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7: Laughter and Tears

Chapter Seven: Laughter and Tears


No answer.


No answer, save quiet breathing.

"Damnit! Ring, I think we need the doctor."

"You sure? He could just be out."

"Nooo...remember what the Voices said? "'...and Mr. McCartney will have only remember up until the moment he fell...'" Maybe he fell on his 'ead or fell real hard. Somebody'd better take a look at him."

"Maybe you're right. What about John?"

"I dunno. Wake him up."

Ringo bent over the sleeping figure and gently shook him.

"John. John! Wake up!"

The room's lights flickered back to life and John groggily opened his eyes.

"What's all this?" he murmured confusedly. "Ring? Where are we? Have I had something?"

Ringo couldn't help a little smile. "No, Johnny, we're in the hospital."

John sat up, instantly alert. "Have I made a mess o' my liver? What did the doctors say?"

Ringo's smile got a little bigger.

"John. John Lennon. I am calling you. Wake up."

"I am awake," John retorted, and his eyes whirled around the room, coming to rest on George checking Paul's pulse.

"Oh Lord," John moaned, his confuse-ment slightly giving way to painful remembrance. "What the hell's wrong with me? Ring, slap me, if you'd be so kind."

Ringo hesitated, fueling John's anger.

"Just slap me, damnit! Slap me!"

Ringo's hand darted out and struck John's face with a resounding smack. He stared at his reddening palm in disbelief.

"Thank you, Ringo," John said, his eyes closed in pain. "I was a bit fuzzy and now you've woken me up." He opened his eyes and went over to check Paul.

"Paul's all right," John said to George. "'Ere, help me lift him up to the bed."

John grabbed Paul's feet and George put his hands under Paul's arms, taking a quick glance at John. Something wasn't right. But, of course, there was nothing right to this whole episode and never really had been.

Or was there?

Had almost losing Paul and almost giving John severe and permanent mental and emotional pain been worth talking to angels? George automatically corrected that thought. Not angels, he decided. They probably are, but all I can think of them are messengers from the Lord; Mysterious Voices.

He wasn't sure, actually.

But he was sure that this was all right somehow. The near loss of life and near loss of happiness was somehow all right. It all fitted together in some crazy way, but of what this whole finished puzzle was supposed to look like, George hadn't a clue.

They gently set Paul on the bed and then John assumed his caring role again, leaving George to wonder about the poem.

And the girl they were supposed to pledge their lives for.

"Don't be daft," John said, sitting on Paul's bed, Paul sitting up against the headboard. "Paul is fine and so'm I. What's this poem yer talking about, George?"

"Just as I said," George replied, his gaze floating dreamily around the room.

Ringo spun his finger at his temple, indicating that George hadn't come back from lunch yet.

"'e's a bit off, mates," he said to John and Paul. "But I can explain."

He cleared his throat and told them of how John had suddenly "blanked out" and had been sleepwalking, saying the poem in his sleep. They had been, to put it lightly, freaked out by the lights in the sky and John and the poem, but as the Mysterious Voices began talking, they calmed a bit.

"Calm? I would've shit me pants, most likely," John laughed, in a very calm mood himself.

"Well, two voices coming out of the sky are actually lots more calming than your mate buggerin' out on you," Ringo replied with a small smile.

"And what's all this nonsense of our clothes bein' changed?" John said.

"Probably special clothes for special times. Stuff like that poem."

Ringo skimmed John and Paul up and down, their black-and-white clothes having gone, replaced by what the pair had been originally wearing.

"Ringo," George said suddenly, coming down from the clouds, "when I was talking to the Voices, you were laughing. What was so funny?"

Ringo burst out in hearty laughter, quite startling George.

"The reason I was larfin', you thick lunk'ead, was because of the way you were talking and acting."

"What...?" George scratched his head, bewildered.

"You were all but gettin' on yer knees to the Voices, you silly sod!" Ringo chuckled. "It was nothing but "ma'am" and "sir" and bows with you! It was actually quite funny," Ringo said, turning to John and Paul. "'Ere's our Georgie, who doesn't give a damn about any of these people we meet and gets cheeky with the Queen, only to be on his knees before some lights in the sky!"

Ringo was whooping now: the memory of George's perfect manners, tone, and grace positively tickled him.

John and Paul exchanged giggles.

"George, if you'd be so kind, please tell the lads the lines of the poem."
George nodded and cleared his throat:

"Death stalks you at ev'ry turn
But Life, in form of a child
Shall walk with you, hand-in-hand
But even with her on your side,
A price will be paid."

George paused for a breath, observing John and Paul's reactions. John somehow seemed very calm, but also a bit unnerved. He got up and began to pace the space under the window, his eyes seeing nothing. Paul pulled up his knees under the blanket and wrapped his arms around them. He closed his eyes for a moment, softly reciting, "A price will be paid." This somehow made George very nervous, but he went on:

"Be aware! Death may stalk this child
And your help and love may help you naught.
Defend her with your lives
(As you value your own)
And so shall she for you
But through you she can be caught."

"That's where we argued a bit and the Voices spoke to us," Ringo said.

"This doesn't make any sense," Paul said, speaking for the first time. "You said that the Voices said we had a mission---but they don't even know what it is. We don't know when this girl will show up. We don't know what to do."

"And it doesn't really matter if we decide to defend her or not," John added. "Just associatin' with her---"death may stalk this child." So we get to talking with her and may be stalked by death?"

"Well, if we got to talking with her, they probably figure that we'd get to liking her, too. And if we liked her, then why would we not lay down our lives for her if she needed it? She'd do the same for us and she's never met us." Paul rested his chin on his knees.

"But you don't know that, Paul," answered John. "She may've met us already. She could well be some fan."

"So what if she's a fan? I think---all this stuff is happening for a reason. Okay, look. Death is already after us---"at every turn" as the poem says, and she's probably supposed to help us. It says she's Life."

John closed his eyes and a bit of a tight expression pulled at his features. "You're right, Paul. But she's got stronger ties to us than just being the bird who'll pull us out of this mess."

"What mess, John?" George asked stupidly.

"What mess? This 'mission' that no one knows much about." He stopped pacing and turned to George and Ringo and said quietly, "...and Paul. I don't think he'll get well unless---" John broke off abruptly and looked away.

"Paul's and my dreams are being interconnected somehow," he said a few moments later, pacing again. He paused for a few moments, then continued, "The reason I'm a bit calm about this whole thing is that---I know this girl."

"Who is she, then?" Ringo demanded.

John shook his head. "I don't know her name. Hell, I don't even know what she looks like! But I just know that I will know her when I see her. She doesn't have to floatin' on a bloody cloud---Paul and I will know her. I am not so sure about you two."

Ringo looked away, already having felt that he was not really a big part of whatever was going on.

John went on.

"The whole time we were knocked out, we were dreaming about standing in the middle of a road, surrounded by miles and miles of just grass. Just ahead of us was a fork in the road. It divided a few different roads. One kept going straight, one went to the left, right; you know what I mean. And we had to make our choice."

"But it didn't matter which road we chose," Paul said. "We somehow knew we were going to see them all. But we would get stuck with one. And we wouldn't be able to change it."

Chapter Eight

Copyright 2000 and beyond: Lissa Michelle/Strawberry Sunshine
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