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By the time my father made it up the elevator and into my hotel room I had managed to calm myself down and had my mask placed firmly on my face. There would be no more tears for Nick tonight; especially in front of my family.

He knocked and I held my breath just for a second before exhaling and opening the door to him. He instantly walked in and hugged me tight. Just like a father should. Then pulling me away he surveyed the damage that my evil drug addicted brother had done. At least that is what his face was screaming. Look at what my evil older drug addicted son did to you.

“Does it hurt?” He asked lovingly running his hand on the bandage concealing my stitches.

“I’ll live. I have had worse than that happen believe me” He laughed. “Yeah son…I’m sure you have a ton of interesting tales to tell me. I look forward to hearing them all some day” He looked around the room uneasily. I could tell he thought we were being watched.

“No one is here dad. It’s just you and I” He seemed to relax a bit more at that.

My father smiled at me and walked over and sat down on the bed. I noticed for the first time that we had very similar strides in our steps. Not confident at all but a little slouched over and nervous.

“How is Mike?” I didn’t want to ask at first, I had actually thought of never saying his name again; that’s how hurt I was. I still loved him though, in spite of everything and I still wanted to help him. I mean I heard stories of drug addicts doing crazy stupid things to the people they loved because they were desperate. Maybe that was Mike.

“He’s very sorry for hurting you Nick. He feels awful about it”

“Yeah? Well good…he should”

“Son, it’s his illness. He didn’t mean to hurt you, he loves you. I hope you realize that” The glint in my father’s eyes made me feel like he was talking for himself and not for Mike. That for some reason made me uneasy.

“I know” I confessed although I think staying mad at Mike would have made things easier.

“We need to get him some help son” I nodded, “What do you need me to do?”

My father stood up and paced briefly once again looking nervously around the room; during that time I started to pick up little habits he had. They weren’t that hard me for to notice since I bore many of the same traits. Such as pacing and biting my bottom lip when I was nervous, or better yet when I was about to lie.

He bit his lip and stood in front of me and I noticed the small line of sweat running down his forehead and landing on his collar. Why was he sweating? It was freezing in here.

“Son, to make this thing work, I need you to transfer funds into an account for me, maybe we can open it jointly or better yet, I could take over control of your finances…”

“Dad I don’t think you realize how big of a job that is exactly”

He laughed at me and licked his lips, another thing I did when I was nervous and uneasy.

“Nick, I am a business man remember? Of course I know how much work that is. I am willing to do it for you though…for us”

“Oh that’s right and what was your business again? I don’t remember?” He grew impatient with my question. I can’t even tell you why I suddenly felt the need to ask. Maybe part of me wanted to catch him in a lie or something. Self sabotage as Kevin would say when I would get into unhealthy relationship after unhealthy relationship. He would be proud of me for remembering that too.

“I was into real estate” My head snapped up at him. Oh my God maybe I did catch him in a lie.

“I mean…I want to be in real estate that is if I can get that shelter built” It made sense what he said but there was a hesitation. Just the smallest one; the same kind I often had when I was caught in a lie of my own. What was wrong with me? Why did I suddenly not even trust my own father?

“Oh” Was my only reply to that. He once again took to pacing the floor as he explained in detail about why it would be beneficial for me to have him in charge of everything. How he would turn my fiscal earnings blah… blah… blah …That’s all it turned into about ten minutes into the conversation. A bunch of blah blah blahs.

As he rambled on, my mind wandered way back to the time when I still lived under this man’s roof. I remember him pacing like this as he would yell at my Mother, maybe trying to convince her about something…kind of like he was trying to convince me now. Those little talks always ended in fights.

I would maybe be sitting in the living room in my play pen hitting myself in the head with my Winnie the Pooh. I was too old for a play pen but they would put me in there to keep me from running all through the house and out the door. I had done that a few times.

Are you listening to me son?” He asked stopping right in front of me.

“Uh yeah dad”

“No you weren’t Nick. I could tell you were zoning out!”

“Dad do you remember when I would escape out of the house when I was little? I think I used to run around the block” He looked annoyed; “No I don’t”

“I used to do it a lot, so you and Mom put me in a play pen”

“Nick, you really have to pay attention to what I’m saying” I looked up at him and he was stern. Not happy at all; almost scary. Maybe he didn’t remember because he didn’t care. Then our original phone conversation popped into my head. The first time I had called my brother’s house. How cold he had been to me, saying he didn’t have another son. Not even a hesitation when he said it.

“Dad when I first called Mike’s house”

Now he was really becoming agitated, “Nick seriously we don’t have time for this nonsense! Are you listening to me or not?” He yelled at me and I winced. Instantly he switched faces, or should I say masks. Back to the caring father and I began not to believe a word he was saying to me.

“Son…I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap. It’s been a hard day. What about the time you called?” He asked now sitting next to me and placing his arm around my shoulder.

“You said you didn’t have another son…Why?” He took a deep breath and once again licked his lips. “I didn’t think of it Nick” He paused and suddenly I couldn’t even look at him.

“I never thought in a million years that you would have come back into my life. You’re a blessing from heaven” I wanted to believe that. Desperately wanted to, but didn’t.

“Mike seemed like he had no idea what I was talking about when I accused him of stealing my card” Now it was my turn to stand as suddenly I was becoming nervous and uneasy.

“Well…that’s normal…I mean…um...if someone accused you of stealing something wouldn’t you deny it?”

“But it wasn’t even that. He had NO idea what I was even talking about”

“Nick that’s ridiculous! The card was in his jacket pocket!”

“I know but…” I stopped for a moment. I looked at him in a moment of revelation; he seemed put off by the look.

“Dad…you told me to look in his pocket for the aspirin, but there was no aspirin in there”

“Yeah so? Maybe he moved it…Nick we are getting off track here”

“It’s like you wanted me to look in the jacket…” Then I found myself taking two steps away from him, “It was you” I said in a small voice.

“Nick you are being ridiculous” He laughed. It was a nervous laugh; that had me convinced.

“Dad…why did you steal my card?” Now he walked close to me as if to muzzle my mouth or something. The gesture made me take a few more steps back. Suddenly I was afraid of him, like I used to be. The nights I would run away out of my house away from my play pen would be because I was SO terrified of this man; the one standing in front of me right now.

He placed his arms in front of him and then put his finger to his lip, “Nick stop…you just need to relax, we don’t want anyone to hear” Once again he looked around nervously and for once I regretted my decision to not have the guys stay in the room with me.

“I think you should go dad” I said after exhaling a deep breath. He looked shocked and mad, “Nick you are being stupid! It wasn’t me son. It was your brother”

“Seriously dad I think maybe you should just leave…”

“Nick what about your brother? Are you going to piss him away? Just like a typical pop prince?”

“What? No dad…I plan on helping him”

“The only way you can help him is if you give me the money” Now his sweat was pouring off of him.

“I will dad but I’m doing it by myself. I just think right now it’s hard for me to trust anybody so if you just give me the name of the place I will gladly…”

“Nick you are as dumb as everyone says you are! I told you they won’t do it for you”

“Well maybe I can convince them. I have some pull. What’s the name of the place?”

He stood staring me down as I held the phone in my hands. Waiting for him to give me the number that deep down inside I knew didn’t even exist. Finally after what seemed like a small eternity he laughed. It was a defeated laugh but I was nowhere near smiling.

“Okay…okay you win. There is no place. Actually it’s for me…I didn’t know how to tell you this but” His mood got serious and he sat on the bed, “I have cancer son. I am dying” I stood with my mouth open not believing that a man who supposedly loved me was so capable of betraying me this way. “Dad you need to leave before I call the cops” Now his act was over and he stood; hate filling every pore if his body while hurt filled mine.

“You know what? I never wanted you. Neither did your Mom. In fact, I drove her to the abortion clinic the day she told me she was going to have you…I convinced her to change her mind; seems I made a mistake” I took a deep breath, there was no way I was going to show this man how much that hurt, NO way!

“Turns out you are a no good loser! What a disappointment!”

“Bye dad” Was all I said in response.

“Do you want me to just wait so you can have your poor old man arrested? Maybe it’ll make the papers and you can grow even richer off of my misfortune. You would really like that wouldn’t you son?” this time the word son sounded venomous on his lips. Almost like a racial slur.

“I’m not going to call the police dad. All I want is you out of my life”

“Well, I’ll tell Mike that. He’ll be happy to hear it; he told me he hated you from the moment he laid eyes on you!” I closed my eyes and then took another big breath.

I opened the door for him and watched as he sauntered out.

Once he was gone I didn’t know what to do with myself; my first inclination was to throw something; anything But it wasn’t anger I felt…I was just numb. Actually looking back on it now I can say it was the weirdest feeling. Like all the times you have been hurt secretly develop calluses on your heart making it almost impossible to break. I felt hard like that.

I walked over to the phone by instinct wanting to call my Mother. See? When bad things happened I talked to the guys but when horrible things happened I usually called my Mom. Not that she ever made me feel better but it just was something I did.

Not this time though; this time I was hit with the reality of this situation. I was an 18 year old with no one to call.

Brian walked in unannounced and not welcome, “I saw your dad leave…did you guys have a good visit?” I put that mask back on and nodded.

“Good, how is Mike?”

“Good…hey Brian I am going to go for a walk to try to clear my head” He looked over at me and I smiled, “you want me to come?”

“Nah it’s okay”

“Don’t forget to bring security or else...” I laughed, believe me, it was hard as hell to muster a laugh but I did anyway, “I know I know…or else Kevin will kill me”

“Yeah exactly” He said lying on his bed and putting the television on.

“Bye Bri” I smiled at him, not having Any intention of ever coming back.

I was done!