"What!?!" John practically yelled at Brian, the bandís manager.
"You heard me, John. You all must go to the interview this afternoon. Not just Paul."
"Bloody Ďell." John muttered to himself, pissed. George looked like he was going to puke. And Ringo just, well, looked. Paul rolled his eyes.
"Come Ďed guys! Weíre not goiní to a bloody dentist to get teeth pulled!" He half dragged, half-carried John into the hallway. Ringo and George followed, sulking. They walked into the hotelís private conference room, and plopped down in the nearest chairs. John sunk down, pretending to sleep, while Ringo grabbed a pen, and started scribbling on some blank papers. He showed them to George, and the latter laughed outright. Paul shot them both "the look", and they hushed their antics.
"Whereís that bloody reporter?" John loudly questioned.
"I donít know whatís taking him." Paul said, checking his watch.
It was just then that George and Ringo stopped giggling and making a general racket. Paulís head swiveled, and Johnís jaw fell agape. In the doorframe was a beautiful young woman, with a tape recorder. She walked slowly into the room, and seated herself in a chair.
"Hello, you must be the Beatles. Iím Billie Michigan, from the Journal. Itís lovely to meet yíall." Her voice was soft and melodic. Her whole aura seemed to be radiant with life. Just the sight of her would remind someone of a catchy blues tune by Lady Day* herself. She was a fairly tall brunette, with gentle blueish hazel eyes. In fact, she didnít seem to be the least bit like a reporter. Not loud or obnoxious, just sweet and kind.
"Y-youíre Bill Michigan?" Paul stuttered.
"Yes. Thatís my nick name around the office." The boys sat in stunned silence.
"Whatís all this? The witty Beatles have nothing to say? This is quite astonishing!" Her laughter seemed to snap the four awed men out of their trances.
"Of course we Ďave nothiní to say! We never did!" George declared. The others laughed.
"Oh, in that case, this interview should be a complete and utter failure!" The dying laughter soared to new heights.
"Well, we should get started." Paul stated, wiping a stray tear from the corner of his eye.
"Alright. Now, I know that every reporter that came before me has asked almost every possible question there is. So, I was going to take a new and different approach: why donít you just tell me whatever you want to, about your opinions and memories and tastes, and Iíll make an article out of it." The boys looked to each other, not sure they heard right. A reporter actually willing to, ::gulp:: listen? "And," she accented this, "everything that you tell me will be recorded- but you will pre-approve the article. If you donít like what I wrote, Iíll try a new approach. And if it were to happen that you didnít want some part of the tape included, Iíd cut it out, and send it to you."
"Wait a minute. This sounds too good to be true. A reporter, actually willing to pass up a good tabloid story, for a probably less popular approved article? I donít believe it." John sneered.
George nodded. "Itís never been done before! No reporter has ever considered the feelings of the people behind the story!" At this, Billie smiled. Widely.
"I know. My boss has threatened time and time again to fire me for those reasons alone. I have my own special reasons to respect your feelings and privacy. Youíll just have to trust me. But, I give you my word that the terms I mentioned before will stick." She sat back, waiting for a response.
Billie surveyed the men while they looked at each other, totally speechless. They were all quite cute from her perspective, especially Paul. They were sure as hell funny and nice, from what she could tell. And weary of the press, I thought smugly. They really have the right. Iím sure that theyíve been treated like trash by the tabloids.
"Itís a deal." John stuck his hand out, and we shook to seal the deal. I reached out, and flipped the switch of the tape player to "on". One by one, they talked about everything under the sun. About Hamburg, their family- their life and times, really. John talked about how he hated the war in Vietnam. "Itís wrong. That war is taking the lives of soldiers who shouldnít even be there! The US government should get out of it now. And to top it off, so should England. We have absolutely no right to support it [the war]." George talked about Hinduism and Buddhism and about going to India to study under a guru, possibly the Maharishi Yogi. "Heís the one I could really dig, you know. The whole religion is fascinating. Iím learning the sitar, and meditate every night. After this final tour, Patti and I plan to go to India on vacation." Iíll never understand why the press dubbed Ringo the "sad Beatle". He was fairly soft-spoken, but not melancholy at all. His eyes twinkled when he spoke of his wife and new baby. "Mo and I really were excited when we had Zak. He was so little in the Ďospital. She says that heís the spittiní image of me, but I see his motherís eyes on the lad. When the tourís over, Iím gonna be home with her and the baby, and be a real daddy for awhile." Paul talked nonstop for almost two hours. I had to change tapes, and he waited impatiently to continue. Like a little child whoís kept all his feelings bottled up, he poured his heart and soul out. He talked about losing his mother, and what it was like in the band, and how his relationship with Jane Asher went sour after so many years. "She was this famous actress, and I was a famous rock star, so our lives were so busy, that we were rarely seeing each other. When I got home from tours, I wanted her to be there. She wanted her career. She said that she wasnít ready for children."
Billie glanced lazily out the tiny window on the side of the room. Darkness was spread over the sky like a giant blanket covering the sun. Itís nighttime already? Geez, how the time did fly . . . John flipped the tape recorder off.
"That was the best interview that Iíve ever had." Paul remarked, smiling at me.
"Confession is good for the soul." I replied, to which his eyes twinkled.
"And youíre the nicest reporter that Iíve ever met." Ringo said.
"Ditto." George added, grinning. John was staring off into space, probably deep in thought.
"Thank you all very much for your time." I stood, as did the guys. I jotted down my number on a piece of paper, and handed it to Paul. "Thereís my digits, if yíall wanna reach me. Iíll send the finished article to your press agent . . ."
"Nawh, send it to Paul." John told me quite definitely.
"OK, Paul, whatís your address?" He wrote it down, and gave me the precious paper. "Thank you. Iíll be in touch." I headed out of the office, casually swinging my hips gently to an unheard rhythm.
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