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Bert Meets the Beatles

Well, it all started with a random piece of Beatles trivia…

An old man holds a tiny chihuahua on a Key West beach. Establishes the tropical setting.
Bert and Nacho in their natural habitat


Turned out the Fab Four made an unplanned visit to Key West in 1964. Turned out they stayed at the Key Wester Motel–since demolished–just down the road from the Paradiso condominium. Turned out they played a free, impromptu concert that night in the hotel bar…Hmm.

This got me thinking. Where was Bert the Shirt in 1964? He would have been a relatively young man then. Still doing his day-job as a mafioso at least part-time, but spending every spare moment at his beloved tropical retreat. Which would have meant that he was making a lot of phone calls to New York. And, since no mafioso in his right mind ever used a private line for business calls, he would have spent a lot of time on pay phones.

What if the nearest pay phone was at the Key Wester? And what if he just happened to use that phone while The Beatles were guests at the motel? And what if he just happened to be strolling past the pool while John, Paul, George, and Ringo were frolicking around in it and working out a harmony to an exceptionally beautiful song?

Bert would have stopped to listen, right? Who wouldn’t?

And–Bert being Bert–he would also have struck up a conversation…

Well, this seems to be how novels get born. Some small fact or moment or scrap of history sticks in the mind and takes on resonance. Possibilities start presenting themselves and refuse to go away. What if, what if, what if? Follow those what-ifs every waking hour (and more than a few dreaming ones) for most of a year, and you might end up with a book.

At least that’s how it happened with THE PARADISE GIG. An incident from 1964 suggested a whole lot of weirdness in present day Key West. Understanding the weirdness called for due consideration of things like the power of music and both the stubbornness and unreliability of memory. Talking about memory yanked the tale back to The Beatles in ’64 again. Which brought us back to the weirdness of the present, including–inevitably!–a love story, a talking chihuahua, some bad guys who sing karaoke, and a rock’em-sock’em ending that brings in everybody and sums it up like the last chord on an album.

Well, you just never know where one little factoid might lead…Enjoy!






8 Responses

  1. Pat DiFranco

    Looking forward to this – but will it be available in paperback like the others were?

    • Laurence Shames

      Yes! It’s available in paperback now at Amazon. You can also order it through your local bookstore if you prefer. Thanks and enjoy!

  2. Pat DiFranco

    I only see the Kindle version on Amazon. I would have already pre-ordered otherwise.

  3. Laurence Shames

    Here’s a link to the paperback: https://tinyurl.com/vfytw3f

    The two versions should be in sync by tomorrow. Thanks!

  4. Sue

    Got it on order!! Key West Island Books dependable as always.

    • Laurence Shames

      A great independent shop! I so appreciate their support. Enjoy!

  5. Pat DiFranco

    Thank you! I just ordered the paper back. Can’t wait to read it.

  6. Vinny Zaleski

    I can’t wait to dive into this book! Just got the download.