I felt heard him sigh and felt him lay down, resting his head on my chest.
“Mikey?” He asked childishly, voice calm.
“Yeah, Beej?” I reply, not bothering to open my eyes.
“Do you think we’re ever going to make it? Or are we just destined to play places like Gilman forever?” I could feel the 19 year old’s gentle gaze observing me, but I didn’t open my eyes.
“I don’t know, but I sure think we have the talent to make it. People connect with your lyrics, B. They can relate to how you feel.” I reply, earning a pause from him. I know he is lost in thought, his emerald eyes shining with his thought process. After a few silent seconds, he continued our conversation.
“What do you think London looks like? Or Tokyo?”
“We’ll go there someday. We’ll see it all. And play a show too.” I say, picturing our adventures together. I opened my eyes and Billie had a smile on his face as he stared at nothing, gaze lost in the distance.
“I can picture it, Mikey. Us on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine. The hottest new band! Thousands of people will be hearing our music! Imagine, Mikey! You’ll get that bass you want, you know, that expensive one that fit you so well! We’ll be playing arenas bigger than Rodeo! Hundreds of people singing along, getting lost in the bass lines and guitar melodies. We’d travel the world together, you, me, and John. Like the three punk muskateers!” He exclaims, such happiness in his voice I can’t help but smile wider.
“Beej, anything is bigger than Rodeo.” I laugh, and he nods, eyes still lost in his imagination.
“And we’ll have families! With kids and a wife and a nice house with a pool, looking over the bay area.” He describes, sitting up and turning toward me.
“That sounds amazing, Bills, god does that sound amazing.” I reply and he nods, sighing. He lays back down, his head back in the same spot in the crook of my shoulder and neck.
“Can’t you picture it? Thousands of fans, screaming our name. We’ll be bigger than the Sex Pistols ever were. Our name will go down in history. After we die, people will be talking about us for generations to come.” He explains, calmer now, but voice laced with happiness.
“Generations to come.” I repeat, letting him know I’m still listening. He is playing with the callused skin on his hands, coming from years of playing guitar. I close my eyes again, relaxed in the cool air conditioning of his tiny home. The house was silent, filled with nothing but the sound of our breathing.
“Imagine it, Mikey…Just imagine. Our music will save lives.”
“Sure thing, Bill.” After a few more silent seconds, he continues.
“If I die before you, I’m going to make sure you know I’m alright, where ever I go.” Where the hell did that come from?
“I’d rather not think about that.” I say, subconsciously holding him slightly tighter.
“Alright, I’m sorry…”
Every single one of Billie’s words came true. We saw the world, Tokyo, London, Paris. We had wonderful families, amazing wives and kids, with a house overlooking the bay. We made it on the cover of rolling stone magazine and witnessed thousands of people flock to see our shows. We played venues that held more than six times the population of Rodeo (which amused Billie to no end). And everytime a kid came up to us, tears in their eyes and a Green Day shirt on their chest, thanking us for our music saving their life, he got that same childish smile on his face. That stupid, goofy grin that always spread to my face as well. As I sit here in front of his tombstone, reminiscing, I can only say my final words.
“You were right, Bill. We did it. We did it all. Just like you said.” I kiss his headstone, my fingers running over the engraved words.
I stood up and began walking back to Estelle’s car, letting a single tear streak down my face. My daughter looked at me sympathetically, tears in her own eyes.
“You okay, Dad?” My seventeen year old asks, brown eyes shining. I let out a shakey breath and nod, granting a weak smile. We climb into her car and as she starts it, the radio turns on.
”And now, a classic from all the way back in ’94, Green Day’s Welcome to Paradise!” The radio host announces followed by Billie’s loud guitar riff and young voice.
“You want me to change it?” Estelle asks, pulling out of the cemetery gates. I smile and shake my head.
“No, it’s nice hearing him again.” I reply. Its him letting me know he’s alright.
“Welcome to Paradise…” And for just a second, as I look into the review mirror, I sware, I see his emerald eyes shining back at me and winking. Just as soon as I saw them, he was gone.
“We did it, Bill, we did it all…”