Excerpt from THE DEVIL AND PRESTON BLACK:
The cold NYC sidewalk on my cheek had given me a chill. I heard sirens, saw city lights reflected in the windshields of cars on Central Park West. Yoko screamed. I even felt them lift me into the cop car. All I knew was that we were headed to Roosevelt Hospital. Christmas lights and wreaths drooped from some of the poles, but not all of them. Then I woke up.
I felt a hangover steeping in my gut. I thought maybe I could make myself throw up. The sulfur from Chapman's bullets bit the back of my nose, stuck to my sinuses.
My breath came back to me in the living room. I lay on the couch to sleep. I didn't want to wake Dani up. But out in the kitchen I heard somebody rummage through a cabinet. I rubbed my eyes and stretched and went out to apologize to her.
"Preston," John Lennon said in a very narrow voice, "Have a seat." He poured brandy into the other glass and pushed it across the table. John looked just like he did when he played Instant Karma on Top of the Pops. His hair had just been cut short and he seemed agitated, like the primal scream therapy hadn't kicked in yet.
I almost asked what he was doing here and he said, "If you knew he'd shoot, why didn't you stop him?"
My reply got caught in my throat like a hiccup, and I took a quick drink to ease it out.
Lennon said, "If it was you on the sidewalk and me on the street I'd have let you know. It's the right thing to do, right?"
"But I didn't know. I thought he was one of us."
"Oh, I see." John took a drink. He held the glass by the stem and swirled the brandy around. "One of us, huh? Like you, me, us, 'one of us'? Or one of you 'one of us'? Big difference, you know."
The idea of John Lennon after The Beatles used to agitate me like neckties and missionaries. It wasn't his music, so much, although his Beatles stuff was obviously much more accessible. I think the idea of him all alone in that apartment is what scared me. Knowing that my parents had an ugly divorce (and an uglier marriage) makes it easier to understand why I would rather see John with Paul, George and Ringo surrounded by flowers and wearing pink and lime green costumes than in a dark city wearing leather jackets and sunglasses.
Would Preston had listened to Beatles John? I don't think so.
Download John's unreleased home demos here. (Preferably while reading your copy of THE DEVIL AND PRESTON BLACK.)
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