I spent three days in a New York hospital. The bullet had gone clean through my shoulder except for nipping a bit of bone which X rays revealed came to rest a few centimetres from my heart. Those hollow point bullets are nasty things.
In considerable pain I headed back to my room at the Ritz Carlton Central Park South thanking the effects of morphine on the pain. I thought about The Rolling Stones song “Sister Morphine”. It made me gloomy and lethargic. The press circled the entrance to the Ritz-Carlton wanting to speak to the man that was holding John Lennon’s hand and was comforting him as he lay bleeding on the pavement. I took a big swing with my good arm and knocked a camera to the ground. Out of control I screamed obscenities at these newshounds. Thank God hotel security darted out and dragged me into the lobby.
Yoko decided there would be no funeral for John but rather a cremation service. Ringo was the only Beatle that appeared in New York and at the request of Yoko both Ringo and I minded Sean while the cremation service occurred. Ringo told me he simply could not attend the service due to the violent death of his former bandmate. It would shatter him to pieces. If he had only died a natural death Ringo lamented.
Yoko returned looking haggard and dreadful. I was asked to attend a small reception in the unit but declined. I had a long conversation with Ringo about John and while he was no saint he was a decent man. The stories Ringo told me were said in confidence so I can’t repeat them here. Ringo said we should keep in touch.
So how did I feel about the death of John Lennon. I was crushed with the tragedy and furious with “America” for its history of violence and its gun obsession. How could a little fucked up fucker like Chapman possess a 38 special? Chapman was so fucked up he was reading “Catcher in the Rye” calmly across the street from the murder scene when he was apprehended. I had to leave this country.
Yes I recall reading John’s tea leaves and seeing a menacing figure and what looked like an ambulance and having a sinister shiver eating some ice cream that day, Chapman’s…John’s favourite.
So I had witnessed a tragedy as a spectator and around the corner was a deep tragedy that would take my mind and body where it had never been before. Was it the morphine talking?