“The pleasure is mine,” Paul said politely. “And though it’s obvious you already know me, I would like to formally introduce myself.” His hand was still in William’s, so he shook the hand holding his, saying, “My name’s Paul McCartney.” Paul couldn’t help letting go of William’s hand rather quickly, as it was cold and a bit clammy feeling.
William didn’t say anything to that, but ran their conversation along another line:
“So you don’t introduce yourself as an MBE, then, Paul?”
Paul tried to relax, though the man’s being so familiar with him made him very tense. He quietly replied, “No, I don’t. There’s no reason that I should.”
“So you say,” William answered.
Paul didn’t understand, but said nothing more, only looking William straight in the eye.
William, to tell the truth, was a bit uncomfortable with Paul’s eyes on him.
Well, I’m not wasting anymore time on this young ass, he thought. I’ll just get right down to it and join the others. I’ll have to see him off first, though…even if he is a stuck-up little prick. I have a little decency…
But what he was thinking of in terms of ‘decency’ was hardly decent at all; his whole plan was for his gain and it would only hurt, not help.
And he knew that, deep down inside.
But he fostered an excuse---“I’ll be saving Paul’s life”---as a way to squash down a terrible feeling rising within him.
He shook his head to stop its train of thought and said,
“Shall we get right down to it, then?”
“Yes, please. That would be greatly appreciated.”
So it would, you blithering idiot.
“I am here,” William said, finally meeting Paul’s eyes, “because I want to offer you an escape from all your pressures of fame.”
In spite of himself, Paul was interested. “What kind of ‘escape’ would this be?”
“I would be you. You saw me a few minutes ago, exactly like you. I’ll take your place for a little while, you can romp about the countryside as much as you like, unrecognized. You’ll have absolute freedom. I can imitate you perfectly---when I turn into you, I talk like you, have your same mannerisms, have your same talents---though thank God I don’t have to have your attitude if I don’t want it.”
Paul was very much amused than otherwise with this last statement.
“Would that be something that would interest you?” William asked, slightly imitating Paul’s cold manner toward him.
Paul laughed outright. “Yes, yes, it would. And I’m sorry---sorry for being such a prig---I guess you were only trying to help.” Though that ‘I guess’ was still indicative of Paul’s distrust in William.
“So the young Beatle finally sees the light,” William smiled, but there was hardly any humor in it. “Would you be willing to go---now?”
“Can’t I at least tell the others before I do?”
“If you aren’t the stupidest---” William caught himself and quickly changed his words, “No. You can’t. Even your friends will be fooled. You’ll have no responsibilities except to yourself and to me.”
“What---” Paul also caught himself. “What responsibilities would I have towards you, sir?”
William flinched slightly at Paul’s continued non-usage of his name, but said nothing about it. Instead, he replied, “If you want this to work, you have to avoid people you know---even those with whom you are slightly acquainted. Avoid your friends and family and don’t run around telling everyone that you’re Paul McCartney. You’ll ruin your fun and mine, too. Just shut up and do what you like as long as it’s not along those lines.”
“So I can’t even see me friends?” Paul rejoined, annoyance uppermost in him in his rejoinder. “What kind of fun is that?”
“Make new friends. Frolic in your solitude. Hell, write songs. I don’t care. But if you want a little trip from your life, you’d better accept.”
“I don’t think I really want to on those terms,” Paul said.
Oh, God, no! He’s go to accept! He has to!
William was thinking fast. He knew that he himself would never accept privacy on terms like those either, but Paul had to accept or his plans would go awry.
“Fine, don’t go on a vacation of privacy and instead, you can go back to screaming girls and stuffy high-class socialites who look down their noses at you and your friends. You can continue losing your mind in all that craziness and in a few more months, wind up in a mental institution---or dead. I don’t much care. Except that I would rather not have the world’s best group fall apart so early in their career and what about your friend John? You’ll heal up quickly if you take a little break from it all but I can see that that’s not what you care about.”
William folded his arms across his chest, but was grinning inwardly.
Bastard, Paul thought with a roll of his eyes. “But I’d get better if I went on this little trip? All my broken bones and everything else would heal?”
“Your bones have already healed. I gave you some restoration fluid---healing potion as those fantasy books call it---which helped you come ’round. Your mouth---well, that’s one thing that needs time to heal. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d need to get stitches.”
“It doesn’t really hurt, though.”
“Yes, I know. The fluid has numbed the pain though, I assure you, you’ll feel it tomorrow. You’re still a bit bruised and beaten and your front tooth is chipped.”
“Yeah, I know.”
William was surprised, but reflected that if he had a chipped front tooth, he'd know too, and went on. “You might want to get it capped. You could do all of this during your little ‘vacation’ and not come back and have to explain your cuts and bruises and your front tooth.”
Paul shrugged, then nodded. “All right, then. I’ll do it.”
William let out a big breath. “Good. I’m giving you a wallet of money and you’ll never have to worry about it running out. I’ll know when it’s low and I’ll be able to give you more without us having to meet each other. Let’s just say it’ll just appear in the wallet.”
“So I can’t just sign for anything anymore?”
“No. You’re not Paul McCartney anymore, remember? I am.”
Paul shivered slightly. “So who am I, then?”
“Oh, Paul McCartney still---the original. Just don’t tell people your last name. Make up something. I don’t care, as long as you don’t give it away.”
“O---kay,” Paul said, taking a long, slow breath. “So you still won’t let me let John or my girlfriend Jane what’s going to happen? Not me brother or dad?”
“No. I already told you. It’ll ruin everything and we’d have a lot of explaining to do.”
“Whatever,” Paul replied. “When does this start?”
William smiled, almost demonically. “Now.”
Copyright 2000, 2001, etc.: Lissa Michelle Supler/Strawberry Sunshine
This is copyrighted original work and may not be reproduced in any form, by any means, without the permission of the author. Permission may be obtained by e-mail.
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