~ 3 ~
It was a very restless night for Kevin, the majority of it spent tossing and turning and trying his best to make himself comfortable. Every time he closed his eyes, the replay of the conversation he had with his mother echoed in his ears making him feel terrible for acting the way he had but also angered that he wasn’t able to get to see her. He missed his mother so much. He’d always been a momma’s boy but especially after his father’s death the two of them seemed to cling to each other for comfort.
When he left home for Florida, such an overwhelming feeling of sadness and anxiety came over him, he almost took the next flight back right after landing. It was his oldest brother who convinced him to stay or he’d end up being “That weird 40 year old who never left his mother’s house.” Yup, leave it to Gerald to not sugarcoat anything, but it was the truth so as much as he hated to, he stayed.
While working at Disney he made it back to Kentucky at least once every few months. Sometimes he’d rent a car and drive or when his mom had the extra money, she’d send him a plane ticket. When he started dated Kristin, the visits became less frequent and the need to see his family waned a bit. Then came the Backstreet Boys.
Once he made the group he hardly made it home but things were so new and exciting for him, it didn’t really make much of a difference. It wasn’t until they had really blown up in Europe that he found himself constantly wishing his mother and brothers could be there to experience the same feelings he had. What was the point if he had to do it all alone?
A small kerfuffle was heard on the bed next to his so he glanced over to see Nick slowly sit up. “Where the hell am I?” His voice was groggy and his eyes disoriented.
He nodded and rubbed his neck, “Oh, right.” Nick looked down at his shoes, “Wow, I must have passed out last night huh?”
“You could have at least taken off my shoes.”
“And risked being kicked in the face? I think not.” He half laughed.
Nick grabbed at his sneakers and pulled them off, flinging them a few feet before laying back down on his back with his arms across his chest. “I hate when I get this room. John’s old room is much better.”
“Don’t be ungrateful, Nick. At least they took you in.”
At that, Nick turned on his side, away from Kevin, “Whatever…I’m going back to sleep.”
Kevin shook his head and bit on his bottom lip. He was perpetually mad at that kid. Sometimes he didn’t even understand why. Maybe the reason was a simple one. Maybe it was because as much as he didn’t want to admit it, he saw a lot of himself in Nick, at least the younger him.
When he was a kid, he had a very hot temper and would frequently lash out with his fists. His brothers took the brunt of those attacks but he was lucky in that they never retaliated. One day over lunch with Tim, he asked why it was they never once hit him back. All the times he had taken swings at them over the dumbest things. Tim looked over at his baby brother and simply said, “Because you were a kid and if we laid a hand on you, mom would have killed us.”
“They didn’t take me in like I was some charity case, you know. They took you in too.” Nick’s voice was muffled sounding as if he was talking into his pillow while speaking.
“It’s a little different.”
“Why?” He still had his back facing Kevin.
“Because…it just is.”
“It’s the same.”
Kevin shook his head and sighed, “Whatever you say.” He stood up and made his way downstairs leaving the teen alone with his thoughts.
As he made his way down the stairs, Kevin stopped to look at all the photos displayed. Pictures of each of the Dorough children in various stages of their lives were all looking happy and firmly put together ending on the bottom step with a barely one year old Howie being embraced by his siblings. When he turned the corner to enter the kitchen he was met with a waft of coffee still brewing away as Howie’s mother busied herself folding eggs onto a platter.
“Good morning, Kevin.” She said smiling. “I hope you’re hungry. Of course my son isn’t up yet. I’m hoping the smell of breakfast will do the trick.”
Kevin sat down at the table, “Is there anything I can do to help?”
She turned and placed the huge platter of eggs in front of him. “Just eat up. I have some bacon in the oven.”
“I can smell it. “ He smiled as he took a small portion of eggs and placed them on his plate.
“Is Nicky up yet?” She asked as she poured him a glass of orange juice.
Kevin shook his head, “Just long enough to take off his shoes, then he went back to sleep.”
She nodded, “Good, let the boy sleep. I’m sure he needs it. I’m sure you both do. Lou certainly does keep you busy.”
Kevin nodded as he bit into his breakfast. The eggs were silky and smooth. Much different than the generic ones he had been living off of for months. They just tasted like home. Before he even had a chance to swallow his first bite, momma D was placing even more on his plate along with a healthy portion of bacon. “Don’t be modest, please eat up!”
He laughed at that but was more than willing to oblige. At least he wouldn’t be missing out on home cooked meals this visit, even though they weren’t from his own mother.
“Well look who’s up. I told you the coffee would work.”
Howie walked in and kissed his mother on the cheek. “Morning,” He nodded at Kevin as he poured himself a cup of the freshly brewed coffee. “No Nicky yet?”
Kevin shook his head. “He’ll probably sleep most of the day away.”
Howie nodded, “Well, that’s fine by me. I can do with more sleep myself. What did you want to do today?”
Kevin shrugged, “I don’t know, I thought we could maybe just hang at the beach and then hit one of those clubs you mentioned yesterday.”
Howie laughed as his mother piled food onto his plate. “You want me to just sink to the bottom of the ocean mommy?”
“You need to eat. You don’t eat enough when you’re on the road.”
He placed a huge forkful of eggs into his mouth and then nodded, “Sounds good to me.”
“What sounds good?” Nick chimed in as he came running into the kitchen as if he owned the place, throwing himself on a chair and grabbing the platter of eggs off of the table before Momma D even had a chance to do it for him. “I am starving!” his hair was disheveled and he was still wearing the clothes he had fallen asleep in the night before.
“See? This is the way you eat breakfast. Good morning, bambino.” Howie’s mother walked over and gave Nick a kiss on the cheek and then lovingly placed a hand through his messy hair.
“I had a hard time getting comfortable in that bed. The mattress is so hard.”
Kevin tensed up when he heard the teen’s complaint, biting his lip and trying his hardest not to say anything, instead choosing to give Nick the stare of death.
“I agree, Polly loves her hard mattress though. My sister is weird. She could easily sleep on a bed of nails.”
“So could you!” Kevin countered.
“True…we Doroughs enjoy our sleep.”
“I’m sorry you are uncomfortable in there sweetheart, maybe we can move John’s stuff and…”
“Don’t go to any trouble for him, he’ll be fine.”
Nick nodded at Kevin’s words, “Yeah, I’m good. Thanks though, momma D!”
She smiled and nodded, “Well, help yourselves to as much as you like and then Howard, make sure you put those dishes in the washer before you go do what you’re going to do today.”
“Yes Ma’am. What are you up to?”
“I need to wake up your father and then we are going to run a few errands.”
Howie walked over to his mother and gave her a huge hug, “I love you mommy!”
“I love you too.” She then winked at all the boys and walked out of the kitchen just as Nick grabbed another heaping spoonful of eggs and a few more slices of bacon.
~ * ~
The warm sun on Kevin’s face as he lay with his eyes closed on the sand, made some of the tension and regret he had been feeling dissolve. If he went home to Kentucky, he wouldn’t have been by the water. The closest thing he had to a beach there was a lake about 15 miles from his parent’s home and it most likely would have been too chilly to sit down there in a bathing suit and enjoy it. Water seemed to have a calming effect on him. If he was having a bad day or needed to think, he’d almost always head towards a body of water, whether it was a beach, a pool or even a fish tank.
“We need to go fishing…” He said as he opened his eyes and looked over to his left where Howie was also sun bathing.
“That sounds like a good idea. I just have to get the keys to the boat from my brother. He might want to come along, would that be okay?”
“Fine by me.” Kevin and John always got along. They had the same sense of humor and seemed to think the same way about things. He slowly sat up and put on his sunglasses. Glancing out at the water, he saw Nick just standing there and letting the waves hit his legs. “Did Johnny give a reason the Carters bailed on their son?”
Howie was also staring out Nick’s way, “He wasn’t too specific. Just said the parents were fighting. Bob took some of the kids and went one way while Jane took some and went the other, leaving this kid out of the mix.”
“They seem like truly terrible parents.” Kevin said, shaking his head in disgust.
“You know, I sometimes wonder…”
“Just how Nick is so quick to violence, if his dad…he just seems scared of his father.”
“You think Bob abuses him?”
Howie took in a deep breath and shrugged, “I hope not, but…” He glanced over at Kevin, “I don’t know.”
“If that were the case, I would think he wouldn’t want to go home, but he seems to ALWAYS want to go home.”
“Yeah…I wish I knew, Kevin. There’s a lot going on there.”
“And we’d see bruises, wouldn’t we?”
As Nick started to walk back towards the boys, Howie simply said, “Sometimes the biggest bruises are the ones we can’t actually see.”