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WHEN THE BEATLES LIVED NEXT DOOR/ Ann Hood HE TOLD ME THEY LIVED next door. He stood pressing against the split-rail fence that separated our yards and pointed his thumb over his shoulder. "They're in there," he said. "Every one of them." Of course I didn't believe him. BUIy Matoone was the weirdest kid I knew, the weirdest kid anyone I knew knew. Billy Matoone was weird, but he was also beautiful. Even I, another fourteen-year-old boy, could see that. He had what my mother called bedroom eyes, big blue ones with ridiculously long lashes. Though he was closer to fifteen than I, his face was smooth, whiskerless. His love of cream pies made him round, but this added to his beauty. He made other mothers think of the Vienna Boys Choir, the movie-version von Trapps, any kid who lived in the Alps and wore lederhosen and could sing in a clear, high voice, which was another talent of Billy's. One day in the spring, my mother had sighed with great reUef—a doctor had finally been able to tell the Matoones what exactly was wrong with BiUy. This after years ofhim sitting in psychologists' offices, changing schools, spending summers at camps in remote places like West Virginia and Idaho. Asperger's syndrome, my mother had whispered, in the same way she whispered the word cancer, like it might be catching. Asperger's explained why Billy got fixated on certain things—trains, Mars and now the Beatles. It explained why he signed the cards he sent to his own mother, Your Friend, William H. Matoone. The summer Billy Matoone told me the Beatles lived in his house, the summer of 1978, my own voice had started to creak and squeal like the screen door in our kitchen. An unattractive and vaguely Spanishlooking mustache appeared above my upper Up. An Adam's apple the size of a golfbaU grew on myneck, and atnight I couldn't sleep because of strange dreams starring Andrea Ganahan, a girl from my neighborhood who went to a private school. No one reaUy knew her because of this, but late in the afternoon the sounds of her practicing cello drifted into the street where we played kickbaU. She might appear in the morning wearing an ugly green-andblack Speedo on her way to swim practice, her goggles sitting on top of her short dark hair. Or I might glimpse her getting out of a shiny car, dangling a tennis racket and waving good-bye to a friend, her Keds The Missouri Review · 9 always spotless, her tan even. In my dreams, aU of these sightings combined so that Andrea Ganahan wore her Speedo, played her cello and held a tennis racket while I searched her body for tan lines. I never found any. Her skin remained flawless and smooth, perfectly golden. "Come on over," Billy Matoone told me that day. "I'll show you." I hated going to his house. It smelled ofbleach. His mother had once been told that Billy's behavior was due to a particular type of mold, and she cleaned obsessively with bleach, even now that she knew better. But since the other thing that was happening this summer was happening in my own house, I seized every opportunity, even going to the Matoones', to leave it. So I climbed the fence and followed Billy to the side of the house, where the rhododendrons bloomed. He squeezed between the bushes and stood on tiptoe to better see in the window. "Ringo," he said. I was a good six inches taller than Billy, so I could see perfectly: the Matoone kitchen with its center island and, sitting at that center island, Billy's sister Diane. "Uh-huh," I said. "Note the rings," Billy said. Diane was eating a bagel with what looked like an entire brick of cream cheese in the middle. On every finger she wore a ring; on some she wore two. Billy stood flat-footed and cocked his head. "Come on," he said. I foUowed him around back to the family room window. The Matoone family room had dark-paneled walls and a...


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