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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Music · #1491877
"You're a guy. What do you see in the Beatles?"
                                                                                                        February 12, 1964

Dear John,

         I saw you last night on Ed Sullivan, and I had to write to tell you how wonderful you are. I bought your two albums this afternoon and I've been playing them over and over again. You have the most amazing voice. When I hear you sing "Twist and Shout" and "This Boy", I get shivers down my spine.

         I know you're married and I'm only fourteen, but I hope someday we'll meet and that you'll feel the same way I do for you. I'll love you forever.




This Boy

"Down in front, short stuff." Doug shoved his sister Lucy's head aside, and she turned and slapped his hand with an indignant squeak.

"Mom! Make him leave me alone!"

"Behave, you two," their mother admonished from the dining room where she was clearing the table. "Or your father'll have something to say to you." The toilet flushed, and Doug and Lucy broke off their spat as the father in question entered, plopping down on the couch with a sigh. The theme for Ed Sullivan began playing, and Mrs. Hansen left the dinner dishes to sit between her husband and son.

"Oh, gee," Lucy whispered from her place on the floor, bouncing up and down and clenching her hands. "I can't wait."

"Sheesh, you never even heard of them until last week," Doug grumbled.

"Yeah, but she's been playing that stupid ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand' all weekend." Their brother Jesse made a face from the easy chair, swinging his feet up when Lucy tried unsuccessfully to swat them.

"Quiet, you kids," Mr. Hansen ordered, his eyes never leaving the eleven-inch screen. Ed's face and torso, fuzzy with static, commanded the room's attention, giving way to an ad for shaving cream.

"Wow, Elvis sent them a telegram." Doug nodded his approval.

"That greasy-haired hick? God." Mr. Hansen exhaled hard. "I don't know what you kids see in him."

"Not me," Jesse protested.

"Ssh!" Lucy squealed, bouncing harder. Onscreen, Ed's voice proclaimed to rising screams:

"Ladies and gentlemen--the Beatles!"

A crossfade revealed a round stage, arrows pointing at the strangest bunch of guys Jesse had ever seen. They wore suits and ties, but their hair...Jesus. In their eyes and down over their collars. He sat transfixed as the left-handed guitarist began belting out a song which sounded almost country.

"What the hell?" his father asked, eyeing the TV indignantly. "Are those wigs?"

"No, Dad!" Lucy cried, dodging Doug's attempts to shove her head down. "It's their hair!"

"Holy..." Catching his wife's eye, Mr. Hansen shook his head in disbelief. "They look like girls."

"At least it's not greasy," Mrs. Hansen said, smiling.

Jesse couldn't stop staring at the set. These guys were a revelation. The lead singer, a guy who looked like he could be senior class president, had a grin on his face a mile wide. The guy next to him hunched down over his guitar, looking up once in a while and flashing a smile, his hair like a dust mop on his head. Then the chorus began, and the camera pulled back to reveal the drummer and another guitarist, singing backing vocals with the guy in the center. Jesse's breath caught in his throat at the sight of him, his nose and features chiseled, his eyes looking as if he'd seen it all before. His heart skipped a beat.

“Oh, God,” Lucy sighed, leaning toward the screen and sighing. “He is so cute.

“Which one? Ringo?” Doug laughed wickedly as his sister shrieked.

“Leave her alone, Doug,” their mother admonished. Lucy gave her mother a grateful look, and then they all stared at the screen, fascinated. The group finished the first song, which Jesse guessed was called "All My Loving", and began a slower one. He swallowed hard, craning his neck toward the set, trying to catch another glimpse of the guy who’d caught his attention. He didn’t seem to be the lead singer, unfortunately; the class president, whose name appeared to be Paul, had that role. Of course. Lucy sighed again; naturally, he’d be the one she went for.

“How sweet. 'Til There Was You',” Mrs. Hansen said, taking her husband’s hand. “Remember The Music Man, Bob?”

“It’s not bad,” Mr. Hansen allowed, smiling at his wife.

Jesse never took his eyes from the black and white images. The drummer had been identified as Ringo, and now the camera was on George, the second guitarist, who grinned when the fans screamed for him. He waited, trembling, until the final group member appeared in profile, looking pensive, his bangs over his forehead, like a Roman senator. He squeezed the sofa cushion as his name appeared: John. Below it, four words which struck into his heart: Sorry Girls, He’s Married. John flashed a smile at the fans’ squeals of delight, and Jesse’s heart broke with a sharp pang in his chest.

He sat through the rest of the show, enduring a magician, the cast of Oliver!, an impressionist and a fat lady playing the ukulele to get another glimpse of John. He didn’t even know his last name, but it didn’t matter. Although he didn’t want to admit it, he knew he’d fallen in love.

After an interminable run of variety acts and ads, the Beatles were back, with Paul singing another song before John joined him on “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, much to Jesse’s delight. In spite of what he’d said to his sister, he’d really kind of liked the tune. Now, listening and seeing John’s profile singing into the bulbous mike, he resolved to buy their album right after school the next day.

Upstairs in his room that night, he inspected himself in the mirror. Suddenly he looked ugly, with his dark blond crewcut and a pimple by the corner of his mouth. He couldn’t do much about the acne, but he could avoid the barber until his hair grew out. Sitting at his desk, he got out a piece of notebook paper and began scratching out tentative sentences.


You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away

“Thanks for asking me to the movies.” Carla sat in the stuffed seat and smiled at Jesse, reaching out for his hand. He let her take it. “I’ve been waiting for this all summer.”

“Me too.” Jesse kept his eyes on the blank screen, releasing Carla’s hand after a minute to take some popcorn from the tub in her lap. He’d asked Carla to see Help! with him for two reasons: he knew she was a Beatles fan, and to shut his dad up. “When are you going to start dating? You’re fifteen, for crying out loud. Your brother would’ve dated when he was fourteen, if we’d let him.” On and on until Jesse wanted to scream: I’m not my brother.

He had to try, though. Just because none of the girls in high school appealed to him didn’t mean he didn’t like girls. It was just a matter of finding the right one. Carla seemed like a better chance than most. He glanced at her, her hair styled in a flip and her lips carefully reddened with just the right amount of lipstick, going on about George.

“…he’s always been my favorite, he’s just so cute and quiet and shy.” She glanced back at him with a sly smile. “Kind of like you.”

“Yeah.” He looked back at the screen, now showing previews.

“Which one’s your favorite?”

“I don't know.” The lie came immediately.

“Oh.” Carla wrinkled her nose. “I guess that makes sense. I mean, I always knew why girls love the Beatles, but you’re a guy. What do you see in the Beatles?”

Jesse shrugged. “I like their music.” He thanked God for the darkness concealing the rush of heat in his cheeks. To his relief, Carla shut up, and they both watched an ad for the latest James Bond film.

When Help! finally began, Jesse forgot all about Carla, lost from the moment the group appeared onscreen. He sat motionless, his heart speeding a little every time John came on, even more magnificent in color, his hair almost down to his shoulders in a mane of light brown tinged with the smallest bit of red. When the Beatles began singing “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”, and the camera pulled in close to John’s face, Jesse almost couldn’t breathe at the sight of his warm brown eyes framed with dark lashes, and his lips shaping the words. He twisted his hands in his lap, wanting to keep them away from Carla, who spent her time swooning over George.

He walked her home afterward, letting her take his hand, his mind racing. Should he try to kiss her? He knew she probably expected it. The problem was, he really didn’t want to. It wasn’t that she wasn’t attractive; she had big breasts and a pretty face and all the things that turned guys on. Most guys.

“Thanks for taking me, Jesse,” Carla said, stopping at the end of her driveway and looking up at him expectantly.

“You’re welcome.” He knew he should kiss her. But he couldn’t make himself do it.

She looked at him, puzzled; then shrugged, her mouth hardening. “Good night.” She dropped his hand and turned, flouncing off to the door, never looking back. Relief flooded through him.

On the brief walk to his house, he took a long hard look at himself and realized the truth. He wasn’t like his brother. He didn’t like girls.

“Oh, Christ.” He whispered the words, desperation filling his soul. How could he tell his parents? What would his friends think?

He couldn't tell anyone. He'd have to pretend.

The house was quiet when he unlocked the door, except for Lucy, sitting on the couch in pajamas, reading Charlotte’s Web for the thousandth time. She looked up, her eyes glowing with excitement.

“Jesse! Tell me about it! How was your date?”

“Fine.” He turned to go to his room, stopping when he saw disappointment cloud her face. He couldn’t lie to her. “Actually, not so good.”

“Oh.” She got up and hugged him, a waif in pigtails and horn-rimmed glasses. He hugged her back, feeling better. Then she pulled away and studied his face, frowning.

“You don’t really like dating, do you?”

Jesse shook his head. Lucy opened her mouth, then stopped herself before speaking again.

“What about Help? Did you like it?”

A smile lit up his face. “It was fantastic.”

“Then you’ll take me tomorrow?”

“I promise.” Lucy hugged him even harder, and he squeezed her back.

“Thanks, Jesse. I can’t wait.” As he started up the stairs, he stopped when she said his name.

“Who’s your favorite Beatle?”

She’d asked him this a thousand times, never satisfied with his lie. Now, hearing a new urgency in her voice, he turned and looked in her eyes, forcing the word out. “John.”

Lucy nodded slowly, staring back at him. “I thought so.” Her voice was as soft as his. “Night.”

“Night.” He watched her curl back up on the sofa with E.B. White, then turned and headed to his room.

Once there, he lay on the bed in darkness, thinking about the movie. A hair wandered into his eyes, and he brushed his bangs back, wishing he could grow it even longer. Every time it got over his ears, his dad gave him hell until he went to the barber.

John’s face swam into his mind, his eyes warm and brown, his nose and cheekbones proud, his mouth laughing and singing: Hey, you’ve got to hide your love away… For the first time, he gave in to the impulses he’d been fighting for months, unzipping his khakis and reaching in.


Look At Me

Jesse swept his hair back from his face and turned the index card over and over, studying the words neatly printed in black ink: Single Men's Mixer. 8-11 PM Friday, December 18th. Beneath was an address he recognized as an off-campus apartment.

Normally, he wouldn't have considered going, but the card's location--squashed into a corner of the crowded bulletin board, almost lost in the welter of mimeographed announcements and posters--intrigued him. That, and its color: a faded light purple.

He flipped the card and listened to John's new solo album, Plastic Ono Band. He'd been playing it since it had come out last week. When the Beatles had broken up last spring, he'd been depressed, but this record almost made up for it. It was incredible. He'd never heard John sound so angry, so raw. Right now Lennon was screaming his way through "Well Well Well"--literally. Jesse's roommate, Frank, had listened once and dismissed it as "bullshit". Since then, Jesse only played it when he was out.

Flip, flip, back and forth. Stay or go? Risk himself or lie low?

He hadn't dated since arriving on campus two years ago. Whenever he saw his parents, they'd ask, and he'd lie to them. Sure, I've seen some girls. No one steady. They'd be happy, and then he'd go back feeling like scum, despising himself. Afraid to do anything except tell lies, then not even doing anything worth lying about.

He was tired of waiting. Tired of lying with nothing to show for it.

An acoustic guitar began plucking, and John's voice sang softly. Jesse loved this one. He'd played it over and over.

         Look at me
         Who am I supposed to be? Who am I supposed to be?

Excitement mixed with fear surged inside him. Swallowing hard, he shoved his chair out, jamming the card into his pocket. On his way out, he shut off the stereo.


Gimme Some Truth

Jesse pulled into the Holiday Inn's parking lot, his stomach turning over and bile rising in his mouth. This wasn't going to go well. He knew it. He couldn't avoid it any longer, though; tomorrow he graduated college, and his parents had to be here for that.

John's voice poured from the eight-track player, telling him it was hard, really hard. No kidding. But still, it made him feel better, as always. He shut off the ignition, killing the music.

He wiped his palms on his jacket as he approached the lobby entrance. Before he'd gotten three steps inside, Lucy flung herself upon him, squealing, "Jesse!" and enfolding him in a heartfelt embrace. He hugged her back, smiling in spite of himself. She'd gotten contacts, ditched the pigtails and grown into a beautiful woman.

"You look great," he said, disengaging himself and looking her over. "What did Dad think of your T-shirt?" The initials N.O.W. stretched out across her chest.

She giggled, taking his arm and steering him down the hall. "I told him it meant 'Never Oppose War'. He was all for it then. What's he going to think of you?" She playfully tugged his earlobe.

"I guess we'll find out." They stopped at room 114, and Lucy pulled the door open. Jesse had enough time to see his father and brother turn in surprise before his mother had her arms around him, her embrace not as energetic as Lucy's but just as warm.

"I'm so proud of you," she murmured, her voice choking.

"Thanks, Mom." He let her go, his heart speeding at the sight of his dad looking him over, a sneer on his face.

"For this I paid all that money? You look like a girl. Wearing a blouse and scarf, Jesus. When did you last get a haircut?"

"Bob--" His mother closed her mouth, stepping back. Jesse stood his ground as his father drew closer, shaking his head.

"Don't you have any pride?"

The word stung, cutting like a hook into his brain. He'd spent the last year of college learning about pride in himself. "Dad, listen--"

"What the hell is that?" He stared at the stud in Jesse's ear, dismay filling his eyes and his face reddening. "An earring? Do you want people to think you're a faggot?"

"Dad!" Lucy seized his arm, only to have him shake it off, his gaze fixed on Jesse. The sight flared up rage inside him.

"Don't call me that!"

"What? I wasn't saying you're a fag, I was just saying--"

"I am!" He took a deep breath, trembling, looking from his father to his mother and brother, seeing the bewilderment in their expressions. "I've--I'm gay. I've been gay for years."

In the instant before his father spoke, he caught his mom's eye and saw not surprise but recognition. Then the explosion came.

"What the--You take that back! No son of mine's a fairy!"

"I can't help it, Dad! Do you think I haven't tried?" Jesse stepped towards his father, his anger growing when he moved away in response. "I dated girls for years before I gave up. It's just who I am." He sighed hard, looking around the room, relieved to see Lucy nod at him, her face pale. "I love you. I didn't want to tell you like this, but I can't hide it anymore."

"You listen to me." His father's voice grated low as he strode over to his mother, seizing her hand. "We didn't come here to hear this crap, we came to see you graduate. You're not going to spoil everything with this kind of talk. You apologize right now."

Tears came to his eyes, and through the blur he saw wet streaks on his mother's and sister's cheeks. "Dad...I haven't done anything to apologize for. I'm sorry if you can't accept it."

His father gaped for a moment before tensing. "Then get out."

Agony shot through his heart, but he tried once more. "Look--can't we just--"

"Get out of our room!" Bob Hansen roared, his face now scarlet and swollen. "I didn't raise any faggots!"

"Bob, no!" his mother cried as he broke for the door, barely able to see. He ran down the hall and pushed open the glass door, sunlight stinging his eyes. He doubled over against the brick wall outside, choking sobs tearing his chest apart.

Then a hand fell on his shoulder, and he jerked his head up to see his brother standing there, looking confused and angry.

"Hey!" Doug stared at him, blinking and pulling his hand back, as if remembering who he'd just touched. "What's your problem?"

Jesse uttered a barking laugh, wiping his nose with his hand. "It's not my problem, Doug. It's Dad's." He sniffed, his eyes on his brother's. "What about you?"

Doug opened his mouth, then closed it, ducking his head. He shuffled his feet, resplendent in his Marine dress uniform, no doubt worn for the auspicious occasion of his brother's graduation. Then it hit Jesse: He'd known all along, too.

"You shouldn't have dumped it on Dad like that," Doug said at last, raising his head and eying his brother defiantly. "You knew he'd freak when he saw you, didn't you?"

Jesse nodded, his tear-streaked cheeks on fire. "I couldn't pretend anymore, Doug."

"He shouldn't have to." They both turned in surprise to their sister, her feet crunching the pebbles in the flowerbed as she came up to them. "There's nothing wrong with being gay."

"There's nothing all that great about it either, Luce," Doug countered. As he'd done for years, Jesse intervened.

"It doesn't matter." He felt almost giddy now, with the weight off his chest. "At least I can get on with my life." Lucy nodded, then squeezed him tightly.

"We still having the family dinner tonight, you think?" Doug asked, and both Jesse and Lucy laughed hysterically.


I'm Losing You

"You left my albums out again." Jesse gathered them up and refiled them in the case, ignoring his roommate's laughter. He left Lennon's latest on top of the turntable, the black-and-white photo of him kissing Yoko covering the plastic lid.

"That should be the worst thing I ever do to you." Terry came out of the bedroom, still in his bathrobe. "Haven't you played that enough yet?"

"You know how I feel about John."

"Oh, yes. I'm horribly jealous." Terry clucked his tongue. "Tell me again about how you met him in Central Park and shared a passionate kiss."

"I wish." Jesse smiled, pulling Terry close and kissing him quickly. "What's for breakfast?"

"Your turn, sweetheart. I made it yesterday." Terry sat on the couch, picking up the remote.

"In that case, I'll open the Cheerios." He went in the kitchen and plugged in the coffeepot. From the other room, the TV blared a Chrysler ad.

"I've got to stop by the drugstore on my way home," Jesse called, scooping the coffee into the basket. "Did you want--"

"Jesus Christ. Jesse, come here." Terry's voice conveyed such shock that Jesse immediately put down the coffee and came in to see his roommate staring at the TV, his eyes wide. Jesse looked at the screen and saw a crowd of people outside the Dakota, singing something like a chant. One held up a sign of John, the White Album photo of him predominant. Beneath the photo were the words: John Lennon 1940-1980.

"What the--" Then he heard the announcer's voice. "...shot and killed last night..."

"My God." His heart seemed to have stopped. No, it hadn't: it now pounded as if it were about to burst through his chest.

"No. No!" He screamed the last word, doubling up in agony, the full impact of what had happened slamming into him heart and soul. Sobbing, he collapsed to the floor, Terry wrapping his arms around him and rocking him, murmuring meaningless words while he wept as if his heart would break.


I'm Steppin' Out

“Hey, bro.”

Jesse opened his eyes, smiling at the sight of his sister bending over him, pecking him on the cheek. “I brought you a present.”

“All right.” He tried to sit up without success, letting Lucy slip her arm under his shoulders and help him up on the pillows. “You shouldn’t be touching me.”

“Screw that. If it’s that catching, we’re all dead.” She bent down, rising with a flat package wrapped in colorful paper. “Early birthday present.”

“Thanks. Gee, what could it be?” He tore off the paper, gazing in awe at the color photo of John and Yoko kissing. “Milk and Honey. Thanks. I’ve been looking forward to this.”

“I taped it, so you can listen to it on your boombox.”

“The whole thing?”

Lucy smiled. “Yeah. Yoko’s songs, too.” She watched him flip open the cover, examining the poetry and picture within. “Did you ever get jealous of Yoko?”

“Sometimes. I got over it around the time he got back with her, though.” He looked up, his heart contracting at the gleam in her eyes.

“Oh, Christ, Luce. Don’t cry.”

“I can’t help it.” Her voice choked out the words. Then she hugged him, and they both cried until Jesse broke out in a coughing fit. Lucy started back, her eyes now frightened.

“Jesse! Should I call the nurse?”

“No,” he managed, hacking a couple more times, fighting to breathe. “I’m all right.” He wheezed loudly and lay back, closing his eyes. “Go wash up. I’m serious.”

“What for? Either I’m infected or I’m not.” Nevertheless, she went over to the sink and soaped her face and hands. He pulled the record out of the cardboard sleeve, peering at the liner notes and lyrics.

“Hey, Jess.” Doug stood at the door, his hands in his coat pockets, shuffling.

“Doug, hi.” He raised his hand in a wave. “Good to see you.”

“For Christ’s sake. When are you going to come closer than five feet? You asshole.” Lucy wiped her hands, sitting down in the chair next to Jesse, her brow clouded as she regarded their brother.

“Leave him alone,” Jesse said as Doug came up to the bed. “He’s smarter than you are.” Still, he noticed that his brother left his gloves on when he shook Jesse’s hand. “How’s married life treating you?”

“Not bad. Eve says hi. She’ll come by this weekend.” Doug picked up the album cover, studying the photo. “New album, huh? I thought he was dead.”

“He recorded it just before he died, jerk.” Jesse couldn’t help smiling. “You got that tape, Luce?”

“Of course. Hang on.” She put it in and pushed Play, and for a few minutes they were all silent, listening to John sing an upbeat rocker.

“Jesus.” Jesse’s eyes watered. “He sounds so happy.”

“You never know, do you?” Lucy turned away and grabbed a Kleenex, blowing her nose.

“Uh, Jess—” Doug cleared his throat, shoving his hands back in his pockets. “I called Mom and Dad.”

Jesse's heart skipped a beat at the words. He hadn’t spoken to his father since the night at the Holiday Inn, nor his mother since he’d gotten sick. “I told you guys not to tell them.”

“I had to. You’re their son.”

“And Dad didn’t hang up on you?”

“Actually, I talked to Mom.” Doug heaved a sigh. “They’re coming to see you.”

“Oh, Christ.” Jesse swallowed hard against the sudden lump in his throat. “I didn’t want her to know.”

“That you were dying?” Lucy scowled at him. “She's not stupid, Jess. She reads the news; she was probably worried sick about you. And didn't you think she'd wonder why you hadn't called? Jesus Christ. You’re both assholes.”

“I don’t want her to see me like this.”

“She’s got the right, Jesse. She needs to say goodbye to you.” Doug’s scowl joined his sister’s. “And so does Dad.”

“Are you kidding? He’ll probably say good riddance.” Jesse began coughing again, shaking his head when Lucy reached for the call button. “Leave it! I’m all right.” He groped for the water glass by the bed, and Doug handed it to him, his face expressionless.

“Look…I’m getting tired. Why don’t you guys come by later?”

He accepted his sister’s kiss and brother’s stiff handshake, wanting only to be alone. Yoko’s peculiar high voice chirped about sleepless nights. Jesse had been through a lot of them since he’d been diagnosed with AIDS.

He listened to the tape over and over again in the next few days, loving every minute of it. In some ways it was better than Double Fantasy. John sounded relaxed, goofing around with the musicians, making jokes, keeping things loose. The first time he’d heard “Borrowed Time”, he’d cried, thinking of John cut down in a hail of bullets. Without Terry, he didn’t know how he could have stood it.

Two years after John's death, Terry had noticed the first purple spot on his leg. Kaposi’s sarcoma. He’d died in a hospital bed like this one, in an isolation ward, the nurses and doctors covering themselves with masks, gloves and gowns the infrequent times they’d come in. Jesse had stayed with him, watching him die slowly, coughing up blood. He’d held his hand, and when Terry had finally breathed his last tortured breath, he’d kissed him on the lips one last time. He’d gone out, told the nurse at her station (who’d flinched from him as if he were a leper), then went outside, heading for the Dakota. Once there, he’d broke down and wept. Just a few months after that, the first spot had shown up on his arm.

He loved the entire record, but the song he kept coming back to was the first one. John’s voice was playful, almost laughing his way through the lyrics. Jesse loved the way he lilted the words “Screw it” in the middle eight. He’d had no idea what was coming. Jesse did.

Then, one afternoon, he’d just awoken from a nap and was playing the tape again when he looked up to see his parents standing in the doorway. His mother’s eyes were red; his father’s were impassive. Both of them wore masks, gowns and gloves.

Jesse stared at them, too stunned at the sight of his father to say a word. His mother spoke.

“Oh, Jesse.” She broke into sobs, rushing over to the bed, bending down and then catching herself. Instead, she took his hand, holding it against her bosom.

“Mom…” He tried to speak and began crying instead, squeezing her hand with his. Behind them, John, backed by a piano and rhythm box, crooned about growing old.

His father approached the bed, stopping a few feet away from Jesse. He still hadn’t spoken, merely staring at him with that stone-faced expression. Jesse wished he could see if he was frowning or not.

“Dad.” He coughed for a minute, wiping his mouth, hoping they didn’t see the pink stain on the tissue. “I guess…guess you think I deserve this, huh?” The bitterness in his voice came out as petulance.

Bob Hansen spoke, his voice hoarse and gruff. “No.”

Shocked, Jesse looked straight at his father for the first time since he’d entered the room. His eyes were watering.

Jesse hesitated, then held out his other hand. His father looked down at it, then took it. Even through the glove, he clung to it like a lifeline.

“I love you guys.” He croaked out the words, then joined his mother in another round of weeping. His father remained silent, but kept holding his hand.

Jesse sat up in bed, doing his best to stay upright, clutching the pen and struggling to finish. When he’d woken up and realized what day it was, he knew he had to write.

He signed his name, then scrawled one final line. He lay back down, exhausted. Reaching over with the last of his energy, he hit the Play button on the boombox. Guitars began playing as Lennon rambled on about the story of a househusband.

He closed his eyes, listening to John’s voice, the most perfect singer he’d ever heard.

If it don’t feel right, you don’t have to do it
Just leave a message on the phone and tell them to screw it…

Then the chorus: I’m steppin’ out, I’m steppin’ ow-ow-ow-ow-out…

Jesse thought as he drifted into darkness for the last time: I wonder if I’ll see him there.


                                                                                                        February 11, 1984

Dear John,

I tried to write you twenty years ago after I saw you on the Ed Sullivan show. I couldn’t send the letter, because I knew you wouldn’t understand. You see, I’m gay, and I got a horrible crush on you when I saw you on TV. I wanted you to know how much I cared about you, but I was too scared. So I never mailed it.

I don’t have a crush on you anymore, but I wanted to say thanks. If it weren’t for you, I don’t think I could have faced up to being gay. You always had the courage to speak up for who you were, even when you were defending yourself about the Beatles being more popular than Jesus, or taking drugs, or being with Yoko.  That gave me the guts to come out of the closet. Now I suppose I’m dying because of it. But I don’t care. I’d rather die this way than live and be dead inside.

Thanks for everything, John.

Yours truly,


P.S.:  I love you.
© Copyright 2008 Lynn McKenzie (lynnmckenzie at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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