Hail and Farewell to Paris

Le Jet d'eau

Billie Joe lay on side, watching his fiancée peacefully sleep. He took in her smooth pale skin, the way that her black eyelashes fluttered softly against her cheek, the way in which her perfect round lips fitted together as she slept. The morning light had awoken him early and as he flicked the wisps of black hair from his eyes he turned to see Ava asleep next to him and then…he remembered the night before. It was one of the most perfect nights of the singer’s life, he couldn’t quite believe that Ava was officially his. She had agreed to marry him, she loved him, she didn’t agree to marry Charles, or Richard or anyone else except him. For some reason he couldn’t help but think about his proposal to his dear Adrienne.

It was quite late, the eve before she had to go home.
They sat on the lawn of his back yard, staring at the blackened sky with silent admiration. Billie’s skin prickled every time the older woman shifted next to him, his stomach wobbled and a thought suddenly struck his brain like a lightening bolt.
He didn’t want her to leave.
He never wanted to be without her again.
“Adi…”
“Yeah Bill?”
“I don’t want you to go”
The woman next to him turned on her side, a few black dreadlocks falling across her face.
“I don’t want to go either Billie but…”
“Then don’t! Adi stay here, stay here with me babe, move out here.”
The older woman smiled, Billie’s heart beat skipped as her eyes shined in the moonlight.
“I would love to Billie I really would.”
“Then do…marry me Adi…”
The singer and his girlfriend both sat up in surprise at his words. They stared at each other intently for a moment; both wondering if that sentence had really just been said. A rustle erupted through the plants in Billie’s un- kept garden as Adrienne opened her mouth.
“Billie…do you mean that?”
The young singer felt a grin erupt across his mouth, he knew that he meant it more than anything he had ever said in his life.
“Yeah, 80…Adrienne, will you marry me?”
The woman looked at him for a few moments and Billie became nervous, he wasn’t sure whether she would get up and run a mile or start crying.
“Yes Billie, I will marry you...”

“Billie?”
The singer shot up from his thoughts as Ava stirred next to him. He turned, smiling down at his fiancée, scarcely believing that he was going to marry this woman next to him. The only other woman that he had ever met in all of his life who could set his skin on alight with a single touch. He knew Adrienne would be happy for him.
“Morning baby”
That beautiful smile of hers wound itself around her teeth. Billie loved Ava without her make up, don’t get him wrong he adored her with those painted red lips and thick black eyelashes but seeing Ava like this made his stomach churn in pleasure. It felt like she was lifting her mask to him, showing a completely different side of herself then to what everybody else sees.
He felt privileged.
“Morning” she replied through a husky voice, her small arms wrapping themselves around his torso.
Suddenly his phone rang making the pair jump. Billie stretched out a tattooed arm and took a hold of the vibrating object from the bedside table.

Tre.

“Yo”
“Hey Bill” His drummer’s voice sounded different, Billie could immediately tell that something was wrong.
“What’s up?”
Tre took a sharp intake of breath.
“What Tre?”
“Err…well, you still in Venice right?”
“Yep” Billie nodded winding a finger through the black curls of Ava’s hair.
“You and Ava okay?”
Billie frowned, “Yeah man fine, fine, we…err…we got engaged”
Tre immediately switched tone as Billie and Ava shared a smile from under the duvet.
“OH! MAN! REALLY? WOW! AH CONGRATS BILL”
“Cheers” The singer winced down the phone as the drummer composed himself.
“Err…ah that distracted me…what was I calling you about? Err…ah yeah…err sorry to spoil the celebrations Bill but err…Mike’s gone missing.”
Billie sat up like a shot.
Ava awkwardly moved herself from his chest, staring at Billie, getting slightly worried by the fear in his eyes.
“What?”
The drummer paused; Billie could picture him swallowing nervously.
“ He took off, nobody can get in touch with him.”
The singer found himself drenched in panic, this wasn’t like Mike at all.
“What happened?”
“Brittany phoned me in tears, she said she woke up and he wasn’t there but half his clothes were missing. Me and the guys are wondering whether he met up with that Heidi girl, you know the one from Ireland?”
Billie looked at Ava for a moment, shaking his head, “No he wouldn’t would he? After she sold that stuff about Ava to the papers?”
Tre shrugged, “I dunno man, he might, I mean, he’s not been himself for a while has he? We caught him looking at that article about you and Ava…you know the one she sold.”
Billie shrugged, watching Ava walk to the bathroom.
“I’ll try phoning him Tre.”
“Okay Bill, me and the guys are on it too, I just thought you should know encase he contacts you.”
“Okay Tre, see you soon yeah?”
“Yeah, missing you man”
“Bye”
“Bye”

Billie turned to see Ava emerge from the en-suite,
“What was that about Billie?”
The singer pulled a hand through his hair uneasily, he felt his shoulders tense as the words left his mouth,
“Mike…Mike’s gone missing…”

I froze at Billie’s words, the hurt look in his eyes making my stomach turn sickly, the words leaving his mouth making my whole brain thud. Mike was missing? Where was he? Surely he would have called if there was a problem, if he was upset, lord knows I don’t hesitate to call him when I have a problem. Billie stared at me as if he was expecting me to say something or do something to make him feel better. But what do you say to someone who’s just discovered that their oldest and best friend has gone missing?
Right on cue, a knock erupted on the door and Joseph poked his head around the corner. Billie shot me a look that screamed, ‘don’t say a word’
“Hey dad, Ava…we were just having breakfast when that Andre guy at the bar told us to tell you that there is a party tonight to celebrate the birthday of the hotel and we’re invited.”
Billie and I glanced at each other.
“Can we go?” Joey asked excitedly, “Its fancy dress”
Billie groaned and pulled the covers over his head dramatically.
Joe looked at me in amusement,
“I’ll talk to him” I smiled as the boy nodded at my answer, seemingly satisfied as he disappeared behind the door.

I turned around as Billie let out another muffled groan under the thick duvet.
I made my way towards the bed slowly, sliding under the duvet carefully.
“Billie Joe” I whispered, wrapping my arms around his torso and resting my head on his bare shoulder. He tensed underneath my touch, I inhaled the scent of his skin, and he suddenly turned over holding me tightly in his strong arms.
“Do you think he’s alright? Mike I mean? We can’t tell the boys…but oh god Aves I don’t know if I can go to some stupid fuckin party with Mike gone…”
“Then we won’t go Billie it’s fine, I’m sure Mike’s okay”
Billie chewed his lip anxiously, “I bet he’s just got drunk and took off to see Estelle or something. He’s such a prick, when I see him I’ll…I’ll…”
Billie drifted off, angry tears welling in his eyes. He sniffed loudly and buried his face in my collarbone.
“Fuckin prick” he grunted.

“Welcome aboard the 2:30 flight to Venice ladies and gentlemen, we should be arriving at approximately 7:00pm local time, the weather conditions are…”

Mike reclined backwards in his first class seat. He had tuned out half way through the captain’s welcome; all he could think of was the situation he was currently in. He couldn’t help but stare at the girl sitting to his right, the aisle separating the pair of them. Her hair was a thick mass of black curls and she was hunched over a gossip magazine her eyes scanning the page intently like it held all the answers to life. Mike’s mind tossed to the word Ava and that’s when a cloud of doubt washed over his whole body. He was sitting on this plane, ready to tell his best friend’s girlfriend that he was in love with her; he was putting his friendships and his career in jeopardy. The bassist stared into the seat ahead of him, picturing the woman he loved falling gracefully into his arms with the same desire for him that he held for her.
“Excuse me”
Mike jumped, agitated that his thoughts were suddenly interrupted like a bull rushing through a china shop. The very ‘bull’ was the girl next to him reading the gossip magazine; she calmly waited for the attractive man to answer.
“Yeah?” Mike snapped, more callously then he intended.
The woman arched backwards in her chair, Mike’s reaction surprising her some what.
“Err…yeah, sorry, I was just wondering…err…is, is this you?”
The woman leaned right across Mike’s chest, she smelled like vanilla.
As her delicate finger pointed to a horrid picture of Billie and Ava leaving an airport he could clearly see his face peeping at Ava’s shoulder wantonly.
“Yeah” Mike groaned, shifting uneasily in his seat, his great dangly legs knocking against the seat in front.
The girl squealed slightly, the magazine in her hands rustling as she shifted closer to him.
“So you’re Mike Dirnt? From Green Day?”
Mike nodded, rolling his eyes as, this was the last thing he needed right now.
“Wow, err, hi, I’m Alicia, I’m…err, a big fan of yours…”
“Hi” Mike turned, forcing a smile and catching sight of Alicia’s face for the first time. Mike’s small mouth clamped shut, his smile turning honest as her huge blue eyes shone in his direction enthusiastically.
“Hey” she took hold of his hand, shaking it strongly, the magazine falling into his lap as she dropped the corner.
Mike’s face fell to the picture of his friends that rested in his lap.
“I think it’s terrible what the press are doing to Billie and his girlfriend, some of the things on the internet and stuff, it’s horrible.”
Mike sighed, not saying a word but staring at the picture so ardently that it was starting to blur.
“I mean, they must love each other right?”
Alicia’s voice grew in pitch, still Mike didn’t reply, the girl’s words ringing through his ears like alarm bells.
“Mike?”
She questioned as he finally lifted his eyes from the picture,
“Yeah, they…they love each other…”

“BUT DAD YOU SAID!”
Billie Joe’s brow furrowed as his son began to start showing the signs of a temper tantrum.
“Joseph, I’m not in the mood”
“BUT DAD!”
The singer shot up from the chair he had been slumping in, his eldest son jumped at his father’s abrupt movement. Joseph waited for a response from his father, but instead the musician simply turned on his heel and made for the door back into his bedroom.
“I’m not getting stuck in the hotel room again” Joe whispered under his breath, and like a sudden shot of adrenaline, I also rose to my feet.
“Billie…”
My fiancée stopped at my voice and turned around slowly.
“….Billie maybe if I took the boys for an hour or two…”
The singer ran a hand through his hair.
“It’s a complete pain in the ass Ava, you’d have to get costumes”
I shrugged, turning to Joe and Jake, “What is the theme for the fancy dress?”
The dark haired brothers looked at each other; Joe shrugged while Jake looked at the floor, straining his brain to remember.
“…like masks…but it’s not…”
I smiled at him, “Masquerade?”
“Yeah, that” the two chorused.
I chuckled, turning to look at Billie who rolled his eyes and disappeared behind the door. That was an obvious signal that he was removing himself from this situation entirely. I rolled my eyes, turning to his sons who looked at me with wide questioning eyes.
“So…” I forced a smile, “let’s find a fancy dress shop then”

Masquerade, of course it would be masquerade, I thought to myself as I watched Joey and Jacob mess around with the costumes in the shop I was currently sat in. Venice was famous for its masquerades, if you take a walk out of the centre of the floating city, a walk such as the one me and my future step-sons had done today, you would find endless rows of costume shops. But they weren’t the average, they were expensive, velvet covered stores, the costumes all medieval and fantasticaly intricate. Every dress, mask and shoe was elaborately decorated; they were classical, made from lush fabrics and feathers.
They also weighed a ton.
Joey and Jacob had only just found that out when the store owner, a plump red faced Italian woman, had shoved a cape across their shoulders.
Joey gagged, tugging at it in shock,
“What the?”
I chuckled.
“Ava, are you trying to kill me?”
“It’s traditional, masquerades aren’t just a fancy dress party you know. It was were the rich and famous mixed with royalty.”
Jacob glanced at me.
“Where’s your costume?”
My eyes travelled upwards to a dress hanging on the opposite wall, it was beautiful it made my eyes ache to look at.
“But we get to wear those creepy masks right?” Joey cut in, nodding at the grotesque mask with the black hooked noses that were hung over the till.
I was suddenly reminded of my dear vinatge store in Paris.
I nodded, “Yes you have to wear a mask, they were to hide your identity, supposedly you could be whoever you wanted to be because you’re true face was hidden.”
“Image if you found a girl and she took her mask off and she was really ugly” Jake chuckled as the shop owner laced up his boots carefully.

“U.G.LY. you ain’t got no alibi you ugly, hey, hey you ugly”

My head snapped up at Joe’s little tune.
“What on earth was that?”
They boys burst out laughing, earning a scowl from the shop owner.
“Uncle…Tre…sings it” Joey snorted into his cotton Shakespearean shirt.
I shook my head, “Tre comes up with some strange things”
Suddenly the woman stood up and stepped backwards, admiring her handiwork on the Armstrong sons. I had to admit, they did look very charming.
They didn’t agree however.
“I look like a right prat Ava” Joe moaned, turning around in the mirror.
“You have to wear it Joe, it’s traditional”
The boy groaned, “I just wanted a mask”
“Yeah me too, Ava we look stupid” Jake agreed
I sighed, standing up and walking behind them.
“You look handsome boys, plus you have to wear these to wear the mask.”
“Who says?” Joey scowled.
“I say” I snapped as the shop owner giggled behind me.
“What are you wearing?” Jake asked turning around to stare at me sharply.

I held his gaze back at him as the shop owner suddenly sprung to life,
“I have something perfect for you Madame” she smiled, the first English words she had said leaving her mouth like atom bombs through my brain.
I turned to see her rummaging through an old trunk of fabrics furiously; I looked back at the boys nervously as they smiled evilly at me.