There's a gay network in show business... so that a lot of the TV producers we would find ourselves working with we'd later find out were gay. So now I can see that Brian was networking. --Paul McCartney
"Uh, Brian? You might want to go have a look in the control room. The producer's having a nervous breakdown up there."
Brian looked up from close-bitten nails, frowning at the man with his head around the dressing room door.
"I'm having a nervous breakdown down here. Doesn't anyone care about me?"
Shake shrugged, impervious. "Well, he's the one running the camera in--" he checked his watch "--an hour and twenty-five minutes."
In the control room Brian found the producer, still wearing that ghastly woolly jumper of his. He was biting his nails too, rocking slightly back and forth. An assistant stood by with a clipboard.
"I said a bottle of milk and tranquilizers, not a bottle of milk and Beecham's Powder! I'm surrounded by incompetents! I'm surrounded by--what are you doing here?"
"I thought I would see if I could offer you any help," said Brian.
"All I want is your boys on that stage--" he flipped a hand towards the other side of the glass "--in an hour and twenty-five minutes. That's all I ask. I'm not a fussy man."
Brian studied the unfussy man before him, then discreetly slipped a hand into his inside jacket pocket to check on the state of his supplies.
"Librium?" he ventured casually.
"Yes, if only I--"
The producer stopped dead and stared at Brian. Then he turned to his assistant again.
"What do they pay you for, anyway? Go, go check the sound levels, make yourself useful."
With the assistant out of the way, the producer took a sip of milk, licking his dry lips. Then he gazed at Brian once more.
"How many...?" he asked in a covetous whisper.
Feeling magnanimous, Brian rattled the bottle in his jacket pocket. Nearly full.
"How many do you need?"
"I don't ask much, just enough to..."
He checked his watch again, compulsively. Brian followed suit. Only an hour and twenty minutes now. Barely enough time for the pills to take effect. Brian looked up and to one side, glancing at a corner of the ceiling rather than at the producer's pinched, anxious face.
"I have uppers too," he informed a small patch of damp.
The producer got to his feet, taking a couple of steps towards Brian.
"You, Mr. Epstein," he said quietly, "are a star among men."
And he touched Brian on the shoulder, his hand lingering on the fine wool of Brian's suit.
On the stage, the Beatles gazed upwards towards the control room.
"How long do you reckon it'll take them to notice we're here?" asked George.