Chapter 21: Old Men Are Scarier Than They Seem

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warning: attempted rape scene

Five o'clock. It had almost been twenty four hours since I had told John those fleeting words that still made me ache inside.

"Do you want to leave later?"

"No," I said. I took the final step out of the Kaiserkeller. The wind grabbed at my hair and threatened to loosen my bun—they were fierce today. I supposed it was because it was autumn, but I couldn't help but feel that they were reflecting my mood. I took a glance around the streets filled with the early evening crowd, my heartbeat increasing, and felt a slight pressure on my left arm. It was George's finger, reassuring me. Only one touch, but it meant so much to me.

"Are you going to be okay?"

"I'm going to be fine," I said, steadying my breathing. I glanced behind him quickly. No one was there. Somehow in the last twenty four hours I had managed to alienate myself from the two major songwriters of the Beatles. It was truly amazing. Maybe I should get some kind of award. Imagine, the Grammys in 2013. And y/n... for the complete hatred of John Lennon and Paul McCartney!

At least George liked me.

I gathered my coat around me. John had bought it for me. I had to stop thinking like that. It didn't matter, what did matter was...

"Y/n, don't cry," George said, hugging me from behind. He rested his chin on the top of my head. "You're going to be fine. You said so yourself. And I know you don't go back on your word."

"I don't," I laughed a little in spite of myself. George's hug was so enveloping. He unexpectedly kissed the top of my head, a motion that I was so used to with John. The action startled me and gave me a feeling I couldn't describe.

"Thank you, Geo," I managed with a small smile. "I'm going now. I'm not saying goodbye because I know I'll see you again—so I'll see you around." And with that, I turned right and didn't look back. I couldn't look back. But I did remember that hug George gave me. It would be enough to get me to my next place of rest.

***

The cobblestone roads of Hamburg never seemed to end. Voice after voice of German went through one ear and out the other, all rough tones of a language I had managed to become moderately fluent in in a few weeks. In my short period of time in Hamburg I had managed to pick up some German, but the sharp point of my task in my mind dulled the voices around me into white noise.

I wasn't really sure what I was looking for, or to be. A waitress? A barmaid? A singer? Well, not really. I had a fleeting thought, a romantic daydream in which the poor waitress gets recruited by a rich manager and becomes famous.

Fucking hell. The Beatles—they were the poor singers that the rich manager picks up. There they were, popping up in every corner of my mind. I shook my head, trying to get them out of my mind, and bumped into someone. "Entschuldigen Sie mich," I managed to mumble before I plunged forwards into the thick mass of people. Women in matching outfits and piled up hair, some in dark red lipstick and some in scarves. Their boyfriends, husbands, brothers. Women and men. I waded through the people, feeling more like an outsider by the minute. English, woman, alone.

Soho, dusk. Most shops were closing up and people were making their way towards dinner. I should have come earlier, where the waitresses were not so busy with serving and would perhaps listen to me plead for a job. But I had come this far and I would continue.

I walked into the first place; it was a rowdy bar. Men and women alike were laughing and jostling each other; cups of beer were being passed liberally around. There was a distinct difference in the atmosphere as I walked inside and looked for the nearest waitress. There was one hunched over a wooden desk, writing something down in a little notebook, probably a check, wearing a skirt with a high slit at the waist. Well, it's now or never, I thought to myself. I willed my feet to walk over to her and I asked, "Entschuldigen sie mich, stellen sie an?"

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