No More Lonely Nights - Chapter Eleven

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July 5, 1962

Chicago, Illinois

ALLIE: I can’t believe I’m actually in America again, Chicago at that. My stupid sister would have chosen to get married in the groom-to-be’s loud, noisy, crowded hometown. I wouldn’t have expected any less from her.

“It’s a real pain driving here now that I’m so used to how things are done in England,” my dad mused from the driver’s seat of our rented car. “I opened the passenger door expecting to find my steering wheel!”

“We’re in America again, Dad, better get used to it for a few days!” I laughed. “I’m already wishing it were time to leave.”

“Sunday won’t come soon enough for you, I know,” Dad replied. “Just hang in there, Alexandra. It’ll be over before you know it.”

“I certainly hope so.” I turned to Paul, who was sitting beside me in the back seat. “So, what do you think of America so far? It’s a drag, isn’t it?”

“On the contrary, it’s definitely a different sort of place. I’d say I prefer England myself. Would you say Chicago is bigger than London? It is definitely much larger than Liverpool.”

“I’d probably say so,” my dad replied. “Take a look out the window, Comiskey Park. Home of the Chicago White Sox. That’s baseball, your version of cricket, Paul.”

We both watched out the window as we passed the stadium. “Wow, much bigger than the cricket fields at home! Baseball must be a big thing over here, I take it?” Paul questioned.

“Oh, God, yes,” I replied. “It’s annoying. I don’t like cricket anymore than I like our American ball. I’m not one for sports.”

“Allie, hand me that map back there,” my dad said. “I need to figure out how to get to the hotel from here. I’m getting a bit confused.”

I handed my dad the map. “Where are we staying?”

“Drake Hotel over near Michigan Avenue,” he replied, glancing at the map. “The wedding is at Old St. Patrick’s Church. Don’t ask about the reception, I have no idea. I have just handed over the money, Elizabeth has been working out the details like the mom should be doing.”

I rolled my eyes at Paul. This whole wedding had been my mother’s obsession since the engagement was announced last November. I hadn’t even wanted to come, but what choice did I have, I was forced into it (or should I say, guilted into it) by my father. Never fear. In 72 hours, I’d be on a flight back to Liverpool and away from this place. Living over in the UK had made me realize that I had no desire to move back to the States ever again.

PAUL: I cannot get over how busy and bustling Chicago is compared to even London, the biggest city I have been to thus far. There are people everywhere, vehicles everywhere… it’s all so crowded and noisy. I can tell just from the look on Allie’s face that she doesn’t want to be here, that she’d rather be at home with me in the UK or at the Cavern, one of the two. I reached over and gave her hand a squeeze, and she turned to me and smiled. I’m glad just to be here with her. I would have missed her too much had I stayed in Liverpool. I know part of the reason she asked me to come is to annoy her mother, which is fine with me. I have only met Mrs. Morgan once before, and she was about as welcoming as I don’t know what. Let’s put it this way- she wasn’t nice to me at all, which in turn distressed Allie to no end, but I can deal with her mother’s distaste for me. Her father likes me, that’s good enough.

We got to the hotel about ten minutes later, and what a fine piece of architecture this hotel is! The Drake Hotel is apparently one of Chicago’s oldest and finest buildings, built in the 1890s, I believe is what Mr. Morgan said, after the fire of 1871 swept away almost the whole town. It is an absolutely gorgeous structure on the outside, so I cannot even imagine how grand the interior will be.

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