Chapter Two: `Cause baby, it's you
I awoke again to see George dozing on the chair, his guitar on his lap. Some crackers were on the table next to me, no doubt placed there by Mrs. Harrison. I suspected that there had once been soup there, as the plate seemed too big for just the crackers. My suspicions were confirmed when I saw a bowl marked with the colour of chicken broth, most likely eaten by my attendant, George.
Feeling much better, I shed her blanket and got up. I removed George's guitar from his sleeping body and replaced it with my blanket. He looks so cherubic when he's sleeping, I thought. Cherubic in an odd, Teddy boy way. I took great care in how I handled the guitar, as I knew it was his most prized possession.
Suddenly, doorbell rang and Mrs. Harrison scurried out to open the door. Turning, she saw I was up. “Oh, good. You're awake. Hold on while I get the door.” Mrs. Harrison turned the handle, and Ruth stood in the entry.
“Ruth!” I cried, forgetting that George was sleeping right behind me.
“Oh, superb! You're up! We've been worried sick about you. I brought you some clothes: your plaid skirt, tank top, and green sweater, your purple dress, and your black shirt, you know, the one that's gathered at the neck. I also brought some other necessities, if you know what I mean…you know, your sponge bag.”
“Yes, I know. Thank you.”
“You may change in George's bedroom, if you like, dear. It's right upstairs and to the left,” Mrs. Harrison said, pointing. Grateful, I clutched my sponge bag and wandered into his room. The mattress was on the floor, and it hardly fit into the closet that George called his. His guitar case was propped up against the wall and clothes were strewn about on the floor, mostly of black and white colours. Somehow, I felt like I didn't have privacy, so I hid in the corner nearest to the door, so as not to be seen when the door opened. I struggled out of my short, black skirt and into my long, diagonally plaid skirt. Pulling off my red shirt, I replaced it with a black, scoop Henley tank. Over that, I wore my chunky, green ribbed sweater. Feeling refreshed but hungry, I opened the door and stepped out into the world.
“Mira, dear, I've got some broth heating up on the stove for you. I'll have it ready in just a second.” Mrs. Harrison's voice wasn't hard to hear from the kitchen, which wasn't far away.
“Thank you, Mrs. Harrison,” I called. “So,” I said to Ruth as I got downstairs, “What have I missed since I've been asleep?”
“Well, not much. I know that George missed quite a few gigs waiting for you to wake up. Wasn't that sweet of him?”
“I'll say. He's wonderful…”
“He's wonderful, eh?” Ruth raised her eyebrows and nudged me. I responded with a mock look rather like that of a mother who is telling a child with her expression, `Don't be cheeky.'
Doing a little twirl, I retreated to the living room where my beloved George dozed, and sat with a `Foof!' on the sofa, Ruth following me. Mrs. Harrison came in with some chicken broth, and I happily sipped away, sneaking little looks at George.
“I've telephoned your aunt, dear, to tell her where you were, two nights ago, I think it was. Whenever you came here…. She said that it was fine if you stayed here and she didn't mind how long.”
“Oh, thank you,” I exclaimed through a mouthful of soup. I wasn't sure my aunt cared either way. She probably wouldn't have noticed anyway, I thought in disgust.
v v v
I spent the next few days helping Mrs. Harrison around the house. George had woken up only for about an hour during those few days for a huge helping of food and then had gone back to sleep, this time in his bed. I checked up on him every couple of hours, and each time he was sound asleep. “I love you” I whispered as I stroked his long, still rather greasy hair. I sat on the floor next to him, simply watching him breathe. He really did look like an angel when he was asleep, and he could easily be one when he was awake… I put my hand to my mouth. I was falling in love. I gave him one last look and quickly exited his room.
v v v
“Well,” George exclaimed as he stepped out of his bedroom, “it's been a while, hasn't it?”
“Sure has,” I responded, laughing. “What, a day ago for a total of about an hour, and then a couple of days before that for about three minutes?”
“I never knew that my guitar playing was that boring,” George quipped. Smiling, I stole a quick glance at him and then returned to my work. “I haven't played a gig in almost a week! The lads must be dead angry with me…”
“Oh, no, they're fine with it. Paul and John just flubbed away, making for some interesting performances, or so Ruth tells me.”
“Well, what say that we go visit everybody now?” George questioned.
“That would be lovely. We haven't seen everybody for days now…”
“Then come, milady, and we shall hitchhike like we've never hitchhiked before.”
v v v
“Okay, now the only way this is going to work is if you be the one to stick out your thumb. I'll sit over here, and look like I don't know you. Then, when a car stops, I'll get up and join you. Simple as that and ten times faster than if it was just me hitchhiking. Y'see, I look like a Ted, so nobody wants to pick me up.”
“Yeah, I see. I've heard of people doing this before. Frankly, I've never hitchhiked in my life,” I admitted.
He stared at me in disbelief. “Well, then how do you get places?”
“Walk, I guess. It's good exercise.”
“Okay… Well, stick out your thumb, then. I'll tune my guitar over here,” George said as he ambled over to sit on a neighbour's front steps, taking his guitar out of its case as he did so.
George was right, and in no time, a nice old lady stopped to give me a ride. “He's coming with me too, if you don't mind,” I explained, pointing to George who hurriedly put his guitar back in its case. The lady opened her mouth to protest, and then relented.
“Thank you, ma'am,” George said, putting on his best behaviour. “It sure is kind of you. You see, neither of us own a car, and we didn't want to trouble our dear friends to come all the way out here.”
“I see,” the lady said, nodding curtly.
“You are going to approximately the train station area, I presume?” I asked, attempting to be as well-mannered as possible, as we climbed into the car.
“Yes,” the lady said quickly. It was obvious that she didn't feel comfortable around George, or possibly not even me because by then I had taken off my green sweater, and now wore only my black tank top, which I presumed, the lady did not think was acceptable. I looked at George in a sort of `not-another-stuffy-old-lady' way, which he responded to by stretching so his arm snaked around my shoulder. I looked up at him and smiled mischievously.
v v v
We finally arrived in town after a long and boring ride during which nobody spoke a word, after our confirmation that we were going to the same place. We awkwardly walked together, about thirty centimetres apart, neither of us quite sure of what to do. George carried his adored guitar and I carried my green sweater.
“I'd like to stop my place, if that's okay, and get a change of clothes.”
“Sure,” George said. “Whatever you want is all right with me.”
As we walked up the steps, I heard the loud, boisterous laughter of Auntie Jenn and her friend Caroline. “I'm sorry,” I said. “My aunt isn't very responsible, and she certainly isn't very quiet.”
“It's okay. I don't mind. After all, I'm John's friend, right?”
I couldn't help but feel embarrassed as we entered the smoke-filled, dank house, filled with old furniture that my aunt never even used anymore, let alone cleaned.
“Mira? `Zat you?” my guardian called loudly.
“Yes,” I said, forcing a weak smile as we entered the parlor to the sight of two women playing poker rather drunkenly.
“Well, ain't that just peachy keen,” my aunt said in what sounded in a drunk voice and began laughing loudly.
“Looks like she's brought her boyfriend, too,” Caroline said, and scoffed. “He's not much, is he? Look at those ridiculous clothes on that rail of a body.”
“They are not ridiculous clothes,” I said through clenched teeth. “He can hear you too. He's not deaf, dumb and blind. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get some things.” I turned on her heel and strode away, George trailing behind me like an obedient puppy. As soon as we got to my room, I broke down in tears on my bed. “I'm s-sorry,” I said through sobs.
“Aw, don't cry. I don't take it personally any more. People say those kinds of things about me all the time,” George consoled me, patting my back.
I looked up. “Not just for that. I'm sorry for all the trouble I've caused you, your family, and the band. I feel so bad for how I've inconvenienced you and everything. I'm sorry I came into your life and ruined everything.” I collapsed into George's unsuspecting arms.
“It's okay. Mum and I like to have you around the house.” George removed the hair that had stuck to my tear-stained face. “Don't feel bad. We wouldn't keep you if we didn't want to. Come on, now. Get your things and let's get out of here.”
“Okay,” I sniveled. I pulled open the drawers of my dresser and selected my black and white checked slacks, my white shirt with a black stripe across the upper chest, and my blue sweater. “Turn around for a second while I change.” George buried his head in the wad of bedding at the foot of my mattress as I switched her outfit.
“Slacks,” he observed as he studied my clothing. “You don't see those on girls very often.”
“Ruth made them for me,” I explained.
“Ah,” he said. “I wasn't saying they looked bad, or anything. Actually, they make a clinking outfit with that sweater.”
“Thanks,” I said, blushing, and then pulled my boots on. “C'mon. Let's go see what's happening at the Cavern.”
v v v
“Harrison!” John called across the dark, dank pit they called the Cavern. “Come up and join the fuckin' band! We fuckin' missed you, man!”
George looked at me apologetically, and waited for my approval. “Go on; don't let me stop you from anything,” I said proudly. Grinning, he pushed through the crowd, and jumped up on the stage, guitar in hand.
“Welcome back, George,” Paul said to the whole crowd. “Missed ya!”
“Thanks. It's good to be back,” George exclaimed, pulling his guitar over his shoulder. He whispered something in John's ear, who nodded in response, as mischievous grin on his face. George cleared his throat, and then spoke into the microphone. “Uh, I'd like to sing a song for somebody who's recently become a big part of my life, and - stop that you guys,” Paul giggled and winked at him, and John gave him a square pat on the back. “Um, well, she was really sick and I hope that she's all better now. We really like having her around, and I'm not just saying that. Here's `Glad All Over' for you, Mira.”
A hush fell over the audience, and everybody turned to follow his gaze. I looked around, quickly waved, and then buried my face in my hands with embarrassment. George drew them away with his song: “Ain't no doubt about it, this must be love. One little kiss from you and I feel glad all over…”
I couldn't believe it. He was serenading me in front of a whole crowd! I could feel myself blushing from head to toe, and was sure that everybody was looking at me. Even so, I couldn't overcome the feeling of happiness that flooded over me. He liked me too! As he ended the song, I blew him a kiss and gave him a big smile, blushing more that ever.
v v v
“That was fuckin' great, Harrison. I didn't know you had it in you!” John chortled as they walked up the stairs and into the daylight. “Musta made you feel pretty special, eh, Mira, to be sung to in front of the whole fuckin' crowd like that!”
George glared at him and cleared his throat. “Mind your audience now, John”
“Oh, please,” I exclaimed. “I don't mind it one bit. That's what I get for being friends with you hooligans.” The boys laughed and I playfully punched George on the shoulder. “Where are the rest of the girls?” I asked.
“Uh, I think they're at Anabelle's. She's going to have a party tonight. Should we go crash it?” John was always the initiator of ideas like that.
“Sure, why not? But before it starts?” Paul was usually the one to follow up on John's ideas, to see if they were logical.
“Ah, it'll be at least the four of them,” John exclaimed, referring to Anabelle, Cynthia, Ruth, and Beth.
“Onward, then!” I exclaimed, pushing my fist forward like Superman. The five of them started a rather brisk pace that slowed the further they went on their journey. Growing tired, I leaned my head on George's and he slyly put his arm around my shoulders.
“Take my guitar, will you, Paul?” George asked.
“Oh, alright, but I don't see how having a bird is that valid of an excuse. Why, if Anabelle was here…”
“But she's not, is she Macca?” John said in mock sympathy. “So just carry the bloody thing.” Paul sighed and they carried on.
v v v
`Shhh…” John whispered as we drew near to Anabelle's flat. “We've gotta come up with a plan…” There was an incredibly long pause as John pondered.
“Well, speak, Einstein,” Paul exclaimed impatiently.
“Patience, lad, patience. It takes time for me to come up with a master plan.”
“Well, we haven't got the whole bloody night.”
“I say we just open the damn door,” Pete exclaimed, uttering the first words I had heard from him the whole evening.
Paul, George, and John exchanged glances. “I don't see why not,” George said, surprised.
“Onward, then,” Paul and John said in unison, punching the air in the same way I had earlier.
“Onward,' George, Pete, and I agreed, also punching the air, Superman-style.
v v v
“Oh shit,” John exclaimed as we came closer. “There's a fucking window on the door. They'll see us before we're even close to the bloody thing. Plus, we've got these damn guitars and George's got a bird on his arm to take care of. We can't just leave them on the side of the road.”
“Ahem,” I exclaimed, pretending to be angry.
“Oh, so sorry, milady,” John said in a London accent, bowing at the waist and kissing my hand. “Please forgive me, for I have sinned.”
“Well,” Pete said, “I say, screw the whole gate crashing idea. Let's just knock on the bloody door.”
“Amen,” Paul said in a fake preacher voice. “The lad, he speaks the truth.”
Soon, I was knocking on the door and the boys were hiding in the bushes. “Man, it's amazing how handy having a bird can be,” George said. “Hitchhiking, gate crashing, all sorts of stuff…”
Anabelle opened the door. “Mira!” she cried. “Thank God you're feeling better. We were all worried sick about you. So, how was it at George's?” She raised her eyebrows in a teasing manner and ushered me in. The four lads jumped out from behind the bushes, arms punching the air. Anabelle screamed, but it was obvious she wasn't too surprised. The boys were disappointed they hadn't frightened her more, but laughed it off and entered as well. Ruth and Cyn were there, as predicted, but Beth was nowhere in sight.
“Where's Beth?” Paul asked the question that was on all four of their minds.
“She's going to come later. I think she's got some babysitting deal.”
“Well then,” John said with a nefarious look on his face, “that pairs us off perfectly.” He reached over and turned on a record. The sounds of `Sure to Fall (In Love with You)” filled the parlor. The lads exchanged looks and then John pulled me up to him, George grabbed Anabelle, Paul got Ruth, and Pete began to dance with Cynthia. At first I was startled, but I soon adjusted. John certainly had a more `manly' body than George, I had to hand him that. I could smell a bit of alcohol on his breath. I buried my head in his shoulder, and we swayed from side to side.
The song soon ended and I could hear the `scrunch' as the needle left the record and the tap as it retuned to its place. “What was that all about?” Ruth asked, giggling.
“Dunno,” Pete said. `Thought it'd be fun.”
“Um, okay…” Anabelle dusted her hands. “Well, now that we're done with that, you lads can help us get ready.” Paul opened his mouth to make an excuse, but Anabelle was quick to notice. “No, Paul. There is no way you can get out of it this time. I guess you might just have to help.”
“Oh, all right. But only for you, luv.”
“Okay, then. George and Pete, if you'll tidy the bedrooms a bit. I have sneaking suspicion they might get used tonight,” Anabelle said, and the others giggled, me blushing as I always did. “Paul and John, I'd like you two to clean the bathroom. Mira and Ruth, if you could tidy the parlor and other common areas, that would be appreciated. Cyn and I will work on the kitchen. Okay, let's go!”
Everybody scurried off to do their jobs and Ruth and I began tidying the parlor, as we were told. “So,” Ruth questioned, “Anything happen with you and George?”
“Um, yes, in fact.”
“Ooh! What, what?” Ruth tried to mask the excitement in her voice, but to no avail.
“Uh, we hitchhiked to the Cavern and the boys were playing there -“
“Well, you didn't let me finish. He went up on stage and sang `Glad All Over' for me. He said that I had, I quote, “recently become a big part of my life,” and then he played it,” I said, imitating George's Scouse accent.
“Oh my God! Mira, that's big! This is huge! Oh my God, oh my God!”
“Calm down, will you? I don't want to draw attention to it because then George will shy away, and you know it.”
“Okay, sorry. But can I tell Beth and Anabelle and Cyn?”
“I suppose so.”
“Oh, wow! This is so great. Wait till they hear! In fact, can I tell them now? I just can't wait.”
“Oh, all right. But be fast with it. And don't have them come out here. They're going to start asking me all sorts of stuff, and I don't want that right now.”
“Okay, I'll be right back!”
“Yep, sure you will,” I said under my breath. “I'll be waiting.” My friend was a sucker for gossip and couldn't resist telling people all about it, especially if she was the first to know.
v v v
“Hello, Mira,” George entered the parlor and sat next to me on the sofa. Ruth was still in the kitchen, most likely having forgotten her duties in the parlor, helping the other girls prepare the food.
“Oh, hello. What're you doing our here? I thought you and Pete were tidying the bedrooms.”
“We were. But we're done now. Need any help?”
“I see. Sure, I would like that. Where's Ruth gone to?”
“Well, she and Pete…” George scratched the back of his neck. “Uh, they, uh…you know…Well, they're, uh, sorta using the bedroom right now.”
“Ah, I see,” I said quickly, a little uncomfortable talking to George about that subject. “Well, that's just splendid. I thought she was gone for an awful long time.”
“What was her excuse?”
“I don't believe there was one. Uh, she asked about what was going on between the two of us, and I told her about the Cavern, and she got all excited about it and ran off to tell Cynthia and Anabelle. I knew you wouldn't want her to, but then I figured that John and Paul would probably give them some exaggerated account of what happened, and then this whole thing would be blown into a much bigger thing than it really is, and….Do you mind?”
“Nah, not really,” George said. “If you don't.”