A tall, flaming cross made out of logs burned blasphemously in the night. The smell of burning wood and vile hatred permeated the air. Swarms of men in white robes and pointed hoods crowded around their leaders, two Klansmen decorated in black silk robes who were punching the life out of a longhaired man in a suit. The man in the suit was being held back by a large, muscular Klansmen, and he was totally defenseless as punch after hard punch landed on his face or into his abdomen. He groaned in pain while blood spouted out of his nostrils, and he already had two puffy black eyes. Finally, a punch that felt like a battering ram hit him in the solar plexus, and he doubled over into a fetal position in the mud.
"I'll teach you to say that you English faggots are more popular than Christ!" a Klansmen bellowed as he kicked the battered longhaired man.
"You atheist Jew faggots are gonna burn in Hell for what you said!" said a second Klansman through his hood.
"I've been waiting to beat up a Beatle for years!" a third yelled as he kicked the fallen longhaired man hard in the ass.
"It's judgement day for you, Beatle!" one of the assailants proclaimed. Several other insults were yelled, but the longhaired man could do nothing but endure the beating.
"That's enough!" the Imperial Grand Wizard commanded, and the Klansmen stopped kicking their prey.
The Grand Wizard crouched down in front of tonight's casualty and said, "It's not too late, son. We men of the Ku Klux Klan are Christians. If you repent of what you said in the name of Jesus Christ, we'll forgive you."
The longhaired man on the ground looked up at the Grand Wizard, but said nothing.
Undeterred, the Grand Wizard continued. "Hell, we might even let you go if you sing us a Gospel hymn! Do you know 'Amazing Grace'? I'm sure you do, since you're a musician. And we know what religious fellows musicians are. What do you say, Beatle John?"
John pulled his face out of the watery dirt, but was silent. For a moment, the Grand Wizard was afraid that his men beat the Beatle until he couldn't hear any more. Then, John spat blood through his bruised lips and uttered as loud as he could through his great pain, "F--- you!"
The Grand Wizard stood up and put his hands in the air, signaling the men to get the noose. "Well, I've done what I can. This communist atheist faggot Beatle has chosen to die unrepentant. Let's kill him now, and send him to Hell so the Devil will punish him forever, like he deserves."
"Oh Yoko...Julian...Cyn," John murmured. He was in a nearly unconscious state between reality and dreams. "I love you...Remember me."
The Klansmen picked John up, and dragged him over to a tall tree that was nearby, and they flung the noose over a branch that was just above their heads.
Suddenly, a bright light filled the field where the Klansmen assembled. Several members of the Klan raised their arms above their heads and proclaimed,
But it wasn't their God returning in all His glory to punish the sacrilegious Beatle. It was a helicopter, and it descended right in the middle of the Klan camp.
The Klansmen scattered, but didn't run away. Two men got out of the helicopter, The first man was a handsome, forty-ish, dark haired man who was dressed in a suit. A second man got out of the helicopter, and he was a tall, thin, young man with platinum blonde hair styled like a Beatle, and he was dressed all in black and was carrying a First Aid kit. Those familiar to British pop music would say he looked like a mod version of David Bowie.
The rescuers drew out their guns, and the Klan made way for them.
"Stop right there in the name of the United States!" the dark haired man shouted authoritatively. "Mr. Lennon is coming with us, and that's an order!"
"The American Crusaders!" exclaimed several surprised Klansmen. Barely able to hold up his head, John looked at the gun-wielding men. He recognized them instantly. Suddenly he was filled with hope and exclaimed, "I'm saved!"
"Not yet, you ain't!" said a Klansman as he held down John's head with his foot back into the mud.
"Well, well," said the Grand Wizard. "If it ain't Adam Smyth and his sissy sidekick, Go-Go Boy!"
"I prefer to be called Number Four," said the blonde aloofly in an educated British accent. Adam signaled him to be quiet.
"This is indeed an honor." said the Grand Wizard. "You Crusaders are about to witness this insulting Beatle face the wrath of God!"
"You are not God," Adam responded, "and you have no right to kill this Beatle."
"Maybe I ain't God, but I am a devout Christian. And I know that God would approve if we smote this Beatle for his anti-Christian remarks."
Adam was about to reply when several Ku Klux Klan goons sneaked up behind and grabbed them.
Instantly, the Crusaders grabbed the sleeve of the white robes and flipped the Klansmen over their shoulders, and they landed on the ground with a dull "splat!" Temporarily forgetting Beatle John, the Klansmen swarmed around the Crusaders to subdue them. From a holster on his thigh, Number Four whipped out a large, cumbersome sort of laser gun and pointed it at the swarming Klansmen, who were caught in its paralyzing beam of light. They fell to the ground, not dead, but temporarily stunned. While that was happening, Adam whipped out his Government Special .44 and shot into the air. The sound of the shots boomed in the night, and the Klansmen stopped their advance.
"Don't make me use this!" Adam warned.
Four Klansmen with sawed-off shotguns ran up to the Crusaders, and they pointed their guns at each other in a draw. The Crusaders were outgunned! How would they save Beatle John now?
After a long pause, Adam spoke. "I'll tell you what, Mr. Grand Wizard. Why don't we settle this like true Christians. Why don't we see who has a better knowledge of the Bible, and if I lose, you can hang me in place of John. If I win, John comes with me."
"You, Mr. Smyth, are out of your league. I am a preacher of the Bible!" the Grand Wizard gloated.
"And I'm a true Christian!" Adam answered back. The Grand Wizard gave a satisfied chuckle, and said to his posse, "Get three nooses, boys! One for Mr. Smyth, and two more for these limeys!"
They stood apart from each other, and looked each other in the eye as the Klansmen gathered around them. The Grand Wizard drew first.
"For the Lord knows the way of the unrighteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish."
Not phased at all, Adam said, "Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful."
The Grand Wizard frowned inside his hood, and continued.
"Thou shall break them with a rod of iron, thou shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."
Knowing the Grand Wizard was using material from the Old Testament, Adam countered with the New Testament. "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."
The Grand Wizard put his hands on his hips, and walked over to tell Adam to his face,
"But he that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. Mark 3:29."
Adam chuckled softly. This was too easy!
"With my authority, take this message of repentance to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem: there is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me. Luke 24:27."
Not about to let his knowledge of the Bible go to waste, the Grand Wizard hit back with,
"Do not let them live among you! If you do, they will infect you with their sin of idol worship, and that will be disastrous for you. Exodus 23:33."
"Then let us no longer judge one another, but rather never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother." Romans 14:13."
The Grand Wizard searched his mind for verses about repayment of sins. Then proclaimed, "And repayth them that hateth them to his face, to destroy him, and he will not slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. Deuteronomy 7:10."
Adam thanked God for his photographic memory and his weekly attendance at church.
"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord. Romans 12:19."
While his commander and the Grand Wizard were verbally dueling, Number Four walked over to the beaten Beatle with the First Aid kit. He knelt down, and wiped the mud off John's face.
"Don't worry." he told the bleeding Beatle. "As you know, the Bible contradicts itself. They'll be arguing all night." John's eyes could only see Number Four hazily, and he moaned, "I haven't got all night."
"We'll get you out of it, John, even if we fight them all to do it!" promised Number Four as he bandaged John's wounds while Adam and the Grand Wizard continued their Bible battle.
The Grand Wizard had a good one this time.
"The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name with a curse, so they brought him to Moses. They put him in the custody until the will of the Lord should be made clear to them. Then the Lord said to Moses: "Take this blasphemer outside the camp. All who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him. Leviticus 24: 11-14."
Adam simply retorted with,
"Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." Luke 23:34."
"Don't you dare compare this sick, twisted Beatle to Our Lord and Savior, Adam Smyth!" the Grand Wizard angrily declared.
"I was merely quoting Jesus, Mr. Grand Wizard! Please don't get so defensive that we lose sight of what is important."
Knowing he had to come up with some brilliant verses to counteract the words of Christ, the Grand Wizard saved his best material for last.
"The prophet or dreamer must be put to death because he preached rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you away from the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from you. Deuteronomy 13:5."
Adam now had the ball in his court.
"Then Peter came up to Jesus and asked, "Lord, shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Mathew 18: 21-22."
The Grand Wizard was silent and spent, but Adam still had more material.
"And that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done. Psalms 62:12. So I ask you, you royal knights of the Ku Klux Klan, to release this Beatle, and if he truly does deserve punishment, let it be the Lord's punishment. Not the Klan's punishment, nor the preachers, nor the press."
"Gee, thanks!" said John sarcastically.
Adam continued. "If you're planning on killing this man in the name of God, I'm asking you to release him in the name of God. If you men aspire to be Christians, then why don't you behave as if Jesus was right here, right now? Knowing all you do about Jesus, what do you honestly think He would handle this situation? Did he not rescue the adulterous woman from a public stoning? Did not Jesus forgive the Jews as He was hanging on the cross with the life slowly ebbing out of him as he was dying? Jesus forgave sinners many more times than was ever recorded, and surely if He was here, He would forgive Beatle John for saying the Beatles are more popular than Christ." Adam contemplated for a moment, then continued. "I'm sure what he meant was that the media portrays the Beatles as gods, and teenagers now look to the Beatles for the answers when they should be looking to Jesus. What do you say about that, John?"
Surprised that he actually had a voice in this holy trial, John talked back to the Klan. "Actually, I was expressing my astonishment that the Church of England was experiencing a lack of interest among teenagers for the last 50 years. They worship us, but forget Christ. That's not right. We are not gods, and we shouldn't be looked on as gods."
Adam smiled, and helped John to his feet. Number Four assisted him. The American Crusaders stood to the left and right of John and he and to put his arms around them to stand up.
Displaying their handiwork to the Klan, Adam began where he left off.
"I am going to ask you outlaws to release this man in the name of Christ. And with all the terror you have done in the name of God to poor Negroes, Catholics, and Jews, you mistakenly consider yourselves the instrument of God's Wrath. You terrorize them and force them back into their ghettoes. You hang civil rights leaders, and you think you can judge this musician for merely speaking his mind, which, I might add, is a God-given right in America. Not to mention Beatle John wasn't even in America when he said it! He was in Spain! And he probably never counted on his statement ever getting back to America. He isn't an American citizen, you know."
"And never will be!" commented a Klansman behind his hood, which got his fellow men laughing.
Adam resumed his speech, "I don't like what he said, but as an American, I will defend his right - to the death- to say what he wants in this great nation of ours. No one has the right to be his judge, nor his executioner. Now why don't all of you be real Christians for once and let this poor man go. You've beaten him and scared him enough. Let him go."
The Klansmen gathered into a small circle to discuss John's fate while subordinate Klansmen grumbled anti-Beatle musings. Finally, the Grand Wizard spoke.
"Okay, Adam Smyth. Because you are a well-versed Christian, and you and your silly-looking partner helped save America from Commie spies in the past, we'll grant your wish. Take the Beatle. But you will not arrest our boys?"
Reluctantly, Adam replied, "No sir. No arrests. We're just happy to get this man out alive."
"Then it's settled. If you don't arrest any of our boys, we'll release the Beatle." spoke the Grand Wizard.
The American Crusaders and John walked toward the helicopter, and the Klansmen gave John evil, dirty looks as they passed.
"You just remember this, Beatle!" one shouted, "Next time, we really will kill you!"
"We're gonna keep an eye on you faggot Beatles!" said another. Adam and Number Four helped John into the helicopter, and they were just about to fly away when the Grand Wizard knocked on the window and said, "As for you, Smyth, since you owe us a favor, how about stop supporting that uppity nigger Martin Luther King and his civil rights organization. Now there's a bunch of fruity jigaboos you should arrest as Communists!"
Adam and John looked at each other, then looked at he Grand Wizard and the Klansmen, who were still chanting anti-Beatle slogans. John looked the Grand Wizard right in the eye and yelled, "F--- you!"
Suddenly, the helicopter ascended, and flew away to bring John Lennon back to the safety of Alabama Police Headquarters. As soon as they got out of the helicopter, awaiting paramedics helped John into a stretcher and examined his wounded body. He was then rushed to a local hospital under tight security.
A few days later, Adam and Number Four visited Alabama Christian Hospital. They were led to an undisclosed room where John laid bandaged in bed. The other Beatles surrounded him. When they entered the room, Paul, George and Ringo cheered and hugged the Crusaders. Adam, not used to being hugged by men, only returned a slight pat on back while Number Four gladly accepted an embrace from his fellow Englishmen.
"There they are!" John exclaimed. "They rescued me arse, they did!"
"Oh, you've got beaten worse fighting the Teds in Hamburg, Johnny!" George dismissed.
"How can we ever thank you?" Paul asked the Crusaders. Then he answered, "I know! We can give you our M.B.E.'s. We don't want them. They're dead grotty!" <> "Aunt Ginny liked mine." said Ringo. "She keeps it on top of her telly."
Adam didn't really care for the Beatles, but he tried his best to be diplomatic. He chuckled forcedly, then said, "No. You gentlemen keep your awards. The only reward we want is to avoid an international incident with England."
"Yeah. Her Majesty is still pissed about losing the colonies. She might send over Admiral Nelson with his red jacket!" John quipped.
"Beatle Kidnapping Sets Off World War Three. Interesting." mused Paul.
George only stared at Number Four's platinum white-blonde hair. Number Four returned his stare.
"Wot?" he asked George.
George replied, "Do you use Golden Sunshine #8? That's what me wife uses."
"That and Dippy-Do for that fabulous hold!" replied Number Four.
Adam shot George and Number Four a cock-eyed look, not believing men were actually discussing ladies hair products, but he then ignored it and said, "Never the less, Mr. Lennon, you did offend millions of Christians with your "Christianity will go, it will vanish and shrink" remarks. While that may be your personal point of view, I think you owe the Christians of the world an apology, if only to save your record sales in the United States. If you do, that will be all the thanks Number Four and I will ask."
"Yes, sir." John answered reluctantly.
"I knew you'd have to eat your words one of these days, Johnny. You went too bleedin' far this time!" Paul told him.
John gave him an evil look that said, "Shut up!"
"We're all offended, John. I'm a Catholic first and a Beatle second." said George.
John looked at Ringo for his point of view, but Ringo's expression said, "I'm not gonna touch this one!"
"All, right. I'll apologize at our next press conference." John groaned. "If I had known all this was going to happen, I would have kept me flippin' mouth shut!"
All of the sudden, Brian Epstien, who was on the verge of tears, came running into the room. "Oh, John! Thank God you're okay!" He ran to John's side, and, completely oblivious to the other men in the room, Brian kissed John full on the lips. John hugged Brian, but did not return the kiss.
"It's alright, Eppie. It's alright." He cooed into a near-hysterical Brian's ear. Paul, George, and Ringo smiled at each other, used to Brian expressing his love for John. Adam and Number Four looked on in surprised, then Number Four smiled and said, "Awwww!"
Adam frowned, and made a throaty "Ahem!" sound, and Brian and John parted. A little embarrassed at the public display of affection, John tried to save his masculinity.
"Mr. Smyth, I want to get those KKK bastards and pay them back for what they did to me!" He exclaimed with an evil, hateful look on his face.
Adam replied, "That's understandable, son. After all, the Klan put you through Hell! First they kidnap you right out of your hotel room, drag you to some Klan camp, then beat you until you think you're about to die, and threaten to hang you! Anybody would be enraged if that happened to them."
"I wanna get those southern pig wankers who support the KKK and bring the Klan and all the other so-called 'Christians' to their knees! I wrote a song about it."
"Go, Johnny!" Paul, George, and Ringo yelled in support of their leader.
"Now, hold on there, Mr. Lennon." said Adam through his slight southern drawl. "I don't think you want another direct confrontation with the Klan. If you produce an anti-Klan song, you probably won't be able to tour in America again."
"F--- touring!" John answered. "All we do is get up on stage, palm our instruments and fart, and all the birds in the audience scream their bloody heads off. Touring is a farce! We want to go into the studio and experiment with new sounds. Right, mates?"
"Well, we are sick of our cuddly mop-top image." Paul answered.
"It would be nice to have some time off so I can go visit India." said George.
"I've been offered a part in a movie, but I had to turn it down because I had to tour." Ringo offered.
Not finished with his speech, Adam continued. "As I was saying, Mr. Lennon, not all Christians support the KKK. Real Christians want nothing to do with them! Jesus commanded his followers to love one another and to forgive each other, and not to kill under any circumstances. As for your anti-Christian remarks, we Christians may not have liked what you said, but we don't think you Beatles deserve to be terrorized by hate groups."
"Then why are all the anti-Beatle rallies supported by some fundamentalist preacher?" John asked accusingly.
Adam pondered this for a moment, knowing John was right. Hordes of anti-Beatle rallies dotted the South. He then rejoined, "I won't deny that some people who call themselves "Christians" are extreme reactionaries, but there are those of us who try to follow Christ's example and turn the other cheek."
"Cor! You've got the whole Bible memorized, haven't you?" George said to Adam. Adam merely shrugged good-naturedly.
"He does! He does!" returned Number Four, rolling his eyes. " He quoted many a Bible verse as he lectured me when I first started working for him. Got bloody annoying, it did."
"You could use a little moral instruction, Number Four." Adam condescended to his partner. Number Four sighed. He was standing in front of Ringo, who was sitting on a chair in back of him. Ringo tapped Number Four on the back, and he looked in back of him to see what Ringo wanted. Ringo secretly pulled out a joint and offered it to him. Four discretely palmed the joint and smiled at Ringo to thank him while Adam continued speaking.
"May I suggest what to do to get back at the Klan, Mr. Lennon?"
John put his arms akimbo and grinned wickedly, "If you must, Mr. Smyth!" he replied with a mocking tone in his voice. Ignoring the slight, Adam huddled the Beatles together in a circle, and whispered so not even the heavily armed guards standing outside the hospital room could hear them.
A few days later, the Beatles sat in front of a television camera in a studio to record a commercial in which they are flanked with Negro children. Paul is holding a little boy and girl in his lap. John stands behind a teenage boy, who is holding an electric guitar. George is standing and holding a cute little baby girl.
Paul spoke to the camera. "As musicians, we Beatles love rhythm and blues music. But unfortunately, the original Negro artists who first sang R and B and Motown face prejudice because of their skin color."
John continued. "Negroes experience discrimination every day from hate groups and small-minded people. That's why we support the Civil Rights movement, so these children can have a better future. If you care about America being the land of opportunity for all its citizens, we'd like to ask you to do the same."
Ringo has a small boy sitting on his lap. The little boy playfully squeezes Ringo's nose. Paul, George, and John say "Please" unanimously. Then Ringo says in a muffled voice, "Please!" The Beatles and children laugh together. Ringo smiles.
"And cut!" the director shouted.
In the wings, Brian said to Adam, "I can't thank you enough for letting my boys take credit for your idea, Mr. Smyth! John told me that this is sure to burn the Klan's bum!"
"That's okay, Mr. Epstien." Replied Adam. "I never knew your Beatles really cared about controversial subjects. I thought they only cared about being rich musicians."
"Oh, my boys really do care about important matters such as civil rights, but I told them not to make any controversial statements to mare their teeny-bopper image." Brian sighed. "All this could have been avoided if John only obeyed me...for once. He's so rebellious, but that's why I love him."
Adam ignored Brian's last remark and said, "Yes, well, think of it this way, Mr. Epstein, maybe now teenagers will become more aware of important matters. I've been trying to appeal to the young people to support the Civil Rights crusade for years. Maybe now, the young people will listen."
The Beatles were being hurried to another photo shoot, but they insisted on giving autographs for all the children and kisses to the little girls before they were hurried away. Brian scooped up his Beatles like a mother hen and shuffled them into an awaiting limo.
That was the end of the American Crusaders' Beatle adventure. Number Four took the cigarette out of his mouth and said,
"The commercial will be shown tonight nationwide. And I do hope the Klan gets a good eyeful."
"Maybe now we can get back to capturing communist spies, like we're supposed to. Come on," Adam said as they headed towards the parking lot. "I'm sure Corneal Colossus has another assignment ready for us."
"Yup. Gotta save the world, yet again." drawled Number Four in a mock cowboy accent.
Little did they know they were heading towards a trap devised by that arch Communist, Trotsky Jr!
The very next day, thousands of teenagers call their local NAACP to join the crusade for civil rights.
P.S. What did you think of the American Crusaders? Tell me! Tell me! Tell me!
Get back home!