Lydia and I sit staring at Casablanca on television. But neither of us are paying any attention to the movie. I’m all love struck and confused, while Lydia’s floating on a cloud—she still can’t believe she just spoke to John Lennon.
“My god Julia! I just spoke with John Lennon!”
“Yes, Lyd, I know. I was there.”
“Yes, but he, he SPOKE to me!”
“But he spoke to me. His voice gives me chills! Did you hear how he said my name, ‘Lyyyydia,’ well maybe not exactly like that but it sounded wonderful! I’ve never heard anyone pronounce my name that wonderfully on this earth!”
“What? You don’t like the way I pronounce it?” I joke.
She barely notices, she’s so entranced by the fact she’s just spoken to her idol. “Well, it’s okay. But the way JOHN says it—Oh.” She sighs and falls back again. “He’s definitely my favorite Beatle now.”
“I suppose your Valentine’s Day is complete, then?”
“Well, I should say so! Except, perhaps if he had said, ‘Lyyyydia, I love you, be my Valentine, marry me!’”
I have to laugh. “Lyyyydia, I must say you’ve regressed back to being a fourteen year old!”
She giggles. “Yes, I suppose so. But this is John Lennon we’re talking about! A Beatle!”
“Yeah, only of the same Beatles I’ve been talking about for the past four months!”
“No kidding, but it was still hard to believe up until now. Well, of course, I would believe it more, if you perhaps had them come here…and had me meet them. You know, just to verify the fact you’re telling the truth…”
“Uh-huh, YEAH, just to check I’m telling the truth, huh?”
Lydia looks up at me with her innocent blue eyes, “Why of course.”
I take one of the poofy couch pillows and hit her over the head. She laughs, grabs another one and fights back. Soon enough I find myself in a full-fledged pillow fight on the floor.
Now tired, we decide it’s time to eat something nutritional—chocolates.
Lydia takes out her box of chocolates and we munch down on them, while turning on some old reruns of ‘I Love Lucy.’
We move the coffee table back so as to make room on the floor. We lie on our stomachs, practically with our noses against the screen.
“Lyd, why would Pam have the wrong number? She’s called me herself a few times. It just doesn’t make sense. Something’s just not right.”
“Maybe she accidentally gave them the wrong number?”
“I would have maybe guessed that had John not spoken about how ‘Pam had been trying to reach me and couldn’t.’ Besides, Pam knows my address by heart, how on earth would she get a ‘Return to Sender’ message on a letter to me?”
“I really don’t know what to tell you. You don’t think she—“
“Nothing really, just there’s no reason for her to intentionally give them the wrong number? I mean, I wouldn’t suppose she would do that, but still, things do seem a bit odd.”
“Pam? She would never do that. She has no reason to, at least not that I know of. I mean, she likes John, not Paul. And if she had a reason, we’ve been friends for over fourteen years!”
“Yeah, you’re right. That’s just not logical. But I really don’t have any explanation.”
There’s a brief silence. I look up at Lydia. “You don’t think that, well, since I’ve been gone Paul’s been sleeping around, do you?”
She looks right back at me, questioning me with her eyes. “Do you want my honest opinion?”
“Well, yeah…” I find myself examining my finger nails and the tan carpet below us instead of looking Lydia in the eye.
“Ok, to be honest, I think he loves for you a great deal, which, if you remember correctly, I’ve been telling you all along. But I do also know he’s fallen into quite a slump right now and if you’re about to presume that after not seeing you for four months and being depressed, that he hasn’t slept with anyone you’re out of your mind.”
I say nothing. I could have guessed that myself but it still doesn’t please me to hear.
“But, I will say,” she continues. “That I believe that none of these girls he’s been sleeping with really mean anything to him. Chances are he’s drunk and high the whole time as it is and probably can’t even remember them nonetheless what day it is.”
I don’t like to think of Paul this way. I don’t like the image of a drunk Paul, surrounded by vomit, slumped on the floor, being tackled by catty girls.
I nod but before I can say anything the phone rings. I jump up. Lydia gestures me to answer it. I run, practically tripping over my own feet. “Hello?”
“Hello, this is your local exterminator calling, seems there’s a Beatle on the phone who wants to speak with you.”
"Yeh, it's not too late for me to be calling is it? It's about two am here, which would mean about midnight for you—“
“No, it’s fine, we’re still awake.”
“I just want to check—I didn’t, uh, interrupt you and Pam earlier, did I?”
John gives a mischievous cackle but says, “No luv, you didn’t.”
“Oh ok, good then.”
“Yeh, I suppose so. Wouldn’t want to call in the middle of us banging each other now would you?”
“No, I definitely would not. But ANYway—“
“John, I want to know, if this is really true about Paul and Jane already have broken up, why on earth were her clothes still in the house?”
“Well luv, when you walk in on your boyfriend or three years shagging some nameless bird, would your first thoughts be, ‘Oh I better pack my nighties,’ ?”
“Um, well no, but if they were broken up it would have been official. She would have—“
“Not necessarily luv. She originally didn’t want those clothes back, felt they reminded them too much of Paul. Besides she has enough money to buy ten new wardrobes. The night after the, well, ‘incident’ let’s call it, Paul tried to call her, make up, be forgiven. But this time she wouldn’t accept and she even said herself, ‘No it’s over Paul.’ Now what exactly happened with her between that moment and the time she saw you on the street is beyond me. A bird is a bird.”
“Well, you know, I don’t mean to offend you, but there’s no rhyme or reason to good and proper Janie there, so I just can’t explain her to you.”
“But John, I want to know for certain that they weren’t together and it was all a misunderstanding.”
“Juli luv, how many times can I possibly say? They had bloody broken up! You’re no tart, luv, I’ve told you that before. So don’t think that.”
“Yes, but I—“
“But nothing. Ah, but on a similar topic I must ask you to be me Valeentine.”
“Me Valeentine. You see, Cyn’s me wife, Pam’s me friend, and ye, Juli Andeeson, must be me valeentine.”
I beam. I have to admit John can truly be adorable at times.
“Pleease, at least do it to boost me self esteem. I’m just a poor scruff from Liddypool without a friend in zee world…”
I laugh. “Oh come on John, which world are you living in? Step outside a moment, you have people you will never in your life ever meet that are head over heels in love with you.”
“Ah ha! But ye zeah they are not you.”
I am, not that surprisingly, once again, completely and utterly puzzled by John.
“Aw, pleease Missy Juli Elizzibeth Anderson, be me Valeentine?”
“What—how do know my middle name?”
“Pamsy told me…..PLEEAAZZZ?”
I find myself once again laughing. “Yes, fine Johnny boy Winston Lennon, I’ll be your Valeentine.”
Lydia runs up to me with a questioning look on her face.
I continue, “But first, I must hear, how doth Paulie boy do?”
John sighs. “Well, yer Macca is currently just as screwed up as he was before. I tried to get in contact with him about finally hearing from you, but I couldn’t seem to get him. Probably out at some club right now, getting pissed again…”
“…John, it’s really been bothering me, and I know it’s a strange question, but—“
“But has the Maccalovi Speciality been serving whipped cream to some other side dishes?”
“Well, yea. I guess…”
“Well luv, the answer is: not in any way that you should worry about. Mark my words, his thoughts have been nowhere but you for the past four months, aside from the times in the studio where his mind was nowhere but music. Listen luv, I’ve tried to explain this to you before, but sex to us is a game. It’s not some great amazing thing that you wait your whole life for, with the right person and all, but somehow for you Paul changed.
“Christ, you should’ve seen the fucking bastard wanking away those weeks he was with you and you wouldn’t sleep with him. He wanted to remain loyal to you. Wanted to keep his promise to you, luv. Then his ex-girlfriend comes along while you’re there and she fucking screws everything up. You run away, all upset, feeling betrayed and all, and there, love struck Macca stands wishing you would come back, unable to catch up with you in time.
“Then he’s left all alone, no longer with the ex-girlfriend he no longer cares for, and without you, his angel Jules. He tried time and again to contact you, to no avail, and then what is left for him to do? But get bloody fucking pissed, thinking you now hated him and changed yer number. Found another man and completely forgotten about ‘Cheaten’ Paulie.’ Tearing every time a damn flower was mentioned for Christ’s sake.
“So that’s what he’s been doing and whatever tarts come his way and shag him are completely meaningless and you should just bloody forget about them because luv, I don’t know a more devoted lad, than that Maccalovi Speciality of yours.” John now takes a moment to swallow after having becoming so passionate in his speech.
I’m left speechless. What can I possibly say to that?
I look at Lydia, who has heard the whole thing, having been standing right next to me, and John raising his voice so loudly.
Finally, John speaks. “Listen luv, after all this, I just wanted you to know of the other side of the story, other than your own. So you don’t fucking forsake Paul’s unending attempts to keep you happy. But I think I may have said too much already, aside from the fact I’ve caused you to become dumb. I’ll speak with you soon. Sweet dreams, my Juli Valeetine.”
Just as I manage to say, “By—“ John hangs up and I look up at Lydia who just stares at me with wide eyes.
After a few minutes, she speaks. “I think we better get to bed and rest. This is a bit much for one night. I’ll make myself comfortable on the couch, don’t worry, I’ll be fine. Just Julia, go to bed before you suffer some strange attack from sleep deprivation and disbelief.”
I wake up the next morning and realize it’s late. I turn to look at my alarm clock and realize I hadn’t set it. I turn it over and stare at the time. It’s 9 o’clock now, I’m supposed to BE there at 9!
I panic and rush into the next room to see Lydia sleeping. I shake her and she falls off the couch.
“What the hell?” Lydia mumbles, still half asleep.
“We’re late Lydia! It’s 9 o’clock now! We’re supposed to be checking in right now! It’ll take at least forty minutes to get to work at this rate! We’re going to get fired!”
“My god Julia, calm down. It’s Saturday. Hear that? S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y. In other words, GO BACK TO SLEEP.”
I stand there a moment, dumbfounded. It is Saturday—yesterday was Valentine’s Day, Friday. “Oh gosh, I’m sorry about that,” I start to laugh. “I thought it was Friday.”
“Yeah, great, just go back to bed and leave me alone till at least noon.”
I sigh and return to my room. Lydia often stays the night here since she lives in a flat shared by ten lunatics. It’s a complete mad house. She’s been staying here more and more ever since a few months ago when she had finals. She had gone to bed early in order to rest up appropriately, but the people she shares with did not share in her desire for sleep. They decided to throw a massive orgy that night, drugs and all, and one of the drugged lunatics started to go after Lydia in her bed. I’d be fine if she never returned to that flat and decided to spend the rest of her days sharing my apartment.
I return to my bed and try to fall back to sleep. I toss and turn but know there’s no way I’m going to fall back to sleep at this rate. The worst part is I can’t make breakfast or anything without waking up Lydia sleeping right next to the kitchen.
I lay on my back staring at the ceiling. It’s a very nice ceiling, very, well, ceiling-like. I open my night table drawer and remove my album of pictures of Paul. I stare at the picture Paul took of us kissing. It makes me laugh. I can see myself mid-laugh-kiss as I’m beginning to realize that Paul is taking a picture.
I wish I could be back at that day and do everything over. I wouldn’t run, I would stay, feel pity for Jane, but stay. I would extend my trip for weeks, maybe months if necessary, anything to make Paul happy.
I find my eyes tearing and wonder whether it’s sad or happy tears I’m crying. I love Paul, Paul loves me! I wonder how long it will be before I can talk to him, hear his voice again.
It stings to picture where Paul might be now, conked out next to one, maybe numerous girls. The thought makes me nauseous. I promise myself not to focus on his down months. It’ll be nothing but the past soon. I will be Paul’s present and future. It’s better not to think about anything other than that.
I put my album away and decide to get dressed. I tiptoe out of my room a few paces to the bathroom to my right, quickly glancing over my shoulder to check I didn’t wake Lydia. I was up as quietly as possible and tiptoe back to my room.
I search my closet and pick out my maroon empire-waist dress. I put it on and find myself with a craving for tea. Watery, tasteless, tea. I walk into the kitchen and fill a kettle with water. I look through my cabinets and find some small packets of tea left unused from the last time I went to Chinatown. Placing them on the counter, I scale the room. A small bit of light is beginning to stream through the curtains, coming from above the brick wall. I wish to open the window and let the light filter in but know Lydia will kill me.
I hear the water begin to boil and shut the heat off before it can begin to whistle. I pour it into one of my pretty, antique teacups that my grandmother used to use and place it on a saucer.
I dip the tea packet in the water and watch as it darkens in color. The steam hits my nose and forehead. I hold it as if I was an aristocratic Englishwoman from the nineteenth century and take a sip. It’s awful. The taste is absolutely dreadful. I spit it out and begin to laugh. Well, I can’t be expected to embrace everything British, now can I?
Remembering I have practice for Romeo and Juliet today, I check my schedule. I have to be there from noon to five. Since it’s already 11, I decide I better leave. I write a note to Lydia and leave it on the counter telling her where I’m going and that I’ll be back at 5.
After throwing on my coat, scarf, and gloves, grab my purse and script, I’m ready. I walk down the block and stop briefly in a local bakery. I buy a blueberry muffin and I’m off.
I nibble at the muffin and walk ten blocks. I walk another six, and I’m there—The String Box. I walk in and make myself comfortable in one of the back seats. I look up at the stage and see Bernie, our director screaming his lungs out at the chorus. It seems as though they can’t seem to say all the lines in sync and are driving Bernie up the wall. You’d think the actors were kids, the way he treats them. He has a ‘vision’ and wants us to bring it to life. Luckily for me, Bernie likes me and feels practically anything I do fulfills his ‘vision.’
Looking around the other ten rows of seats in the dark theater, for the other actors I work with, I spot Charlie, my Romeo. I must admit he’s good looking, brown Beatle cut, and dark brown eyes, not to mention, he has a great charm and charisma about him. But as everyone around here knows, there are practically no straight males in theater and Charlie is no exception.
I catch his attention and he waves back. He mouths a ‘Hey Juli baby,’ and starts to walk over to join me. Charlie and John—the only two men on this earth that call me ‘Juli.’ I once asked him why and he said, ‘Julia is just too damn formal.’
“Hey, how’s it going?” I ask in whisper.
“Pretty good, but as you can probably see Major Bernie’s got a stick up his ass this morning.”
“Yeah, certainly sounds it.”
“The gang and I were wondering if you would be interested in going out for dinner tonight? Saturday nights, nothing to do…”
“Yeah, well, I have a friend waiting back at home. Maybe next time, though.”
“A friend? You mean a male friend? Your other Romeo?”
I laugh. “No, she’s female. Her name’s Lydia.”
“Ah, I see. So you’re that way are ya.”
Before long, Charlie and I are rehearsing on stage and I’m back in the scheme of things. The rehearsal’s long, but enjoyable—Charlie always finds a way to make me laugh in between scenes. Five o’clock rolls around and I say my good-byes for the day.
Soon enough I’m back at my apartment, unlocking the door. I open the door and walk in, now tired from a long day at rehearsal. Lydia’s listening to a Rubber Soul and singing with it as loud as she can.
“Hey Lyd, I don’t remember owning Rubber Soul.”
“You didn’t, until today that is. I bought it for you.”
“Oh thanks. Sorry about leaving earlier, but I had to go and didn’t want to wake you.”
“Again, you mean.”
Lydia turns off the album for a moment and walks up to me while I put my things down on the kitchen counter. She’s bursting with excitement. “Somebody called today…”
I stop. “And which somebody is that?”
She beams. “Paul! Paul McCartney!”
Both of us start jumping up and down screaming.
“Are you serious? When did he call?”
“This afternoon. Around two, I guess. You were out, so he said he’d call back later. You know, you should have your Beatle friends call more often! This is incredible Jul, not only for you, but hey, in the past two days I’ve gotten the chance to have phone conversations with two of the Beatles!” She pauses for a moment to think, then continues, “Let’s see, that leaves George and Ringo…so when are you scheduling to get those calls? I want to be around!”
I laugh. “Yes well, when I become psychic and can predict Beatle calls, I’ll let you know. But please for now, ‘what says my Romeo? What says my love?’”
Lydia changes her voice to that of an old woman. “‘Well he’s like an honest gentlemen, and virtuous…’”
“Oh Lydia! Just tell me, please!”
She laughs. “Alright fine. He came on the phone saying, ‘Hello is Julia there?’ and I said, ‘Well, this is her apartment but she’s not here right now. May I please ask who’s calling?’ As if I didn’t know from the Liverpoolian accent! And he says, ‘Oh, it’s uh, Paul.’ And then my insides starting screaming ‘Oh my god! It’s Paul McCartney!’ but I said, ‘Oh, should I tell her you called?’ and he’s like, ‘Yeh, alright.’ And I say, ‘Would you like to call back later?’ and he says, ‘Yeh, what time will she be in, then?’ And so I tell him, ‘Five or something.’ And he says, ‘Alright luv, thanks a lot.’ And hangs up!”
I find myself once again smiling uncontrollably. “So now what do we do?”
“Wait, I guess and hopefully get something to eat, I’m starved!”
“Yeah, me too. Pizza?”
“Sure, my treat but at least half of it has to anchovies, broccoli, tomatoes, and mushrooms.”
We order a pizza half plain and half with everything on it. It’s delivered within the hour and I pay the pizza guy. Lydia and I sit down on the couch and eat watching television. Suddenly, the phone rings. I perk up and run to the phone. It’s a wrong number. I sigh and return to the couch.
“Are you sure he said he would call?”
“Yes, I’m sure. I wouldn’t make up the fact I spoke to Paul McCartney on the phone.”
The hours pass, and finally, at ten o’clock the phone rings. I pick up. “Hello?”
“Hello, may I please to Julia?”
“This is she.”
There is a brief silence.
“Hello luv, it’s me, Paul.”
His voice sends chills up my spine. “Hello, how are you doing?” As if I don’t already know.
“Oh that’s good.”
He sighs. “Look luv, I hate for us to talk like this pretending that nothing happened. We can’t move on until we face the past.”
“Oh luv, it’s so great to hear your voice again. It’s been hell without you. Look, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I don’t want you to think I lied. Jane and I had fully broken up at that point. She just was digging at old wounds. I’m sorry luv, I’m sorry I didn’t stop you in time. I—“
“It’s fine, Paul. I understand. I know what happened and I understand.”
“I tried luv. I really tried.” His voice jolts as if trying to stop himself from crying. “I love you, Jules. You’re everything to me. Life without you is just shit.”
I feel tears streaming down my face and Lydia is looking at me with puppy eyes. I shake my head to let her know everything’s all right.
“I love you too, Paul. When I came back, I was a wreck. I needed you—I still do. Please Paul, I need to see you again.”
“Oh luv, that would be heaven. I’ll do my best.” His voice picks up a certain cheeriness lacking before. “When’s that show that John was talking about again, Romeo and Juliet, was it?”
I smile. “Yes, I’m Juliet.”
“You certainly are.”
I beam. “I mean, I play Juliet.”
“Quite well, I see.”
I laugh. “It starts in eleven days and runs through March 26.” “I’ll be there, luv.”
“Whenever I can. I try to hurry but first I have to do a few more Beately things before I can catch up with you in the states. Believe me, luv, if I could, I would pack my bags and jump the ocean just to be with you.”
“Oh Paul, how I wish you were here.”
“If I could, luv, I’d kiss you right now.”
“Oh Paul, why did I have to leave?”
“You had to, luv. You did the right thing for what you thought was happening. I just wish I could have caught you in time. Caught you right there in the street. Kissed you, taken you home, made love to you.”
“I love you, Paul.”
“I love you, Jules.”
“Damnit, I wish there was some way I could see you, put my arms around you.”
“Well, the sooner you come, the sooner we may see each other.”
Paul and I continue talk for hours, even to the point where Lydia became bored out of her mind and turned on the television. Generally I would feel bad to speak to someone on the phone while I have a guest, but Lydia is more of a live-in friend and I know if I were to get off the phone on her behalf, would scold me and tell me I should be talking with Paul.
That night I go to bed and dream of nothing but Paul.
The week or so moves rather slowly, rehearsals, working at Macys, rehearsals, until finally The String Box opens with Romeo and Juliet and a rather large success. Every night we have an almost full audience, getting progressively larger with each performance. Paul, John, and I stay in contact every few days on the phone, but still neither of them come.
Before each show I take a peak into the audience to look for my potential Beatle friends, but to no avail. It’s my last performance and they still haven’t come. I’m disappointed but I must understand that my tiny little show must come pretty low on their list of priorities. I shouldn’t expect so much from them.
The last performance always is difficult and exhilarating at the same time. At this point you know everything will run smoothly, but know it is the last time you’ll be in this part, in this time in your life, in this theater. We plan a cast party for after the show, after all, I have no other plans and I know Lydia will come.
Right before Charlie and I enter the stage for the party scene where Romeo and Juliet catch each other’s glances, dance, meet, and kiss, he squeezes my hand and says, “So this will be our last time dancing with each other, better make it a good one.” He winks and smiles.
I smile back. Little did I know what he had in mind. Generally, when we did the scene where they met and kiss, it was a fake kiss, a stage kiss, but for some reason tonight Charlie alters it. He leans in and before I know it, he has his tongue in my mouth. It startles me but I know the last thing I can do is let anyone know that’s not supposed to happen. I finish the scene coolly, yet now beginning to doubt Charlie’s sexuality.
The rest of the show I remain a bit tense, wondering whatever other alterations Charlie might decide to add, but he makes no others, aside from acting a bit more dramatic and passionate than usual. No doubt Lydia will be talking about him tonight.
Lydia loves looking for the little things that aren’t meant to happen in a performance yet do. The surprises the actors get and such. Well, I’m sure she caught my surprise.
The show comes to a close and the audience applauds. We all bow and leave the stage to celebrate. I find myself trying to avoid Charlie.
He catches me before I get to my dressing room.
“Hey Juli baby.”
“I have a little surprise for you.”
“And what kind of surprise might that be?”
Charlie pulls out from behind him a rather large bouquet of roses.
“Wow, you really get into a character when you play it, don’t you?”
He smiles. “No Juli, I bought these for you. The real Juli, no Juliet.”
I stand there puzzled. I love Paul. This is just to confuse me. I always thought he was gay…
He continues, “What? Do you not like them?”
“No, it’s not that, it’s just—”
Before I can finish my sentence Charlie kisses me and pushes me up against the wall. I drop my flowers. I try to push Charlie away just as I hear a Liverpoolian accent yell, “Bloody hell!”
Go to Chapter 4
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