"Jeannie! JEANNIE!" Tony Nelson shouted from the breakfast table on his back terrace.
Hearing no response, he scooped the coffee pot off the table and carried it into the house. He found Jeannie dancing in the middle of the living room floor, swinging her hips and swaying her arms to the beat of a silent song. A large set of headphones, attached to a floating record player, had been pulled over her dark pink hat and high ponytail. To her side, a vacuum cleaner slid back and forth over the carpet unaided.
"Jeannie!" Tony shouted again. He approached her from behind and tapped her shoulder.
She spun around and met his eyes. The record player crashed to the floor and the vacuum skidded to a stop. "Oh, Master," she apologized as she slipped the headphones off. "I did not hear you. I was listening to the new Beatles record!"
"I'm not surprised you couldn't hear me, listening to that awful racket," he replied. He held up the coffee pot for her inspection. "You made me tea this morning instead of coffee. You know I don't like tea."
"I am so sorry," she replied. She turned her gaze towards the pot and blinked her eyes. "There you go. The finest Arabian coffee for my finest American master."
"Thank you," Tony said. He started walking back to the terrace but stopped when the front door opened.
Roger Healy stepped into the living room, his military cap tucked under his arm. "Hi Tony, Hi Jeannie!" he exclaimed. "I was just driving by your house when I smelled the most heavenly aroma. I had to drop in and see what it was."
"Jeannie just blinked me a pot of Arabian coffee," Tony explained. "Come sit with me out back and I'll pour you a cup."
Roger looked at the record player lying in the middle of the carpet. "I hope that's not broken."
"Oh, it is not," Jeannie replied. She crossed her arms in front of her chest and blinked her eyes. The turntable and attached headphones floated off the ground and landed gently on top of the dining room table. "It should still work. If it does not, I will blink up a new one."
"I didn't mean the stereo, I meant the album," Roger said. "That's the newest Beatles record, isn't it? I recognize the Capitol Records label in the middle of the disc."
"Yes, it is!" Jeannie exclaimed. "It is called 'Revolver'. It is a very clever title, do you not think? Because the record revolves around the turntable!"
"I wouldn't mind using a revolver to shoot that record," Tony griped. "If you ask me, the Beatles have gotten awfully weird these days. I'm not sure I approve of your listening to their music anymore, Jeannie."
"But Master!" she cried, gazing at him with a pitiful expression. "They are artists!"
"They are rich too," Roger noted. "They're selling out stadiums all over the country this summer."
"Well, I don't much care for their new songs," Tony insisted. "I don't even understand them."
Jeannie tilted her head and smiled at Tony as if he were a small child. "Master, the Beatles have taken elements from the East, like the Indian sitar and words from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and introduced them to the Western world," she explained. "Just like I have brought the ways of the East to you in Cocoa Beach."
"She has a good point there, Tony," Roger agreed. He looked up at Jeannie. "I wish I had a cup for my coffee."
"Oh, of course," Jeannie said. She folded her arms and blinked once more. A delicately painted china cup and saucer appeared in Roger's hand.
Roger smiled and held out his cup to Tony. "Could you pour me a drink, Tone? I mean, seeing as how you're holding the pot and all."
Tony rolled his eyes and rested the coffee pot on the table beside the turntable. "Help yourself," he said. Then he turned and focused a stern gaze at Jeannie. "I've read some disturbing things about the Beatles in the papers lately. The leader of their band has boasted that his group is better than Christ!"
"No, he didn't," Roger protested as he filled his coffee cup. "John Lennon only said that the Beatles were bigger than Christ. He wasn't claiming to be a god of any kind. He was only commenting on the sad decline of the Church of England."
"Well, that's not how I read his remarks," Tony countered. "Did you know that a radio station in Texas staged a big protest against the band? They built a huge bonfire and asked their listeners to come and throw their Beatles records into the flames!"
"Yeah, and did you know that the station's radio tower was hit by lightning the very next day?" Roger replied with a smirk.
Jeannie clapped her hands and smiled. "Yes, yes, it was! And they are still not back on the air yet!"
Tony furrowed his brow. "Jeannie, did you have anything to do with that lightning strike?"
Jeannie hid her hands behind her back and bowed her head in contrition. "Well, Master, perhaps I might have guided a lightning bolt or two towards the radio antenna. But no one was hurt. And more important, no one is the wiser."
"Jeannie, I…" Tony began, but Roger interrupted him.
"I don't suppose you could blink us into one of the Beatles' concerts, could you, Jeannie?" Roger asked. "I would have bought myself a ticket, but they're not playing anywhere near Cocoa Beach."
"Yes, the closest they came to Florida was Memphis, Tennessee," Jeannie agreed. She looked at Roger sadly, but then her eyes lit up. "But I can do something better than blinking us into a Beatles concert!" She folded her arms in front of her chest once more.
"No, Jeannie, don't you even think about doing what I think you're thinking about doing!" Tony commanded her.
Jeannie blinked her eyes. A chime-like, boinging sound filled the air. And then the Beatles appeared in the middle of Tony's living room.
John, Paul, George and Ringo stared incredulously at their three new companions, then exchanged nervous glances with each other. Then they looked back at Tony, Jeannie and Roger once more.
"Christ!" cursed John, breaking the awkward silence. "What the hell did Mal slip into our tea this morning?"
"I think more likely it's the acid from last night," George proposed. "It's kicking in again."
"But I didn't drop any acid at the party yesterday," Ringo pointed out. "So how can I be tripping right along with you lot?"
"Beats me," Paul said. He sized up Jeannie and smiled at her with a bedazzled expression. "But who cares? We are in the company of the most beautiful Arabian princess that I have ever seen!"
Jeannie clapped her hands and giggled at Paul.
"How many Arabian princesses have you seen then?" John challenged.
"Actually, she's not a princess, she's a genie," Roger pointed out.
George threw a quick glance at Roger, then looked back at Jeannie and smiled appreciatively. "Even better," he said.
"Bugger, I feel like we've been thrown into one of those barmy Beatles cartoons that play on Saturday morning telly," laughed Paul.
John shrugged. "Actually, this is hardly the strangest thing to have happened to us on this goddamned tour."
Ringo took a step towards Jeannie. "So you're a genie, are you? Can you grant us each three wishes?"
"She most certainly cannot!" Tony exclaimed. "I am Major Anthony Nelson of the United States Air Force. And Jeannie is my genie!"
John scowled at Tony, then looked back at Jeannie and smirked. "Miss, I think you need to find yourself a copy of Betty Friedan's bestseller The Feminine Mystique. And then you should jump into the second wave and learn to stand up to this controlling, male chauvinist wanker."
Ringo turned towards John. "What do you mean, 'The second wave'?"
"The second wave of feminism," John explained. "The suffragettes represented the first wave in the early part of the century. And now all the hip, cool girls are teaming up to create the second."
Paul turned towards Tony. "Perhaps the major is a lady suffragette," he proposed. "In drag, of course."
Jeannie laughed. "No, you are both wrong. My master is not a suffragette. He is an astronaut. And there have been many waves of feminism before this century. Why, I remember having tea with Mary Wollstonecraft once, and she talked about how she was inspired by Helen of Anjou and Balaram Das of India."
George's eyes lit up. "I've heard about Balaram Das! She wrote the Lakshmi Purana, didn't she?"
"Yes, she did," Jeannie replied. "She was such a brilliant poet. And when I first met her she…"
Tony cut her off. "Never mind that, Jeannie. Get these four beatniks out of my house this instant, and send them back to where they once belonged!"
"I like the sound of that phrase," Paul said, a thoughtful look washing over his face. "Get back to where you once belonged…Does anyone have a pen I could borrow? I want to write that line down before I forget it."
Jeannie turned towards Tony and pouted. "But Master, can they not play a song for us before I send them away? I do so want to hear them!"
"I'd love to hear them too, Tony," Roger added.
"We haven't got our instruments," George pointed out.
"Oh, I can fix that," Jeannie said. She crossed her arms in front of her chest and blinked again. Two electric guitars, a Höfner bass and a large drum kit appeared on the carpet beside the band.
"How did she do that?" Ringo asked.
"She's a genie," George replied nonchalantly. "She probably does that sort of thing all the time."
John turned towards Tony and Roger and frowned. "We only play for money."
"No," Tony replied. "Jeannie, I said blink them away."
"How much money?" Roger asked. "Tony and I aren't very rich, you see. We're only astronauts. But…"
"I should think astronauts would make nice salaries," George countered. "You're celebrities, after all."
"I've never heard of any astronaut named Major Anthony Nelson," John said. "I've heard of John Glenn and Yuri Gagarin, but not these blokes. I suspect they might be pulling our legs."
"Oh no!" Jeannie protested. "My master is an honest man! He would never pull a trick on anyone. But I can give you money. How much do you require?"
Paul chuckled. "How much do you have?"
Jeannie blinked her eyes and nodded her head. A huge treasure chest filled with gold coins appeared beside Ringo's drum kit. "Is this enough?"
"Is that real gold?" George asked, his eyes wide with excitement.
"Jeannie!" Tony exclaimed. "Make that disappear!"
Jeannie leaned towards Paul. "Where do you live?" she whispered.
"I just bought a house at 7 Cavendish Avenue in London," he whispered back.
Jeannie folded her arms and blinked her eyes once more. The chest of gold disappeared. She winked at Paul.
John leaned towards George. "Don't worry. I'll make sure he divvies it up equally when we get home."
George nodded. "You don't suppose we'll have to declare that on our taxes, do you? I mean, since the gold just magically appeared and all that."
"Well, she paid you! Now let's hear some music!" exclaimed Roger.
John picked up his Rickenbacker guitar and flung its strap over his shoulder. He glanced behind him. "Some amps might come in handy," he noted.
"Amps?" asked Jeannie.
"Speakers," Ringo explained as he sat down behind his drum kit.
"Oh, of course," Jeannie replied. She blinked her eyes. Two tall Vox amplifiers materialized behind the band, and three microphones on stands appeared in front of them.
John smiled and plugged his guitar's electric cord into the amp's pickup. He waited for Paul and George to plug their instruments into the receivers, then leaned towards his bandmates and quietly discussed a song selection.
Paul chuckled, then turned towards Jeannie. "This is a song we haven't performed in a long time. But it was part of our set list when we toured England in 1963 with Helen Shapiro. Please don't take the lyric the wrong way, love, cuz you have lovely blonde hair."
He counted in the song, then started playing a rocky version of the folk tune, "Beautiful Dreamer":
Beautiful dreamer, come on baby, wake up to me,
Can't you see me baby, I'm down on bended knee.
Beautiful dreamer, come on baby, give me one time,
I'll give you the world baby if you just say you'll be mine.
I use to dream of Jeannie with the light brown hair.
Since I met you baby, that girl ain't anywhere…
Jeannie gazed adoringly at Paul, then broke into enthusiastic applause when the song came to an end. She leaned towards Tony. "I remember when Stephen Foster wrote that song. It was such a big hit! You could not walk down the streets of Bagdad without hearing somebody singing it!"
Tony rolled his eyes.
George stepped up to his microphone. "This is a tune we used to sing at the Cavern Club in Liverpool." He nodded at John and Paul, then started singing,
Well, I'm the Sheik of Araby,
Your love belongs to me!
At night where you're asleep,
Into your tent I'll creep.
The stars that shine above
Will light our way to love!
You'll rule this world with me,
I'm the sheik of Araby!
Jeannie grabbed Tony's hand and started dancing. He frowned and refused to move, so she grabbed Roger's hand and danced with him instead. When the song ended, Jeannie and Roger turned towards the band and started cheering.
"That was wonderful!" Jeannie exclaimed.
"Yeah, but couldn't you play one of your newer songs?" Roger asked. "I really like that one you wrote about the bird."
"This Bird has Flown?" John asked.
"No," Roger replied. "The one about the bird that's seen seven wonders."
"Right," said John. He looked at George. "You up for a tricky guitar solo?"
"I'll give it a go," George replied. He started playing an intricate pattern of notes on his Gretsch guitar. John and Paul leaned into their microphones and started singing in tight harmony,
Tell me that you've got everything you want
And your bird can sing,
But you don't get me…
You don't get me!
You say you've seen the seven wonders
And you bird is green,
But you can't see me…
You can't see me!
The front door to Tony's house flung open. In the doorframe stood NASA's persnickety and perpetually party-pooping psychiatrist Dr. Alfred E. Bellows, his eyes wide with shock and his mouth agape.
Tony grabbed Jeannie's arm and shouted, "Jeannie!"
Jeannie continued dancing, then turned towards the door and gasped. She nodded her head, blinked and disappeared.
Dr. Bellows stepped into Tony's living room. The Beatles continued to play their song, but after George repeated his solo a second time, he looked up and noticed Jeannie was gone.
He took his hands off his guitar and surveyed the room. "Where'd the bird in pink go?"
"I think John was right with his first song choice," Paul noted. "This bird has flown!"
"I should have known this gig was too good to last," John piped in. He turned towards Tony. "Where did that magic genie in the haram pants go?"
"Magic genie?" repeated Dr. Bellows. "Haram pants?"
"Yeah," Ringo agreed. "There was this blonde dancing right in front of us, all decked out in scarves. Except for her belly. Her belly was bare."
"Funny thing that," Paul remarked. "Her belly was bare, but she didn't seem to have a belly button."
"Perhaps genie's don't have navels," John suggested. "I mean, who knows how they're born? Their mothers might just conjure them out of thin air. They probably don't need umbilical cords."
"Conjure them out of thin air?" Dr. Bellow echoed.
George turned towards Roger. "What's this bloke's problem? Can't he say anything original?"
"I have a lot to say, now that you mention it!" bellowed Dr. Bellows. "And I'll start with a question. Major Nelson, why are the Beatles giving a concert in your living room? And who was that woman dancing with Major Healy?"
"That woman?" Tony replied nervously. "Why she was…she was…"
"Oh, did you mean George Harrison's wife, Pattie Boyd?" Roger interrupted, his eyes sparkling with pride at his own cleverness. "Gorgeous blonde? Big eyes? Why, she's one of the most popular fashion models in Swinging London!"
All eyes in the room turned towards George.
George shrugged. "Well, um, yeah. What he said is true. My wife Pattie is a blonde, beautiful fashion model."
"But I just heard you boys say she was a genie," Dr. Bellows reminded him. "And you all seemed quite confused as to where she has gone!"
John chuckled. "I can't tell you where my wife is every second of the day. I don't expect George can either."
"There's a very logical explanation for all of this," Tony interrupted, throwing an earnest look at Dr. Bellows.
"That's right," Roger agreed, puffing out his chest like a proud peacock. "Entirely logical. Tell him, Tony."
"Yeah, tell him Tony," Paul repeated.
Tony cleared his throat. "You see, it's like this. You remember, I'm sure, Dr. Bellows, that a few years back, NASA launched the first British satellite, Ariel 1?"
Dr. Bellows furrowed his brow, but nodded.
"Well," Tony said, sucking in a long breath while he formulated his next sentence. "Well, you see, the English weekly magazine, The Radio Times, wanted to run a feature story about how far the British satellite research program has come since then. So they sent a reporter to Cape Canaveral to talk to Roger and me, since we worked on the original launch. And they thought, well…since the Beatles are here in the United States just now, wouldn't it be a good idea to take some pictures of the band posing with the two of us to run with the story? In the interest of international cooperation between our two countries, of course?"
Dr. Bellows frowned in disbelief.
Just then, a frumpy-looking, middle-aged woman stepped into Tony's living room from the kitchen. She approached Dr. Bellows slowly, smoothed down the knee-length skirt of her sensible tweed suit, pushed back the nosepiece of her cat's eyes glasses, and held out her hand in greeting. "Please allow me to introduce myself," she said in a clipped British accent. "My name is Regina Jin. I am the special assignments editor of The Radio Times, and I have brought the Beatles with me to Florida to meet the men from NASA who helped launch our country's satellite program. Major Nelson was kind enough to allow us to use his home for a photo shoot."
"Photo shoot?" Dr. Bellows repeated. "But there are no photographers here."
The woman cocked her head towards the backyard terrace and blinked her eyes. A very tall, broad-shouldered man with a Nikon camera draped over his neck stepped into the living room through the back door. He adjusted his black-framed spectacles and stared wide-eyed at the Beatles. "There you are, lads! Brian's been looking everywhere for you!"
"Mal!" the Beatles exclaimed in unison.
Tony took Dr. Bellows by the elbow and started guiding him towards the front door. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier that I'd be running late today. But Mrs. Jin stopped by quite out of the blue this morning and…well…you know, I always want to take every opportunity to publicize the important work NASA does for the entire world, not just for America…"
"Yes, yes," Dr. Bellows said. "Of course. I'm glad to know you're doing your bit."
Tony smiled at him gamely. "Roger and I will be at the office within the hour, as soon as we help these young men pack up their instruments. I'm sorry if their music bothered you."
He shut the door, then leaned his back against the wood and sighed theatrically. Then he turned towards Regina Jin.
The middle-aged woman broke into a familiar laugh. Then she blinked and transformed herself back into Jeannie. She turned towards John, Paul, George and Ringo. "I am so sorry for the interruption. I do so wish you could continue to play. But I fear your loud music has disturbed one of our neighbors."
"That's alright, love," George said. "All things must pass."
"Good luck with the rest of your tour," Roger said to the Beatles. He grabbed his china cup off the dining room table, swallowed the now-cold coffee in one gulp, then placed his cap on his head. "Well, Tony, enough dilly-dallying! You heard Dr. Bellows. We need to get to work now!"
"Right," Tony agreed. He pulled his navy blue jacket off the rack by the door and turned towards Jeannie. "It's time to send these gentlemen back to Liverpool."
"No, we're supposed to play in Cincinnati tonight!" exclaimed Paul.
"Could somebody please tell me what's going on?" asked Mal Evans, the band's beloved roadie who, as of this morning, doubled as their impromptu photographer.
"I'll be damned if I know anything about this cockamamie business," George replied, slapping Mal on the back. "So I sure as hell can't explain it to you."
"All I know is that after tonight's show in Ohio, I'm gonna pop another one of those pills I took last night," John added. "Maybe I can conjure up a genie of my own this time around!"
"My magic does not work that way," Jeannie said. She approached her five guests and gave each of them a quick peck on their cheeks. Then she crossed her arms in front of her chest with obvious reluctance. "I do so wish you could continue to give me a private concert," she grumbled.
She lowered her gaze, but then her face suddenly brightened. "Goodbye," she said with a big smile. "For now." She blinked her eyes and nodded her head. The five men vanished, along with their instruments and amps.
Tony sighed theatrically, then stepped towards Jeannie and gave her a chaste kiss on the cheek. "Good girl, Jeannie. You've made a lot of teenage girls in Cincinnati very happy just now. I'm sure they're all looking forward to hearing their favorite band in concert tonight."
Jeannie nodded at him, then waved to Roger and returned to the living room to resume her vacuuming. She listened for the sound of Tony's car pulling out of the driveway. Then she crossed her arms and blinked her eyes. A copy of that day's Cincinnati Enquirer appeared in her hands. She flipped through its front page section, then smiled a mischievous grin.
"That silly weather forecaster!" she said to herself. "He does not know that tonight a big storm will hit the city, and the Beatles will have to postpone their concert until tomorrow morning."
She smiled to herself and opened the newspaper to the women's section to check out the advertisements for the local clothing stores. "Now, what outfit should I wear for my trip to Ohio?"
Inspired by the television show "I Dream of Jeannie" (1965 to 1970), which was created by Sidney Sheldon, and by some inexplicable events that occurred on the Beatles' 1966 tour of North America.