Hail and Farewell to Paris

Les fleurs du mal

The rain lashed down across the surface of the Venetian world, it thundered onto the tied up boats that rocked on bobbing canals, across the deserted cobbled streets flowing easily in the uneven cracks and down joining the huge droplets in the man made rivers. It ran over the ancient houses, bumping off the rusting windows and sliding without delay down the huge marble church in the centre of St. Mark’s square.
Turn down the nearest street to the church and walk fifty paces to your right and you will see a lonely bench holding an extremely drenched and hung over rock star.

A rock star who has fucked up badly

Billie groaned and sat up from the moulding wood he had called a bed that night. His hands met his face desperately as the rain poured down across his unshaven, exhausted features. He reached into his soaking pocket to find a crumpled 20 euro note and his cell. 22 missed calls, one from Mike and 21 from Ava.
Oh God Ava.
He had said some things he should have never had said, he had gotten jealous and frustrated and had taken it out on her. How could he ever, ever apologise to her for that drama last night? He couldn’t, this would surely end them, not the fights, not the paparazzi, but him being the biggest dickhead ever.
He slowly rose from the bench, his whole body swaying and his whole head screaming.
For some reason he couldn’t stop thinking about that U2 video for the sweetest thing, but even phoning Bono to ask for relationship advice was too far gone, not even God could put this right.
No, it was just him and the true apologetic words that he would use.
He reached in his other pocket to find a small black box.

Point du vu du Ava

I woke up in a bed of crumpled tissues, an empty wine bottle and my phone clutched tightly in my left palm. My brain had to take a moment to remember everything that had happened. My eyes were burning from the hours of crying, my skin raw from wiping my damp face. I remember phoning Mike in a terrified manner as Billie was not back at the hotel and nor was he answering his phone. The more I was on my own the more I would go through all the terrible events that could happen, he could fall into a canal and drown, he could get hit by a speeding boat, he could get into a fight, he could be stabbed, robbed, beaten, raped…

My cell rang loudly, awakening me from my racing mind once again,
It was poor sweet Mike,
“Ava has he called you? Has he turned up?”
“No” my lip quivered, no more tears, please no more tears.
“Well he’s a selfish prick, he’ll turn up in a few minutes you watch, he did this all the time, he’d be in the wrong, act like a baby, spend all night at a bar then come waltzing in with flowers and an apology…”
“Mike it’s raining what if…”
“…The amount of times I’ve had these phone calls from Adi”
I froze.
Mike went quiet; he coughed as I stared at the cream wall ahead of me.
He used to be like this with Adi? I wasn’t quite sure how to take what Mike had just said, it didn’t anger me, it didn’t hurt me, it didn’t make me feel anything except more lonely.
“Sorry Ava, I didn’t mean to say that”
“Say what? It doesn’t matter”
“But Ava I…”
“Mike” I snapped, “It doesn’t matter, what does matter is finding Billie, what am I going to do? What will I say to him when he comes back? Should I forgive him? Help me here”
Mike sighed, I could picture him rubbing his temple adamantly, “Look Ava I know that what Billie said to you was wrong last night , but maybe he has a point with me and you. I mean, Brittany’s asking questions and…”
I swallowed, “What? But Mike you and me…we’re just friends…we are friends aren’t we?”
He stayed silent, too silent,
A huge sigh erupted down the phone, “Yes Ava, of course we are.”
Suddenly a bang hurtled through the suite of 503 and a tremor of an opened door travelled through the floor to the bedroom. I stared at the wood to see Billie, dripping wet, shivering and looking thoroughly defeated.

“Ava? What was that?”

But the bassist on the other line in California never received an answer, the phone was discarded as I grabbed a bath sheet that was resting on the easy chair by the bed flinging it around his shoulders and helping him into the bedroom like a hunched sick hospital patient.
He sneezed loudly, coughing as I wrapped my arms around his wet frame, all hatred towards him ebbing away at that very moment.
“Oh Jesus Billie thank God! I was so worried!”
He shivered under my arms,
“Get out of those wet clothes and I’ll run you a bath”
“Ava…” he croaked, “Ava I’m sorry, I’m really sorry babe… “
“Just shut up and get those clothes off” I snapped, dropping my arms around him and stamping to the bathroom. I knew what he was thinking; he thought he was off the hook. But he definitely wasn’t, I wanted to shout at a breathing and healthy Billie Joe Armstrong rather than a sick one.

After a hot bath that took an hour, the singer came creeping out of the bathroom in his complementary bath robe and a hot cup of coffee between his fingers. He looked fresh despite the bags under his eyes yet he seemed terrified, that extra long bath was on purpose then.
“Hey” he softly spoke, sitting down on the chair opposite the sofa were I was sitting. Legs tucked under my feet, book in my lap.
“Hello” I answered, staring at the page beneath me, despite not one word of Hardy connecting to my brain. I heard him take a baby sip of his coffee that I left at the bathroom door for him.
“Thank you for the coffee…and the bath”
“Your welcome” I uttered quickly, pretending to still read.
It was silent for a moment as Billie thought of the words to say next. He was a master at these situations, but this one seemed to have him stumped.
He leaned back into the chair, the bath robe swamping his slight frame like a huge blue woolly bear. If I wasn’t so angry at him I would have melted into the coat with him in an instant.
“I didn’t deserve it; you should have just left me to freeze to death.”
I didn’t reply, I sat staring at the page as if it would magically tell me what to say.
He put his coffee down on the wooden table that separated us,
“Ava I’m so sorry”
I didn’t look up,
I still didn’t respond, I couldn’t and after a moment he stood up and softly plodded towards the sofa where I sat rigid. The soft rustling of his lush bathrobe signalled that he had sat down next to me.
“Ava please talk to me…I’m so sorry…I was a little drunk from all that wine, I should never have said those things, I’m a prick, a stupid prick who overreacted”
The page below my fingers blurred, an angry temper rose in my throat, why did he always think we could fix things like this?
“I’m so sorry…”
I slowly closed my book and turned to him, his eyes were desperate, his lip held tightly between his teeth as if he were about to implode.
“I thought I knew you quite well Billie, but last night showed a side of you that I didn’t like. You insult me; accuse me of cheating on you with your best friend then stay out all night only to emerge this morning after ignoring all my calls. You had me worried to the point of exhaustion, then you think you can come over here, sit next to me on the sofa, apologise, blame the alcohol and expect everything to be alright.”

I stared at him for a response,
“I don’t expect everything to be alright”
I frowned, “Yes you did, you expect me to turn to mush like I always do and everything will go back to normal. But I can’t, after last night, I can’t just forgive you.”
He hung his head, “I know, I’m sorry”
“Why did you say it?” I snapped, feeling more confident and direct
“Why did you think that I would ever, ever cheat on you after everything? Don’t you understand? I love you more than anything; I proved that to you when I changed my whole LIFE for you”
Billie began to fidget like a naughty child, he was uncomfortable and maybe I was enjoying that, his agitation growing by the second.
“I know, I’m sorry…”
“But why?”
“I don’t know”
“You must know”
“I don’t, I just said it”
“But you must have thought I was cheating…”
“I don’t”
“Then why?”
“I was just angry”
“At what? I didn’t do ANYTHING” I stood up as did he, squaring up to each other in front of the coffee table.
“I know! But that guy and then…”
“Then what?”
“Things didn’t go to plan”
“What things?”
“I don’t understand Billie, just tell me…”
And with that he stormed out of the room, slamming the bedroom door and leaving me utterly speechless and frozen to the spot.

My head fell into my hands, it all made sense; he got annoyed because his plans had gone completely wrong, and he couldn’t blame himself because Billie doesn’t do that. I had said the wrong thing and he had gone off the handle…now I understand why, he had never, ever flew off the handle about petty jealously, talking to his friends or men like the photographer at the restaurant didn’t have an effect on him…it was what I said about marriage, it was the fact that I had so off handily said we WEREN’T married that sparked him off…the night he was going to ask me to be his wife…now I doubt he will ever ask me that question again.