This one was another one of those that I thought should be written.
I think it's important to attempt to present as balanced a picture of a person as possible, whether it be a fictional character or not; warts and all. Hopefull you'll agree.
As always, comments are most appreciated!
“Did you know, Liz?” Cyn’s words had rung accusingly as she’d stared at me from across the kitchen table. The sort of look in her eye had been the pleadin’ sort, the kind of look I’d imagined a person would wear if they was layin’ their pride aside and goin’ on their knees before someone. I’d never seen the like of it before, and bloody hell, I’d never wanted to see it again.
“Know what, Cyn?” I’d asked, somehow managin’ to answer as if I’d really had no bloody clue what she was askin’ me about.
“How long did you know?” She’d continued, her fingers havin’ tightened in such a way ‘round the cup in her hands that I’d almost felt the need to move forward to loosen ‘em, before she’d broken it and hurt herself. Behind the round frames her specs I’d read loud and clear that she wasn’t buyin’ the act for a second.
I’d taken a drink of tea, lookin’ at her through the thick fringe of dark hair that hung close to me face before I’d pushed it back, tuckin’ it behind my ears. Takin’ a deep breath, I’d asked, “How long’ve I known what exactly?”
“Stop it, Liz! Just stop it! How. Long. Did. You. Know. That. My. Husband. Was. Fucking. Girls. Behind. My. Back?!” I’d flinched when she’d slammed the cup on the counter before she’d laid her hands flat on that same table. “How long did you know about what he was getting up to on tour? And how could you have never said anything to me? How could you have lied to me like that, Liz?” The hurt, the crushin’ hurt in her voice, had dripped from every word.
“I never lied to ye, Cyn,” I’d answered weakly, and felt like a right bitch as I’d said it too. In the split second that’d followed, I’d wanted to buy the twisted logic goin’ through me head; I was right, I’d never straight up lied to her ‘bout it – ‘cos she’d never asked me. But I had lied to her, by omission if nothin’ else.
To Cyn’s credit she hadn’t gotten up and come over to wallop me as I’d probably deserved. Instead she’d looked at me, her face reflectin’ every thought and feelin’ that’d probably been goin’ through her head. In that moment I’d come face to face with a fact that I’d long suspected, but had never fully acknowledged with physical proof: Cyn was a much better woman...a much better person than I could’ve ever hoped to be.
I’d wanted to open up me gob to sayin somethin’ to her, anythin’ really, but there’d been absolutely nothin’. As I’d sat there across me table from her, doin’ nothin’ other than raisin’ me cuppa to me lips I’d felt somethin’ that’d made me uncomfortable, guilt, but alongside that, and far more irrationally mind, I’d felt a brimmin’ and boilin’ of anger. I’d heard no stories from anyone else, be it Richie, George, or even Paul who surely would’ve told me, ‘bout Cyn askin’ them about the entire business – so the thought goin’ through me head along with the guilt had been, Why me? Why am the I one yer comin’ to with questions?! Why am I the one dealin’ with the fuckin’ fall out?
“I’ve known you since you were seventeen years old, Liz,” Cyn had finally continued, obviously not havin’ had a bloody idea what I’d been thinkin’ right then. “I’ve been your friend since then. For God’s sake, Liz, how could you have come to my home knowing what you knew, played with my child, asked me to be a witness at your marriage when you couldn’t respect mine enough to tell me what John was doing on tour with all those girls? What kind of person would do that?”
A cold-hearted bitch, that’s who.
I’d concentrated on keepin’ my breathin’ even, not wantin’ to cause George any alarm if he’d happened to return inside with Jules any minute. The original intent of this visit had been that Cyn and Jules would come to Kinfauns to spend the day, seein’ as how Julian and George were loyal fishing mates, but had somehow come ‘round to this.
“What did you want me to tell you, Cyn?” I asked her, hearin’ the harshness in me voice. “Cyn, the tour of Sweden was bloody amazing, ‘specially the bit ‘bout John fuckin’ a bint, and havin’ to hear the racket from start to bloody finish ‘cos I’d been assigned to the room next to him in the hotel? How ‘bout the time in Las Vegas when John was holed in a room with two sisters until their mum came to collect ‘em, worried as can be?” I’d added this last one with a cruel twist to my mouth, feelin’ an ugliness uncurlin’ inside me.
“I have a better one, let me tell ye! Did you know that after almost every show, Mal would go pull girls for the lads – ‘scopin’ the talent’ is what we’d call it – and we’d always know which ones were John’s: blonde,” I’d made a point of lookin’ at the hair loose ‘round her shoulders, “with knockers out to here,” and I’d made a thorough demonstration of it, too, “and usually with legs up to their armpits. Sometimes if John was feelin’ charitable he’d give one of the blondes to one of the other lads, but not too often. So think about it Cyn, yer a smart girl, hundreds of shows, and almost always a party afterwards. You do the math.”
Another fact I’d long suspected ‘bout meself but had never quite had confirmed had been invariably done so during that conversation with Cyn: I really wasn’t a very nice person. Not at all. She’s looked absolutely gobsmacked and instead of leavin’ well enough alone, bein’ the hot-headed fool I could be at times, I hadn’t. “But you know what I ask meself, Cyn? You sit there and ask me, ‘How long did you know?!’ well Cyn, I ask ye the same thing – how could you have not known, eh? You were his bloody wife. How could you have expected John to be anything less than the weak, unfaithful piece of shit he’s proved himself to be to ye since the very beginnin’, eh? ‘Cos that’s since when I’ve known of it. In fact, the first time I dropped in on ‘em in Hamburg, I saw a pair of birds comin’ out of Pete and John’s room. He’s been fuckin’ girls behind your back since before we ever made it big, and ye never said a thing. You know how he is, Cyn, so ask yerself how you could not have known what was goin’ on with your bloody husband before you start askin’ me how long I’ve known, and how I could’ve played with Jules when I came to visit.”
Cyn had looked at me as if I’d slapped her, that or plunged a knife into her heart and twisted it just so to push it even further still. And for all sense and purposes, that’s exactly what I’d done to her. Instead of apologisin’ profusely to her, to a woman who’d been nothin’ but a friend to me since the moment I’d met her durin’ a time when I’d had few girl friends, I’d been as cruel her as anyone probably had ever been. I’d set loose an ugliness to my character on her that she hadn’t deserved then.
“Of everyone, I’d expected you to be the one I could count on to be honest with me. I thought of the five of, you were actually a friend I could count on, someone who’d actually have some consideration for me and my son over John. I was wrong.” Cyn hadn’t moved from the chair, though knowin’ meself, I’d have been out the door and down the drive by now if it’d been me in her place.
“I was yer friend then, and believe it or not, I still am, Cyn.” She’d looked at me incredulously then, and though I hadn’t come out and told her then, I’d understood why she’d reacted so – any normal, feelin’ person would’ve done so. “But why me, Cyn? You’ve known Paul and George longer than me, since they were at the Inny. So by right, shouldn’t they be the ones that you’d gone to with this?” I’d hurt her, and God, I’d continued to do it. I’d known what she was goin’ to say to me, but I’d wanted to hear it from her own lips.
She’d leaned forward and I’d seen the look of complete and utter misery written on her face. “Because I’d actually thought you’d have a thought for my son and I, Liz. Paul...George...Richie, they’re men, Liz. And they’re John’s friends and bandmates and –“
“I am too, Cyn! I’m in the same fuckin’ band as the lot of ‘em, I toured and rehearsed with ‘em just like John does. You forget that, seems like. I’m under the same fuckin’ pressures as they all are.”
“But you’re not like them, Liz! You’re a girl, couldn’t you have had a little compassion for me and Julian, if not for me, for my son, Liz? For John’s son? Do you know how much he’s suffering now, Liz? Do you have any idea how much my son is suffering because his father is acting like for all sense and purposes he doesn’t give a shit about him anymore?!”
The amount of emotionality in the place had been makin’ me more and more uncomfortable with each passin’ minute. You’re a fuckin’ bitch, Liz. A fuckin’ cow. How the thought of it’d gone through me head over, and over, and over as I’d sat there with earnest eyes. “I know this, Cyn, and believe it or, I am sorry for it. Julian doesn’t deserve what’s goin’ on with him, and neither do you.” I’d looked at her steadily, willin’ her to understand what I was havin’ such difficulty tryin’ to put in words, and makin’ a right mess of it as I tried.
“Then how can you sit there and act like what John’s done to us is ok –“
“Oi, hold on there. I didn’t say that.”
“How you can sit there and ask me how I didn’t know what was goin’ on? Do you think if I’d known what was going on, if you’d been an actual friend to me, that I would’ve gone along with it?”
“I don’t know, Cyn, I don’t know. Bloody hell, what do you want me to tell you? That I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you, or Jane, or Dot, or Mo ‘bout what the lads were gettin’ up to on tours? They’re me bloody band mates, Cyn, I’m fuckin’ friends with all of ‘em, and with you girls too. What would ye have had me do, Cyn? Make a list of every groupie the lads fucked on tour for you to read, eh?”
As I’d said that to her, the anger in me voice from earlier had lessened, and instead, a terrible feelin’ of bein’ so bloody lost ‘bout the entire thing took over. I was bein’ a cow to Cyn for askin’ me a question that she had every right to have an answer for, but...I wasn’t the person that needed to answer that for her; it was John. But John had been a fuckin’ coward, too afraid to be just be honest with her, too willin’ to hide behind that Jap bint’s skirts, to just come out and tell Cynthia, who’d done nothin’ but love him and try to make a comfortable life for him, why he’d done what he’d done.
And so I’d been the next best thing. Bloody hell, I’d been the next best thing, and it had been too much to bear. We’d talked ‘bout it amongst ourselves, Richie, Paul, George, and meself, but more with how Yoko’s constant presence in the studio was beginnin’ to wear on us, but not ‘bout we should’ve taken it upon ourselves to fill Cyn in on John’s habits while we’d been away on tour. Openin’ up that can or worms was like throwin’ the rest of us under a lorry, and unfortunately that’d included me.
“I just want to know why you never said a word to me, Liz.” Cyn’s eyes filled with tears and I’d felt the urge to comfort her, but as with so many things, and with another girl so long ago who’d also lost somethin’ quite important to her, I hadn’t really known how to go ‘bout it. The ironic thing had been that comfortin’ me bandmates – those other four people who I’d shared so much with – knowin’ what to say, what to do, would’ve been as natural as breathin’, but with Cyn, a person who’d shown me nothin’ but kindness since the moment I’d met her, I hadn’t had had a bloody clue.
She’d come to me ‘cos I was a girl, just like her, but what? Obviously bein’ a girl hadn’t made that any easier for me, and it’d bloody hell not made it any easier for her. I’d wished at that moment, and not for the first time mind, to have the gift with words that came so easily to others. I hadn’t had a clue of what to say to her, and I hadn’t known if I could even begin to try. So I’d sighed, takin’ a deep even breath, while she’d stared at me, tryin’ to read me face with every look of her eyes.
“Look Cyn, I wish I could tell ye that I didn’t say anythin’ to you because I didn’t want to hurt you or Julian. That’s true in a way, but honestly, and ye want me to be honest don’t you?” I’d looked at her evenly, decidin’ that this was one conversation I only wanted to have once with her. I’d said things to her in the past few minutes that I’d known would hurt her, and I’d gotten no enjoyment out of it. For all me callin’ John a bloody coward, I’d had to admit that I was one too.
Cynthia had nodded at me, lookin’ so uncertain but that she had to be prepared for whatever it was I’d had to tell her. “Honestly,” I’d continued, stoppin’ a moment to wet me lips and take a breath, “honestly, I didn’t feel it was any of me business.” For a split second she’d looked as if I’d laid one on her, and I can’t say that in the scheme of things, what I’d neglected to do couldn’t be considered the equivalent of it.
“Cyn, I’m not excusin’ it, ok? I’m not tellin’ you that what I did was right, or that I approved of what John was doin’ and that’s why I didn’t open up me gob to say anythin’. You’ve got to believe me when I tell you this, alright: you and Jules are both important people in me life, and that’s never changed and never will. But he’s my bloody band mate, Cyn, and despite all the shit he’s done to you, to me, to all of us, he’s my mate, much as it pains me to admit it.” I’d stopped, wantin’ to give her a chance to collect herself a bit before I continued. I hadn’t been feedin’ meself a life when I’d acknowledged that I only wanted to ever have this conversation with her once.
I’d known that the day would come when Julian might want to demand the same thing of me, and I’d looked forward to that even less.
She’d opened up her mouth to say somethin’, but I’d interrupted her, soundin’ unusually calm ‘bout the whole thing, which had surprised me a bit. Gone was the anger drippin’ from every word of earlier. “Let me finish, Cyn. Let me just get this out, ok?” She’d nodded and I’d seen her move her hands from the counter and move them below. “When I joined the band, Cyn, I stopped bein’ like a girl in a lot of ways. I joined a group with four lads, and effectively whatever they’d have cooled off ‘round a bird was open game with me. I became one of ‘em, and so that meant that I had to not give mind to what they got up to. I’m not excusin’ what happened Cyn, I’m really not, but when you’re on the road – it’s a very surreal thing. I can’t explain it any better than that. So I’m not goin’ to lie to you and tell you that if given the chance to go back to the beginnin’, that I’d do things any differently. I can’t tell you that, Cyn. I’m sorry, but I just can’t.”
“What if it had been you, Liz? You’re married to George now – so what if it’d been you? Married to George, with a baby, believing with every fibre of your heart that you have a happy life, and then you come to find out that it isn’t so? And worse yet, you know that someone you thought was a friend had known about it, and said nothing? So tell me Liz, oh Beatle Liz, what if it had been you?”
“I don’t know,” I’d answered honestly, because it was so. I didn’t know. I’d thought to meself that if it came down to it, that I may’ve been able to handle it, but there was never any tellin’. But if I’d somehow managed to, what would that have made me? Thinkin’ along those lines had made the discomfort in me grow, but I couldn’t dismiss Cyn for askin’ what she’d asked, though such a big part of me wanted to.
“I don’t know what I’d do or think if it’d been me. Look Cyn, I can’t speak for John, or Paul, or Richie, or even George, but I know John, and you know John. If you’d known Cyn, trust me, it wouldn’t have changed a thing, he still would’ve done it, ‘cos that’s John and his hang-ups. I don’t know what you want me to tell you, Cyn. I can’t read John’s mind, and I can’t tell you why he’s doin’ what he’s doin’. All I can tell you is that you don’t deserve what’s bein’ done to you, Cyn, and it’s not your fault.” I’d stopped suddenly and instantly took a deep breath, fillin’ my lungs with air.
“You’re right, Cyn, you’ve been my friend since the moment I met ya. You’ve been nothin’ but good to me, and maybe I’m a bloody coward ‘cos, despite knowin’ all of that, I can’t tell you I’d do anythin’ over differently. Maybe you’re right in sayin’ that if I’d been a proper friend to you that I’d have come to you ‘bout this from the time I knew of it. I’m not excusin’ what I didn’t do, Cyn, I’m just tryin’ to make you understand. I’m a girl you’re right, and any normal bird would’ve let ya know the moment she knew, but I’m not a normal bird, Cyn; I stopped bein’ one the moment I joined and spent the next few years of me life with ‘em and only them. I wish I could tell you that my loyalties weren’t with ‘em, ‘cos that would be a lie. But that never meant I didn’t care for you and for Jules. And when I tell you it’s not your fault, believe me that it’s not. John did what he did ‘cos he wanted to, simple as that, and John threw ya away, Cyn. John fucked this up, and royally. You can be angry at me all ye want, and I understand if you decide that we can’t see Jules anymore, which would be a shame considerin’ how close he and Georgie are, but that’s yer right, Cyn. But blamin’ me won’t change what happened, and it won’t make what John did to you any less shitty.”
Cyn had been quiet for a bit after I’d finished, and I’d wanted to slap meself for sayin’ all that shit to her, and goin’ so far. It hadn’t been any of me fuckin’ business, I should’ve kept me gob shut tight ‘bout it. But despite all of it, I’d admired her for sittin’ there and takin’ it, even if it’d been nothin’ more than a great heap of shite. Though I’d said nothin’ about it to John when I’d seen him again, I’d seen the strength in her that he’d claimed she’d never had, and I’d felt sad for him for throwin’ away the only person who’d ever accepted him with all his bullshit, and for him bein’ too fuckin’ blind to see it.
I hadn’t said that to her either, ‘cos somethin’ had told the hearin’ of it would only make it worse. I’d hurt her, said cruel things to her, and she’d taken it. What kind of sadistic fuck was I? Hurtin’ her after everythin’ she was goin’ though?!
“I was so blind, Liz,” Cyn had said to me finally, lookin’ as fragile as a blade of grass. “How could I have not known?”
“Oh bloody hell, Cyn, don’t listen to me. I’m a right cunt, you know I am. I shouldn’t have said that to you –“
“I should’ve known something, Liz. About all those girls, about...that Jap bitch, I should’ve known but I was so fucking blind, and not just in the literal sense.”
“Forget what I said, it’s shit, it’s just me bein’ a bitch and I’m sorry.” And I’d meant it, more than any of the hurtful things I’d said.
“It wasn’t. It’s just..very hard, you know? I didn’t just lose me husband, I lost all of you. I feel as if I’ve lost a part of my family, all in one go.” It’d hurt to hear her say that, that after everythin’, she’d still considered us that important to her, and worse yet, that we’d just gone along with stayin’ out of it. There’d been nothin’ left I couldn’t said to her, and Cyn must’ve known that to be so.
Lookin’ back, I’d wished I could’ve handled things differently, not proved to both meself and Cyn that when push came to shove that I could be as flaky as the rest of ‘em. I’d been confronted with the ugly reality that comes from the belief that in tryin’ to keep yourself indifferent in a situation that could only hurt someone in the end, that you’ll still somehow be unaffected. The only person I’d made feel better by turnin’ a blind eye, had been me.
It’d been a while before Cyn had forgiven me, forgiven all of us, I think, and I couldn’t have blamed her. I may have not been the one to hurt her the most out of the five of us, but I’d done it, and worse yet, I'd been convinced I'd have done the same again. In all the madness of those years when we’d been the biggest fuckin’ band in the world, it’s easy to only focus on the songs we put in peoples’ hearts and the smiles we put on their faces, and easier still to overlook the ones we hurt along the way. Cyn had been just one of ‘em, but one who’d been failed terribly.