Kevin hadn’t been himself for days. Weeks even. I think I was the only one that noticed it, but it makes sense because I’m usually the one he yells at the most. Kev had been unusually nice and it was only getting worse by the day. I know you always see the smiles in the pictures and on stage and stuff, but trust me, it’s fuckin’ weird for Kevin to be Little Miss Sunshine all the time. I’m telling ya, it’s like the man was possessed by some sort of alien.
I hadn’t said anything, because I was afraid that either I’d jinx it and he'd go back to being Oscar the grouch, or he’d tell me about how Kristin gets turned on by the whole tour thing and I really don’t need to know that I was feeling the effects of Kevin getting lots of great sex.
Anyway, like I said, it’d been weeks since he’d yelled at me for horsing around during rehearsals, or taking too long to pack up my shit. In fact, it was more than just him not yelling at me, he was going out of his way to be nice. We only had a hand full of performances left, and this time it was Brian jumpin all over my ass. That’s not really all that uncommon any more. I blame the wife, but it could just be some weird father’s instincts or something too, because this entire tour he seemed to have an opinion on everything I do.
This particular day, after sound check, Brian took me aside like a teacher that had written ‘see me after class’ on my paper or something. “Nick, come on man, we’re almost to the end of the tour and you’re still rushin’ it on Beautiful Woman.”
I didn’t think I was rushing it, and if I was it was only by like a fraction of a second so what did it matter? It’s a fast song and if you want my honest opinion, Brian never put enough energy into the fast ones. I didn’t tell him that though. I just let him correct me and I even let him run through the lines with me a couple times just to avoid a fight. I hate having to go out there and perform when I’m pissed off.
You know me though, my temper only lasts so long. We sang through the part a couple times and he kept telling me I was still messing it up and I couldn’t even hear what he was talking about. I was starting to get really frustrated and when he snapped at me I couldn’t take it anymore. I was about to blow my freaking top, but almost like he could read my mind, just a split second before I called Brian an asshole I feel this big hand on my shoulder. I knew it was Kevin just by the way his hand kind of plopped down pinched a little. It wasn’t quite his normal death grip, but I still knew it was him without having to look. “I know, he’s just trying to help, and it’s important to get it right and always do our best. We have to work twice and hard because it’s been twice as long…” I said rattling off every word of advice Kevin had given me on this tour. I figured I would just spare him the lecture since I knew it by heart now anyway.
“Actually,” Kevin said with this weird twinkle in his eyes that I’d never seen before, “I was just gonna say I think you’re doing a fantastic job on Beautiful Woman. It’s a hard tempo to get right and you have the lead all by yourself for most of the song. I’m proud of ya, Nicky.”
“What?” I couldn’t help but be shocked.
“You don’t think he’s rushing us too much?” Brian asked still completely stunned. I guess he didn’t notice that we were dealing with warm and fuzzy Kevin lately.
“He’s fine cuz, it’s you that’s draggin’ your ass a little. It’s not your fault though, Nicky here’s youth is finally working to his advantage for once.”
Kevin had flung his arm all the way around me now and was smiling at Brian like he didn’t have a care in the world. Kevin rides me harder than any of them and if he said I was doing a good job then it had to be true. I just wanted to stick my tongue out at Brian and tell him to blow it out his ass, but then if I did, Kevin might have taken back what he said, and I couldn’t let him down when he was saying he was proud of me. Besides, the look on Brian’s face was good enough for me.
Kevin laughed and I think he was just enjoying how shocked we both still were, and he patted me on the back and said, “Keep it up Nicky. Someone has to make up for us old fogies.”
As he walked away he winked at me and then slapped Brian’s stomach with a hearty laugh, “You’re finally starting to get rid of your pregnancy sympathy weight, looking good Bri.”
Brian and I both watched him walk away kind of whistling to himself and that’s when I just couldn’t take it anymore. Disgusting sex talk or not, I had to know who that man was and what he’d done with Kevin. I just kind of shrugged at Brian and then followed Kevin into his dressing room. I burst through the door and didn’t bother with any kind of hello. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Nothing,” He laughed, a little surprised to see me.
“That’s it? No words of advice? No lecture? Just ‘you’re doing great?’”
“Did you want a lecture?”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“You man. Since when do you take my side in anything? And since when are you all smiles and jokes all the time?”
“I can’t help it, Nick,” he said playfully. “You’ve really stepped it up this tour. You haven’t given me as much to give you shit for. I kind of miss it actually, maybe you should screw up tonight, for old time’s sake.”
“There you go again! Making jokes and being nice. Cut the shit Kev.” Maybe it was stupid, but I was honestly starting to get upset. I don’t like it when the universe is out of whack.
Of all the guys though, it’s always Kevin who seems to know me the best and he can always tell how I’m really feeling no matter how hard I try to hide it from him. He quit with the jokes and actually got kind of mushy on me when he saw that I was upset. “I just finally realized how much I take all this for granted." he shrugged. "I’ve been trying to really take it all in and get a good look at things for once. Plus, Kristin said she was gonna go home if I didn’t stop being so cranky.”
“Bullshit Kev, there’s more to it than that.”
He was hiding something. I knew he was hiding something. He obviously didn’t want to tell me, but I wasn’t going anywhere until I knew what it was. I stared him down and it took a minute, but I finally cracked him. “Nick,” I knew it was serious by the way he said my voice, and my heart actually sank into the pit of my stomach. “I really am proud of you. You’re not the rambunctious little kid you were when I first met you, and you’re not that snot nosed hormonal teenager anymore either.” Kevin snickered to himself and muttered, “Thank God,” before continuing with his speech. “You became a man without any of us realizing it. You’re an adult now and you’ve got to stop letting Brian and the other guys treat you like you’re still a kid.”
Shit. I couldn’t say anything right then because I was fuckin choked up. It was the nicest thing Kevin’s ever said to me, and it made me want to cry like a little girl. Some man, huh?
“Nick I know you knew you weren’t wrong back there, I could see it in your face. Just because he’s older, doesn’t make him always right. Stand up for yourself man, cause I’m not always going to be there to do it for you.”
“What the hell are you saying? You got six months to live or something?”
I’ll never forget the look on Kevin’s face right then. He wasn’t dying, but he may as well have been and when his eyes get misty, I wanted to be sick. The news was worse than death. “I’m done Nick. I haven’t said anything to anyone yet, but this is it for me. Last album, last tour.”
That’s when I lost it. Tears started falling down my cheeks and I didn’t care. Kevin pulled me into hug and I just squeezed as tight as I could. “Don’t say anything to the other guys. I want to wait until the tour is over. I want to tell them myself. ” Kevin whispered as he continued to hug me. We looked like a couple of gaywads but I didn’t care. I couldn’t let him go. Even if I’d wanted to, my arms wouldn’t have been able to pull away. “I’m sorry I laid this on you right before a show, but I wanted you to know first. I love you, man.”
We didn’t say anything for the next few minutes. I think we both had to wait until we had ourselves under control or we would have both lost it completely. Finally Kevin put a hand on my shoulder and I don’t know how he was managing to smile still but he gave me this concerned look and said, “You’re gonna be fine. I know we all give you a lot of shit, but there’s a reason you’re everyone’s favorite.”
I batted away my tears and just nodded my head. I most certainly was not going to be fine without him, but I had to be strong for him. I couldn’t let Kevin down. Not now.
I bucked up and went out there with a big smile on my face. It was the hardest show I’ve ever had to do, I think for Kevin too. He kept looking at me through he whole concert, just kind of keeping an eye on me the way he always has, and this time I wasn’t mad at him for it. I really was gonna miss his iron thumb. He was right. We all take so much for granted and he made me realize that I probably take him for granted most of all.
It got towards the end of the show and Kevin sat down at that piano and I almost lost it right then and there. How could he sit there and singe that song? It felt like he was gone already. I had to feel him next to me. I sat down on the bench and leaned against him because I just had to be close to him. I needed to feel him there or I was just going to bawl onstage.
I know he could tell how upset I felt and when I couldn’t sing anymore he jumped right in and sang my part like that’s just how we meant to do it. Maybe the fans knew, maybe not, but that was the most meaningful moment I’ve ever had on stage. And even though we continued on without him and the new album sounds great, it’s never been the same. Not quite. The song was right. Without you all I’m going to be is, incomplete.