Running Up That Hill – Day 16

“The strangers whose faces I know.
We meet here for our dress-rehearsal to say ‘I wanted it this way’
Wait for the year to drown.
Spring forward, fall back down.
I’m trying not to wonder where you are.”

-The Weakerthans ‘Left and Leaving’

I woke up early the next morning. I thought I would be less worried after my conversation with Kevin, after all, I wasn’t the only one who was going to let the group down. Instead I felt more worried. But not about our meeting. What was going to become of our careers after the meeting.

It didn’t help that while changing channels I’d come across the fact that MTV was replaying our diary episode that showed off our 100 hour tour. I couldn’t believe that had been less than a year ago.

I found myself actually watching it instead of flipping to another station. In the early days, whenever I happened to catch us on TV (which wasn’t often, since we were always on the go) I’d sit down and watch. It felt surreal. Now, I would always change the channel, because if I actually had the time to be at home and relax I didn’t want to spend that time thinking about work.

“I don’t know why they put beer in here, we don’t drink beer.”

“I drink beer.”

“AJ drinks beer, but he’s not supposed to be drinking beer.”

As I watched the exchange between TV AJ and TV Howie, a chill ran down my spine. It was like I was watching all the events of the past year that lead up to this point unfolding in front of me. I know that’s a little bit of an odd thing to say about an episode of MTV Diary, but it’s the truth. That 100 hour tour, though the experience of a lifetime, was the beginning of the end.

Maybe it was just because it was the launch of the album that had been nothing but trouble for us. Maybe it was because around that time was when we’d begun to realize AJ truly had a problem. He’d been late to meet us the day the 100 hour tour was supposed to kick off. Then, we hadn’t been able to get in touch with him days before the tour was supposed to start.

But he was in rehab now, I had to remind myself. Everything with AJ was going to be okay. It was just difficult to sit here and be reminded of it all.

Still, I continued to watch.

I watched us doing our huddle at at EMAs, and I smiled to myself. No matter how rough things got, we always found time to do that huddle. It help us grounded, and it was a good way for us to get our heads in the right place. Just like I’d explained on the show.

Watching that special was making me feel very awkward. On one hand, I felt nostalgic about everything we’d done and everything we’d accomplished. I’d always felt very blessed about how successful we’d been in our career.

On the other hand, it made me feel tired. I remembered how I felt about our busy schedule, and how I wasn’t able to spend as much time with my wife and family (outside of the other guys) as I’d liked.

I just didn’t know if I wanted to do it anymore.

~~~

“So, none of you have anything ready to show the record company?” Leigh asked, looking at me with sympathy. We’d gotten together for lunch and I ended up telling her the whole story.

“Right,” I paused. “Well, except for Nick. We don’t know what he’s got, if anything.”

“Because he isn’t answering is phone or calling you back,” she said, repeating what I’d told her only minutes before.

“Exactly.”

She thought about what I said for a couple of minutes. Taking a sip of her lemonade, she raised her eyebrows. “So, do you think you’ll end up doing the greatest hits CD?”

“I don’t think we’ll have much of a choice,” I replied, shaking my head. It was true, we had no way to convince the record company not to release it. Other than us telling them that we didn’t want to do it. Which probably wouldn’t matter, anyway.

“Would it really be so bad?”

Of course it would be bad! Wouldn’t it? “I don’t think it’s the smartest move. It’ll make the public think that we’re finished. That we’re moving on.”

“Yeah, but if you put out another CD afterwards, people aren’t going to not buy it just because you put out a greatest hits a couple of years beforehand,” she reasoned.

I guess she was right about that. Still, the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth. “Yeah, I know. It’s just getting around to recording that next CD. I think that’s going to be a problem. All of us are really worn out.”

She reached over the table and put her hand on top of mine. “It’s okay if you guys don’t want to jump back into the studio right away.”

I laughed a little. “You’re probably the only person who thinks that,” I said.

“Well, it’s true. You guys work really hard, you’re always on the go. If you want to take a little time for yourselves before going back into the studio, it might even help. You don’t want to just churn something out because you feel like you have to. You should do it because you want to.”

I couldn’t really argue with her. She wasn’t wrong. The problem is, I didn’t know if the record company would see it that way.

~~~

The next morning (well actually, I think it was closer to the afternoon…) when I woke up I had no clue where I was. All I knew what that I was in some bedroom and when I stared at the walls I was face to face with…myself. Over and over and over again. I was all over the place.

It was really creepy.

I sat up and looked around. Yeah, I was in some fan’s bedroom. The thing about me not taking girls back to my place usually works, because I don’t have to kick them out the next morning. But I usually just end up in some hotel room. The girls don’t usually bring me back to their place.

Thank God for that, because the room was creepy as hell. I didn’t need Brian, AJ, Kevin and Howie’s eyes watching me in the middle of the act, thank you very much! Even though they could probably learn a few things from me. Well, maybe not AJ.

Before I could think any more about the other fella’s sex lives (that’s probably a good thing) the girl who I seduced the night before came back into the room.

“Morning, Nick,” she smiled as she sat down on the bed beside me. She handed me a plate with a sandwich on it. The whole situation was really odd and I just wanted to get out it as soon as possible.

“Morning,” I muttered. I didn’t know what else to say. I couldn’t tell her I wanted to get out of there and just ditch her. I mean, I could do that, but Kevin had already given me enough lectures about being a dick to fans I’d slept with.

Actually, he’d already given me enough lectures about sleeping with fans in general, but that wasn’t the point!

“I brought you something to eat,” she said sweetly, looking down at the plate I held in my hands.

“Uh, yeah, thanks,” I said stupidly. I continued to sort of look around. What kind of fan her age has posters all over the wall anyway? I thought that was reserved for the ten year olds! Our fans terrified me sometimes. Why did I get myself into this mess?

Her room did have a pretty big window… I didn’t know if I would be able to fit out of it. But after a quick glance I saw that she was on the main floor of the house. At least it wouldn’t be a big fall!

“Do you need something?” she asked quickly, running her hand through my hair.

“Um,” I started, thinking of how I could get her out of there so I would be able to make a run for it. “Do you have any coffee or something?”

“I could make some!” she exclaimed, jumping off the bed. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

I had no time to waste. I gathered up my clothes and got dressed faster than I ever had in my entire life. I made sure to check if I had my wallet, because the last thing I wanted to do was leave my credit cards with some psycho fan.

I slid open the window and looked at the screen. I had no idea how I was going to take that off so I could climb out. Unfortunately for me, I was too slow trying to figure that out.

“What are you doing?” I heard the girl’s voice from behind me.

“Just needed some fresh air,” I said, and flashed her a grin.

It must have worked because she looked giddy and handed me the coffee. I took a sip of it and I have to say it was actually pretty good. If I was going to be trapped here for the rest of my life at least I had good coffee to look forward to.

“What are you doing today?” she asked, looking at me intently.

Suddenly an idea popped into my head. It wasn’t as good as climbing out the window, but it would get me out of her place fast! “I was supposed to meet some of the guys for lunch… oh shit, what time is it?”

“It’s just after one,” she replied, looking concerned.

I tried my best to act shocked. “Fuck! Are you serious? I’m over an hour late, oh man, they’re always ragging on me for never being on time. Look baby, I gotta go before they kick my ass.”

I think I’m a pretty good actor, if I do say so myself!

She pouted, but she seemed to believe me. “I made food for you…”

“Yeah, I know, and I really appreciate it. But the other guys are gonna kill me. They’ve probably already sent out the search party.”

“Well.. okay… I don’t want them to be mad at you,” she said, and grabbed a pen and paper off her desk. “Here.” She handed it to me. It was her phone number.

“Thanks baby,” I grinned, shoving it in my pocket. “I’ll call you later.” Ha!

After giving her a quick kiss on the cheek I was out of there so fast I hardly even took a breath. In fact, I didn’t even stop running until I was about three block away from her house.

I wanted more than anything to forget that ever happened. I really just wanted to go home and get high and not deal with how much of a dick I felt like. I wondered where Chris went after we left the bar. I reached into my pocket to give him a call –

Oh shit.

~~~

“I’m calling him again,” I said out loud.

“Kevin, he’s fine.” Kris tried to tell me, but I wouldn’t hear of it.

“He’s not answering his phone.”

“He’s probably still asleep.”

I chose to ignore her completely rational thought and dialed his cell phone number anyway. I was pretty sure that between Howie and myself, his voicemail was full, but I didn’t care. I was done playing games, and if making his phone ring off the hook was going to get him to pick up, then so be it.

“Hello?” Success! Oh wait, it was some girl picking up the phone. Not Nick. God dammit!

“Hello, who’s this?” I asked, even thought it probably didn’t matter. Nick himself probably didn’t even know her name.

“Amy,” she replied.

“Hi Amy,” I said quickly. I was happy that someone had actually answered the phone. However, I was annoyed that even Nick’s groupies were better at picking it up than him! “I was actually looking for Nick, could you put him on please?”

“I wish I could, but he’s not here.”

“What?”

“He left his phone here,” she said. “But don’t worry, he’s coming back. I’ll tell him that you called, Kevin!”

I chose to ignore the possibility that Nick had slept with a crazy fan who would recognize my voice, and instead figured she’d seen my name come up on the caller ID. “Do you know when he’ll be coming back?”

“He said he would call me,” she replied.

I knew what that meant. “Well, when you see him could you please let him know that I’m looking for him?”

“I will! Bye Kevin!”

“Bye,” I said, hanging up the phone. I sighed and looked over at Kris. She just shrugged sympathetically.

The next time I saw Nick, I was going to kill him.

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