‹ Prequel: Union


The Eve of Germanic Roses

“I will wait for you,” she said, endlessly.
“I will wait for you,” so spoke, misery.

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Rose woke up on the veranda overlooking her cousin's backyard. She was on a rocking patio bench, parked on her side and swaying in the wind that seemed to come from the direction of Hawaii and its neighbouring isles. Night was coming surely and the air was as thick as it'd been all day. She had her arms wrapped about herself though cold, but not. She blinked and licked her chapped lips with a parched tongue. She sat to get a look at herself, apparently noticing she was still guzzied up in her funeral attire. The respectably-aged woman trembled, unsure of a feeling she had in the pit of her stomach that she knew was not pregnancy.

There were red dixie cups strewn across the veranda like many people had been conversing on it and left the mess carelessly for either the host or the hostess to clean up. Rose stood up on high heels and knelt down to pick one up while the others scattered in the wind. She brought it to her nostrils and inhaled the scent of whatever the cups contents had been. It was beer -she confirmed with herself -- and it sure smelt good. Someone had been drinking it there earlier and whoever they were she shook her head at the disrespect for treating her aunt's funeral like it were some party.

She started into the house, the cup still in hand and her mind and eyes severely groggy. Her long and ominous hair blew over her bare shoulders, reminding her of who she was and what days of the year had finally arrived. She couldn't comprehend what life would be like again, it'd been so long...

She grabbed onto the door frame, opened the French doors into the house and stepped into a vacant kitchen. The house was alive with the sound of people, but dead in the sense that there was nobody in sight. She let her heels barely touch the floor as she found her way over to the kitchen counter to place the red dixie cup in the garbage can under the sink.

She looked out the kitchen window into the same view she had seen from the veranda. There were trees in the backyard, redwoods and palms. The ocean could be seen from this view on the hill, overlooking the world.

There were more cups on the counter left carelessly. Rose began throwing them away without much thought for anything except helping out her elder cousin. She worked quietly, once disposing of the garbage she started on a sink full of dishes, not even paying any mind to the dishwasher beside her. The water lathered into a hot soapy concoction and she dipped her hands in with a cloth. She began humming and the dishes one by one began to build up in the dish rack until the chore was done.

The rock star's wife dried her hands, smoothed out her dress and slowly turned around to the fate of being startled. Mike was standing almost directly behind her, adorned in a black arm-covering blazer. She looked into his soul and he simply gave her this nonchalant gaze with raised eyebrows and pursed lips.

"Mike..." Rose uttered.

"Hey," Mike replied, scratching the back of his neck nervously. His blue eyes turned grey as he raised his head toward the cloudy day seeping through the curtains over the kitchen windows.

"My mom," Rose uttered quietly and she fidgeted her fingers about the drying towel in her hands.

Mike's eyebrows raised further. "Huh? Your mom?"

Rose shook her head and was quiet for a short moment. She gazed down at her heels for momentum sake and smoothed out her dress again before turning toward the refrigerator where she began wiping it down with the soapy cloth she took from the sink.

Mike watched her ignorance, the sight of it made him laugh. "Aren't you even going to ask me about Holly?" he inquired suddenly, feeling his heart beat a little irregularly after doing so. He began to shift his weight back and forth between both his long legs.

Rose straightened her posture, she turned around slowly and looked into Mike's eyes. "Okay," she replied, "why Mike?"

"Would you be offended if I told you the real reason?" Mike asked, subtly trying to drop hints to what he was insinuating. Their conversation was growing intense, so quickly.

"Mike, we're just friends," Rose said seriously in a short whisper. She flipped her hair back ominously and then continued to wipe the fridge down, feeling unsure of what to do with herself.

"We're not even friends anymore..." Mike said, speaking a normal velocity. He watched the woman's back but she wouldn't answer him, just like that. So simply he left her with the knowledge that he would still pursue her heart at all costs. "Congratulations on the baby Rose," he said, emphasizing her name to let her know the event of her pregnancy was actually affecting him deeply.

Rose wasn't sure she'd heard him leave, but a presence had left and a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. She sighed and threw the dishcloth back into the sink from halfway across the room and held her stomach for comfort. There was a child growing inside of her, it was the seed of her husband and the man she loved. The whole thought of it made her glow, though coerced by Mike's rationality.

The stereo played low soothing music in the background, creating an ambiance in the atmosphere. Rose traced her footsteps into the living room where she found her original seat on the chesterfield. She was beginning to feel tired but her eyes couldn't stop searching the room, as if it were for Mike, her husband or the fear that her mother was somewhere about, ready to pounce on her for simply being herself. She tensed up; she realized how much she'd have liked the funeral reception to end. She sat alone, so alone because no one would talk to or even look at her. Her head bowed in disgrace, her skin turned so pale. She placed her arms around her stomach and let the sound of everyone conversing just drown out. No one paid too much attention so Rose took full advantage of just thinking about how nice her sleep on the veranda had been.

A hand sat on her shoulder and she was startled again. She jumped, but calmed without even looking to see who the hand's owner was. She was soothed and she let her back sink back into the couch cushions.

"You want to go?" Tre said, sitting down on the couch next to his younger partner. He scratched his head, and lent gently into her so that he may hear what he knew would be a soft answer.

Rose grabbed onto her man for dear life. "I'm tired," she replied, surely quiet, "and I would like very much to go home." Her eyes began scanning the room again, for any sign of Mike, for any sign of her mother. She was scared and she was admitting it to herself.

"Okay," Tre replied, really not taking much notice to a predominant fear that was in the aura of his wife.

"Oh Frank, is Billie asleep upstairs?" Rose inquired, looking up at Tre through her thick black eyelashes. He gave her a confused look and Billie walked out into the living room via the foyer as if on cue.

Rose opened her eyes widely, realizing she remembered something that hadn't even happened. She was remembering her mother. It hadn't even happened.

"Okay?" Tre repeated.

"Yes, let's get Michelle and leave," Rose said brashly, shaking her head in the most quizzical of nature. "I must be losing my mind."

* * *

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

The next morning, it was a Thursday. Billie Joe sat on the edge of his bed doing nothing but just staring into space. He was alone; Adrienne had left him to go buy a few things they'd be needing before the tour started.

It was raining mostly, but by the time it took him to stand up and walk over to the bedroom window the sun had somehow managed to find its way through the clouds. He placed his hand on the glass and the raindrops on the outside glistened like diamonds under his touch. The musician let his eyelids droop and his lips part. The condensation gathered under his short fingernails and he scratched the window pane enough to make the dragging sound of windshield wipers.

"What do I do, parents of mine?" Billie said incoherently, speaking like a linguist. "This is me, Billie Joe. This is me, your son." The singer looked down at the floor and let the crown of his head press firmly against the window, his black hair sloshed to one side and the sun made him hot. "I've done something horrible. I was responsible...I was responsible. I guess it's time for me to face the music and let them know how I feel. Let everyone know why it happened." Billie looked up, far into the San Franciscan Bay he could see off in the distance. He was truly on top of the world, a music veteran of twenty-five years. The world was at his disposal; he could go anywhere and live this fantastic lifestyle that he had created for himself.

Billie quickly turned from the window and left the solitude of his bedroom. He started down the stairs.

Think of everything you've accomplished
All the characters you've demolished

The musician walked into the kitchen downstairs but stopped in the doorway. He put his hands on the door frame and slowly looked around the kitchen. The counters were tidy, the dishes either in the dishwasher or already put away up in the cupboards. He smiled gently, he already had his assumptions and speculations that Adie had cleaned up before she had gone to the store.

He however was zonked the night before; the mere thought of cleaning up the aftermath of the funeral reception had seemed preposterous. When everyone had left, he had just found his way upstairs and crawled into bed without even undressing from his suit.

A thought came to Billie Joe and where he came downstairs for a cup of coffee had suddenly turned into a trip to his memorabilia room. He ran, if he didn't, his steps were surely hurried. He ran past the posters, the awards, guitars and other like things of importance to him.

There was a hutch, sitting in the median of the room. Billie came to it, he slowed and it was if he were walking toward something ceremonially. He stopped, he came to his knees. The hutch before him was made of a wood of a sort he wasn't sure. There were beveled glass panels embedded in the front of the cabinet, which beneath was a drawer. He looked at it and brought his hand to the drawer's brass handle. It hung loosely, the handle resembling the shape of a vine of ivy.

He pulled the hutch drawer open, the sun was shining in and a stream of dust flew up around him. It shimmered beautifully, landing in his hair and making him cough. He gazed down into the containment, there were papers and declarations to him all throughout the hutch drawer. He began moving them aside, totally unsure of what it was he was trying to find. He knew in the back of his mind what he wanted, he had forgotten the message she had left him.

His mother's death made him long to know.

And he found it finally, a card sitting underneath the rubble of his success. He smiled when he saw it, he just had to pick it up. He had it in his grasp, he grazed its edges again and again. He had forgotten what it even looked like, he hadn't set eyes upon it since possibly 1994 or '95. He was too intent on feeling his mother's love to put it away.

"Dear Son," Billie whispered and blew the dust from the card's surface as he slowly began to read to himself aloud. "Congratulations on your achievement. Everyday I can't find a way for myself to describe how proud I am of you. There are many people in this world that have accomplished things, but not one so great as you. You are the blessed son, I've always believed in you. Keep striving to reach the stars, even though you're already there." Billie paused, his eyes began to water but he contained himself and continued. "Dear Billie Joe, congratulations on getting your record deal. I know this has been very hard on you, but I just wanted to let you know how proud I am of you. I can't wait to see you on that MTV station. I love you dear, always, Mom."

The room was quiet, the house was benevolent.

Billie Joe smiled and nodded his head; he always was Mommy's little angel. "Thanks Mom," he whispered. "I know what to do. You tell dad, I know what to do."

* * *

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Michelle had a swing set in the backyard that she always played on. Her daddy had bought it for her older brother Frankito when he had been a toddler, but now it went to the use of her, his youngest child. The set was at an age of over ten years, rusted at the top and purely worn from sitting in the west coast rains. Michelle didn't care though, because this was her swing set.

The jovial 5-year-old always took one day at a time. Yester-month she was in Hollywood with her parents, the day before at a funeral and today simply trying to keep put whilst Mommy and Daddy packed up enough of their belongings to last about a year and a half on the road. The thought of a tour made her enormously excited, even though she couldn't be exactly sure yet what the whole trip was for.

It was sunny today and the only living descendant of Rose and Tre Cool thoroughly enjoyed the feel of her medium-brown hair soaking up the sun. It was so warm and from her young age she could already tell that Oakland, California was to be her home always.

She loved it here, aside from the part that she rarely ever got to see her 16-year-old sister, Ramona. The siblings were simply just too divided, and the youngest could feel it. She began to think of Ryan. Michelle may have been five, but she sure wasn't stupid. She was smart enough to have realized that as soon as her Daddy was around, her brother Ryan and his Daddy, Mike weren't about as often as they once were.

For the first years of her life she had veered to Mike as a means of having a father figure in her life. He had been great, she always thought. She loved him; she loved that he loved her Mommy. Michelle was too young in other sorts; she couldn't at one time comprehend the situation of lust between her Mother and her Father. It never had seemed to make much sense to her, but she had grown to love her Daddy as much as she'd grown to miss Mike and Ryan.

She had tired of the sun, she could feel her shoulders growing burnt and pulled a single strap of the Gap Kids tank she was wearing down onto her arm. She winced and ran to the protection of the shade under the veranda at the back of her house. Sitting on the back steps, Michelle looked out across the yard and began to memorize what it looked like, though unsure why.

She noticed the brown fence enclosing the yard, the red stripe of the swing set and the large angel garden statue she was never allowed to touch. Her Mommy had told her it was too heavy and too dangerous for such a small monkey. She was benevolent and always listened to her warnings with trust. Mommy was a busy woman, so Michelle knew that her cooperation was a good step toward making sure she was happy, when she sometimes saw Mommy sad.

Michelle listened; the engine of a car had started in the driveway out in front of her house. She began to realize that all her time of waiting to see what this tour business was about was soon coming to an end. It's hard to emphasize how eager she was for it. She'd counted the days 'til departure.

Daddy was in the driveway, she thought. He was getting the car packed up to go to the airport and Mommy was watching her from the kitchen window. The exuberant girl gazed up and across the veranda, surely, Mother was standing guard of her sweetest little angel. Michelle smiled at her and ran a hand through her shoulder length hair.

Life was so new, nothing made perfect sense ever, but a want for understanding was imminent.

Rose came out of the house shortly after twelve noon. The French doors from the kitchen swung against the gables of the window. She left them open and brought her bare feet to touch the deck of the veranda slowly. The 27-year-old woman looked at her daughter, the very thought of motherhood making her tingle inside pleasantly. She placed her hand on the railing of the deck and looked over the fence into what her daughter's upbringing had been made. She squinted her eyes to the sun, only life on her mind.

"Hi Mommy," Michelle said casually.

"Hey," Rose replied, biting her lip as she found a spot where she could lean up against the house and talk to her daughter. She let a few moments ride as she watched her daughter simply stroking her own hair. "I think you're going to see something tonight that will be very monumental to your life."

"What's that mean?" Michelle asked, looking down at herself and tracing her eyes around the flower embroidery on her jean skirt.

"You won't understand, monkey," Rose reasoned with her. "You'll always remember it though." Her daughter looked down while she was being spoken to and Mother looked at her with concern. "Are you going to miss your yard?"

Michelle shook her head without a glance upward. "No," she replied simply.

"No?" Rose repeated. "Well I'm sure you'd miss it if you knew the secret Daddy told me a little while ago." Rose was humored and looked down to hide it mischievously. She began to giggle the harder she tried to contain herself from divulging her smile.

"What?" Michelle asked, her eyes growing wide at the very mention of said secret. She looked up at her Mommy through thin eyelashes but with big predominant aquamarine eyes. "What secret, Mommy?"

"Oh, you know..." Rose said slowly, intending to let her daughter grow anxious, "...something about a tree house."

"A tree house!" Michelle exclaimed.

Rose laughed and held her index finger up over her mouth and hushed her daughter. "Don't yell it sweetie. Remember, it's a secret."

"Oh yeah," Michelle whispered, "a tree house. When Mommy?"

"When we come back home, honey. Daddy said he's going to have one built for you," Rose said, feeling very pleased with how excited the news made her daughter feel.

"Cool!" Michelle shot out again. She looked about, from the corner of the far lawn to the French doors leading into the house. There was no sign of her Father, no sign of anyone. "What tree, Mommy?" she squeaked like a mouse.

"I don't know baby," Rose said and she finally took a seat on the steps next to her young daughter, "Daddy's going to work it all out." The raven-headed woman hugged her pregnant belly and simply relished in the moment with her daughter that felt lightly sane in retrospect to other aspects of her life.

"Mommy, why does Mike make you sad?"

Rose looked down at herself, the moment of sanity had vanished. She had to bite the bullet and she did just that. "He doesn't baby," she replied. "Mike and Mommy just have a lot of differences that they have a hard time solving. It's like a puzzle with a missing piece, Michelle. A puzzle with a missing piece is surely a puzzle, because you can never solve it." Rose felt very pleased with her answer, it was quotable.

"But I miss Ryan, I never get to see him now," Michelle continued. "Was Ryan bad, Mommy?"

Rose smiled and brought her arms to wrap around Michelle. She pressed her daughter to her bosom and looked down and into her eyes lovingly. "No, honey. Ryan wasn't bad and neither were you. Mommy just made a mistake, but she loves you."

"You love Ryan, and Mike too?" Michelle asked, again warping into a typical 5-year-old with ten thousand questions to ask.

Rose grew uptight and too overwhelmed by what to say. She looked away from her daughter's gaze and threw her sight out into the San Francisco bay where it seemed the only mental place she could calm herself. The mere thought of the bassist again was making her grow impertinent. Rose wanted to tell her daughter to never mention them, wipe the names from her vocabulary, but she simply knew she wasn't allowed to do such a thing. And after all, this was only a thought. Real life had a lot more severity and a lot more turmoil that went beyond just trying to get a 5-year-old to keep their mouth shut about secrets a lot bigger than tree houses.

"Mommy?" Michelle said, her voice low and childish.

"Yes, honey."