107. This Is Love

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Since our problems have been our own creation
They also can be overcome
When we use the power provided free to everyone
This is love

8th February 1964

'Lou,' George rasps. The word tears his throat, but he perseveres. 'Lou! Could you turn it off? You can watch it on the telly in the other room.' He feels like he's shouting but his voice is barely audible.

No response. She's completely rapt by it already.

'Lou?' George sighs, energy spent. 'Please..?'

His sister, sitting on the white chair next to his bed, turns her bottle blonde head towards him. Her head, but not her eyes. She doesn't take her gaze from the screen until the very last moment.

'Need somethin', hun?' she asks, still distracted, still watching the TV out of the corner of her eye.

It's too late now. It's started. She's already on the screen and the damage is done. George shakes his head and falls back against the four plump pillows, closing his eyes as his vision swims with the dizziness brought on by movement.

He's supposed to play on The Ed Sullivan Show tomorrow. What's he going to do? He can't even sit up for two minutes without feeling faint. Can't say the medicine they have Lou giving him, "every hour, on the hour," has done much except make him feel even more nauseated than he already did.

He missed the rehearsals today. He missed the photo shoot in Central Park. He's not seen any of the lads. They're keeping their distance from his sickbed in case they catch whatever lurgy George has come down with, but they'll be worried by now. He's letting them down. Their big chance. Their one chance to crack America and it's looking like the choice will be go on without George or not to go on at all. Brian keeps saying George will be fine by showtime, repeating it over and over to CBS execs, the promoters, the staff, George himself, but George can tell he's starting to panic. Lots of wringing hands, pacing up and down and hushed phone calls in the hall outside the room.

George shuffles down inside the bed further. Maybe it would help if he could get some sleep, but he can't manage to drift off while his head is thumping like it is. He half opens his eyes and lets his gaze settle on the TV. She's back on the screen again, standing there, smiling like a fool while she waits for her music to start. Finally, it does and she starts to sing a Chiffons hit, her voice rising, confident and rich and note perfect.

'One fine day, you'll look at me, and you'll know, our love was meant to be--'

She's beautiful, George thinks, before he gives his mind permission to do so. He closes his eyes to her, but her voice surrounds him, filling his senses.

He's tried, consciously, to stop all thoughts of Hannah from entering his mind since he was over here last year. It gave him the shock of his life when he and Pete came to visit Louise and the family last September. Lou had mentioned this TV programme before. The hot show of the moment with music and comedy sketches and celebrity appearances and --ooh, wouldn't it be wonderful if "George's band" could go on it one day?!--

It was broadcast on Saturday nights. Life had to stop for forty-five minutes every week for The Ricky West Show. They had congregated around Lou's small black and white telly in enforced silence, George included, although he'd not been paying attention. He'd been sitting on the rug, restringing his new pride and joy, a Rickenbacker 420, resprayed black to match John's and already polished to a shine. He heard her voice first and not made the connection properly, but it'd been enough to prompt him to lift his head and there she was.

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