John skips out onto the street and I run to catch up with him.
“So where’re we going today luv?”
“I don’t know, where do you want to go?” I ask.
“I don’t know, where do you want to go?” John returns.
“Well, for starters there’s a new art gallery opening on Spring Street.”
John smiles. “Really?”
“Yeah, I think some of Lydia’s art might be on display even.”
John stands straight up and salutes. “Lead me there, Capt’n!”
I grin. “Certainly.”
We walk through the streets and finally reach a storefront with a small blue balloon tied to the doorknob.
“Through here,” I say. He opens the door to reveal a rather steep staircase. We clamber up the stairs and reach a musty room filled with people. Amateur artists and critics parade throughout the room with the utmost of confidence. Cameras flash everywhere and then I begin to wonder if it was such a good idea to bring John.
“Don’t worry, if it brings Lydia’s art publicity, it’s worth it to me.”
I smile. It’s nice that he likes her and I’m sure this could be wonderful for her career but I’m still trying to get over the fact they slept together.
We spend over an hour gazing at different works, some of which are undoubtedly terrible. We walk past a series of bizarre pieces of pottery and one large painting covered in noses. I check the artist’s name and just as I guessed it reads: “Lydia Milflow.”
“Yup, this Lydia’s.”
John stands back admiring it and in the process bumps into a reporter.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” John says and turns back towards the painting. “What do you think of it Juli?”
The reporter does a double take and snaps a shot of John and me glancing at Lydia’s painting. The reporter smiles and shakes John’s hand, “John Lennon, it’s so nice to meet you. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind answering a few questions.”
John smirks. “No, not really.”
“Good. Very good. Now uh, what brings you to New York?”
“Visiting a friend,” John says.
The reporter looks at me. “Business friend or other?”
John looks annoyed. “Friend. The type you like to spend you’re day with.”
“Oh, that’s fine,” the reporter looks a bit flustered. “Oh, well, are you familiar with any of the artists in this gallery?”
John grins. “Yeah, I’m a big fan of this artist right here.” He points to the nose painting. “Lydia Milflow. I follow her artwork constantly. Bit of a hobby, you know.”
The reporter nods. “So which other exhibits have to been to of her work?”
John looks lost. He wouldn’t know. He hasn’t been to any other exhibits.
I step in. “I believe she’s also had showings at the Tigerlily, La Glace, and The Tambourine.”
“Yes, I’ve been to all of those,” John smiles.
Over John’s shoulder I spot Lydia and discreetly try to get her attention so that her one big chance at publicity gets her a photograph next to John. She doesn’t notice me. I wait a moment until she’s close enough in my reach and tap her arm. She turns around.
Seeing John, a huge grin spreads across her face, but as she notices the reporter, her excitement builds.
“I believe that’s the artist, right there!” I say.
John turns around, feigning surprise. “Lydia Milflow? You mean THE Lydia Milflow?”
John smirks. “I’m a fan of your artwork.”
The reporter takes a series more of shots and at this point a whole gaggle of other cameramen have turned around as well, clicking away.
“Really?” she asks.
The reporter cuts in. “Yes, well, do you mind if I might interview you? Mr. Lennon has expressed a serious interest in your work and we’d like to hear your opinion of it.”
Lydia beams. “Why certainly.”
As the attention begins to focus on Lydia, John and I try to sneak out, now having accomplished our task. Aside from a few flashes following John out the door, we make it. We rush down the stairs and hit the streets.
I take a deep breath of air. “God it was hot in there!”
“You call that hot? You should feel what it’s like to be on stage on tour!”
“Well I’ve felt being on stage, hot lights, hot costumes, hot makeup.”
“Hot male costars?”
I laugh. “That’s not what I meant.”
“Never is, is it?” John says. We begin walking a few blocks and John stops. “I’m bloody famished! Know a place where we can grab a bite to eat?”
“Plenty of places,” I smile. “Look around, pick a place. Café perhaps?”
“Alright luv,” John says. He takes a glance across the street and points to a place called Figgarro’s. “Definitely there.”
We take a table outside, pick up the menus, and wait as a waiter comes around.
“Can I help you?”
“I don’t know, can you?” John says.
The waiter looks annoyed. “May I help you?”
I whisper to John, in my ‘posh British’ accent, “Don’t be cheeky.”
John laughs. “Alright. I suppose I’ll try a hamburger, fries, and a salad.”
The man scribbles it down and turns to me, “And you?”
“Burger and fries.”
“Okay and what would you like to drink?”
“Coke,” John says.
“Ginger ale,” I say.
“All right, I’ll have your food out in a few minutes.” He smiles and walks away.
“Very good,” John says. “So luv, how have you been? Step in with the folks go well? Did they say, ‘Yes,’ to you joining us on tour?”
I grin. “Believe it or not, they did. And they liked Paul.”
John feigns surprise. “Oh? Is that right?”
I laugh. “Well as much as they can like Paul.”
“Oh yes. Very unlikable lad isn’t he?” John says.
Our food is soon delivered and we devour it quickly. Once again we are free to roam the streets. We pass a movie theater and John offers.
“Want to see a movie then?”
I smile. “Why not?”
The only movie showing for the time is some cheesy musical but we buy tickets nonetheless. Despite the fact we’ve just eaten, John buys a huge tub of popcorn. I refuse to get anything.
The movie has already begun by the time we enter but we grab the back row. I begin to get into the movie until I feel a popcorn kernel suddenly hit me in the head. I turn to see John abruptly turn his head back to the screen.
I ignore it and continue to watch the movie. Another kernel hits my head. I turn again. John’s looking straight ahead. I return my gaze to the movie and three kernels hit my head. I turn and see a snickering John. I playfully push him and he continues to laugh.
A twenty-year-old man sitting next to his date in front of us turns around. “Stop it.”
“Oh yes, yes certainly sir,” John says mockingly.
The man turns to face the screen again.
We sit watching the movie another few minutes and suddenly I feel a hand on my leg. I turn to see John staring forward, but his hand still reaching for my leg. I slap it and look back at the screen. I feel it again and slap his hand again. This time a fistful of popcorn hits me in the face and some bounces off to hit the man in front of us.
“I said stop it!” The man turns around. “You are fucking annoying! My girlfriend here,” he points to the blonde head next to him, “is trying to enjoy this movie and you are destroying it.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” John says, throwing a fistful of popcorn at him.
The man gets angry and stands up, taking a swing at John. John stands up ready to fight him but I drag him out. In the process, John throws the rest of his tub at the man and we run out.
We end up on the street and sprint as fast as we can for five blocks. Out of breath we reach a secluded section of Central Park.
We climb up on a rock and sit down, panting and laughing.
“John you’re such an idiot!”
He smirks, trying to regain his breath, “But at least I’m fast!”
I laugh. “Yes, but you could have gotten us in trouble!”
“Not if I punched him out first,” John says finally regaining his voice.
“Fighting is not a way to resolve anything. Violence is not an answer. Not when you’re angry. Not when you want to get a message across. Hitting someone establishes nothing, helps nothing. I’ve told you that before, you know.”
“I guess you’re right luv, but that doesn’t mean I’ll follow it.”
I sigh. “And don’t I know it.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Course not,” John says, shooting me a side-glance.
We sit for about a half-hour not saying anything. I stare up at the sky and lean against the rock for support.
John breaks the silence.
“Did it surprise you that your parents would let you go on tour?”
“I suppose it did, a little, why?”
“No, just asking.”
“Well my parents care a lot about my happiness so I suppose they made the decision that they knew I would make anyhow yet make it easier. They liked Paul, too. And that helped.”
“That’s lucky you know.”
“What? That they liked Paul?”
“No, that your parents care so much. You know me mum had died, but my dad stopped caring for me after I was four. Didn’t fancy me much I suppose. Went off on his own, he did. Spent most of my time with me Aunt Mimi, she was a bit of drag.”
“She cared for you then, didn’t she?”
“Yeah, I guess. She still does I would imagine. Ah, I’ll stop blabbering then.”
I turn to him. “It’s not blabbering, I like to hear you actually express your feelings.”
He smiles, “Well now I did. So enough.”
We sit a few more minutes in silence.
“John, is it true about you and Lydia?”
“What? That we fucked?”
“Well, yeah, I guess.”
“Yea, we did. Nothing serious. It was fun.”
I sit up. “How do you do that?”
“Do what? Fuck?”
“No, just have sex with someone and not take it seriously.”
“Well luv, there are different ways to have sex. You can have sex with love, sex just for the hell of it, and then of course, love without sex. All are enjoyable.”
I sigh. “You have no respect for women.”
“No respect for women. What do you care if one girl is crazy about you, another ‘bird’ would do anything for you. As long as you can have you’re fun, you don’t care.”
“Fuck, Julia, do you need to start this?”
“Well yes, I think I do. What’s this with Lydia now? Since when have you been sleeping with my best friend? And whatever happened to my other best friend, Pam? Huh? What happened to her? You didn’t need to ruin your marriage enough with her, no, you had to add another one of my friends to your list!”
John moves away, now clearly annoyed. “You think I force these girls in bed? They want to, just as much as I do.”
“You bastard! You’re a bastard who is in no way worthy of being an idol….”
John looks up with soulful eyes and sullen face. “Am I disagreeing with you luv?”
“What? Are you getting some strange sort of masochistic pleasure out of this?”
He smirks. “Well yea, actually I am.”
“John, you’re married! How can you do this? How can you keep doing this with no possible concern for others? Has breaking Cyn’s heart since you were married been enough for you? Or maybe breaking Pam’s?”
“Stop throwing fucking shadows at me luv.”
“Yes, John, shadows. They go away when daylight hits but return when darkness falls—regardless of what I say to you. But do you care? No, of course not, you’re John Lennon. The great and all-powerful Beatle! I was serious that first day when we were waiting for Pam on the couch. You’re spoiled. You’re a big spoiled baby who’s hypocritical and sings about love pretending to be some fabulous rock star genius with your intellectual snobbery and what not but you know what you are? You’re a phony.”
John stands up and backs away from the rock. I stand up too.
“A fucking no good phony,” I say.
“Oh look at her, she’s a big girl now. Even using profanity and all. Hey look Mother our little girl is growing up!”
I glare. “You don’t even treat your own son well. Yes, maybe he wasn’t exactly what you needed most when he was born but guess what? He sure as hell is there and isn’t going anywhere. He loves you and craves your love, your attention, a father for God’s sake. You were clearly hurt by your own father but are you so blind that you can’t see yourself copying exactly what he did? You may not know exactly how to deal with a son but it’s your responsibility to figure it out. Be a better man than your father. Not a coward.”
John says nothing. His stare burns my pupils. His voice comes out in booming bellows. “Fucking hell Julia! How dare you make me out to be the piece of shit my father was!” He raises his arm with a pointed finger to exaggerate his point.
“Well maybe you are!” I yell.
As the words slip from my mouth, I know they are wrong.
John? ‘A piece of shit’? This is no means reality nor even my own true emotions. This is just wrong. John is my friend that I care for so dearly. John the Beatle. But what about my other friends? What about his own wife? Maybe the I’m right to be saying this. Maybe he needs someone who cares to give him a taste of his own cruelty.
John’s body trembles with anger. His eyes are exaggerated pulsing slits and his arms are outstretched and reaching towards me.
I back up, only to find myself trapped against the rock. John’s anger scares me. I lose my strong stance and find myself sinking into the corner, tears of fear streaming down my face. He advances slowly towards me, his strength building with each step.
My voice is a whimper, “John…please….”
He raises his right hand high in the air as if about to strike. I brace my self. I wait. Nothing. I look up and see his arm still raised, now quivering. I watch as his face then softens, his body losing its threatening tension. He turns away, mumbling in a regretful voice, “Oh luv.”
I rush to his shoulder and touch him. He turns around with teary eyes.
“John, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said it. I…didn’t mean it.”
“You did mean it, luv,” he says.
I look at the ground. He faces me. “Oh luv, if I ever, and I mean ever, do that to you again, I give you full right to chop of me balls, smash a lamp over my head…whatever it takes to destroy that monster. You may have said some shitty things but I had absolutely no right to—I’m sorry luv,” John says, now moving both hands to gently hold my jawbone.
I stare into his eyes. Two teary spheres. What a change from before. “John I—“
“Will you forgive me luv? Juli?”
I nod. “Yes, John. Of course I will. But I don’t want to ignore those things I said. John, I shouldn’t have said them.”
“But you’re right.”
“I pick the wrong people to spend my time with and I abuse my decisions.”
“No John, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying take care of your son, respect Cyn more, something! And if you don’t respect her, at least respect the girls you cheat on her with! Two of them are my best friends. You’ve broken Pam’s heart, clearly long forgotten about her. And now you’re onto Lydia.”
We sit back down on the rock. It’s beginning to get dark. “That’s where you’re wrong luv.”
I look up.
“There is a reason I’m not with Pam anymore. It’s not that I’ve forgotten about her and such, no, I really cared for her. It’s not that.” He sighs. “Look, it began to become apparent to her that I was not about to leave Cyn for her. She knew that from the start but didn’t like it. That wasn’t her offense though. At the same time she saw how much you loved Paul. And how much Paul returned that love. He would spend days being drunk and moping around for you. She was jealous. She gave us the wrong number and address intentionally, hoping we’d give up searching. She didn’t want you and Paul to end up together. She felt that if she couldn’t have someone she cared about, neither should you. I was damn lucky to have been there that same moment you called her. I was about to leave for the last time and maybe never go back to that flat again. We had just had a serious argument and I made it clear that never, never would I leave Cyn for her. After your call we argued again, I knew what she had done. She wouldn’t fess up to it. Listen, she was no friend of yours and I’m sorry to be the one to tell you that. I had told Paul about it and he wasn’t sure when he was going to tell you. I guess I got to you before he did. Oh well.”
I sit there, speechless.
I had guessed it. Completely guessed it. Not that it makes me feel any better….
“And as for Lydia, we both agreed we’d just do it for fun. Honestly, she had even picked up a boyfriend last night so she felt it would be wrong to do it again. But for that one night we had a hell of a time.”
Boyfriend? John knows she has a boyfriend before I do! Something is wrong here. I go away for one day and Lydia not only sleeps with John but gets a boyfriend as well!
“Yes well luv, it’s getting dark. Maybe we should head back.”
We walk home and get to my apartment a little after nine. I reach to open the lock and John stops me.
“I think I’ll be headed back to my room now. It’s a bit late and uh, I have some songwriting to catch up on.”
I raise my eyebrow. “Are you sure you don’t want to come in for a bit? Paul didn’t get much of a chance to talk to you earlier….”
“Yea well, we talked enough. Look, I’ll see him tomorrow. And um,” John looks deep into my eyes. He gives me a kiss on the forehead. “I had a great time.”
“I’m sorry about all those things I said—“
He grins, placing his finger on my lips. “Everything you’ve said, forgotten. Alright?”
I smile. “All right. Goodnight!”
“You too!” He winks, tips his imaginary hat and runs down the stairs.
I unlock my door and walk in. The room is completely dark with the exception of little fragments of light filtering around hundreds of lit candles all over my apartment.
I stand in awe of all the tiny, flickering lights and Paul appears from behind my kitchen counter, smiling.
“Hello luv,” he says. He walks over to me through a small path of non-candle covered floor and kisses me.
He leans me up against the door and it closes. I turn to lock it, but he does it for me. He directs me, mid-kiss through the pathway so that I may drop my keys on the counter and then move into my bedroom. He lets me breathe and I look around. Yet another candle blanketed room.
I laugh, “Isn’t this a fire hazard?”
Paul smiles, “Don’t worry about it, luv.”
“Oh so if my apartment burns up you’ll take care of it?”
“Certainly,” he grins.
“Well what if it burns us up.”
“Too late for that luv, I’m already on fire.”
With that he covers me with kisses and I give in.
I awake to sun streaming through my window and a kiss on my neck. “Morning luv.”
I beam. “Good morning.”
“Have a nice night?”
Paul smiles, “Glad to hear it.”
For no reason at all, the thought of Pam hits my mind. “Paul, do you think I should try to contact Pam?”
“Pam?” Paul says.
“Yeah, well, we haven’t spoken in quite a while and I was wondering—“
“Luv, I have something to tell you about Pam….”
“Yes, I know, John told me.”
Paul pouts. “John told you? I wanted to be the first to tell you. Fine then.”
“Yea, but if you remember that first day you guys spent at Lydia’s smoking up, I had tried to contact her.” I recount the entire phone call to Paul and he listens.
“So that’s why you were so upset. Why didn’t you tell me before luv?”
“I guess I didn’t get the chance.”
“Alright, well, I don’t know. Do you really want to contact her after you know she tried to split us up?”
“I’m not really sure. I mean we were friends for so many years before that. And if it wasn’t for her, I never would have met you guys.”
“That’s true, and that’s something she ought to be thanked for.” Paul kisses me.
“Certainly,” I take a deep breath. “I think I’ll call her.”