The Stale Taste of Recycled Air


Billie's phone rang as we all sat in the restaurant. It broke the shrill silence that was being caused by Adele snarling Brittany wildly across the table. G and P had asked if they could go and eat with the Greek couple they met on the tour, according to G they 'didn't want to spoil the youngsters fun' when really that was code for, 'I don't want to have to face Billie again for a while yet.' I really didn't care, even if I hadn't seen them in a while, it was best for them not to be present when I knew in my stomach fireworks may explode at any second with all this tension.
Billie got up and left to talk in the lobby without listening ears.
"So did you like New York?" Mike asked me and Adele sipping at his beer.
"Yeah it was great; I don't think I could live here though." Adele answered tapping her fingers on the table cloth.
"No, I couldn't" Mike smiled before turning to Tre, "Did you see Ramona?"
"Yeah, she's okay, typical snotty teenager now."
"Is that you're daughter Tre? Aw I bet she is as sweet as Frankito." I cooed
"Yeah but now she has the 'attitude'" he grinned.
"Tre you've yet to drop your teenage attitude." Mike chuckled as the first course arrived at the table.
"Yeah well, you can't talk." He sniffed digging into his fish starter.
"Adele, err, Adele." Brittany coughed quietly, the first time her mouth had opened all night.
Adele looked up at her with un-amused eyes.
"Could you pass the salt please?" Brittany asked, coughing again.
Adele picked up the small jar of salt and passed it to her harshly without saying a word. I kicked her hard under the table, Mike was looking uncomfortable, and I knew that he was biting his tongue.

Billie came back, sighing through his teeth as he started eating his starter.
"Who was that?" Tre asked putting his knife and fork down.
"Simon from Adeline, I got to fly out to LA for a few days."
My throat lurched at his words.
"When?" Mike asked also finishing his food.
"In a couple of days."
I coughed and brushed my leg against his awkwardly; he turned and smiled at me.
"I just got to sort some stuff out."
I smiled at him, not wanting to show my disappointment as Brittany looked at me shrewdly.
The rest of the meal was spent on idle chit chat. Adele had moved onto drinking Steamboats, a lethal cocktail that specialised in Southern Comfort.
Dessert arrived and I eyed her worriedly as she hiccupped.
Tre smiled at her, clearly amused that she was completely pissed.
Billie's cheek twitched as he raised his eyebrows at me in anxiety.
Brittany coughed as she swallowed the first spoonful of her gelato.
"Too cold Britt?" Mike smiled at her.
"Just a bit, it's gave me a bit of a brain freeze."
Adele had lurched across the table glaring at her with a hate that scared me.
"Adele... " I began,
"NO!" She yelled, causing everyone on the table and on surrounding tables to paralyse in shock.
"Adele!" I shouted.
Tre was laughing silently into his hand, Brittany sat open mouthed at her, unable to register what was happening.
"YOU... " Adele began, "YOU BITCH, YOU'RE TRYING TO WRECK THIS AREN'T YOU?" She flung her arm towards me and Billie, Billie was smashed in the forehead by her unrestrained hand. He jumped in shock and Tre burst out laughing.
"Adele can you watch what you're saying to my girlfriend please?" Mike hissed through gritted teeth rising slowly to his feet.
"Mike sit down!" Billie snarled at his friend before grabbing Adele's arm and pulling her down to her seat.
"Now... " Billie began "I don't know what the hell is going on but you are drunk." He snarled at Adele with a hint of amusement in his eyes.
"Yeah drunk and disorderly, I mean I don't know why the hell she is here?" Brittany snapped folding her arms across her chest.
"She is here... " I began through gritted teeth feeling the anger rise in my body at this woman, "Because she is my cousin and Billie invited her."
"Can everyone just calm down?" Mike yelled as Tre still chuckled away at the end of the table.
"No I won't!" Brittany yelled at him.
"Don't start!" Mike frowned
"This trip has been shit! I don't know why I even came!" Brittany shot up and flung her napkin down.
"I don't know why you did either... OH WAIT YEAH I DO... TO SPY ON ERIN FOR ADI!" Adele bellowed.
It went quiet except for Tre snorting as he attempted to hold back his amusement.
"YOU BITCH!" Brittany hollered back throwing her napkin at Adele, "How fucking dare you. You don't know anything."
"I know too much." Adele growled back slamming the thrown napkin down and standing up.
The whole restaurant was now observing the scene and two waiters began to make there way over to our table.
I glanced at Billie who sat staring in silence at it all, looking desperate to hear more.
"You know fuck all kid, Adi still loves that man there, who has decided to attach himself to his CLEANER and dump all his shit on her, Adi is broken she was fucking DEVASTATED when he fucked Joey's teacher last year!"

I froze at her words. The world seemed to plummet around me. It explained everything, why Billie wouldn't go anywhere near the school, why his marriage had started to crumble. I made out the shapes of Billie and Mike rising to their feet and Brittany running from the restaurant, Tre freezing in disbelief, open mouthed as Adele lurched across the table towards Brittany knocking various cutlery and food on the floor.

When I blinked I found myself looking at Billie Joe, sitting back down with a tarnished face. Mike, Tre and Adele had left us surrounded by chaos. The waiters had begun to clear up around the table and the other diners muttered and turned away from watching the brutal scene that had just taken pace.
"Miss... "
I frowned, unable to function properly due to what I'd just heard.
"Err, Miss... excuse me?"
I looked up to see a waiter smiling cringingly at me.
"What?" I snapped, taken aback by my sharp tone.
"Have you finished dining here?"
"What do you think?" I snarled sarcastically.
"Well, there is the matter of the bill... "
"Here." Billie grumbled standing up and giving his card to the waiter who scurried off.
I stood up and put on my coat, he did the same as the waiter returned with Billie's card.
"Thank you sir."
"No problem... I'm sorry about... the Err... mess"
The waiter smiled sharply, "Thank you sir. Goodnight."
We both left the restaurant quickly, passing the mutters and confused looks from other diners.
The cold air outside hit me sharply and I shivered as Billie flung out his arm and we got into the cab.
"The Carlton on Madison." He sighed at the driver.

The silence was killing me; I turned to look at him as he chewed on his finger looking out into the night through the window.
"Billie." I softly spoke.
He jumped and turned around, his eyes glossy and filled with deep thought and despondency.
"What?" he asked quietly shifting backwards so we faced each other.
"Billie I don't know what to say." I spat out feeling utterly stupid at the need to fill the quietness.
"I thought I was the only one."
He huffed turning around again and clutching his face with his hands.
"Why do I mess everything up? Why does shit always seem to follow me around? I can never just have one thing and... " he drifted off and looked at me. The look in his eyes scared me, I couldn't describe it, I can't explain it, it just shone like adoration.
My heart melted.
I leaned across the cab and grabbed hold of him, rocking him softly in my arms.
"I'm sorry Erin, I'm sorry I'm such a fucking pussy who messes everything up, I never wanted you to find out, I know she said that deliberately, I understand if you hate me... "
"Billie Joe I don't hate you."
"Erin... I don't know what I'd do without you... you... you're my rock, you have been throughout all this..."
"Billie... "
"... I can't understand it... my head fucking hurts I... "
"Billie... "
"I've fuckin suffered enough for having a one night stand with that fucking teacher I don't want to loose... "
"Billie, seriously, shut up." I snapped as he stared at me a grin creeping across his face at my petulance.
"Tonight wasn't you're fault, I knew something was going to happen, its what happens when Adele gets drunk and things get out of hand."
"What about what Brittany said...?"
"Billie that has got nothing to do with me, I don't think less of you."
"But... "
"It was before I met you and ... "
"Erin... "
"What did I do to deserve someone as perfect as you?"
"You put Hazel in retirement."
Billie chuckled softly, "Its bullshit that you don't think less of me because I know you do... "
"We'll talk about this later." I whispered, "We have world war three to sort out first."
He moved closer to me, his piercing eyes daggering straight through mine, burning into my soul. His lips brushed my own softly and the fire that burned every time he touched me, ignited once more and I soften into his arms, damn him.