It’s a warm summer day and the four boys, Mitch, Matt, Neil, and Johnny are occupied with their usual summertime activities in the neighborhood; going from baseball to tag to running through the water sprinkler in Mr. Lancaster’s front yard. At first they don’t notice the three teenage girls running in and out the front door of the Allen house; they’re busy with boy things. In a few short years, nubile, tanned, barefoot girls in cutoff jean shorts and tank tops will be their primary focus and not likely to be missed, but as grade school boys those days are yet to come. Eventually the activities across the street catch their attention.
“I wonder what those girls are doing running in and out of Jeff’s house?” Mitch wonders out loud.
“The parents are both at work; let’s go see what’s going on over there.”
The four boys run across the street and as they draw near to the house they hear music coming through the window screens and opened front door. Getting close to the front porch they almost get run over when one of the girls, record album in hand, flies past them and into the house. Sticking their heads in the front door they see the three girls dancing in the living room with the stereo blaring I Want to Hold Your Hand, All My Loving, She Love’s You, Love Me Do, and Please, Please Me. They had heard of the Beatles, seeing them for the first time on Ed Sullivan, but had heard little of their music; their parents changing the dial whenever the Beatles came on the radio. They liked what they were hearing.
The boys decided that they would join in the fun with the girls, but instead of dancing, they were more interested in the band and decided that each of them would be one of the Beatles and set about crafting makeshift instruments in order to fulfill their plan. They fashioned guitars out of pieces of wood and cardboard and a whisk broom, and utilized two sticks for the imaginary drums. The front porch would be their stage and with the music blaring out of the windows behind them it would all seem so real. But first they had to determine who would be who?
“I want to be John” Mitch offers.
Neil chimes in, “I’ll be Paul!”
Matt derisively counters Neil, “You can’t be Paul. He’s left handed and you’re right handed.”
Neil seems hurt, “I can pretend can’t I?”
While the two of them argue, Johnny claims George for himself.
Neil and Matt finally come to an agreement, with Neil being Ringo and Matt being Paul.
With the music blaring, the boys stand on the porch and do their best imitations of the Fab Four. For a brief moment the remaining neighborhood kids gather around the front porch stage and thoroughly enjoy the show; giving the four boys a brief taste of fame. Johnny takes his role as lead guitarist seriously and decides then and there that he wants to be a rock and roll star. The other three boys go back to playing hide and seek.
Johnny got himself a guitar for Christmas after constantly nagging his mother. Much to his friends chagrin, rather than play with them, he locks himself in his room and plays his guitar every night. After seven years of blisters on his fingers and practicing his heart out, Johnny is finally recognized in the business as an outstanding guitar player. At the tender age of sixteen Johnny is approached by a manager of a local band and is asked to join. Fulfilling his schoolboy dream, he’s now in a rock and roll outfit. Telling his mother won’t be easy.
Johnny breaks the news to his mother, “Mama, I’m going away.”
“You can’t quit school! Where do you think you’re going? And for what?” Johnny’s mother is distraught.
“We’re going on a tour around the country. I’m gonna hit the big time, I’m gonna be a big star someday. You’ll see.”
Johnny’s mother puts her head in her hands at the kitchen table and sobs as he gently caresses her neck and shoulders. “Don’t cry, Mama. Everything is gonna be alright.”
As Johnny exits the front door with guitar case strung over his back, he looks back at his mother and sees his Mama smile and wave goodbye. Johnny never looks back again.
In a few short years Johnny (now called by his stage name Johnny Rocket) and his band have jelled in such a way that everything they produce seems to turn to gold. The first release from their second album Wolf Pack goes straight up to number one. Johnny has become what he’s always dreamed of being; a Rock Star! It seems that everyone loves to hear him sing his song. Hardly able to take it in, Johnny tells his band mates, “Looks like I made the big time at last.”
For the next few years Johnny lives the hard life of a rock and roll star. Late nights on the road, traveling from city to city and drinking and partying hard is beginning to take a toll on him. All the world seems to love him, but he feels so alone. Oh, he has plenty of girls to choose from on any given night, but none to be his friend and companion. When the lights go out after a late night show, he’s alone in his hotel bed after drinking himself to sleep. Everything he’s dreamed of since he was a boy of nine has come true. So, why does he feel so empty?
The two detectives are called to a five-star hotel in the city’s toniest section of town. In the penthouse suite they find a body lying peacefully on expensive silk sheets. They recognize the now stiff body as the famous rock and roller Johnny Rocket. On the nightstand next to his head are an empty bottle of whiskey and sleeping tablets randomly scattered. An autopsy will be done, but it’s obvious to the two detectives what went on the night before.
The next day’s headlines blare across the newspaper’s front page, Johnny’s Life Passed Him By. As Johnny’s mother receives the news she falls to her knees and cries, “Johnny, oh my dear Johnny!” She cannot be consoled.
Twenty Years Later
Matt and Lisa have been married for too many years and it seems the romance has just about gone from their lives. One day Lisa surprisingly asks Matt, “Do you remember when we were teenagers and we used to go parking on Saturday nights?” “Yeah. Those were the days.” Lisa continues, “Well, why don’t we go out to The Field, like old times? Grab a bottle of wine and look at the stars together. It’s a warm summer night. It should be fun!” Lisa doesn’t have to ask twice as Matt isn’t about to look this gift horse in the mouth. After stopping at the liquor store they head out-of-town on county road PP.
Once they arrive at the grass-covered dirt road, Matt get’s out of the car and unlocks the gate, swinging it wide enough for the car to cross the cattle guard and into the farmer’s field. Latching the gate behind them the two slowly make their way across the field. Like he had done so many times before, Matt turns the car around so that it faces the exit; if somebody surprises them they won’t get trapped. They both get out of the car with quilt, ice bucket and wine in hand. The night is warm and there’s a slight breeze stirring the moist summer air.
After spreading the quilt on the hood of the car, Matt and Lisa lie next to one another and stare up at the stars together. It’s a clear night and the sky is beautiful. The car’s stereo can be heard as the two hold hands and sip their wine. “This wine’s a little more expensive than what we used to drink. Remember that old Strawberry Hill?” They both laugh at the memory. Lisa finally asks Matt, “Why do you always listen to that group? The one that’s playing now?” Matt proceeds to tell her about Johnny and the day at the teenage girls house when the four of them were just schoolboys, and how they had heard the Beatles for the first time. “The girls were playing some old; well they were new then, Beatles albums.” “What were the songs?” Lisa was curious. “Love Me Do, I think it was, among others and from there it didn’t take Johnny long to make up his mind what he wanted to be. “Do you miss him?” “I miss who he was then, not who he became.” Lisa suddenly points at the sky, “Look! Did you see that? It was a shooting star.” “No, I guess I missed it.”