulled his hand out of mine and wrapped both of his arms around me in a warm embrace.
"I can't believe you're here," he said, squeezing just a little bit tighter. I folded my arms around his back in retaliation and smiled silently to myself. The strongest smell radiating off of him was that of sweat and tobacco, mixed with some sort of faint colonge, but somehow, I smelled a breeze, a cool, bright, crisp fall day. I jogged my memory, but I couldn't pinpoint the smell exactly, not the memory attached to it.
Paul pulled out of my arms and smiled, "I'll be right back," he said, taking off into the bathroom to change, closing the door behind him. I sighed and touche my left shoulder where Paul had draped his arm on me. The area tingled with excitement and something .... else. I smiled to myself and plopped down on the couch on the opposite side of the room where John had been resting earlier. I took in the sights of the tiny room around me. There was a single, dim lamp on the left hand side of the couch, barely lighting the entire room, and a mirror and desk directly in front of me, next to the bathroom door, which was next to the closet which had a window next to it, to my right. The tiny window, half-way shut by drapes to blockout the San Francisco night and over-zealeaous fans. I stared out the miniscule crack in the heavy yellow drapes that existed solely because the drapes weren't long enough to meet in the center. There wasn't much to see - only a sliver of a brick wall, and, if I looked up, a few tiny stars dimly shinning because of the abundance of street lights.
What a view. Was this what Paul had had to see throughout the tour? Was it just this, a tiny sliver of the outside world? Was it just this tour? Had it been all of them? Caged animals - that's all they had become, let out of their barred hole in the wall to sing and dance and flash their smiles, and then only to be trown back in? I shuddered at the thought and turned away from the window, only to be met by my own eyes in the mirror across the way. I stared at myself for a moment, studying my appearance. My short blonde hair, safely tucked behind my ears, with only a few stray strands hanging in my face thanks to John. Funny, I hadn't noticed them at all. My eyes matched my navy skirt and the pearls in my ears and decorated on my neck glistened in the lamplight. My left leg crossed over my right knee and suddenly, as if by magic, I looked very much like a woman. I wasn't that little girl from Liverpool anymore than Paul was just that little boy from Liverpool. Somewhere along the years, I grew up too. I brushed the strands of hair out of my face and looked deep within the mirror. Who was I anyway? I was a grown woman and I still didn't know who I was. I stood up from my seat and walked in front of the full length mirro proped up against the wall. They say that mirrors reflect the truth - mirrors don't lie. Could this mirror reflect me and my truth? Could this mirror be the one that gave me the answer? I stood lost in my reflection, drowning in the glass and hadn't noticed that the bathroom door had opened and that Paul was standing behind me, looking in the mirror with me.
"Looking for something love?" he asked.
"Hmm? Oh, no, I'm not looking for anything, I was just trying to, umm, fix my hair after John messed it up," I said, beginning to play with my hair, resting it behind my ears. I was getting fidgity - a sure sign to Paul that I was lying, but, bless his soul, he ignored it.
"Oh, well, you look dashing. There's nothing I would change.... except all this," he said pointing at my face. "Rach, what's all this make-up? You've never worn make-up before, why now?"
I blushed a little and smiled a weak smile. "I don't know .... I need to look professional tonight, besides, Bob likes it."
"Oh," he said buttoning his shirt. Then suddenly, a sly smile crept across his face, "Oh, really....." he said teasingly, poking my sides with his fingers.
"Come on Paul," I laughed, "knock it off!"
"So you're willing to change yourself to please you man?" he asked, lightly shoving my shoulder.
"No, it's nothing like that," I explained. "It's just that he thinks I look better with a little color to my face, that's all!"
I looked over at Paul and saw a frown upon his face, and he almost looked a little bit hurt.
"He doesn't like you as you are?" he asked, half-way pulling his sports coat on.
"No, no, he loves me as I am, he just suggested that I could brighten up my face with a little rouge and lipstick, that's all!"
Paul grunted, "Aye, well you could do the same with a smile....."
He pulled his coat on all the way and I did a one over and we were on our way out, once again, in full cognito to wreck havoc on the sleeping city.
"They let you do that?" I laughed in amazement. Paul threw his head back and chuckled,
"Well.....they didn't really knowthat we did it," he said slyly.
I gasped in horror, and began laughing hysterically with him. "But, what if someone heard you? Like some thirteen-year-old with very keen ears sitting in the front row?"
Paul shurgged and laughed, "Oh well! Then she was the only one!"
I shook my head and laughed at his childish ways. "I can't believe you guys would yell out something so disgusting in the middle of your concert! And at Shea Stadium no less! Do you know how many people were there? I'm sure somebody must have heard you! I mean, I know that you can't hear much at those concerts, but still, the mikes are on!"
Paul shrugged and laughed again, this time comment-less. I relaxed a little bit and lay back down onto the blanket where Paul was resting comfortably.
"Will you just look at those stars!" he said, waving his hands at the sky. "They're just gorgeous!"
I smiled, "They are, aren't they?" Paul turned towards me and smiled in return, but then fell, and a confused look spread across his face in replace.
"Hey, Rach, remember the last time we did this?" he asked, proping himself up on his left elbow.
I closed my eyes and thought back hard, "Umm, no, when was it?" I asked, feeling stupid. Paul lowered himself back down and said barely above a whisper,
"The night before you left."
Like magic, the memories of the night, of that time in my life, came flooding back to me like they had just happened. It had been an extremely difficult day, knowing that it was our last together and all, and that night hadn't been much better. It was about one in the morning and I couldn't sleep, so I threw a marble at Paul's bedroom window like we had done when we were little kids. As it turned out, he wasn't sleeping either and we escaped together into the night and lay out underneath the stars like old times, for one last time.
"Yeah, I remember Paul. That was - petrifying," I said in lack of a better word to describe the intense fear I felt leaving home. Paul remained silent and continued to stare at the stars, as if I had said nothing. An expression grew over his face, an expression that frightened me because it was new. I had never, ever before in my entire life seen the look that Paul was adorning now on his face before. It was new - a product most likely of the road, fame, and the years tacked onto his life since I'd last seen him. And it scared me. I couldn't read it. I couldn't tell what was going through his head, what he was thinking or feeling. Suddenly, I wasn't in on it - it was a harsh reminder that I was a seperate entity from him now. I was no longer the best friend of Paul McCartney, the boy with the black eye or the guitar, or the chubby cheeks. I was a part of his past - no this current life. I was excluded. He had grown around me, moved on with his life, and for the first time, I wasn't in it. I was an outsider, a stranger to my own best friend.
I wanted to say something to break the ice, to try to figure out what he was thinking, but I couldn't form the words in my throat. We sat in silence for a moment longer, then Paul sighed a deep, heavy sigh and rubbed his eyes.
"It's getting late, isn't it love?" he asked while sitting up and streching.
"Probably," I responded, following his lead and rising from the blanket. Paul helped me up and proceeded to shake off the blanket and fold it up.
"Shall we go?" he asked, offering me his arm to escort me back to the stadium.
"Sure," I smiled. I linked his arm in mine and headed off to the glowing lights of Candlestick Park.
Not much was said on the walk home. A few words were spoken about the current music scene, family back home in Liverpool, and the weather - nothing very in depth. Once we arrived back at the stadium and were safely hidden away in the vast labryith of the tunnel system we relaxed again and the dreaded question and end of the evening came upon us.
"Do you plan on visiting home anytime soon Rachel?" he asked while removing the hat from his head that was supossed to be a form of disguise.
The question threw me off gaurd and I stumbled with an answer. "I hope so," I said,searching for the answer inside my ungaurded, unprepared mind. The truth was, I had never thought of going back home, at least in any serious matter. The thought had crossed my mind, considering that it was my home and my family and friends were there, but at the moment, I was happy in San Fransisco with Bob and our happy little home near the bay. England? Liverpool? Back to that dreary old city? That dirty port that so many people passed through day after day after day? Back to that horrible place that was also the home of rats, disease, and filth? Yes, back to that wonderful city where I grew up sneaking into certain bars late at night, past that special hour where the bar tenders stopped checking id's and such. That beautiful city that had so much character, dispite it's filth.
Paul let a little frown out, but tried to hide it from view quickly. "Well," he said, "if ever you should feel the need to come home for a visit, my home is always welcom to you. My doors are always open Rachel, nothing in my life is ever shut to you, you got that?" he demanded, taking my chin in his hand and staring deeply into my eyes.
"Got it," I said, suddenly weary of the seriousness in his eyes and in the tone of his voice. "Paul?" I asked, "what's wrong?" He made like he was going to tell me that nothing was wrong, and that perhaps he was just tired from the long night, but something inside of him said 'give it up' and he broke down and confessed to me.
"It's just that," he began, running his hands through his hair and rubbing his red eyes, "this is our last tour, last concert, last stadium, last night away from home, last everything."
"Isn't that what you wanted though? A break?" I asked, inquiring further.
"Well, yeah, but not a permanent one! I wanted a break so that I could have some space to breathe, regather my thoughts, remember that I'm not just a Beatle, but now I'm afraid that it's more than just a break and that I'm no longer going to be a Beatle of any sort, except an ex one. It's just that, well, now that we're not touring, and we're not making a movie, and there are no plans to make another album I don't think that it's going to last. And then what? What do I do from here? I have no idea, no clue, no nothing as to what to do with this empty time on my hands, and that scares me beyond belief. And I thought that maybe you might be able to come back home for a little bit so that we can, you know, catch up with one another. There are so many things that I've wanted to tell you in these past few years, things I've wanted to share, but I've never been able to because you weren't there. I mean, sure, I could have written a letter, or called, but that's just not as real as actually being there with me. I've missed you and I thought that I could fill my empty time with you again, like things used to be." He let out a long sigh, "but that's not going to happen, is it?" he asked, eyes glued to the concrete floor with a deep, dark, infinite sadness lingering beneath them.
It took me a moment to digest what he was saying to me. He threw everything at me faster than I could calculate them and understand just what he was saying. But, there was one thing that stood out in my mind. Home. Go back home with him. Take some time away from Bob and go back home for a visit, say hello to old friends, spend some time with my parents, and re-live the good old times with Paul by my side. It sounded too good to be true, and too impossible to even be considered a reality.
"Paul, I-I want to so badly, but...."
"But what?" he asked, taking my hands in his, "but what? You can't because what? What's holding you back from doing this? What's holding you back from enjoying yourself for a week or two?"
I searched my mind for a good excuse other than that I just couldn't. Jane.
"Paul, why don't you spend some time with Jane? You're always telling me that you never see her because either you're gone, or she's gone, or you're working or she's working or whatever it may be! Why don't the two of you go away for a while and spend some time together? Doesn't that sound nice?" I asked. He let go of my hands turned his back to me.
"Jane and I aren't together anymore," he said tearfully.
Overwhelmed by shock I blurt out, "but why?" Paul rubbed his eyes again and turned around to face me.
"You don't want to know just yet love, you really don't. But, I will tell you this, I was an idiot to let her out of my life."
I stared off into space with an expression of surprise broad as day on my face. Not together anymore? No wonder he seemed so desperate for me to come and visit him back in England, but for some reason that I couldn't seem to put my finger on, I couldn't.
"Paul, I'm so incredibly sorry, really, I am. I'm so sorry that it had to end, but I still can't go back with you, I'm so sorry." Tears were forming pools in my eyes and I had to stare at the ceiling to prevent them from flowing out onto my face, revealing just how hurt I was, and just how much I really wanted to go home.
Paul stood still and pondered for a moment something unknown to me, and almost suddenly, a smile peered across his face and his eyes lit up. "Well," he began, "if I can't get you to come with me this time, I'll get you soon enough!"
I laughed out loud and smiled, "alright, you got it." Paul wrapped me in his embrace and laughed out loud with me.
"But you better believe that I'm holding you to that girlie!" he said, pinching my cheek like his mother used to do when she was scolding you or goofing around.
I lauged louder this time and pulled away from his pinching cheeks and held him closer to me and sighed a deep sigh. It all sounded wonderful, but when would that meeting be?
Back to Chapter Four
Back to the Introduction
On to Chapter Six!!