The first time Paul heard "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band" by The Beatles, he was perched on a tall stool behind Geoff's soundboard, gnawing on his fingertips and fretting about how wrong it all was. They were finished. He was finished. The money would dry up and they'd have to explain their expensive houses and ridiculous eateries and fancy clothes to their soon-to-be ex-accountants, and they'd have to head back north with their tails tucked between their legs, back to their fathers and mothers and aunts and cats and brothers, back to the docks and the cold and the jeers of the kids they'd left behind and the snarls and stares of the dumped brides they'd abandoned in their wake. And then they'd have to try to find regular work - only, what could they do at this point in their lives? Too damn young to retire, but too old to be apprentices to anyone. Indeed, they were, without a doubt, quite finished.
"Paul! Hey, are we finished here or not?"
Quite and definitely, yes. We are washed up and through and have had our run, and the old suits down the block were right, we're on the way out. We've only prolonged the inevitable, and gotten ourselves into a nasty little bind here in the process, haven't we? Oh yes, quite finished. "No."
There is a little man that lives in Paul's head, a little man that makes him do and say things he really oughtn't to do or say. Sometimes these things turn out alright, like the time he barbecued a condom on some jerk's wall, and found himself on the first boat back to those same chilly docks from whence he'd come, just in time to join up with the gang and resume business as usual. Sometimes these things don't turn out so well, like the time he told Miss Janey he could get any bird he wanted and she didn't pick up the phone all while he was out of the country, or when he decided to remind that fat old fool down in Florida just exactly to whom he spoke, and had his international driver's license revoked.
Paul was quite convinced that this was more the latter than the former, but he had no control over anything the little man said or did, and so was forced to listen to his own voice rattle off instructions about editing in old clips from Peter Seller's performances while his mind flailed helplessly in the background about the mess they had made/were making/would make of their lives.
He caught a glimpse of his reflection in the glass that separated the long, narrow room he was sitting in, and the giant white box where the magic happened. A mustachioed ghost looked back at him, hovering over the guitars and tea cups that littered the floor of the giant room below. Wisps of cigarette smoke wafted through the air, giving his reflection an other worldly glimmer. The reflection's mouth was moving, but Paul could only hear the the shrill roar of a giant, pink tentacled monster, crying out for his soul or his sperm, which ever it could get its thousands of pink little hands on first.
More ghosts appeared in the haze of the mirror, long hair curling round their ears and big, bushy mustaches that seemed to have devoured the upper lips of these apparitions. They were looking through him, as if they were focusing on some point in the distance behind his head, rather like the point behind Christ's head in DaVinci's Last Supper. Christ, oh Christ, what a mess they'd made of everything, even Christ. Was nothing sacred?
And now Christ (or Swami or whatever) had meted out a punishment worse than death: Uncertainty. The others seemed to have been relieved to be ousted from their summit, just as they'd been relieved when Paul found himself agreeing to eschew any new international commitments. Couldn't they see the slippery slope they were on? How could they not see THE END staring them in the face?
The ghost on the right blew a plume of smoke like a dragon, obscuring the view first of himself, then of all three ghosts as the smoke coalesced somewhere outside the confines of the mirror. The first ghost, in the center, was chewing his bottom lip. The one on the left was grinning like the Cheshire Cat.
"What the hell kind of name is Billy Shears? As if this Sergeant Pepper bloke wasn't daft enough..."
What the hell kind of name was Billy Shears? And why in the hell was George asking him about it as if he knew? "Don't you get it," Paul heard his voice say. "It's ludicrous, but it'll work because it's just so ridiculous. And we haven't got anything to lose, anyway, I mean, how can it go wrong? If we're not touring anyway, why not go ahead and be someone else?"
There is a little man that lives in Paul's head, a little man that makes him do and say things he really oughtn't to do or say. Sometimes these things don't turn out so well, like the time he insisted on releasing his solo debut the same day the band's final original long player was scheduled for release, or the time he told his youngest daughter that he could marry any bird he wanted and then that bird tried to take him to the cleaners and drag his name through the mud. Sometimes these things turn out alright, like the time he introduced to us the act we've known for all these years.
Paul is quite convinced that this was more the latter than the former.