Chloe and Madelyn were excited to go on a trip to England. They had never left the country before and only left their state of Ohio to go to Florida every year to their grandparents and sometimes Disney world. The two were cousins, but they might as well have been sister’s. Chloe was a planned only child to upper middle class parents. Madelyn was the youngest of four and the girl the family had been trying for in order to stop having kids. Her brothers were already out of the house, two were even married.
The young women grew up close by, they even attended the same high school. They frequently were together and had a parental relationship with the others parents. So when Chloe’s two dad’s Gary and Brandon offered to take both girls on a dream trip to England, they were extremely excited. Yet when arriving to this far away land the old people, who had the money, took them to boring historical sites. Mostly museums and small villages with nothing to do. Unbearably dull seem to be the itinerary of the trip.
Now the old people were fan boying out, as they visited an over priced tourist trap some old band from the 60s came from. Even the name of the town sounded gruesome. Liverpool! Ewwww…. It sounded like a pool party hosted by Hannibal Lecter. They both grew up with their parents listening to old music of the 1960s, but they were the M-tv generation.
“The Bee gees?” the younger pair would conflate the similar sounding band.
“No the Beatles.” One of the old people would correct them.
“Whatever!” Would then follow. This trip was a dud, and England sucked, was the shared opinion of both recent high school grads. Having walked down a stupid street called “Penny Lane,” they were bored and hungry.
“Here.” Said Brandon, seeing the impatient look on the youthful faces. He pulled out his cell phone from his traveler bag and handed it to his daughter. “Put this in your nap sack and answer whenever it rings with Papa’s number.” Gary pulled out his wallet and handed his daughter and niece some money.
“Go get yourselves something to eat, but no going into pubs! We’ll call you when we’re ready to rendezvous together to go back to the hotel." This seemed unfair, for Pete sake the drinking age was eighteen but the dad’s/uncles insisted they adhere to the drinking age of the United States which was twenty-one. What was the point of them going to England? They might as well have stayed at Madelyn’s house, while Chloe’s dad’s went on their vacation.
“Fine Papa!” Chloe said, half rolling her eyes. The young women took off and search for a place that at least looked interesting. First they found somewhere to eat. They each had a hamburger and bottled water, as was the trend. They checked out a few stores. The shelves littered with mostly Beatle merchandise and Liverpool paraphernalia. Needless say they ended up only buying snacks and drinks. Afterwards they found they were without much to do.
Madelyn always loved wandering enclosed places and the town was rich with little back alley’s to explore. Chloe had grown up going on these adventures with all of her cousins, so she was happy to go along. The two explored the area behind the shops, looking at all the old structures. Suddenly they smelt a familiar smell. It was the distinguished scent of cannabis. The girls haven’t had a blunt since leaving Ohio, they figured they’d see if they could find stoner companions.
To their disappointment, they found two old men in trench coats passing a joint between them. They were standing behind some old ass building that looked like some kind of nightclub that would have been interesting maybe fifty years ago. The men saw the girls, as they were facing the only opening in and out of the dead-end.
“What are you doing here?” asked the shorter man in the black coat and dark sun glasses.
“Sorry, we were just wandering.” Madelyn apologized for her and her cousin. The men’s demeanor changed when hearing their accents.
“You’re Americans?” Observed the taller man wearing the brown trench coat and wore nothing on his face. Both men were clearly English, but their dialect was distinctly unique of the locals of the area.
“Yes.” Both girls answered in unison. They still had youthful obedience in grained in them, towards their elders.
“How old are you two?” inquired the tall man.
“eighteen.” They answered together. The men laughed. They found the female pair amusing.
“Well since you two are eighteen, would you like to join us?” the smaller man offered the joint he just smoked. Madelyn took the joint, hit it and waited to make sure nothing else but weed was in it, before giving it to her cousin who took a hit then handed it to the man in the brown coat.
“Thank you.” Chloe politely responded, after choking of course.
“Yes, thank you.” Madelyn followed.
“My pleasure.” Said the man in the black coat with a smile.
“So what do you think about Liverpool?” pried the tall man.
“To be honest,” began Madelyn.
“It’s boring as hell!” injected Chloe. The girls giggled and their male companions smiled at the youthful honesty.
“I take it you guys are not into the Beatles?” observed the man in glasses.
“Not really.” Admitted Chloe.
“They’re more our parents music.” Madelyn remarked.
“Though we did have our Yellow Submarine phase.” Her cousin reminisced. “We use to watch that cartoon back to back when we were little.” The girls laughed as their mind flooded with images of feety pajamas, goldfish crackers and colorful juices that came in little bottles that fit their tiny hands. Whether it was in Madelyn’s den or Chloe’s bedroom (she had her own television in her room) they had shared memories of blue meanies and the strange art they both so loved. Chloe used to draw pictures of scenes from that movie and in the fall she’ll be in art school in New York City.
“Well Yellow Submarine was geared towards children.” The taller man pointed out, as the joint passed along.
“It worked.” Chloe said with a smile.
“Are you two friends?” the man in glasses was curious to understand these women’s relationship. They seemed close but didn’t look alike and we’re clearly different races.
“We’re cousins.” They answered in unison again. Clearly they did this with familiar phrases they repeated often.
“I’m adopted.” Explained Chloe recognizing the familiar look of confusion, as she had been raised by a family of a different race. The men nodded politely at the clarification.
“So how long are you hear for?” the smaller man smiled as he was trying to break up the silence.
“A few more days.” Madelyn answered vaguely. She looked past the side of the men and saw an old display cardboard photo of the Beatles. It was like the million other photos they had seen all over that town, so it was no surprise to find extras being laid on the side of a building in an alley. It was clearly a new creation of the four men, in black in white, wearing suits fit for a funeral, while being in their early twenties, possibly even teenager’s like them. Chloe’s gaze followed her cousins, after she recovered from coughing. Damn these guys had some good weed.
Madelyn walked over to the picture and examined it and her cousin followed. The men never took their eyes off the young ladies. The women giggled again, looking at the matching haircuts and outdated clothes.
“Tell us,” the taller man stated. “how would you two describe these lads.” The old pair smiled at each other, while their companions had their backs to them, fixated on the image.
“Well I remember Ringo had pretty eyes.” Madelyn began, deep in thought of her childhood.
“Yeah and he was funny.” Chloe remembered watching “Help” a few times with her dad’s. Ringo used to be her favorite when she was little, because she thought he was silly. “But he kinda like reminds me of the annoying little brother type.” They thought of a close common friend named Jenny who’s brother Tim was like that. “He’s like the annoying little brother your friend wish she never had.” The girls laughed at the shared thought.
They moved over to the image of George, who was next to the drummer in the picture.
“What’s his name?” asked Madelyn.
“George.” Answered the man as he pulled a cigarette from his brown coats inner pocket.
“Well he looks like he either has weed or dead bodies in his basement.” Chloe remarked carelessly, but with again that youthful honesty.
The man in the brown coat choked on his cigarette, while the other quietly laughed. The still girls didn’t turn around, they moved to the next bandmate over. Madelyn recognized him right away, it was Paul McCartney. She would never admit it out loud, but she had the biggest crush on him when she used to watch that cartoon. She dreamed she was a princess and he was her prince. Now she was a soured teenage and couldn’t admit to such childish dreams.
“Paul was definitely the most fuckable out of the group.” Madelyn stated bluntly. The girls laughed again.
“Yeah the ladies always loved Paul!” said the man in black.
“Probably because he’s sort of looks like a girl.” Chloe added. This time their male companions laughed full heartily. “I bet he got all the girls who were lesbians in denial.” The man in the brown coat folded over laughing. These girls were a trip. Then the young ones moved their gaze over to John. They looked remorseful slightly.
“He’s the one that died.” Madelyn stated bluntly.
“Yes.” Responded the smaller man.
“That was sad.” Madelyn lamented. “I was only three when he died, but I remember the news footage about it.” The two old men nodded quietly in agreement.
“I heard he was fun to get high with, but he was an angry drunk.” Chloe was repeating things she had heard from her dad’s.
“I can’t say that isn’t true.” The man in glasses agreed. Suddenly a phone rang, it was coming from Chloe’s bag. She quickly retrieved the device and flipped it open before pressing it to her ear.
“Hi Papa.” She answered. “Yes we ate.” She paused looking at her cousin. “Okay. We’ll be there.” She listened for a moment more. “ I love you too!” she closed her father’s phone and returned it to her bag. “We gotta go.” She told Madelyn. “We have to meet Dad and Papa in front of some sign for Penny Lane. “
“Do you know how to get there?” asked Madelyn to her cousin.
“No, Papa just told me to ask the locals.” The cousin answered.
“We know where it is.” The taller man called from behind them, he had a smile on his face as if he were thinking about something clever.
“Great, how do we get there?” Chloe asked without hesitation. The men looked at each other for a brief moment.
“It’s a little hard to find.” The smaller man explained.
“It would be better if we were to write it down for you.” The taller of the two stated. “Wait here for a minute and we’ll go inside and write it out .” The girls nodded in agreement, in unison, which these men found endlessly amusing. Then the shorter man turned around abruptly to face the young ladies who amused them so.
“May we have your first names?’’ asked the man in black. The girls could see their reflections in the mirror effect of his black glasses.
“its English etiquette to address a person by their name when giving directions.” The man in the brown coat claimed. The girls didn’t know any better and went along.
“I’m Chloe.” One stated.
“I’m Madelyn.” Followed the other.
“Thank you.” The older men said together, then laughed. They entered the building through a metal door and disappeared for what seemed like forever. However forever was merely a few minutes. The men returned with a yellow piece of paper with their directions addressing them by their first names.
“Thank you!” the girls answered together again. The men laughed at the little show. Then the man in the brown coat walked in their directions after he gathered himself.
“Ladies you have been wonderful to talk to.” Stated the smaller man. He removed his glasses, showing off such beautiful blue eyes. The girls smiled.
“we had fun too.” They said smiling.
“Here.” The taller of the two handed them each a Manila envelope. “do you think you two are grown up enough to not act on impulse and wait until you get home to open these?” Normally it would be in their nature to open these envelope that looked like report cards, right away. However these men gave them a challenge and both found that they were willing to accept it.
“We promise.” They said together and meant it. The young woman waved good bye and the men did the same, but laughing, for reasons the women didn’t understand. They met up with their party and to the girls relief, they learned the family would be spending the rest of the trip in London.
The night they returned home, Madelyn was prearranged to spend the night, so not to disturb her parents who had to be up early for work. The girls walked in with the nap sacks secured on their backs loosely and carrying the empty drinks from the fast food they picked up on the way home from the airport. Chloe and Madelyn tossed the trash away and marched up stairs, one after the other. As they changed into their pajamas, (Madelyn was over enough she had her own laundry basket worth of clothing) they remembered the manila envelopes the nice men gave them a few days earlier.
Eagerly they each open their perspective envelope that had their names written in ink upon them. They pulled out the contents and discovered each had two black and white photographs in them. Chloe had a picture of Ringo Starr, clearly very young, sitting at his drum kit, posing with his sticks. It had been written and signed.
Nice meeting you and your cousin. You two were lots of fun.
Ie the annoying little brother your friend wish she never had.
I’m an only child.”
Chloe was in complete shock, this couldn’t be real!
Her next picture was of George Harrison. It was also black and white and he was a lot younger than he is today. It was a professional up close portrait in a very nice looking suit. Like the one before the photo had the graffiti of the letter.
The answer is weed. Dead bodies smell bad! You and your cousin are a trip. Thanks for the laughs.
She was at first horrified of what she said to the actual celebrity.
The girls were stunned. This couldn’t be happening! These old timers were just pulling their leg. A joke on them for making fun of the sacred Beatles. Madelyn was looking at her pictures. The first one was of George in the same suit they were poking fun of, playing his guitar with a microphone in front of him. He must have been on stage. Like her cousins pictures, there was an message in the an autograph.
If Paul were with us in that alley, he would have been flattered. You were his type before he settled down. Thanks for the great laughs.
Madelyn was beet red. She couldn’t believe she made such an admission!
Then the picture of Ringo. It was a portrait of the shortest Beatle, residing in a chair. He was wearing a sharp suit in the black and white photo. The message read
I’m glad you like my eyes. I liked you and your cousins company. Thank for the laughs.
Reading Starr's letter calmed her down. The men were amused and even charmed by them.
The cousins laughed at their shared luck, oblivious to the fact it was their bond together that had made their companions reminisce of their own friendship.