"Paul?" mumbled a teenaged John Lennon with a nervous look on his face. He and Paul were lying side by side on the floor in his room of his aunt Mimi's house. He had been quietly taking drags of his cigarette, watching the smoke curl out of his mouth and to the ceiling.
Paul turned his attention to his best mate. "Yeah, John?" he replied with an easy smile. "Don't laugh at me for asking you, or I'll knock your bloody teeth in, alright?" Paul nodded, wondering why he looked so uptight, nothing like the John he came to know.
"'You ever had any queer thoughts about another bloke?" he asked quietly, even though nobody was around to hear him. "I've had some. Many, even. And not just random blokes on the street, either," John was rambling, and Paul had to strain to understand. "I've felt it with Ivan, and Pete...b-but mostly...you." He finished by taking a long drag, most likely to shut himself up.
Paul was genuinely startled to hear this, especially from John, John Lennon, of all people.
"I...O-oh." was all Paul could say. His brain and heart knew what to say, but his mouth couldn't form the words. John shared an embarrassed and disappointed glance with his mate, before looking at the ceiling again. "Just fucking forget I said anything, okay?" he took another puff of his fag, feeling his ears go red at the tips.
Paul didn't have the courage to say what he wanted, but if he did, he'd want to know if John wasn't just fucking with him. "Do you really feel that way, John?" Paul questioned him seriously. He didn't even hesitate before nodding. "You know I wouldn't lie to you about that." It was Paul's turn to nod. All of a sudden, almost too suddenly, a burst of adrenaline surged through his veins. I've sure learned a lot from ol' Lennon, Paul thought. Act first, deal with the consequences later.
Paul got up from his lying position and hovered over John's lips before mumbling, "Then I hope you won't mind if I kiss you?"
Paul's face got closer and closer, and closer until both boys thought their hearts were going to burst. Paul's lips were just barely grazing John's-
[Wednesday, ninth of November 1966]
Paul's eyes shot open, startled by the noise of his alarm clock. "For fuck's sake," he growled, attempting to suffocate himself into his pillow. It was only a dream. Only a dream. Paul hated how queer he acted while with John. And now he was dreaming about it! He could never escape it. One slip-up on camera and The Beatles will be no more.
Slamming down on the clock harder than he should've, Paul quickly ran his hand under his bum to see if he'd... 'had an accident.' To his absolute relief, the area was dry. Paul rolled out of his sheets, not bothering to make the bed. He'd be getting back into it in a couple of hours, anyway, right?
Paul slipped on some trousers and socks, then a white shirt before tiredly shuffling to his bathroom mirror. He couldn't complain about how early he had to get up since it was he who helped arrange the time to start and end at the studio. Grabbing his comb, Paul began untangling the small kinks out of his shaggy brown locks, peering through his bangs at the groggy reflection staring back at him. As he was fixing his overgrown mop-top to perfection, Paul found himself humming the melody to 'God Only Knows' by The Beach Boys, his favourite.
To Paul, it was one of the most beautifully written love songs in pop history, and it was only made earlier that year.
The bassist decided against brushing his teeth and strode downstairs to fix himself a cup of tea. While the water was boiling in a kettle on the stove, Paul switched on the telly, finding nothing that particularly interested him. It was practically the middle of the night, anyway.
Soon enough, Paul was at the table, sipping his green tea, gazing ponderously out of the window of his flat. He slid a fag in between his lips and lighted it with a match, sucking in and swallowing the smoke, feeling the familiar response of serenity as he exhaled through his nose.
"How about it?"
"Um," mumbled Paul. "I dunno." He picked at the grass, watching the wind dance with the blades, hoping John would back off of it. But, Paul knew that John Lennon was one persistent fellow.
John laughed. "C'mon, Paul. You said you've smoked before, haven't ye?" John lit another cigarette from the pack with his own glowing fag dangling from his mouth and handed it to Paul.
The fifteen-year-old took it in between his fingers and studied it warily, but only for a second. He wanted to please his best mate. Paul wasn't some whiny kid anymore, he was a man now. Or, at least, he had to pretend to be one. For now. For John. The boy drew in the cigarette, feeling the curious tingling sensation wash over from his throat all the way to his toes. Paul felt his eyes and nose sting as both began to run. John watched as Paul violently coughed back smoke, becoming red in the face.
John almost felt bad for laughing again. The boy was a virgin-puffer, he could tell. Oh, how much he had to learn.
Paul laughed as well, between coughs. "Prick!" he cried. Paul slapped him on the shoulder, whilst a cackling John scooted away from his attack. "I bet ye' laced it, you git!"
John grinned. "Nope," he held up the box and waved his hand under it like in the commercials. "that was just the wonderful drive of Woodbine cigarettes."
Paul backhanded a giggling John upside the head. "Hey now," John said, rubbing his temple. "just be glad you didn't spew yer tea, Princess!" He took the cigarette from Paul's fingers, on top of his own, and closed his thin lips around the butt and inhaled. He blew out in Paul's face. "You're such an arse sometimes, Johnny." Paul scoffed sarcastically, waving away the smoke. "Mmm, spoken like a true bird," replied the latter boy, receiving another smack from his friend.
Paul bit back a smile. "Suppose I could have another drag o'that?"
[Wednesday, ninth of November 1966]
A pretty tune sounded from the tall grandfather clock in the den. And then, DONG. DONG, it was two in the morning.
"Shit! Fuck, I'm so stupid!" Paul cursed at himself. He was to be at the studio at 2 o'clock sharp, just as Paul helped arrange. Leaving his half-drunk cup of tea on the table, he pressed his cigarette into the ashtray, and stumbled over his shoes, banging his knee on the floor. "Bloody hell," he cried, rubbing his knee while frantically slipping on his black boots and coat.
Grabbing the keys to his dark green Mini Cooper out of the dish on the end table, Paul made sure to bring his house keys and cigarettes with him.
In less than ten minutes, he was at the receptionist desk of EMI Studios receiving the sheet of paper with the name of the studio he and his friends were assigned to.
"Studio B2. The one you were in last time." the receptionist kindly explained. "Thanks." replied an exhausted Paul. His friends couldn't be too mad at him for being late, could they? It was only ten minutes.
When Paul finally found Studio B2, he found John leaning against the doorframe, glaring. "Top o' the morning, Lennon," Paul sarcastically bellowed in an unreasonably posh accent to his contrastingly silent partner, "could you kindly get your fat arse out of the way? I couldn't slip through even if I tried, you corpulent swine." The bassist was hoping for an equally sarcastic reply, or a head shake, or even some type of acknowledgement from John. But no. John remained still and remained shooting daggers all the same.
"Oh," John said after about ten seconds. "didn't see you there." His tone sounded rough like he hadn't used it in a while. He stepped out of the way and Paul walked through. "Thank you."
As Paul got into position at the microphone, bass guitar in hand, he barely noticed six pairs of eyes judging him greatly. "Alright, what's the matter?" Paul demanded, "I wasn't that late, I was only about 10 minutes."
George spoke up, a visibly angry expression on his emotionless face. "Ten minutes? Think more like an hour, Paul. I got here at 1 when you told us to start. We've been here wasting money and time and excuses while you were doing God knows what!"
One? Shit. Paul thought. "I'm sorry. I'm here now, aren't I?"
George rolled his eyes as Paul tried explaining why he was an hour late, that he must have set his clock to the wrong time. "Just fucking shut the fuck up, James."
Nobody used Paul's first name. Silence.
"Why don't we just get to work, then?" suggested the frustrated bassist with a sigh. "Don't-" George began.
"Yes, lads, let's take Czar McCartney's advice and get to work!" John shouted bitterly. "Since it's all about him, an’ he runs the band now, why don't we do just that? Come ‘ead!”
Paul's eyes shot to the ceiling. "John, could you be any more of a child right now?"
“Sure,” John spat, “Let me jus’ call over me mum, a’right? Ah, or me dad? We can play house! It’ll be jus’ like the good ol' days, eh?”
There was an awkward silence between the four of the men, as they finished assembling the microphones and instruments.
Paul tried to break the silence by offering a cigarette to Ringo, who hadn’t spoken since Paul arrived.
“Nah, mate. I’ve got me own.” spoke the wary drummer, as he adjusted his cymbal. He wanted to stay out of the tension as much as possible.
The door abruptly opened and slammed. The men swivelled their heads to identify their obtruder.
It was three studio technicians, and their manager, Brian Epstein.
“Ah, Paul. You’re here,” said Brian, holding a stack of papers that he shielded from them. “shall we get started now?” The boys nodded.
John cleared his throat and walked over to the microphone, picking up his guitar. “Paul, do your shit. Your song.”
“Right,” Paul slid the strap over his head and steadied his hands on the neck of the bass. “One, two, three, four.” he said, just as one of the technicians announced, "'When I'm Sixty-Four,' Take three."
Instantly, music radiated from the instruments of Paul, John and Ringo while George smoked alone in the seat next to the door. Playing lead guitar wasn't needed for Paul's song.
"When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now,” he sang. “Will you still be sending me a Valentine…” Paul harmonized with his band members while his eyes were watching his shoes, occasionally lifting his gaze to the neck of his bass to make sure he made no errors.
After the band finished the song, the awkward silence was almost deafening. Usually, the band would congratulate each other after finishing a piece as perfectly as that one.
"Nicely done, lads," said their sound engineer, Geoff Emerick. "would it be alright to overdub that track some other day while we tend to other unfinished songs?"
The band nodded their heads in unison.
Hours later, after a few more songs, Paul and the band were in the middle of recording a new Lennon song that didn't seem to fit in with the theme of the album. It was this strange song that made no sense whatsoever. It was about this little place back in Liverpool that John used to visit as a kid. Strawberry Field, was it?
John and Paul argued about that, while George and Ringo watched uncomfortably, unsure of what to do, not really wanting to interfere. "I just don't think it fits in with the other songs," Paul said.
As usual, the argument got more and more heated with each new comment made.
"Why can't you just take me songs, ever?" John's voice rose. "All you do is whine and bitch around about how I'm the bossy asshole, but I don't see you step up and do anything about it, other than take control yourself and leave everybody else out!"
McCartney didn't skip a beat, "I don't do anything about it because you don't let me, or anyone for that matter! It's always about you. You started this goddamn band, and now because of you, we're not even that anymore!"
"What makes you say we're not a band, Paul?" John asked in a quiet voice.
"All we ever do is fight with each other! It's beginning to be with every studio session we schedule. We've got fans waiting for some sign of life from us, and we do nothing but disagree. Bands play music, The Beatles write shit songs and fight over whose fault that is."
"My music ain't shit. Your granny songs, though, are another story."
"Been there, done that, haven't 'ye?"
Sometimes John said things that made him want to grab the words out of the air and shove them back down his throat. This was one of those times.
Paul stiffened, and his heart dropped to his shoes and smashed onto the floor into a million crumbling pieces. Stepping closer to his best friend and former lover, Paul stared him directly in the eyes, nose to nose, Paul slightly taller as usual. Not looking angry nor sad, just very disappointed.
"Were we nothing, then? Did all those years mean nothing to you?" He asked in less than a whisper, so quiet John could just barely hear. There was a lump in John's throat, preventing the answer on the tip on his tongue from being spoken.
The latter Beatles and their manager went red in the face, shocked, mostly because of their now-confirmed suspicions, while the technicians turned white, not aware of their clients' illegal relationship.
"Alright, boys. That's enough. Let's try to get back on track here. From the top?" blared the trainee technician from the other side of the glass.
"From the top? From the fucking top?" Paul turned his head to scream at the boy. "You fucking wish!" and punched the glass as hard as he could. There was a small crack in the glass where his fist landed. Paul's hand stung with pain as he turned around to face a wide-eyed John, George and Ringo. Without another word, he storms out of the room, grabbing his coat, and makes sure to slam the door hard enough to make the walls tremble.
"Paul!" John cries. He runs after him, catching up to him in the hallway. "Wait." he looks into Paul's empty eyes. John stares into them, hoping to have Paul read his mind like he has done so many times before, and have him know that he was genuinely sorry and would rather die than see Paul this upset. But the bassist doesn't, he only snaps, "What?" John is lost for words, and Paul keeps on walking. He watches him walk down the hallway until he turns the corner. "Shit." John leans against the wall, rubbing his eyes. Should he go after him? John was uncertain of this.
He decided he would let him cool down before he talked to Paul again. Sighing, he trudged back into the studio, eyes dark. George and Ringo stared at him, waiting for Paul to walk past John and pick up his bass to start again. But he never came. Instead, John picked up his guitar. "Let's give 'Good Morning, Good Morning' another go, hm?"
Paul stomps his way through the car park, practically steaming. He scrambles for the handle and throws himself into the seat, slamming the door. He rips off his jacket and shoves the whole thing into his face, and lets out a good scream.
Paul rests his head on the steering wheel when he is done. Sighing, he looks at the glove compartment where his LSD is stored. Opening the glove compartment with his car keys, Paul grabs the drugs, opens the metal box, quickly places a cube onto his tongue and shuts the hallucinogens back into the compartment, locking it again. He rests his head onto the headrest, closing his eyes, and waits for the drugs to take effect.
"I'm not so sure about this, John." Paul eyes the pills in his mate's hand warily.
"Don't be a pussy, Macca, I'll be right here. Open up." John replies, putting the pill into Paul's mouth. He washed it down with a sip of his tea and watched John do the same.
"When will it kick in?" Paul asked. "That's the fun part," John told him. "you only know when you know." And those were the last sentences both men spoke while sober. It took half an hour, and Paul was first. He cried out and fell forward, clutching John's shirt. "I'm so fucking scared." he whimpered. The guitarist held onto his mate, rubbing his back soothingly. "I know." Paul opened his eyes to see his vision clouded with paisley shapes and other strange things. Paul gasped, though he couldn't hear himself do so, he only felt a sharp, cold breath fill his lungs. He reached out to touch the shapes, but they were too far away.
"What do you see, Paul?" John asked, clearly interested. Paul only shook his head, he could hear Lennon's heartbeat through his chest. He listened to his steady breathing. He could feel the vibration from John's chuckle, making Paul start to laugh. He didn't know why he thought it was so funny, it just was. He fell back onto the wooden floor, in hysterical laughter. The shapes danced around his vision. Pretty soon John joined Paul on the floor once his drugs began to take over his mind as well.
Then, John began to tickle Paul's ribs, only making him laugh harder. His body balled up and the bassist squirmed away.
"No, John! Stop!" Paul shrieked, pushing his fingers away. "I'm gonna piss myself- Ah!" John had moved his hand to Paul's side.
"Be quiet Macca, it's eleven at night for Christ's sake!" he teased, giggling himself. Paul eventually got Lennon back, earning multiple girlish squeals from his mate. And oh, boy, was that hilarious. The two had a very intense tickle fight, Paul attacking John, and John attacking Paul, switching off when the other man gains his strength back. Paul's sides nearly split from all of the laughing.
Suddenly, John's lips were on Paul's. Their laughter stopped abruptly. Without thinking, the younger man leaned into the kiss, closing his eyes, as if he expected that to happen. But he didn't expect it, causing Paul to pull away quickly, looking mortified. This was queer! This was wrong!
But it felt so right.
Paul leaned in again, catching John's smile of relief before he shut his eyes. Their kiss was magical. This was their first kiss that wasn't sloppy and out of lust. This kiss was different. Paul didn't taste the alcohol from John's mouth, he only tasted the love.
The two broke the kiss and smiled brightly at each other. And then John began to cry.
"I love you," he sobbed into Paul's jumper. "I love you, Paulie."
The latter man kissed the top of his head and whispered, "I love you, too."
They held each other and cried for hours until they both fell asleep on the hardwood floor of their bedroom, acid trip and all.
[Ninth of November 1966]
Once the bassist opens his eyes, he notices the cube had dissolved onto his tongue and his vision was blueish from keeping his eyes shut too long. The LSD hadn't kicked in yet. At least it was still dark outside. He figures he'll be tripping by the time he'd get home. Sighing, Paul starts the car and pulls out of the parking space. As soon as he was on the road, he could see the road start to churn and melt. Cautiously, Paul drove very slowly and focused on staying on the correct side of the road. Raindrops began splashing onto Paul's windshield, so Paul switched on the windscreen wipers. Driving a few more blocks toward his flat, he notices a girl waving to him from a street corner. His first impulse was to ignore her, but he pulled over anyway, because of the rain. She graciously opened the passenger door and slid in.
"Thank you so much, Mister,-" the teenager began but gasped upon seeing who her driver was. "Paul McCartney! Oh my God, it's really you!"
Paul smiled at her and tipped his imaginary hat. "Top o' the morning, love." He pulled back out onto the street. "Where would you be heading to?"
She could barely contain her excitement as she told him where her parent's flat was. He recognised the place, not a very wholesome neighbourhood. "Now what's a pretty bird like you living in a place like that?" he teased, causing the girl to squeal. Paul winced. "What's your name dear?"
"Carolyn," she replied. "oh, I can't believe I ran into you! I knew you lived in London but I'd never thought..."
Paul shifted his gaze slowly towards the road again, blinking to keep his vision clear. He didn't mean to, but Paul was tuning out what Carolyn was saying. He heard bits and pieces, such as how much she loved The Beatles and how she almost went to a concert two years ago, but her mother wouldn't allow her to. "Oh really?" Paul was mildly interested. He flinched when she grabbed his left bicep while talking. "Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you." she giggled. "Oh, it's alright, love." Paul shakes this off and continues to focus on the road.
There was silence for a while. Paul didn't mind this at all. Suddenly, Carolyn spoke up. "Oh, um..."
Paul sighed angrily, wanting peace and quiet. "What?"
She recoiled in hurt and confusion. "I'm sorry," Paul apologised. "what did you want to tell me, dear?" Carolyn hesitantly replied, "We've missed my street." The bassist mentally kicked himself. "God, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm just not right in the head, you see? I-"
"Paul, you're running through a red light!"
And then it happened.
[Earlier this morning]
"Goodbye, darling," Edmund Powell kissed his wife and turned to walk through the driveway. "I'll be back around five."
"Be careful, dear, it's supposed to be foggy today. Watch where you're driving." his wife called after him into the darkness. Edmund chuckled. What's the worst that could happen?
After an exhausting day's work at the office, Edmund was on his way back home. It was quite hazy like his wife had said. And not only that, it was raining as well.
The man was distracted by the radio broadcaster while he was listening to the weather.
All of a sudden, a dark green Mini-Cooper darted out in front of him, out of nowhere.
Paul and Carolyn spiralled down the crossroad. Carolyn shrieked.
"Shit!" Paul yelled in panic. He could barely tell what was going on, but he slammed on the brakes anyway, though it didn't do them much good when they crashed nose-first into a telephone pole.
Carolyn was launched face-first into the windshield. Paul hit his face onto the steering wheel, knocking him unconscious.
"Oh my God," muttered Edmund. "What the fuck happened?" He was thrust to the side of the road, just feet away from the smashed vehicle and the telephone pole.
He moaned in despair once he saw the car. Immediately, Edmund threw open his car door to help the driver and passenger. He gasped upon seeing Carolyn's state. She was not moving nor did she appear to be breathing, so thinking she was already dead, he went to the driver's side to see if he was alright.
"Sir, sir, are you alright?" Edmund gently shook Paul. Paul groaned and looked up at the man. Edmund cried out in surprise to see a severely battered, crumpled Beatle in front of him. He was his young daughter's favourite. He had seen him happily playing his instrument on television with his friends many times before.
"I-I'm so sorry," Edmund backed away, filled with guilt and shame. "I can't-" and ran back to his car, and drove away.
"Wait..." Paul called after the man, sobbing. Teeth fell out of his mouth as he spoke, he spat out the rest.
He couldn't bear to look at Carolyn. That was all he could think about. Don't look, don't look, don't look. He looked at his own blood on the steering wheel, the teeth he spat out, his busted kneecap, and his visible thighbone, instead. Then there was fire.
It flared up out of nowhere, from the windshield. Frantically, Paul began fumbling for the door latch, but his crushed fingers that crunched against the dashboard couldn't grab it. He wouldn't be able to escape, anyway. Paul's forever useless legs were pinned together by the jagged metal. Paul's dread higher and higher as the realisation hit him harder than the Jeep. He was trapped.
"Get me out!" Paul screamed at the people struggling to open the door. "Please! Get me out! Get me out!"
The air was getting hot and thick. Paul could barely see through the smoke as he stared at his reflection in the mirror. His right eye was pushed into his crushed eye socket, he couldn't tell how many teeth he still had. Paul's nose was broken beyond repair. "Fuck! Fuck, fucking hell! Bloody fucking shit! No! Please! Stop it!" Paul cursed at the fire as if it would magically die down. Blisters formed on his arms, face and legs. "No! No! Help me! Help, please! GET ME OUT!" he continued screaming. Paul coughed violently through the smoke. Paul was sure he was inhaling only fire at this point. He watched in horror as his leather jacket melted away and exposed his body to the flames. He quickly happened to glance at Carolyn and screamed in absolute terror. Her skeleton was already being exposed, she was coughing and whimpering. She couldn't even move. Paul gagged. He thought he was going to vomit.
The bassist's charred clothing stuck to his skin as the fire continued to spread. He could hear sirens, but couldn't tell how near or far away they were. He could feel his flesh burning away. His LSD trip seemed like hours ago, though it was really only ten minutes. Was he still tripping? He had to be. This wasn't real. Paul's life literally flashed before his eyes, through the flames.
Paul saw many events from throughout his life. Holding his newborn brother at the hospital, the talk with his father about his mother's passing due to cancer, getting his first guitar. He could see himself meeting John the first time, how he wished he were here with him. Paris. Paul saw The Quarrymen, the Beatles, Hamburg. He would never get those memories back. Brian. He saw the curtains opening up to reveal the wild audience of The Ed Sullivan Show. He saw many, many, recording studios. He saw Jane, and how she would miss him so. Paul recognised himself stupidly fighting with his bandmates, storming out of EMI Studios, picking up a teenage hitchhiker, and colliding with a blue Jeep.
Then, his mother appeared from the smoke.
"Mum..." Paul uttered the unfamiliar word that haunted him throughout his life. Hot tears poured down what was left of Paul's cheeks as he heard the voice he had longed to hear since he was a teenager.
"It's alright. It'll be alright, Paulie. Come here, darling. You'll be safe here in Mummy's arms."
A sudden wave of peace washed over Paul, and all the hot, searing pain he felt before was gone now. He continued to sob relieved tears of joy as he imagined his mother scooping him up into her arms as a child, spinning him around, and around and around, all the while Paul laughing giddily. She swept the hair out of his face to plant a wet kiss atop his forehead.
"Mummy!" little Paul squealed. "I'm too big for kisses! Big boys don't get kisses!" Mary McCartney gasped in mock surprise. "Too big for kisses?! Nonsense, you'll always be my beautiful little boy." The two continued spinning about and laughing until Paul's eyes were too tired to watch them anymore.
Heaving a great, shuddering sigh, Paul McCartney let himself drift away, the rest of the world around him diminishing, but never forgotten.
The firemen drenched the burning vehicle with water from their hose until there were no visible flames. The paramedics were ready with their stretchers as the firemen pried open the doors of the pine green Mini-Cooper. What they saw was a devastating, but expected sight. Skeletal remains of the passenger were seen sprawled out across the dashboard, head plunged through the broken glass. The driver had its head resting on the steering wheel, mostly naked, mostly skinless, bald and still steaming. Fourth-degree burns were seen all over its body. The small crowd around the burnt vehicle gasped. Some were crying, all were equally disturbed and sorrowful. The two bodies were pronounced dead at the scene at 4:56 AM.
The crowd was shooed away and told to go home.
As the two bodies were lifted out of the car and into body bags, the passenger was identified as a female around the age of fifteen through twenty, based on her skeletal structure. Her name would later be revealed as Carolyn Rita Northam through her dental records. The driver, however, could only be identified as a male over the age of twenty. No teeth were found, most of his blood was lost in the crash and the rest evaporated in the fire, leaving very little DNA behind to be tested. The driver was declared as John Doe at the scene.
Both bodies were taken to the nearest medical lab for testing.
Brian Epstein sat at his desk filling out paperwork for the band when he received a phone call. Reluctantly, he got up to answer it.
"Hello?" answered the manager.
"We would like to speak with Brian Epstein, please."
"And who would you be, sir?"
"This is the chief of the London Metropolitan Police Department, is Brian Epstein available?" asked the man on the phone. "Mhm. Yes. Speaking." answered Brian.
"We must inform you," the chief takes a deep breath, hating this part of the job.. "that there has been a terrible accident early this morning that may have involved James Paul McCartney. I've called you first, sir, as you are the closest. His family is unreachable at the moment."
Brian is taken aback in shock. "Oh, what happened? Could you please give me the address to the hospital he's been admitted to?" There was silence on the other end. Brian assumed he was shuffling through papers to find the address. Then, the man cleared his throat. "Mr Epstein, I'm very sorry, but the driver, who we believe was McCartney, and the passenger, Carolyn Northam, both passed away in the accident." Brian gasped. He suddenly felt lightheaded and dizzy. No, this can't be. Not Paul. Who was this Carolyn? This was all too much for poor Brian. "Excuse me, I just need to...sit..." the manager slowly eases himself into a nearby chair, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Take all of the time you need, sir." said the chief. "I'm... Yes, go on."
"Witnesses say they went through a red light and another car hit them with such force the car Paul might have been in spiraled into a telephone pole. The driver of the Jeep got out, saw who he hit, and drove away. We've identified Carolyn through her dental records, but the driver was found with no teeth and the corpse was very badly burned and disfigured. We will need your help to try and identify the body and some items that survived the fire."
Brian let a single tear roll down his cheek as the police chief explained more about the accident. Once he was finished, Brian got an address he very much did not want anymore before hanging up. After setting the receiver onto the stand, Brian put his head in his hands and had a good cry.
Then the manager called all four- no, three of the surviving Beatles and George Martin and set up an emergency meeting at the studio at 6:30 sharp.
Once John, who was the last to show up, walked in the door, Brian welcomed him gloomily. "Please sit."
John reluctantly sat down in the empty chair next to George, Ringo, and George Martin. The men thought they'd have to wait for Paul to show up again, but then Brian began talking.
George Harrison, noticing only five chairs and not six, interrupted his manager. "What about Paul," Brian tensed up. "is he late?" Brian cleared his throat and took a deep breath.
"There's been an accident. A traffic accident, likely involving Paul."
"Is he okay?" asked Ringo. Brian shook his head slowly, avoiding their eyes. "The man they believe to be Paul died in the crash. Burned to death."
Ringo lowered his head, both Georges gaped wide-eyed at Brian, and John simply looked towards the door as if Paul would be coming through at any second, cracking another joke for himself being late.
"When did this happen, Brian?" asked George Martin quietly.
"Around 5 this morning."
"Why do they think it was our Paul who was in the car?"
"Multiple witnesses recognised him, said he looked familiar."
Brian finished up his announcement with this eerie statement: "We were called in by the police department to identify the body."
John was outraged. "They're asking us to look at some sad blokes dead body?! Why us?" John bellowed. "They're not even that confident that it's Paul!"
Brian sighed. "That's why we're going there to identify him. His family is out, and they're farther away from this than us. If Paul's not dead, he's missing. The police went to his house earlier and he was nowhere to be found. We need to identify the body, so we know if Paul is safe or not." John growled. "Paul is safe. Nothing happened to him. Paul is fine."
The five men drove to the address given to Brian from the police department. It was a funeral home. Neither one of the men wanted to go in, but they knew that they had to. For Paul.
Stepping inside the building, Brian, John, George, Ringo and George Martin didn't know what to expect. Once inside, the receptionist saw them and quickly called somebody on the phone.
"Yes, they are here now," she said, hanging up the phone. "somebody will be with you gentlemen in a moment." Her mouth was smiling, but her eyes were sad.
About thirty seconds later a man came through the corridor with a clipboard and a pen. "If you could each sign your names, I can bring you down to the morgue." he said. They each signed their autographs on the dotted lines and followed the man down the stairs into the basement.
John was shaking. He hates hospitals and this place smelled like one, but death hung in the air like smoke. The air was stuffy and stale and he felt like he couldn't breathe or that he could throw up or both. If the unidentified body was Paul, John wouldn't know what to do.
The men led them to an unmarked door and opened it for them. They all walked inside and followed the man to the far end of the room where he opened a drawer. John closed his eyes, expecting a dead body to pop out at them.
"Do any of you men recognise these items?" the man asked sadly. He picked up three large plastic bags with a loop of keys, a boot, and a closed metal box, with a separate, smaller bag filled with LSD and marijuana. The five men stared at the items, immediately recognising them to be Paul's car and house keys, his famous Beatle boot, and his "goodie" box, as Paul cheekily named it. John turned over the boot to see the inside of the heel, and sure enough, he could make out a worn-down 'P' that he drew in so Paul could tell his boots apart from the others. John truly felt sick and was just about to ask to leave the room, before the man opened the drawer.
It was horrifying, what the men saw beneath the crisp white sheet. The body was all red, black, bald and horribly disfigured, but it was Paul. His eyes were sealed closed and had a horrible expression was on his face that looked pained, but peaceful, like he had accepted his death. This bothered John, he would have wanted Paul to put up more of a fight. He might have survived that way. "Is this man James Paul McCartney?"
John almost choked on his own spit. Why did he have to use his full name, as if seeing his personal items and his dead fucking body wasn't enough? He called used to call him James McCartney to piss him off. He could feel the tears coming already, and he bolted out of the room. The men watched him go. Ringo started after John.
[Paris, France. 1961]
"Goddamnit," muttered John in his usual Scouser dialect. "where did I put me fucking glasses?" He frantically searched under and over things. "It was just here, I am not losing me glasses in fucking France. Maccaaa!" he called in an obnoxious manner for his friend, who was nowhere to be seen. "Have you seen my glasses?"
"What?" Paul called back. "My glasses. Spectacles! The things that make me see! Have you seen them?!" John was a little bit agitated and still searching, flinging things out of his way.
"Have you tried retracing your steps, John?" came Paul's useless answer.
After a bit more searching, the flat was a mess, and John felt defeated. He was ready to go home when suddenly, it came to him.
He shot up and began searching again. Not for his glasses; but the wanker that fucking stole them. He found the bastard giggling at the end of the hallway, wearing them, and looking ridiculous.
"Give it back." John tried to snatch them from his face, but Paul grabbed them first and held them high. "Give it!" John was laughing now. "Just take it then, come on!" Paul laughed meanly, switching it from hand to hand when John got too close to grabbing it. "I'm practically handing it to you."
John began punching Paul in the stomach. Not hard, but enough to make him double over a little bit. He could almost reach it. And he did.
"Git." John muttered, messing up Paul's hair. He laughs and shoves him away. "Tosser." he replied.
"James P. McCartney," John turned around to mockingly shake a fist at the boy. "I swear to shit I'll kill you next time."
[Wednesday, ninth of November 1966]
George felt like he couldn't breathe. "Yes. This is Paul." He wanted to cry. He wanted to kick and scream and wail for his friend, but this wouldn't bring Paul back. Brian and George Martin looked as white as a sheet. The last time they saw Paul was when he was doing his favourite thing in the world, playing his instrument. Just hours before. If things had been different...
John Lennon scrambled up the stairs. He was hyperventilating, rushing to the nearest toilet. He found one, and immediately went in, not caring if it belonged to the ladies or the men's. Ringo spotted John running into the bathroom, so he quickly followed. "John!" He found him with his head in a toilet, he was gagging and sputtering. Ringo rushed to his side and began to hold the guitarist tightly, rubbing his back. "We're gonna miss him..." John stopped his vomiting and began bawling instead. The drummer pulled him close, sitting on the floor. John sobbed into Ringo's shirt. "It's all my fault," John cried. "It's all my fucking fault!"
John kept repeating this, even though Ringo tried to reassure him that it wasn't his fault. "Yes, I killed him! I killed him! Paul's dead because of me!" John began shouting curses. "'John, stop. Please. Let's go to the car." Ringo pulled him up. John wiped his nose and eyes, following the drummer to the car, keeping his head down so nobody could see his puffy, red face.
The men drove together in silence. Nobody could look at each other.
Once they got to EMI, Brian called them back into the studio to discuss.
"What will this mean for the band?" Ringo asked.
"We might just have to announce it publically." Brian replied sadly.
But announcing it like that so out of the blue, there would be chaos. Fans would likely commit suicide considering how many fangirls there were chanting Paul's name, how many clubs there were dedicated to just the bassist alone.
The band considered breaking up out of respect for their friend because they just couldn't replace him for two reasons; boatloads of outraged fans would protest their music, and it just simply wouldn't be the same.
But disbanding this early would be way too much of a headache considering how many contracts were signed to the band.
"What if we covered it up?" Brian suggested, out of ideas.
And with that, ideas sparked, plans arose. Brian ended up hosting a Paul McCartney look-alike contest, and the winner turned out to be a man named Michael William Campbell. He had plastic surgery procedures done to look more like Paul, speech therapy to talk like Paul, voice lessons to sing like Paul, a music teacher to teach a right-handed guitar player into a left-handed bass player, like Paul, and an acting coach to act like Paul.
The band had stopped touring before the accident, so that wasn't a problem.
John, George, and Ringo felt terrible about the cover-up, so they wrote songs and embedded tiny clues into them so the fans would most likely figure it out gradually. Their album covers had small clues as well.
The band had a small funeral for their friend in Liverpool. Only the surviving band members, Brian, George Martin, his brother Michael McGear, and his father, stepmother, and stepsister attended. Michael Campbell-whom John often bitterly called 'Billy'- decided it would not be appropriate to attend. It was a lonely funeral on a normally dreary English day. He was buried next to his mother and the band decided to not put up a headstone.
Brian died a bit after Paul, in 1967. John wished he had somebody to hug and cry with. That somebody was supposed to be Paul. They decided to self medicate for many years since then.
Mike's plastic surgery wounds had healed and began growing facial hair to hide them, and the rest of the band soon followed along. They often wondered what they could have done differently. Not let Paul leave? Give him some slack for being late?
It didn't matter anymore. Paul was long gone and there was nothing they could do about it. They had to go on with their lives, and they had to refer to this stranger as their late best friend for the rest of it.
The rest of the band never really opened up to Campbell and ended up disbanding in 1970.
And the rest was history.