~ 5 ~
Kevin sat in the passenger seat as Howie sped down the highway towards the beach they had visited yesterday. There were so many questions going through his mind he didn’t even know where to start.
“How is Nick’s life in danger?”
Howie gripped the steering wheel tightly, “He’s been getting threatening letters.”
“We all do, there are a lot of crazy ass people out there.”
“No, this is different. Apparently it’s been happening for a while now.”
“Johnny said well over two years.”
“Is that what your meeting was about?”
Howie nodded, “It’s complicated Kevin. This isn’t some crazy, deranged fan we’re talking about but one of his distant relatives.”
Kevin shook his head in disgust not surprised that one of Nick’s own family members was the cause of this crisis. They were about as crazy as anyone could be so it made sense really. “Of course it is…so what is his deal then?”
Howie turned down one of the small side streets that led directly to the beach, “I see him.” He said, relief washing over him as he slowed and parked. There right next to the lifeguard’s post sat Nick, cross legged and writing things in the sand with a big stick. “Thank God.” He said as he turned off the car and then turned to face Kevin with a very serious look on his face.
“Supposedly this guy…he tried to do things to Nicky when he was younger.”
Kevin shut his eyes when he realized what Howie was talking about. “No…”
Howie nodded, “Supposedly…there was no real proof but he ended up in jail for kidnapping and child endangerment, not Nicky but he attacked another kid apparently.”
“Did Nick tell you this?”
“No, I don’t think he has any idea I know about it at all. He hasn’t mentioned a thing, not even about the letters.”
“What do the letters say?”
“Johnny showed them to me and they were pretty sick. He said that when he got out of prison he was going to find Nicky and make a new life with him.”
“When is that going to happen? When is he getting out of prison?”
“No one was really worried until the guy supposedly called Nick’s hotel room while we were overseas.”
“What? And he still didn’t tell any of us? Does Brian know?”
“Kev, I don’t think so. I don’t think he told anyone.”
“How could his parents leave him alone knowing all of this?”
Howie shook his head and glanced over at Nick once again. He was still writing something in the sand, looking pensive and sad as he did. “I have no idea.”
“Did they even file a restraining order?”
“I think Johnny is actually handling that but I’m not sure if it went through yet.”
“Does the guy know he’s here with you?”
“I don’t know, but he is in Florida.”
“How could he be so stupid and come out here all alone knowing that some psycho is out to get him!”
Kevin was angry, but he wasn’t entirely sure it had to do with Nick’s irresponsibility but more to do with the fact that this information was kept from him. Not that he would have wanted to be burdened with knowing but still, a catch twenty two.
“Kevin, we don’t want him to know we know. Obviously, if he wanted us to know he would have told us, so let’s not say anything, okay? I’m sure it’s scary and embarrassing for him.”
“What if this guy shows up? Do we even know what he looks like?”
“I have a picture, I’ll show it to you when we get back.”
“Do your parents know?”
Howie nodded, “Johnny made sure to fill them in.”
Now it was Kevin’s turn to glance down at Nick as he played with his stick in the sand, “Okay…let’s go get him.”
They both got out of the car and headed towards the beach.
He looked so innocent as he sat there playing with his stick and writing in the sand. It wasn’t until closer observation and seeing what was being written that both Kevin and Howie couldn’t help but smile as they sat beside him.
“You spelled douchebag wrong.” Kevin said as he glanced down at the message written in the sand. “And why am I the only douchebag? Shouldn’t Howie’s name be there too?”
“It was… this is my newest creation.”’
“Nicky, how did you get here?” Howie asked as Nick erased his latest message.
“I hitched a ride with a bunch of college kids.”
“You hitchhiked? Nick what were you thinking? Do you have ANY idea how dangerous that is?” Kevin was yelling to the point that both Howie and Nick cringed.
“Relax, it’s not like it was that far away and it was a group of girls in bikinis. I figured I’d take my chances.”
“We were worried about you. Why didn’t you leave a note?”
“I told Kevin where I was going.”
“I was asleep.”
“Well then you managed to tell me to fuck off while you were sleeping. Way to go.”
“Even still…you could have just stayed by the pool.” Howie put his hand on Nick’s shoulder.
“I did for like the first two or three hours. I was bored and when I figured out we weren’t actually going to go fishing, I decided to come here instead. I’m surprised to see you here. I thought for sure I’d end up coming back home just in time to see you guys go out and leave me again.”
Kevin rolled his eyes and shook his head, a move that had Howie give a little warning shake of his own before turning his attention back to the teenager, “We’re really sorry about that, Nicky. Tonight you get to pick what we do and then tomorrow we fish. I promise!”
“That sounded oddly like what Kevin said to me last night.”
“Maybe… but I will not go back on my word!”
“Hey!” Kevin said which made both Nick and Howie laugh.
Howie stood up first and then extended his hand to the youngest member of the group, swooping him up in one long pull and then together they helped Kevin up off the sand.
“So…where are those girls in the bikinis you mentioned?” Howie asked as they started walking back towards the car.
When they couldn’t decide on a movie they ended up just renting one, getting a pizza and relaxing on the couch. At first Nick wasn’t pleased with this choice, wanting to go bowling or play laser tag, mini golf or anything else that didn’t involve hanging around Howie’s house, but once he was reassured that they would eventually get to do some if not all of those things, he relented…just as long as he got to pick the movie and choose the pizza toppings. So, there they sat watching “Weekend at Bernie’s” and gnawing on Pineapple and pepperoni pizza.
“If you wanted pineapple so badly, why are you picking them all off?” Howie asked amused when he saw Nick’s mound of rejected pineapples growing on his greasy almost see through, paper plate.
“Because he knows I hate them on my pizza.”
Of course it was just going to be plain pepperoni at first but once the word pineapple was mentioned and a scowl ran across Kevin’s face, it seemed only fitting that it would be included on the pizza as that final act of retribution.
“Not true, Kevy Kev! I just guessed you might not like them!” He let out a belly laugh afterwards followed by a huge “HA!” and burp.
Kevin shook his head at the overly hyper blonde wishing that his cousin were here to rescue them. Whenever Nick got like this, the guys sought out Brian. He had this calming affect over the kid, or maybe he was just as hyper, whatever the case, it worked for the two of them and resulted in peace and quiet for the rest. Unfortunately this was not going to happen tonight.
“This has got to be the dumbest movie I’ve ever seen!” Howie grumbled as he took a sip of Coke. No alcohol tonight, Momma D’s orders after being told by Nick how they had both stood him up because of their night of partying. Lucky for them, he didn’t mention the whole hitchhiking to the beach part.
Nick was sitting on the floor beside Howie while Kevin opted for stretching his legs out on the couch.
“How could you say that man? This movie is a classic! The guy is totally dead but yet no one realizes it!”
“Exactly, how do these people not realize the guy is dead?”
Nick shrugged and chugged a Coke as if it was a beer, letting out another huge burp when he was done. “Because he’s like walking and shit.”
Kevin laughed which had Nick turn around, “What?”
Nick jumped onto the couch as if he was a dog and landed on top of Kevin’s legs. “Seriously what?”
Kevin tried pushing Nick off the couch but was unable to because of the grip he had on the arms of the furniture. “Get off me!”
“Not until you tell me why you laughed!” Nick was being overly playful and silly but Kevin was getting annoyed. He tried to get Nick off of him once more but it only made the blonde giggle.
“Nick…I mean it!”
“Come on Kevin…have some fun.”
“This isn’t fun…get off of me!” Kevin pushed one final time and ended up knocking Nick off of the couch and a can of Coke all over the floor. “Shit!” He said as he jumped up out of his seat.
Howie stood up, “Relax man. I’ll get some paper towels. This carpet has seen much worse!”
“See what you made me do?” Kevin pointed an accusatory finger at Nick. “Not everything is a game! Grow up!!”
Just as Howie came back with a roll of paper towels, Nick stood up, “I’m going to bed.” He suddenly was quiet and somber. “Goodnight.”
Before Howie could say one word Kevin beat him too it, “I know…I know…I’m going to go up and talk to him.”
D just smiled as he cleaned up Kevin’s mess.
When he got up the stairs, the light in the bedroom was off and Nick was lying on his side facing the wall. Kevin put the light on which had the teenager place his pillow over his head “Go away!”
Kevin sat on his bed across from Nick and just stared at his back, “I’m sorry I yelled at you.”
“I don’t’ like when people jump on me. I hate the feeling of not being able to move. I’m kind of claustrophobic.”
The confession made Nick turn around, “You are?”
Kevin nodded, “I get nervous when I can’t move.”
Nick sat up in his bed and placed the pillow on his lap, “I’m sorry. I never knew that. Wow, when we are completely surrounded by fans that must drive you crazy huh?”
Kevin nodded, “It’s not my favorite sensation.”
“I get that…I promise I’ll try to not jump on you as much anymore.”
Kevin laughed, “Thanks, Nick. I appreciate that.”
“I think that’s the first time you’ve ever shared a secret with me.”
Kevin nodded his head, “Well there you go.” He thought that maybe he found his opening. “Care to share any secrets with me?”
Nick thought about this for a few minutes, in which time Kevin was trying to prepare in his head what he would say to the kid about this guy who had been terrorizing him. How everything would be just fine because neither he nor Howie would let anything happen to him.
“I may have farted on your pizza when you weren’t paying attention.”
But instead he came up with that nugget of information.
Kevin just nodded…then shook his head…then nodded before shutting the light and saying, “Goodnight Nick. See you in the morning.”