~ 6 ~
The next morning, the boys woke up at around six. Nick made sure of that. There was no way they were going to miss this promised fishing trip. Howie’s brother had other plans so at 7:20 am; the three guys boarded the SS Double D and set sail for the middle of the Atlantic.
Kevin woke with glassy eyes and another headache. He felt like he needed at least three more hours of sleep to feel fully rejuvenated. This was a break. Weren’t they supposed to be able to sleep in during a break? Why was it that this kid was almost impossible to wake up when work needed to be done, but was wide awake by 6 and ready to go when on vacation? On most days, it took all four of them to pull Nick out of bed and get him dressed just for a dance rehearsal. He made no sense.
Kevin glanced over at Nick who was sitting right beside Howie as he steered the boat, seeming to not have any idea what he was doing. “You do know how to drive this thing right, D?”
Howie nodded, “I’ve done it a few times. How hard can it be? It’s kind of like driving a really big and wet car. John gave me pretty good directions.”
“I know how to drive the boat!”
“NO!” both Kevin and Howie said in unison.
“Jesus…alright. I was just sayin’” the blonde paused for a few seconds, “We should have a competition to see who will catch the most fish!” Nick said excitedly.
“Why does everything have to be a contest with you?”
“Because it makes life exciting, Kevin.”
“Yeah, except when you lose. Then we have to hear how you weren’t really serious about the contest…blah blah blah. Same story over and over.”
“You say that as if I lose all the time, which I never do.”
“Substitute the word never with always…that’s more accurate.”
Nick stood up and moved beside Kevin, “Sounds like you’re just chicken…brock brock brock.”
“You seriously did not just cluck at me, did you?”
“Brock brock brock!” Nick stood up, flapped his wings and started pecking.
“Can we throw him overboard?” Kevin asked Howie who had a huge smile on his face.
“Maybe after we stop.”
Which will be when?”
“Yeah, D…this seems like a good place to catch some fish and watch Kevin lose my bet!”
Howie nodded and stopped, a little too fast which had Nick fly across the boat and fall to the ground.
“Sorry...you okay, Nicky?”
Nick sat up and rubbed at his lower back, “I think you broke my ass!”
Kevin stood up and walked over to Nick, offering him his hand, “Oh, no what will you ever be able to talk out of now?”
Nick smiled as he let his older bandmate help him up, “Ha Ha Ha You is a real riot.”
“Yes, I is…”
“I’ll go get the rods.”
“They’re below deck, Nicky.”
Nick nodded at Howie and left.
“It’s going to be a long day…” Kevin admitted to his friend once Nick had descended the steps.
They sat there for a while with their feet dangling off the side of the boat and their fishing rods in their hands. No one had caught a thing. It’s like all the fish in the ocean decided to take a break or something. Kevin felt a mounting frustration as he just sat there and waited. There were other things he could be doing, like sleeping. This seemed like a complete and utter waste of time. He decided in his head that if they went another hour with nothing to show for it, he would make the suggestion that they turn back.
He glanced over at Howie who he wished was sitting next to him so he could share his plan. Of course that’s not how it worked since Nick, who always needed to be the center of attention, sat right in between both of the guys.
“I haven’t even seen any minnows or guppies down there.” Nick sounded annoyed. “Maybe we should move to another place?” He glanced over at Howie and squinted his eyes when the sun hit them head on.
“I’m not sure doing that would change anything, Nicky. Maybe the fish just aren’t biting today.”
“It’s because we left too late!” For whatever reason, he directed a death glare look over at Kevin.
“We left early enough, Nick.”
“My dad made us leave before the sunrise and we always caught a ton of fish.” He said this, emphasizing the ‘we’ as if to show how much better his father was at this then him. “We would have caught about ten huge ones by now.”
Kevin resisted the urge to say what he wanted and instead opted to shrug, “Ah well…what can you do?”
Nick let out a sigh, rested his elbow on his leg and placed his hand on his chin. Then there it was… the refreshing sound of silence.
The oldest closed his eyes and tried to take a nap sitting up. He had napped in stranger positions before. Unlike Howie, he didn’t have the power to just make himself fall asleep anywhere at any time but if he was tired enough, like now, he could make it happen. He felt himself dosing off as he heard Nick once again start whining, this time directing his anger at Howie.
“D, you’re holding the rod wrong.”
“There’s a wrong way to do this?”
“Yeah and you’re doing it!”
Kevin kept his eyes closed as he felt Nick shift his position, surely showing Howie the ‘correct’ way to hold his stupid fishing rod. There was a slight rocking of the boat which didn’t help with the nausea he felt since he woke up and then an “Oh, I see…” from Howie who was obviously just telling the teenager what he wanted to hear. “Thanks, Nicky.”
“No wonder no fish were biting. Maybe that will help.” Then there was a pause before the all too familiar, “What?” was directed at Kevin who had inadvertently laughed in a sarcastic manner after Nick’s last statement.
He felt the need to open his eyes, and shrug. “I doubt that will help at all. It’s not like the fish were offended that Howie didn’t’ know what he was doing.”
“Uh…I know what I’m doing…” was almost whispered by poor D.
“Sorry, D…what I meant was how Howie is or isn’t holding his stupid fishing pole isn’t going to make a bit of difference.”
“We call it a fishing rod, Kevin.”
“My dad and I. He always says that only people who do not know what they are doing, call it a fishing pole. Now I see what he means.”
Kevin bit at his lip and tensed his fingers around his fishing ‘rod’ before throwing it back into the ocean. “No matter what it’s called, the fact that Howie is clueless doesn’t matter.”
“Um…I’m not clueless…” Once again the smallest protest was heard coming from the other side of Nick.
“What I think we should do is head back.” Kevin decided to just go for it while given the opportunity. “You said so yourself that nothing is down there, so why waste our time when there is other stuff we could be doing?”
“Like what exactly? Me staying home while you two go out again?”
“Relax, no…just anything.”
“You just want to leave because I want to stay!” Nick’s voice was taking on that higher pitched whine that Kevin hated so much, the mark of a child who gets all mad when it doesn’t get its way.
“No, I want to leave because we aren’t actually fishing!”
“That’s because neither of you know how to do it right! If my dad was here…”
“But he’s not which is why YOU are here, isn’t it?” He tried to stop himself as the words were coming out of his mouth. His brain was saying “Nooooo” but his heart refused to listen. He couldn’t help it. He had been goaded by the kid all morning. He was tired and cranky and he had enough. He instantly regretted it.
There was a very uncomfortable silence at that point. “Nick, I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to…”
Nick glared right at him, “Yes, you did.” Then he calmly got up and went below deck.
Kevin rubbed at his eyes and threw his pole down in frustration. “I am never having kids!” He grumbled as he moved his legs from the side of the boat and stood up to follow the youngest down the steps.
“I know what I’m doing…” Howie grumbled as Kevin disappeared from site.
When he reached the bottom of the steps Kevin had to grab onto the small bannister to keep his balance as the boat rocked ever so slightly. He looked at the table with built in booth and then moved his gaze underneath where Nick was sitting, arms protectively wrapped around his knees as if he was a child playing hide and seek.
At first Kevin went to go sit in the booth but then opted to just sit right beside his bandmate on the ground. Nick ignored his presence, refusing to look his way and instead turned his head in the other direction.
“Nick, I am really sorry about what I said. I am cranky and tired and I just lost my temper.” He said this in a very quiet and calm voice, but most of all sincere because that’s how he felt. Sincerely sorry for what he had said.
Upon hearing those words, Nick turned his head to face his friend but still rested it on his knees as he held on tight to his own legs.
“Why do you hate me?”
Kevin seemed surprised by this question, “What are you talking about? I don’t hate you.”
“Yes, you do. You hate that I’m here. You don’t want me around. No one does.”
He tried not to act like it, but he was totally confused. Until after a few seconds of silence, Nick said “They never want me around either.”
“Who?” He asked even though he already knew the answer.
“Of course they do…”
“No they don’t and you know it too.” He paused for a few seconds and then confessed, “My father told me all I did was complicate things when I was born.” He looked over at Kevin with tears streaming down his face, “Why would he tell me that?”
“I wish I knew, Nick. Sometimes we say stupid things without thinking about it.”
Nick nodded, “But it doesn’t mean it’s not true.”
Kevin had no idea what to say to make this child feel better so instead of speaking he just put his hand on the kid’s foot.
“Everyone would be happier if I just disappeared.” He continued when he didn’t get the answer he had been searching for.
Kevin looked up to the steps, hoping that Howie would make his way down and rescue him. When Nick caught that panicked expression, even through tears he managed to let out a small laugh as he wiped his cheeks with the bottom of his tee shirt.
“Never mind…”He crawled out from under the table, “Maybe we should just head back…this was a stupid idea.”
Nick stood up and then used the table to steady himself. He looked so lost and sad, that it really did break Kevin’s heart. “I don’t hate you, Nick. Not even close.”
“Kev, it’s okay. I know I’m annoying and nothing more than a stupid kid to you.”
“That’s not true. You’re my little brother.”
At those words, Nick’s face seemed to light up just a little bit. “You’re not used to being the little brother. You’re used to being the older one. But the way I treat you is no different than how my big brothers treated me.”
Kevin nodded and smiled. He suddenly had a new mission to try to convince the fifteen year old that he wasn’t hated or unwanted. “Let’s get back up there before Howie breaks the boat.” He joked and then placed a loving arm around his little brother as he guided him back up the steps.