The Lucky Men Who Made the Grade

I. Ticket to Ride

“I can’t...I’m...I’m gonna fall,” Brian Belden choked out to his best friend and younger brother. The three young men were running down the notoriously steep Water Street Hill in Sleepyside-on-the Hudson, New York.

“I can’t...” Brian bent over and grabbed his stomach, oblivious to the lock of thick dark hair that had fallen into his eyes. “Ah...Ah...I can’t go on.”

His tall redheaded companion grabbed his arm and pulled him along. “Would you rather let those screamies behind us catch you?” The redhead pointed up the hill to where a large number of young women stood looking to see which way their prey had gone.

Brian glanced back and, seeing the women, took off running again, passing both James “Jimbo” Frayne, the redhead, and his blond-headed brother, Mart. The three hopped over a small wall and took off across the parking lot of the commuter rail station. They ran up the stairs to the platform and vaulted a locked gate just as the screaming girls came running down the hill.

“Jimbo! Brian! Mart! In here.” Their chauffeur and bodyguard Tom Delanoy called to them from where he was standing with a porter. The three friends quickly boarded the train and took seats on the side opposite from the platform.

“Whew. That was close,” Jimbo offered as he slumped down into the seat and pulled his collar up over his mouth and nose. “Do you think they saw us get on the train?” He grabbed the hat that Tom offered and pulled it down over his distinctive red hair.

“I...I...I didn’t realize I was so out of shape.” Brian was still holding his stomach and gasping for air. “I guess the word is out that we are all from Sleepyside. It was only a matter of time before they traced us here.” He wiped the sweat from his forehead.

“Mmm...I din hab time to eat my sambich,” Mart mumbled between bites of a crushed cheeseburger he had pulled from the pocket of his jacket. He swallowed before continuing. “If I’d known we’d have to keep hiding from multitudes of screaming hysterical birds who won’t even let us enjoy a repast at Wimpy’s...I’d never have let Dan talk me into...”

“Speaking of whom, where’s Dan?” Brian interrupted. The three looked back and forth between themselves.

“Oh damn.” Mart was the first to speak. “We lost Dan,” he called to Tom.

“I see him.” Tom pointed to the mob of screaming girls now running across the parking lot. A handsome young man was struggling and pulling to fight his way through them. He was dragging a very reluctant old man behind him. It was obvious that the older gentleman did not enjoy being pulled and pushed by the mass of girls. “Is that Mr. Maypenny with him?”

Dan and Mr. Maypenny finally reached the bottom of the stairs where several police officers prohibited the girls from going any further. Dan helped Mr. Maypenny up the stairs and to a seat at the front of the railcar before joining his friends.

Mart, Brian and Jimbo looked inquiringly at Dan who gave a noncommittal shrug of his shoulders as if to say, “It’s not my fault.”

“It is your fault!” Mart, Brian and Jimbo said in unison. “YOU got us into this...”

“I never expected it to… I thought it’d be...”

“How am I going to get through Med School with screaming teeny boppers following me everywhere?” The desperation was obvious in Brian’s voice.

“My parents have had to hire extra security,” Jimbo added. “Imagine the wildlife that will be harmed from hordes of people tromping through the preserve! What if we have to put up an electric fence?”

“MY parents can’t afford ANY security.” Mart fell back into his seat. “And we know how the young girls go for blonds.” He rubbed his closely cropped hair and smiled.

“All I have is Mr. Maypenny!” Dan nodded to the older man who had already fallen asleep. “And I didn’t hear any of you complaining when that waitress gave you extra fries at lunch.”

“I’m getting carpel tunnel from signing my autograph.” Brian flexed his wrists.

The train started to move just as the throng of girls broke past the policemen. The four young men stopped their arguing and stepped over to the windows on the platform side of the train. They smiled and waved at the girls as the train pulled away.

Mart! Dan! Jimbo! Brian! Eeeee!

II. I Saw Her Standing There

“Hey! Where’s Mr. Maypenny?” Dan called out. The other three turned away from the windows and looked to where the older man had just been sitting.

“He was just here!” Dan slid open the end door of the train car and stepped out onto the gangway.

“Wait!” Jimbo called to him. “You can’t do that. It’s illegal!” Ignoring his warning, Mart and Brian pushed him aside and followed Dan into the adjoining railcar. “Pops? Mr. Maypenny? Mr. M?” they called.

Mart quickly caught up with Dan and they looked from one side of the car to the other as they walked through. They both stopped abruptly when they came upon two beautiful young women; one with long wavy black hair and bewitching violet eyes. Her companion, with light hair and hazel eyes, was equally attractive.

“Excuse me but have you seen the little old man we were with?” Dan offered his most seductive smile. “I mean, did a little old man go by here?”

Mart leaned over Dan’s shoulder. “He’s broken out, oh, the blessed freedom of it all! We’re looking for our…ah…Mr. Maypenny.” Mart quickly decided not to try to explain Dan’s complicated relationship with the older man. “He, eh, he helped… Have either of you lovely ladies got a nail file? These handcuffs are killing me.” He extended his hands as if they were handcuffed.

Both young women scooted away and stared in bewilderment, unable to understand any of what Mart was saying.

“Do you need help?” The honey-blonde asked meekly. “Is someone hurt?”

“What handcuffs?” The brunette added, batting her eyelashes. “I don’t see any handcuffs.”

“I was framed! I’m innocent!” Mart cried out, still pretending to be handcuffed.

“Will you stop it?” Dan pushed him aside and looked apologetically at the women. “Please ignore my so-called friend, Miss…ah…”

“Lynch. Diana Lynch.” The brunette offered her hand. “And this is my friend Honey Wheeler.” Honey continued cowering against the window, staying as far away as possible from Mart.

“Aren’t you...”

“Let go of me! I don't want to go! I want to talk to these beautiful birds,” Mart called out as Dan pulled him away. “Please…can I have your phone number at least…Once we…”

“Will you stop it?” Dan interrupted. He turned to the two women as he pulled Mart away. “Sorry for disturbing you.”

“I bet you can guess what I was in for,” Mart called back to the girls. Once they got to the end door, he looked back. “I was innocent. I was framed. I won't go back,” he cackled as Dan pulled him through the door.

“You blew that one, Belden. Imagine asking her for her phone number after you’ve acted like a total...”

“I think I’m in love; in love with a beautiful brunette named Diana Lynch.”

Jimbo and Brian had moved past the others and were already in the next railcar when Jimbo stopped suddenly. His mouth dropped open and he stared wordlessly at the occupant of the first seat, a striking blonde with an Irish setter laying on the floor beside her. She looked up and smiled while patting her blonde curls self-consciously. He sighed and smiled back. She then beckoned for him to join her. He looked around to see if she meant someone else and then pointed at himself as if to say: "Who, me?" The blonde smiled enthusiastically and patted the seat beside her.

“Jimbo...Jimbo Frayne.” He offered his hand.

“I know. You’re one of the...”

Brian had been watching the flirting silently. “Are you going to look for Mr. Maypenny or…” He broke the spell.

“No, she'll only reject me in the end and I'll be frustrated.” Jimbo sighed and turned away from the blonde.

“You never know, you might be lucky this time and find someone who actually likes stubborn redheads.”

“No.” Jimbo shook his head. “I know the psychological pattern and it plays havoc with my other talents.” Jimbo blew the beautiful blonde a kiss and she blew Jimbo a kiss back as he moved sadly on.

“Someday,” he mumbled as he spotted Mr. Maypenny asleep at the far end of the car.

III. P.S. I Love You

The four young men roused Mr. Maypenny and managed to get back to their seats without further incidence. The rest of the trip into the city passed quickly and they were able to make it through Grand Central Station by using passageways not open to the general public. An hour later they had settled into a large luxurious hotel suite just off Broadway.

Mart tried to nap on a sofa while Dan picked out Chopsticks on a highly polished grand piano. He rolled over and pulled a pillow tightly over his ears. “Don’t you know how to play anything else?”

“I’ll have you know that there are gazillions of girls who think I’m gifted.”

“Not at the piano. You can barely pick out Chopsticks. Leave the keyboard to Brian.”

“I’m gifted at many things, especially when it comes to women.” Dan smirked as switched to Heart and Soul.

“Oh geesh.” Mart pulled the pillow tighter around his head. “You should practice some restraint. Not only is your guardian out of control, but your narcissism is as well.” He struggled to get comfortable on the sofa.

“Would you puhleeze stop that abominable noise?” He lifted the receiver from a phone on the table next to the sofa. “I’m calling room service.”

Dan slammed the lid over the keys and pushed the bench away from the piano. “I’m going out of my bloody mind here. We need to find some girls, or, better yet, go out to find some girls! To a club, maybe.”

Jimbo and Brian walked into the suite just as Dan stood up from the piano.

“I do not snore,” Jimbo insisted as the door slammed behind him. Jimbo was carrying a small paper sack from the hotel gift shop.

“You do—all night long. It’s insufferable.” Brian took off his jacket and threw it over the back of a chair.

Jimbo picked up the tossed jacket and hung it, as well as his own coat, in the coat closet. “Do I snore?” he asked Mart.

Mart grabbed a banana from a large bowl on the coffee table. “You're a window rattler, friend.” He rolled back the peel and took a large bite.

“Well, that's just your opinion. Do I snore, Dan?”

Dan stepped over and patted his friend on the back. “With a trombone hooter like yours it'd be unnatural if you didn't.”

“Don't mock the afflicted, Danny,” Mr. Maypenny scolded as he came out of one of the bedrooms carrying a section of newspaper. “Do we have any room freshener? The loo is a bit...”

“Oh for Pete's sake; it's only a joke.” Dan sat back down at the piano.

“Well, it may be intended as a joke, but he can't help having a horrible hideous great hooter nose. It's the only one he's got. And his poor little head's trembling under the weight of it. And all those freckles are debilitating enough.”

“I have a cold!” Jimbo pulled out a package of antihistamines from the paper bag and held them up. “Everyone snores when they have a cold! And my freckles are...”

Interrupted by loud knocking, he turned and opened the door.

Tom entered the room struggling under the weight of a large canvas mail bin and emptied it onto the table in front of Mart.

“Dan, Mart, Brian - get at it.”

Jimbo stood at a mirror hung in the entryway and examined his face. He flexed his nose from right to left, and then turned to look at his profile.

“Hello, the tax collectors have caught up with us at last.” Mart tossed the banana peel into a trash can.

“Fan mail,” Tom corrected.

Mart, Dan and Brian gathered around the low table and began examining the letters while Jimbo continued to stare at the mirror, now pulling his hair back from his forehead to examine his freckles.

“Sorry, Jimbo.” Tom shrugged as he headed back towards the entryway. “None for you this time.”

Mart handed Jimbo a single envelope. “That'll keep you busy. ‘Occupant’.”

“It's your freckles or maybe your nose, y'see.” Mr. Maypenny consoled. “Fans are funny that way. Take a dislike to things. They'll pick on freckles, hair, teeth or a nose...”

“Oh, go and pick on your own.” Jimbo flopped into a chair and ripped up the envelope as Tom came back in with a second bin, filled to overflowing with at least three times more mail than the first bin.

“Hey, here.” Tom grunted as he dropped the mail into Jimbo’s lap.

“Is that yours?” Mart stared in disbelief.

“For Jimbo,” Tom confirmed.

“That must have cost you a fortune in stamps, Jimbo,” Mart smirked.

“His family has money,” Brian offered. “They probably paid someone to write.”

Jimbo ripped open a large embossed envelope and read the invitation inside. “Eh, what's Boyd's Le Circle Club?” he asked.

Dan took the letter from him. "The Management of Boyd's Le Circle Club takes pleasure in requesting the company of Mr. James W. Frayne, II, that's you, to their recently refinished gaming rooms. Chemin de Fer. Baccarat, Roulette, and Champagne Buffet," he read.

“And they want me?” Jimbo pointed to his chest. “Moi?”

“Did you say Champagne Buffet?” Mart stepped towards his friend. “Oh, it must’ve got round that you're a heavy big spender, Jimbo.”

“It says here, ‘Complimentary’.”

Tom snatched the card away from Dan. “Well, you're not going.”

Mr. Maypenny took the invitation from Tom and slipped it into his shirt pocket. “Quite right; invites to gambling dens full of easy money and fast women, chicken sandwiches and cornets of caviar? Disgusting!”

“Hey! That’s mine!” Jimbo reached for the card.

“Get your pens out, you lot!” Tom pointed to the piles of letters. “It's homework time for all you college puddings.” He indicated the fan letters. “All answered tonight.“

“I want to go out,” Jimbo whined.

“I'll brook no denial!” Tom threatened.

“It's all right for you, you couldn't get a pen in your foot, you swine,” Mart yelled.

“I’ll leave you to your penmanship. Chatter on, chatter on, but a touch of the writer's cramp will soon sort you out.” Tom grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl under the mail and began wiping it on his shirt. “Ta, then,” he called out as he turned and left.

The four young men stared silently until Mart deliberately rose and crossed to the closet. He put on a coat and opened the door.

“Where are you going?” Brian had sat down at the small dining table and was beginning to write.

“While the swine's away the piglets can play. What are we waiting for? I’m going to find some girls.”

With a whoop Dan, Brian and Jimbo collected their coats from the closet and headed out into the hallway, leaving the door wide open.

“What about all these letters?” Mr. Maypenny called out to them.

“Read 'em!” Brian responded as his friends headed up the hall towards the fire exit.

Mr. Maypenny sat for a while, listening. Once assured they weren’t coming back, he took the invitation from his pocket. “And a free champagne buffet,” he read aloud, grinning broadly. “Semi-formal attire. What the heck is semi-formal?”

His thoughts were interrupted by a waiter standing in the doorway.

“C’min lad,” Mr. Maypenny greeted him. The waiter placed a large tray on the table where Brian had been sitting just moments earlier.

“Room service,” the waiter explained. “I'll clean up, sir,” he offered as he cleared away some of the mail.

“Is that semi-formal attire?” The waiter was clad in tails and Mr. Maypenny stared at his jacket longingly, measuring first himself and then the startled waiter. “I was wondering lad, what it might cost...”

IV. I’m Happy Just to Dance with You

Mart carefully opened the fire exit into an alley behind the hotel. “It’s clear,” he advised his friends as he stepped outside. “Looks like no one is watching for us back here.”

“It’s getting late,” his brother explained. “Most of them have curfews.”

“Like ours?” Dan laughed as he headed down the alley. “I’m going to find a place that has good food, drinks and at least one cute little blonde who wants to dance!”

“Just dance?” Mart asked as he joined Dan.

The foursome checked out several night clubs before selecting one they thought was dark enough that no one would recognize them. Pulling hats down over their hair before entering, they found a small table in the back corner and squeezed around it.

Jimbo pulled his hat further down over his forehead and held up four fingers to a waiter who nodded and headed towards the bar. He quickly returned with four large mugs and placed them on the table.

“I’ll have a cheeseburger,” Jimbo said as he grabbed a mug. “With extra onions and…”

“You plan to pick up chicks after eating onions?” Dan asked.

“Oh, hold the onions,” Jimbo corrected.

“I’d like a triple burger, bacon, extra cheese and fries,” Mart added.

Dan and Brian ordered burgers and the waiter left. All four young men leaned back in their chairs and sipped while they watched the dancers. The club was the latest in modern decor and full of young adults enjoying themselves dancing to music blasting from large speakers. One by one each of the young men joined the dancers, forgetting their desire not to be noticed.

Mart saw that the waiter was setting plates on their table and quickly tried to untangle himself from a young woman. “My dinner…I’m sorry, I really…”

The woman tried to pull him back onto the dance floor. “Just a little more. Your food can wait.”

“No! I need to eat.” Mart pulled away and his hat fell off.

“Wait! Are you? You are!” The girl screamed. “It’s Mart! Mart Belden.”

Mart tried to get to his food, but he was quickly grabbed by his friends and they all pushed through the crowd to a rear exit. An alarm sounded when they pushed open the door, but they ignored it and ran up the alley.

“I think we lost them,” Brian gasped once they were several blocks away. “We can stop running.” He pulled off his hat and grabbed his stomach. “Why didn’t I go out for Cross Country in high school?”

“It’s not too late to start training.” Jimbo started to take off his hat, but decided it might be better to keep it on.

“Do you want to try another club?” Dan asked as they headed towards Broadway.

“I think the girls will mob us no matter where we go.” Jimbo sighed. “Who would think that a red hair and freckles would create such hysteria? Unless it’s my suppleness.”

Brian whacked him in the head with his hat. “Not too vain, are you?”

“That makes two chances at dinner that I’ve missed,” Mart complained. “We left our suite before room service arrived and I didn’t get a single bite of my burger…”

“I don’t think any clubs will let me in.” Brian tried to cover his torso with the tattered remains of his shirt. “Those chicks ripped my shirt right off of me…and my jacket’s still on the back of my chair.”

The others looked at Brian and broke out in laughter when they saw him.

“I vote we head back to the suite and hit the minibar,” Dan suggested. “Before someone tears off the rest of Brian’s shirt.”

“And order room service. My last order has to be cold and stale by now,” Mart offered.

The four young men managed to enter the hotel by a side door near the elevators, avoiding the crowd of fans waiting at the main entrance. They had a scare when no one could find a key card for their suite, until Jimbo found his in the front pocket of his jeans.

“I forgot that I left my wallet in my room and put this where a fan couldn’t get it for a souvenir.” He opened the door and they all went in.

While the foursome were in the hallway looking for a key, they woke up the waiter who had been dozing in a chair in the living room of their suite, wearing nothing but his underclothes. Hearing them, he jumped up in panic.

“The manager!” he called out as he scanned the room for a place to hide. He ran over to the coat closet and stepped inside, pulling the door closed just as the four young men stepped inside.

“Good. Room service left our dinner!” Mart headed directly to the dining table.

“See if the food is too cold to eat,” Brian said as he headed towards a bedroom. “I need to get out of this shirt…or at least what’s left of it.”

“And I think we need to at least look like we’re responding to all the mail,” Jimbo said as he took off his jacket and went to hang it up in the coat closet. He hesitated, shut the door and headed across the room.

“Any of you lot put a man in that cupboard?”

“A man?” Dan looked at Mart who shook his head. “No.”

“Well somebody did.” Jimbo pointed to the closet just as Brian came back into the living area. “Hey, Brian; check the coat closet.”

Brian finished buttoning his shirt as he crossed over to the closet. He opened the door, looked inside, and closed it. “He's right, y'know. There’s a man in there.”

“Ah well, there you go.” Mart grabbed a sandwich from the tray. “Sandwiches are still fresh.” He was handing sandwiches to Brian and Dan when Tom came in.

“I hope you’ve been writing.” He took off his jacket and went to hang it in the closet, then pulled the waiter out. “Eh, what's all this?”

“Oh, him. He's been lurking.” Dan took a bite of his sandwich and sat down in a chair.

“He looks a right lurker,” Mart mumbled as he chewed.

“Where are your clothes?” Tom confronted the waiter.

“The old gentlemen borrowed them to go gambling at Le Circle. I’m just waiting. I didn’t…”

“No!” Dan yelled as he threw his sandwich onto the table. “Mr. Maypenny? Le Circle? Did he go…?”

“Oh, he's gone to my club, has he?” Jimbo asked.

Dan pointed a finger at Jimbo. “It's all your fault! Getting invites to gambling clubs. He's probably in the middle of an orgy by now.”

“Well, what are we waiting for?” Brian asked as he headed towards the door with Jimbo right behind him.

“Aye, come on, honest, that Mr. Maypenny of yours is worse than any of you lot,” Tom scolded.

“He’s not my Mr. Maypenny. He’s my guardian,” Dan corrected as he ran out the door.

“What about me?” the waiter called out to them.

“Too old.” Mart grabbed a second sandwich and followed his friends out the door.

“You’re not going without me.” Tom ran out and slammed the door shut.

V. Baby You’re a Rich Man

A taxi stopped in front of a large elegant town house and Dan, Brian and Jimbo got out. “He’s paying,” Dan informed the driver and pointed to the second taxi, carrying Mart and Tom, that had pulled up behind them.

The three ran up the stairs to the entrance but were stopped by a large man blocking the doorway. “Invitation only.” He held out his left hand.

“I know who you are.” The doorman stepped aside. “Imagine, your coming here. In the flesh.” He stared in disbelief as the first three went in and Mart and Tom ran by.

All five stopped suddenly at the entrance to the large Casino, awed by the room’s atmosphere of quiet elegance and loud wealth. Around the baccarat table rich, bored customers sat barely moving a face muscle as they languidly murmured "suivez" and "banco" to the dealer operating the shoe. A man, obviously the manager of the club, stood to the side of the entrance, surveying the room.

“Come ahead you lot. Just try to act with a bit of decorum - this is a posh place.” Tom started to head towards Mr. Maypenny.

“We know how to behave, we've had lessons.” Mart tried to follow Tom.

“I’m sorry, sir, members and invited guests only.” The manager stepped in front of him.

“I've got to get in. It's urgent and important.” Jimbo moved towards to the manager. “I’m James Winthrop Frayne, II. I’ve got an invitation.”

“You’ll have to show it, sir.”

“I...his...” Jimbo pointed to Dan. “Mr. Maypenny...we need to get in…”

“He’s Jimbo,” Dan advised. “And we’re the...

“Shhh,” Tom hissed as he handed the manager a bill.

“Oh, yes!” The manager stepped aside and let them in.

“I'm with them, I'm Jimbo's sister,” Brian said as he ran behind his friends.

Each table was surrounded by male players accompanied by lush ladies with bored sophisticated faces that looked as if they had been painted on. One of the men turned towards the commotion at the entrance and they saw that it is Mr. Maypenny with a buxom blonde draped ll over him. They hurried across the room towards him and watched in disbelief as the older man continued to play.

“Alors, M'sieur?” the dealer asked.

“Soufflé,” Mr. Maypenny responded nonchalantly. He turned to the blonde and winked. “I bet you're a great swimmer.

“M’sier?” the croupier interrupted.

“Huh? My turn? Bingo!”

“Pas ‘Bingo,’ M'sieur. ‘Banco’,” the croupier advised Mr. Maypenny.

“I'll take the little darlings anyway.” Mr. Maypenny took up the cards. “Two and one is three, carry one is four…”

The buxom blonde leaned over to him. “Lay them down,” she whispered.

“Eh?” Mr. Maypenny winked at the blonde again.

“Lay them down,” she said louder.

“We'd be thrown out.” He smiled and winked again.

“Your cards. Lay them down; face up.”

He did so.

“Huit a la pointe et sept.” The croupier pushed several stacks of chips to Mr. Maypenny.

“You have a lovely little pair, y'see.”

“Mr. Maypenny smiled. “Not as nice as yours, I’m afraid.”

The Croupier tapped impatiently on the shoe box.

“They're yours.”

“They are?” Mr. Maypenny asked in disbelief.

Mart, Dan, Brian, Jimbo and Tom watched in disbelief as Mr. Maypenny locked arms with the blonde and the two tapped champagne glasses, then drank.

“Encore de champagne, Monsieur?” a passing waiter asked.

“Yes, and I'll have some more champagne as well.” He took another swig of his glass.

“Stay where you are everybody this is a raid and we want him,” Dan interrupted.

“Who are these ruffians?” Mr. Maypenny protested loudly as the five younger men surrounded him. “I've never seen them before in my life!”

They grabbed Mr. Maypenny and dragged him into the reception area.

“Before you go, gentlemen, there's the small matter of the bill,” the manager reminded them with false charm. He snapped his fingers and a waiter handed him a bill.

“I'll settle that.” Tom took the bill and glanced at it. “Eighteen hundred dollars?”

“I beg your pardon. Those are thousands,” the manager corrected icily. “Eighteen thousand dollars.”

At that moment a waiter appeared with a tray full of dollar bills. “Your winnings, my lord. Nineteen thousand dollars.”

The manager tore up the bill and took the money.

“How about my change?” Mr. Maypenny struggled to get free.

“Cloak room charge,” the manager said as he handed Tom Mr. Maypenny’s old Mackintosh.

“Ah well, easy come, easy go,” Jimbo offered as he led Mr. Maypenny towards the door.

The others glowered at him as they followed.

VI: Yellow Submarine

The younger men were able to get Mr. Maypenny back to their hotel suite and settled without further incident. Once they finished the now stale sandwiches that had been delivered earlier, they settled into the comfortable chairs of the living room.

Bored with what the others were watching on the television, Mart disappeared into his room. Sometime later, Brian and Tom left too.

Brian grabbed his ditty bag and a towel from his room and the two headed into the adjoining bathroom. When they entered, they found the tub full of bubbles that were high over the top and spreading out across the floor. After a moment, Mart's head appeared out of the bubbles, wearing a leather cap and holding a toy merchant ship and a toy submarine.

He began to play an elaborate game of U-Boat hunting a British ship; barking orders in broken German. “Guten morgan, mein Herr. Konnen Sie nach ein tea haben? Ah, the filthy Englander, gootey morgee,” he greeted his brother.

“What is this?” Brian asked. “You’ve got suds all over the floor.”

Tom waited in the doorway. “Aw, go on Brian. We can do this later.”

“Don't be ridiculous.” Brian set his bag on the sink and turned to Tom. “Honestly, my mind boggles at the very idea. A grown man and you've never shaved with a safety razor?”

“It's not my fault, I'm from a long line of electricians,” Tom protested.

“Oh, come on then.” Brian took out a razor and can of lather from the leather bag. He hesitated and then, instead of lathering his own face, he lathered Tom’s image in the mirror and shaved the image while making all the appropriate faces of shaving on his own face, mimicked closely by Tom.

Oblivious to the other two men, Mart continued his North Atlantic sea-war. “Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the…”

“Put that tongue away, it looks disgusting hanging there all pink and naked - one slip of the razor and…” Brian warned Tom.

Tom hastily withdrew his tongue with a gulp as Mart cried out, “Hilf ich, uns hilfen. Help!

Tom and Brian rushed to the bathtub just in time to see Mart disappear below the surface of the bubbles.

“Torpedoed again.” Brian turned to Tom.

They were about to resume the shaving lesson when Dan appeared in the doorway. “And what's all this? Do you know there's a car waiting to take us to the television studio?” He bundled Tom and Brian out of the bathroom. “Where's Mart? Come on lads, where's Mart?”

“In the bath,” Brian called back over his shoulder.

“All right, Belden, let's have you.” Getting no response he reached down and pulled the plug. “Come on Mart, stop larking about.”

Dan waited a moment then turned to the tub; a look of horror came over his face as he realized the tub was empty.

“Mart! Mart!” He lifted the toy submarine out of the suds.

“What are you messing around with that boat for? There's a car waiting, come on!”

Dan turned to see Mart standing in the doorway, completely dressed.

VII: All My Loving

The other three quickly changed into fresh clothes and they hurried downstairs and squeezed into the back of a stretch limousine.

“Get ready, Mart. As soon as we draw up, open that door and run straight in,” Tom advised as they pulled to the curb.

Mart nodded his understanding and opened the door. The crowd of fans waiting on the sidewalk began screaming and swarmed around them. To escape, they all dashed into a night-watchman's canvas hut, picked it up and ran with it to the stage door. At the door they put the hut down and entered the theatre, leaving the night watchman staring in astonishment.

As they entered, two men in dark suits, white shirts and ties stepped forward and smiled menacingly. “Press conference, they're waiting for you,” the first man greeted them. “We can't wait much longer. We'll have to start.”

“Come on boys. Hurry up.” The second man waved them along.

“All right. Give us a couple of shakes to get our breath,” Tom protested.

“They're waiting now!” The tone of the first man threatened as the two greeters each grabbed an arm and marched the protesting Tom towards a stairwell.

“They're even taking hostages,” Dan whispered to Mart as they all rushed after Tom and the two men.

Once upstairs, they entered a small ballroom that was empty except for two barmaids standing behind trestle tables full of drinks and sandwiches. They were headed toward the table of food, when several dozen reporters and photographers burst into the room from all directions. An elaborate tug-of-war began. Cameras began flashing and a number of reporters began pushing and shoving to get closer to the young men.

There was continuous pushing and pulling and questions were yelled out across the room. A few older men, obviously veteran newspapermen, ignored the chaos and headed straight towards the refreshments. Mart, Dan, Brian and Jimbo finally made it to the buffet, but each time one of them attempted to get a sandwich or a drink, he found the plate empty or he was intercepted. The reporters continued shouting out questions over the crowd.

“What's your philosophy of life?

“I'm torn between Zen and I'm alright,” Mart finally grabbed a drink but missed a sandwich by a fraction of an inch.

“Has success changed your life?”

Jimbo shrugged as he almost got hit by a camera. “Yes.”

“Do you like playing the keyboard?”

“Next to kissing girls, it's my favorite thing to do.” Brian winked.

“How about music?”

Dan grabbed a few cookies from a passing tray. “I've always liked that question.”

“Are the four of you close friends?”

“No, actually, we're just good friends,” Dan responded.

Mart pointed to Jimbo. “I never noticed his freckles until about six days ago.”

“Tell me how did you find London?”

“Turned right at Greenland,” Mart mumbled, his mouth full of the cookies he’d just taken from Dan.

“Has success changed your life?”

“Yes.” Brian grabbed a glass from a passing tray and, seeing it was empty, placed it back.

“Are you a mod or a rocker?”

Jimbo looked confused. “I’m, uh, no, I'm a mocker.”

“Mart! Do you have any hobbies?”

Mart scribbled an answer on a piece of paper and handed it to the reporter.

“Do you think your haircut has come to stay?”

Jimbo rubbed his head. “Well, this one has you know, stuck on good and proper now.”

“What would you call that hairstyle you're wearing?”

“Arthur,” Brian replied. “And his is called Red Arthur”

“What do you call that collar?”

“Oh, a collar.” Jimbo tugged at his.

“How do you like your girlfriends to dress?”

Jimbo and Dan looked at each other and grinned as Tom grabbed them by the arms and dragged them out of the room.

They hurried down a long narrow hall and into a large dressing room where a tailor was waiting and Mr. Maypenny was sound asleep on a long leather sofa.

The tailor grabbed the tape measure from around his neck and a pack of pins and began to measure each young man’s pants leg. He took four pair of pants from a rack and had them each try on a pair.

He was pinning up the Dan’s pants when he moved across the room to check on Mr. Maypenny. The tailor continued to struggle to pin up the pants legs as Dan moved around.

“What do we do about Goldilocks while we’re on stage?” Dan pointed to the sleeping Mr. Maypenny.

“Wake him up and take him with us,” Brian offered.

“But he doesn’t play. And he’s snoring.”

“Oh, tactfully and gently,” Mart offered as he tip-toed over to the old man, bent over him quietly and yelled into his ear. “Wake up, the ship’s going down!”

Mr. Maypenny leapt into the air.

“That's right, go on, give him a heart attack,” Jimbo protested.

“Yeah; he's right.” Dan tripped over the tailor who was crawling under him.

“Don't tell me...” Mart replied.

“Will you all get a move on? They're waiting for you!” Tom tried to break up the dispute.

By this time the tailor had his tape stretched between his hands and was trying to measure Brian's shoulders. Brian moved away and left him measuring space. Mart grabbed a pair of scissors and cut the tape.

“I now declare this bridge open,” Mart exclaimed as they all ran out the door and onto the side of the stage.

Each young man grabbed the musical instrument offered to him by Tom and hurried over to the side of the stage. Brian flexed his fingers, Jimbo nervously brushed his harmonica up and down on his pants leg; Mart quietly tuned his banjo, and Dan wet and then adjusted the reed on his contrabass clarinet as they waited for Ed Sullivan to finish making his introduction.

“Now yesterday and today our theater's been jammed with newspapermen and hundreds of photographers from all over the nation, and these veterans agreed with me that the city never has had the excitement stirred by these youngsters from Sleepyside. Now tonight, you're gonna twice be entertained by them. Right now, and again in the second half of our show.”

Nodding to each other to confirm they were all ready, they ran onto the stage.

“Ladies and gentlemen, The Bob Whites. Let’s bring them on.”


Mart, Dan, Brian and Jimbo took their places on the stage to ear-splitting screeches from the teenaged girls in the audience.

All my loving
I will send to you
All my loving…

Mart! EEEE!

Dan! EEEE!

Brian! EEEE!

Jimbo! EEEE!

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional

This is an unauthorized fan site and is not affiliated with Random House in any way. No profit is being made from these pages.