I followed him all around the small two bedroom house we rented in Tampa. Hung on every word he ever spoke. He was my big brother and I loved him more then life itself. Not that I even understood what that meant. I was only four at the time. But to me he was bigger than all the super heroes on the planet. Superman and Batman combined couldn't hold a stick to Mike.
If he ever got tired of me following him all over the place, he never showed it. Not once. He would always great me with a smile and a hug, no matter what kinds of things were going on in our lives. Mom and dad fighting so fiercely that the police would have to come and break things up. That I remember like it was yesterday. The loud arguments they would have, when all I could do was sit at the top of the stairs in my brother's lap, and listen.
I would squeeze his leg tight in my hands when the glass would start breaking and he would sweep me up in his arms and bring me into our room when the swears started to fly out of their mouths.
Blaring the song Separate Ways out through his small ghetto blaster. At least that's what he used to call it. I think Mike was the sole reason I even got into rock and especially Journey. He had them plastered all over our bedroom walls. Journey and Madonna, but only because she was a total babe. His words not mine.
He would make me laugh as he jumped from bed to bed with a baseball bat in his hands imitating a guitar. As the screaming got louder, so did the music.
"Come on squirt sing with me" He would say grabbing my hands and making me jump on the bed right along with him. I never realized he was doing that to help the screaming and crying of our mother in the background go away.
He was my best friend, from what I can remember. It was all such a long time ago.
That night while Separate Ways was looping on our stereo, dad came in and sat down on my bed. He shut the music off and told us he was leaving. He couldn't stay anymore. Mom wouldn't let him. I cried, but not because of that. Truthfully, I was always a little afraid of my father and was kind of happy to see him go. I cried because I saw Mike cry. He ran over to our dad and hugged him tight.
"It's okay Mikey! Everything will work out you'll see buddy." My dad said patting my brother on the back trying to get him to stop crying. He would glance at me from time to time and smile. My eyes were only set on my sad brother.
Mom came in shortly afterwards which made me scared. When the two of them were in the same room together it was never a good thing, but she seemed very calm and composed as she took a seat next to me and pulled me into her lap.
"Guys..your dad and I can't do this anymore so we have decided it's time for him to leave."
"No! You can't do this to us! I hate you!!" Mike screamed at my Mother, clinging onto my father as if he were to let go, he would never see dad again.
They sat and consoled us for a little while before dad packed his things and moved out. That very same night. The one thing I didn't expect was that Mike went with him. At first Mom explained that it was because Mikey was so sad. This would make him feel better. Make him realize that dad wasn't going away forever.
I hugged my big brother. The last thing he did for me was rewind the Separate Ways tape and play it again as he winked and played some air guitar out of the house and right out of our lives.
I never saw either of them again.
After their disappearance, I remember police. All day and all night, stopping by our house as if they lived there. I would just look down from the top of the stairs, feeling like the warm blanket which used to be my brother was missing. I became a thumb sucker right then and there. At four years old, never sucked my thumb before that. I remember Mom crying and worried most nights while she ignored my existence all together. The only thing I ever had to keep me company was that Journey tape. I was barely tall enough to reach the ghetto blaster, but I quickly learned how to put it on and off.
Two years later, Mom and I left our small home and moved to Orlando. She found a new man, and in the process forgot her old life. Bob Carter married my Mom on the three year anniversary of my Dad and brother's disappearance. He adopted me 6 months later.
Suddenly, the Alexander's ceased to exist. I was no longer Nickolas Gene Alexander, I was Nickolas Gene Carter and it seems from that moment on Mike and my dad were nothing more then a lingering memory. A far off dream.
Occasionally Mom in her more melancholy moods would wonder what ever happened to her son, if he was growing into a full fledged man who was as beautiful as me. I couldn't even remember what he looked like. I didn't even know how much older he was. I was so young back then and Mom never wanted to answer my questions. I think he was a brunette just like her. She said it's funny how I looked so similar to Bob. But I bet Bob and my REAL dad looked a lot alike.
Over the years I had all but forgotten about that life. As the performing came and then the sudden fame in Europe with my boys, my new big brothers, that old life had vanished into one bad memory.
I never allowed myself to look back. I never really wanted to.
Just lately my past has visited me in my dreams. Forcing me to remember who I was, where I came from. Funny how dreams can be interpreted as premonitions. I forced myself to close my eyes and fall asleep on the tour bus with my head phones blaring Separate Ways.