A Year Gone By
Before you read this please read ďOut Of The LoopĒ.
I understand that people across the world are mourning, but none could match mine. Well, maybe Em, but still. He was one of my best friends. Itís been a long, hard year, and each day just gets longer and harder. Every time I close my eyes, I see those moments over and over again. The shock of seeing blood spreading all over my chest is as real as when it happened. His eyes looking in mine, him crying, as he held my head in his lap is chokingly painful to remember. And, God, every time the phone rings, I run away from it because all I ever hear through the receiver is ďJoeyís dead.Ē
Sometimes I wake up and it seems like over a year ago. I get up and dress and start to head over to the studio, but then I remember thereís been no music since we laid down that song for Joeís funeral. The final goodbye, I guess. And throughout all of this time, thereís been nothing to show that this goodbye should have been just goodnight. Capturing his murderer helps nothing. It wonít bring him back. In fact, it just pisses me off, because Iíll never be able to wrap my mind around the fact that Steve Fatone and Joe, Sr. collectively killed my best friend on his own front steps.
I really donít know how I feel. I know I was so mad at Joey for so long. I blamed him for Stinky getting shot. Then I couldnít stand the way he just walked away from us. Made us worry. And I totally hated him for dying. It felt like heíd just given in. He left us to handle life without him. Justin couldnít deal and me having to deal for him and me was almost too much. Heís older than me. Heís the strong one. But with Joey gone, I had to be all of that for Justin. I had to be his lifeline, but who would be mine? Who will be mine?
It took so long for the anger to go away and now I donít have anything to take its place. It all sorta hit me in a rush. I was just watching a mo vie and then -- BAM. Tears, and lots of them. Justin tried to help, but there was nothing he could do. I thought the sadness was starting, finally, but I realized that I didnít know if I cried over the loss of Joey, out of guilt for so much anger towards him, or both. And that just made me cry more.
Iím so confused I donít know up from down. I donít know myself anymore. Dammit, Joey! Whyíd you have to die?
Whoa. Itís only been a year? Iíd swear it was at least five. Eveyrthing just seemed to move so slowly after the funeral. And then slower while we waited for an arrest. Ya know what sticks out most for me about that year? When Steve and Joe went to trial. It was like there was no way possible that they could get an impartial jury, and with the rest of the mob sorta backing away from them, it was just like a formality that had to be done, even though it was obvious they were guilty. But, I think what made it stick with me so much is Steve. The look on his face. The way he fidgeted around in his chair. His eyes downcast. Even though his lawyers pleaded him not guilty, just his expressions spoke of how not innocent he was.
Itís weird to think that Steve could do something like that. I mean, I remember times on the road when weíd just sit back and chill, talking and whatnot. And also times when heíd make us all laugh or do something stupid to try to make someoneís bad day turn good. He was always there. He was part of the extended *NSync family-- him, Wade, and Britney. And he really was family to Joe. I just donít understand how he could look into the scope of a rifle and shoot his own blood down like that. And Iíll never get to ask him, either. He didnít talk about it in court, and I canít go and visit him. I just might end up in a cell down the hall for murdering him. Whatever he says couldnít make any difference. Thereís no explanation for something like that. They say blood is thicker than water, but-- how do you choose between blood?
What can I say? I stood in for him in a video. They made me up to look just like him. He was such a cool guy. Lazy as hell when he was in my studio working on moves. Kept trying to play tired. But it was all in fun, though. Who do you think first said that I was a slave driver? None other than Flirt, himself. And now? I donít even want to teach a class, or do a tour or even watch that video anymore. Whatís the point? I donít need a tape to remember Joey Fatone in his glory days. I have enough pictures in my head to do that.
I wonder if you can fart in heaven. Itís a pretty rational question, what with the guy thatís up there now. I mean, we all know that Joey just has this major thing for farting. Anywhere, on anyone, by anything, heís just-- lettiní it rip. Like the time in the elevator. He really let it fly, but it was one of those silent, deadly ones. And he got off the elevator like right after he did it. Me, Wade and JC are just standing there, wondering where the hellís he going. And then, the smell hits. Horrible!! I swear his insides are rotten! I donít understand how any human being could let out anything that smells that bad.
Thatís where I get my obsession with farts from. Joeyís got like a ton of different ones so when youíre around Ďem enough, you become sort of an aficionado of gaseous escapes. Heíll even cut them backstage like right before we go on, to pump up, and right when weíre off stage to let out the tension. Those are the nastiest ones. Itís just.. itís nasty, man! Totally and utterly disgusting. Iím surprised he never ripped his pants. Though there was a pair of jeans he had that he swears tore when he bent over. Uh huh... sure. You farted your way out of those! Donít lie.
But, yeah-- thatís our Joey. The fartiní angel. Golden halo, white wings, white loincloth--- and a big puff of green smoke around him from the recently cut cheese. Joey, the farting angel-- he can finally fly.
Itís rough. Obviously. Iíve known Joey forever it seems like and now heís not here anymore. Weíre all this huge family and itís slowly breaking apart. Not like a sabotage thing or even conscious effort. Itís more like everybodyís just going into themselves and the ties that bind are coming loose. Justin and Britney are tearing themselves apart, just as much as theyíre coming unglued from the rest of us. Theyíre both torn up so bad over it and they donít know how to help each other, Ďcause they donít know how to help themselves. And can we say stubborn? Justin tries to hide it when people are around, but I know he still hurts and itís more than a scar on his chest thatís over a year old.
Wade just wonít talk about it. Everybody else can be pretty open sometimes with their grief, but not Wade. He refuses to let us see him cry, but I know he does. Heíll be in town and stop by and his eyes will be all red and puffy. He needs to just let it out. He wonít show sadness, anger, anything. Thatís not healthy.
And speaking of anger, thereís a lot of that. Britney was so pissed for so long and I really have no idea how to help her with that. Lance is pissed off at Steve. Iím sorta upset with him, too, but being mad wonít bring Joey back so why waste the energy, ya know?
Chris-- he tries to lighten the mood. If you want a ďgood ole JoeyĒ story, you go to him. Heís got tons of Ďem. Though they usually have something to do with farts. Heís hooked on them. Farts and asses. Heís strange, what can I say?
The worst two out of everybody are Charlie and Em. One a lifelong friend and the other the love of his life. I canít even imagine what itís like for them. Iíll see Charlie just sitting around doing nothing and I know sheís thinking about him. Sheís thinking about all of them. She was as close to Steve as she was to Joey, and Joe, Sr. was sort of a father figure. I donít think sheís upset, though. I think she hurts for all of them. I canít be sure, though. Itís just an impression I get. Em, on the other hand-- I donít even know whatís going on with her. She lives in Joeyís old house now. Surrounds herself with him. Sheís like Wade, not talking about it and all. She even left Joeyís old message on the voice mail. She hasnít changed a thing there, as if sheís waiting for him to come back.
I donít know what to do for any of them. I wish I could just take it all away but I canít. Itís easier to give the others their space because they donít live with me. Charlie does though, and I have to watch her toss and turn in her sleep, and cry. I get to listen to music over and over again that has prominent Joey in it. Watch videos that we did, as though sheís trying not to forget him. But, I donít think she will. She couldnít. None of us can. And that just may be the hardest part to deal with out of everything.
Saying I miss Joey would be stating the obvious. I loved him with all of my heart. We were planning a wedding when he-- When it all started. We were waiting for the tour to finish. I still remember how things were supposed to go. By then, Iíd already have my stuff packed and everybody was gonna help us move it into Joeyís house. Iíd already picked out my wedding dress and his tuxedo and started the guest list, which was way way long. By now, I should be Ember Fatone and loving every minute of it.
Iím not, though. I canít even be considered a widow. Iím just the grieving ex-fiance because he broke it off. Iím the one left behind, though, to take care of his affairs. I have to go through his things. I have to make sure that all of the mail is stopped because heís not here anymore. I have to handle the calls from the media. I have to handle the big hole thatís inside of me now that heís gone. I have to handle all of it, and I do it alone. Everybody else is trying their best to get through this, and I canít be a burden on them. I canít have them worried about me because they need to worry about themselves.
I live in his house. I sleep in his old shirts. I listen to his voice mail because itís his voice. I watch videos because itís his face. Not like I can forget him, but I need to see him like he was. Before the hysteria. Before I had to feel his blood leak out on me. I have to remember my old Superman. Iím his Lois Lane, you know. Every Superman has to have a Lois Lane.
What really grinds me, though, is that we didnít have the chance to do things that people in love should do. We didnít get the chance to marry, have a family, grow old together and die together. He died without me. He left me here to fend for myself and I should hate him for that, but I canít, because heís not the one who left. He didnít just disappear forever on his own. He was taken away from me and I can say right now, with clear conscience and full knowledge-- Steve and Joe, Sr. I wish there were still public hangings. That way I could watch you dangle at the end of a rope the same way you made me watch Joeyís body jerk from the impact of those shots. I wish you all agony in life. You destroyed your own blood, your own family. You canít get much lower than that.
Thereís not really much else for me to say. Well, maybe one more thing. Right before he was shot, I told him that he wasnít Superman. He couldnít stop a bullet. Knowing how much he loves to prove me wrong, I should have said that he canít dodge a bullet, or something like that, because damned if he didnít stop that bullet. He proved me wrong, rare for him to do. But, did it have to be made out of Kryptonite?
A year ago today I stood in front of my best friendís house and watched him get shot down. I watched him just like he watched his friend years ago, before moving to Florida. I watched him bleed to death on his girlfriendís body and in her arms. I watched her break down into tears and then go into some sort of haze. I threw my body over his and beat his chest with my fists trying to make him open his eyes and look at me. Make him say something goofy to me. Anything to show me that this wasnít really happening.
Three weeks later I looked out at a crowd of crying faces and tried to say something to make them feel better about Joeyís death, but I couldnít do that because I couldnít make myself feel better. I looked out and saw his family, the one that heíd given away and rejected, bawling for him. His father was tight-lipped. His mother was having hysterics. His sister wouldnít stop crying. And Steve just kept muttering something that I later found out was, ďIím sorry.Ē
Six months ago, I broke down in a court room while a jury found Steve and Joe, Sr. guilty of the murder and conspiracy to commit murder of Joseph Anthony Fatone, Jr. I watched people that I had cared about being taken away in handcuffs for committing the most evil deeds. And out of all the Families, I was the only one there. I wasnít there to represent the world that they belonged, too, though. I was there to see justice done for the loss of my best friendís life.
Ten years ago, I sat down next to this dorkish little guido kid at a lunch table in a Brooklyn high school and made a friend that Iíd always be able to count on. I always will count on. Here or not, heís always my Joey. My best friend. The first guy I dated, the first guy I slept with, and the guy that stayed my best friend through family trauma, break-ups, and everything that life can throw at us. He was everything to me. Josh is-- heís a lot to me, but Joey-- nothing can compare to that bond. We were blood-siblings. We did the whole finger-cutting bit and everything. They say ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and I add in blood to blood.
Ten years ago, I met a cute kid in high school who stood up for me with the resident bullies. He took a chance on the new kid. He tried to look after me. And even now, I know heís still looking after me. Heís my own guardian angel. Heís all of our guardian angel. Heíll be here forever.
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