Mike just stood staring at his father incredulously, why now of all times? He always had the absolute worst timing in the world. It wasn’t enough that over the years his dad had done nothing but ruin his life over and over again, constantly having to change cities and even names at one point to stay out of trouble with the law, but now he has to come back just as he was about to rekindle a relationship with his only brother.
“Well, why are you just standing there with a dumb look on your face? Aren’t you going to say wow dad you look great I’m SO happy to see you?” That snapped Mike out of his semi daze as he walked over to his father and gave him a forced hug.
“I’m sorry dad; I’m just a little surprised that’s all”
“Believe me so am I” he said as he ventured into the room and threw his duffel bag on the couch, like he was claiming his territory. Mike closed the door and walked over to where his father was and decided to sit on the coffee table across from the man who he thought he would never really have to see again.
“So, why are you here dad? I have to admit I didn’t think I’d be seeing you for a while”
“Yeah I know…” John took a cigarette out of his jean pocket and lit it up, “I can tell by the numerous visits you made to me while I was in that hellhole”
And here comes the guilt ladies and gentlemen Mike was wondering how far into this little visit THAT would happen, turns out only about three minutes. Three minutes and he had already managed to turn everything upside down.
“I’m sorry about that dad; it’s just that I was trying to move on with my life” Mike stood up to go find his father a make shift ashtray seeing as how if he didn’t, John would have been more than content to just let the ashes drop on the floor.
“Nice to know that moving on with your life means no more bothering to talk to your father” Mike stopped his search to take a deep breath or else he would have started hyperventilating, his father made him that crazy sometimes.
“How long do you plan on staying” He dared to ask from the kitchen where he was retrieving an old aluminum pie plate for his dad.
John ignored his son as he took a minute to look around the room, kind of disgusted with how small the place was. True it was a little bigger than his prison cell but not by much. He was somehow hoping that Mike had struck it rich while he was gone, buying a house big enough for the two of them to live in comfortably. No such luck; he would have to sleep on the small couch he was now sitting on. That sucked!
“Why didn’t you answer me?” Now Mike was back in his small living area extending his makeshift ashtray to his father, “I asked you how long you planned on staying”
John took the ashtray and placed it on the floor by his feet. He loved just letting the ashes fall from the end and down onto the floor. He ignored his son once more, long enough to inhale and exhale; Mike stood patiently waiting for his answer while biting on his bottom lip.
“Just until I get back on my own to feet. Don’t worry, I’ll be out of your hair soon enough”
Mike nodded because he couldn’t think of anything else to do, he wasn’t about to throw his dad out knowing he would end up at one of those shelters, but yet he didn’t really want him staying around either. Maybe he would just stay long enough to get his act together.
“You didn’t escape or anything did you?” That made John laugh, “No, I suppose they just got tired of me” When Mike didn’t laugh, John continued, “God kid where did your sense of humor go? Relax; I was let out on good behavior. I think they needed my room or something, whatever the case, your dad’s a free man!”
“That’s excellent” He feigned a smile, really just wanting to scream. This was not at all a good thing, in fact this was probably as bad as it could possibly get.
“Holy shit!” He exclaimed when he realized he should really be getting dressed for work, but did he really want to leave his father alone in his apartment? Not that there was anything that he could possibly steal but still.
“Where did you get the fancy cellphone? I never pictured you as a cellphone type of kid” Mike ran over and retrieved the phone out of his father’s hands as if it stayed in those hands long enough, they would magically reveal who it actually belonged to. Speaking of which, now he had a brand new dilemma, what the hell to do concerning Nick. There was NO way in hell he was going to tell his dad about Nick. He felt a little bad about it, he did deserve the right t know, but then again why? He couldn’t even recall his father EVER bringing up the kid at all, once they walked out the door of that old rickety house in Florida, it’s like he had forgotten he had two sons.
Suddenly he felt bad for bringing up the fact that his Mom never tried to find him, when here was their father who had done the same thing.
Two lousy parents!
“Jesus Christ kid, don’t worry I won’t run up your phone bill”
“It’s a friend of mine’s phone” He said taking it and putting it in his coat pocket. John Alexander smiled, “Would this be a female friend Mikey?” He smirked, the same smirk that both boys had used as their trademark to get all the women they wanted.
“Actually yes, but she’s just a friend”
That’s who he needed, he needed Melinda there. She would know what the heck to do, he thought to himself as he watched his father pull off his shoes and throw his feet onto the couch; lying down like a man who had NO plans at all to ever get up again.
“Dad, I really have to go and get ready for work, but I guess we can talk later”
His father grunted, totally ignoring him, like he had always done on countless occasions while growing up.
By the time Mike got done dressing himself his dad was fast asleep on the couch, snoring away. “Okay dad, see ya!” He whispered sarcastically as he walked out the door first making sure he hadn’t left any money at all hanging around.
Mike found himself suddenly a little happy that Nick was going to be gone all day. He don’t know what he would have done if the two had actually crossed paths today. He took a deep breath and got himself into work with about two minutes to spare.
I was acting like a child. I knew I was, I was full aware of it. No matter how many times I tried to change that side of myself, I just couldn’t. It’s like our roles had been cast and from time to time it was me that had to act like a spoiled brat.
When we got to this formal dinner thing, my mood had only worsened. I wanted to just go back to the hotel and call Mike; I didn’t want to be a Backstreet Boy today. I wanted to be an Alexander. Alexander…I couldn’t recall the last time I had actually allowed myself to be called an Alexander. It felt good; like maybe I could be me for once and not this Nick Carter person, because frankly, he grated on my nerves. Today definitely being one of those times.
I had decided that if I had to be in a bad mood, I was also going to make my entire group suffer. Misery loves company correct? So I was pouty and huffy to the point that even Brian, who could act just as spoiled sometimes, chose to walk away and ignore me.
After Brian was wise and finally decided to abandon ship, I just kept to the side of the room, head down playing with my Gameboy. That is before management, who were already furious with me for not being suitably dressed for the occasion, had ripped it right out of my hands. I knew they would manage to find me something to wear, good old predictable me, management had gotten used to always bringing an extra set of clothes with them whenever we had an event like this, because usually it was me, or perhaps AJ and Brian that would forget to dress appropriately. Nine times out of ten it was me, so one urgent phone call later, there I was in a VERY uncomfortable suit. About one size to big, smiling for cameras and being poked and prodded like I was a Christmas Ham.
We were supposed to mingle with the rich, business people first then go up to the table on the risers and discuss how happy we were that we had a sponsor. Blah blah blah…
It was a Jive head that yanked the Gameboy out of my hand, much to the chagrin of Kevin who witnessed the whole thing. He whisper yelled at me to act my age for once. You know what I mean by whisper yell? That cordial threat that comes through a smile as onlookers walk by. Couldn’t have our sponsors thinking anything bad could we?
After my Gameboy was gone, I was forced to do something other then be distracted, so I stood against the wall and smiled when people walked by. I figured that was the safest thing I could do. No one bothered me, but I was occasionally shot a look from Kevin. When it came time for us to head to the front and make our grand speech, I sat on the end with my head down. I really didn’t want to be bothered with any of this.
Kevin was going on and on rambling as he always does. The boy just really likes the sound of his own voice. Too bad nobody else does. I cracked myself up, which unfortunately brought the attention to me.
“Is something funny?” Uh oh I thought as I realized all heads were turned my way. I looked up to the man how asked the question. He held a small microphone and was staring at me, “No, sorry…I was just thinking of something”
“Care to share?”
Now I knew once that happened all the questions would start. It always happened like that for me, the guys thought it was because I couldn’t stand NOT being the center of attention even for a minute, but I think it’s because I really was a dumbass.
“Nick, tell us how you feel about the tour?”
“Nick, do you have a girlfriend?”
“Nick how do you feel about your Mom’s book?”
“It’s a book” Everyone in the room laughed, I didn’t understand why. I didn’t think I was being funny. Brian and AJ laughed too. Howie and Kevin however, were not amused.
“You’re a boy of few words aren’t you?”
“Uh huh” More laughter.
After that they luckily moved on and I once again drifted off into daydream land. I loved daydream land. Nothing bad ever happened there. No matter what, it all turned out okay. In this little daydream, I pictured my brother and I going to a baseball game, not as a celebrity with guest, but as two normal brothers. Maybe he had a broken down van that he would drive us in. We would buy two hotdogs each and sit patiently with our gloves on waiting to catch a foul ball. Which Mike finally does in the bottom of the ninth inning. The walk off homerun ball. Everyone around him cheers then he hands it to me.
“This is for you kid. I love you!”
“Earth to Nicky…” I felt a hand on my shoulder and I glanced over to see Howie tapping me.
“We’re all done. Where were you?”
Howie nodded as if it all made perfect sense. I followed him down the few steps which led back to the main hall where the mingling once again commenced. I wanted to sneak away, just disappear. It probably wouldn’t be too hard, I decided that maybe I could go into the bathroom and sneak in a call to Mike. Not that I would have any idea what to say, but at least I would worry about that when the time came.
I walked past a few happy smiling people to find the bathroom. Of course, I was unaware that Kevin was following me. Why I would be the least bit surprised was beyond me, but when I got into the bathroom and once again took out Howie’s phone, Kevin decided to stop his let’s ignore Nick time.
“Don’t you think it’s rude to keep using his phone without asking?” I jumped about ten feet, but luckily I didn’t let out a scream. That would have been embarrassing. I turned around to face him, once my heart found its way back into my chest, “He knows” I lied of course, Howie wouldn’t mind.
“Who are you calling?”
“That’s none of your business, besides you don’t care right?” I instantly went into spoiled brat mode, God I hated doing that, but I couldn’t help it.
“How long you plan on acting like a baby about this Nick? I would love to know so I can pencil in when I can tolerate being around you again” I rolled my eyes. He was good, I’ll give him that much.
“I’m not acting like a baby” Yup I was the master at lame comebacks.
“I hope you’re calling your Mom. The sooner you do, the sooner this all get's straightened out”
“Oh I’ll leave that up to you since you seem to always want to call her anyway” Now he rolled his eyes.
"Whatever...do what you want, don't be too long, people want to know who it is they are graciously donating their money to...oh and try not to act like an ass please" Instead of looking at me he looked at the phone. Boy he sure as hell didn't want me talking to my brither which I KNEW he realized was going to happen once he walked out of the bathroom.
Once I heard the door close, I walked into a stall and dialed my phone patiently waiting for him to pick up.
Mike staggered into work right on time. How he managed that was beyond him but he was there exactly on time. Not a minute to late or to soon. The manager was even standing there by the punch clock waiting for him. That guy can't wait to fire my ass he thought to himself when it appeared that the manager was disappointed with Mike's punctuality.
He still couldn't believe that his Fahter had come back home. What lousey timing and now what the hell was he supposed to do? He walked over to his register where Ariana was standing there waiting for him. She had a very amused look on her face.
"Hey" He realized he didn't take her book back to work with him. He almost wanted to run away knowing she owuld ask about it.
"So..." She said
"Yeah I know, I'm really sorry for leaving with your book yesterday, I forgot it but I'll bring it tomorrow. I promise"
She smiled, "Oh that's okay...I have to ask" That made Mike look her way, "What sweetie?"
Ariana walked closer to him so that only he could here, "Is it true that he is your brother?" That took Mike by surprise.
"Ariana...I don't want people to know"
She smiled and started to hop, "Oh my gosh it IS true? I thought Melinda was just playing with me, but it's true? Oh my GOD!!"
"Look, I'm not positive yet. I still have to talk to him and all that stuff. Melinda wasn't supposed to tell anybody" He said the last part sounding more than a little annoyed which made Ariana become very apologetic, "I'm sorry Mike, I won't tell a soul, I promise" He nodded at her, he believed her, but then again he also believed Melinda.
"Thanks. I appreiciate that. I'll give you your book tomorrow"
"Keep it for as long as you need it" She said. He was really angry at Melinda right then, and happy that she wasn't in work.
"SHIT!" HE screamed which caused a bunch of heads to turn his way.
"What's wrong Mike?" Ariana asked, worried the man might flee again with NO explanation.
"I left my jacket home" She looked confused and Mike couldn't blame her. How was she supposed to know that in the jacket was Nick's cellphone.