The Stale Taste of Recycled Air

The Rainbow

"He rang again."
I'd just come back from my first day working at the Rainbow Bar. It wasn't too bad as not many people come in during late afternoon shift to get rat-arsed.
"He'll soon stop." I sighed glancing at my cell phone that had been switched off for over two weeks.
"That's the sixth time he's rung today, he rang four yesterday and nine the day before. Will you just friggin' listen to what he has to say?" Adele asked.
"No, because I'm not falling for it. I don't want anything to do with him again," I snarled bitterly removing my shoes from my aching feet.
"You're just being stubborn now, I bet you're cell has overloaded with voice messages and texts from him."
"I don't care; I'm going to get a new one anyway."

Adele sighed and clicked her teeth at me.
"He obviously loves you to bits Erin."
"Bollocks," I snapped, remembering how he didn't follow me up to my apartment straight after our fight in the car.
"He's phoning to settle his own fucking conscious, it's all he cares about. Billie Joe is Billie Joe's number one priority."
Adele sighed again, "You so fucking stubborn it's unbelievable."
"Your face is unbelievable," I snapped.
"Stop being so stupid Erin. You're starting to bum me out over this shite, just speak to the guy for god's sake," She snapped, storming from my sight and heading for her bedroom.
"Fuck off," I muttered under my breath and burying my face into the cushion resting on my knees.

It had been four weeks since I had seen or heard from Billie Joe. He still kept ringing the apartment, I never answered the phone. I didn't even speak to G when she phoned, I heard Adele telling her what had happened over the receiver, the very mention of his name made me shiver.

I was working the afternoon shift at The Rainbow that day. It was empty apart from the four regulars in the corner talking about what I assumed was peanuts as they were shaking their packets wildly at each other. I was chopping lime and lemons for that night when I heard a customer sit down at the bar behind me.
"Just a minute," I politely yelled whilst I scooted the cut fruit into a bowl and wiped the knife. I looked up into the mirror behind the bar in front of me and a pair of familiar cheeky eyes met mine. My stomach plummeted and I whipped around at the man sitting at the bar.

"Hey Erin darlin'."
"Tre what are you doing here, who told you I worked here?" I snapped, folding my arms.
"I phoned Adele." Tre grinned leaning on the bar.
"I'll kill her," I spat, knowing fully well why she told him. I stared at the blue eyes sitting opposite me that my cousin dreamed of every night.
"Well I'm having a drink. Corona please, no lime thanks."
I smiled at him sarcastically and popped a beer and handed it to him.
"Cheers." He gasped after taking a gulp.

I took in his sense of calmness as he sat there in his suite, a dark purple shirt and no tie.
"Tre why are you here?" I asked already knowing the answer.
"Do you really have to ask me that?" He grinned.
"If you're here to try and convince... "
"I'm here... " Tre cut in, "Because I'm sick of Billie being a sick ass pussy all the time." I stayed silent but unfolded my arms. He gulped at his beer again, "get yourself one Erin."
He smiled at me as I popped my own Corona.
"Erin look, I heard about what happened and well, I don't know what to say to you. I can't defend him because what he did was shit but I did tell you that he was messed up."
I sighed, "Tre I... "
"Erin all I'm saying is will you please just hear the guy out; he hasn't stopped fuckin whining since."
"Tre he was fuckin kissing Adi. For all I know he could have been with her all along."
"Erin you know that's ridiculous... "
"It's not ridiculous Tre, it's been driving me insane, thinking about it all."
"Well at least just let him explain before you make up your mind." Tre put down his empty corona and I replaced it. He raised his eyebrows waiting for a response from me.
"Tre...I'm scared. I mean, if I listen to him, I'll forgive him. When it comes to the way he fuckin looks at me, they way he smiles at me. I can't explain he has this hold over me and... "
I broke off, not knowing how to put my thoughts into words.
"Erin," Tre spoke softly, grabbing my hand harder, "Erin believe me sweetie I know how much it fuckin hurts, It's happened to me, lots of times. Your heart fuckin breaks and it hurts, you hate everything and you can't fuckin get your head around it. It's better to talk, I know, don't you remember what I said to you? I'm always here for you Erin."

I smiled at Tre, my eyes filling up with his benevolence. "Tre, you're Billie's best friend... "I grinned wider at him, "For all I know you're a spy." I giggled wiping the few tears from under my eyes.
"Erin... " Tre smiled squeezing my hand and smiling softly at me with sad eyes, "I like you, I mean, really like you and I couldn't tell you how pissed off I am at Billie Joe, believe me, it's no use the both of you being miserable. I'm trying to help here."
I grinned at him as I sniffed, getting embarrassed at how emotional I was.
"Tre, I want to hate him, I really do, but know one has ever made me feel like he has, no one. He told me he loved me, he... "
"Hey love can I get four beers over here please?" One of the guys in the corner hollered over to me and I sniffed hard and nodded leaving Tre and taking over their beers.

Tre smiled as I returned to him.
"Erin, we're going on tour in two days. You have two days to tell him and please get in touch, I don't want a pussy ass lead singer with too much on his mind to do his job properly, we're catching the tour bus at the express station at half 3."
I sighed, "Tre, you're not going to tell him where I work are you?"
"Not unless you want me to Erin." He grinned shifting on the stool.
"How long are you touring for?"
"6 months." He sighed this time chugging at his beer again.
"That's a long time." I chucked the empty bottle of my beer away.
"It is, anyway, I better be off. I'm taking Frankito to the movies."
"That's sweet Tre, what are you seeing?"
"Some thing by the people who made Shrek I think."
"Aw I'd like to see him again, and Joe and Jake."
"They miss you, you know." Tre grinned standing up.
"Don't pull the sympathy angle." I cackled as he stood up reaching into his pocket and chucking a couple of notes on the bar.
"It was nice having that beer with you Erin."
"Yeah, it was nice seeing you Tre." I grinned.
"Well hopefully I'll see a lot more of you in the future." He winked leaning across the bar and ushering me in for a hug.
He pulled away and grinned at me as he left the bar. I stood half in shock half in relief that Billie may be suffering at least an eighth of what I am.

It was two days ago that Tre had sat at the bar in The Rainbow and I was sitting staring at the phone debating whether to ring Billie or not. Adele had gone out with her surfer dude again leaving me screaming inside my head debating on what I should do. Tre had filled me with guilt, a deep guilt that Billie would be worried and weary on tour. My mind had spilt in two, one side was a complete bitch spitting at me, 'he'll just get over you, he'll screw a load of groupies, you didn't matter to him.' The other side was the angel, shouting back at the bitch saying, 'he will be stressed missing his kids, and he told you he loved you.'
I eyed the phone like it was a bomb about to explode. I had to get out the apartment I had to go for a walk, to try and clear my head. I found myself walking down the street, glancing at my watch, 2:10. They were leaving at 3:00 if I remembered Tre's words correctly.

I didn't know what had stricken me but my feet began to walk to the express station. 2:30 and I was still walking, I began to doubt whether I would make it. I doubted why I even had begun walking here. What if he called by my apartment and I wasn't there? What if I don't make it and miss them? My brain thudded, it made sense, to try and see him before he left my life for a whole six months.
2:50 and I was still a good block away from the station, my feet picked up, my pace quickened and I found myself breathing hard as I walked. I could see the station in the distance, the shiny metal holding where a huge black bus and entourage were waiting behind it. 2:58, and I saw some cars starting and taking off down the street. I cursed loudly, whoever heard of fucking rock stars being on time?

Spinning around the corner I stopped in my tracks when I saw him in the distance, I saw them all saying one last goodbye to their families, Jason and his wife, Mike and Brittany and his daughter Estelle. Tre and little Frankito who was holding Claudia's hand tightly as his dad ruffled his Mohawk affectionately.

Billie was closest to me. He was hugging Joe and Jake tightly, he looked awful. He had tight black jeans on and a black hoodie, his face looked tired and from what I could see he was unshaven and worn-out. My heart ripped at the sight of him. My eyes darted left to see Adi perched on the hood of her Mini Cooper, arms folded sunglasses on and dreads bundled on her head. The boys returned to her and Billie gave her a distant wave which she returned in a small nod. He watched as the mini cooper drove off down the street and took out a cigarette and began puffing at it. He tugged a hand through his spiked hair and darted his eyes around like he was looking for something... he was looking for me. My throat lurched like I would vomit as his eyes moved to where I was standing; I jammed my hands in my pockets and sighed in relief as a man walked straight in front of me.

I watched Tre and Mike board the bus after Frankito and Brittany had left. Billie was still finishing off that cigarette. 3:05, I wondered how much tobacco was still in that Camel, how much time I had left to stop being a pussy and walk over to him. Just the very sight of him brought back a million different thoughts, feelings, and emotions. My legs wobbled as he took the fag from his mouth and stamped his foot on it. Turning around he took the first step onto the bus.

I froze, but my feet were walking, taking me to him. My head and voice was shattered, incapable of use. But my feet, my fucking feet, they walked and they lead me closer and closer.
He was on the second step, the third and final step; the door had begun to close half way cutting us off. My voice box was shocked into action.

He turned, shock on his face as the door shut in front of us. We both stood in shock looking at each other through the transparent screen. I took in his face, his unkempt hair, his grubby eyes, his sharp bristles on his chin.
He mouthed something behind him, not taking his eyes off me and the door opened. He descended the steps slowly and one by one, his mouth still open in shock, his eyes wide with amazement.

He swallowed as his feet stepped on the pavement in front of me.
"Erin," He gasped.
"Hey." I smiled shyly looking down at my feet.
"Oh Erin, I didn't think you'd come, I... " He drifted off looking me up and down like I was unreal.
"Erin you look... beautiful." He sighed jamming his hands in his pockets. I cringed at the compliment and glanced up at the tour bus. The whole of its occupants plastered to the windows watching with wide eyes and anticipation.
"How did you know when we...?"
"Tre," I stated calmly, looking back at him. His eyes burning into me, the urge to reach out and touch him, smell him, paralyzing my every moment. I shifted on my feet,
"Erin, I... I'm sor..."
"Save it Billie," I snapped, cutting him off. He looked slightly taken aback.
"I came here to say goodbye and to wish you a good tour." He swallowed again looking at me with confusion.
"I don't understand." He shook his head, "you never answered my calls, my texts or anything, why? Erin it was driving me mad.

Looking at him know I realized I needed time, time could heal, I needed to figure out what I wanted.
"I've come to say that you shouldn't worry about me and stop trying to contact me."
He blinked harshly at my words, "But Erin I... "
"No Billie, let it go, I don't want you worrying about this and making yourself ill."
He ran a palm across his unshaven face, I exhaled loudly.
"It's me who needs to figure stuff out and to be honest it would be selfish of me to make you wait around and question everything."

He nodded, "Thanks for coming today Erin. It was good to see be honest...I never thought I would again. much as I want to disagree... I know I can't."
I smiled at him and he grinned back.
"But Erin, if you ever change you're mind, if you ever, whether it's in a year or two or 12, I'll be waiting for you. I always will. I promise, we'll go to Iceland someday... " he chuckled sadly,
"I love you so much Erin, you made my life so perfect when we were together."
He leaned forward and kissed my cheek softly. The blood rushing to the area where his lips touched my skin. He grinned at me once again, that crooked toothy smile that melted a thousand hearts at every city he was about to visit. That smile that melted my heart, the smile that put a curse on me to forever love this man.

I watched him climb the stairs to the bus once more. The door closed with a CLAP! He waved at me through the transparent glass and I waved back, and standing on the corner watching that bus drive off down the street, carrying him away, out of my life, whether it was for good or not I didn't know.