Chapter 9
Roundabout We Go Again

 George hadn't been doing much lately. He was bored all the time. Looking over at the phone, he wondered if Ellen was free. George dialed her number.
 "Hello?" It was Veronica.
 "Um...hello, is Ellen there?" George asked. He hated talking to Veronica. She would flirt with him for five or ten minutes before she got Ellen on the line.
 "Is this George?" she asked, her voice changing from soft and gentle to syrupy sweet.
 George's face felt hot. Maybe he could say he wasn't. But it just wasn't his thing. "Yeah," he said. "And I need to speak to Ellen now."
 "All right." Veronica left the phone. Good. It was one of her agreeable days.

 "Ellen, it's George," Veronica said.
 Ellen poked her head out of the bathroom. "Oh, no," she said. She wrapped herself in a towel and went to the phone. "Hi," she said, trying to seem cheerful. The poor guy didn't know.
 "Hey, Ellen, you want to do something?" George asked.
 ", well, I already have plans. But I think Veronica might enjoy your company," Ellen said. Veronica dropped the book she was reading and nodded fervently. "Yeah! Yeah! Yeyeyeah!"
 "NO!" George screamed. "I just remembered, uh, I have plans too. Yes! Yes! Very very busy! Gotta go!" George slammed down the phone. Close call.

 "What did he say?" Veronica asked.
 "He's got plans, he can't do anything," Ellen said. "But I plan to fix that."

 George hung up the phone and sighed.
 "What's wrong?" Paul asked.
 "Ellen's going to set me up with Veronica, I just know it," George replied. "I can't stand Veronica!"
 "Neither can I. But she does have nice fingernails," Paul replied.
 "I bet you weren't noticing the fingernails," George said. "How do I get out of this?"
 Paul thought for a moment. "Hmm...I think I got it! You see, you can act like you're totally bonkers hot for her. Do all that nasty stuff. Even though she's crazy for you she'll change her mind."
 "That's a dumb idea," George replied. "First off, I don't think I could do that. Second, what if Veronica likes it? What then?"
 "Look, trust me, she'll be slapping you in the face by the time the date is over. I've had plenty of experience with that trick." Paul leaned back in his chair.
 "I'm sure you have," muttered George with a little smile.

 Easier said than done, George thought grimly to himself as he approached the house. He already saw Veronica waiting on the porch, and he could tell from across the street that she looked stunning. She leaned against the door, dressed in a little black thing that could be called a dress. How was he going to act like he was crazy over her while at the same time a bundle of nerves?
 Now, we've met Good Paul and Bad Paul, right? Well, you see, all of us have good and bad sides.
 "Whooooo-whee!!!" Bad George let out a wolf whistle. "Whatta gal!"
 "Yes, she is quite attractive, but I don't think you should be so loud about it," Good George said.
 George approached the porch and the first thing he said was:
 "Aren't you cold or something?"
 Veronica grinned, walked up close to George, grabbed his tie, and said, "No, actuallyxI'm very hot."
 Bad George got down on all fours and began barking and growling.
 Good George watched in total disdain. "That girl is making a mess of herself. I can tell she's shivering in that dress, if you can call it a dress. And you! You're acting like a total embicile! Straighten up!" He grabbed Bad George by the shoulders and smacked him across the face.
 Bad George looked a little sheepish. "But- but she's so-"
 "I get the picture, you little sicko," Good George said.
 Veronica all of a sudden got a sad look on her face. "Oh, I must be underdressed. It's a little chilly out here."
 "Uh, yeah, I think you should change," George said.
 "Wait right here, Georgie baby. I'll find something a little warmer that still pleases you." She walked back inside.
 Bad George folded his arms and pouted. "Aw, man," he said. "I liked that dress."
 "Serves you right that she should change," Good George said. Bad George replied by smacking him with a giant fish.
 "Where'd you get that fish from?" Good George asked.
 "Leftovers," Bad George replied.
 "Oh," Good George said.
 Outside, George was smacking his lips. He had a weird fishy taste in his mouth. And if he was going to kiss Veronica, this would not work. He dug in his pockets and popped in a mint. He didn't care much for the taste of fish anyway.
 Veronica came back out in a velvet green dress that was still daring, but at least you couldn't confuse this one with a nightie. "Come along," she said. She got in the car and so did George.
 "Where are we going?" Veronica asked.
 George stopped. There was a strong smell in the car. It smelled exactly like roses. And he knew it wasn't Veronica's perfume. George looked in the back seat and his jaw dropped open. Sitting there was a dozen roses, a bottle of champagne in a bucket of ice, a box of chocolates, a record of some pretty classical music, and a package of something YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW ABOUT!
 George's jaw dropped open. "Huh- how did- wha- uhhx"
 Veronica picked up the forbidden box. "What are these?"
 "I have no idea," George said, eyes wide.
 "Oh, I think you know." She put the box back where it had been. "Why don't we just take all this stuff inside?"
 "I don't even know how it got here!" George cried.
 Then Veronica spotted the roses. She picked them up. "Oh, how sweet! How incredibly and wonderfully romantic of you! You're such a darling!"
 George looked down and blushed. He liked the compliments, even though he had no idea where the roses had come from. Or any of the other things in the back seat.
 "You know," Veronica said, "it's a pity that the back seat is full."
 George looked around and whistled, like he wasn't interested.
 "Come on," Veronica said with a smile. "Let's take this stuff inside."
 "But what about Mrs. Applebee?" George asked. "She'll run me out!"
 "She's on vacation," Veronica purred in his ear. "Come on." She got out of the car.
 George let out a deep breath and did the same. They picked up everything that was in the back seat.
 On his way in, George ran into Ellen, who was on her way out to meet Paul.
 "Oh, um...hi," Ellen said.
 "Hi," George said shyly. He hid the box behind his back. "So, uh, where you going?"
 "I'm meetingxuhxsomeone at The Club," Ellen replied. "Well. See you." She walked out.
 Now, George and Veronica were alone in the house. Veronica had gone upstairs and instructed George to stay down there. It was getting awfully warm. Was it just him? George didn't know. He took off his jacket, loosened his tie, and sniffed to make sure he didn't stink. George knew Veronica's reputation. She was the 'bad girl' of the bunch. And he sure hoped that she'd go easy on him. But who was Veronica to know the meaning of the word easy? In that sense, that is. She knew all about being easy in another way.
 The upstairs door opened, and Veronica descended the steps. Oh, crud, George thought. Here she goes.
 Veronica was dressed in the exact type of thing George had hoped he would never see her in. Not that he didn't think Veronica was attractive. He certainly thought that. But he just didn't like the idea that his bad side might go out of control.
 Bad George was hurling himself at the screen, thinking he could get to Veronica. Good George watched in total disdain.
 "You're not getting anywhere," Good George said.
 "Oh, what do you know!" Bad George shouted.
 "More than you, obviously," Good George said.
 George had a headache. It felt as if something was hurling itself at a screen in the front of his head. He rubbed his head for a moment, then tried to gather his thoughts as Veronica came closer.
 "Are you feeling all right?" Veronica asked, sitting down extremely close to him.
 "Uhx" George was in a state of stupefication.
 Veronica came closer. "Come on," she said. "Let's snuggle."
 George knew that Veronica wanted to do more than "snuggle". He leaped up from the couch.
 "Aww, honey, why are you making this hard for me?" Veronica pleaded. She got up and started to come after him. "Let's just get this over with. And you'll feel all better in the morning."
 George also knew that he would feel horrible in the morning if he did stay.
 Good George was shouting, "Leave! Leave!" Bad George was shouting, "Stay! Stay!" The two of them decided to fight it out.
 But George didn't wait for an answer from his conscience. He yelled, "You can keep the stuff!" and ran out of the door.
 Veronica ran to the door, and then dropped her hands in a futile gesture. Oh, well, she thought to herself, there's always Ronnie. Or David. Or Alex. Or Jimmy or Frank or Mike or Steve or Juan or Liam or Leon or Neil or Gary or Bubba or Joe or Chris or TravisxShe stayed at the door for a while, thinking of names of willing young gentlemen that she knew.

 George got in the car and wondered where he could go. John had gone to a wild party and would not be expected home until late. Ringo was probably out having fun too. So that meant nobody was home. It wasn't interesting unless someone else was there. And he certainly didn't feel like going to sleep. Why, it was only 7:45! George sat in his car and thought.
 Veronica, in her mad passionate rush, had forgotten to take the roses inside. If George had been a girl, he would have gotten the roses first thing, but not Veronica. She had forgotten them, and George now had a dozen lovely red roses to give to someone. But who?
 He imagined what would happen if he gave them to Paul. Paul would give him a weird look. If he gave them to John, then John would play it up big and act all strange. And if he gave them to Ringo, more than likely Ring would start a rumor that he wasn't right in the head. What am I thinking??? George asked himself. He stopped for a moment, then smiled. He knew. Pulling out of the driveway, George headed for Julie's house.
 Julie was content. She was taking another bubble bath. So she was mad when a knock came on the door.
 "It's open!" she yelled as loud as she could.
 The door opened and a voice called, "Julie?"
 Julie hadn't heard that voice in a long time. She tried to place it in her memory.
 She leapt up from the bubble bath (sending suds spraying all over Natasha, who skittered out of the room) and wrapped herself in a towel. When she ran out in the hallway, she saw a nicely dressed George holding a dozen roses. The towel immediately fell at her feet.
 There was an awkward silence. George his his eyes behind the roses.
 "What is it?" Julie asked. She looked down. "Oops!" Julie pulled the towel around her tightly. "Sorry."
 "Uhxit's okay," George said. "Make sure the towel's on tight next time."
 "Just a minute," Julie called. She went into her bedroom and came out fully dressed. "That was awfully embarrassing." She rubbed at her hair with the towel. "You didn't have to," Julie said at last with a smile, taking the flowers. "After all, it wasn't like we'd gotten anywhere."
 George shrugged. "Nobody else to give them to."
 "But what about Paul?" Julie asked.
 "I couldn't give them to Paul!" George exclaimed.
 "No!" Julie started laughing. "I mean, how is he doing?"
 "Fine," George said. He looked a little sad. "He's going out with Ellen now."
 "He sure recovers quickly," Julie said. "You know what? I made some brownies a few hours ago and haven't touched them yet. What say we go downstairs and have a few?"
 "Uh, sure," George said. The two of them went down to the living room.

 The Club was especially swinging and jumping that night. Outside, snow was on the ground, but inside, it was as hot as a flaming pie. Paul was sweating from dancing, and Ellen wasn't exactly cool either. After an hour or so of incredibly fun exercise, the two collapsed on a couch. Paul ordered something to drink for the both of them.
 "Wonder how George is doing with Veronica," Paul wondered.
 Ellen sighed. "Veronica has a reputation."
 "Does that mean he's having a good time?" Paul asked.
 "Most likely," Ellen replied.
 "Well, what about you?" Paul crossed his legs and leaned on his hand. "Are you having a good time?"
 "Of course," Ellen said. "If I wasn't having a good time then I would have told you so."
 "Oh, well, okay," Paul said. "Let me know."
 There was a silence. Paul wiped his forehead. "Gah, it's hot."
 "Maybe we should go somewhere cooler," Ellen said.
 "But the only cool places in this club are thex" Paul stopped. "You know, those rooms."
 "We could go in one andxjustxnotxdo anything," Ellen replied.
 "Umxokay," Paul said. "We can do that." They walked up the stairs.
 Unfortunately, gossip travels like wildfire in a club that hot. Soon everyone was whispering about Paul McCartney and the short dark-haired bird.

 "Would you like another cup of tea? I don't want any more myself." Julie held up the teapot.
 "What are you trying to do to me, girl? I've already had three," George said playfully.
 "Well, if we won't have tea, what will we have?" Julie asked. George could see a mischievous glint in her eye. He knew what she was getting at, but he wondered what her reaction would be if he said:
 "We'll have coffee." He grinned and waited.
 "You little-!" Julie literally pounced on him, knocking him over on the couch. "You're crazy! You knew what I meant!"
 "I'm crazy? I wasn't the one who knocked the other person over and made them spill tea on the couch!" George replied.
 "Who cares about the couch? All I'm after is the person on it," Julie purred.
 "Getting a little frisky, are we?" George took Julie's hands in his. "Be careful, now, and don't go too far too fast. Because I just barely escaped the clutches of Veronica Love."
 "Oh, I feel your pain!" Julie kissed George's fingertips. "I bet she broke your little heart." She kissed the corner of his eye.
 "Why don't you kiss something more conventional?" George asked.
 "Conventional's boring, don't you think?" Julie replied. "It's your turn."
 "Oh, so you want unconventional, eh?" George moved his eyebrows up and down. "Eh? Eh?"
 "What do you have in mind?" Julie asked.
 "Does this answer your question?" With that, George turned off the lamp. And the rest, as they say, is history.

 Chapter 10