Tragic Rose

Chapter One: Why do the good girls always want the bad boys?
- Gwen Stefani, No Doubt

I turned to look at myself in the mirror, smoothing the wrinkles in my little black skirt. Not bad, I thought to myself. Not bad at all. I oughta turn a few heads tonight, if it weren't for that awful stain on my shirt. Sighing, I unbuttoned my white blouse and slipped on a bright red, short-sleeved shirt. The v-neck was laced together in a crisscross pattern rather like that of a shoelace. I hopped around the room on one foot, trying to put on the pair of nylons I hadn't worn in a long time. My good pair was too dirty to be seen in that night. I sprayed my teased, flipped, dark hair, and, shoving my feet into my black high heeled, leather loafers, left my bedroom.
My room was a sorry sight. Worn clothes were spread about on the floor, waiting to be washed the next day, if I was home at all. A large collection of records which had once been a tidy stack was now all over the floor. My large, queen-sized bed had a wadded-up bunch of sheets and a quilt wedged at the bottom, and my bedside table was lost under a pile of magazines and pictures. I always told myself that I would clean it the next day, but I never was home `the next day'.
I didn't expect to be home tonight either. I was out to the Cavern, then later to the Jacaranda with Ruth and Beth to see Ruth's bloke Pete, and his band. Ruth called it `his band', but in actuality, Pete was the least musically inclined of any of the lads. The real leader of the band was John Lennon. Pete had been asked to join the band so he could accompany them on their first trip to Hamburg, and had stayed with them ever since.
 I had lately taken a liking to the group's shyest, and in my mind, most talented, member, George Harrison. George could play a mean guitar, and I admired him for that. Being the youngest in the group, he was the closest to my age. When I first met him, he was quite shy and mumbled a barely audible `hello,' to my. Recently, he had begun to warm up to my, and started being what I figured was his normal self around me.
“I'm going out, Auntie Jenn,” I called to the young, energetic woman who was gambling with some of her friends in the parlor.
“Okay. Be back by the day after tomorrow,” Auntie Jenn exclaimed. “Ha!” She yelled triumphantly to one of her friends. “That's 100 pounds in my wallet!” Auntie Jenn was an excellent gambler, I had to hand her that. The two of us lived off my inheritance from my incredibly rich grandparents and the money that Auntie Jenn made gambling. I knew that my aunt would be leaving for the pub in the wee hours to play the men when they were really drunk. It was easiest to get them to make some stupid plays when they were completely unaware of what they were doing. Auntie Jenn never drank to excess - she wanted to be sober when she was doing her work. However, she did smoke quite a bit, and the walls of our house were stained with nicotine.
As I left our six-roomed dwelling (larger than the two up, two down houses that were common in Liverpool), I could still hear the loud laughter of my aunt's friends. Sometimes I was a little ashamed that my aunt couldn't keep a steady job from an esteemed employer. I felt as if I was raising my aunt, rather than the other way around. Oh well, I thought to myself. That doesn't matter now. I'm off to the Cavern with my two best friends to see The Beatles perform.
The warm, summer air engulfed my as I strolled along. I could feel the Sunday blues in the air. Everybody was discarding their weekend personalities and retrieving their work-day ones. I would have liked to have a father who worked at the docks, like just about everybody else's. Instead, I had my aunt. Irresponsible person by day, and professional gambler by night. It made me sick.

v          v          v

I greeted my best friend, Ruth in the way that one moves when she is going to kiss someone's cheeks in a polite greeting. We had known each other since we were six, when our mothers had been friends. Since then, Ruth's mum had left her and her father, and my mum had died, leaving us both in households without much in the way of parenting.
“Are you excited about seeing our boys play?” Ruth asked brightly.
“Oh, yes!” Though we had seen The Beatles perform just the day before, we never tired of their quick wits and on-stage jokes. I was attracted to the group of teenagers because they were precisely what any respectable parent wouldn't want their daughter to be around. I wasn't exactly a good girl, but I kept my grades up and could charm the pants off anybody.
My friend was the same. When she was being watched by her father, Ruth was daddy's little girl, and it was only when she was with me or The Beatles that she shed that mask. Ruth had to work a lot herself to buy the clothes she wanted to go to clubs, as her father would never approve of them, let alone buy them for her.
Soon, we were joined by our friend, Beth Leiber, a short girl of 16, one year younger than I was, and two younger than Ruth. Beth's hair was blonde and styled to match Brigitte Bardot's style. She knew that John liked the Brigitte Bardot look, and as she liked him, she imitated it.
As we walked along in the warm, moist air, we talked about everything from boys to Elvis to the rules at their homes. Beth had a normal life with normal parents who weren't too strict, yet were able to maintain a steady job and keep a clean house. Her parents were from London, so were quite dignified with nice manners. I poured on the charm any day with my “How are you, Mr. and Mrs. Leiber? It's quite a lovely day, isn't it? Oh, I love what you've done with your hair, Mrs. Leiber. Did you get it professionally styled?” All I had to do was pour on the butter, and they were like putty in my hands. I often spent the night at Beth's house when Auntie Jenn had gambling parties, and we convinced Mr. and Mrs. Leiber to let us go to the Cavern or the Jac, or wherever The Beatles were playing that day.

v          v          v

We walked down the 13 steps to the Cavern, a dark, damp, claustrophobic hellhole. “Hello, all you Cavern dwellers. Welcome to the best of cellars!” Bob Wooler said enthusiastically with a little too much energy. Who could be so chipper on such a solemn, quiet afternoon? Well, Bob, for one, and The Beatles. The five lads came on and immediately started playing `Clarabella,' Paul singing lead. He winked at them and Pete flashed a quick, half-smile at Ruth. He was quite shy, even around her.
The four girls sat through another two dozen songs including a song that George sang: `Young Blood.' I was amazed at how captivating his Souse accent was when he sang.  George was a scruffy little thing, in comparison to some of the lads I had been out with, but there was something about him….

v          v          v

Soon, their gig was over, and The Beatles left the stage, sweating like dogs. I couldn't help but be happy that we could leave and get some fresh air.
“Weren't they great?” Ruth asked earnestly. “Pete's really improving at the drums, isn't he?”
“Um, yeah… Listen, could I step outside for a moment and get some fresh air?”
“Certainly,” Beth replied. “We'll be right out to join you.”
“Just waiting for the boys,” Ruth said in a rather dreamy state.

I pushed through the crowd and ascended the steps, entering the now overcast outdoors. I felt a little dizzy, but the fresh air helped to revitalize me a bit. I became nauseous and wondered why. I hadn't had that much to drink - only a pint, so it couldn't be that I was squiffy. Dazed, I sank back into the wall and slid down it, coming to rest on the sidewalk. I cradled my head, which had begun to really hurt, in my hands, and sat, singing to myself.
It was another twenty minutes before the rest of the group emerged, and by then, I was on the verge of throwing up. Groaning slightly, I looked up and smiled weakly.
“Are you okay, luv?” George asked. He was always the one who noticed things like that, as Ruth and Pete were always wrapped up in each other, Paul was with Anabelle, and John was either drunk or in the company of another girl, usually Cynthia.
“No, I don't think so,” I moaned.
“Well, what hurts?”
“My head. I think I'm going to throw up”
“Well don't do it on me, luv. Here, put your arm around my shoulder and I'll help you up,” he said to me. “Will you get my guitar, Macca?”
I removed my shoes and, clutching them in my left hand, did as I was instructed. “Thanks,” I said, smiling faintly.
“Hey, Harrison, hurry it up back there,” John called out from a couple dozen metres ahead.
“We're coming. Just give us a second.” George lifted me up, and I hung limply on his shoulders. He clumsily stumbled forward, obviously not used to having a girl drooped about his shoulders. We finally joined the others, who helped to carry me to a bench in the park. All seven of them placed me carefully on the bench, then sat in a semicircle on the ground beside me. George, as he had discovered me first, held her hand, while the others looked on.
Anabelle said she thought it would be best if they took me home, but the I disagreed. “My home doesn't have the right atmosphere for someone who's sick. Auntie Jenn is having a gambling party, anyway.”
“How bout she comes to your house, Harrison?” John suggested.
“Not a bad idea,” Paul exclaimed. “Your mum is so caring and all that stuff that she would love to have girl to take care of. She's got enough boys, anyway, and she hasn't had Louise to baby for over ten years.”
“Ho ho, right you are, Macca,” John exclaimed, chuckling.
“Alright,” George agreed.
“We can take my car,” Anabelle offered. She was the best driver of all of them, having taken driver's training, and the only one other than Cynthia, who wasn't there that night, who owned a car. George and Paul lifted me into the back seat of the car and covered me with their jackets, and then Anabelle and George got in the front seat, George without his treasured guitar.

v          v          v

I woke to see George and his mother, Louise, looking at me, worry etched on their faces. “What happened?” was the first thing that escaped my lips.
“Uh,” George said, thinking. “Well, you got really sick outside the Cavern, we took you to the park, and then Anabelle gave us a ride to my house so that Mum could take care of you.”
“Oh…. Where are Ruth and Beth?”
“Uh, they couldn't fit in the car, with you taking up the whole back seat and such.”
“How long….?”
“A day and a half, dear,” Mrs. Harrison said softly.
“A day and a half?” I exclaimed in disbelief.
“Well, you were pretty sick,” said George, stating the obvious.
“You don't look so great yourself, George,” said I, beginning to feel better.
“That,” Mrs. Harrison said, “is because he's been awake for a day and a half.”
“You have?”
“Uh, yeah,” George said, scratching his neck like he always did when he was nervous.
“I'm going to go make you some soup, dear,” Mrs. Harrison said quietly, exiting the room. I was in what I gathered to be the parlor of the small home. George's guitar was propped up against the wall next to the sofa that I was lying on.
“Uh, do you want me to play you a song?” George asked nervously.
“That would be divine,” I sighed, and sank into the pillows that supported my head.
George sang `To Know Her Is to Love Her' - “Now, it's normally John who sings this, but I know the lyrics pretty well.”
“Oh, stop making excuses and play the song already,” I said, with mock disgust in her voice.
“Uh, okay…” he started playing the guitar. “To know, know, know her is to love, love, love her. Just to see her smile makes my life worthwhile. Yes, just to know, know, know her is to love, love, love her….” I drifted off to the melodic, drawling sound of George's voice.

Chapter Two: 'Cause Baby, It's You
Chapter Three: Just Call on Me When You're Lonely
Chapter Four: Words of Love

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