Hail and Farewell to Paris

J'ai plus de souvenirs que si j'avais mille ans

“Billie darling that man keeps looking at me”
The singer looked up from his menu at me, “Of course he’s looking at you, you’re hot, and he’s probably wondering how the hell I pulled you.”
I frowned at him, “No…don’t… stop it…I mean he’s STARING at me, he has been ever since we arrived”
Billie sighed, looking up from his menu again and moving to crane his neck to get a good view of the man behind him.
“NO! Don’t look!”
Billie rolled his eyes, “Well how am I supposed to do anything about it if I can’t even look at him?”
I leaned backwards in my chair slightly, putting down my menu, “I don’t know…I just…well…try not to draw attention maybe he’ll stop, maybe he just thinks I’m someone else”
Billie laughed loudly, “Ava you crack me up, just ignore it babe”
A small smile crept in the corner of my mouth, Billie appeared to be so relaxed about stuff like this, it's probably what a lifetime of fronting a successful band does to you. However, I wasn’t used to such eye attention; this man who was dining by himself had been tracing his grey eyes in my direction since the waiter seated us by the window with the menus. A glass of wine later and I was starting to feel nervous about him, did he recognize me from all the US press attention? That was the last thing I needed whilst out here.

Billie scratched his head as he frowned at the leather book in his hands.
“I dunno what to have…what are you having?”
“Swordfish” I answered quickly, my eyes darting back to my menu.
“Oh Jesus, I may just get a real Italian pizza, you know, see the difference from Dominos”
He shifted in his chair, the round table between us tilting slightly on its side and knocking into the wine cooler.
“Billie” I whispered, steadying the metal object,
“What’s wrong with you? You seem on edge”
“I’m okay” he answered not looking up at me but continuing to twirl his hair between his fingers.
I frowned, he wasn’t okay, something was bothering him.
“What is it Billie? I thought you had sorted everything out? That nice man was coming to interview you and…”
“Yeah, yeah, look its fine seriously” His voice rang with agitation and I snapped my mouth shut, determined not to ruin this night.
I traced my eyes across the wine menu, guessing I would probably need another few glasses to ease this tension.
“Ava…what’s a cal…a…zon…e?”
“ Calzone? I think it’s like a pizza folded in half”
Billie nodded, taking a sip of his wine; my eyes darted back to the man behind him who looked away quickly at my glance.
The waiter slinked over slowly, blocking my view from the staring man.
“Are you ready to order?”
“Yes please, can I have the truffles and then the swordfish?”
“Ah! Swordfish yes, that’s an excellent choice…and for the gentlemen?”
Billie jumped at the waiter, “Oh yeah, er…that thing…”
“The crispelle?” The waiter smiled,
“Er yeah and…that cal…”
“Yeah, that’s a folded pizza isn’t it?”
The waiter nodded politely, “Yes sir, more or less I suppose”
“Okay then that and another bottle of whatever the hell we’re drinking”
The tall Italian nodded, his greasy combed back hair not moving an inch as he removed our menus and scuttled off.
I grinned at Billie over my wine glass.
“What?” he asked, smiling back at me.
“Oh nothing, I just love it when you get nervous ordering you're food”
“It’s because I don’t know what the hell I’m ordering”
I laughed, the singer brushing my hand with his own, looking at me with serious eyes for a moment.
“I’m err…” The loud noise of his cell cut off his words, making me jump from my chair.
“SHIT” He spat standing up and barging out of the restaurant. I rolled my eyes; we couldn’t have come to a nicer place, with extremely nice people who were also looking at me now , Billie’s annoying tone and loud profanity disturbing the restaurant’s peace.

This place was called Da Ivo and it was not far from St. Mark’s square. The podgy breakfast waitress had recommended it to us and it was clear why, it was intimate and romantic, placed directly on the edge of the nearest canal. I glanced to my right, the midnight blue waters of the canal were slowly carrying a candle lit gondola passed the quiet streets of the square. My heart fluttered, I so badly wanted to take a ride
But Billie was nervous of the small boats. He claimed he didn’t trust the gondolier and that we had seen enough of the canal water in Venice already. I knew I would eventually get him on one, either by alcohol consumption or sheer bullying I was determined not to be the only person to visit Venice and not take a gondola.

Billie came stumbling back into the restaurant after a few minutes. A great smile shone on his face, he looked so adorable in his suit in the warm candlelight.
“Hey? What was that?” I asked, grinning as he sat down quickly.
“My mom…okay…that doesn’t matter…guess what? The boys are going to come out!”
“Really?” I asked, quite suspicious of this, but quite excited at the same time.
“Yeah apparently they told Ollie they want to come out with us”
“Why? Do you think they still hate me? I mean why the sudden change?”
“My mom is really persuasive when need be”
“Ah” I nodded as he poured out more wine.

I looked up to see the grey- eyed man staring at me again. Billie caught my eye and turned around quickly and suddenly the lonely diner turned away.
“You didn’t swear at him did you?”
The guitarist opposite me chuckled, “No, I just gave him the ‘fuck off she’s with me look’”
“Good because this is a nice restaurant and we’ve already caused a disturbance”
“Hey for good reason, the little shits have decided to believe their family rather than the press”
I sighed, “Don’t call your sons that”
He laughed, downing the rest of his wine, “They are”
“They are easily influenced, they’re teenagers”
Billie made a ‘pfft’ noise as the hot food arrived at our table.

“This is a folded pizza? It’s just a big fajita Ava.”
I giggled, turning scarlet as the other diners looked at us with displeased faces. The irony that I would have once sat here and frowned at this man in a similar fashion made me realize how much my life has changed, and changed for the better.
After the meal was finished Billie slipped my coat over my shoulders and took my hand,
“We better get out of here Ava I don’t think we’ve gone down too well”
I chuckled, “What can you do?”
"All Europeans are the same"
"Thank you Billie"
He led me out of the restaurant and into the Venetian sky, it was warm and the soft sounds of flowing water and distant music enchanted the air. Billie’s hand became tighter around my own as he stepped forwards to take us down a softly lit path.

Suddenly a hand came down on my shoulder and I whipped around quickly to see the grey- eyed man from the restaurant looking down at me. He was tall, very tall his dark features and tanned skin ignited warmly by the dim street lamps.
“Excuse me”
His thick Italian accent cut through the romantic air sharply, Billie let go of my hand, he moved uneasily forwards as if he were about to square up to this towering man.
“Yes?” I answered, trying to prevent my voice from shaking, wondering what this was all about.
“I’m sorry if I was staring at you in there but you remind me of someone familiar.”
“Oh…” I stuttered, feeling a little more terrified.
“Yes, you…I don’t know… are you a model or something?”
“No, she’s not, sorry, you must have the wrong girl” Billie spat taking a hold of my arm and turning around.
“No! Wait! I want to ask you something…”
I turned around, feeling more confused by the minute.
“I’m sorry it’s just, well, I know you’re with your husband and…”
“We’re not married” I interrupted. I felt Billie’s hand drop from my own, his green stare boring through my back. Why did I say that?
“Oh…right” the stranger smiled, looking from myself to the hurt singer behind me.
“…I…was just wondering…well…I’m a photographer, I’m doing some scenic work here in Venice for the week and I…well if you’re not busy it would be great if you’d let me take some pictures of you… very tasteful ones I mean…but yeah, here’s my card…call me if you want to talk further about it.”
He pressed the small piece of paper in my hand and made to turn around, “I’m Gregory by the way, I didn’t catch you’re name sorry?”
“Ava” I answered, staring down at the card.
“Well, it was nice to meet you, think about it anyway…err…goodnight”
And with that he disappeared into a dark Venetian street behind the square. I stared at the card in shock,

Gregory Marciano
Professional Photographer

I turned to Billie whose arms were crossed, his mouth rigid; he was annoyed, very annoyed.
“Well that was nice” he spat sarcastically.
“Of course you’re not going to do it Ava”
I stared at him,
“Pardon? Billie you can’t tell me what to do…”
“Ava, he’s called…” the singer leant around my arm to see the business card,
“-oh- Gregory Marciano, you can’t be serious, he was a fuckin weirdo”
“He was Italian”
“Yeah, a greasy balled bastard who likes stealing other’s men’s women”
My jaw dropped, “Billie, he just…”
“Yeah he just came over did he? After leering at you all night? Business cards mean fuck all, Tre got 50 printed ages ago saying he was a Consultant in Gynecology.”

I was too angry to laugh, I know I shouldn’t have said what I did so abruptly but he didn’t need to be like this.
“Billie are you just sour about this because he didn’t ask you or because of what I said?”
“Well yeah I’m quite bitter that you’re so fuckin repulsed at having me as a husband”
“Billie that’s ridiculous! Don’t be so stu…”
“-Stupid, don’t be so stupid – yeah, right, that’s true you think I’m stupid, just because I don’t read the shit that Mike has started to read or know how to read a fuckin map or know so much about foreign food, yeah, I’m stupid, you’re too good for me.”
“Billie I never-“
“Whatever Ava, I don’t care I don’t give a shit, you like Gregory fuck face? Then fuck off with him, you like Mike so much? Then be with Mike I DON’T CARE!”

He turned on his leather heel and stormed off, I tried running after him, my own high heel slipping on the cobbled pavements. I yelled his name, tears streaming down my face as I quickly removed my shoes to run after him… but it was too late…he had disappeared into the dark Italian night.
Did he really mean all those things he said? How could he say those things in the first place? He knew I loved him more than anything, I moved from Paris just to be with him, didn’t that mean anything to him?
Be with Mike? Be with Mike? Where the hell did that come from?
I felt myself fall into a bench over looking a canal. Tears and sobs uttering from my mouth, how did this beautiful evening suddenly turn so sour?

Point de vu de Billie

Okay so I may have over reacted.
She didn’t know, but why did she say that? I wasn’t even sure if Ava loved me as much anymore, I mean her and Mike have been getting along well but… I dunno… have I been blind? Have they been fucking behind my back?
I leaned further across the small bar I had found down some little street behind the square. The empty bottles of beer lining a humiliating circle around me as I drove myself insane with all these thoughts.
This Italian beer is pretty good.

“I wasn’t angry at the fact she got attention, what she said hurt me ya know”
The bartender, Lucio, had been listening to me for about fifteen minutes; he had asked me what was wrong after I ordered another five beers, now he was getting an earful of the story. He nodded his graying hair in my direction as he spoke,
“Well, I mean she didn’t know you were going to propose to her tonight, I mean have you been the perfect man to her?”
My heart thudded as my drunken brain recalled the whole Sarah thing,
“Well…I got back with her when I was still dating this other girl…”
Lucio cringed.
“…and she moved to California for me, she moved and she lived in Paris and that was her most favorite place in the world…”
The Italian inhaled a rushed breath with his teeth, “She loves you then?”
I shrugged, “I dunno, my best friend gets on well with her, maybe a little too well”
I emptied the fifth bottle as Lucio passed me another all too quickly.
“My friend…” he began, “All women are a pain, love is never, what they say? Smooth… all that music and film, it’s a bunch of shit, love is just painful”
I raised my beer shakily to him,
“I’ll drink to that senor.”