My eyes moved back and forth as I watched Paul pace the floor in front of me, chewing his fingernails. It had been almost five minutes since we had come back to the hotel, and we were trying to figure out what to do.
"Well, do you know what hotel we're going to next?" I asked, trying to be helpful.
Paul shook his head. "All I know is we're goin' to some place in Colorado."
"Colorado?" I asked, surprised. "That's far from here. It'll take them at least a day to drive from here to there. You do drive to the places, right?"
Paul nodded. "Aye, most of the time. If it's really far, we take the train or a plane." He sighed and flopped down in a chair next to me. "I dunno what to do, Lee." He sighed again, and rested his head on his hand.
"Why would they just leave?" I asked. I didn't see why they wouldn't wait.
"Oh, they'll probably figure we'll wait 'ere until Nell can call us - the hotel, I mean - and tell us he's sending Mal to pick us up or something," Paul replied.
I just nodded, scolding myself silently. I had basically caused all of this. Gee whiz, if I hadn't been swinging that thing around my finger...
"What're ya thinkin' about, luv?" Paul asked me.
"Oh, just that if I hadn't have been swinging that bag around my finger, none of this would've happened," I replied. Paul waved his hand and shook his head.
"Naw, luv, it's not your fault," he said, patting my arm, "Don't think that."
"Thanks," I replied, and turned my gaze to the door to watch people come in. Soon I just blurred my eyes and watched blobs walk by - do you ever do that? You just unfocus your eyes and look at things - you just get this far-off look in your eyes and people think you're odd.
I saw a brown blob, and grey-and-white blob, another brown blob, a purple-and-blue blob...hey... I snapped my eyes into focus. It was!
Jumping up and grabbing my bag and Paul's arm, I raced for the door. "Ringo!" I cried.
Ringo saw (and probably heard) me coming and put his finger up to his lips. I covered my mouth. Paul smiled. "Sorry about that outburst," I said softer. People gave me an odd look for yelling out, but I didn't care.
"We thought ya had left, Ring," Paul said, crossing his arms.
Ringo shook his head. "Nell said we should wait, and anyroad, we couldn't just leave ya. So we figured something had happened at the store, and you would figure out we weren't in the room and look out back in the car park for us. Nell sent me in here to look for ya cos ya hadn't found us yet."
Paul and I shrugged. "Well, I guess we didn't think to look out there," I said.
"Come 'ed, we need to go," Ringo told us, turning and walking through the doors. Paul and I followed.
The vehicle we were travelling in was more like a van, you know, some type of '60's van. I ended up sitting in the back on a bench seat with John and George - I sat on the left side next to John. Paul and Ringo sat in the bench seat ahead of us, and Neil sat up in the front with another guy, who was driving. I figured it was Mal, since I recognized his face from pictures I had seen of him. Mal started up the van, and we were off.
Neil turned around in his seat. "Lee, this's Mal Evans, who usually drives us around and helps out. Mal, this's Leeanne Baker, affectionately referred to as just Lee." Mal laughed, and waved to me, looking at me in the rearview mirror.
"Hullo, Lee!" he said, smiling.
"Hi, Mal!" I replied, smiling also. We all laughed. So I had finally met the whole 'Beatle crew'. I was pretty happy, since I now wasn't stuck in Los Angeles with Paul and nowhere to go (well, the stuck-with-Paul part wasn't that bad) while the rest of the Beatles were miles away. I felt content.
"So, Miss Lee, care to tell us why you and Paulie almost got left behind?" John asked me. I smiled at Paul, and proceded to tell the story. Paul told some parts, and it got a big laugh out of all seven of us. It was pretty funny when I thought about it again.
Paul and George produced little radios with a Pepsi sign on them from their pockets, and they both turned them on. We sat and listened while we talked on and off. Occasionally John would sing off-key to a song with Ringo, making us all laugh.
I leaned my head against the side of the van. I was a little worn out from all the excitement - and the running! - from this morning. I watched Neil as he finished a crossword puzzle - he made some pretty funny expressions - and then he looked at his watch. "What time is it?" I called up to him.
Neil looked back at me. "Well, it's almost three o'clock, and we are way behind schedule," he replied.
I sighed. "Sorry," I said. Neil shrugged.
"It's not your fault, luv. It's no ones, really," he replied. I nodded.
"I guess," I said.
"Aye, if it was your fault, John would let ya know," Ringo said.
"You'd have a black eye an' a coupla missing teeth, luv!" George teased, holding up a fist and punching John lightly on the arm.
John scowled at me, and punched at my face. "Hiyah! Pow! Take that, fiend!" he cried. I laughed with the others. Then John put his arm around my neck and gave me a noogie while I struggled.
"Hey!" I cried, laughing and trying to push John away, "No fair!" The other Beatles just laughed and egged John on.
"Get her, Johnny!" Ringo cried.
Neil turned around. "Boys, what are ya doing to that poor girl?" he asked, laughing.
I finally got loose. My hair was all messed up.
"And that's for making us late!" John exclaimed, giving me a gentle shove and crossing his arms. I hit John lightly in the arm.
"And that was for messing up my hair!" I said back to him.
John made a horrified face. "Oh, no! My hair! Oh, it's all messed up!" he cried in a high voice. I rolled my eyes. The other guys thought it was hilarious, though.
Things basically quieted down after that. The boys talked as I closed my eyes.
Suddenly I felt something tickling my neck. I opened my eyes. John quickly snatched his hand away and stared forward. I smiled and shoved him lightly.
John then turned to George, who was staring out the window, and tried to tickle him. George pushed him away and said, "Knock it off." John rolled his eyes and tried to pull out one of Ringo's hairs. Ringo reached around and slapped at John's hand.
"Come off it, Johnny," he said, shifting his position so John couldn't reach him. John turned to Paul.
"Don't even think about it, John," Paul said, leaning away from him. John crossed his arms.
"I'm bored," he complained. Paul rolled his eyes.
"As usual. Just go to sleep or something," he said. John stuck his tongue out a Paul.
"Yes, mother," he said.
I smiled. "Very mature, John," I said. John looked at me and stuck his tongue out at me, then turned. I just smiled again and closed my eyes.
The next time I opened them, the sun was lower in the sky. I must have fallen asleep. Paul and Ringo were playing cards with George across the streets. John had dozed off himself - he was finally quiet!
I asked Neil what time it was, and he said it was around six o'clock. My legs were feeling a little cramped up. Paul, Ringo, and George finished their game and Ringo stuck the cards in his back pocket. John stirred. He opened his eyes and asked, "Are we there yet?"
"Not yet," Neil replied, "But we're going to stop here in a mo' to get more gas and some dinner."
"It's around six, John," I told him. He nodded and stretched as best as he could in the seat, then sat quietly with his hands folded in his lap, looking out the window. Wow - I wish I had a camera. He was so quiet and looked so innocent. I smiled to myself.
We stopped at a gas station later, and there Paul and Ringo changed out of their 'diguise' clothes and into jeans and shirts. They looked much more comfortable in them. Then we drove across the street to a fast food restaraunt. Neil, George, and I went in to get the food, and the others got out and stretched. They had said to order them whatever we were getting.
The girl who rang up our order kept giving George funny looks. George just smiled back at her. I smiled as I picked up a sack of food. Neil and George picked up the others, and George winked at the girl before we left. I heard her giggle.
The food was passed around, and we ate on the grass underneath a streetlight. It really wasn't that dark, though. After that, we all took a quick bathroom break before climbing back into the van again to drive on.
We all sat, making little conversations. Then George asked me, "Hey, Lee. I was wondering. Did you like our last album?"
I nodded. "Yeah, I did. My favorite song was 'Across the Universe', but the other songs were - oh my gosh!" I exclaimed, clapping a hand over my mouth. Everyone burst out laughing.
"What are ya talkin' about, luv?" Paul asked. I turned slightly red.
"Um, nothing," I replied. "You said your last album. That was 'A Hard Day's Night', right?"
John looked at me. "You thought we meant our last last album, huh? Lee, I don't think we've gotten that far yet!" he said, laughing again.
"So what's this song you say you like?" Ringo said, smiling. "It was called 'Across the Universe', was it?"
I just smiled and shook my head. "Sorry. Just forget I said that. I mean - oh gosh. I'm just used to talking to my friends about it and all, you know. That just slipped," I tried to explain. Great. I didn't want them to go and write a song called "Across the Universe" and wreck up a bit of history and all that. I know I shouldn't really worry, but you can never be too sure.
"Don't worry, luv, we'll forget," George told me, patting my arm like a little kid, "Sorry for confusing you. Aye, I meant 'A Hard Day's Night'. Didja like it?"
I nodded, telling myself silently to be more careful of what I say in the future - or in the past - or whatever. "The album was great!" I said, "It's one of my favorites."
"What songs do you like the most?" Paul asked.
"Come on, tell," John said.
"Well," I started, "I do like all of the songs, but I do have ones I like to listen to more, y'know." I didn't want to make anyone feel bad or anything, you know, because I tended to like Lennon songs more than McCartney ones - most of the time, anyway.
Ringo smiled. "Drum role, please!" The others tapped their fingers on the seat. Ringo held up his fist with a pretend microphone to my face. "So tell us, please, Miss Baker, what is your favorite song on the album 'A Hard Day's Night'?"
I laughed. "Well, my favorite song is -" I started.
"Wait!" John interrupted me. I made a face at him for butting in. Neil turned around.
"What, Johnny?" he asked.
John pointed to a gas station we were approaching on the left. "We gotta stop. I hafta go to the bathroom," he said.
Neil rolled his eyes. "You just went, John, when we got dinner."
"So!" John said, "I gotta go now, too. Please?" He made a pleading face. "You don't want the seats to get all wet, do you?"
"No, please, stop Mal!" Ringo cried, leaning away from John. We laughed.
Neil looked at Mal. "Okay. I'll stop," Mal said, turning and pulling into the gas station. George opened the door for John, since he was closest. John got out and Ringo followed him.
"I gotta go, too," Ringo told Neil. The two beatles then turned and disappeared into the station.
"Anyone else?" Neil asked. Paul, George, and I laughed, declining.
Minutes passed. Neil sighed. "Where are they?" he said, half to himself.
"They're coming, I promise you," I said, quoting a line from 'A Hard Day's Night'. Only Paul got it and laughed for my sake. I smiled. "Just never mind," I said.
Neil turned around. "Will someone run in there and bring those two out here? We're already late as it is."
"I'll go," George volunteered. He opened the door and hopped out.
"Hurry," Mal said to him. George went into the store.
"I'm tired," Paul said to no one in particular. He leaned against the window.
"We 'ave a long ways to go," Mal said, shutting off the engine of the car. "No use running this 'ere when we aren't going' anywhere."
"Goodnight," I told Paul as he closed his eyes. I then leaned back in my own seat. Where were they? I looked out the window at the door of the gas station to watch for them, blurring my eyes.
I saw the door opened, and I focused my eyes. George and Ringo burst through the door, laughing their heads off. I smiled. I saw Neil roll his eyes as the boys opened the side door of the van, still laughing.
"What in the wolrd is so funny?" Neil wanted to know, "And where's John?"
George and Ringo looked at each other and laughed again. "John's having problems with the John," George said, grinning his goofy smile.
Paul sat up. "What's this?" he asked.
Ringo smiled, and replied, "Well, Johnny went to the bathroom while I waited. I heard him flush, then he started yelling something." He gave a laugh, then said, "And that's when the water started flowing under the door..."
Paul, Mal, and I started cracking up. Neil gave a smile, but he said, exasperated, "Oh, that John."
"Which one?" Paul asked, then cracked up at his own joke. We all rolled our eyes.
"Nice try," Ringo said to Paul. We laughed at that.
Neil opened the door. "I suppose I'd better have a chat with the manager," he said.
I looked outside. It was getting dark.
Mal checked his watch. "Hurry. It's almost 8 o'clock."
Neil shut his door. "Come 'ed, George. Let's go help them clean up the mess." George made a face but followed.
It took about ten minutes to clean up the mess. I talked with Paul and Mal. Mal said he hoped we'd make it to Colorado in time. We were really behind schedule.
I smiled when he said 'schedule'. Have you ever noticed that British people say 'schedule' like 'sheh-djule'? I love it!
I turned to Paul. "Say 'schedule'."
"Schedule," he said. I giggled.
"I love the way you say that," I said, "It sounds neat."
Paul smiled. "Really? I suppose you Americans like the way we say 'book', too, eh?"
I smiled and laughed again. "Yeah, well, I do anyway. I just think it's sounds neat." Paul shook his head, and we laughed.
Then I saw John, Ringo, George, and Neil coming back out to the van. "Hello," Mal said to them as they climbed in, "Glad you all could join us, then." He started the van and we were off.
The boys teased John for about half an hour. John kept protesting and saying he didn't know that the "blasted toilet" was going to overflow or anything. We all knew he couldn't have helped that. But the boys teased him anyway. I tried to defend him, but half of the jokes were pretty funny. John just rolled his eyes and came up with witty replies to them.
They stopped the teasing around 7:30, when Neil finally said something about leaving John alone. Then Ringo produced his pack of cards and we played Euchre - George sat out and watched.
I was Paul's partner, and Ringo was John's, since those were the people we were sitting diagonal from, you know.
It was fun. Ringo and John kept trying to send each other 'mental messages' to each other to say what cards they had. Paul and I won the first round, though, and Ringo and John suddenly got sick of the game and didn't want to play.
However, we decided to play another round because George wanted to play this time. He took John's place, but John kept looking at my cards (he was sitting next to me) and he gave away who had the right and left bauers. George and Ringo won that game - because of John - but it was fun anyway.
It soon grew too dark to see, and so we stopped playing cards and settled back into the seats. Everyone was quiet (even John) until Ringo said, "Hey, Lee. You never told us what your favorite song on 'A Hard Day's Night' was."
"Aye," Paul agreed, "Because someone wanted to go stop up the toilet."
John batted at Paul's hair. "Don't start it, Paulie," he warned.
"Oh, I guess I never got to say it, did I," I said.
"Well, tell us, then," George said to me.
"Okay," I began. Again, John interrupted me.
"I want to guess first," he said. The others rolled their eyes. "I do," he repeated. He turned to me. "How many words are in the title?"
"Three," I replied.
"Who sings it?" Ringo asked.
"Well, both John and Paul sing it, but I think John wrote it," I replied.
"Oh!" John exclaimed, "I know what it is!"
We looked at him. "What do you think?" George asked him.
"It's 'Tell Me Why', isn't it?" John told me, smiling.
I shook my head. "Nope," I replied.
John's jaw dropped. "What? It has to be."
I smiled and shook my head again. "Sorry. It's not a fast song. It's sort of slow."
"I know what it is," Neil said from up front. The boys turned to him.
"What?" Ringo asked him. I wondered if he would get it right.
"It's 'If I Fell'," Neil replied.
I smiled and nodded. "Yep. That's it."
John smiled. "You know, that was my second guess."
"Whatever, Johnny," Paul said.
"That is a pretty song," George told me.
"Yeah. I think the harmonies are beautiful," I replied. "Well, that's my favorite song on the album."
"But not of all time, though, right?" John asked.
"No. You won't write my favorite Beatle song until next year," I told him. They laughed.
"Really?" Ringo said, "What's it called?"
I made a face at him. "Oh, nothing," I replied, "I'm not going to slip and say it like I did earlier. Enough said about this."
"Well," John said, "I have another question for you. Who's your favorite Beatle?" He sat up straight and wiggled his shoulders.
"I doubt it's you, little John," Ringo said, "She likes drummers."
"Uh, huh, Ring," Paul said, laughing.
I smiled. "Actually, I have two favorite Beatles."
"You can't have two, you know," George said, smiling.
I shrugged. "So I've been told. But I just like two the same."
"So tell," Paul said.
"Well, John and Paul are my favorite," I replied.
"Oh, I feel so special!" John exclaimed, giving me a big hug. I laughed. Paul batted his eyebrows.
"But," I added, "I also like George and Ringo. You know, it's hard to decide on one favorite because you all have something about you that I like and everything. Well, I don't know if that makes any sense, but you know what I mean."
The others laughed. "Well, I still feel special," John said.
"Mm hmm," I replied. We chatted about things until Neil said,
"We're here!" We cheered. We had reached the hotel we were going to stay at for the night. It was tiny compared to the last one, but it wasn't that small. It was a funny-looking, red brick building with a green roof. I didn't catch the name of it.
We piled out of the car. I was glad to have a chance to stretch my legs. The Beatles followed Neil into the hotel to go check in. I stayed with Mal to help carry in our luggage - hey, there was a lot, and I didn't want to follow the Beatles around everywhere (believe it or not).
I grabbed some bags with my new clothing purchases and my new suitcase. I thought my suitcase was neat. It was brown leather and had little designs on the front. It had silver buckles and zippers.
Mal and I walked up the short steps to the hotel's entrance. A bellhop opened the door for us, and we put our luggage on a cart that would be sent up to our rooms later. Another bellhop joined us to help carry.
"Eh, Lee!" John shouted to me from across the room, "Come and check out our rooms with us!"
I looked at Mal, not wanting to be rude and leave. "Go on," he said, smiling. "Thanks for your help. We can get the rest." He and the bellhop turned and left to get more luggage.
I walked over toward John and followed the others down a hallway to the elevators. We piled into one, all six of us, and headed up.
"We're on the top floor," Paul said to me.
"The whole floor is reserved for us," Ringo added.
I'd heard about that, that the Beatles would get a whole floor to themselves so they wouldn't be disturbed. I nodded.
"Wow. They just had an empty floor?" I asked.
Neil shook his head. "No. I made the reservations for here about a month ago."
"Oh," I replied. The doors to the elevator opened, and we all stepped out - not at the same time, though.
A long hallway went either way, with about ten rooms in it. "Pick your rooms, guys," Neil said, holding up five sets of keys. "There are five rooms that we can have. Mal and I'm in one, Lee in another, two of you, two of you, and the last one is for Brian. He's coming later on tonight."
"Oh, I think Brian should stay in John's room," Ringo said, teasing him. John gave him the dirtiest look I've ever seen.
"Don't start," John said to him. 'Temper, temper,' I thought. I'd heard about Brian being a homosexual, and the rumors about him and John, but John had always denied it. I didn't think John was that way, you know, and I didn't really care, but he didn't have to bite Ringo's head off.
"Enough," Neil scolded Ringo and John like a school teacher. "Choose rooms. The cases will be up soon."
I chose the room on my left, number 109. Paul and Ringo decided to room together (John was still a little steamed at Ringo), and they chose room number 111. George and John decided on 108 ("It's a good number," John had said), and so Neil took room 110. "Brian gets 107," he said, pocketing his keys. He gave us our keys, and we went inside our rooms.
My room was very nice. It had two queen-sized beds, a bathroom, and a big window that took up a whole wall. The drapes were a dark blue - blue's my favorite color - and the carpet was light blue, which matched the bed- spread. There was a little alarm clock by the bed. I saw it was 8:49.
I heard a door open. Turning, I saw John and George come in through a door that joined our rooms.
"Nice room," John said, flopping down on a bed. I sat on the other one, and George looked around.
"Our room has green carpet," he said, observing my carpet and drapes.
"I really like my room. It's pretty. Blue is my favorite color," I told him. George nodded.
"Too bad there's no tv in either one of these rooms," John said all of the sudden, to no one in particular.
I laughed. "So that's why you came in here, to check and see if there was a tv!" I said. John smiled.
"I just noticed, that's all," he replied.
There was a knock on the door. George, who was close by, opened it. It was Neil.
"Your cases are up here. Come and get them," he said.
" 'Kay, Nell," George replied. "Come 'ed," he said to us. John got up, and we went out in the hallway.
Paul and Ringo were already out there, sorting through the pile of suitcases. "Yours is over there, George," Paul said, pointing to a suitcase on the left, on it's side.
"I don't recognize this one," Ringo said, looking at my suitcase. "Is it your's, Lee?"
I nodded. "Yep." I picked it up.
"Neat designs," George commented.
"Neil picked it out," I replied.
"Didn't know he had that good taste," John said, picking up his suitcase and going into his room. We rolled our eyes, and I went into my room to unpack.
It was 9:30 by the time I got unpacked and settled in. After that, the Beatles and I crowded into Neil and Mal's room to talk and play cards.
We all were playing Rummy when the phone rang. Neil got up to answer it.
"Hello? Ah, yes...just playing cards...oh - oh," Neil said as the color started draining from his face. "Well, what...That's awful! I'm so sorry...we'll go on, yes...bye, then." Neil hung up the phone. All of us looked at him, wondering why looked so worried.
"Brian's not going to make it here tonight," Neil began, "because there's been a terrible accident."
A chill ran down my back. An accident? Was Brian hurt? We all looked at each other, wondering what had happened.
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