Running Up That Hill – Day 15

“I won’t be here when you call me
You might go crazy thinking I have gone”

-Nathan ‘Sunset Chaser’

I know that the rest of the guys always make fun of me for constantly being on the phone, but what can I say? I like to keep in contact with people.

I guess that was why it had bothered me so much that Nick still hadn’t got back to me. He had to be at least aware that someone had called him, and I’d tried phoning him again in the morning, but he hadn’t picked up. He was probably still sleeping, but it still bugged me.

I was worried about him, and if I’m being completely honest I’d been worried about him since the second he’d left LA. It wasn’t unlike Nick to have that spaced out look on his face, and it wasn’t even unlike him to act somewhat distant, especially on our time off. But for some reason this felt different.

Usually I didn’t worry to much about Nick, I just let him do his own thing. I understand that we all need time to ourselves. But like I said, this time felt different. Plus there was the matter of our record company meeting and our visit with AJ. I like to have my plans in order way in advance, it’s sort of a neurotic tick of mine. I just like to know my schedule ahead of time.

It was driving me nuts.

If there was one person who would know what to do in this situation, it would be Kevin. He was the king of worrying about Nick.

“Hey Kevin,” I said once he answered. “I still haven’t been able to get ahold of Nick yet…”

“How is that any different than usual?” he asked, sounding annoyed. “He never picks up his phone. What’s the point in him even having one?”

“Yeah I know. Remember that time he got lost in New York and it took us three hours to find him?” I laughed. I’m pretty sure Nick cut five years off Kevin’s life that day. He said he was going across the street to Burger King and instead decided to go to McDonald’s which was a few blocks away. No bodyguard, and of course he ended up getting lost on his way back to the hotel.

“I forgot I had a cell phone,” Kevin imitated Nick’s sheepish voice from when we finally found him. “Did you leave him a message telling him the details? He’ll show up.”

“Yeah I did,” I sighed. “But you know, I’d like to know for sure.”

“Well what else does he have to do?”

Okay, Kevin had me there. It’s not like Nick was swamped with work back in Florida. “Yeah, you’re right.”

“Trust me, D. If I’m not worried, there’s no reason for you to be worried.” he paused. “Unless you know something that I don’t.”

I thought back to the lost look in Nick’s eyes when I dropped him off at the airport. “No. I don’t know anything.”

~~~

“Why don’t you take a break?” Leighanne asked me. I guess she could tell I was stressed out. It was probably obvious, I was sitting at the table hunched over a notebook. Head in my hands instead of the pen.

“No time for a break,” I muttered, without looking up.

Before I knew it she’d pulled a chair up beside me and joined me in my misery. Or at least pretended to. I don’t think she was as miserable as I was. There was no reason for her to be. She didn’t have a huge meeting to get prepared for at the end of the week. Her entire career didn’t rest on actually doing some work to show she was serious about the career she wasn’t entirely sure she was serious about.

I’m aware that last part didn’t make sense. Remember how I said I was stressed out?

“Well, let me see what you have there,” she offered. Before I could protest she picked up the notebook and started reading, and then singing the lyrics to herself.

I just sat and listened. They didn’t actually sound half bad when they weren’t just words on paper taunting me to finish writing the rest of them.

She looked up at me when she was done. “It’s not bad.”

I shrugged.

“What?”

“Nothing, I just didn’t enjoy writing at all. It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t therapeutic the way it used to be, and I just don’t think I can sing another song about lost love and heartbreak.” I looked at Leighanne and tried to read her expression. She didn’t look angry or upset, she just listened to what I had to say. “I used to love writing songs, but I don’t want to write something that’s going to end up a track on the album that no one’s going to listen to.”

She smiled. “Your fans listen to all your songs, Brian.”

I knew that they did. I was just being bitter and over-dramatic at the prospect of having to do more of them same all over again. “Yeah, I know. I just don’t want to write one. I’m so uninspired when it comes to music lately.”

“Have you talked to any of the other guys about this?” she asked, after thinking for a moment.

“No,” I admitted.

“Maybe you should,” she said. “It’s been a tough year for all of you. Maybe they’re feeling the same way. Or maybe they’ve been there before and can help you.”

She was probably right about that, but I didn’t know if me admitting that I had nothing ready for our meeting would go over so well.

“You could call Nick,” she grinned.

I shook my head. Nick wouldn’t be of any help, and Leighanne knew that. “No,” I said, getting up and walking towards the phone. “I’ll call Kevin. He always knows what to do.”

~~~

I swear, the second I hung up the phone from my conversation with Howie, the phone was ringing again. This time it was Brian. If Nick called me right after I’d be three for three. And our MIA Nick issue would be solved in the process.

“Hey,” I answered. “I just got off the phone with Howie.”

“Oh yeah?” he said lightly. “What’s he up to?”

“Nothing,” I replied, not really wanting to get into the fact that he was panicking about Nick. Which was causing me to panic about Nick. Isn’t Howie supposed to be the one who keeps us all calm? “We were just talking about the meeting.”

“Yeah, about that…” Brian started, and there were a couple seconds of silence before he continued. “I have nothing ready. And I’ll probably have nothing by Friday at the rate I’m going.” His voice sounded small. It reminded me of when we were younger and he was admitting something bad he’d done to his mom. Brian was always like that, he always told his mom everything. He was incapable of keeping secrets, even if he knew they were going to get him into trouble.

He’s a good guy like that.

“Yeah, honestly, neither do I,” I admitted. “And I probably won’t by Friday either. Howie told me he doesn’t have anything either.”

Again we shared silence. At this rate, our next album was going to be the greatest hits. We couldn’t exactly complain about that, after all it wasn’t like we’d done much to stop it.

“So,” Brian finally said. “You’re telling me that convincing the record company that we’re dedicated to doing another record instead of a compilation rests on if Nick has anything written?”

“I guess so.”

Not that I didn’t have faith in Nick’s songwriting abilities, he’s actually pretty good at it when he sits down and tries. The thing is that he has to actually sit down and try. Not play Nintendo, hit on girls, or hang out on his boat.

“Well, I hope he’s had more luck than the rest of us,” Brian laughed, but I could tell it was forced. We both knew that Nick probably hadn’t done much of anything productive while he was at home. Especially if Howie wasn’t even able to get ahold of him.

Friday’s meeting wasn’t going to go well at all.

~~~

I exhaled slowly and watched the smoke disappear into the air. There’s something much better about smoking weed than a regular cigarette. You know, because cigarettes de-stress you, but weed de-stresses you and makes you feel like everything is awesome.

Or at least really, really chilled out. Plus, unlike alcohol, you aren’t hungover afterwards! Even better, it doesn’t make you all full and gross feeling the next day.

Okay, I guess that’s basically the same as hungover, but you get my point. It’s just relaxing.

Usually I was pretty good about not smoking in my house. Because I didn’t like to make my whole house smell like pot. You know, in case my parents or someone decided to show up. Not like my parents didn’t smoke a lot of weed or anything, who do you think gave me my first joint? I’ll give you a hint, it starts with D and rhymes with ‘bad’. Get it? ‘Cause that’s a bad thing to give your kid!

Okay, so it probably wouldn’t be so bad if my parents showed up. Not like they ever would anyway. It would be bad if Kevin randomly showed up. He’d probably flip out, give me his speech about how drugs are bad, AJ is in rehab, it’s going to lead to cocaine and heroin and I’ll end up dead blah blah blah…

Kevin is such a buzzkill sometimes! I’ve never done cocaine or any of that shit. Kevin would beat the living shit out of me. Also, I don’t like sticking shit in my nose. I don’t even use that decongestant nasal spray stuff. I just live with being sick. I’m hardcore like that!

I put my smoke out and looked around the room. Chris said he was going to be there around nine, but it was nine-fifteen and he hadn’t shown up yet. I was bored, and I wanted to go clubbing. Where the hell was he?

I looked at my cell phone on the table. There was a voicemail on it… maybe Chris had called and I was too high to notice. Or maybe my phone was on silent. Sometimes I left my phone on silent and forgot about it. Anyway, time to listen to the voicemail.

After a couple seconds I realized it wasn’t Chris, but Howie. Well, that was less fun. I didn’t want to deal with work stuff, and Howie was all about work stuff. You know, I think that some people don’t realize it but being a Backstreet Boy is basically a job, and this was my time off. No one likes being called in to work on their time off!

So I deleted the message. I’d call Howie back another time. A time when it wasn’t Nick and Chris clubbing and hitting on girls time.

Speaking of Chris, that was when he walked in the door. Perfect timing, except for the being late part.

“Ready to go?” I asked, getting up from my couch.

“Yeah,” he said, and then raised his eyebrow. “Dude, you stink. At least put on some cologne.”

Dammit. Okay, there is one downside to smoking. You smell like shit afterwards. “Shit, okay, one sec.” I ran upstairs to the bathroom and looked for something to mask the smell. Opening the cabinet, I didn’t find much, except for a bunch of girly body sprays Mandy left here when she moved out.

Fucking Mandy leaving shit in my house! What am I going to do with that stuff?

I guess I could have used it to cover up the pot smell… but it was way too girly. Why can’t girls ever have regular scented stuff? Why does it always have to be lavender or vanilla? Why can’t it just be like…plain?

Eventually I did find something that wasn’t a girl spray and I was ready to go. Not dealing with Backstreet, not dealing with having a girlfriend, just dealing with going out and not worrying about any of that shit. It’s my life, and no one’s going to tell me what to do but me!

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