“How the fuck do you think I feel?” Nick hissed through gritted teeth. “No one ever asked me! You fuckin’ go on in your little world and fuckin’ have a meeting without my ass being around!”
“Nick.. Nick, you gotta calm down and listen to me, please,” Brian begged as he watched Nick toss ice cubes into a thick, clear glass followed by a generous helping of Jack Daniels over ontop of the cubes.
“I.... am.... fuckin’.... calm!” he boomed, causing Brian to wince as each syllable was pronounced. He watched feeling helpless as Nick lifted the glass and guzzled the contents, wiping his mouth off with the back of his hand when he fininshed. As Nick grabbed the bottle and started to pour more whiskey into the glass again, Brian interrupted him.
“I think you need to stop, you’ve had enough.”
Nick glared at Brian, the hardness in his eyes sent chills through him. Laughing sarcastically, Nick shook his head as he continued to pour the whiskey into the glass, half of it missed its intended target, spilling onto the deep green colored marble countertop. Picking up his glass, Nick walked over to his stereo and turned on the CD that was in the machine, instantly, his voice flooded the room.
“It fuckin’ bombed. I bet you laughed your ass off when that happened!”
“Nick we didn’t laugh at you---”
”BULLSHIT! You don’t think I read what was said? I’m not stupid. AJ going off saying my CD sucked and the songs blew and Timberlake was a better singer than me.” Nick paused, tears filling his eyes. “And you.... god, you of all people! I died the day I heard what you said.”
Tears welled up in Brian’s eyes, mirroring Nick’s. “Please Nicky--”
“Don’t you fuckin’ call me Nicky! God, I’ve always hated that shit! You guys have always treated me like a baby, from day one. Nick is a baby, Nick is a fatass, Nick is a fuckup...”
Brian could only stand watching, unsure of what he could say to stop Nick’s ranting, arms flailing, the drink splashing over the sides of his glass. Taking his index finger, he poked himself hard in the chest as he uttered his next words. “Did you ever stop to think how I felt? Ever?”
“Oh yeah, you’re sorry, sure you’re sorry. God, that’s so fuckin’ fake,” Nick rambled walking out to the balcony that overlooked the Gulf of Mexico.
Wordlessly, the two men stood on the deck; Nick leaning against the wooden rail, only the sounds of sea gulls screeching and waves splashing interrupting the silence. The warm gulf breeze played with Nick’s disheveled, dirty blond hair. As Brian stood silently watching his friend, he wondered what could be said to heal the pain that Nick was feeling. He searched for words that would repair the damage.
“Why the hell are you hanging around anyway?”
Drawing a breath in, Brian looked at Nick, trying to think of the right words to say. He bit his upper lip as he watched as the tears ran down Nick’s cheeks; wiping his own tears away from his face.
“I’m sorry it came to this Nick, but we didn’t have a choice. We all have our own lives and obligations, mortgages, wives, hell, I even have a baby on the way...”
“Yeah, I know about that too. Found that out at a fuckin’ interview. Do you know how that made me feel?” Nick asked bitterly. “I thought we were friends.”
Nick’s singing was barely audible from the living room, it eerily drifted in and out. With an outstretched arm, he gestured toward the open door. “That CD was me.. my life.”
“I’m sorry it didn’t go like you wanted but you have to remember, we had to do something and you were too busy with your own project. You abandoned us. We had to get on with our lives too Nick.”
“No one ever supported me. My family never did once Aaron started his career. You guys didn’t support me. I did everything the label asked me to do to get this record off the ground. I cleaned up my life, dropped weight, went out and did the promos, just like they asked. Fuckin’ Timberlake got more from the label than I did. I was fuckin’ used by everyone. I realized they used me as a decoy to push Justin’s record up.”
Lifting the glass to his mouth, Nick downed the last of the whiskey a sinister smile played on his lips. “I’ve always been nothing but a joke... I was the one that was made fun of by my family, the media, the fans. One big joke.” Shaking his head he continued. “The people I thought was my family, you, Kevin, Howie and AJ... the ones I thought truely cared about me were only backstabbers and users.”
Throwing the glass over the balcony, Nick laughed as it shattered on the rocks below. “You see what that did?”
“It broke?” Brian quietly replied, not sure of why Nick thought his actions were so funny.
“Yeah it broke, but that glass represents my life, pretty philosophical for a dumbass to think about, isn’t it?”
“Don’t down yourself Nick.”
“Why the fuck not? You guys have been doing it to me for years. It’s true, but anyway, that glass is me and all the years of being made fun of and teased. A man can only take so much before they finally break. You guys voting me out of the group was the final blow. Pretty much told me that I’m nothing but a fuckin’ joke. Nick dumbass Carter.”
“I can talk to them, maybe we can fix this,” Brian quickly offered.
Nick only shook his head in reply.
“Please Nick, I want to help.”
“Just go home to your little wife and your perfect little world. You didn’t give a shit about me before, why start now.”
“Please Nick...” Brian begged as he followed Nick back into the house.
“It can’t be fixed. Stop messin’ with my head making promises you know can’t be filled. Everyone hates me, what’s the point?” Nick mumbled to himself.
“Nobody hates you,” Brian reassured.
Sitting down heavily onto the leather couch, Nick leaned forward, resting his elbows on his thighs; cradling his head in his hands.
Reaching out, Brian tried to put a hand on Nick’s back to comfort him.
“Don’t fuckin’ touch me,” he growled.
“I-I’ll call Kevin, we can get this fixed,” Brian stammered.
“It’s too late to fix anything.”
Brian walked over to the phone that was laying ontop of the counter. “You don’t know if you don’t try.”
Nick leaned back, lifting his head toward the ceiling, watching the fan slowly rotate. “I’ll fix it. You don’t obviously don’t want me around anymore, hell the fans even made that one clear. I have no one now.”
“Stop talking like that, we can fix this,” Brian replied as he dialed Kevin’s cell phone number. “It’s ringing..”
Leaning forward, Nick took his hand and reached underneath the cushions on the white couch, producing a 22 caliber handgun. The gun clicked as he held it directly over his heart. “This is where it hurts the most. The pain never stopped. Y’all have hurt me and now it’s payback time.”
Brian’s face paled as he watched the gun being placed against Nick’s chest. ”NICK... PLEASE! LET’S TALK ABOUT THIS!”
Kevin Richardson answered his cell phone, hearing his cousin yelling. “Brian?”
”NICK... WE CAN WORK THIS OUT DON’T DO THIS!”
Brian held his breath as Nick took the gun away from his chest.
“Okay, let’s talk about this, I’ve got Kevin on the phone...”
Placing the gun to his right temple, Nick grinned. “You guys always called me a dumbass though, maybe it would be better to do it here.”
“What the hell is going on?” Kevin demanded angrily.
“Tell Kevin thanks.”
”NICK PLEASE! GOD DON’T DO THIS!” Brian repeated.
“It’s payback time... like they say in poker, I’m calling my cards.”
In a calculated move, Nick took the gun away from his temple and placed it over his heart again. Frozen in horror, Brian stood clutching the phone as he listened to Nick singing along to the CD:
Right into my world
Right into my backyard
I give to you all that I got
And you give to me jack
And then you pretend to be my friend
My trust you’re earnin’
When all this time you’re turnin’
A knife in my back
It’s a payback
Nick’s tear filled eyes locked onto Brian’s eyes. An eery smile crossed his face as he pulled the trigger, the sickening noise of the gun being discharged echoed through the house.
”NOOOOO!” Dropping the phone, Brian rushed over to Nick’s slumped body, the gun still laying loosely in his grip. Pulling Nick into his arms, Brian held him, screaming the words “NO NICK, NO” over and over again.
In his anguished state, Brian placed a hand over the wound, thinking if he stopped the bleeding everything would be okay. A labored breath came from Nick and then a quick, long sigh. Looking down at his friend’s face, he sobbed harder when he was met with Nick’s glassy eyed stare.
“Police found this at the house,” AJ rasped, fingering an envelope with Nick’s handwriting on the front.
“Did you read it?” Kevin questioned as he rubbed Brian’s back.
AJ shook his head. “To be honest with you, I’m a little scared to.”
“I’m actually scared too,” Howie agreed.
The four stared at the envelope as it laid on the coffee table.
“How did it get this far?” Kevin wondered aloud. “I never thought he would do something like this.”
Wiping the tears off his cheeks Brian took a shaky breath in. “You should have seen the hurt in his eyes. We did this to him, we’re to blame for all of this.”
“No one is to blame for this,” AJ stated, rubbing his red rimmed eyes.
“Read the letter then, I’m sure it tells what Ni... he thought,” Brian challenged, not being able to call Nick by his name.
The foursome continued to stare at the letter, the words To my Backstreet Brothers scrawled in Nick’s handwriting on the front.
Kevin gingerly lifted the envelope from its resting place, holding it as if the paper was so fragile it would crumble in his hands. Tension hung in the air as the older brother placed his finger under the seal, tearing the envelope neatly open. No words were spoken as Kevin scanned the letter.
“Well?” AJ questioned.
“He addressed each of us individually,” Kevin replied, looking at each of their faces. Sighing, he cleared his throat.
Obviously, if you’re reading this, I’ve done what I felt I needed to do and that was end my pain, stop the hurt I’ve been feeling since at least 1995. It’s been building up for a long time.
If you even care, I’ll explain why I made this decision.
You were sort of like my father on the road. I trusted you completely and I respected you. You always seemed to have the right words for me when I was down and you defended me when I got picked on. I realize now how fake that was. Thanks for sticking by me - note the sarcasim there pal?
Always the peacemaker. Why did you vote me out of the group? Yeah, I know now, you’re not a peacemaker, you just stick your head in the sand. You had this amazing talent of running from confrontations and make it look like you actually cared. Laughs on you now D, you can’t run from this can you?
Everyone backed you when you went into rehab. The fans, the media, hell even us guys did. We all waited for you to get your head cleared. Did anyone wait for me? I bet you were the first to vote me out. When you laughed at my project do you know how that made me feel? I thought you would be proud of me but you laughed at me. Guess who got the last laugh in?
And lastly, to my friend Brian,
Best friends, remember? Frick and Frack. That changed the day you married Leighanne. You never had time for me anymore. I tried calling you the day the label offered me a chance at doing my songs and you weren’t around. I kept calling your cell and you were either too busy or on the road or something convenient was going on that you couldn’t talk to me. You always promised to call me back. I waited for your calls, funny thing is, they never came. Until last week. Nice phone call. Thanks.
So guys, you left me with no other choice. I’m out of your hair now. No more dumbass Nick to get in your way. It’s better this way. You had your little meeting without me, but guess what? I finally got the final word.