We were on to our first month of touring before a few days break. The situation with my girlfriend had gotten worse. The crowd didn’t like her at all and were throwing stuff as she performed and showed signs that said ‘Die Willa Die’ and stuff like that. I didn’t know our fans could be that...honest...but the fact is, she wasn’t happy with it. I felt sorry for her, hey I’m her boyfriend. We argued a lot. She accused me of doing nothing when she was ‘abused’ and me defending my fans while still doing all I could for her. Put it short and simple, she left halfway through the tour.
So I was peachy and unapproachable. But damn me, cause I lost the tag that indicates which mic is for whom and I had no choice but to ask Brian for it. He keeps an extra for everything that is mine, because he *knew* I would be losing a couple of them. Like I said, I wasn’t feeling very approachable.
He was sitting in the middle of the stage, reading through the list of songs that we were going to perform that night. I swallowed my pride and tapped him lightly on his shoulder.
He looked up at me, shaking his head. “Oh no, I’m not IT,”he tapped me back on my leg and said, “tag, now you’re IT.”
In the midst of confusion, I realised that he thought I was playing the stupid ‘tag, you’re IT’ game. How childish can one be? Apparently, as childish as you’re allowed to.
“No Brian, I want a tag.”I said, tapping him again and then holding out my mic with the missing tag. I was sure he knew what I meant by then, but Brian being Brian, he wouldn’t let me off easy. How many games have we invented while touring? Plenty.
“Nick,”he sighed with exaggeration. “how many times must I tell you, follow the rules. You can’t tag a tagger. That’s not right.”
“Fine,”I said, tapping him again on the shoulder. “you’ve just been tigged.”
He shook his head. “No, no, no! A double tagger cannot Tig!”
“You tagged me twice already, you’re a double tagger. So the rules of Tig says that you can’t tig.”
“But you missed out on the rule of Tag.”
He raised an eyebrow. Does it matter which one? Okay fine, he raised his left eyebrow.
“Yeah, the rule of Tag says if someone has been tagged twice, the third must be a tig.”
Brian frowned. “But that don’t make sense at all. If Tig says a double tagger can’t tig and Tag says a person who’s been tagged twice must be tigged on the 3rd...then...I just don’t get it.”
“Ah, see, a person who’s been tagged twice must be tigged on the 3rd time, but the person who tigged him must not be from a double tagger.”I said. I felt smart for some reason.
“That means...”Brian’s catching up pretty nicely. “we need a third player.”I nodded.
“So we can’t do much until we find a third player.”
“On the contrary, we can do a lot while waiting for 3rd player.”Did I tell you I was feeling smart?
Brian grinned while shaking his head. He should have known this was coming. Our fans said Brian was the only one who could read me like an open book. They’d be disappointed if they could only see his performance right now. It’s below par.
“See, a double tagger can’t tig a double tag, but he can definitely Tog.”
“Yeah.”I nodded. “You obviously didn’t read the Tog rule book.”Which can be purchased online for only a dollar ninety-nine, try e-bay, under Backstreet Boys merchandise. Also sold at all good leading toy stores world wide.
Brian shook his head. “Nope, I have not gone that level yet, I’m afraid.”
I patted him on his shoulder. “No worries Frick, I’ll teach you the ropes.”
“Of course,”Brian nodded, folding his arms on his chest. “so, wise one, you just patted my shoulder again, does that means you just togged me?”
Sigh. Brian had a long way to go. “No, I didn’t. Togging a double tagged person means slapping his ass one time. You can’t pat a shoulder and call it a tog. I’m gonna have to be penalised if I do that.”
“Okay Nick, I think we should just wait for the 3rd player, I don’t feel like I want a booty smacker from a double tagger right now.”
By the end of the day, everyone was happy because I was being my good old self - the happy Frack whom everybody loves to have around.
End of the month, which meant, we got a four day break. I have been writing in my journal dutifully mind you. The first few days it started off writing about what I could remember being in the office with my psychiatrist. How the office first looked when I came in and how it suddenly changed. Writing it down got me suspicious of why he changed it in the first place.
Maybe he was trying to help me.
And then there were times when I got too bored and decided to complain [or whine] about it in the journal. I wouldn’t confess this out loud, but I kinda like having a journal. I hope upgrading myself from talking to a psychiatrist to a book means that I’m a step ahead to recovery. You know what, don’t answer that.
The good news that I got today was, John would be coming here during the 4 days break. Okay, that wasn’t exactly the good news. The good news is, there would be no sessions in the office for as long as I was to stay on tour. I don't give a damn where we would have the sessions, as long as it's not in the office.
I like his office, appreciate the changes he made to accommodate this spoiled celebrity, but I also like to feel normal. Not being in the office is normal for me.
The guys were excited to see him. I told Howie he could take my place and hang with John if he wants too. Of course, Howie D. nicely declined the offer.
The Break : Day 1
Howie caught me while I was writing in the journal. That’s not bad news. Bad news is when I said AJ caught me while I was writing in the journal. AJ and I decided to stay in Howie’s house in LA cause I couldn’t possibly tag along with Brian now that he’s married. Although technically, it’s just a few minutes drive down to Brian’s pad and just a little further up to Kevin’s if we decided to mess things up for them.
And he let me be. But I was already feeling uncomfortable so I dumped the book in my bag and pushed myself up from the bed.
“You were saying this John guy is coming today right?”
He nodded. “Okay, and he said he’s gonna be on the first show we’re doing?”
“Four days from now. Not thinking about four days from now. Lets think now. Let’s think freedom.”
“Hold on, he said he’s coming with his girlfriend?”
“And a colleague.”I added.
“Yes, the colleague, have you met her?”
“Yup, nice lady.”
“Nope. You know, I’m not even sure if he even mentioned her name. I saw a picture of them though, in his office. She’s pretty. But you’re gonna love his colleague though, she’s cool! And you should have seen her fish tank! Colourful fishes!”
“No, there’s more than one fish in there. Orange, blue, yellow, stripes! Colourful fishes!”
“No...Nick...there is no fishes...singular, plural, it’s still called fish.”
I frowned. “Well that’s stupid!”
“I know, but that’s the rule. If you go around saying ‘fishes’ they’ll say you’re the stupid one.”
I think something finally snapped because Howie shook his head and put back on his serious face. Howie’s serious face is pretty much the same as the normal Howie face really. That guy cannot pull a serious face if his life depended on it.
“So anyway, just make sure you don’t get too close with his colleague okay? Don’t mix business with pleasure.”
Where the heck did that come from? I laughed. Like, out loud. If AJ was sleeping [which I bet he was cause the house was too silent for him to be awake] he’d wake up in an instant.
“D, she’s older. And I have a girlfriend. A very jealous girlfriend. Who isn’t very happy with me right now.”
He smiled, as if his happiness depended on my statement. “Good. Now, I think we should go shopping. I wanna go buy something for them, you know, as a welcome gift and stuff.”
I pulled him for a hug. He hates that. Enough with the gay rumours, he’d say. “Thanks D, you’re the best! I’ll go wake AJ up!”
“I’m afraid we’re gonna have to ditch AJ on this one bro.”
“Cause he’ll go after hats, and more hats if not, shades, and more of those too. And then we’ll attract unwanted attention. You know what that leads us to?”
“No gifts at the end of the day. Besides, he’s still sleeping, how about we hit the road, just you and me?”
I didn’t argue. I know it was Howie’s way of not saying the obvious. I know AJ got himself wasted last night. He’s too drunk to get out of bed and I had witnessed only once, how ugly a wake up call it would turn to if we wake him up at such a state. I don’t feel like a repeat performance.
“It’s You and I, Howie, not You and Me. Make sure you don’t say that or they’d think you’re the stupid one.”
I love smart moments, they make me feel smart.
John Reitt The apartment was empty when I arrived, which didn’t surprise me at all. I dropped all my luggage in the guest room and went straight to the living room, switching on the television cause I hate silence. The local news was on, which was odd considering that it was already two in the morning. Who watch news at 2 in the freaking morning? Oh yeah, me.
I saw the crystal that I bought on the display top. Next to a few others that I had sent her over the course of three years that we got serious. I laugh at the word serious now. This was definitely not serious.
I leaned back on the sofa, stretching my aching limbs. I hate flying.
Something in the news caught my attention and my droopy eyes received a new lease of life. Backstreet boys caused chaos in shopping mall. I laughed out loud, they were showing footage of Nick Carter and Howie, crowded by fans. Yes, I could point out who’s Howie even with my eyes closed. When Mare first told me about her obsession with the Backstreet Boys, she said I would find a strong connection especially with Howie and she was right. In a way, Howie had helped me, a lot.
It dawned upon me now, just how different his life was compared to mine. What does it take for someone like him to have a normal day out just shopping?
The phone rang somewhere in the house, I let the machine answer it. I heard her recorded message, her voice filling up the room. Her image quickly popped up in front of me. I smiled. It was a guy called Richard reminding her about the lunch date for tomorrow. Or today, considering it’s already morning. Richard must be insecure, calling at this hour of the morning to remind her about a lunch date.
I yawned. Taking my cue that I should head back to bed, I switched off the TV, already whining at myself for what was to come early morning.
It was already ten in the morning when I woke up and headed straight to the kitchen. She was already dressed up for the day, reading the paper by the kitchen counter. She looked up the moment she saw me, wide smile readily greeted my entrance.
“Hey, morning you.”
“Morning.”I went over and kissed her forehead. I still have morning breath. “Up so early? What time did you get back last night?”
“Urgh, too late. I have to be in the office by eleven, meet me for lunch?”
“There’s a guy who called last night, left a message about a dinner date today?”
She frowned. “Shit. Richard, yeah, I have an appointment with him. I’ll cancel, we should hang, it’s been awhile.”
“Nah, you go ahead. I’m staying for a few days, we’ll make time.”I said as I headed to the fridge, looking for some juice. “I might drop by to see a patient of mine anyway.”
“Okay then, we should make time and have lunch with daddy, he knows you’re in town.”
I called Nick the moment she left. Apparently, he and the guys, [I assume he meant the Backstreet boys], were having a little BBQ for lunch and invited me over. Actually, Nick’s exact words were ‘you and your girlfriend and the lovely Miss Marianne.’
“You look awful.”I grimaced. Marianne definitely knows how to hit a person when he’s down. “Have you heard of this wonderful creation called a razor? They eat up all those hairs on your face and make you look handsome.”
“It’s my ‘I don’t give a damn’ look, back off. My girlfriend said nothing just so you know.”
“Correction, that’s your ‘I haven’t had a shower for a month’ look. And your girlfriend is blind, just so you know.”She snapped and then sighed, looking me up and down tiredly. “Is it that bad?”
I sighed. Is it that bad? No, it’s not bad, it’s worse.
“How bad?”She asked, her voice lowered for some reason. “How come you didn’t call me straight away after you knew? You promised.”
“Bad as in it’s the total opposite of what I was hoping for. And I didn’t call cause I don’t feel like talking about it.”
She smiled. It was her sympathetic smile. The smile that said ‘I’m sorry, I wish there’s something I could do to help.’ I couldn’t say anything bad about that smile. She had been there for me right from the beginning. “Come here you.”
We hugged. It was the ‘I have your back’ hug. It was something Marianne, Jack and I share together. Jack was another good friend of ours. He passed away two years ago.
“We’ll take this one day at a time okay? Like before.” She whispered. “Have you told Bianca?”
“Don’t wait too long, she should know about it.”I pulled away from the hug and nodded my head. She had that little frown going on. I knew it would be there every time I saw her from now on. “Lets go for lunch, I’m hungry.”
“I’m meeting Nick Carter for lunch.”I smirked. She grinned.
“Oh yeah? Any chance I can tag along?”
“I’d rather not, but he did say to bring along my girlfriend and the lovely Miss Marianne.”
Good bye grin, hello there wide smile.
“He said that? He called me LOVELY!”
I can’t believe this. What a ‘reunion’ this would be. She still had no idea the rest of her heroes would be there too.
Marianne had forgotten that her best buddy was still alive. She was lost in the abyss of Backstreet Boys. Well, at least four of them were there with her, eating and drinking. Actually, Marianne mostly just laughed that girly laugh of hers.
“I don’t remember you telling me that Marianne’s a fan.”Nick said as he flipped burgers while I took another serving of hotdogs.
“It’s our job etiquette, she doesn’t want me to.”
“She’s cool.”He smiled.
“I assure you, the feeling is mutual.”
“I can’t help but notice that your girlfriend isn’t here.”I turned to my left, they were laughing over something that I assumed was funny.
“I didn’t see your girlfriend here either. I thought she’s opening for you guys.”
He shrugged. “It didn’t work out, she left early.”
I nodded. “Well, my girlfriend is working today, I’m sure she’d be glad to join us but I didn’t get the chance to tell her.”
“It’s okay, but you gotta bring her to our concert. You are going right?”
“Yeah, looking forward to it.”
“Urgh. I’m not. I want to have more breaks.”
“I thought you love performing.”
“I do. It’s a cycle you know? I always look forward to the first month and then after that, everything gets routine. I lost track of time, where we are, our schedule...it’s like waking up every morning and having people telling you that I’m suppose to be in an interview five minutes before it happens. And then photo shoots and more press that wasn’t even in our plan. It’s chaos when it gets overwhelming.”He flipped a burnt burger, cussing softly as he did it. “But don’t take my word for it. I’d normally whine about being bored and couldn’t wait to go back on tour after the third day break.”
“It’s like wanting to get away from it but still wanting to be apart of it all at the same time.”I offered.
“Exactly!”He exclaimed, flipping another burger on the grill.
“I see you’re doing well Nick, have you been writing?”
“Yup. I actually like it.”He grinned. “Just don’t tell the guys.”
I laughed. “Safe with me.”
“Great, cause they don’t know I’ve been writing.” Silence fell between us and I just stood there, watching him flip the burgers. Nick Carter does everything with caution. It felt like he had read a rule book on how to flip burgers. I assumed that he never really did anything rebellious. I wondered how long he was going to let something or someone else rule his life.
“You look tired, must've been a long flight.”I guess Marianne was right, I need to start shaving.
“It was. I hate flying.”
He laughed. “Me too! With a passion. It’s a wrong fear to have being in this business.”
There was a faint buzz coming from somewhere near just then and Nick abandoned the meats and fished out his pager. He cussed softly again, a hint of annoyance on his face. “Have to make a call. Can you pass this to the hungry people?”
“Sure, you go ahead.”He made a run for the kitchen and I proceeded to place the burgers on the paper plate and went for the ‘hungry people’.
“We cannot trust Nick with the flipping, he always burns something.”AJ sighed as he picked a burnt burger and shook his head.
“I’ll eat that.”Marianne grinned.
“You’ll eat anything that boy cooks.”Brian laughed. It was safe to say that Marianne was very comfortable with them. And it wasn’t a hard thing to do, at the end of the day, they were normal guys.
“I bet she’ll eat it raw even.”Howie agreed.
“How long are you planning on staying?”Kevin asked, looking at me.
“In two weeks so I’m not in a rush.”
“That’s great. You’ll have more time to know Nick this way. It takes time for him to open up, I’m sure you realised that by now.”
“I do. It’s hard to open up to strangers, especially if you know he’s there to study you, for the lack of better word.”
“You can study me anytime you want.”AJ said. I was about to choke on my hotdog when I realised he was talking to Marianne.
“I’d love to, but first, we’re out of drinks, care to volunteer and grab some more?”Marianne said, batting her eyes.
“You wouldn’t even put conditions if Nick said that, would you?”AJ said, pretending to look offended by her remark.
“I’ll take the drink, I need to make a phone call anyway.”I volunteered. After a quick briefing from Howie as to where I could get the drinks without getting lost [the house is a freaking castle], I was on my way.
The fridge reminded me of a walk in closet. You stand there and practically choose whatever your heart desired. It had everything that I would want and then some. After taking out a few bottles of beer and some sodas, there came the big task of how to carry them all.
There had to be a box or something of that kind in this kitchen. It had everything else, why not a box, right? I tried the storeroom at the other end of the kitchen and that was when I thought I heard something, or someone.
Abandoning my current mission in finding a box, I walked out of the kitchen and after walking down long paths and corners, found myself about to enter the living room. Nick was sitting on the sofa biting his nails. He wasn’t on the phone and I couldn’t quite comprehend the expression on his face then. I didn’t know he bit his nails, if I remembered correctly what Marianne had taught me on the ABCs of Backstreet Boys, that would be Brian’s department.
I decided to walk away and find that box. There will be a time to know what that was about, for now, he needed his space.
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