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Had It Been Another Day, Chapter Eight Chapter Eight

Inside the studio, John is sitting behind the piano, tinkling out a familiar tune. Paul walks over and taps him on the shoulder, "Eh, John. Making any progress?"

John turns sideways, a cigarette hanging from his jaw, "Hey Paulie! How in the world did you find yourself here?"

Paul signals over his shoulder to Lena, "She wanted to come here. I just followed."

John, now smirking, turns to Lena, "Atta girl, Lena. Make him sing for his supper."

Lena sits next to John on the piano bench, "So what are you playing?"

John shrugs, "Really nothing yet. Do you play the piano?"

Lena takes off her coat, "Sorry. Not a note."

Paul pulls up a chair and takes out his cigarettes and offers one to Lena, "Sorry. I don't smoke either."

Paul nods and winks, "You gotta love those conservative American birds."

John plays a few notes and turns to Lena, "I love any bird who wears a dress like that."

Lena's face burns with flattery. Paul shakes a finger at John, "Naughty boy. Making me date blush." However, with the term "date" Lena blushes even more.

Paul picks up a guitar and sits down, "So Lena. You have two of The Beatles at your mercy. Any requests?"

Lena looks to Paul and then John, the two most brilliant songwriters ever were offering to play for her. Song titles race through her head, "Really, anything would be fine." Paul and John discuss possibilities while Lena sits engrossed by the situation. Paul leans over and asks, "What are your favorite songs?"

Lena has to think about that one for a minute. She brushes a strand of hair off her shoulder, "Well, 'Like A Rolling Stone,' 'My Generation,' and 'Norwegian Wood.'"

John claps his hands, "I think we can handle that last song."

So they played. Everything was there. The voices, the harmonies, and the only things that were missing were George and his sitar. Lena beams and claps when the song concludes while Paul begins to fool around with his guitar, "Lovely Lena, always stay," he sings in his dulcet voice. Lena starts to freak out a bit, hoping that she will not ruin the song that is to become "Lovely Rita."

Paul strums a few chords when he notices the look on Lena's face, "What's the matter, luv? Don't you like it?"

Lena smiles brightly, "No, I think it's wonderful." She certainly wasn't going to tell Paul McCartney anything negative. She'll just have to find a way to stress the name Rita.

John stops playing and looks to Lena expectedly, "Okay. It's your turn, luv." She looks aghast for a moment, "What?" John pats her shoulder and chuckles, "We've shown off for you. It's your turn to sing for us."

Lena's eyes dart from Beatle to Beatle and stammers, "What shall I sing?"

Paul smiles, giving her confidence, "I'm sure anything you choose will be fine." She thinks it over and decides to sing "I Fall to Pieces" by Patsy Cline.

She starts slowly, praying to God that she doesn't foul up. Her voice sounds clear and throaty, her natural alto. John senses her nervousness and begins to play along with the piano. Lena smiles and gains confidence and momentum, her voice resonating with the acoustics of the studio.

The last lyrics spill from her tongue and John ends the song with a flourish on the keyboard. Lena flushes for a moment, waiting for their reactions.

Paul looks at her and grins, "I knew you were just being humble."

Lena points her finger at him, "Well remember McCartney, I sing much better than I play."

John tinkers out the familiar tune again. Paul looks up again, "Still working on that one, eh?" Lena looks up attentively, not wanting to miss a moment of the Lennon/McCartney dynamic.

John continues to tinker, "Mmm-Hmm." Lena listens carefully and she hears traces of what was to become, "Strawberry Fields Forever."

Lena scoots closer to John, "How long does it usually take you to write a song?" John stops playing and turns to meet her inquisitive gaze, "You really want to know?"

Lena nods affirmatively, "Yeah, of course I do." Paul stops and takes a drag from his cigarette, "You see, most people who ask questions only want to know what we eat for breakfast and what we look for in a girl. To hell with our creative impulses."

Lena grows curious, "So what would you tell them? If they asked you about your impulses?"

John looks at her rather affectionately, "You're a bright one, aren't you? To tell you the truth, I don't know how I'd explain it." John takes a small bag out of his pocket and motions for Paul to follow him. Paul turns to Lena, "D'ya want to come with?"

Lena caught on to what they were doing; they were going to get high. She nods, "Sure." She follows John and Paul up to the roof. John retrieves rolling papers from the small bag and rolls a joint. Paul nods to John and then to Lena, "Are you cool with this?"

Lena shrugs, "Yeah, why?" Far be it for Lena to deny them or object to what they have always done. Anyway, it was the sixties; it's just what went on. Paul takes the joint from John and inhales. Lena has always gotten the worst contact buzzes around people smoking pot, and tonight was no exception.

Lena pinches her nose by the corners of her eyes and tries vainly to see. Paul offers the joint to her and she takes a quick drag. She tries not to gag on the putrid smoke. This is the first time that she has been brave (or stupid) enough to try it. Her reasoning: It was the sixties and when in London, do what the rock stars do.

Lena survives the quick puff and manages to avoid doing it again. She has developed a huge headache and wanted nothing more than go back in the building and sit sheltered from the cold night air. As Paul and John finish up, Lena follows them back to the studio. John seems rather mellow and Paul is a little more giddy than she would like, "Well Johnnie, Lena and I must be going. Are you going to be here much longer?"

Paul offers Lena her coat and she takes it, looking at him rather wearily. John breathes heavily and picks up his guitar, "I guess so. I've been beating me brains out over this one."

Lena pats him lightly on the shoulder, "Bye John. Good luck."

John shrugs, "Thanks. Stay tough Lena, don't fall for that McCartney charm." Lena looks to Paul who is at the moment as high as a kite. Lena smiles, "Thanks John, but you don't have to worry about that one."

Lena trudges down the sad London streets, feeling rather annoyed. The whole drug fiasco has made her feel odd. She knows that The Beatles and seventy-five precent of twenty somethings in the sixties use drugs, but she never actually wanted to see it.

Paul, who has come down a bit, walks beside her. He checks his watch and turns to her, "Lena, it's early yet. Do you want to go someplace else?"

Lena stops trudging and looks Paul in the eyes, "Is that you or the drugs talking?"

Paul is obviously taken aback, "What? I thought you were cool with it?"

Lena sighs guiltily, "In general, I am. I just really didn't want you to get baked right in front of me. I guess I'll have to get used to the fact, I suppose." Lena, in attempt to reconcile, turns to Paul and flashes him a semi-brilliant smile, "I suppose I could take in a few more sights. Are you still up for it?"

Paul shrugs, "Are you sure? Lena, if I made you uncomfortable..."

Lena cuts him off rather abruptly, "I'm sorry Paul, I guess I just didn't really expect it to happen and I guess I wasn't ready. But I'm okay now, I just got a little freaked, that's all."

Lena smiles and pulls Paul by the sleeve of his coat in a childish manner, "Come on, let's go!" With that, the Beatle and the time traveler sprint down the street.


Chapter Nine

Written by Cinder Whittier. 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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