When I saw the words “British Invasion” on my editorial calendar the other day, I had only one thought — the Beatles.
And then another thought — how will I work the Fab Four into my post on Mysteristas?
Ta da! I give you (and apologize in advance for) “The Case of the Boisterous Brits.” It’s an historical police procedural, set in 1964 Manhattan, mostly in their own words. Picture a grimy interview room with a permanent cloud of old-timey cigarette smoke. A rumpled detective wearing a white dress shirt, sleeves rolled, tie loosened and askew, sits on one side of a 6-foot metal table. Four long-hairs sit across from him. They’re in various states of disarray and sprawl. Feet on the table, chairs tipped back. One has rotated his chair and leans on the back with crossed arms. Three are smiling. All have that nebulous mischievous air about them.
* * *
Police detective Les Hipp drummed his fingers on the metal tabletop in the interview room, assessing the four British lads in front of him.
“You’re keeping a zesty beat there, Pops,” one said.
Hipp checked one of the files. “You’re the drummer. Ringo. You keep a zesty beat yourself.”
“I do the zest I can.”
“Are you the best drummer in the world?”
The one with the granny glasses interrupted. “He’s not even the best drummer in the Beatles.”
“Which one are you?”
Hipp consulted his files. “Your haircut is pretty un-American…. John.”
“That’s very observant of you, because I’m not actually American.”
“Are you going to get a haircut anytime soon?” Hipp asked.
“I had one yesterday, “ the unsmiling one said. “I’m George, by the way. The quiet one.”
“What do you call that hairstyle?”
“Does it require any special attention?”
“Inattention is the main thing.”
“What excuse do you have for your collar-length hair?”
Paul, George, and Ringo shrugged on cue.
Finally John said, “Well, it just grows out yer head.”
“Love, love me ‘do!” Paul sang.
Hipp tried a different tack. “What’s the biggest threat to your careers, the atom bomb or dandruff?”
“The atom bomb. We’ve already got dandruff,” Ringo said.
Hipp consulted his notes again. “Which of you is bald?”
“We’re all bald,” George said. “And I’m deaf and dumb.”
Hipp stubbed out his fourth cigarette in as many minutes. “How do you feel about teenagers imitating you by wearing Beatles wigs?”
“They’re not imitating us because we don’t wear Beatles wigs,” John said.
“But you just said—”
George signed to Paul who translated. “You don’t look a bit like my mother.”
George squinted at the detective. “You don’t. Not a twidge.”
Hipp opened a file and scribbled something so hard he tore the paper. “Where did you get your hair style?”
“From Napoleon. And Julius Caesar. Maybe a German photographer,” Paul said. “We cut it anytime we feel like it. “
“We may do it now,” Ringo added.
George shook his head, and with it, his flowing locks. “No, mate, it was while we were in Germany. I went swimming and when I came out I didn’t have a comb. So my hair just dried. The others liked the way it looked, and there we were, Bob’s your uncle.”
“We’ve told so many lies about it we’ve forgotten.” John hung his head in shame. But when they all snickered, Hipp knew they were mocking both him and his investigation.
“Do you ever think of getting a haircut?” Hipp asked angrily.
“No, luv, do you?” Paul smiled. “Why all these questions about our hair?”
“Because you lot and your mop tops have been implicated in a stampede of teenagers. I’m investigating you for disturbing the peace. Inciting a riot. Hurting my ears.” He leaned in and tried to modulate his voice. “Do you know that when I drove up, a swarm of girls rushed my car. How do you explain this phenomenon?”
“You’re lovely to look at,” John said. The other three nodded.
“Now just a cotton-picking minute.” Hipp banged both hands on the table. “Do you have any political affiliations?”
“No, I don’t even smoke,” Ringo said, taking a deep drag off his cigarette.
“Are you communists?”
“Us, communists?” Paul laughed. “We can’t be communists. We’re the world’s number one capitalists. Imagine us, communists!”
“You’re a real corker, mate.”
“Barmy one, he is.”
“He’s talking bollocks!”
Hipp took a deep calming breath. “What will you do when Beatlemania subsides?”
“Count the money, like good capitalists,” John said.
“Won’t you miss all the adulation from teenage girls? Surely it affects you?”
“When I feel my head start to swell, I look at Ringo and know perfectly well we’re not supermen,” John said.
“What about all the riots you cause? All the crowds, all that screaming? Doesn’t it bother you that you can’t hear what you sing during concerts?”
“No, we don’t mind,” John said. “We’ve got the records at home.”
Paul looked at his watch. “Hey, we’ve talked until two. It’s time for bed.”
George nodded. “It’s been a hard day’s night and I been working like a dog—”
“I should be sleeping like a log,” Ringo added.
Detective Hipp stared at each of them in turn, then methodically arranged and jogged the four files in front of him. “I can’t hold you on this evidence, and you’ve been no help in getting to the bottom of these riots. But if we have to haul you in here again, you’ll have to answer to Captain Maxwell. He will use his silver hammer to—”
“Blimey! His what?” Ringo scrambled to his feet.
“Good day, Sunshine.” George doffed an imaginary cap toward Hipp, then elbowed Ringo out of the way, reaching the door first.
John reached across the table and clasped one hand on Hipp’s shoulder. “Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream.”
Paul gazed straight into the detective’s eyes. “If there’s anything that you want, if there’s anything I could do, just call on me, and I’ll send it along, with love from me to you.”
“Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away.” Hipp slumped in his uncomfortable chair. “But I read the news today—”
“Oh, boy.” John sighed in sympathy. “I’ll tell you something I think you’ll understand.” He paused for effect. “You wanna know how I do it?” He waved his arm toward the other three lads crowding the doorway. “I get by with a little help from my friends.”
Exhausted, Detective Hipp waved them out the door. He was only waiting for this moment to arrive. He understood now that no matter if their hair was long, short, or nonexistent, they had started a revolution. Imagine!
Paul popped his head back in the room. “I can’t remember how to get out of here. Do we take that long and winding road? Where does it lead again?”
Hipp didn’t respond.
“He’s a real nowhere man,” John whispered.
* * *
I’m so sorry, Uncle Albert. I’m so sorry if I caused you any pain. Really I am. The dialogue is from song lyrics and/or interviews they did with the American press. Except for “twidge.” None of them said that. Research is fun!
So … what’s your favorite Beatles song? Mine might be “In My Life.” Too many faves, of course, but it’s always in the top five. “Blackbird” … “Norwegian Wood” … “Fixing a Hole” … “I’ll Follow the Sun” … “Penny Lane” … “Across the Universe” … and of course “Paperback Writer.” You know, my favorite.