This was an entry suggested to me by AuroraSkye. All she asked for was something about George Harrison, the former Beatle. I kind of had an idea where I wanted to go with it from the beginning, but things don’t always work out as one expects they might, and this story does not end in the same way as I had originally envisioned. My research on George was rather skimpy, and I doubt that I have his voice down. Nonetheless, for better or for worse, the story is written. Take what enjoyment you can out of it.
All Things Must Pass
On a dirt road deep in a largely unexplored area of the Canadian wilderness, one of the richest men in the world grumbled, sat down on a rock, and tried to scrape the mud off of his shoes.
He mused that this was not, by far, the most difficult part of the journey, although it was part that he liked the least. Being extremely wealthy and famous meant that it was almost impossible to go somewhere where SOMEONE wouldn’t know where you were. The thinking and the technical difficulties of escaping the press, tabloids, paparazzi, his own security guards, and about 500 other people WITHOUT them noticing that you were gone was undoubtedly the most challenging aspect. He was very intelligent (almost no one could become as rich and famous as he was without having some smarts), and he took on that task with relish.
Walking the last ten miles on foot on a rain soaked dirt road was not pleasant, however, and he wasn’t as young, or in nearly as good a shape, as he used to be.
There was no choice about it, though. He had been summoned, and answering this particular call was far, far more important than the discomfort experienced by walking a couple of miles down a muddy road.
Having cleaned his shoes as best he could, he got up and began walking again, immediately making them just as bad as they were before. He groaned in frustration, and clomped onward for the final mile.
The place he finally arrived at couldn’t be called a house. It barely, in fact, qualified to be called a shack. It was off the road just far enough to be invisible from it, and looked abandoned and about to fall over. The man doubled checked the GPS coordinates on his cellphone; even he was surprised by the dilapidated condition of the place. He had expected unassuming. This, however, was a wreck.
He pushed the door open cautiously. It didn’t quite fall off it’s hinges, but he wouldn’t expect it to be able to hold up to a push from, say, a rabbit if it was angry enough.
There was a neatly cut hole in the middle of the floor, and what looked like aluminum steps leading downward.
The man sighed, understanding a little more now, and proceeded down the dimly lit steps. The floor slid closed above him the moment he was safely out of it’s range.
The voice that came out of the dim light was not one that the man recognized. The accent was completely unrecognizable and unidentifiable. The shadowed shape was familiar, however.
With that word the lights came on fully, and, indeed, it was George that stood before him. He looked younger than he remembered, looking only 30 or 35 at most, with the long hair and mustache that characterized him so perfectly at that age.
“Is this voice a bit better for you?”
The voice change was amazing for Paul, for suddenly George had assumed a perfect Liverpool accent. It was a voice he knew very well from his younger days.
“That voice change–that’s amazing, George.”
George shrugged. “Changing voices becomes very matter of fact after a while. So come in. Have a seat.”
Paul walked into the underground chamber. It was decorated modestly but comfortably, with a low glass table and several leather chairs. Several musical instruments were scattered about. A high quality piano sat in the corner, with a synthesizer next to it. There were several guitars, a violin, and a sitar in various other places throughout the room.
“You look like you’re doing pretty well here, George,” commented Paul.
George laughed. “I’ve lived a lot worse. The diet gets a little monotonous. I have to do my own hunting you know. But there’s plenty of game and fish and berries if one knows where to look.”
Paul cringed a bit, but said nothing. George caught it, of course.
“Ah, yes, I know I was a vegetarian, and you still are. Not a good option for me out here in the wilderness, Paul. I’m a carnivore again, and I have to say that I missed meat a great deal.”
“I understand, George.”
“No, you don’t. Not really. But that doesn’t matter. So I understand that your want another hit song from me?”
Paul paused. “I asked for that almost ten years ago, before you even died.”
“You weren’t ready for it yet, Paul. You were still too young. Your performances were still strong. If I had given you one then, you still would have wanted another later.”
“Ah, so now that I have one foot in the grave you’ll condescend to write a song for me? That gives me the warm fuzzies all over, that does.”
George smiled. “All things must pass, Paul. If I gave you your epic too early no one would have believed it. You have to feel the weight of mortality pressing on your bones.”
“I got that when John was shot. When Linda died. Even when you pulled that death thing. It’s not easy, knowing, well, in your case thinking, that your never going to see someone again.”
George took a cigarette, lit it, and took a long drag on it. “No, it isn’t easy. But you never really felt that weight. Not then. Not like you do now. Age, experience, a few humiliating surgical procedures; you needed to get all of that under your belt before you felt the reality of death.”
Paul forced a laugh. “I got to tell you, George, I can see why you don’t have a lot of people stopping to visit you these days. You aren’t exactly a bundle of good cheer and laughs, you know that?”
George leaned back in his chair and blew a perfect smoke circle. “Are you going to tell me I’m wrong?”
“Of course not. But tact has never been one of your strong points.”
“Eh. People don’t live long enough for tact.”
“Yes yes, I know. All things must pass, except you, of course.’
“Just cause I don’t die doesn’t mean that I don’t experience death. I’ve learned to walk away from my friends, my wife, my children; everything that I’ve grown to love and cherish. I voluntarily walk away from it. Throw away one life completely, start another. T’ain’t easy, my friend.”
“Okay, I’ll give you that. And to answer your question, yeah, I do want one final hit song. Something that will remind people that I was an artist, you know.”
“Yeah, I know. And you’ve kept my secret, so I do owe you a bit of something.”
Paul guafawed. “It’s not like anyone would believe me, anyway. ‘Yeah, that George Harrison. Not his real name you know? He’s been alive for seven hundred years and used to be Mozart and a lot of other famous people.’ I’ve no particular interest in being considered any more eccentric than I already am.”
“Okay, so you’re not dumb, either. In this world, I still think that deserves a bit of a reward.”
“I’m not turning it down, you know. I’ve never turned down what you’ve offered. I owe you everything, man. You were everything behind the Beatles, and you let me and John take all the credit.”
“Well, you turned into a passable artist yourself. And John, well, he had genius in him, he did.”
“And Ringo had his name.” Paul laughed. “He never guessed it was you.”
“Well, he didn’t need to know, did he? Would you like a smoke for old times sake.”
Paul smiled and reached out for the proffered cigarette. “Why not. It’s not like it’s going to shorten my life too much now.”
Paul took the cigarette, lit it, and took a long, slow, savoring drag.
“So, when are you planning to come out again? You can’t stay buried in the place forever.”
“Well, I probably could, but I’ll give it another ten years or so. Maybe. Not so sure it’ll be possible, actually.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, science is making things a lot harder than it used to be. Everyone is so well tracked these days. Just walking into the world at 15 years of age or so isn’t as likely to go unnoticed as it would in years past.”
“Hmmm. I suppose not. Haven’t really thought about that.”
“I might be able to pull it off once more, if I’m ‘born’ in an obscure enough place. This would be the last time, though.”
“What? One more life to live? You can’t do that, George. I mean, can you?”
“I may not have a choice. With luck, they’ll eventually find a cure for death. Then I’ll never need to hide again.”
“Yeah, well, that’ll be too late for me, won’t it?”
“You could always have your body frozen, you know.”
Paul laughed. “Not bloody likely. I’m trying to be remembered as a songwriter. An artist. Not as some bloody fruitjob Let me be buried with dignity rather than have myself turned in to a frozen lolly.”
“Hey, don’t sell it short, you know. It might be your ticket to eternal life.”
“Not interested. I’ve done enough in this one, thank you very much.”
George nodded his head, a trace of sadness in his expression. Paul didn’t pick up on it.
“Well, anyway,” said George, “here’s your swansong. I can give you the music. It’s up to you to sell it.”
Paul read over the music, humming occasionally as he went along. He bit his lip and shook his head.
“Wow!” was all he said.
“Yeah, well, it could be my swansong too you know. Don’t screw it up.”
“I’ll make you proud, Georgie.”
The two of them looked at each other for a long moment.
“Well, I suppose that this may be the last time we see each other, mate,” said Paul.
“Another goodbye. I’m far too used to them. I hope the rest of your life turns out well.”
“Yeah. And you, well, you I hope what ever is keeping you alive keeps working.”
“Do you? I’d trade it away in a minute, you know, just to live a normal life.”
Paul paused. “Well, I can’t help you there mate. If you don’t know what’s keeping you alive I sure as hell don’t understand it.”
The two shook hands, grasping firmly. George pulled a lever and the staircase re-appeared, as well as the exit to the surface. Paul climbed the stairs into the approaching dusk.
He sighed as the floor closed behind him, and looked once again at the music in the dimming light of the setting sun.
It WAS good. It managed to sound like something he may have written, but it carried so much more than that.
Paul recognized that this work was written less with his own demise in mind then it was written from the perspective of the passage of the man the world new as George Harrison from the world. It was HIS goodbye, one that he could never have claimed to have written himself because he simply didn’t want that kind of expectation from people any more. Whatever else happened, the world would never see anything of George Harrison any more. Even the the person behind the man was apparently immortal, George himself had passed out of this life. It felt more real this time even then it did with his faked death from brain cancer.
Whomever would emerge from that hole would not be George Harrison anymore.
He wondered briefly about the freezing himself comment. It occurred to him that may George wanted him to try it, just so that he could have a chance to see someone consistent in his life from his past. On those grounds, maybe he would consider it.
Paul carefully folded the music and put it in his pocket. He would take George’s final message to the world. Yes, he would pass it off as his own, but that was the way George wanted it…the way he had ALWAYS wanted it.
Paul McCartney bundled up his coat against a sudden cool breaze and hurried up the muddy road.