I fix my hair and straighten out my red velvet shirt. I adjust my black knee length skirt and slip on a pair of black heels. Ready for work.
Before hurrying out the door of my apartment I grab an apple, my coat, and a purse. I sling the coat over my left arm as I lock the door and throw my keys into my bag. I pull my scarf and gloves out from inside the sleeve and put them on.
I walk to the usual bus stop and take out my bus token. It’s chilly outside and damp from last night’s icy rain. Five people stand around me awaiting the same bus. I notice a rather large woman with an abundant mass of teased hair searching her pocketbook for a cigarette lighter. Two teenage girls giggle and whisper to my left, I hear one of them mention the Beatles and the other start screeching. A man behind them glares and speaks rather loudly to his wife, “Children should been seen and not heard.”
Both girls turn around and look back at each other, stifling laughter. Sympathizing with them, I look at the pavement holding back my own smirk at the stupidity of the man.
Soon enough the bus arrives, I pay, and find an empty seat near a window. I watch the streets pass, examining stores, children running, people window shopping, and of course, couples walking hand in hand, smiling. I sigh and remove my apple from my purse. I take a bite, chew, and continue to people watch.
I almost miss my stop but abruptly ring the buzzer and get off. I power walk two blocks, braving the cold and trying to keep my eyes from constantly tearing in the wind. Finally, I reach my destination. I enter Macys and pass by a few of the usual co-workers, Bernie Strauss and Lee Ann Warwick. They return polite hellos and I check in at the time clock. I then rush to my position at the linen department.
As usual, Lydia has beaten me there. I have to laugh at her appearance. It’s Valentine’s Day and she would be the one to dress all in black. Her shoes are black boots with buckles mostly hidden by her long flowing black skirt. On top she wears a black shirt with bell sleeves and a small colorful beaded design along the neckline. Her shoulder-length, almost black hair is left down, and her face is painted with the ever-popular dark blue eye shadow.
She’s showing a grandmother and her granddaughter a beautiful pink quilt but still glances up to give me a ‘Hello’ with her light blue eyes. I smile back and stand at the cash register awaiting any chance I might have to serve a customer or two.
Within time what seems to be a newly married couple approaches the counter. The woman has blonde hair, and almost resembles Cyn in a way. The man is fairly attractive, dark hair, hazel eyes—both very clean cut.
“Hello,” she says. “We’re looking for a new bed set for our house. Maybe reddish gold or something.”
The man seems started by this. “Reddish gold?”
“Yes, why not sweetie? Isn’t it a beautiful color? And perfect for Valentine’s day?” She nuzzles him. He quickly agrees.
I sigh and plaster a smile on my face. “Certainly, I know just the place.”
I lead them to a large bedspread display. I must admit the set is hideous, a bloody-brownish red, but it’s the only one I know we have in stock even close to the color she wants.
I watch as the man shudders at the look of it, but the woman seems to love it.
“Oh! Isn’t it just heaven! Look at it honey, isn’t it just magnificent?”
She looks towards him with puppy dog eyes. “What? You don’t like it?”
His face strains to look pleased. She sighs and whispers something in his ear.
“I love it,” he says.
She smiles and before I know it, they’re purchasing it. I thank them, wish them a nice day, and they leave.
Oh why must there be so many couples in this world?
Lydia comes up behind me. “Hey Julia, make a sale?”
“Yeah, to a couple of newly weds.”
She laughs. “Yeah, I saw them. We all know their plans for tonight.”
“What? Oh come on, don’t pretend to be your innocent little self.”
“Fine, fine, have it your way. Anyway, how was your morning?”
“Alright I suppose, nothing special. Yours?”
“Nothing much either,” she leans her elbow on the counter and rest her head in her hand. “Boy, Valentine’s Day is definitely a difficult day to be dateless.”
“Yeah, I know, but at least we have each other.”
“Ha. Yeah. Well at least you can say you had a wonderful boyfriend Pau—Robert.”
We try not call the Beatles by their real names in public, though it’s evident no one on earth would know who we mean, we still like to be safe.
“Well Robert wasn’t that great, was he? I mean, where is he now? It’s been four months, Lyd. Four whole months. Not a word from him. Nor from Joh—Mitchell.”
She sighs. “Ah, Mitchell. I wish he would, I’d love to meet him. I’ve just heard so much about him.”
“Yeah, so do I. What do you think it is? Have they all just forgotten me? I wish Pam would tell me what’s going on, after all, she spends practically every day with them. But then again, who needs me when you have the Beatles?”
“Oh come on Julia, you’re close, hey, you two are so close you forgot about me for a month.”
“I’m really sorry about that.”
“Yeah, no biggie. I’m over it now, I just wish you could get those Beatles over here! Oops, I mean, Ladybugs. Gosh I love that Ladybug Cemetery.”
I have to laugh. “Ladybug Cemetery?”
“Yea, they’re great, I love that Mitchell. Oh—and don’t forget Pilco.”
“You mean the drummer?”
“Yea, he’s just FAB-ulous.”
“You know, I never gave them my address or phone number, maybe that’s why they haven’t contacted me. I mean, I left pretty quickly, after all, they all thought I was going to stay longer—hell, I thought I was staying longer.”
“Yeah, but what about Pam? Wouldn’t they have asked Pam for your address or number? Or, with there millions of dollars, sent the CIA on a search for you, they know you live in New York City, don’t they?”
I roll my eyes. “Realistically Lydia.”
“Well, it is, sort of. But realistically, they would have contacted Pam. I haven’t the slightest doubt after seeing those pictures of you and Paul that he cared for you, that look in his eyes couldn’t be faked.”
“Robert you mean.”
“Yes, Robert, the man loves you, there’s no doubt about that. Now what has become of his love for the present is beyond me. Besides from what you’ve told me Mitchell was a rather good friend as well. I mean, the Maccalovi Speciality?” She laughs.
I grin at the memory. “He was great, definitely. Do you think I should try to get in contact with them? Oh, forget that. I know that would be impossible and I wouldn’t want to do that as it is, it’s the guy that’s supposed to contact the girl, not vice versa.”
“Oh come on Julia, if you really care for them, you could contact them.”
“Oh really? Now how do you suppose I’d go about doing that? Search for Lennon in a phonebook?”
Two teenyboppers interrupt our conversation. “Beatle fan, eh?” one of them says.
I glance down at them, realizing I had forgotten to keep within codenames. The girl on the right, who had just spoken, is wearing an ‘I love Paul’ pin.
So do I, I think.
“Yeah, somewhat, I suppose,” I say.
Lydia throws me a side-glance.
“Those numbers are hard to find,” the other says. “Believe me we’ve tried. But you should never give up. We certainly won’t.”
The one with the pin pulls an album out of her bag. “I just bought their last album, Rubber Soul. I know it came out in December but it wasn’t until now I finally had the chance to get it.” She holds it up and sighs. “Isn’t Paul adorable? We even saw them on their tour last year and I’m certain Paul winked at me!”
Sure kid. I feel a sting of pain as I glance at the cover.
They all look fabulous, particularly Paul. It’s ironic, I’ve done things with that incredible man that this girl has only dreamed about and yet I’m just as far away from his love as she is.
We ask the girls if they want to buy anything, but they shake their heads. “Keep trying,” they say, as they walk off with their album.
“I miss him, Lydia.”
“Well if that were news I’d have to have been dead for the past four months. You should have seen yourself then. At least you’re better now.”
“No, I’m serious. I really miss him. For the past few weeks I’ve been able to put him out of my mind a bit, with the play and all, but now, with this stupid holiday, everything is love, love, love! I can’t go anywhere without hearing about the Beatles, or seeing mushy couples!”
“Calm down, Julia. I don’t know what to tell you. What can I possibly say to you? I’m not a magician. I’m not Pam. Maybe you should try getting her to finally tell you something of value. Maybe you could call her at a time when John would be over.”
“Oh yeah, great, interrupt them why don’t I? Get them in a great mood when they answer the phone?”
“Don’t take it out on me, it’s not my fault.”
“I’m sorry, I’m just a bit upset, that’s all.”
“You can say that again. Listen, lunch break isn’t that far off, we could walk down to that nice diner down the block and grab something to eat. Drown our troubles in a chocolate malted?”
I smile. “Alright.”
I serve a few more customers and lunchtime finally comes. We check our cards and walk down the street. Inevitably we are surrounded by lovey dovey couples. I wonder how much longer I’ll be able to take this.
Lydia and I chow down on a large helping of fries and hamburgers. She gives me her pickle and I gulp down the malted.
“Something tells me I won’t be hungry for quite a while now,” I say. “Oh don’t be saying that. I went out and bought a whole two pound box of chocolates that will have to be finished tonight.”
“…Well, when you put it that way…”
We both laugh and split the bill. Before we know it, we are returning to Macys.
“Ever wonder why we’re here?” I ask desperately trying to keep up with Lydia braving against the sea of people.
“Oh don’t be getting all philosophical on me now, Jul, I’m in no mood to be thinking. Save it for when we’re at the coffee shop with Ted and Mindy.”
Ted and Mindy are two of our Bohemian friends. They consider each other soul mates and have been together for over a year now. Their favorite topic of conversation is the ‘deep aspects of humanity and life,’ as well as art and music, and we always have a great time with them.
We return to the linen department and finish the sales for the day. I make a rather large commission and am delighted when Lydia and I can finally return to my place to watch the classic romantic movies on my television.
I unlock my apartment door and let Lydia in. I throw my keys down on the small table to the right of the door and look around the living room section. Lydia makes herself comfortable on the orange couch facing the television. I walk over and lean over the television to pull the curtains together for privacy, despite the fact that my view is a brick wall as it is.
I return to the small kitchen area, next to the couch, and across from the door. I stand at the counter and begin to search the cabinets.
“What are you doing?” Lydia asks.
“Looking for something.”
“And what something is that?”
“I’ll let you know when I find it.”
I continue to shuffle through the compartment below the sink and squash a spider. Although the apartment isn’t perfect it’s in rather nice condition compared to many other college student apartments. My parents were really generous in helping me find this one. I love living in the Village, even with my brick wall view, it’s just so lively.
“Are you just gonna keep me sitting here?”
“I’ll be there in a sec, just let me find it.”
I listen as Lydia switches on the television. Having not found anything in the cabinets I stand up and walk into my small, yet cozy bedroom. Ever since I was at Pam’s I bought a new magenta bedspread, but my walls and carpet remain the same—white and blue, respectively. I search frantically through my night table until, finally, I spot it—my marble notebook.
I pull it out from the back of the drawer and walk out to see Lydia fully sprawled out the couch watching the news.
“Nice way to treat your friend, just leave me here all by myself to watch the television.”
“You’ve done it yourself, besides, I wanted to see if I still had this.” I hold up the notebook.
Lydia glances over the back of the couch and sighs. “Ah, what is this, Dr. Anderson, another artifact from the magical days of old in Camelot?”
“Indeed ‘tis, Dr. Milflow, and an important one, too.”
“It’s that notebook you were talking about with your bad lyrics, isn’t it?” She continues, sitting up to make room for me.
“Thanks a lot, but yes, it is.”
“Well, you know what I mean, the one’s Paul didn’t like.”
“Yeah, those.” I open to the page of ‘Paula’ and sigh.
Lydia starts laughing. “Oh god, you weren’t kidding when you said you were lucky Paul didn’t recognize it. That’s absolutely hilarious.” She continues to laugh, but stops seeing my misery at the opened memories of four months passed. “Why don’t you call?”
“Pam. Talk to her, see what’s up. Settle it, once it for all, you’re only making yourself unhappy.” Lydia looks up at me but notices the worried look on my face. “Look, I’m sure it’ll work out fine. I’ll sit right here and watch. I’ll even turn off the television.”
Lydia gets up and turns the switch then gives me my cue with her eyes. I take a deep breath and walk over to the kitchen counter. I check the time, 7 pm here, that's 11 pm there, chances are I won't be waking anyone up.
I pick up the receiver and dial then stare at the door ahead as I hear it ring. As someone picks up I turn to Lydia, who is watching attentively. I twirl the phone cord.
“Hello?” Pam says.
“Hi, Pam, it’s me Julia.”
“Oh hey! It’s great to hear from you. Long time no speak. Happy Valentine’s Day, by the way.” She’s overly cheerful, must have found a way to get John over to her house instead of staying with Cyn.
“Yeah, you too.”
“Yes, so what’s new? Last time we spoke you were playing Juliet or something?”
“Yeah, I am.”
“That’s so great! Congratulations!”
“Yeah, um, I was wondering, Pam. You see, we haven’t spoken in a while and I wanted to know what’s going on, with the guys and all, and the girls, too. You haven’t told me much.”
There’s a brief silence. “Oh, uh, well, as must have heard in the news George and Patti were married at the end of January.”
“Yeah, I heard that. But I was wondering about, well—“
“Ringo and Maureen are doing great, they had just gone on a trip to Trinidad with John and Cyn around the same time and have now returned.”
“Oh, how are things with you and Johnny boy then?”
“Not bad, for a little bit he began to feel a tad bit guilty about cheating on Cyn, but he’s seemed to return to his senses within the past week or so. The girls still don’t seem to know and I’ve really become part of the regular clan. If you noticed, well, you probably wouldn’t have seen it, it was in a British paper, but my arm made it into the news! I was standing next to Cyn when they had returned and the reporter snapped half a shot of me.”
Still keeping a close eye on Cyn, I see.
“But Pam, what about Paul?”
“What about Paul?”
“How is he?”
“No, but has he said anything about me? Mentioned me? Said he missed me at all? Is with Jane?”
“Well he might have mentioned you once or twice, I can’t really remember exactly—“
“What did he say?”
“Oh, I don’t really remember—“
“Is he with Jane?”
“Tell me, Pam!”
“No, he’s not.”
My heart starts pounding rapidly. He’s not with Jane. Finally, I know for certain he’s not with Jane!
I look up at Lydia who’s questioning me with her eyes. I shake my head. She remains intent.
“I don’t know, not much. They just didn’t really stay together. I had given him your phone number, has he called?”
What kind of stupid question is that?
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
Suddenly in the background I pick up on a familiar Liverpoolian accent, John’s, saying, “Who’s there?”
I listen attentively as I hear her cover the mouthpiece and whisper, “A friend.”
A friend? Excuse me? Is that what I am now? ‘A friend’? John knows me, she should have said, ‘It’s Julia, would you like to speak to her for the first time in four months?’ But she didn’t, what’s going on here?
I decide to raise my voice a bit so perhaps John might hear it and recognize it.
“PAM! You there? Is that JOHN I hear there?”
“What? Oh, uh, yeah. It is.”
I listen as John continues to speak in the background, “Is that Julia?” and Pam finally answers, “Yes. Do you want to speak with her?”
“Of course. Hey Juli! Haven’t heard from you in ages. Beginning to think America had eaten you up.”
“Well, it hasn’t. But John! It’s great to hear from you.”
Lydia perks up on the couch with wide, hopeful eyes.
“Yeh, we’ve missed you around. Seems you left rather abruptly, thought you were going to stay a bit longer, but hey, what can you expect?”
“I missed you guys, too. I was beginning to wonder why I hadn’t heard from you in so long.”
“Well it seems the number Pam had of yours was wrong. That’s why we haven’t been able to reach you, did she explain that to you? About how she’s been trying to contact you?”
“Oh, no. I must have missed that.” Pam? Having the wrong number? That’s impossible.
“Yeh, we even tried to write you, but it was sent back to us, labeled, ‘Return to Sender’.”
What’s going on here?
“You’re joking. I don’t see—“
“No, I’m not. Paul had tried to get to you, too. Here, before I forget, let me get a piece of paper. Pam luv, mind handing me? Yes, ta. What’s your address, luv? And number, you have no idea how much we’ve missed you back here.”
“Really?” I beam. “Alright, my number is: 212-555-7893. My address is: 15 Charles Street, NY, NY10001.”
“Gear. Had you changed your addie since you last spoke to Pam, because the one she gave us seemed somewhat different? I don’t remember it exactly, but it certainly wasn’t that one. No matter. Anyroad, how’ve you been? How are you doing? Screw anyone?”
Same old John.
“I’ve been pretty good. I’ve been continuing to work at Macys with my friend Lydia.” Lydia brightens at the mention of her name.
“Yes, she’s a good friend of mine, she lives in New York near me. We’re old friends. She’s a Beatle fan as well.”
“Ah, is she?”
“Yes, and she happens to be here right now. Would you mind giving her a little hello?”
“Has she got big knockers?”
John laughs. “Alright, alright. I don’t mind. A friend of yours is a friend of mine. Take Pam for example—“
“Yes, well I do hope you don’t take up such a relationship with ALL my friends.”
Lydia bounces up and bounds towards the phone, before reaching for it, whispers in my ear, “Well I certainly would hope he WOULD.”
I roll my eyes, and hand her the phone, smiling.
I watch as she melts at the sound of John’s voice, yet keeps her voice steady so as not to seem like the crazed fan she is. “Yes, I guess you could me a bit of fan,” she says.
This time it’s me who sends her the side-glance.
“Favorite Beatle? Well, I do like Ringo—and this may sound strange in context, but you.” She laughs. “Yes, you. But besides that—what? Oh yea oh—John!”
She laughs again as she twists the cord. “Yes, I guess calling out ‘John’ is a trait of Julia’s friends. Oh ew! I didn’t mean it THAT way, but if you’re suggesting…What do I do? I spend a lot of time with Julia in coffee shops. I’m a struggling artist, I guess you could say, if it’s not too cliché. I work at Macys with Julia, but on the side I try to get my various works in galleries. Pottery, paintings, sculptures and stuff. Yea, I think they’re pretty good. I do a bit of theater as well, but I’m nowhere near as successful as Julia in that. Listen, I won’t keep you from her any longer, after all, this is a long distance call.”
This is one long distance call that could cost millions and I couldn’t care less. John cares about me! They missed me! But what about Paul? How did they get the wrong address and number?
She hands it to me and mouths a ‘thank you,’ walking to the couch to pretend to faint and silently scream her lungs out. I smile and pick up the phone.
“Hey, she sounds interesting. I’d like to meet her.”
“Oh would you? Have you forgotten Pam now? She’s in the room right now, all you have to do is turn around and see her.”
“No, of course not. But I’ll discuss that topic with you at a later time.”
I wonder what that’s supposed to mean.
“John, we’re still friends, right?”
“Yes, of course we are.”
“So, we still have that vow of confidence?”
“Most definitely, what is it luv?”
“John, please tell me about Paul. I miss him more than anything. I mean, I miss you too, but in a different way. That last day—“ I feel tears forming in my eyes. “I was so confused, I had to go. What happened with him and Jane? Has he forgotten me? I mean, if he has, I mean it’s no big deal—“ Yeah, right. “But I’m just sort of curious, I guess.”
John’s voice takes on a serious tone. “He misses you, luv. He loves you. You should see the bloody bastard. He’s been so damn pissed these past few months it’s a wonder he’s been able to see straight.”
“As in drunk, luv.”
“Oh. Is he alright?”
“Well luv, that last day really killed him. From what it seems, you two were being all lovey and kissey in the street and Jane came in, right?”
“Yes.” The memory still remains vivid in my mind.
“Yeh well, Paul was baffled. The two of them had broken it off weeks ago. Remember when I had told you about that day she had walked in on him? She had said that was the last time and Paul was of course, depressed. But then you came along. You’re the light of his life, luv. You’re his ‘Jules.’”
John continues, “He still regrets not saying something in time, making it clear to you that the relationship between him and Jane was over and that it was just she who was not over him yet. Still pined for him. But before he got the chance, you ran, he says he reached out for you, but you got a way. He says he wanted to chase after you but Jane held him back long enough for him to have lost you. The next day all of us Beatles had to go down to Manchester to tape some Lennon-McCartney special thing and Paul had no chance to contact you. And then you left. Julia, you left a void in his life. That night Paul made it clear to Jane that he loved you and that their relationship was over. He had her remove all her clothes from the house. It was a pretty messy break up despite the fact they were already broken up. Miscommunication is more powerful than most people give it credit for.”
I am unable to speak. Paul loves me? They already were broken up?
“You there, luv? Juli, you alright?”
I can’t help it, but I start crying. Crying over all the tears shed from the past and worries over Paul and thinking they all had forgotten me. Paul loves me.
I try not to let John hear me crying, but he inevitably does. Lydia comes up behind me, placing a hand on my shoulder, expecting the worst. “Yes, I’m fine. It’s just—just I had thought you had all forgotten about me and no longer cared. I—still love Paul and couldn’t believe his betrayal. It’s been four months and I still haven’t gotten over him.”
John and I continue to chat on the topic of Paul and my down months. It seems Paul still hasn’t gotten over me. It’s horrible, but it somehow gives me a sense of relief, a wonderful delight in hearing how absolutely dreadful the past months have been for him, proving he cares.
We come upon the topic of my current attainment of the role of a lifetime.
“Juliet! Oh luv! That’s wonderful. When is it? I’m going to have to see this!”
“It starts in twelve days and ends March 26.”
“I’ll be there! I’ll try at least. But luv, I’m really sorry, but I gotta go. I call you later. When it’s on my bill, alright?”
“Talk to you soon, Ta.”
I hang up and turn to Lydia. I scream with relief and join her on the couch to update her on the latest news.
Go to Chapter 3
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