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14: The Dream Begins
Chapter Fourteen: The Dream Begins

"Does it worry you to be alone?"

--The Beatles, "With a Little Help From My Friends"


"John! Help me, John! Oh, damn...!"

"FUCK!" John screamed in agony. "Paul! Oh---my God!"

They were being thrust into their younger bodies---which were actually a little smaller than what they really were in their own time, their younger bodies not fully grown yet.

John watched in mute, painful horror as the Paul he knew became shadowy and was shoved into a younger, sleeping Paul. Paul's face was contorted in extreme agony and then---he suddenly wasn't there anymore.

And John knew where he was.

His Paul had been put into his younger body completely.

John was screaming again, this time at the searing, cutting pain that seemed to rip him apart.

He lifted his hands to his face and stared at them in blank terror as they went from solid to see-through.

And then he was in.

They were both in---thrust into these younger versions of themselves that were sleeping on Paul's back porch at his old home at Forthlin Road. They were both sleepily clutching their guitars.

"Look at 'em, Dad. They prob'ly feel asleep while practicing..."

"Wake them up, Mike. I'm going to get a bit of brekky on the ta'le for them."

The one called Mike bent over to wake the two sleeping boys up while the one he called "Dad", also known as Jim McCartney, Paul's (and Mike's) father left the room to get his "bit of brekky" on the table.

"John. Paul. Wake up," Mike called to them softly and shook them lightly. John snorted in his sleep and rolled over, his hand protectively over his guitar.

Mike rolled his eyes and lightly punched his brother in the arm.

"Wake up, you lout. You'll miss brekky."

Paul's eyes opened slightly and he looked up at Mike.

"G'way," was all Mike got for his pains.

"C'mon, Paul, get up!" Mike paused for a moment and then said,

"Paul, Brigitte Bardot just arrived."

"WHAT?! Where?" Still fogged by sleep, Paul nonetheless raised his head and looked around and eventually stood up, rubbing his face with his hands and stretching. "You bugger. Wake John up, will y'man?"

"You do it," Mike said, exasperated. "I'm going to eat."

"Awright then," Paul replied to Mike's retreating back. "John, get up, you lazy sod."

"Shr'pp, McCartney," John rumbled, burying his head in his arms.

"Well, sleep then. Won't be my fault if you starve."

John was up, his guitar leaning against the wall, and already in the bathroom.

"Damn, John!" Paul laughed. "I really have to piss!"

"Wait yer turn, son," came John's voice from inside the bathroom.

Paul leaned against the wall, hands in his pockets and began whistling. Without realizing it, he had begun whistling a song, though he hadn't meant to. He began humming, and eventually sang:

"One day, you'll look
to see I've gone;
but tomorrow may rain so,
I'll follow the sun.

"That's nice, Paul," John said, coming out. "Where'd you hear that?"

"Nowhere," Paul replied confusedly. "I---I just started singing it. Like I've always known it."

John whistled the tune and began lightly singing,

"And now the time has come,
and so my love, I must go.
But though I lose a friend,
In the end you will know...

"Odd..." John began and then suddenly something kicked violently at his memory.

Something bit irritatingly and fiercely at Paul's mind when John finished.

And suddenly, looking at each other, they knew.

They remembered.

The dream wasn't fake and it wasn't over.

It had barely begun.

"John---how could we forget?"

Paul brought his hands to his face and stared at how young they still were. To be sure, he wasn't much older in his other body, but there was some very odd sense of youth in looking at himself.

"I---don't---know," John answered, befuddled. "Well, now we're back in our young bodies and we're supposed to prevent the Might-Have-Beens from being born in this time. That's about all I know."

"The Might-Have-Beens. Gosh, being shoved in a different body really does things to you! Everything's foggy in my mind."

"Think, McCartney. We've got to remember everything." John sat flat on the polished wooden floor, his chin propped up on his fists, thinking very hard.

Paul leaned against the door, one hand to his brow to control the headache he could feel coming on. He closed his eyes and everything flashed before his inner vision.

The fog that had been there was gone. He was awake. He could remember.

John, Paul called out in his mind.

I can hear you, John replied and then they both smiled.

"We gonna go out and save the world, then, Paulie?"

"Not yet," Paul answered, helping John up. "We're gonna eat first."

"Your aunt's going to be worried, isn't she, John?" Jim asked over toast and tea.

"Probably," John said, quite amicably considering his whirlwind thoughts and feelings. "When I walk in, she'll say, (John slipped into an imitation-accent of Mimi) 'And where have you been, sir?'"

Paul guffawed and Mike laughed. Jim chuckled.

"Paul, are you taking John home later?" Jim asked.

Yes, John said in Paul's mind. Paul grinned and nodded.

Jim, misinterpreting Paul and John's expressions, said,

"Up to no good, as usual." He smiled dryly. "Paul, just make sure you're home early enough to study for your O-levels. You've got that exam the day after tomorrow, remember?"

For some reason, the exam material, how much he'd studied, what he'd been doing for the past few weeks---it was all was fresh in Paul's mind. He recalled Alexander's words: You'll do the things that you've already done in your past without thinking...

Paul nodded in reply to his father and John, also intrigued by what he remembered, had picked up on Paul's thoughts and they both sat quietly, thinking deeply, for the remainder of the meal.

When Mike had taken himself to his room to study and Jim had gone out to get a few things, Paul beckoned to John and they left the house, their guitars strapped onto their backs.

"Are you going to play at the Jac tomorrow?" Paul found himself asking John.

"Yeah. Just for a bit---I've got an art class. Are you going to study?"

"Yeah, I guess. I've got to, you know? For me dad."

A wild, crazy thought flitted through John's mind for a moment and he caught hold of it before it escaped him. He idly inspected this thought within his mind.

Realization burst in John's mind like a flashbulb.

He knew.

At last, he knew what he and Paul were sent to do.

"Paul!" John cried, stopping dead in his tracks and taking Paul by both shoulders. "I know!"

"D'you remember, Paul? You were gonna be a teacher, remember? You were s'posed to study---but then we all 'kipped off to Hamburg. Remember? And I thought the band wasn't going anywhere so I started working in class! I thought I was gonna be a right good artist, damn straight I was. And now...the setting's different, the events are different, but the situation's the same!"

"John!" Paul said, dizzy from John's revelation. "Slow down a bit, mate!"

"No, no---I can't! Paul, don't you see? It's so clear---it's so bloody clear! Why didn't we see what we were sent to do in the first place? Since when did I go to class instead of doing my gig in the lunch hall? Oh---"

"I see, John," Paul replied patiently. "I'm just---a bit light-headed from all this. But I see what you're saying---and I know, too!"

"Well, in this situation, we're not going to Hamburg. But you'll end up that teacher and I'll end up that artist in our time if we don't change what's happening right now, in this time. This isn't our past, but we can still change it!"

John laughed joyfully and started waltzing with Paul.

"We can do it, Paul! Just me'n'you! C'mon---we've got to go see Mimi."

John was so excited at the whole angel/Might-Have-Been plan coming together to make sense in his head that he kept singing, with crazed happiness, as they ran down the sidewalks of Forthlin Road to Mendips.

"Take it, Paul. I'll do an A, then F, then C."

"Okay, Johnny."

Paul accordingly "took it," that is, played a solo while John played rhythm with the above-mentioned chords.

They had left Paul's house at about ten in the morning. It was now about six at night and they were in John's room at Mendips. They had killed Paul's study time by writing songs, working out new ones, playing old ones, talking, and generally just relaxing though a strained "Is this going to work?" feeling hung over them.

John's aunt, Mimi, appeared at the doorway to John's room and watched the two young men (mere boys, in her mind) as they played, each a mirror image of the other.

"Is your little friend staying to dinner or is he going home?" she inquired of John a bit sarcastically and yet, also a bit fondly (she rather liked Paul, though wouldn't admit it).

Paul looked up from his guitar and John turned to face Mimi.

"Yeah, he's staying. What's to eat, Mimi?"

"When you two wash up and come to the table, you'll find out. John, I expect you and your friend to wash the dishes after we eat."

John and Paul couldn't be happier: Paul's study time was thoroughly gone and now, if he went home, he wouldn't "unthinkingly" start studying. And John would be tired enough to sleep through his classes, up 'til lunch.

"We'll take care of it, Mimi," Paul said politely.

Mimi betrayed herself with a small, friendly smile and took her leave.

John strummed the chords to the chorus of "She Loves You", saying,

"Well, move yer arse, McCartney. Time to eat."

And for some reason, they both smiled.

"Have you boys washed up?" Mimi asked as soon as John and Paul seated themselves at the dining table.

"Yes, of course, Mimi," John said.

"Your friend as well?" she inquired, with twinkling eyes.

"Yeah, he did. Let's eat, Mimi."

Mimi didn't answer, but she bowed her head over her plate, tucking her napkin around her lap. She murmured grace and John and Paul obediently bowed their heads. When she finished, they both said, "Amen."

"Now you may eat, John," she said, spooning mash potatoes onto her plate.

John smiled at her, feeling strangely at home, and buttered the biscuit already on his plate. Paul poured gravy on his mashed potatoes and chicken with a generous hand. For a few minutes, all that could be heard were readying-food noises normal for a dinner table.

Mimi broke the silence, inquiring as to John's whereabouts the previous night.

"I was at Paul's," John replied briefly, his teeth sinking into the warm bread as he spoke.

Mimi looked at him disapprovingly and Paul kicked John's ankle under the table. John immediately put down the biscuit, wiped his mouth and hands with the napkin on his lap, and said,

"My friend Paul had the pleasure of enduring my presence last night."

Paul laughed and Mimi smiled and changed the subject by asking,

"John, you have an exam the day after tomorrow, do you not?"

"Yes." Munch, munch.

"Have you studied?"

"No, of course (munch) not."

Mimi threw her hands up in annoyance. "John---"

"Mimi, why do we have to talk (munch) about this now? Can't you see (munch) I'm eating?"

"I can see that very well, John Winston Lennon and I'll bid you to please hold your tongue." She paused. "You'll wait until the night before the exam to study or you won't study at all. John, how do you expect to get through college if you don't pass your exams?"

"Dash it all, Mimi. Don't worry---I'll take care of it." John had at last put his biscuit down.

It seemed as if these were the words Mimi was waiting for.

"Yes, you will, sir," she said, looking at him straight in the eye. "You're going to spend your break times studying tomorrow. Your lunch period as well. John, if you fail this exam, you'll be thrown out of school. I won't have any of my nephews thrown out of any school!"

"Family pride?" John said, sarcasm lightly clinging to his words.

Mimi glared at him. "More than that, John. I refuse to stand by and watch you throw your future away!"

"Mimi, I'll study, but not at lunch."

"But lunch will be the most time you will have to study! Why won't you?"

"'Cause I have a gig."

"'A gig,' says he!" Mimi sniffed. "Is one gig more important than your future?"

John threw his fork down in exasperation.

"Mimi, I won't stand for this now! Paul, c'mon. I'll walk you a little way to your house."

"All right, John. Mimi, lovely supper, thank you and please excuse us." Paul bowed slightly to Mimi and they left her.

"Hello, all!" John shouted to the crowd gathered. "We've got something a little different for you today...this one's called "Twenty Flight Rock" and it features my friend and bassist Paul McCartney. Take it, Paul!"

John and Paul were playing at the Jac, a club they (and some friends) hung out at, John deliberately disobeying Mimi's dictum and Paul guiltlessly cutting class.

Paul ripped into the song and John danced off to the side, feeling his old enjoyment of playing live returning to him. The audience responded with clapping, singing, and screaming and John and Paul played on, well after the lunch hour had ended, only disbanding when someone yelled out:

"Look out, mates! Teacher's comin'!" and everyone scattered.

John and Paul quietly unplugged and packed up as the teacher passed them.

"See you after the exams tomorrow, John?" Paul asked.

"Yeah. I'll meet you at the roundabout in Penny Lane."

"All right, see you then." As Paul walked off, he yelled over his shoulder, "Good luck on your test, mate!"

John laughed and called back, "Same to you, Macca!"

What motivates Macbeth to kill Duncan?

Easy question, Paul thought, drumming his pencil against his cheek. He filled in his answer: His own ambition motivates him, stimulated by the Weird Sisters' prophecies and his wife's comments on his character.

What is the main idea expressed in Chaucer's "The Miller's Tale"?

Paul grinned and filled that one in rather quickly. When he had finished that question, he glanced up at the clock. Forty-five minutes left of testing. He sighed and then looked at his sheet: eighty questions left. He sighed again, heavier this time and was startled by the teacher's voice saying,

"If you cannot be silent, Mr. McCartney, I'll have to ask that you take your exam in the headmaster's office."

"Sorry, sir," Paul mumbled, going back to the test.

I wonder how John is doing.

What kind of canvas is best to use for oil painting? Bloody hell, John thought wearily. I don't want to do this, I don't want to do this...

When "baking" more than one ceramic object in the oven, is there a certain temperature you need to turn the dial to or does it remain the same as baking one project alone?

John decided that since this test didn't even really count towards anything, he was just going to fill in a whole bunch of crap answers; whatever came to mind. He absent-mindedly began doodling in the margin of his exam paper.

I wonder how Paul's doing? he asked himself and then reached out with his mind to Paul.

Paul! Can you hear me?

Paul, sitting in a classroom a couple of miles away from John, heard John's call quite clearly and was glad to stop testing for a moment as he replied,

Yeah, I hear you. What's up, mate? How's yer test?

Bloody stupid exams...I'm fucking glad I'm not in school's yours, Paul?

All right...not too bad, Paul replied. I know a couple of 'em, but I'm going to screw up anyway.

Well, you're better off than I am, Paulie! John laughed. I don't have a bloody clue! Or maybe it's 'cause I don't want to answer anything right. We've got to avoid passing...and yet, I have this feeling...

What, John? Paul asked.

We could pass if we tried, John answered. We could. I know we could. And we can't pass 'cause then we'll be the Might-Have-Beens!

"All right, ladies and gentlemen, please hand in your tests." John's professor was collecting the tests from every row of desks and John's was third.

Listen, Paul, I gotta go. Professor's collecting the exams. Meet you at Penny Lane.

You got it, John, Paul replied and when he came to himself, he realized that the tests in his classroom were also being collected.

"Good day sunshine...duh-duh-duh...good day day sunshine..."

"'lo, there, son!"

John waved to Paul who was sitting on a bench in the famous Penny Lane.

"'ello yerself, Johnny-O!" Paul replied cheerfully. "How'd it go?"

"Fabulous. The master of the school is going to look over me paper and talk to Mimi about it. He thinks I've passed!"

Paul's cheerful expression faded. "What different people we must be in this time, John," he said softly. "The headmaster told me, in passing, that he knew I would be a credit to the Inny. He hasn't seen m'paper yet, but he's assuming I've passed! John, we have ruined two futures. Do you understand that?"

"Bloody hell, Paul! It's either we ruin their futures or they ruin us! If we passed the tests---we'd become the Might-Have-Beens or whatever other crazy things They have lined up for us! We'd live only a little longer---and then They'd kill us!"

"And we also hold two other lives besides our own in our hands," Paul said musingly. "Better two futures ruined than four lives---wait, that girl who's s'posed to come---make that five lives lost. H'mmm..."

"Let's go, Paul," John said, suddenly weary. "Me stomach's growlin'."

"Fine," Paul answered. "I don't really want to think about this right now."

He massaged his temples to try to relieve a headache flaring up from the weight on his and John's shoulders.

They walked across the street to a hamburger stand and plopped themselves down in the first available chairs. A waitress came up to serve them.

"And what may I get for you two men today?" she asked, with a heavy Irish accent.

"Cheeseburger, fries and a Scotch with Coke," John mumbled, his cheek resting on the marble tabletop. "Paul?"

"The same," Paul said, his chin resting on his clasped hands. "And bring a slice of cherry pie, please, miss."

"Right away," the waitress answered and left them.

Paul and John both sat slumped in their seats and when their food came, sat up and tucked into the food with much enthusiasm.

"How's your food?" the waitress asked with an understanding smile.

"Fantastic, thank you," Paul replied through a mouthful of French fries.

"Call me if you need anything. My name's Beth."

"Thanks, luv," John said and then took a huge gulp of his Scotch and Coke.

The waitress left them again and this time Paul and John talked, having fuller stomachs and greatly improved moods.

When they finished the burgers and fries and ordered another burger apiece (complete with extra fries and a whole cherry pie), they sat back in their chairs, downing the last of their drinks. They smiled in satisfaction and then the waitress came with the bill.

"Put it on The Beatles' tab," John said as he and Paul both stood.

"I'm sorry, sir, I don't understand you," the waitress said, looking strangely at John. "You looked at the bill, did you not?" "Yes, ma'am," John answered, staring at the girl. "I asked you to put it on our tab. Our manager'll take care of it."

"Sir, I still don't understand you. I've never heard of "The Beatles"-- as you call them---and there are no "Beatles" rich or famous enough for us to take "tabs" on. Please pay your bill or I will be forced to call the management."

"John." John turned to face Paul, whose expression was curiously mirthful.

"May I have a word?"

"Yeah, what?"

Paul turned John away from the waitress and whispered,

"John, have you forgotten where we are? We're not in Beatle time anymore and we're not in our past! And anyway, in our past, we weren't even famous yet. We hadn't even begun thinking of writing anything off. Remember, John?"

"Bloody fuckin' 'ell!" John exclaimed. "Damnit, Paul! I am so bloody stupid!" He lowered his voice. "Let's sit back down and make it seem like we're not done yet---we'll order more and when she's busy, we'll sneak out."

"O-kay, John," Paul said, his eyes beginning to glimmer with mischief. He turned to the waiting waitress and said,

"Miss, we're sorry for the misunderstanding. My friend likes to think his band's---The Beatles, you see---big enough---"

John fostered a look of outrage. "We are---!"

"Shut yer mouth, John!" Paul ordered. "Anyroad, we'd like to get a pie, please. Cherry, for me friend's mum. Just add it onto the bill."

The girl looked at him skeptically, but shrugged and wrote "Cherry Pie" on a receipt and went to get one from the kitchen.

"Now, John, now!" Paul exclaimed and they tore out of the restaurant and ran until they had rounded a corner and were out of sight. Paul leaned up against a wall gasping for breath. John bent over and let his upper body hang as he panted and clutched his stomach, massaging the stitch in his side.

"So what now, Johnny?" Paul asked with a wobbly grin. "Where to? Your house or mine?"

"Let's walk down to the pier," John replied. "I'd like a bit o' sea air."

Accordingly, the pair walked to the docks of Liverpool and sat by a dock that was just pulling in from Ireland to take supplies to Hamburg, Germany. They knew this from the captain's shouting to one of the dockhands:

"Ahoy, there, cap'n! Where do 'ee hail fr'm?"

"Froom Ir'land," the captain had replied. "We're just loadin' up thee boat here to take to th't place---Hamburg, I'm believin' 'tis. We're takin' passengers, too."

"Let's go to Hamburg, John!" Paul said on a sudden impulse. "We've got nothing to do right now anyway."
Paul was already standing and helped John up.

"C'mon---we'll have to sneak aboard."

They exchanged wicked smiles and stealthily made their way to the departing boat. Luckily for them, the ticket-checker was preoccupied and they made it aboard.

The boat was loaded and ready to leave the Liverpool pier. John and Paul leaned out over the guardrail of the boat and called out cheerful farewells to the dockhands. When they were safely in the water, they relaxed and Paul turned to see the sunset.

"Look, John," he said dreamily. "It's lovely, isn't it?"

John turned and what he saw made them both start.

The sun set in magnificent brilliance and a strange white light flashed for a split second in the sky.

And as it faded, John and Paul faded with it.

Chapter Fifteen

Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, etc.: Lissa Michelle Supler/Strawberry Sunshine This is copyrighted original material and may not be reproduced without the permission of the author. Permission may be obtained by e-mail.

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