The security card shone his flashlight into the open driver's side window of the colorfully-painted, large van. "I'll need to see some identification from each one of you," he demanded.
"Ree roo?" Scooby Doo called up from the back seat.
"Don't worry, Scooby," said Velma. "You have a nametag on your collar."
Shaggy slapped at the pockets of his baggy brown pants, feeling for his wallet, while Freddie, Daphne and Velma showed the guard their driver's licenses.
"I think I left my ID at home," Shaggy confessed in a squeaky voice.
"Ruh-roh!" said Scooby.
"I've got you covered, Shaggy," said Daphne. She pulled a laminated card out of her purse and handed it to the guard. "I saw you drop this as we were getting into the van, so I slipped it in my bag for safekeeping."
"This isn't a proper I.D.," the guard said as he examined Shaggy's card. "It's a pass to get into the Pillsbury Bake Off."
"Shaggy was a contestant at last year's competition," Freddie explained. "Look, his photo is in the bottom corner of the card."
The guard looked back and forth between the card in his hand and Shaggy's unshaven face. "Don't you have any state-issued identification card, young man?"
"No, Officer," Shaggy apologized. "I've been too busy solving mysteries to schedule a driver's exam."
"Ree rot recond race rum Rills-rurry," Scooby told the guard in Shaggy's defense.
The guard shone his flashlight at Scooby's face. "Is that Great Dane trying to talk?"
"Oh, never mind Scooby," laughed Daphne. She flashed a flirtatious smile at the guard and flicked her auburn tresses over her shoulders. "He's very loyal to Shaggy."
The guard held Daphne's gaze. His stiff demeanor started to soften.
"Shaggy's recipe for Mystery Brownies did win second place at the Pillsbury Bake Off," Velma added.
"Mystery Brownies?" the guard asked. "Did you use some sort of furtive ingredient in your batter?"
"No, no!" Shaggy insisted, waving his hands nervously. "Just lots and lots of chocolate! I named the Brownies after my friends and me. We're 'The Mystery Gang'!"
"And I'm driving 'The Mystery Machine'," Freddie added helpfully.
The guard directed his flashlight at the brightly painted side panel of the green van, then handed Shaggy's card back to Freddie. "Well, your names match the ones of the list Jimmy Lewis gave me, so I'm going to let you through. But you'll have to keep that dog on a leash."
"Reesh?" Scooby cried. He lifted his paws to his neck and rubbed his throat.
"Don't worry, Scoob," Shaggy whispered reassuringly as he clipped a leash onto Scooby's bright blue collar. "Once we get inside the studio, I'll take it off."
"Park your van in the spot Jimmy Lewis reserved for you, just around that corner," the guard said. He directed his flashlight down the driveway and swiveled the beam towards the left to indicate the place to turn. "Then enter through the double doors, give your names to the receptionist, and wait in the lobby for Mr. Lewis. And be very quiet. There are some V.I.P.'s working in the studio this evening, and they don't want to be disturbed."
"Will do," Freddie replied. He drove the Mystery Machine to the assigned spot, then climbed out of the van and put his hands on his hips while he addressed his friends. "Just imagine, gang! We're at the legendary Sunset Sound Recorders Studio!"
"And I thought our trip to Decade Records last year was a big deal," Daphne replied. "We're moving up in this world!"
"Well, after we solved the mystery of the Diabolical Disc Demon at Decade Records, we've earned some respect in the music industry," Velma boasted.
"C'mon, gang, let's go inside and see what Jimmy wants us to do," urged Freddie.
Velma, Daphne, Shaggy and Scooby fell into place behind Freddie and entered the studio through a pair of doors marked 'Private Entrance.' The receptionist gave the Mystery Gang a haughty once-over. But as soon as she checked their names against the approved visitor list, she hit the buzzer on her phone and summoned the pop star Jimmy Lewis to the lobby.
"Hey guys, how's it going?" asked Jimmy as he stepped into the foyer. He exchanged hearty handshakes with Freddie, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby, then clasped Daphne's hand and held it for several seconds. "We meet again, mon cherie," he said in an affected French accent.
Daphne giggled. Freddie cleared his throat awkwardly. Jimmy laughed, then led his guests down a long hallway and into a conference room. He shut the door behind him while Shaggy removed Scooby's leash and placed it on the polished oblong table.
"So here's the deal," Jimmy said, his voice growing serious. "There are three very important recording artists working in the studio just now. They've been here for several days, polishing up a track. We've made every effort to keep things hush-hush, to ensure their privacy. Today, however, an intruder has been spotted lurking inside the building, though nobody's gotten a good look at him. As soon as anyone spots him, he vanishes into a dark corner or through a hidden doorway. We suspect he's a tabloid reporter, here to snap some photos of our V.I.P.'s. Though he might be a spy from a rival record studio, trying to listen in on the sessions. Or he might be a bootlegger, trying to make a secret recording."
"A bootlegger?" Freddie asked. "I thought bootleggers bought and sold gin back during Prohibition."
"It's also a term used in the record industry," Velma interjected. "Bootleggers buy and sell illegally recorded or unlicensed music."
"Right," Shaggy said, nodding his head. "I've got some great bootleg recordings of the Grateful Dead's last tour."
Jimmy's face flushed bright red. He scowled at Shaggy. "You do, do you?"
"Oh, I didn't buy them," Shaggy insisted with a nervous laugh. "They were given to me by my Uncle Beauregard. I inherited part of his estate when he died. I don't know where he got them."
Jimmy sucked in a deep breath, then exhaled it with a dramatic sigh. "Well, then, I'm glad you're familiar with the bootleg music market. The studio chief is very worried that this mysterious intruder is making tapes of the V.I.P. session to sell before the real record is released. It would be a commercial disaster for Sunset Sound if he did. This studio prides itself on its tight security. That's one of the reasons so many of today's biggest stars choose to work here."
"What can you tell us about this intruder?" Velma asked.
"Well, like I said, nobody's gotten a good look at him," Jimmy admitted. "He wears an oversized coat and a large hat that hides most of his face. One secretary caught a brief glimpse at him before he ducked into a shadow, but she said his face looked rubbery, as if he were wearing a mask."
"A lot of crooks seem to wear masks these days," Freddie said solemnly.
"Reah," Scooby agreed. "Ree rull roff ruh rottah rasks."
"This intruder is particularly good at escaping detection," Jimmy added. "I suspect he might be a recording artist himself. Someone who knows the ins and outs of this studio."
"We'll find him, Jimmy," Daphne promised. "We always get our man."
Jimmy smiled at her seductively. "I'll bet you do."
Daphne held his gaze and smiled back.
Velma coughed to redirect the conversation. "Can you tell us the names of these V.I.P.'s, Mr. Lewis? It could help us figure out who might be after them."
"Follow me," Jimmy replied. "I'll take you to a sound booth and you can see them for yourself through the glass."
The gang followed Jimmy down a long hallway and into an enclosed recording booth. Freddie admired the huge console, laden with buttons, knobs, levers and dials. Scooby and Shaggy noticed a tray of stale donuts sitting on a table in the booth's back corner and ran towards the food. Velma and Daphne looked into the studio through the glass and stared at the musicians in wide-eyed amazement.
"Oh my word," Daphne whispered in an awestruck voice. "It's John Lennon and George Harrison!"
"Jinkies!" Velma exclaimed, putting her hands to her cheeks to hide her bright red blush. "It's Ringo Starr!"
Freddie looked up from the console and counted the musicians sitting around the microphones. "You're right, ladies. But who is that fourth man playing the bass?"
"That's Klaus Voormann," Jimmy replied. "He's one of the Beatles' oldest friends. He used to hang out with them before they became famous, when they were still playing gigs in Hamburg."
"Hamburg?" Shaggy asked. He looked up from the donuts and stared hopefully at Jimmy. "As in hamburg-ers?"
"Ramrurgers?" Scooby exclaimed. He ran towards Jimmy and looked up at him with a pleading expression.
"Hamburg, as is Hamburg, Germany," Velma said, adjusting her glasses. She tore her eyes away from Ringo with obvious reluctance and looked directly at Shaggy and Scooby. "Before the Beatles took England and America by storm, they worked as the house band at several German nightclubs. That's where they learned how to energize an audience."
"Or to confound one," Freddie noted. He watched Daphne standing frozen in front of the glass, then approached her cautiously. "Are you alright, Daph? You look like you're…I don't know…a little stunned."
"She looks stunning, alright," Jimmy agreed. He walked up to Daphne and draped his arm around her thin, purple-clad shoulders. "So I take it you're a Beatles fan, my dear?"
Daphne slumped against Jimmy's chest, but kept her eyes focused squarely on the musicians on the other side of the glass. "Yeah," she admitted in a dreamy voice. "I used to have posters of the Beatles taped all over my bedroom. Even on the ceiling. And I plastered the inside of my school locker with pictures of them too."
Freddie clasped Daphne's right hand and led her away from Jimmy. "That's great, Daphne. I never knew that about you. But now, we all need to focus on catching this Baffling Bootlegger before he ruins this recording session."
Daphne nodded. She stole another quick glance at the musicians behind the window, then looked back at her friends. "So what should we do?"
"I say we split up," Velma suggested. She threw Ringo one last admiring glance, then squared her shoulders and faced Jimmy. "How many rooms are in this building?"
"Gosh, I don't know, I've never counted," he replied. "There're a couple of large recording studios, and some small sound stages as well. Plus some storage rooms where we keep instruments, amps and microphones. There are also several offices and a large breakroom, where the musicians go when they get hungry."
"Thanks, Jimmy. Scooby and I will check out the break room together," Shaggy offered. "We'll see if we can catch that Baffling Bootlegger trying to steal the Beatles' breakfast."
"Reah, reckfast!" agreed Scooby.
"Fine," Freddie said. "Daphne, you and I can check out the offices while Velma and Jimmy examine the storage rooms and recording areas."
"Okay," Daphne said. She took a few steps towards the door, then started to collapse. "I'm sorry," she said, clinging to Freddie for support. "I just feel so weak all of a sudden."
"I'll stay with Daphne here in the sound booth, until she gets her strength back," Jimmy offered. "Freddie, you can go with Velma instead."
Freddie eyed Jimmy suspiciously, then squared his shoulders and adjusted his ascot. "Fine. Have it your way," he agreed with obvious displeasure. "Come on, Velma. Let's catch this crook."
Fred, Velma, Scooby and Shaggy exited the sound booth.
Jimmy helped Daphne sit down, then fetched her a glass of water from the snack table in the back of the room. "The music is streaming into that booth over there," he said, gesturing to a larger sound booth on the other side of the studio. "Richard Perry is in charge of this recording session. But if you'd like, I can flick a few switches so we can listen in on the band."
Daphne's face lit up. She nodded at Jimmy, then sipped her water.
Jimmy sat down behind the console and twiddled a few knobs.
John Lennon's voice came streaming into the booth. "Right, we'll take it from the top then, one more time. Eins, zwei, drei, fickle…"
A few notes of a plodding, heavily rhythmic music filled the room. Then Ringo Starr started singing:
"When I was a little boy,
Way back home in Liverpool,
All my friends told me, I was great…"
Shaggy opened the cupboard doors in the back of the breakroom and smiled. "Would you look at this, Scooby? There's eggs, butter, sugar and a whole bunch of chocolate bars! And a hotplate and toaster oven too! Now, if I can only find a pan, I could make up a batch of my Mystery Brownies!"
"Rownies?" gulped Scooby. He flopped down on his back, crossed his arms over his chest, and scrunched up his face in a beatific expression.
"That's right, Scoob. They're to die for!" Shaggy laughed. "Of course, they taste even better when I add my secret ingredient, but maybe one of the musicians in the studio would let me borrow some of his private stash. Do you think Jimmy Lewis would mind if we interrupted the Beatles' recording session?"
Scooby sat back up, shook his head and frowned.
"Yeah, I guess you're right, Scooby," Shaggy agreed sadly. "We're here to track down the intruder, not to bake up a snack. Though it wouldn't hurt to see if there are any pans in that closet that I could use after we catch the crook. Let's check it out."
Shaggy and Scooby stepped cautiously towards the large closet in the corner of the room, then opened the door a smidge.
"Ris raneerun rare?" Scooby asked nervously.
Shaggy opened the door a little wider and sighed in relief. "Nope. The Baffling Bootlegger is not here. But I do see a mixing bowl and a baking tin. Maybe we should cook first, and snoop later."
"Reah, rood irea," Scooby agreed. He stepped back so that Shaggy could open the door all the way.
"Ouch!" shouted an angry voice behind Scooby. "Get off my fingers, you daft dog!"
Shaggy turned around and saw a man's hand peeking out from beneath a covered table just behind Scooby, trapped in place by Scooby's back paw. Scooby lifted his leg. The hand immediately slipped back under the long tablecloth.
"Rah Raffling Rootregger!" shouted Scooby. He jumped into Shaggy's arms and started trembling.
"Maybe it's just the janitor, sweeping crumbs under the table?" Shaggy proposed.
"Get out of here, both of you!" cried the voice beneath the table. "Leave me alone!"
"Sounds like a good plan to me," Shaggy agreed. He lowered Scooby to the ground, then glanced at the breakroom's door. "Maybe we can lock the door behind us and trap him inside until the others get here," he told Scooby.
"Like hell you will!" the voice shouted back. A man in a long coat and large hat crawled out from beneath the table, then stood up and faced his accusers. "I've got more right to be here than you lot do!"
Shaggy tried to glimpse the man's face, but it was covered in a rubber mask with a long bushy beard attached at the bottom.
"If you say so," Shaggy agreed, his teeth chattering as he spoke. He ran to the door, with Scooby at his heels. But the man in the coat ran faster.
"Don't even think about following me!" the masked man shouted. He flung the door open and ran down the hallway.
"Don't worry, we won't," Shaggy called after him. He looked down at Scooby and panted while he caught his breath. "He ran to the right. Let's turn left down the hallway and see if we can find Freddie and Velma."
"Reah," Scooby agreed. "Ree'll rell 'em rhut ree raw."
"Just look at all these gold records," Freddie cooed as he examined the walls of the large executive office. "There sure have been a lot of hit songs recorded here at Sunset Sound!"
"You should look under the desk instead," Velma replied. "The Baffling Bootlegger would be more likely to be hiding there than behind a plaque on the wall."
"Yeah," Freddie agreed reluctantly. He pulled back a leather-upholstered chair and stole a quick glance under the enormous, mahogany desk. "He's not here."
"Good," Velma said. "Now let's go check the next office."
"Maybe we should go back to the sound booth and check on Daphne first," Freddie suggested. "I'm a little worried about her."
"She's fine," Velma said, reaching for the knob on the office's door. "Jimmy Lewis is keeping a close eye on her."
"That's why I'm worried," Freddie muttered under his breath.
Velma flung open the door.
"Crap!" shouted a man's voice. A large body crashed against the door with a loud thunk.
Velma ran into the hallway and stared at the stranger who had run into the door. "It's the Baffling Bootlegger!" she gasped.
"Like hell I am!" he replied. He pulled his hat down over his eyes and tugged at his fake beard to readjust his mask. "I'm no bloody bootlegger. I'm a proper recording artist, I am!"
"But then why are you trying to…?" Freddie began asking.
The man in the coat didn't wait to hear Freddie's question. He spun on his heels and ran away from the office, then turned a corner at the end of the long hallway.
"Let's get him!" shouted Velma.
Freddie followed Velma down the hall. They rounded the same corner that the intruder had turned and crashed into Shaggy and Scooby instead.
"Hey, we were just looking for you two!" Shaggy laughed as he picked himself off the floor. "We found the Baffling Bootlegger. He was running that way."
Scooby lifted his front paw off the ground and pointed it away from the break room.
"No, he wasn't," Freddie protested. He stood up and straightened his ascot. "We just saw him running down the hall this way."
"He must have slipped through this door," Velma suggested, pointing at a door marked 'Sunset Sound Employees Only.'
Freddie grabbed the doorknob and tried to turn it. "It's locked!" he shouted in frustration.
"He must have locked it behind him to keep us away," Shaggy replied.
"Or maybe it's always kept locked, but he had the key," Velma proposed.
Freddie pounded on the door. "Hey, we know you're in there!" he shouted through the wood.
"Or maybe he's not," Velma said. "Look at how close the other doors are on either side of this entrance. I don't think this is a door to a room. I think it's a door to a hallway…a hallway that leads to the recording studio!"
"Let's head back to the sound booth!" Freddy suggested. "Maybe we can catch him as he tries to sneak into the Beatles' session!"
Freddie led his friends down the hallway and back to the booth where they had started their search. "I'll check on Daphne. You three go into the studio and try to trap that Bootlegger!"
"But there's a red light on by the door that says, 'Do Not Enter, Recording in Session'," Shaggy pointed out.
"This is more important," Velma said. "We've got to stop that masked man before he tries to harm Ringo!" She flung open the door and ran into the studio.
John, George, Ringo and Klaus immediately stopped playing their instruments and stared at their unexpected visitors.
"What the hell?" cursed George into his microphone.
"Ist das ein Hund oder ein Mann?" asked Klaus.
"I think it's a Great Dane," replied John. "Though I've never seen one so big."
"That's 'cause you're too much of a cat person," Ringo said. "You need to get out more, John. See how the other half lives. Pet a dog, why don't you?"
Suddenly the back door to the studio opened. The man in the coat, hat and mask slunk into the room.
"Get him, Scooby, before he hurts Ringo!" commanded Velma.
Scooby squared his shoulders, then took off like a whirlwind, spinning his feet like pinwheels. He crashed into both John and Velma as he passed them, then threw his full weight against the intruder and knocked him to the ground.
"My glasses!" shouted John. He started crawling on the studio floor searching for the wire rims that had fallen off his face with the force of Scooby's blow.
"This is getting to be an occupational hazard," muttered Velma. She started crawling on the floor beside John, looking for her glasses that had also been knocked off in the collision.
Freddie, Daphne and Jimmy Lewis ran out of the booth and into the studio. They cautiously approached Scooby and the stranger, while Shaggy lingered silently behind them, shaking his knees.
"Good work, Scooby," Freddie said. "Now step aside and let's discover who this Baffling Bootlegger really is!"
Scooby climbed off the stranger. Freddie pulled off the intruder's floppy hat, then grabbed the man's false beard and plucked the mask off his face.
"It's…" Freddie began. He drew in a deep breath, then blanched white and collapsed to the ground in a faint.
"It's Paul McCartney!" exclaimed Daphne. She put her hands to her cheeks and started trembling.
"Paulie?" Ringo called out from his drum kit. "Seriously? Is that you?"
"In the flesh," Paul called back to him.
John found Velma's black-framed glasses and slipped them over his eyes. He turned towards Velma and grinned. "Hey, love, you and me have the same prescription! What do you think of that?"
Velma found John's granny specs and tried them on. "Jinkies! What a coincidence!"
"A coincidence, indeed," snapped George. "What are the chances? Four ex-Beatles in one room at the same time! So tell me, Paul, what brings you to Los Angeles? Last I heard you were in Scotland, getting arrested for growing pot on your farm."
"It was all a big misunderstanding," Paul insisted. He propped himself up on his elbows and faced his former bandmates. "A fan sent me some seeds in the post, so I planted them, just to see what would grow. I had no idea they would blossom into marijuana."
"A likely story," John laughed.
"Well, the magistrate bought it," Paul replied with a wry smile. "Or almost bought it, anyway. He slapped me with a fine, but I didn't have to go to jail."
"The magistrate bought your marijuana?" asked Shaggy in an incredulous voice. He stepped closer to Paul. "Man, the judges in Great Britain are a lot cooler than the ones in America!"
"It was just an expression," Paul explained. "He bought my story, not my weed."
George rested his guitar on its stand and walked towards Paul. He offered him his hand and pulled him into a standing position. "So what's with the mask and costume? You've had everyone here pissing our pants in fear."
"I heard through the grapevine that the three of you were all here, so I thought I'd stop by and listen in on your gig," Paul replied. "But I didn't want to intrude, since, well…since you didn't invite me to jam along with you."
"That's because you bloody sued us three to break up the band!" John scoffed. He walked towards Paul, crossed his arms in front of his chest and scowled at his former songwriting partner.
"Yeah, right," Paul agreed. He lowered his gaze from John's penetrating stare. "Sorry about that."
"No worries," Ringo replied. He stepped away from his drum kit and approached the crowd by the back door. "Tell you what, Paulie, you have your lawyers pay my lawyer's bill, and we'll call it even."
"Well, I don't know about that," Paul demurred.
George turned towards John and assessed his new look. "I love the big black specs! You look just like you used to in the olden days, when we were playing in Hamburg."
"I vas thinking ze zame thing," said Klaus from across the room. "Zough your hair vas a little shorter then, John!"
John glanced over his shoulder at his old friend. "Till Astrid cut it to look like yours," he laughed.
Freddie opened his eyes and saw the four Beatles all standing in a circle around him, gazing down upon his face.
"You alright, mate?" asked George. "You hit your head pretty hard on the floor when you fainted."
"Hey, I hit my head pretty hard too when that dog knocked me off my feet," Paul interrupted.
"You're…you're…" Freddie stammered. "You're Paul McCarttttt…" His eyes rolled behind his lids and he slipped back into unconsciousness.
"Somebody loosen his ascot," Ringo suggested. "Help the poor bloke breathe."
Daphne crouched down to untie the scarf around Freddie's neck. Then she back stood up and addressed the men.
"Jimmy, Shaggy – grab Freddie's arms and legs and carry him back to the booth," she commanded. "I'll go fetch him some ice water."
John sighed appreciatively. "I do so like a woman who takes charge."
Ringo turned towards Velma. "And I like a girl in glasses. Those wire-rims suit you better than those heavy specs you were wearing before. They make you look quite pretty."
Velma blushed, knocked her knees in embarrassment and grabbed the hem of her pleated red skirt. "Gosh, thanks, Ringo. You know, you've always been my favorite Beatle."
John slipped his arm over Ringo's shoulder. "Funny, that. He's my favorite Beatle too."
"Mine as well," George added with a lopsided smile.
John, George and Ringo all turned towards Paul and glared at him.
"Actually, I suppose he's my favorite Beatle too," Paul admitted begrudgingly. "He's the only one of you lot who sent me a Christmas card last year."
"Well, you didn't send me one either," John challenged.
"I didn't know where you were living!" Paul replied. "First I heard you and your misses were moving to a new flat overlooking Central Park. Then I heard you were splitting up."
John sighed. "Yeah, well, it's been complicated between Yoko and me lately. So I moved to California for a bit. I'm planning to work on an album of rock and roll standards this fall. I want to get back in touch with my roots."
"What songs are you going to play?" asked Paul.
"Haven't decided yet," John said. "How can I possibly pick between Chuck Berry and Little Richard and Larry Williams and Buddy Holly? I love all of their songs!"
"Ah, the fifties," Ringo sighed. "Those were the days. Rock and roll was young, and so were we."
George turned towards John. "How about we jam with you for a bit, now that Paulie's here, and help you choose the numbers you want to record on your album? I think we each know all of those old songs by heart."
John smiled. "That would be great! Though we're here on Ringo's dime. I don't want to run up a big bill from the studio while we four fart around reliving our misspent youths."
Ringo laughed, then turned towards the glass window of the larger sound booth and shouted to his producer. "Hey, Richard, put in a new tape, would you? My old mates and I are going to jam for a little while, but I want to make sure this recording doesn't find its way into the hands of any bootlegger!"
Paul's face broke into a wide grin. "Do you have a left handed bass I can play?"
"I saw one in a storage room earlier, while we were looking for you," Velma said to Paul. "Maybe Mr. Voormann could help me collect it and whatever cords and mics you'll need to get started."
Klaus tipped his hat to the Beatles. "I vould be delighted. I haf loved playing bass on Ringo's new track, but I vould much prefer to sit back in ze sound booth und listen to you four play."
Shaggy stole a quick glance at Scooby, then approached the Beatles. "When Scooby and I were searching the break room, we found all but one of the ingredients I need to make my prize-winning Mystery Brownies. If one of you gentlemen could lend me a little bit of my secret spice, then Scooby and I could bake up a batch of munchies that we could all share when you're done playing your music!"
Paul slipped his hand into the pocket of his long coat and offered a small bag of dried leaves to Shaggy. Then he turned towards his old bandmates and started to sing:
We're gonna get hi hi hi
With the music on!
Won't say bye bye bye bye bye bye bye bye
'Til the night is gone!
Inspired by the animated series "Scooby Doo, Where are You?" which premiered on the CBS television network in 1969, and has continued to run in various incarnations on and off ever since.