Hall of Fame


I guess I fell asleep right there on the sidewalk, even though it was cold and hard and scratchy against my face. It feels softer now though, everything does; soft and warm and quiet. I can’t hear any voices now, or any cars passing me by on the street. Actually, I can’t hear anything at all and when I open my eyes all the light rushes in all at once and it makes me squeeze them shut again.

My stomach hurts.

I feel warm fingers brush my face, then slide up to run through my hair.

“Amy…” I murmur. The touch disappears and the lack of contact makes me open my eyes again and squint through the light. I’m in a bed wrapped in soft, white linen and the room is unfamiliar aside from looking like every other five-star hotel suite I ever stayed in before. As my eyes focus they take in the face of my wife, who is crouched next to the bed with her arms folded on the comforter and one eyebrow raised almost all the way up into her hair.

“Who,” she asks me, slowly, “… is Amy?”

I blink at the sound of her voice, then struggle to push myself up onto my elbows. My eyes flick around the room as if I really believe Bradley or Sid or Amy are going to be here somewhere, even though, really, I know all I’m going to see is white walls and bad modern artwork and a window with a view of the strip.

“Amy,” I repeat, my heart beginning to speed up, “Winehouse…”

I trail off, as Adrienne presses a hand to my shoulder so that I flop back onto the pillows again.

“Shh,” she orders, with a sigh, “Don’t panic. You were dreaming.”

Just a dream.

I sigh, then roll over to face her. Her eyes look scared and sad and disappointed and I wish I didn’t have to make her feel any of those things.

“I’m sorry,” I offer. I’m not really sorry for yelling at the producers or for telling my manager to fuck off. I’m not sorry for ruining the last minute of our set, or even for smashing up my guitar because, fuck it, I’ve got more where that came from and it made me feel better, for a moment. I’m sorry for making my wife feel like that though. For that, I’m really, really sorry.

“Do you even remember what happened, Billie Joe?”

It freaks me the fuck out when she uses my whole name like that.

“Yeah,” I tell her and I do, mostly, aside from how I got from my dressing room to Gilman Street to into this bed.

She sighs and rubs a hand over her face. She isn’t wearing make-up and suddenly she looks every one of her forty-three years. I don’t think she believes me.

I fumble for her hand and she lets me take it, her small fingers wrapping around my own.

“We can’t keep doing this, Billie… you have got to stop running from whatever is going on in that head of yours.”

“I know…” I breathe. Then I tell her I love her because, suddenly, I’m all choked up with a terrifying fear that she doesn’t believe that either.

“I love you, too,” she says, softly, “… which is why I can’t watch you doing this to yourself anymore. You are too wonderful and too talented to fuck this up. Drinking yourself blind and medicating yourself stupid isn’t the answer. If you can’t deal with things cold-sober then we need to look at changing them.”

I feel a familiar frustration beginning to simmer in my stomach, bubbling up and up until it leaves my lips in a small growl. It’s like everyone chooses not to remember all the ghosts of rock and roll past that couldn’t deal with things any other way either.


No, Adrienne,” I tell her, “You don’t fucking get it, you don’t get it, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t… the band will… I need to…”

I feel dizzy then, and I press my face back into the pillow as that pain in my stomach clenches tighter. I groan, then struggle back onto my elbow just in time for the burning in my stomach to make it all the way up my throat. Adrienne grips my shoulder and pulls me forwards and before I know what’s happening I’m throwing up into the plastic bucket she has beside the bed.

She passes me some water. My teeth shake against the glass. She strokes my hair again and tells me to be calm.

“We aren’t going to talk about this right now,” she whispers, as I lay my head back on the pillow.

I feel completely empty.

It feels good.


“I’m just going to be in the next room. Your cellphone’s right here on the nightstand, call me if you need me, okay?”


Adrienne kisses my forehead and stands up. I reach out and grab for her sleeve before she walks away, seeing her tired face blur in front of my eyes. I need to make her understand but I don’t know how I can.

“I love you,” I tell her, again, because that’s the best start I’ve got. “Forever… like Sid and Nancy.”

She quirks an eyebrow at me and it’s good to see the corner of her mouth lift.

“Didn’t Sid murder Nancy in some scummy hotel?... Thanks, though, Honey.”

I let her go and close my eyes again.

“He’s misunderstood…”

I sleep forever, or that’s how it feels. When I wake up again all the light in the room has turned orange and the neon lights out on the strip are making patterns flash across the ceiling.


I turn towards Mike’s voice. He’s slouched in the armchair across the room from my bed. He has a book in his hands – some detective novel that he’s read so many times the pages are bent and faded – and he looks at me over the top of it, with eyes that are shaded with circles.


I rub at my eyes. I can see more clearly than I could before and that clenching in my stomach has gone away too.

“How d’you feel?” Mike asks me, still looking over the top of his book.

“… Alright.”

He sighs, then snaps the book shut and tosses it onto the coffee table.

“I need to talk to you.”

I rub both my hands over my face and steel myself because I know he isn’t going to have anything good to say. My fingers cover my eyes and I listen, waiting, but instead of saying anything he’s crossing the room towards me and then the mattress is shifting underneath me.

I turn to look at him. He’s sitting cross-legged on the bed by my side, pulling a pack of cigarettes from the pocket of his zip-up sweater and offering one to me. I think about pointing out that people aren’t supposed to smoke in hotels, but then I shrug it off. This is the City of Sins, after all.

I struggle into a sitting position, leaning up against the headboard next to him and we’re quiet as he lights me a cigarette and we watch the shadows move across the room.

“I realised some things last night,” he tells me, after a long moment of silence.

I look at him, expectantly. He sighs.

“I know that life is pretty fast right now,” he explains, carefully. “I mean… it’s hard, man. I miss Brittney. I miss my kids. I’m tired. But I can cope with all of that if I think it’s for the greater good, you know? I mean, we worked fucking hard to get here, Billie, and we got here so now we have to take the rough with the smooth, I know that. Tre and I… we expect a lot of you. We trust you to run the show and, as long as you’re running the show, we follow right behind you. But last night… I realised that you aren’t running the show anymore. You’re tired too. This is too much. We’re expecting way, way too much from you. I don’t want to do this anymore.”

I don’t want to do this anymore.

I can’t remember the last time I heard anything more terrifying come out of Mike’s mouth and I stare at him, feeling my chest constrict with panic. Before I can explain to him that if we aren’t doing this I have nothing, he takes hold of my shoulder and stares me hard in the eyes.

“Hey,” he tells me, “Listen. I love this band. I love it. But I don’t love this. It don’t feel right, man. You are not right. I want to go on tour and play music for our fans and… not kill ourselves running from talk show to talk show and playing fucking music festivals inside a studio. We’re doing too much and last night I think you proved that.”

I take in what he says, considering each word very slowly.

“They cut our set, Mike. What was I supposed to do?”

Mike sighs.

“Get mad,” he agrees, “Get fucking mad but understand that asshole TV producers don’t have any clue what they’re doing and shit like that is going to happen. What you did last night was about way more than having our set cut, and I think you know that. You didn’t want to be here in the first place and you were pissed as hell that you had to sit through hours of makeup, soundcheck and interviews so you could play for twenty minutes. It sucks. I know. But…”

Mike trails off and folds his hands under his chin. There’s something he’s not telling me and I lean closer, fixing him with an expectant stare.

“… but what?”

“It’s all over the Internet, Bill. It’s all anyone is talking about. We might have only had twenty minutes but we’ve made more waves than anyone and, actually, I might have even been proud of that if our tour sponsors hadn’t threatened to pull us and we didn’t get dropped out of three promo appearances this morning.”

I stare at the far wall. I wasn’t expecting that.

“Our tour sponsors…”

“We have to do some damage limitation,” he continues, putting his head in his hands. “We, uh… we have to release a statement apologising for last night and… accepting that our set didn’t get cut. We have to, Billie, it fucking kills me but we have to. Else… we could lose a lot more than our pride.”

I take my cigarette out of my mouth and watch it burn between my fingers. My breath shakes as I exhale and my eyes sting. I can feel that tightness in my stomach again, a burning cocktail of frustration, hurt and humiliation. I don’t know how it ever came to this. I don’t know how I ended up here. I don’t know anything, except that it’s wrong, all of it, and all I want to do is go home.

Mike tangles a hand into my hair as I blink the tears from my eyes and cough my throat clear.

“How’d you end up being the one that had to break that to me?” I mumble, and he manages a smile.

“We drew lots out in the hall,” he explains. He waits a beat, then adds, “… Tre cheated.”

And suddenly, I don’t know whether I’m laughing or crying, just that I’m burying my face in my arms and letting whatever the hell is in me come out. Mike takes my cigarette from my fingers and stubs it out on the polished veneer surface of the five-star nightstand, then wraps a strong arm around my hunched shoulders and holds me tightly against him.

“I was kidding,” he admits, after a few moments of snivelling and snot. “I wouldn’t let it come from anyone else but me. I needed you to know that we’re in this together and that I would never okay anything I didn’t think was best for us. Plus, I figured I was the person you were least likely to punch in the face... even if I did think there was still a pretty good chance of it.”

I sigh, rubbing my eyes as I raise my head. I never hit Mike in my life before so it seems pretty silly to start now. I just feel all that roiling in my guts begin to escape in a ramble I don’t have any hope of making sense of or stopping.

“No one gets it, Mike. No one gets it. I’m sick of people thinking I’m losing my mind. I’m sick of people looking at me like I have some kind of goddamn addiction problem just so they can put me in a fucking hole with all the others. It’s not about that. They don’t get it. You think if I’m sober all our problems will go away? Bullshit! This is the only fucking way I have of keeping in control, how the fuck can nobody see that? I’m fucking tired. All the time. I’m fucked. Most days, I don’t know where the hell I am. I don’t know what time it is. I don’t know when I supposed to eat and… I don’t know what I’m supposed to eat. I don’t know any god damn thing at all. I just listen to all the fucking people around me telling me what to do because if they weren’t there I’d fall apart and even though I know that, I still want them to leave me the fucking hell alone, Mike. I want to walk my own path.”

I pull away from Mike’s arms. I feel hot. I can’t tell if its sweat or tears running down my face and I figure maybe it’s a little of both. I pull my shirt over my head and throw it across the room as hard as I can. Then I lean forwards and slump my head into my hands and Mike doesn’t say a word.

“… I’m not this guy that everyone thinks I am.”

“Billie, you are exactly the guy that I think you are. I’ve known you since you were ten years old.”

“Not you,” I growl, “Them. I don’t know how to be fucking funny and interesting in all fifteen interviews a day. I don’t know how to be wild and crazy on my seventh performance of the week. I don’t know how to do any of this, unless I fake it. And I’ve faked it so hard I don’t even know who I am anymore.”

Mike takes a deep breath.

“I know what you mean,” he tells me, softly. “I know exactly what you mean, all of it.”

Hearing Mike say that makes me feel like crying again and when I feel his hand on the back of my bare shoulder, that’s exactly what I do. He waits for a while before he says anything else, and when he does, his voice is very soft.

“I think, you need to find out,” he decides. “I think we all do, actually. I think you need to take a step back and let me take charge for a while. Let me deal with the press for now – fuck knows, I owe you – and take some time to get back in touch with yourself. We need a break and… we don't need to be afraid of that. It’s okay. A break is a break, Billie, not the end. Although… right now, honestly, I don’t give a damn if we never play again, so long as you’re alright. I’m really fucking sorry, man, because… I’ve been ignoring this way too long and I never meant for it to turn out like this. I can see you going down a road that I… we’ve watched a lot of people go down this road, Bill, and… we always said we wouldn’t go with them. It leads to nowhere. It leads to the end.”

I nod into my hands, then I turn around and hug him. He’s right. That’s the thing about Mike, he’s always right and if our band don’t make it out the other side of this, I wonder if maybe me and Mike could.

“I think you need to get clean, Billie,” he tells me, without letting me go, “I… I know that’s fucking frightening for you and… I’ll be here, if you need me but… I care about you more than I care about the band, we all do. All of us, everyone. I just want my best friend back.”

“I know,” I mumble into his shoulder and I feel him sigh with relief. I let everything he’s said settle in my head for a moment, then I remember something.

“You smashed your bass last night.”

He chuckles and I look up.

“Yeah…” he smiles, and I notice there are tears in his eyes as well. “All for one and one for all, right? You fucker…”

I smile too.


That night, we fly home over the desert and Adie sleeps against my chest.

I think about a lot of things.

I think about Sid Vicious, Amy Winehouse and Bradley Nowell. I think about Kurt Cobain sticking a gun in his mouth and closing his eyes because he couldn’t get his high from making music anymore. I think about Jimi Hendrix doping himself on sleeping pills so he could just get some fucking rest, then never waking up at all. I wonder what Ian Curtis thought about right before he hanged himself. I think about the picture of Keith Moon that Tre has stuck up in our studio. I think about how hard he worked to get clean before he knocked back thirty sedatives and slept forever. I wonder if he found being sober as scary as I do sometimes. I think about Janice Joplin and I think about Jim Morrison. I think about them dying all alone, in strange cities, on their hotel room floors.

I think about whether I belong in their gang after all.

I think about walking my own path.

I kiss Adie’s hair.

I decide maybe that’s worth a try.
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Thanks to those who commented on this story, it means a lot. :)