Everything He Knows



Disclaimer: I made the whole thing up, except for the parts that I borrowed from the movie Hard Core Logo.

Notes: This took a lot of help and handholding. Major thanks to sageness for incredibly thorough beta work, for making me actually think about what Billy would do, and for lots of listening and brainstorming. Clueless also gets tons of love for her betaness and for her encouragement and confidence-building skills. Any mistakes, crappy word choices, and/or out-of-characterness are fully and completely my fault. Really, they did the best they could.
Lots and lots of hugs and kisses to those who have been forced to listen to me bitch left and right about Billy and Joe, especially Dira Sudis, Rachel, JustBreathe80 and jcjoeyfreak.



The first one that Billy found was actually the last one that Joe had written, not that he knew that. Billy was in the airport, waiting for his flight to LA--the flight that couldn't fucking come fast enough--and trying to scrounge up enough ready cash to get a cup of coffee. He put his hands in his coat pockets and pulled out a dollar bill and a piece of paper. Billy looked at the dollar triumphantly and shoved the piece of paper back into his pocket.

Billy took his cup of coffee and sat down, savoring every sip. He hated waiting. He hated waiting in airports. Especially airports in Canada. He just wanted to get the fuck out of there. Back to LA, where he had a job lined up. A good one. With a band that was already somewhere and would be going even further.

Billy leaned his head back on the wall. He put his hand back in his coat pocket and felt the piece of paper again. He pulled it out and looked at it. And started laughing. It was just torn piece of plain white paper with black ink on it. All it said was:


Dear Billy,

Fuck you.

Love,
Joe



And wasn't that just like the fucker? Billy's eyes scanned it a couple more times, and he kept laughing. Joe was a fucking genius with words. This was pretty damn eloquent, if you thought about it. Got his point across anyway.

Billy studied the note for another second, then refolded and put it back in his pocket. He shook his head and took another sip of coffee. And then--thank God--came the boarding call for his flight. The one out of Canada and away from all this mess.




The second letter came about a week after Billy had gotten back to LA. He was just getting home from a session with some other band Ed Festus managed. They were all right, both as a band and in general. But one of the reasons Billy was so happy about this Jenifur deal was that he could stop doing all this fucking session work. It was so damn limiting. It was all, "Here's what we need you to play, no need for improvising or improving." It was easy and paid well, but it took no imagination and bored him to fucking tears.

Billy headed for the kitchen to get a glass of water and then flipped through the mail he'd brought in with him. There was only one envelope that seemed even remotely interesting, although Billy tried to tell himself that it wasn't because the postmark said Edmonton and that was where-- He ripped open the envelope and pulled out a piece of notepaper and another envelope. He looked at the paper first.


Mr. Tallent,

After Hard Core Logo played here a few days ago, I found this envelope addressed to you. I don't know what it is or if it's important, but I thought I should send it along.

Sincerely,
Tony Kinsella
Manager
Starfish Room



Billy picked up the other envelope. It was still sealed and addressed to him at his current address. In Joe's handwriting. Fuck. Billy froze and just stared at it for a minute. How did Joe even have his fucking address? And why the hell would he have wanted to mail something to Billy? Billy gave himself a mental shake and then tore that envelope open too.


Billy,

See, here's the thing. I know you think this is all about Hard Core Logo and how I fucked up before. But it's not. It's about shit that never got said. I know you know what I'm talking about. And you don't feel the same. That's ok. I get that.

But you gotta know how I feel. You gotta know why this isn't working and why I'm going. Look, I love you, ok? I have since we were dumbass kids in a band called Peckerhead. I'm in love with you, you stupid fuck. And it just doesn't fucking work without you. Nothing does. So I'm leaving and then you can leave and no one will have to be mad. Now's your chance to go to the States and play with Jenifur and not have anyone bitching about it. So go take it. Ok? Good luck, man.

Joe



Holy fuck. What the fuck was that? Billy reread the note a couple of times and then stared at the words until they all jumbled together. Jesus Christ. Joe always did know how to turn the shock value up to eleven.

But who the fuck was Joe Fucking Dick to say how Billy fucking felt about anyone or anything? Joe Dick didn't know shit. Jesus fucking Christ, maybe Billy couldn't play in a goddamn band with Joe anymore, but that didn't fucking mean the dick should go shoot himself in the fucking head. Billy picked up the nearest thing to him--a glass ashtray--and hurled it against the wall. Ashes and glass scattered everywhere. What a fucking dumbass. Motherfucker. Billy's empty water glass ended up next to the ashtray.

Billy crumpled the letter up and threw it into the pile of glass and ashes. Then he stalked out of the kitchen and went to pick up his favorite guitar. He plugged it into the loudest amp he had and cranked up the volume.

At least the music would always be there.




The third time, months later, it was FedEx instead of the postal service. Billy came home from a late rehearsal and the box was sitting beside his door. He put it on the coffee table and ignored it while he went through the routine of food, drink, and shower. Finally he sat down on the couch, lit a cigarette, and opened the box. It was from Canada again and addressed to Billy Boisy. It wasn't very big.

There was a note on top and four notebooks underneath. The note was from Joe's sister. She'd been going through Joe's stuff and thought Billy might like to have the books. She said they probably belonged to him as much as Joe. Whether or not he'd seen them all before, Billy recognized them. Joe's notebooks always ended up with tattered covers and doodles and pictures--mostly obnoxious and obscene--everywhere. Inside, there were more drawings, decorating pages of lyrics, phrases, and chords. Whenever they wrote together, Billy relied on Joe to write it all down, since Joe could actually read and write music.

Billy flipped through the first book. Shit, this was what he and Joe had been working on just before the whole Seymour Stein incident. The last third of the notebook was blank, except for a random page towards the back. Billy pulled out an old receipt that was marking it. From a Vancouver liquor store. For one big-ass bottle of Jack. The date was about eight months after Billy had left to try his luck in Seattle and then LA.


Dear Billy,

You're so fucking stupid. You just can't fucking be satisfied with what you got. What the hell didn't we have with Hard Core Logo? We had everything. You just couldn't ever tell. You're fucking blind. Fuck, man, you know that signing with that cunt Stein would have been bad. Shit, we just would've been another dumbass wanna-be punk band that sold out.

Don't you get it? Did you ever get it? Shit was GOOD. WE were good. If you'd just fuckin told me shit, maybe it wouldn't be like this. I've known you since we were thirteen. You're the best fucking friend I ever had. When the fuck did you stop talking?

Look, here's a fucking example, ok?

Billy, I'm leaving. I'm not coming back. It's your turn to fucking wait.

Joe



Billy picked up an empty glass that had been sitting on the table and studied it for a moment. He considered putting it against the wall, but at the rate he was going, he was running low on glasses. Fucking hell. The glass went anyway.

This communication from beyond the grave shit was getting old. If Joe maybe wanted to tell Billy that he missed him or what he thought of Jenifur's music or some shit, that might be ok, but Christ, this shit sucked. Billy paged through the other books to see what else Joe had to say, but found nothing new.

Billy sat back on the couch, lit another cigarette, and closed his eyes as he inhaled. So Joe was going to do it before. Billy wondered if he had tried or not. He'd like to think that someone would have tracked him down to tell him, but really, who would have? Pipe and John were pretty pissed at him when he left too. Not many people knew where to find him. But maybe Joe passed out from the Jack before he could try. Maybe he just had to write the letter and that was enough.

Motherfucker. If the bastard would just answer a goddamn question for once, instead of all these fucking letters and questions showing up, maybe Billy could stop feeling so fucking...whatever he was feeling.

But that was Joe Dick, wasn't it? Didn't give a fuck about you and what you wanted. Just wanted everything his way. And his way always involved some grand fucking gesture to get his damn point across. But what the fuck was the point this time? That if Billy stuck around, so would Joe? That was bullshit.

One of them would have left sooner or later.

Billy picked up the notebook again and stared at the cover. "Then why the fuck are you still here?"



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01/11/2009