Chapter 8

 Finally, Friday came along. Paul was getting ready for his date with Julie. He finally was smiling again and he hoped that mess that they all had gotten into would be straightened out soon. He was looking forward to having a normal love life again. Paul was still a bit worried about George, since he hadn't heard any more about him and Ellen since last week. He brushed this off and went to pick up Julie.
 Julie usually wasn't one for dressing up. She had the same five dresses that she circulated day after day, and five skirts and five blouses that she mixed up after the dresses were worn out. But she had decided to get a whole new outfit, to make Paul realize that he had better act now or she was back to George. It was one of the only times you saw her with a devilish grin- most of the time she was sweet and angelic. The cranberry red velvet dress was shorter than most of the ones she had, and instead of tight, the skirt was loose so that she might get him hoping for a breeze when they were walking outside. The top wasn't too low, because she was no fool. She didn't want him to think he could get away with everything. Julie had decided to wear her hair up instead of hanging loose all the time. And, of course, she wore Raspberry Red lipstick. She couldn't wait to see the look on Paul's face.
 The doorbell rang, and Julie smiled to herself. She ran down the steps in her new red heels and opened the door. "Hello," she said.
 Paul said nothing. He stared for a while, drunk with the sight before him. "Uh...hi," he said. "So...we're going to the movie?"
 "Of course, unless you had other plans," Julie said, leaning in the doorway.
 "I..." Paul looked like he was either about to faint or grab Julie and lock the door. "Just...let's go. We can eat after the movie." They got into the car and Paul tried to concentrate on the road. But that's not easy when an unusually lovely girl is sitting close to you.
 Now, Good Paul and Bad Paul (remember, we met them earlier in the story?) were sitting inside Paul's head, wondering what to do.
 "Forget about that dumb old movie," Bad Paul said. "She's already seen it. I say that he parks it in a vacant lot and sweeps her into the backseat. Or, if she's so dead set on the movie, they could sit waaaaay back in the back and make out."
 Good Paul frowned. "She isn't expecting that, you dolt. I say he just does what he says to do and if she decides that she wants him to do anything rash, then that's when he can. I don't think he should be too hasty."
 "Aw, you're no fun," Bad Paul whined. "Just think about yourself, Paulie baby, and your little passions and desires!"
 "No!" Good Paul shouted. "Don't pay attention to him! Consider Julie. She may look very devilish right now, but she is still the sweet, innocent girl you knew!"
 Paul stopped the car. "I'm not moving until you straighten this mess out!"
 "What?" Julie asked.
 "Oh, uh, nothing." Paul kept driving. Julie cast him a wary look and then, it struck her. She giggled to herself at the thought of her new style had done so much as to make Paul literally insane.
 Julie and Paul sat in the very back row of the theater. Paul kept giving Julie his classic look- bright eyes, eyebrow thing, evil grin. But, since it was dark, Julie could not see it.
 Good Paul and Bad Paul surveyed the situation.
 "I don't think this is a very nice date movie. It seems so...frightening. What's it rated?" Good Paul asked as Bad Paul circled him in the manner of a boxer.
 "C'mon, you sissy, put up yer dukes!" Bad Paul exclaimed.
 Good Paul seemed alarmed. "Can't we talk this over?"
 Bad Paul answered this by jumping on Good Paul and putting the angel in a headlock...
 Paul leaned over to the unsuspecting Julie and sealed his lips around her earlobe. Julie scooted away a little bit, threw Paul a look, and wiped off her ear.
 Good Paul wrapped his arms around Bad Paul and did a judo flip on him...
 "Hey, what say I get some candy?" Paul asked.
 "All right, what kind?" Julie said.
 "Any kind. Expense is no object. I only aim to please you, my dear," Paul said gallantly.
 "All right..." Julie looked a little surprised. "I like Hershey's Kisses, if that's okay."
 Bad Paul cried out and slammed his fist into Good Paul's stomach...
 "I got your Hershey's Kiss right here!" Paul leaned over and kissed Julie hard. Julie's scream was muffled and she pushed him away.
 "All right," Good Paul said through gritted teeth, "no more Mister Nice Guy!"
 Paul sat down and got a completely apologetic look on his face. "I- I'm sorry, really I am," he said. "I don't know what came over me."
 "I have a feeling I do," Julie said warily.
 "C'mon you pansy!" Bad Paul screeched. He dealt a final blow and Good Paul was out...
 Just as the vampire sank his teeth into the lovely Meredith's neck, Paul did the same thing, only with no teeth. His amorous growl drowned out the scream of the dying Meredith. Julie yelped and a lot of people around them stood up. Paul picked the kicking, screaming girl up and ran out of the theater to the car with her in his arms. He dumped her in the back seat.
 "Can I sit in the front, if you don't mind?" Julie asked rather smartly.
 "I don't want to do this by myself," Paul said, throwing himself at her. Julie let out an ear-shattering shriek. Paul, still under the control of his bad side, clamped his hand over her mouth and tried to remove his jacket with one hand. "This will be quite painless if you cooperate," he said.
 All of a sudden, Good Paul woke up. He shrieked, "What do you think you're doing!!!" He grabbed the hormone lever and lowered it.
 Paul stopped blankly in the middle of taking off his shirt. "Wh- wh- what am I doing?" he asked.
 "Good question," Julie said through clenched teeth. "Now get out of this car before I use these." She showed her long, thin heels. Paul winced at the thought of one of those digging into his flesh. He put his shirt back on and got out. Julie somehow drove off.
 "Wait a minute..." Paul stood in the parking lot. Great. She had broken his heart and stolen his car. Paul kicked a loose patch of gravel and all of a sudden, in the light of a dying street lamp, began to sniffle. Sniffling turned to whimpering. Whimpering turned to weeping. Weeping turned to crying. And crying turned to out right sobbing. He fell to his knees and let it all out. Passersby thought he was nuts.
 All of a sudden, a car drove up. Julie got out. She looked like she was embarrassed. "I forgot," she said.
 "Wait!" Paul cried. Julie walked off.
 There was no response. Only the sound of the cold, lonely wind. Paul got into the car and drove home recklessly.
 Or so he thought he was going home. Paul passed by the boarding house that Ellen stayed at and stopped. Maybe... Yes, it was crazy enough to work. Paul got out of the car and knocked on the door. He hoped it wasn't past ten. He didn't want crotchety old Mrs. Applebee chasing after him with a iron skillet.
 Ellen answered the door. She seemed completely surprised. "Paul?" she asked. "What do you want?"
 "Could you lend some spare comfort to a bum washed up on the shores of love?" Paul asked.
 "All right," Ellen said, standing aside so that Paul could walk in, "what did you do to her?"
 Paul slowly explained the story. Ellen usually thought of Paul as nothing but a chipmunk cute ladies' man, but now she saw him as a human being with a heart as fragile as the ones he had broken many times before. She looked on him with nothing but pity in her heart.
 Acting on a maternal instinct, Ellen pulled him close and pressed his cheek to her chest. She closed her eyes and rocked him back and forth. "Shhh," she said. "Things will be all right. Shhh." It was the same way George had held her the night she had found out Tahne had died.
 The maternal instinct drained from Ellen's body and the warm feeling that came from comforting Paul was gone. Now she was cast into a sea of loneliness, numb to his tears. Paul was a stranger to her now.
 But she couldn't leave him like this. She gave Paul a tissue and a cup of coffee. Ellen held him while he drank it, only not as close. The thwack-thwack-thwack of Mrs. Applebee's slippers came down the stairs. She glared at Paul.
 "It's ten o'clock," she said stiffly.
 Ellen sighed and looked at Paul. He didn't look like he wanted to leave the sheltering arms of his friend's girlfriend.
 "Five minutes?" Ellen asked. "Just five minutes."
 "He has to go now. A lot can happen in five minutes." Mrs. Applebee narrowed her eyes. "Now."
 Paul stood up. "I'll go," he said, trying to choke back a wave of sobbing. He walked awkwardly to the door and left. Ellen followed him outside.
 "Now just a moment," she said, putting her hand on his shoulder. "We can sit outside for a while. She doesn't mind that."
 "You sure?" Paul sat down on the steps. Ellen sat next to him. "So," she said, clearing her throat, "how's George doing?"
 Paul wished she hadn't brought that subject up. "Pretty good," he said, "he's been restless a lot lately, but he's well."
 "He usually gets restless when he's been cooped up," Ellen said, referring to George like a caged animal. "You haven't let him out, have you?"
 "He hasn't had anywhere to go," Paul replied. He stared out at the snow covered ground. "Cold, isn't it?"
 Ellen nodded. "I don't even see why we're bothering to come outside."
 Paul stared at Ellen for a while. He had never realized exactly how beautiful she was. Her big, sad green eyes were always glistening, as if she was about to cry even when she wasn't. Ellen's nose turned up gently and came to a sharp point, with a light scattering of freckles across it. The freckles were cute. Whenever she smiled, her pouting lips revealed even white teeth that looked like pearls. Having lived in England for a while, Ellen's Brooklyn accent had long faded and now she was starting to sound like she belonged here. Her voice was soft and soothing. And her hair was always clean, always shining, a jet black cascade falling about her face. Unlike Julie, who had one of those generic pretty faces, Ellen was unique in her beauty.
 "Something wrong?"
 The voice snapped Paul out of his trance. "Oh, uh, nothing."
 "Ooo-whee, baby! The guy hasn't been dumped for an hour and already he turns up with something a lot more delectable." Bad Paul licked his lips. "More power to you! Go, boy, go!"
 "None of that, now," Good Paul said in a warning tone. His hand stayed steady on the hormone lever. He didn't want that Bad Paul fooling with it again. Well, maybe one little kiss, yes, but nothing more. Ellen's a sweet girl, Good Paul thought as he punched in a command.
 "Um..." Paul suddenly became extremely shy. "Um...Ellen?"
 Ellen gave him a look that asked, What?
 "Uh..." He scratched the back of his neck. "Um...before I go, could you do one little thing for me?"
 "Sure," Ellen said. "What?"
 "Um..." Paul's face grew hot. "Could you just give me one little..."
 Ellen said nothing. She leaned over and kissed him, light as a feather touching his lips. Paul applied a bit more pressure, but he was trying to shrug off Bad Paul's chants of "French her! French her!" He didn't need to. Finally, in a desperate attempt to shut his bad side up, he let go. Nervous, he got up, said goodbye, and drove off.
 Funny how one tiny little kiss could change so many things. Ellen's heart warmed and palpitated with joy at the thrill, the delicious feeling that frisked up her spine every time she thought of the way that the kiss had felt. With Paul being so wonderful and so amazing, George was fading into a memory. Maybe she could set George up with Veronica. Veronica had always wanted George. Of course, Ellen thought, she didn't know how to break the news to him. And George was never too fond of Veronica. But still...Ellen sighed. There had to be some way she and Paul could be happy together without breaking George into a million pieces.

 Chapter 9