The Last Day in the Life

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Lennons' Manhattan apartment building, the Dakota, crying and praying, singing and decorating the tall iron gates with wreaths and single flowers and memorial banners. CHRISTMAS IN HEAVEN, read one. Another recalled the magical invocation of a childhood memory that became one of his finest songs: Strawberry Fields Forever.

Ringo Starr flew to New York to see Yoko. George Harrison, "shattered and stunned," went into retreat at his home in Oxfordshire, England. Paul McCartney, whom Lennon plainly loved and just as plainly hated like the brother he never had, said, "I can't tell you how much it hurts to lose him. His death is a bitter, cruel blow—I really loved the guy."

Having no wish to contribute to the hysteria that always follows the grief at such public mournings, McCartney, who has hired two bodyguards to protect himself and his family, said he would stay home in Sussex, England, even if there was a funeral. There was not. Lennon's body was cremated in a suburban New York cemetery, and Ono issued a statement inviting everyone "to participate from wherever you are" in a ten-minute silent vigil on Sunday afternoon.

Before that, it had been a week of tributes. Radio stations from New Orleans to Boston cleared the air waves for Lennon and Beatles retrospectives. In Los Angeles, more than 2,000 people joined in a candlelight vigil at Century City; in Washington, D.C., several hundred crowded the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in a "silent tribute" that recalled the sit-ins of the '60s. Record stores all over the country reported sellouts on the new Lennon-Ono album, Double Fantasy, their first record in five years, as well as the back stock of Lennon's previous records.

Some reaction was tragic. A teen-age girl in Florida and a man of 30 in Utah killed themselves, leaving notes that spoke of depression over Lennon's death. On Thursday, Ono said, "This is not the end of an era. The '80s are still going to be a beautiful time, and John believed in it."

All the brutal and finally confounding facts of the killing were examined like runes and held up to the light like talismans, small shards of some awful psychic puzzle. A pudgy Georgia-born ex-security guard from Hawaii named Mark David Chapman fired his shots at Lennon from what the police call "combat stance": in a stiff crouch, one hand wrapped around the butt of his newly purchased revolver, the other around his wrist to steady it. As Lennon took six staggering steps, Chapman, 25, simply stood still, and then went with the arresting officers like a model citizen who had been unfairly rousted on a traffic bust. Chapman's personal history showed, in retrospect, many ominous byways (see following story), but immediately after the shooting, he offered no explanations. And no regrets.

Chapman arrived in New York three days before the killing, checked into a Y.M.C.A. nine blocks from Lennon's apartment, and started hanging out in front of the building, waiting for Lennon like any other fan. There were usually fans at the gates of the Dakota, a grand, gloomy, high-maintenance Gothic fortress overlooking the west side of Central Park, because the building houses several celebrities: Lauren Bacall, Roberta Flack, Leonard Bernstein. Fans of the Beatles and Lennon lovers accounted for conversation with

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