The One With Nick
I told Brian he was the last person Nick wanted to see when he got back. He was hurt by that of course; Brian hates not being well-liked by anyone he meets. He likes to think that he always comes off as nice for a first impression. Looking at Nick right now as he made his way to his room without a word, I knew I was right.
“You’re everything he’s not right now Rok, don’t take it personally.”
“How can I not take it personally? Come on, we are Frick and Frack, he needs me.”
I laughed at that. Sometimes I wondered if Brian was really 29, married, someone’s husband and a father to a one year old. “You know Frick and Frack were gone years ago Brian.”
He sighed, resignation deep in those eyes. “We were inseparable J, we planned pranks at bedtime, shot balls in the middle of breaks, we hunted aliens in the backyard and I always checked inside the closet and under our beds before going to sleep or Nick would wake me up every five minutes to tell me he was convinced there were monsters trying to eat us. We don’t do that anymore.”
“What do you expect man? Dude, we all grow up, that’s what happens when we grow up, we stop hunting for aliens and all that shit.”
“That doesn’t mean we stop caring. I want to be there for him J, trust me, I’m trying my best.”
“Then do the right thing, don’t come.”
“I can’t, I told him I’ll always be there for him. I broke that promise once, I don’t intend to break it again. I’m coming man, he needs me.”
“Brian get this into that thick head of yours okay? He doesn’t need you here, it’s you who needs you to be here cause you wanna keep telling yourself you did something instead of waiting around for me to call. Rok, when he sees you, he sees a complete man. You come in and tell him you understand and he’s gonna laugh in your face and call you a liar and probably never speak to you again.”
“It’s not my fault I’m happy AJ.”
“Nobody’s saying it is.”I said. “You deserve every ounce of it.”
“Okay fine, I won’t come, but tell me, what did he see in you then?”
He had been in his room for two hours now, during which, my share of the pizza I bought earlier had all been eaten and his share now losing its warmth. I went through four cans of soda and a bottle of Evian and tried to laugh my way silly into The Simpsons and a few other cartoons on TV. It wasn’t until I watched CSI trying to figure out if the girl really didn’t commit suicide that it hit home.
I wouldn’t say Nick is suicidal though. In fact, I’ve seen him go through so much in life and every single time, all he did was fight back and survive; but you never know when someone decides to snap and do the unthinkable. Like I did.
I ran up to the guest room that gradually turned into Nick’s room whenever he came for a visit and started banging on the door. I couldn’t hear anything on the other side, which had me alarmed. Nick always blasts something loud on the stereo whenever he gets mad or upset. I had a conversation with Kevin about this once, he suggested the loud music was probably to drown out his cries so nobody else can hear.
I found myself in Kevin’s shoes now. Three years ago it would be him banging on this door, finally breaking it apart because I was too drugged to open it for him. Kevin told me the image of me lying in my bed, overdosed with cocaine, would stay with him for as long as he lives. Remember the pain you put us through the next time you feel like a drink, he told me.
I wish Kevin was here. He always knows what to do. But Kevin is well, Kevin. He did a lot of intervening when we were young, especially for Nick and I. It came to a point when sometimes, I wish he didn’t give a damn about us. I felt tied up and controlled by him; Nick and I spent a lot of nights whining about the hated KI - Kevin Intervention. And then one day, it stopped. He gave us trust and hardly questioned our moves. He was there to support us and stayed there when we failed. Kevin Interventions only take place when everything else fails.
“He’ll be okay J, I’ll call you guys up later.”
“But, what if he’s not okay, aren’t you worried about that?”
“You’re gonna be there and make him okay.”
I hope I’m not too late.
“Nick! Come on, open up!”I yelled for God knows how long already. I almost decided to give it a kick and try to break it down Kevin style. I also planned to put ‘you’re paying for the damage’ as one of our main topics should I get to talk some sense into him.
I finally tried the knob and got the shock of my life. It was unlocked. I also felt a little stupid.
He was sitting in the middle of his bed, headphones on his head and papers laid in a mess in front of him. He was filling out a form of some sort. It wasn’t until I waved my hand in front of his face that he noticed my presence.
“Oh hey J, did you knock? Sorry man, I didn’t hear ya.”He said as he pushed the headphones back and let them hang on his neck.
“Your pizzas still waiting in the kitchen.”
He nodded and went back to filling up the form. “Yeah, I’ll come down in a bit, I just have too much stuff to do ya know? The insurance stuff, the mortgages, some legal stuff. I mean, just how many forms do you have to fill in to be a guardian these days? And I’ve decided I need to hire an accountant, why is it they’re the ones getting divorced and I’m told to hand in my financial report? What the fuck is that anyway, financial report? I don’t even know how much I spent in a month. Oh, and get this, they want an affidavit, whatever the fuck that means, and show them my plan, MY plan, on how I’m gonna support Aaron and Angel. I thought it was just about signing papers and that’s it, they move in with me and we’ll be a happy family and all that shit. By the way, I wanted to ask the guys this when we were together but since you’re here...you think Denise or Jackie or anybody else could sign up as guardian to them when we start touring? They want to know if I’m gonna be able to juggle Backstreet Boys and taking care of them. And I need to-”
“You’re playing guardian to Aaron and Angel?”
He sighed and tightened his hold on the form in his hands. “Yes, I’m gonna be their legal guardian, didn’t I already tell you that? Were you even listening? I can’t afford to repeat myself J, I have too many things to do and so little time. And I’m trying to avoid calling my girlfriend which I have to at one point soon and tell her we have two kids living with us now and see if she’s in for that and if she isn’t, I’ll understand you know? Shit happens, I’ll pack my bags and move back to Marathon, I say if we’re meant to be, we’ll get through it somehow. You listening J? I can’t afford to repeat myself again and again, I’m tired man, the judge asked me too many questions and I can’t answer them, and don’t you start coming out with your dumb blonde jokes cause I am dumb and it’s not funny man. I should be-”
I sat next to him on the bed and pulled him into a hug while he was still talking. That wasn’t an easy feat considering the fact that the 16year old Nick I used to carry piggy back now is twice my size and much much taller than I ever will be in this lifetime.
He started to push me away. “AJ what the fuck? Euw man, get away, I’m trying to talk.”
The more he pushed, the more I pulled him tight. “You’re not dumb Nick.”
“Dude are you drunk? Get off me man, I’m serious!”
He was strong, I almost lost my grip on him but I didn’t. I pulled him tighter, rocking both of us back and forth, hoping that it’d calm him down. Howie should be here. Howie is the sensitive one, he always has the right things to say at the right time. But he wasn’t here now, he had to be with his family. And I don’t blame him, he was needed somewhere else just like Nick needed someone, and I happened to be that someone.
“Calm down Nicky, shhh...it’s gonna be okay.”
“AJ stop this...I need to get this done...I...”
And that was it. He caved. I let him cry on my shoulder, just like Kevin had done for me. There were so much to ask, so much to know, but for now, he needed to cry it out, God knows how long he had kept it inside.
He had his solo album going on at first, tours for months had kept him busy. He needed to surround himself with fans, where he knew he was needed and appreciated. And then there was his girlfriend. Too high maintenance for Nick, I have to admit. He had never been about the glamour or the parties and getting awards and being noticed everywhere he went. Nick wasn’t about the fancy clothes. Heck, how many times has he been caught on camera wearing the same outfit to award shows and parties? Too many. People ridiculed him for being repetitive. No celebrity ever wears the same outfit to two different award shows, that’s just not right. But was Nick ever bothered by that? No.
But high maintenance or not, this girl had been by his side from the moment he told her about his problems. Most people would run away while they still had the chance, but not her. She was just here. She made him busy and happy. It works for Nick, it works for us.
But running away wouldn’t make it go away. He knew he had to come back down and face the music. Today was the day that he faced that music. Today, his once perfect American family fell apart.
“I can’t do this AJ...what do I know about taking care of kids huh? God, I still feel like a kid myself! What should I tell the judge? That I had 2 perfect parents to learn the traits from? I don’t even know them anymore J...I don’t even know my parents.”
“Shh...it’s okay Nicky, we’ll talk about it later.”
He was half asleep when I pulled the blanket up to his chin, the way he liked it. And then I went to the closet, made sure nothing strange was lurking in the corners, and then went under the bed and told the monsters not to come out tonight just for the heck of it. He giggled at this of course, called me an idiot, a cute idiot, [as if that helps] and fell asleep. But if I knew Nick at all, I knew he would be staying up all night, crying his heart out.
I went back down to the kitchen, ate his share of the pizza [that would teach the fucker to eat when it’s time to eat] and called the guys. We were there when Kevin broke his engagement with Kristin to pursue our careers, thank God he finally married her in the end. We’ve been there for Howie when Caroline passed away. We were there for Brian’s heart surgery. They were there for my rehab. It’s time to be there for Nicky.
And looking at how well each of us has overcome our problems, I know Nick will too.
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