Running Up That Hill – Day 0

“I knew a young man
He had it all going his way
But he carried with him
A deep seeded pain” 

-Charlie Major ‘Can’t Happen To Me’

My hand hurt like hell. I mean, it was really painful. That was my first thought as I got up that morning. I had tried rolling over in bed to get some more sleep, since it was our day off and all I could do that. Somehow I managed to roll over my bandaged hand, screamed in pain and that was it, I was awake.

So much for sleeping in.

It was really stupid too. Howie and I were playing basketball like two nights before and I slipped because my runners didn’t have any grip left. It all sort of happened in slow motion and the entire time I was picturing the lecture I was going to get. I slipped, nearly hit the wall and landed right on my hand. I’m pretty sure I screamed bloody murder and of course instead of immediately coming to my rescue what does Howie do?

Laugh. Of course. He’s not as nice as everyone thinks he is. Sweet D, my ass!

Anyway it sucked because every interview since then I was asked about my hand. I had to tell them I broke it while playing basketball, which everyone just thought was so hilarious. I didn’t think it was so funny. At least the fans were sympathetic. That was one thing I loved about my fans, no matter what dumb shit I did they were always on my side.

It didn’t really matter that day, though. We had the day off. Free and clear. No concert, no interviews, just a great day to ourselves in Boston.

Did I mention how much I love days off? We hardly ever got them, and they were always well deserved. We worked our asses off and sometimes it felt like there was no end in sight. I’m not saying I wanted there to be an end, I just wanted a minute to breathe. That’s all.

I thought about just spending the entire day in bed. Maybe ordering some room service and watching a bad movie. That would have been fun. I also could have gone shopping. I liked shopping a lot more than I let on. Usually I acted like Howie or AJ were dragging me out to the mall, but the truth was I enjoyed buying stupid things. Plus I could use some new shoes, ones that actually had grip.

I stretched as I got out of bed and headed towards the bathroom. A long hot shower was the perfect way to start my day. My day off!

~~~

“Brian, wake up.”

As I stirred in my sleep and half woke up, I thought I heard the voice of an angel. Opening my eyes I came face to face with my wife. Close enough.

“Morning.” I muttered, pulling the blanket over my head. I was not a morning person, and this was the one time I didn’t need to be up early. Sure, management had mentioned something the day before about going to a little league game, but that didn’t start until later. I mean, what kind of children’s baseball team would start playing at nine in the morning on a Sunday? That meant I had time to catch up on all the sleep I’d been missing.

“Brian.” She said again, and I could feel her sitting up beside me. I was very quickly starting to change my opinion about the voice of an angel thing. Couldn’t I sleep in for another hour, was that so much to ask?

“Sleeping in.” I mumbled, rolling over.

I could hear her sigh. “We said we were going to go out for breakfast. Just like old times, remember?”

Oh right, I did remember that. Back when we had just started dating, we used to go for breakfast to this little restaurant in LA. It was while Millennium was being recorded, and anytime we had a morning to ourselves we would go there. It was a nice place, and it definitely felt posh to have mimosas and cream puffs first thing in the morning.

Wouldn’t you know it, Leigh had discovered the same type of place when we made it to Boston earlier that week. That was when we had the bright idea to wake up early and do the breakfast buffet thing. It had seemed like a much better plan when I wasn’t in a comfy bed with all the time in the world.

I rolled back over and managed to open my eyes. She was so beautiful and catching up on sleep wasn’t as important as spending quality time with her. Not by a long shot.

“I remember” I said with a smile.

She leaned over to kiss me on the forehead. “I’m glad.” She replied, tossing the covers aside and getting out of bed. “I’m going to have a shower and get ready.”

I took a deep breath and grinned as she walked away. The best of both worlds, while she did that I could get another half hour of shut eye. Yippie!

~~~

Shopping. That was how I planned to spend my day off. I also planned to drag Nick with me because no matter how much he complained, I knew he always enjoyed himself. He was also probably secretly hoping or even planning on the fact that I’d invite him out.

Nick liked to act as though he was mad at me for the hand incident, but I knew better. He could never stay mad at me for long. Kevin, yes. Myself, Brian and AJ? Never.

Well that last bit about AJ wasn’t entirely true. To say he’d been trying all of our patience for a little while now would be putting it mildly. He’d been drinking more and more, and had recently started using drugs. He didn’t like to make an effort to get along with us anymore and to be honest I was surprised he’d managed to not be late for a concert. All of us were worried about him but he was making it harder and harder by the day for us to be patient. Of course we understood that we was going through some hard times, but that wasn’t an excuse for his behaviour. We even had a counsellor on the tour with us who he seemed to ignore and not talk to about his issues. All of us had gone through hardships, but we hadn’t dealt with them nearly as poorly as AJ had been. It was hard for us to see him in the path he was going down, but there wasn’t much any of us could do. He didn’t want our help.

However, AJ was hardly my concern on my day off. Of course I was worried about him, but it wasn’t something I wanted to stress myself over. He’d probably spend most of the day in his own room anyway. Well, except for when we had our little league thing. After that, Nick and I would go shopping and everything would be fine.

Looking at the clock I realized I wasn’t sure what time we all had to be ready. Grabbing my cell phone, I dialled Kevin’s number.

“Yeah?” He answered, still sounding professional. That guy never took a break.

“What time are we meeting?” I asked.

I heard him shuffle some papers around on the other end. “I’d say in about an hour. Brian and Leighanne are out for breakfast and Nick and AJ are probably still asleep.”

“Sounds good.”

“Speaking of Nick and AJ, I think it’s time for a wake up call.” He laughed.

~~~

I knocked on Nick’s hotel room door, wanting to remind him about the appearance we’d agreed to the day before. Knowing him and AJ, they’d probably forgotten about it and were still asleep.

To my surprise, Nick opened the door and poked his head out. “Good morning Kevin!”

“Did you just get out of the shower?” I asked, tipped off by the fact that his hair was dripping.

He grinned. Mornings were always hit or miss with Nick. He was either slow moving and as late as possible or chipper as a bird. “Yeah.”

“Good, we’re meeting in an hour to go to the little league game.”

“What?” He asked, his head still poking out of the semi open door. He didn’t bother to open it any further and I was thankful for that. “It’s our day off!”

I’d like to say this was the strangest conversation I have ever had with Nick, but it was far from it. “We agreed to it yesterday, remember? It won’t take long, I promise you can still go shopping with Howie.”

“Did you wake up AJ yet?” He changed the subject and his tone of voice to a much more somber one.

“He’s next.” I said simply. That was going to be a treat, it was impossible to get AJ to do much of anything lately and I had a feeling reminding him we had work to do on our day off was not going to be fun.

“Good luck.” He replied, looking at the ground. Nick didn’t like to stay serious for long, and I figure that was why he did what he did next. Opening the door he enveloped me in a hug. “I believe in you, Kevin.”

“Get the hell off me Nick!”

Grinning again, he stepped back into his room. “Hey, count yourself lucky I was wearing a towel.” He said before closing the door.

I shook my head and continued on my way down the hall to AJ’s room. I silently prayed that he wasn’t going to make this difficult, he’d been trying my patience enough already. I took a deep breath and knocked on his door.

No answer. Surprise, surprise.

I knocked again. “AJ?”

I couple seconds went by. I was about to knock again, but I heard his voice through the door. “What?”

“We’re leaving in an hour to go to the little league game.”

“It’s my day off.” He replied shortly, not opening the door.

I sighed. “I realize that, but we agreed to this yesterday.”

“It’s my day off.” He repeated.

“It’s everyone’s day off, AJ.”

He was silent for a minute. Babysitting AJ had become my least favourite pastime, he definitely hadn’t been making the tour easier on any of us. “I’m not going.”

“Yeah, baby, you will.” I said sharply. “Open the door.”

No response. I took a deep breath and tried to contain my anger. “AJ. Open the door.” I said again. Him shutting me out physically and figuratively were not helping the situation.

“I’m not fucking going, leave me the fuck alone Kevin.” He growled. “You’re not my father, so stay the hell out of my business.”

I pounded my fist on the door. “AJ, you’re going. It’s for a bunch of children and it’ll only take an hour.”

“You’re not forcing me to do anything on my day off Kevin. Like I said you’re not my God damn father and I’m getting sick of this God complex you have where you need to control the entire group. I do have a life outside of this group, you know. So get the hell away from my room and leave me alone.”

I was done trying to get through to him. Done dealing with his selfish bullshit altogether. I think I had what they call a rage blackout. I had never been so angry in my entire life up to that point. Those hotel room doors were thin, but they weren’t weak, that’s for sure. With every ounce of strength I had I raised my right leg and managed to kick the door open.

AJ must not have been expecting that, because instead of uttering some remark he just stared at me in shock. Without missing a beat I stormed over to him until my face was inches from his. “I’m done with you. I hate you. You’re dead to me.” I said through gritted teeth. Without waiting for a response I left his room.

Staring at the ground as I walked down the hall, I nearly crashed into Nick. “What the hell was that?” He asked, a look of bewilderment washed over his face as he looked past me and saw AJ’s broken down door.

Not wanting to stop and chat, I continued walking while responding bitterly.

“AJ’s not coming.”

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