Author's note: This is a silly little story that I wrote in a short story class. The assignment was to write a story that involved a character talking about what a song means to him/her. Naturally, I used a Beatles song.
This story is also a challenge - count the references! Can you find them all?
“Have you ever listened to this song? I mean, really listened?” Rocky reached over and reset the needle to the beginning of the track.
“Why are we listening to this album anyway? It doesn’t make any sense. Magical mystery tour, my foot.”
Rocky’s wife stuck her head into the den. “I’m taking Penny and Layne to my mother’s, then Prudence and I are going to the pub. Don’t forget to let Martha out before bed; I’ll be back late.”
“Sure thing, Lucy. Have a good night!” Rocky turned back to his friend. “Joe, you have never appreciated the true genius of Mister John Lennon. Now shut up, roll another joint, and listen carefully.” Rocky turned up the volume in time for the second verse. Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come… The strings pulsed behind Lennon’s voice and Rocky conducted with the joint before finishing it off. “Doesn’t that just reach into your soul and hang on tight, man?”
Rocky Maxwell and Joe Mackenzie, friends since junior high, were enjoying their Sunday smoke. This week they were at Rocky’s house, so of course they were listening to Fab Four. “I don’t know, I’ve always preferred the Stones,” Joe replied. He licked the paper to seal the joint and lit it.
“Pish, the Stones?” Rocky helped a throw pillow live up to its name, aiming for Joe’s head. “Get out of here with that. Mick Jagger wouldn’t know a deep lyric if it bit him in the arse.”
“Deep? The Stones can be deep! And Jagger’s lyrics make some sense at least. You know where you stand with ‘Ruby Tuesday.’ What’s this song about, then? Who’s this fishwife?”
“It’s a metaphor. The fishwife and the priestess are hypocrites, like everyone. You know, it’s a comment on life.”
“Everyone’s a hypocrite?”
“Yeah, even you and me. Look, we’re here smoking pot, and didn’t you say something in your sermon this morning about purity of mind and body? And tomorrow I have to tell my students not to do drugs. If only I could bring them some of this stuff – it’s nice, by the way, thanks – maybe they wouldn’t be so uptight.”
“They’re, like, twelve. They can’t be uptight yet.” Joe leaned back and put his stocking feet on the wooden chest by the fireplace that held Lucy’s yarn collection.
“Oh, but they can. They are the eggmen, Joe, the eggmen!”
“That’s so cynical, Rocky. I think your obsession’s getting a little out of hand.”
“What obsession?” Rocky asked, genuinely surprised.
“Rocky, you live on Number 9 Strawberry Drive in a white house with light gray shutters. You got a bulldog, even though Penny wanted a dachshund. You’ve already named your grandchildren, even though Penny and Layne are still in middle school.”
“Vera and Dave are perfectly good names,” Rocky interjected.
“You dragged us across the country on that bus and wouldn’t tell us where we were going.”
“And you enjoyed that bus trip. Besides, we got a good deal on that cottage on the Isle of Wight.”
The conversation was getting a little too heavy and Joe didn’t want to spoil the party, so he took another toke and dropped the subject. He was a bit worried, though – everything in his friend’s life seemed to revolve around his fanhood.
“Ooh, this is the best part.” Rocky began to sing along with the record. “’Sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun / If the sun don’t come you get a tan from standing in the English rain’ – isn’t that just like life?”
“You should really rethink singing in front of people.” Joe took a long drag on the joint. “Anyway, I’ve never gotten a tan in the rain. Never.”
“Well, I have.”
“I have! It was in California.”
“When did you go to California?”
“Ten years ago. I was visiting my cousin Bill. But like I was saying, I’d been hiking and stopped for lunch on a hill. Beautiful view, trees and ocean as far as the eye could see; I was in the middle of nowhere, man. I fell asleep next to the remains of my picnic and woke to a gentle rain. I walked back to Bill’s bungalow in that rain. Five miles. It was invigorating! And when I was getting ready for dinner, I saw in the mirror that my skin was all brown. I tanned! In the rain! It was a miracle, Joe, it really was.”
“So you think you got a tan from sleeping in the Hollywood rain?”
“Damn straight, Jo Jo. I am the walrus.”