A/N Hello, people, and welcome to my story! if you've read this before, you will notice I have edited this chapter... but it's really not much, and if there are enough people that say they hate it I'll replace it with the original. Either way, please enjoy and review! Anonymous reviews and constructive criticism is always welcome!
Disclaimer: Yep, I own the Beatles. I solely am in charge of all their advertising, merchandise distribution, music, rights, artistry, members, photographs, recordings, and all that other crap. I am also a pathological liar.
February 12, 1946
Bobby had been drunk that night. He worked as bartender in a hotel, a job that allowed him access to alcohol of all kinds like nobody else had on the post-war rations. It was about nine at night, ten possibly, and five-year-old John Lennon had just fallen asleep in the bed that he shared with his mother and Bobby, her longtime boyfriend, when the sound of yelling awoke him from his slumber.
Normally if something woke him up he would simply go back to bed, but the yelling coming from the living room was loud and frightening, and alerted him to the fact that something was wrong. Hopping out of bed without a second thought, he walked out of the room and down the hall, quietly and sneakily peeking around the corner of the wall.
"Bobby, you're drunk, can we please just talk about this later-" pleaded Julia Lennon, John's mother.
"What the bloody hell makes you think you can just order me around, you dumb broad? I can do whatever the fuck I want!" Bobby shouted. He was pacing around the foyer, his eyes rimmed in red and holding a half-empty bottle, as Julia stood near a wall, silently biting her lip and wringing her hands- a strange departure from her normally outgoing, assertive, doesn't-take-no-for-an-answer personality.
"Bobby, please," she pleaded, following him around the room as she tried to reason with the drunken man. "He's my son! I can't just leave him like that! They already made me give up my sweet Victoria, please not John too!" She looked to be close to tears.
The entire exchange was very confusing to the little boy hiding behind the wall, who remained unnoticed by the two quarreling adults. Who was Victoria? And why did Bobby not want him there? (For Julia had only one son, therefore it had to be him they were discussing). He had done everything he could to make Bobby like him over the past several months he had been dating Julia. After all, it seemed as if they'd be living with each other for quite a while. Had it not worked?
"Damn it, Julia!" Bobby snapped, suddenly stopping his pacing. "Have you not noticed we have no money? I work ten shitting hours a day, and all I make is put into caring for you and that kid of yours! I barely have enough as it is to pay the rent! We will lose this house soon! Do you hear me? We will lose the motherfucking house!" he was angrier than ever now, and he shook Julia's shoulders violently, making her move back and forth like a helpless rag doll. John shrunk back behind the wall, wishing more than anything the cheap plaster could absorb him and take him away from the reality in front of him. He was even more scared now than before. He watched silently as tears fell freely down his mother's face while Bobby assaulted her drunkenly.
In a fit of courage, she roughly pushed her boyfriend's hands off her and regarded him with a look of pure, unbridled anger. "John's my son! I will not give him up!" She yelled back, her hands clenched into fists.
Suddenly, with no apparent warning, Bobby and hit her. It was a hit- not a slap, which he dealt out to Julia normally when he was angry, but a hard-knuckled punch across Julia's face that sent her to the floor with a yelp of pain and surprise.
John yelped himself at seeing this happening, and without a second thought as to any impending danger he abandoned his post at the end of the hallway and ran across the living room to his mother, who had not yet recovered from being hit and was lying on the floor, her hands pressed to her face and tears streaming freely down the thin nose she had passed on to her son.
"Mum? Are you all right?" asked John meekly, kneeling next to her on the hardwood floor and softly poking her shoulder. At seeing that her son was up and witnessing what was happening, Julia removed her hand from her face, revealing a bloody mark on her cheek. Her eyes widened and darted about the room.
"Go back to bed, love," she whisper-yelled, her voice an even mixture of fake calmness and real urgency and fear.
"Are you okay?" John asked again, not understanding his mother's fear.
"John, please go back to bed! Now!" she hissed, almost angrily.
Suitably confused and his feelings wounded, John began to back up, running into something almost immediately. Suddenly, this something grabbed John by the back of his shirt and bare feet were off the floor, flailing and kicking wildly in the air as he looked frantically around. The front of his shirt dug into his neck, cutting off his windpipe and making it very hard to breathe, if not impossible. Julia's frantic pleading provided a suitable soundtrack for the confusing events taking place, and the same force that had lifted him in the first place turned him around. John's eyes widened in complete terror.
Bobby was very drunk, even drunker that John had guessed from watching him from the corner. His eyes were red and his breath exuded the foul scent of stale whisky. His entire face was contorted into a malicious sneer of drunken hatred. "You piece of shit," he hissed at John. The second he finished this sentence, he let go of John, tossing him into a corner of the room as easily as he would a sack of potatoes.
The little boy hit the wall first, hard, before crumpling onto the hardwood ground in a disheveled heap. He could practically feel his brain rattling, and his entire body blazed with a ubiquitous sharp pain and the tears that he had been holding back began since he had first gotten out of bed began to spill forth in rattling, wailing sobs. He curled up as best he could without hurting himself and shut his eyes as hard, attempting to block out the world around him. He could hear his mother, somewhere close that seemed far away, screaming a terrible, long scream.
"No, Bobby, please!" she shouted, her voice raw. John felt the sharp sensation of Bobby's foot connecting with his ribs
John could feel himself being lifted again by the back of the shirt and he hung once again in the air. He wildly flailed his limbs in vain, hoping to connect with something, but miserably failing. "If you don't give him up, I'll kill him!" shouted Bobby, shaking John.
The little boy's blood ran cold at hearing these words. His grandmother had died only a week or two previously, so he knew very well what death was, or at least enough to know that he wanted to stay on this earth. He wasn't ready, he didn't want to die. But he knew better that to say it aloud, fearing the retribution.
"You wouldn't, Bobby," said Julia, her voice low and threatening. Through the flood of tears in his eyes John could see that she was standing now, about six feet away.
"You know I will, Julia! It's one or the other!"
The woman's face fell in defeat. Bobby could very well kill John, that she knew- he certainly wouldn't do it sober, but when he was drunk he would do anything to get his way. Her tears were falling so quickly that they slid down her face in trails of sorrow, carving paths in her cheeks and trickling down her neck and onto the floor below her. Her curly red hair was disheveled and her eyes were rimmed in red like her boyfriend's, but for completely different reasons. "Okay," she whispered, burying her face in her hands as sobs began to take over her body.
"Okay what?" growled Bobby, tightening his grip on John, who had by now given up fighting and was hanging limply, tears falling off his red cheeks.
"Tomorrow," she said, barely audible. "I'll take him to my sister's house. Mimi's."
"No, he goes now," said Bobby, stalking to the door.
"Bobby-" began Julia, but her protests were cut off when suddenly her boyfriend pushed past her and knocked her to the floor.
And, just like that, Bobby opened the front door and tossed John out.
He landed on the second step, and practically rolled the next few until he stopped on the sidewalk. Blindsided, he sobbed louder than ever before, so loudly that he was surprised the neighbors didn't come out to see what had happened. He cried out of betrayal and heartbreak, out of pain both physical and emotional, ot of betrayal and confusion, out of heartbreak. He sobbed for who knows how long, until the slushy gray snow below him seeped through his thin blue pajamas and froze him. The cold numbed his face and his limbs, dulling the hurt from being thrown and kicked, but it didn't numb his feelings in the slightest.
He sat up after a while and hugged his knees to his chest, shivering in the cold. It must have been thirty degrees Fahrenheit outside, and the frigid air invaded him like a foreign army. A few more tears rolled down his cheeks and into the snow, burning sorrowful depressions into the muted sludge.
He got up slowly, favoring his left side, and made his way up the steps to the door and tried the handle. It was locked, unmistakably so. He was locked out, and nobody had come to get him. Not even his mother, who he thought loved him. But she probably doesn't, he reminded himself, if she let Bobby kick me out. Suddenly, the depressing realizations of what he said hit him. He wasn't wanted. Not even his own mother cared to come find him. He tried in vain to look in the window, but he wasn't tall enough to see in. For all he knew anything could be happening, or have happened, in there. How long had he been outside? Certainly he was freezing, he could barely feel his feet enough to walk and his little fingers didn't have enough motion left in them to try to operate the complicated latch on the window. His wet pajamas clung to him, sticking to his legs and arms and torso and only worsening the coldness.
Anything could have happened in there. Anything! The thought had just sunk in. For all he knew, Bobby had beaten his mother up more. He could have even killed her. That idea in particular made his heart lurch and skip a beat, and the grip of fear clamped its unrelenting vice on the little boy. She could be dead. Julia could be dead, his mummy, the only parent he still had left.
Sniffling, with that thought still plaguing him, John began his journey down the sidewalk.
He knew his aunts lived somewhere around here. One of them even lived in the same neighborhood, at address 200-something, but he didn't know the rest of the number, and much less the street it was located on. He momentarily considered going to a stranger's house to ask for directions before he remembered his mother's instructions not to talk to strangers. While he would usually ignored the rules set by others, he felt oddly obliged now to obey them
However, there was one place John knew how to get to from where he was: Strawberry Field orphanage. He went there every Saturday with his mother, or sometimes with one of his aunts if his mother couldn't come, to see the band play in the back field. He knew it was only a street behind him and a bit to the right, closer than any other location he knew of. So, grinning in pride at his new idea, he cut across the road and shuffled through the snowy lawn between two houses to the next street- a shortcut, if you will, to save time.
John's feet were colder than ever, probably due to the walking barefoot in February across the streets of Liverpool, and to make matters worse he kept tripping, falling flat on his face onto the snow-covered ground until his pajamas were soaked in frigid water, along with his hair and face. The sky was pitch black and he could barely see where he was going. A sudden strong wind coming from in front him chilled the already very cold moisture on him, and sent him toppling back, soaking the back of his pajamas also. John was struck with the urge to start crying again, but he pushed himself up with his barely working fingers anyway and kept on, vowing not to stop anymore until he reached his destination.
Eventually, he had made his slow but sure way to the front of the orphanage. He went up to the large, beckoning front door, which he knew for a fact was always unlocked, and opened it as quietly as possible.
Strawberry Field Orphanage was a beautiful, homey place, with nice staff that did their best to make the children living there as comfortable and happy as they could. In a way it was even better for them that being with their parents would've been: they got plenty enough food, the band came every Saturday to entertain them and the rest of Liverpool, and they had a multitude of siblings, something John had personally always longed for. He tiptoes as quietly as possible down the corridor, the feeling coming slightly back to his feet as he padded across the soft, blissfully warm carpet. Eventually, he reached a storage closet, which he opened slowly and entered. The space was dark, so he pulled a chain hanging from the ceiling, flooding the small room with light from a single bulb hanging from the ceiling. He shut the door behind him and squinted as his eyes re-adjusted to the sudden brightness. Once he cracked open his almond shaped eyes, he realized that he was in a room no larger than just the bed he shared with his mother and Bobby. In one corner were a bunch of brooms and mops, haphazardly tossed about into buckets and ringed by bottles of industrial cleaner and soap. However, on the other side of the tiny room was a heap of clothes- laundry, no doubt. Not even caring whether it was dirty or clean laundry, John dove in like a child into a ball pit, pulling the chain down once more and plunging the room once more into darkness. He burrowed himself into the clothes, which were definitely clean because they had the unmistakable smell that clothes get when they're line dried on a nice day. He felt bad about getting the clothes all wet and dirty again, but not really because it couldn't be helped. The clothes did the job of the warmest blanket in the world, trapping his body heat and slowly thawing him.
And in a pile of orphan's clothes in a closet, John let the silent tears running down his cheeks lull him into a light sleep, full of soft dreams peppered with terribly realistic nightmares.