When it happened, I could almost not believe it.
It had been clear for a couple of months by now. Ever since he fell sick. Stopped working, stopped jamming the drums with his friends at evenings, stopped carrying me in his arms when I ran to the door to greet him due to how strong he had always been plus the fact that I had always been too short for my age, and quite skinny. It had been clear since I had started to carefully half-open the door of the bathroom to hear my mother crying her heart out and forcing herself to silence when she thought I was playing downstairs with my siblings or dead asleep. Since my siblings and I started selling our most treasured toys or things, and mom took the full-time schedule at her job, and we still had not taken him to the hospital because money was just not enough. Since he started having troubles staying awake. Since he was unable to do things like drink water by himself, or sit up, or speak.
I was not even allowed in when he finally said goodbye. I was almost never allowed in, especially the last days. They thought he would get better, so it was not worth it traumatizing me with the image of him dying when it…when it would not happen. Was not supposed to happen. They thought I was too young. Ten is not too young, I insisted. I stopped sleeping with my teddy, I lied. No, they said. Leave this to the grown-ups. Well, only Marcy was grown-up. None of you are eighteen yet. No, but we’re not kids like you. I just want to say hi, I pout. He’s sleeping. He’s always sleeping…I’m not dumb. Sleeping is in the night. Yes, but he’s sick, and he sleeps during the day. Then, I’ll come back at night and say hi. No, he’s sleeping at night too. When is he awake? Sometimes. Then let me just look at him. No, Billie. Go away. No. Go away. No! You don’t understand what’s happeni- He’s my father as well! Let me in!
No, BeeJ. You’re too young.
Being too young did not allow me to say a last goodbye to him. Or at least let him know I loved him more than I had showed him over my first ten years of life. I could not show him the surgery I applied on teddy to fix its eye, or my report card full of A’s. Because I was too young to be let in.
I think that one is never too young to be allowed one last goodbye.
Last time I spoke to him was like two days before it happened. I convinced mom to see him. He looked bad. Barely spoke to me. Sometimes I asked him stuff, and he just smiled as a response, like old people do when they don’t hear what you asked, and think you just made a comment, and they are too shy to say ‘Come again?’. But mom kissed my forehead goodnight, promising he would be okay. I questioned all my five siblings all over night on what they thought, and they all promised me the same. I was not dumb…but I was a kid. And a kid has all faith, trust and hope completely new, strong, and unbreakable. So I believed it. I was not as upset the following day when they kept shushing me away if I tried to open the door of my parents’ bedroom, because I just knew I had to be patient, and soon enough, he would walk out the door himself and play with me again. He had promised to go see me at my first baseball game, which was by the end of September. So I just waited.
And the following day, the first thing I see when coming back from school, with my report card in hand, proud and eager to show it to everyone, was the bedroom’s door opened, and all my siblings and mom in there. She was supposed to be at work, and three of my siblings at school.
They had all called one another to come back home when it was the hour. None told me. None picked me up for it. They excluded me from the last breath my father was taking.
Because I was too young.
The shock was so stunning I still can’t remember most of that day and moment. It was all blurry, echo-y, foggy. I still can’t remember a day when my heart got any more broken. It was smashed down to pieces, to the point there were parts turned to dust which could not be fixed, found, or replaced ever again. Something died inside of me. Like he had done. Many think not sleeping is a manifestation of great depression. I think no. After such heartbreak, shock, and the endless hours of crying, one is left completely exhausted. Besides, sleeping is an escape; at least for me, it worked that way. I could not believe it. I did not want to believe it. Reality sucked; my family had lied to me, my father had gone away, the trust and faith were broken like glass for the first time in my life at age ten, and the worst of all was this feeling of betrayal of having been forbidden to enjoy my last days with my father by my own family. That was my reality. And it sucked. I did not want to be there, but I could not, not be there. Sleeping was the answer; I was not dead, but I was not awake in my reality either. And it was wonderful as it lasted.
I ran away from the funeral. It was too real. That was the only goodbye I had given him for all eternity. Standing dressed in black in front of a box. Like he would know I was there. Like he would be happy I was there. For fuck’s sake, I was not dumb; he was dead. When they all went “He’d be proud of you standing here”, “He’s happy for you giving him goodbye today”, and all of that, I just wanted to stick my middle finger up like I had seen adults doing when they get mad; he was dead, how could he be proud or happy? How would he know I was there, anyway? It drove me nuts to the point my head started throbbing the sensation of impotence; to know he was there, to have his body right at a few feet from me, and still totally, completely and absolutely unable for him to see me, to know me there. The anger raised. It raised until I got scared of myself; I was ten. I had no idea what was burning so intense inside of me. I had gotten angry before, but this was only something one could feel when growing up.
Which meant I had grown up in that moment. The child in me died, when the hope and trust did. When the heart did. I realized I had lost my childhood. The only thing left I was not angry with. And knowing that, the anger was joined by a huge fear, and a deeper broken heart. It was like a black hole had grown inside of me, behind the lungs, and started swallowing everything in its way, toying with the entrails and tickling them before slowly slurping them, torturing me. It was not until the coffin had been settled that something in my head clicked; run away. I still stood there, but the first little bump of ground they threw on top of the coffin was my trigger; my legs were moving before I knew it.
They called for me. Mom went after me. But I did not stop. I hurried. I tried to miss her. I tried for my mom to miss me. Got home. Locked myself in my room. Ignored mom calling at the door. Shouted things at her. Took a blanket, hid under the bed, and cried. Cried until I did not realize I had fallen asleep. Cried until my soul shrank and burnt inside of me.
David was who first treated with me after that. Believe it or not, I did not move from under the bed over that day, and the whole following one. I was hungry, but I did not want to get out of there. I was achy, but too focused on the inner pain to care. From all my siblings, I got along better with Dave. He was fifteen. He had brought some food with him. Slipped it under the bed. Got down there, slipped in. Called my name. Tried to make me do anything. Something. Prove I was alive, and not just sobbing, facing the wall, made a human burrito in a blanket. But I hated him. I hated all my siblings. I hated mom. At least that day, I hated them all. Because they took dad from me. They did not let me say goodbye, see him a last time, be there in his last breath. And I hated them all because of that.
I despised them from the heart. At least a couple of days.
Eventually, I started getting better, but things still seemed too hollow for me. It was the first Halloween I did not dress up to go around hunting for candies. I had been static all over the year to dress up like Darth Vader. It lost sense when no Obi-Wan was there to walk me through the streets. Christmas was too boring and empty. My family seemed to have noticed the harm they caused in me unintentionally, and the rest of my family from both dad’s and mom’s side seemed to notice something inside me had broken entirely, so I was who received gifts the most. Like I cared at all. No one to throw the baseball at my bat. No one to pat my head if I fell and harmed myself when using the rollers. No one to share the jazz music. No one to make me pout when I did not make it when playing basketball.
Well, I had two siblings, three sisters, a mother, lots of aunts and uncles, many cousins…but none were dad. And I, as the stubborn kid I have always been, wanted him, or I played alone. It was more of a caprice than anything. If he had been alive, I would have played with anyone else no troubles. But he was not there. And if they did not allow me my last days with him, they had no right to take his place. That was how I, with just ten years, saw it for a while.
No Halloween, no Christmas. I did not really enjoy New Year at all, and the return to classes merely sucked. Ever since the day, I had gotten quite distant with my friends. The guys I hanged with had left me. Or better said, I pushed them away. I wanted to know nothing about people. I knew it was not their fault that it had happened, but that something that broke inside of me had changed me for bad in a way, and even if I had fought it, I just could not manage to hang with people happily anymore. Kids my age worried for whether their half was winning on whichever thing we played (war, baseball, tag), and I worried for who was lying to me like my family did and who I was losing next. It was sick and twisted, but I could not, not work that way. It had been my first great loss. And it would stay as my biggest loss ever. But if it had to be, it could have happened when I was older; when I understood how tough life was. But they shoved how tough and cruel life was up my ass when I was ten.
The guys had gotten away of me because I had wanted it that way. And now I ate alone at lunch since the return to classes. No matter what they say, I think a kid can get depressed. Thing is, I had no idea what that meant. I don’t think I actually knew the word at all back then. But my state of living was just that; empty, depressed. It was not only his death, it was that plus all it came with. The unintentional betrayal, the childhood breaking, the broken hope and faith, the anger. I could have fought it much better, but I…hah. Ironic. I was too young.
My birthday sucked. More material gifts. None that could bring daddy back to life. Spring. More and more school.
May the first.
May the eleventh. It was a Monday morning at school. I arrived late like I had started to get used since the day. I got to the second period to know I had failed math once again, and Spanish. Like I cared anymore. Despite having asked my friends to go away, I cannot put myself as this clichéd child that suffers through school. I actually had nice classmates, no one bullied me (just a few normal mocking due to my height), and I did hang out with people every now and then, just never got intimate with them. That day was one of the many I spent eating on my own at the cafeteria. I picked a couple things on my tray and went to a lone table. They had taken the one back at the corner where I liked to sit if I wanted no one to talk to me. Luckily, there were still quite a couple tables left alone, so I went to the nearest one I found and sat there. My legs hung as my feet did not reach the floor at all. I picked the food with the fork a couple of times. Then, I buried it on the piece of steak that was there and I brought up the whole thing to take a bite of it. It was kind of rough, so I took the fork with both hands and started fighting with the entire piece of steak, pulling from it with my teeth as I growled.
I heard a small laugh.
I stopped and, without letting my teeth release the steak, I turned to the left a bit eye-widened, and found him.
He was a kid that looked my age. Probably a bit taller than the average, but nothing too scary or outstanding. Dark brown hair, messy but not too long. Kind, very kind eyes. Sad eyes. Not sad eyes as in, him giving off the essence of a sad guy. More like the eyes of a puppy; even if they are happy and live okay and play a lot and swing their tail, their eyes are sparkly and sad-looking and it just moves you. He was wearing jeans and a wasted yellowish hoodie, and I could see a white shirt underneath. He was holding a tray with all his food prepared. And he looked at me with a happy smile.
“Is that how you normally eat your meat?” he asked me. He had a very nice voice I memorized almost immediately.
I froze for a moment staring at him. God, it had been so long since I treated with someone new. And this kid looked so…friendly. So cool. Not cool as in the kid everybody wants to befriend. Cool as in, this kid that walked by half-unseen, discrete, but could be the best guy if you gave him the chance, without him being a ghost or a weirdo. I let go of the steak and my eyes went down but my head stayed up.
“Uh…” I let out for a moment. Then I looked up at him, a bit nervous, but I had always been outgoing. “Heh” I chuckled and gifted him a grin as I talked. “That’s not how it’s normally done?”
He laughed a bit. He still stood there at a side, smiling.
“Aren’t you the kid who marked the last run on the baseball game last week?” he asked joyfully, and I could not help some pride to build up inside of me, showing through a wide smile.
“Yeah” I nodded happily. “Did you see the game?”
“Man, I’ve always wanted to join the local baseball team!” the kid grinned and looked like many people do over their favorite things. “You know, just past Monday was my birthday, so part of my gifts was to go get me signed up for the team, and I stayed to watch the game” his smile widened even more. “Thanks to you, I saw the local team win and it was epic!”
“Wow, really?” I asked with a wide grin, suddenly forgetting about the evil steak that stayed silent on my fork in hands. “So that means we’re playing together? How old did you turn? What did you think of the run? You know, with that that I fell down by the home base”
“We are!” he grinned. “I’m starting this weekend! I turned eleven and-”
“Hey, I’m eleven too!” I interrupted joyfully. “That’s so cool, I’ve never seen you around before!”
“Same year? How comes I’ve never seen you before either!?” he exclaimed.
I shared some soft laughter with him, and I stared at him for a couple of moments more. He was still standing at a side, holding his tray. We stayed in silence for a few seconds. Everything went through my mind; my dad going away, putting my family apart of me, scaring my friends away…
They say that when someone exists your life, that’s because that space is going to be occupied by someone new later on.
“Hey” I called and smiled at him, but I doubted he understood the sparkle in my eyes as I did. “Lunch’s not eternal, y’know?” I asked. I looked at a chair at my side, then back at him. “Come on”
I smiled with real honesty. For the first time since the day.
“Sit with me”
Laughter. The sound of the tray. The chair. A hand.
“My name is Mike” he said with joy. “Mike Pritchard!”
Another hand. One grip. Shaking.
“Billie Joe Armstrong”
Two wide smiles.
Eight years passed since the day, ad seven since I met him and befriended each other. We grew up together. I had been taken from a childhood and teen youth without a father, but grew up with the most intimate of best friends somebody could ask for. He was the best out of the best, from the best. If there was a Nobel for the best friend in life, that would be him. We had become the dynamic duo of school, town, of all damn Oakland. As we grew up, there was no Billie without Mike and no Mike without Billie. We were like Batman and Robin, except we both were Batman.
We did mischief together, got in troubles together, and we were caught and chided together. We got dirty in mud together, and were gross together. Shared our favorite bands and songs, sometimes exchanged clothes for a couple days, appeared at one another’s house like it was our own, played together, laughed together, failed classes together. In all honesty, it was all a blast. As we grew up, we started sharing more and more things together; I had been introduced to music by my dad, and now I was introducing him. He was very interested on playing guitar, so I started practicing with him. Sometimes we sat at my bed each with their guitar, and after three hours, he already knew five different songs. We played songs together, and he eventually got a bass for himself. We jammed to our favorite bands together.
And we kept growing up. He was there when I broke down every September, and he was there when the anger and hatred exploded in me when mom brought home a new guy. I was there when his step-father passed away, and when he almost had serious problems with addictions. Ah, yes, half of the time growing up together was spent either drunk or high. But just for fun; not many times did we do it alone in a harmful way, though it did happen a few times to both of us. Yet again, we were there for one another if something serious ever happened again.
If I had had him when I was ten, maybe only then would I have coped much better with it. And if I had never known him, who knows how I would have dealt with life after that day.
We grew up from the dynamic duo to the unbreakable duet. From the little kids we were to a whole transformation growing up. I was still short for my age; seventeen, five foot six. He…well…five foot ten. His hair was brown and messy like I first met him, but his face had had changes; the cheekbones raised, and the facial expressions turned into what he was now; a teenager, young adult. He had gotten a pair of tattoos by then, and his hands were much stronger now. And he had…ahem…well…he had…he had grown quite well built up, okay? Like, muscles. Ahem. Uhm. Like…s-strong arms and strong chest and strong everything without looking like he went to the gym, because he did not. He just…enjoyed baseball and sports a lot.
He had grown up hot.
I was a skinny midget with awkward hair. I liked my hair, but I had this sudden idea of dying it black. It looked good, I think. And if well treated, it looked better. But recently waking up or sweating, it turned into an awkward half-curly mess. I, compared to him, was the weakling. Now I was Robin. No offense, Robin, but…well, he was tall and strong, and I was the bouncy guy of flat complexion. No butt like him, for example.
Not like I stared.
We grew up gay, for example! Well, not exactly gay. I was bi, while he remained pan. We had had girlfriends and boyfriend all over our teenage ages. I more than he did.
The teen ages are the years where you experiment the most, because it is this transition between childhood and its innocence and adulthood and its realism. And all of what’s experienced there, we shared it together. Not as in, making stuff together the whole time, but being there when things happened. Drugs, those were shared together, for example. The adrenaline of going on stage. This sensation of being in love was not shared for one another, but when we lived it, we were there to talk about it to one another, be there when it happened.
Sex, for example.
I started before he did. Age fifteen. A girl. He started a year later, a girl as well. It had been ‘straight’ intimation for a while, and as I started digging out my sexuality, managed to try out something with a guy, and dared to go further, I started dealing with guys when it was about that matter of a subject. I had to admit I was a bit more…cheeky when it was about that in comparison to Mike, but not even near to the whore chicks of school. I just…went for it much earlier in a relationship than Mike did. And so, when single, I did dare to get some at parties or random whiles with guys or girls I knew but did not want to treat in a relationship, and who felt the same way towards me.
What can I say? Twenty century.
And even though I adored the top, I had to admit that, with stronger or/and taller guys…well, I really wanted to be the one whose head got smashed to the pillow. It was not that I liked cloud-like, mountain-looking guys. Ew. But those who were slim, slender, and still had quite their strength and slightly marked muscles….well, what the hell, bring them all to me. Just…not at once. Brr.
For us guys, mainly but not only, it is quite normal, mainly in teen ages, to go for jerking off thinking of a friend. And it is not that we want to fuck this person; we just need inspiration, and sometimes, you have this luck of having quite…attractive friends.
And still, there never is guilt because you know you’re not serious, that they don’t know, and it’s not like it harms someone. If anything, you feel guilty the first times, but then you know all your friends do the same and you just keep going freely.
Pump, pump, pump.
I think that if you feel guilty, that’s because you really do care on what this person would say if they found out. Because you really do care.
“Oh, fuck…oh, fuck!”
Have you ever done it a thousand times and, one day, after years, you just…feel guilty all of a sudden? What do you think that means? That you stopped seeing them as a figure to jerk off because…because they suddenly seem to you as something much bigger than that? Much more worth that a jerk off?
The strong arms.
The sweat rolling down his skin as he played on stage.
The curves of his strong arms.
His strong arms.
“Ow, fuck! Mike!”
I had constantly dreamed of him. After the last break up on my eighteen years, I suddenly stopped fucking at parties with random school mates, and I stopped lying eyes on someone. Not even the cheerleaders and the young librarian seemed any hot anymore. Nobody caused butterflies in me anymore, and I had no one I wanted to chase after classes everyday until earning a Yes as an answer for going out. I just wanted to be with him. Follow him like a loyal dog. Be at his feet if he wanted. Bring him a lunar rock if he pleased. Kiss his toes. I wanted to make sure he made it home safely. That he ate constantly, ate good. Got enough sleep. That he was happy. I wanted to know he was happy. Healthy. That he lived okay.
More than my best friend and brother of other blood, he had turned into something abstract and divine to me. I felt to him like an angel to god.
I had no idea how he felt towards me. But I spent months like that. With eyes just for him. Indeed, maybe I had had years feeling like that and, scared of admitting it as he was my best friend, I tried to pretend that was not it; maybe that was why, if I was not in a relationship, I looked for a one-night-stand with someone…not because I wanted…maybe it was because I wanted to be distracted from Mike. Because I liked him. Because I…because he had made his way through my ribcage, set up a nest in my heart, and just sat there happily, and had no intentions of getting out of there. Because I was scared of something as big; because I wanted a huge, real, serious compromise with him, and I did not feel ready for that…so I, instead, looked for one night stands.
But now, after the hormones had settled down a bit, I could not keep it in any longer. And I just belonged to him in all ways and shapes. And he had no idea. Spent months not having idea.
My siblings were all grown enough; some had left home already, and the rest that stayed home but me had jobs now. Well, I had one as well, but it was only on Fridays’ evenings, playing on stage for a bar. But the rest had to work from Monday to Saturday, and the house was usually left alone with me in there. So for a year or two, it had become Mike’s and I’s base. That was where we had our jamming sessions the most, watched movies or TV, spent the while together. He did not like being in his own house, so mine had become ours. We used to either spend the while together or, like siblings, just be around even if not sharing words or spaces. He was as much of an Armstrong as I was when it came to being in my house.
One day, like when we were not jamming but just still learning a new song, we were sat on my bed across one another. This time, I had my guitar and he had his bass. We were playing by ear, so we helped each other on what we thought was correct, or when something did not quite fit in. We did not take long. An hour later, we had the whole song, so we spent another few minutes just practicing, laughing, being together. When we got tired, we put the instruments at a side, and we just spent the while talking. We lied on the bed, with the legs hanging from the board, laughing and sharing a nice conversation. He stood up and walked around the room. I stayed on the bed. He took a view out of the window. The conversations carried on and on along laughter and jokes. I stood up and went to sit by the desk. He stayed by the window. I went to get some water. He lied on the bed. I returned there. Sat at his side.
Wrong or not, it was no mistake that I did. Maybe we both knew it was to happen, and pretended we did not to the point we really did not know we knew. Or maybe we really did not know despite how obvious it was. Maybe I forgot to switch on the lights when the sun hid because I did not want to turn them on, and I did not know I knew I did not want.
He sat up. We kept talking, ignoring how close we were to one another. The conversation kept the same course, but the volume had gone down. The laugher was softer. We had been staring to the eyes at one another without realizing how easy it was for both of us, so much we did not even feel it as something deep until we realized what we were doing. He got closer, so discrete I did not notice. Or maybe I noticed, and I did not know I knew. His nose almost rubbed mine. The silence was suddenly marked. The smiles stayed on our faces. Our eyes were half closed. And his hand was suddenly on my neck, while mine to stay shyly on top of his other hand.
Our lips collided. It was soft at first. Just a touch, a caress. The discrete whisper of cotton rubbing on silk. The innocence we had lost long ago recovered for a couple of moments. The creation of a galaxy made our silence, peace, colors, mountains and rivers, no humans to fuck up the air.
We let go. Broke apart.
After staring at each other for more moments in the deepest of connections that were possible, our mouths collided. More than the creation of a galaxy, it turned into the explosion of a star. It turned heavier. Wilder. His hand slipped behind until staying on my nape as he brought me closer. I almost had an anxiety attack for I was fulfilling a dream of mine…but I also wanted to complete my fantasy. His arms. I wanted. I wanted to touch them. Slowly, trembling, with shyness, I moved one of my hands up…and carefully, finally, after a few years fantasizing with them, I laid it on one of his strong, beautiful, well built arms. My breath was taken away mid kiss and I stopped breathing in a totality when I did, letting out a tiny, almost unnoticeable little, pathetic, microscopic moan. And it seemed to have worked as a trigger for both of us.
Our lips attacked each other like they hated one another and were in war. Our tongues travelled desperately into one another’s mouth, and started battling like I had never, ever in life kissed anyone else before. And it was good. Indeed, it was so good we…just could not help it.
More than the slow, romantic, erotic love-making one expects with a desired, loved one, it was a messy pulling of clothes. Maybe he wanted to stop. Maybe I wanted to stop. But we did not. We desperately tugged at one another’s clothes, gasping for air, kissing like we had not seen a single human being in five years and had had no sexual contact during that while. My shirt was the first thing off. Still kissing him, I pulled him down on top of me, wanting to give him no words to recall how I wanted it to be. Instead of wrapping my arms around his neck, I held his head to pull it towards mine, desperate, needy for his mouth on mine, as he hurried with my belt and button.
He shivered, cursed in a whispered moan, and found his hands stupid. He could not focus on my pants, and instead did he go on for eating my neck and jawline. Goddammit. My weakness. As his mouth worked on that, his hips, impatient, kept rocking against mine like we were already in the act. His hands caressed my torso, worked on my chest and sides. I tugged at his hoodie. Unzipped. Threw it away. Took his shirt off. Threw it away. Had him rolling me on top of him. Both moaning. Both shivering. Both breathless. Both rocking hips. Both kissing.
A pair of jeans landing on the floor. A pair of boxers following.
Hands. Pumping. Mouths. Licking. Sucking.
I shouldn’t, he said. No protection? Do you want to stop? Sincerely, no. Me neither. Come on. It’s okay.
This was the explosion of a galaxy. To feel him inside, in a literal and metaphorical way. The heat. The intense heat that made me think I was at nothing of passing out, of melting, of burning. The ecstasy. The adrenaline. Having him coming back down after a while. His arms at the sides of my head. His mouth gentle on my cheek, his hips going animal against mine. My head back. The moaning. My arms caressing his back. His back. The strong, attractive back I fantasized of. Harder…harder…. Stopping. Rolling on top. The bouncing. The intense bouncing. The rocking. Kissing him, caressing him. Changing once again. The intense shivers down my spine when my heated back collided with the cold wall. The sound of him slamming against me.
The changing once again. The return to me down on my bed. Sweating. Him, lying on top of me, kissing under my ear. My arms around him, my hand gripping his hair, my legs spread at a side, him inside. Oh, god… The heat on my face. The intense moaning from both parties. Faster…faster! The speed. The incredible speed. The strength. That amazing intensity. The screaming. Loud screaming. The most last-longing, incredible, and fantastic orgasm I had ever experienced.
The Big Bang.
No pun intended.
We did not fall asleep together that night, made promises of eternal love, had him kissing my forehead while hugging me to his chest. For more adorable romantic stories are, they are…stories. Twenty century gay teenagers, real life. We spent a while thrown on the bed, wordless. Silent. Not even looking at each other. I was exhausted and kept the eyes on the ceiling. He was as tired, and stayed face down with the eyes closed, relaxing. After half an hour, I sat up. He did as well, and we started putting our clothes back on in silence. Once dressed, I opened the window for air to ventilate and take away the smell. Switched the lights on.
We sat there, awkward, side to side. I kept the head down, the forearms on the thighs. I sighed. Minutes passed by. His hand found my cheek. His lips found the other one. Softly. Way too softly.
“I care for you” he whispered to me. “It wasn’t just one-night fucking”
I turned to look at him. Smiled. The eyes went down, but the smile stayed. God. He always knew what was bothering me. He did not even need to ask me to know what I was feeling, anytime.
“…I care for you” I whispered to him. I was so serious about that fact, that the smile could not be present. “…so much. You don’t have an idea” I swallowed. Stared at nowhere at all. “…kinda scares me”
“BeeJ” he whispered. I looked at him. He looked at me.
He gave me The Smile. The one that reassured me, and made me know everything was alright. That everything would be okay. That he would be there for me.
I returned the smile with one of mine.
No kiss needed.
Just a hug.
Two wonderful years. Filled of joy. Filled of love. A fight every now and then. Sleepless nights. Cuddles. Filled of cuddles and kisses. Some balloons, some gifts, some movies. Much more jamming with our guitars. Lots of music. Some nice trips to many places. Wonderful sights. Photographs. Laughter. Laughter more than any other thing.
We spent that while as a wonderfully happy couple. We spent days together, and we also knew how to spend days apart. We had our own troubles on jealously which was eventually taken over, and we cuddled one another when we wanted and needed to. We also formed up a band, where we both were leaders, apparently. We dressed up awkwardly on Halloween, and we watched lots of movies (and porn) together. Burped together, were gross together, got in troubles together.
We were the same kids that met at the cafeteria, and the exact same teenagers that did pot at the back of school. We were exactly like the best friends we had always been, except we now owned each other’s ass and kissed one another and called each other awkward names. And I will not lie; it was the time of my life. I would have never guessed I would end up like this, for the mere fact of being the person I shared my romantic life to be Mike, if I’m honest. It was strange; the childhood best friend who grew up along you, side to side, now holding your hand. At first it even felt a bit like incest. Then it turned into something rather normal. And then, it just made me warm in the heart to think we had grown up together exactly because of this; because my hand had been shaped like the empty spaces in his.
They say that nothing lasts forever, so we never promised that. Instead, we promised each other to be there for one another for as long as both our hearts kept beating inside of our chests. Which was a much more realistic promise, which could not actually be a lie at all. We actually managed to fulfill that promise, in case you feel quite curious. We loved one another with no conditions, exceptions, distractions, betrayals, or wrong consequences, without thinking on forcefully completing the promise as it was not an obligatory task but a satisfactory wish that was born from the heart more than from the responsibility or obligation, ‘for as long as both our hearts kept beating inside of our chests’.
Did you know that for much alcohol you drank, your troubles won’t be washed away? And that’s not the point of an alcoholic, as it’s just a matter of a bit of common sense to know it won’t help in anything. The sweet thing of this is that you use it as excuse to feel better, when in reality you feel like crap. Indeed, there’s no positive side on being alcoholic; it doesn’t fix your problems, and it doesn’t ‘make you forget’, or ‘makes you feel okay’, or ‘helps to forget at least for a little while’. That’s bullshit, clichéd excuses on the reasons why one keeps drinking. Thing is, those are so used as excused, that you don’t know it’s an excuse and think it’s a fact, so you fool yourself thinking it actually works when it doesn’t. Psychology, bitches.
I had not been sober for two years by now, more or less. There was this incredibly ugly bar thirty minutes away of my house. Booze was cheap and good. And the distance made it good so that my family would not find me wandering around the streets all drunk. I always put up an excuse of going somewhere, even if we all knew already where I was heading to. But it was nice pretending none of us really knew we knew; that way they pretended they did not worry, and I pretended it was okay lying to all of them. Many people at the bar had friends and went there to have a good time. Some others went there to get drunk alone. Some others went to get drunk and tell their problems to the bartender. Nothing made me special; I was the kind to sit alone and get drunk until really not being able to recall what the hell, where home was, and having this need to throw up, thing I controlled good enough unless I overdid my already overdone dose.
I had been robbed thanks to that state of mine to be drunk many times, and I had been hit countless times due to how aggressive I turned when drunk, and idiot enough to think I could handle a gang on my own or a six foot tall guy with my bare hands. Only out of mere luck had I not been shot or stabbed yet, but almost.
It had been on a January morning. Mike and I had spent the night at his house, seeing as it would be alone. Already twenty, we had planned on moving in together soon, somewhere, seeing as we were and felt prepared to go for it, but it had not been possible just yet. We spent the night together. We had watched a movie until we got bored, and so we went on for what we enjoyed the most; music. It did last quite a while, and after that, we just spent a while together, cuddling, talking. Laughing, more than anything. After that came the intimation. Thing is, it was a bit weird. We did not go gross-talking and rough on one another, and even though it was not like in clichéd love movies that we barely ghosted one another and were so slow we did not even notice we were moving, it was quite…passionate. Very romantic if I may admit. And deep. A very deep, way too deep connection I had not felt any other day before when doing this to and with him.
It felt…amazing, and not just in the sexual way.
The morning after that, once we had already woken up, taken breakfast and had gotten dressed, we spent a while watching TV, him sat beside me. After a while, he recalled on headache. Knowing him, he must have had been feeling it for hours by then, but as he wanted to worry no one as it was merely headache, he just said nothing. Until it really did hurt on him. Spoiling him and still joking with him as we usually did when either of us fell sick, I took care of him, gave him medicine to heal the pain a bit, and had him resting beside me, the head on my lap. We stayed like that some more, and after his nap, he said he felt better even though it still ached a bit.
He went to the bathroom to wash his face. I smacked his butt as he walked away. He laughed and flicked off at me. ‘Love you’, I told him in soft laughter, and a sincere sparkle in my eyes. He opened the door of the bathroom. Smiled. Smiled sincerely, wide, with lots of affection. ‘Love you too’.
Spent too much time in there. Went to look for him. Got no answer from knocking or calling. Opened the door.
Did you know that Franklin D. Roosevelt’s last words were ‘I have a terrific headache’, before he died out of a cerebral hemorrhage not much later?
Mike had been drug and alcohol clean for a year by now. He never really overdid, he and I just did it for fun every now and then. But he had stopped eventually over that year and had managed to be clean for two or three months by now, as in, entirely. I had been his mate on it and had been stopping as well. It was rare of him to fall sick. He ate good, probably not the healthiest of eaters, but he had no bad alimentation. He got enough sleep. He was happy, and he had lots of fun every day. He was healthy. He had no reasons to have lived through that. His brain had no fucking single reason to freaking bleed like it did.
I had no idea on what was going on; he had not committed suicide. He had just gone through the bathroom. There was blood nowhere. There were hits and bruises nowhere. He was just there, on the floor, unconscious. What did you want me to think? I thought nothing. I had no idea what had been wrong. I just guessed it had been a very extreme headache that stunned him out of nowhere, or that he was very ill and had fallen unconscious. I would have never thought ‘Oh, yeah, those are symptoms of cerebral hemorrhage’, who in this world thinks that but fucking doctors? Obviously, I had no idea, but even if I had had, there was nothing else I could do other than call for an ambulance. They did not take long arriving, they took him and me away, and he finally died either in the hospital room or in his way there.
A doctor merely approached me, called for me, and gave me the bad news. I stayed shocked and asked her again what the hell had she said. She repeated. Shaking my head no and taking my time again, I asked her if she was okay or if she was mistaking my diagnostic and patient for someone else’s. She called his name, called mine, called the reason, said he had passed. Stayed shocked. Whispered for her to say it, to say it was a prank. She shook the head no. I asked her to say it. Snap it out in the clearest of ways. That was when she said the word.
When it happened, I could almost not believe it.
It had not been clear for any time. We had no single idea it would happen, not him who owned his own body and knew what was going on inside of it, and even less did I have an idea of what was going on inside of his head. It had not been any clear. It had not been obvious. It had been a very huge surprise for both of us.
When they gave me the news of what had happened to him, I took a bit of my time, until I realized that this time I was taking, had been spent forgetting how to breathe. The shock plus not breathing, though I think it was out more of the shock, just helped me to nothing good; just helped me get a hold of the wall, lose my sense of hearing as noise just turned into something echo-y and distant, and slowly lose my sense of sight, as it turned blurry and confusing. Last thing I heard was the doctor calling for a nurse as I was ‘passing out from shock’, but my brain did not swallow the information at all. Then there was just a Beep as the only sound I could hear. I saw a very blurry lump dressed in white which was supposed to be the doctor turning to me, and catching me just as I barely let go of the wall and my knees went weak.
Next thing I knew, it was either all black, or a blurry image of reality, catching just a few seconds of moments; the ceiling and people of the hospital hovering over me, for example. When the shock, talking medically, finally went away, I woke entirely up in a hospital bed at the emergency room, like the one they use for things that don’t go as serious and people leave as soon as possible. Still eye-widened and slowly recovering my sense of ear, I was still emotionally shocked to really do much. I could look at the nurse who was taking care of me, with my wide-as-plates eyes, and see her lips move, but even if my ears caught the noise and words, they never made it to my brain. I could not ask her to repeat, I could not tell what she had just said, I could not nod or shake my head in response, I could not even stand up.
Only Zeus knows how long I spent there. And when I had been able to move and stand up, talk and hear, I was allowed to go see him. I was not there in his last breath. I was not there in his last moments. Because I was not a doctor or nurse to be allowed in the room. Or maybe I was there with him in his last breath, in the ambulance, and I did not know. Or maybe even before, and I did not know. Because I was uncertain of when exactly did Death arrive for him. I only know it was a surprise. For me. For him. But he did not know he had been given a surprise; he would never know. Maybe when he felt he was falling unconscious, he knew it was just sleeping; getting sick; waking up hours later in his bed, with me slapping him, saying ‘Goddammit, Mike, don’t scare me like that!’ and spoil him.
I ran away from the funeral. I was hurt. Deeply hurt. I had lost my best friend. The one who walked by my side for nine years, almost every single damn day of them. I had lost the love of my life. The one I discovered when eighteen, and the one I loved until twenty and much further that. I had lost the brother of other blood who had been my bandmate, my classmate, my mischief mate. I had…I had lost my sweetest treasure. The biggest one I had. I was hurt. Deeply sad. They say a grown man can fall depressed, and I think that’s true. No matter how bouncy and hyper I always was, I was still human and could get deeply depressed. And there was no other word to describe it.
I was angry. Angry because the world did not even warn us. Did not even prepare me mentally. Did not hint a single bit. I was angry because the world took him from me without even apologizing, without warning, without making it soft or anything. It just killed him in the bathroom.
It had been the second biggest loss of all my life. I could barely stand one and get out of it okay. Two of them…they ended up murdering every bit of hope I had inside of me. The joy was all gone. Life had suddenly lost its sense; I found no joy on anything. None of the instruments I could play healed my pain, calmed me down, made me happy. No TV series did either. No any other way of art. No poem. No beautiful sight of outdoors. No games. Nothing. It had suddenly lost all of the possible senses. It sucked. It really did plain suck. So I went on for what was easiest and what Mike and I had promised to never do; overdose. On many things; on ugly thoughts, on sleepless nights…and mainly, on pills and powders, and alcohol. Alcohol more than anything.
Only once did David walk in on me with the paper in my hand that connected the powder on the table to my nose, but he slammed the door back closed out of mere reflex, and gave me time enough to hide everything before he really reacted this time and walked in to give me one good scolding. A couple of times did my friend Jason fond me with the LSD already on my tongue. Many times did people witnessed me high on pot. None found me overdoing on the pills for depression the psychiatrist noted me, but Holly and Marcy did once find me each thrown unconscious either on the floor or half on the bed half on the floor out of doing it. How close had I been to death those times…and how hard did it refuse to take me.
You’re so stubborn, Billie Joe…it is still not your time. I’m not taking you. When will you understand?
Why not? You took him. You took them. I could go too.
What they found me the most, though, was drunk. I used to arrive home like that if I was not doing any drugs. It was a very rough mess. Allan and David had to go look for me countless times at nights when I was still not home, and they usually found me wandering around town or thrown sleeping in an alleyway, out of my senses, stinking.
That one night, no one went to look after me, though, as they had no idea I was out. It had been the first time I sneaked out like that; I used to cheekily say I was going out and exit through the main door, but this time, I just sneaked out while they were around the house. I left a recording of myself playing guitar on eternal repeat and the door closed, so they would think I would be spending my next five hours just playing guitar and not answering at the door because I did not feel like it. Two years had passed since the day, and twelve since that one other day. That night, I wanted no one to find me. And so my family did not went to look for me because they thought I was home.
It was snowing. It was January, almost February. I went to get drunk, like usual. I paid the usual, drank, cried a bit, paid, drank, paid, drank, and so until I did a bit more than the usual. Got more than drunk enough. Walked out of the bar. Walked normally, I did not really lose my sense of balance until I had gone a few miles away. That day, the snow confused me. It was not like I had not walked through the streets heavily drunk while snowing…but maybe I was too in my thoughts, or maybe my drink had something in it, and I just got lost some streets away. Or maybe I just wanted to get lost, and did not know I wanted.
Any or other way, I ended up walking by some place kids of the high school nearby sometimes went to for some fun or whatever. A club, or a videogame stop, or a restaurant, I don’t care what was there. I just knew senior-looking guys and girls sometimes stopped by. Nothing called my attention specially that night. There was almost no one there. I kept on walking, and at the other side of the street, I could see a kid walking out of the store being bullied by tougher guys. Maybe it was actually a girl, or a very girly boy. Did not care. Kept on walking. Looked at the sides, tried to make out which way leaded home. Took the path on right. Started stumbling, lost sense of balance. What the hell is going on? I kept on walking, and walking, then turned left. Well, this was not funny.
After a few more stumbling and walking, I growled and yelled out in a slurry, pathetic way, as I kicked the snow at my feet. I started cursing loudly. Kept kicking the snow, people walked by and got away of me, staring at me, hurrying not to be seen by the aggressive drunk dude. I kept kicking everything, and then I looked at my side to find a closed church. You think it’s funny, huh!? You think it’s cool to go ‘round kil-hip-killing people, like we’re ants!? You think you’re funny, huh!? Huh, you, motherfucker!? I took a good pile of snow, and started throwing it to the church, aiming for the cross on top of the doors. What’s your fucking problem!? I’m a fucking American man who can’t go ‘round making friends, because you kill them! Throwing snow, throwing more snow. You think this is a fucking joke? Huh!? Do you have an idea of what pain is!? Do you!? Do you!?
Kicking snow, I tried to turn around and take more snow to throw at the building, but I stumbled upon my own feet and fell down. I did not even try to get back up for some moments, I just stayed smashed down on the floor I pulled my head up to breathe, and I cursed under my breath. Fuck, snow is cold. I tried to stand back up, but I only managed to walk a few meters when I stumbled again and fell, nearby an alleyway. I was sure somebody had called the cops by now, so I crawled a few feet into the alleyway like it would save me or hide me. Once there, I stayed thrown on my side, coughing a bit. Well, what the hell, I was to throw up. I tried to contain it and hipped a few times. When I managed to sit up, I only grumbled a bit, held my head, and then my eyes caught a sight of it.
A guy. Or…a girl?
I kept my eyes on where I had last seen that person. He or she had been staring at me with curious but not disgusted eyes, and when they caught me staring, they tried to hide behind a stall. After a few moments, this person discretely looked at me again, and this time they did not care I was staring. I gave them a frown of confusion, of questioning. And, like they had no fear at all, they got out of their shy hideout and started slowly heading towards me.
The guy or girl looked like a raven in so many black clothes. The boots, the pants, the belt, the hoodie, and the coat, all black. Ah, and the hair; so jet black it was almost blue under the light. And to fit the sick and goth air to this person, the skin so pale for a moment I thought this was death or an undead finally coming for me, so I flinched and looked at him with a bit of fear. He looked like an incarnation of death. A very, very beautiful one. Maybe that was why I could not distinguish the gender; it was not that the hair rubbed the shoulders, or that the waistline was a bit marked, or the walking quite girly and boyish at the same time, but that this was not human at all and had no gender either.
When this person got closer, though, I could make out it was about a guy. A very girly one, by the way. He had long, long eyelashes. One did not need to look closely at him to tell so. And beautiful, sparkly eyes, but I could not recall the color of them. He was getting closer very carefully, but not like I was to attack him. When he got closer, I really could not recall what his intentions were, as his mouth was hidden under a scarf of black and grey strips. Once close to me, he tried to lean down towards me, but as he did, I frowned and, like an animal, I growled. He back off a few steps, stayed still, and then giggled lightly. Giggled.
“It’s okay” I heard him whisper. He had the….sweetest voice I had ever heard. It had been so much like hearing an angel, like hearing the voice of peace itself, that it brought me almost completely out of my drunken state. I stared at him with wider eyes and stayed still. Then, he got on his ankles and got closer to me once again like that. “I’m not going to harm you”
“I’m not a street kitty you’re taking home, fucker” I barked at him, but I could not yell at him. I could not. He was too sweet looking. Too beautiful. Too beautiful, too stunning in comparison to everything or everyone I had seen before. “Get lost”
“What’s your problem?” He asked but it did not seem to be a question to my attitude. It was more like he…like he was interested on what my problems really were. He look at me with the innocence of a little child, tilting his head lightly to a side, and blinked. “Did you just lose someone you love too?”
Words got stuck in my throat, and as more and more of them tried to make their way out but got stuck in my throat, they eventually formed a huge knot in their place which almost gagged me as I tried to talk, but only managed to open and close my mouth a bit as I stared at him. My drunken state had almost passed away from only treating with his guy, and I still could not come up with an answer. He looked at me with those innocent, huge and sparkly eyes. Hazel. They were hazel. His nose was so pretty, and his cheeks stayed slightly, slightly pink under the freezing weather. And his eyelashes…gosh, I was surprised he did not cause tornadoes with every blink he gave. My eyes travelled around his face as I still tried to talk, but I just could not.
Twelve years…two years…
He kept staring at me with innocence, expecting an answer. By the time I noticed, my sight was blurry again, but it was no alcohol effect. Tears drowned my eyes, and all the anger had faded into darkness. A huge, huge sadness took over me and my sensations. My fingers tickled under the depression, and my lungs worked hardly being squeezed by pain. My tongue tasted depression, and my whole soul had suddenly fallen into a pool of sadness. Before I could reply at all, he moved a hand up and placed it softly on my shoulder. I stared at it, and more tears came to my eyes. No one had reassured me with such honesty before. They had done so many times, but after the first six months, they started doing it out of protocol, not pity. And this guy…had walked up to me just to act as a psychologist. He was interested.
His hand eventually moved again and caressed my cheek very softly. The contact of his glove against my freezing cheek caused shivers in me, and such huge demonstration of affection in a very stranger-to-stranger way caused my heart to get squeezed so hard it hurt. It hurt deeply. Could not contain it, and I just closed my eyes as tremendous rivers of tears started making their way out. I sobbed like a little girl. I tried to stutter out the answer, but words had totally gotten stuck in my throat.
“It’s okay” he told me softly, and as he said that, he started taking his coat off, and wrapped it around my shoulders as I curled up in a ball not in coldness but in pain. I sobbed once again, and before I could open my eyes at all again, all I felt was his arms rounding me. He pulled me towards himself, rested me against him, and hugged me strongly, very strongly.
I whimpered a bit, and just started breaking harder in tears in his arms.
He smelled like…cigarettes. And under it, there was some coffee. And under it, there was the sweet smell of a wonderful human being.
“There, there, it’s okay” this seventeen-year-old-looking guy said sweetly at me, never letting go of the hug for a good amount of minutes I spent crying on his shoulder. After I had calmed down a bit, he drew small circles on my back with his open palms, and shushed me. Once I did but not helping it but sob a bit every now and then, we broke the hug. My head stayed down, and he gripped my arms softly. He moved a hand up to remove some of my hair from my face, and he smiled widely and very cutely at me. “You okay?”
“…y-yeah…” I said in a broken voice, and looked up at him, still crying slightly.
“There…it’s okay” he said softly. “Life can get tough…just try not to fall down again, okay?”
I did not reply. We spent some moments in silence, and my gaze stayed down. I would not say yes because it was not that easy, and I could not say no because I was no loser life could fuck before I fucked it first. After that, I looked up at him, and stared at his pretty, beautiful hazel eyes.
“You…reminded me a bit of myself…” he whispered, and his gaze went down even if the smile stayed on his face, a bit sad this time. “…don’t want you to end up like myself”
I blinked. I was not sure I could understand fully what was happening ever since he got close to me. I stared at him in disbelief and confusion, and he just chuckled with sadness. A bit lost in his thoughts for a few seconds, he soon looked back at me, and sighed.
“…let me take you home, yeah?” he whispered in a much more serious but still very sweet way. I looked at him, then down and up like scanning him. His raven black hair…and his beautiful pearl-like face…and his slender frame, all dressed in black. And his coat around my shoulders…his pretty eyes…
They say that when somebody exists your life, that’s because that empty space is going to be occupied by someone new.
I, slowly and a bit in shock, let my gaze go down, and I nodded shyly.
“Come on…” he offered as he got on his ankles again and offered me his hands. I accepted them slowly, and let him carefully pull me up so I would not get dizzy if I did it too fast in my half-drunken state. I stumbled very slightly a bit, but he held my arms until it passed. He wrapped an arm around my shoulders, and let me walked leaned on him a bit.
Suddenly, I knew my way back home.
“Oh, my bad” he said with a faint blush on his cheeks. “I’m Gerard…Gerard Arthur Way” he greeted, like it was his every-day-thing to go around making friends out of drunken people who throw snow at churches and hide in alleyway.
I shivered a bit as we kept walking. I blinked a couple of times.
“…I’m Billie” I said back, and we both stopped walking for a moment to look at each other. I smiled with sadness at him, and my eyes drowned in tears again as I looked at this not-so-stranger-anymore.
“…Billie Joe Armstrong”