Worry Rock

Meet The Families

We end the song all coming out one at a time, with Mick the last to stop playing. Well, actually, I sneak a note in at the end, but they don't seem to skip a beat. I guess they're used to me doing that kind of stuff. I know what you're thinking: what are you talking about? You just joined the band! Well, actually, I have always played with the band. Harvey didn't hang out with them quite as much as me, and they liked having me fill in for him. So really, I know all of their songs. And as for mine, we haven't ever practiced that, but they could wing it if needed.

Billie's smiling uncontrollably. "That was really good," he said. "Who wrote that song?"

"I did," volunteers Warren. "It's called Melody."

"What's it about?"

"A lot," he says a little uncomfortably. "Mostly a girl. And rejection." He seems pretty shy to talk about it.

Billie Joe nods with a smile that says he understands. "That was good. What else? I want to hear all you have."

"Dad, come on," says Jake.

"What? It was good."

"Later," I decide, putting down the guitar I'm holding.

"Aw, come on!" Billie whines.

"How about you wait until everyone else finds out and wants to hear us? And you know they will. You can try to guess who wrote what and everything."

"Fine," says Billie like a five-year-old who was told that his trip to the zoo was cancelled, but he could go to a movie instead. He stands up and walks down the stairs looking disappointed.

"Whew," I sigh, flopping onto the couch.

"Do you think he really liked it?" Boom said, smiling widely. Boom's not that much of a smiler, but, well... as I've mentioned, Boom only moved here a few years ago, and frankly, Billie Joe is still his absolute idol. He never talks about his past a lot, except to say how much he had always loved Green Day. Obviously, Billie Joe Armstrong saying that he likes Boom's band is more than enough to make him one happy camper. He's living a dream.

"Yes, Boom, he liked it," said Jake with a small smile as he sat next to me. "So," he said, "What do you think he'll do?"

"He's going to call everyone to come over right now so that he can hear us play. In three, two..... wait for it." Billie hasn't come running up the stairs yet. Darn his timing.

"But what about after that? You know, he's going to want us on Adeline."

"Maybe we should do it," I say hoping that Jake won't explode on me.

He gives me a look and says, "Charlie, I thought we decided we don't want an easy break just because he's my dad."

"Yeah, but I thought of something," I said, holding up my finger.

"Tell me."

"What if we go all 'Network' on the world? You know, wearing masks and stuff. And if they like us, then we can go with a whole mass unveiling thing where everyone gasps and says, 'Oh wow, look, it's Jake! I knew he was a cool kid.'" I'm smiling widely now as I look at him, and he smiles too.

"That might work," he agrees. "I don't want to wear a mask all the time, though. Only for a few months until we figure out whether people actually like us."

"Deal," I say, shaking hands with him. Jake and I are like the managers of the band. Or ambassadors.... something like that. The other guys know that we know this kind of stuff and what would be best for Worry Rock, and they understand all the decisions we make. We book gigs and things like that, and that includes talk of record labels. Okay, so we don't have a plan for if we're not liked, but we'll cross that bridge when it comes. I think we knew all along that we'd end up on Adeline, but we like to dream of breaking out anyways.

Jake grinned widely, saying, "So, what now?"

"We wait for him to offer." He shrugs, and we look around the room for a moment. Boom is still with his guitar, playing it softly with a wide grin still on his face, and Warren and Mick are in a staring contest. It's funny how often they get into these random stupid games, and many times entertaining. We then hear footsteps coming up the stairs, and as Billie Joe appears I turn to Jake and say, "One. You see how good my timing is?"

"You are good," he agrees.

"Shut up and get ready, everybody. You have a show to play."

"A show?" says Boom, and everybody turns to look at Billie.

"You blinked!" Yell the twins. "No, you first! Nuh-uh!" They sigh and rock-paper-scissors for tie-breaker, as they always do, and Warren wins and thrusts his fist into the air as if he had just won an Olympic medal. "Yes!"

Billie ignores them, though, saying, "Yup. Everyone'll be here in a few minutes." He's really smiling a lot...

Billie flops onto the loveseat, and I lean my elbows on my knees. "Billie, exactly how many people did you call?"

About twenty minutes later, I find out how many people he called. Because we have stuffed into one room the five members of the band, Joey, Adrienne, Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, Tre Cool, plus Mike's daughter, Stella, and Tre's kids, Ramona and Frankito, Mike's wife of five years Molly, Tre's girlfriend of six months Ariel, Jason White, and Jason Freese. That's seventeen people all crammed into the top floor of Boom's house. And I think that grin will be permanently etched on Boom's face. I can't help but laugh every time I look over to him, and he says, "What?" I just shake my head and turn away, back to my conversation with Stella, who's giggling at him too.

"It's like a big family reunion!" says Frankito, putting an arm around both my shoulder and Stella's. He looks to me and says in a cheesy way, "So, Charlie, I hear you're single."

I have to laugh. Frankito is only twelve, and he is definitely his father's son. As if the world needed another Tre Cool. "Get a life, Frankito."

"I'm offended by that!"

"Too bad."

"You're hurtful," he says with a pout.


"Come on, already, we want to hear you play now!" I hear Billie Joe.

"You sure you don't want to call the rest of the world to come see us, Billie Joe?"

"I don't think anyone else can fit into the house," he says with a small grin.

"Now you figure that out," I say with a smile, and we make our way to our instruments.

Long story short, we play a song that Jake wrote first, and Adrienne was the first to guess it. We continue playing the guessing game with our songs for a while. We played about fifteen of them for them before we stopped for the day, just hanging out for a while. Frankito was right. It is like a big family reunion. I haven't seen him or Ramona or Stella in weeks, not to mention the Jasons! I see Mike and Tre all the time at Billie's house, and their wife and girlfriend sometimes come with them. But for the most part, I never get to see everyone who's here... at least not all at once. Ah, what the power of music can do.

"Wow. Look at how much attention you're getting just because you're in the band!" remarks Frankito. "We should start a band, me, Ramona, Stella, and Joey. We can call it the Spawn of Green Day. I'm serious!" he says when we all laugh at him.

"Frankito, Joey's an artist. Not a musician. And for me, music's a hobby, not a profession," Stella tells him. "I don't know about Ramona, but two people isn't enough for a band."

"Aw, man."

"S'okay, little man," says Tre to his son. "You can play with the real Green Day one day. We'll let you in for a song."

Frankito's face lights up. "Really?"

"Yup," says Billie with a smile.

"Yes!" He throws his fist into the air happily, and everyone participating in the conversation smiles a little at him. That would be, Billie, Tre, me, Frankito, Stella, and Jake. I look around the room and see all the different groups of people together. Adrienne is talking to Ariel and Molly. Mick, Warren, and Boom are talking to Mike. And the Jasons are playing with all of the instruments in the room. Ramona and Joey are sitting over on the sofa, talking together quietly. I see Joey glance up to look at me, and so I walk over to sit on the floor in front of him and Ramona.

"What's up?" I say to them. "You looked lonely over here with only two people talking. Heck, everyone else has about five people to hang out with."

Joey smiled. "Yeah, I think Dad was waiting for one of his kids to finally get in a band. He knew it would happen eventually."

Ramona grinned. "Yup. The Armstrong genes. You can't both turn away from music. I mean, hell, your dad's BJ Armstrong." Yeah, Ramona always calls Billie BJ.

"I wasn't aware," says Joey dryly

"Oh, well you should get to know him. He's pretty cool, he's right over there." She thrusts her thumb over her shoulder at Billie before turning back to our conversation. Joey gives her a little shove, and she says, "What?"


"Yup," she replies with a smug, content look as if she had just been given a compliment.

"Face it, Joey," I say, "Everybody you know is some kind of ass. Smartass, dumb-ass, asshole, et cetera. It's just the way your life is set up. You were meant to live with ass-like people."

Ramona laughs, and he smiles a little. "Except Aubrey," he says while looking down in his lap as if in thought.

"Yeah, she's a nice girl," I agree. "Didn't you say you wanted to go see her?"

Joey got the oh-my-gosh-I-totally-forgot look and checked his watch before saying, "Right. Bye!" and running out. Ramona and I laugh a bit and get up to join the conversation with Billie and them.

"Hello," I said, leaning on Jake's shoulder. I love being taller than him. By one inch. It's even better that it's just one inch, because all the time, he's trying hard to appear to be at least my height, spiking his hair occasionally, standing up as straight as he can, putting his chin in the air, and even wearing thick-soled shoes. Still, I can always counter him to be just a little bit taller than he is. It drives him crazy. I love it.

"Hey," he says, turning his face toward me nonchalantly. I like that word. Nonchalant. Anyways. "Where'd Joey go?"

"Aubrey," I say with an amused smile. He laughs a little, imagining how Joey's going to beat himself up for forgetting about his girlfriend but knowing it'll stop once he finally sees her and she tells him it's okay.

"Well, we're going out," I hear Billie Joe announce.

"Yay! Booze!" shouts Tre, and I smile along with everyone else.

"Can we come?" asks Jake with an evil grin.

"Jake," warns Adrienne in the mother tone.

"Okay, okay, joking!" he says putting his hands up as if to shield himself from any annoyance she may feel toward him after that comment. "I get it, no booze for us till we turn twenty-one." He looks a bit disappointed, though.

As the adults (meaning Billie, Adrienne, Mike, Molly, the Jasons, Tre, and Ariel) start filing downstairs for their spontaneous night of drinking, Tre stops by Jake and says quietly, "Don't worry, I'll bring ya back something good, kiddo."

Jake grinned. "No you won't. You'll be too busy getting laid."

Tre sighed. "So true."

"Yes, Tre, you're a sexy beast. Come on," says Ariel, going downstairs.

"Did I mention how I love that woman?"

"Yes, Tre."

"Oh, okay. Well, bye, Jakey! Have fun!" He pats Jake on the head mockingly, and Jake swats his hand away.

"Oh, fuck off!" says my friend with a grin. Tre shrugs and follows Ariel down the stairs.

So now here's who's left. Me (duh), Jake, Boom, Mick, Warren, Stella, Ramona, and Frankito. The room feels empty all of a sudden, with only us left, and we don't know what to do. So we all headed downstairs and turned the TV on. After about an hour of that, Ramona says, "Fuck this. I'm going out, I'm bored!" She stands up and starts toward the door. "Who's coming?"

"Depends, where are you going?" asked Warren, but Boom, Mick, Stella, and Frankito were already up and following her.

She stopped and turned around with a mischievous grin on her face. "Whaddaya say we pay a visit to the Gilman?"

Immediately, everyone looked at her in surprise. After a moment of silence, Jake leans back against the sofa looking straight and says, "I'm not going." Good ole Jake.

"Come on," Ramona prods. "Take a ride on the wild side. They don't have to know we're BJ, Mike, and my dad's kids. Haven't you ever wondered what it's like in there?"

Well, she's kind of right. I was always tempted to go into the Gilman and check it out, just to see, but I knew Billie and the gang were banned, and that would be way too awkward. I mean, really, he's the father of my best friend, practically mine. And what if we're recognized? "I don't think we belong in the Gilman... I mean... What about Frankito? No way they're letting a 12-year-old in there," I say as my lame excuse for not wanting to go.

Ramona shrugged. "We'll drop him off at a friend's house."

"Mallory's?" He asks with a smile. His current crush, probably.

"No, Frankito. How about Pete's?" Pete is Frankito's best friend.

"Fine. Deal."

"Oh, and nobody can tell Dad and them what we're doing. They'd freak." Ramona started toward the door, and besides Frankito, nobody moves for a moment. Then Mick steps forward and follows. Then Warren and Boom. Stella. Till it's just me and Jake. I look over to him questioningly. I kind of do want to go. Curiosity, you know? But I won't leave Jake alone.

After a moment, he says, "Fine. Let's go." We both get up and follow them out to Ramona's truck, and as Ramona gets into the driver's seat, we all pile into the back part.

"I knew you'd see it my way," she says before turning the radio on loud enough for us to hear it, and we're off. I have to hold onto my hair so that it doesn't whip me in the face. I feel a sense of betrayal in the pit of my stomach, and everyone is abnormally quiet except for Frankito who can't stop talking. Five minutes later, he's at his friend's house, and after ten more, here we are. Standing in front of the place that turned their backs on Green Day so many years ago and hoping we don't get recognized.