“One, Two… One, Two, Three, Four…”
- Gord Taylor
Prudence Taylor turned sixteen the day after John Lennon was murdered. Other than her name though, taken from the famous song, this bit of news had no significance and made the morning not much different than the five thousand, eight hundred and forty that came before it.
She found out as most of you did, through whispers between friends and strangers, a moment better shared in confidence than spoken aloud in the public square. As though keeping it quiet would somehow make it just a bad dream.
Her roommate Daphne puttered around the room searching for her black and gold scarf as Prudence (Pru to most of those who knew her) made breakfast, spreading peanut butter and jelly in haphazard strokes across Wonder Bread toast.
“What happened?” Pru asked.
“Shot walking home with Yoko.”
“And yet Manilow lives,” Daphne said.
“John wasn’t even your favorite Beatle.”
Pru, dressed in a flowing skirt and ever present Izod shirt (Daphne nicknamed her Prippy Longstocking – half preppie, half hippie) carried her food into the suite and flopped on the couch, her legs hanging over the ottoman. She flipped on the television, twelve inches of Trinitron color won in a Boy Scout raffle after being surrounded outside the post office by four little thugs in their utilitarian blue jumpers.
Maybe intimidation earned them a merit badge.
Lennon died eighteen hours earlier but the three channels the dorm had access to were well into their regularly scheduled programming. So unless “The Young and Restless” had written the murder into their amnesia story line, no updated information would arrive before the six o’clock news.
That was okay. In those days Pru’s mother was her very own Walter Cronkite.
“You answering that?” Daphne asked as they listened to the wall phone ring into the room.
“No,” Pru said. “She’s only going to ask me to stay indoors.” Daphne crossed the room and picked it up anyway.
“Playboy Club. How may I direct your call?” She tried to make small talk with Patty Taylor (aka The former Mrs. Taylor) but the muffled staccato voice coming through the other end of the receiver had no patience for pleasantries this day.
Pru snapped her fingers and shook her head in Daphne’s direction, hoping her roommate would come up with some plausible lie to explain an absence. Pru offered various pantomimes, head down on folded hands, massaging fake shampoo through her hair, running in place, but by that point Daphne lost interest. She held out the phone with a shrug and Pru snatched it, baring her teeth for effect.
“Where are you?” The former Mrs. Taylor asked.
“In my room. Where you just called me.”
“Did you hear about John?”
Patty said this as if she knew him, as if their two families belonged to the same country club and saw each other at Sunday brunches and Casino Nights.
“If you mean Lennon, then yes,” Pru said.
“This isn’t a joke, Prudence” Patty said.
Pru smothered a laugh, hearing her name juxtaposed with the guy, now dead, who wrote the song for which she was named. Not that it was funny per se.
“I haven’t been able to reach your father,” she continued.
“Doesn’t mean someone shot him.”
“Could be some creative serial killer,” hypothesized Daphne.
Her mother was a high profile lawyer/ambulance chaser who’d been involved in several celebrity murder trials in their brief forced together courtship at school.
“It’s just Daphne, mom. No, she didn’t say anything worth repeating. No, I won’t get her mother’s number for you,” Pru said.
Someone knocked at the door.
“I’m sure he’s just off living his life. I have to get the door. I’m not bringing a knife.”
Pru hung up without a formal goodbye.
It was Greta Adams from down the hall. As in John and Abigail Adams’ great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great granddaughter.
“I think your dad’s on campus.”
They say that all stories can be broken down to the relationship between two people. If that’s true, this one is about Prudence and her father. Lets just say you’ve heard of him. Everyone has. His name is Gord Taylor and he’s a rock star.