An Old Friend
“STOP THE CAR! NOW!” Oh God, why are we so blind?
“Damn D, what’s that for?” AJ groaned as he forced himself out of his restless sleep.
Kevin screeched the car to a halt, sensing the urgency immediately. “What is it? You need to throw up?”
Howie shook his head. “No! We’re doing it all wrong guys, we won’t find Nick at his Uncle’s.”
Brian yawned. “I don’t get it.”
“Where’s the note, give it to me.” Howie said eagerly. Kevin fished it out of his pocket and after switching on the light, passed it to Howie. “Ok, listen, it said ‘I’ll let you redeem yourself, dear Nephew’ now THINK, if he has Nick WITH him, why leave a message behind in the first place? It doesn’t make sense!”
“Maybe he left that note so people won’t be suspicious of him.” AJ suggested.
“Then he wouldn’t say ‘nephew’ now would he? That would ultimately direct people to him. The whole world knows what happened between those two, thanks to Jane.” Howie reasoned.
The silence in the car was deafening. Even Kevin was taking his time to register everything he had said.
“I can’t believe we’re so stupid.” AJ whispered. “He might be too far gone and we’ll never catch up cause we’re so dead set on Steven Carvel.”
“So Steven broke into the house from the window, which by luck, was unlocked. Turn the whole place up side down and left that note as a threat for Nick to find.” Kevin said.
“Maybe that’s why Nick got upset last night and called me. He might have seen that letter and panicked.” Brian said.
“So he left.”
“That still doesn’t make me feel any better.” Brian frowned. “We have no leads now.”
The silence returned. Everyone was contemplating which way to go. Do they turn around or drive ahead. What would they do? And most importantly, where was Nick?
Kevin started the car again. “We may have no leads, but I’m not about to let this asshole go just like that, not after what he’d done. I’m going and I’m giving him a piece of my mind, you guys can stay in the car if you want to, but I’m not turning back.”
“And let you have all the fun? Hell no.” AJ scoffed.
Brian slumped back in the seat of the car, speechless. The doors slammed, he heard Kevin turning the ignition on and the monotonous drone of the engine drowned the argument a little. Not much for him to not hear it at all. He felt AJ sitting next to him, in silence himself, the tension in his body didn’t go unnoticed. Kevin drove out of Steven Carvel’s compound as Howie, uncharacteristically of him, yelled ‘I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!’ to Kevin.
Don’t tempt a desperate man! Where had he heard that before?
He wondered if Nick had not hung up on him the night before, this could all be prevented. If he had not made fun of his friend and paid attention to the tell tale signs, Nick would be with them right now and Kevin wouldn’t have to permanently disfigure Steven Carvel’s face.
God, what have I done?
When Kevin said he was giving Steven Carvel a piece of his mind, Howie thought he was going to give him one of his famous Kevin speeches, the one that the rest of the Backstreet Boys are so used to hearing. Nick and AJ even had a name for it, ‘Kevin Intervention’. Once upon a time, it was the most feared thing to have around tours.
But going straight at the man and grabbing him by the collar and demanding what he had done to Nick was something else.
“Go to the police, see if they care about me when I show them what you’ve been doing to the boy all these years!” Kevin had yelled at Steven.
“You wouldn’t dare!”
“Don’t tempt a desperate man!”
“Are you threatening me?”
“Yes, make no mistake about that.”
Part of him wanted to break down. Not because he was afraid of what it was doing to Kevin, but because of the realization of how serious the whole thing was. You only need to look at Kevin and his reactions to grasp just how desperate the situation was. Nick is missing, and the man whom they thought had the answers was nothing more but another excess baggage of Nick’s long list of whacked family ties.
Nicky, please come back!
AJ kept seeing Kevin shaking the life out of the man in his head. It doesn’t matter if Steven Carvel is twice his size, when Kevin sets his mind on something, he very damn well will deliver it. Kevin didn’t care when he pushed the man back, causing him to slam on his glass coffee table and breaking it into pieces. It didn’t snap Kevin back to reality when he saw the blood and gashes on the man’s body and face. But AJ saw all that, and it frightened him.
“AJ, you know I’m not good at this right?”
“Asshole…look, I’m not very good with words,”
“Yes, your ‘you know’ says a lot.”
“Will you please let me just get this over and done with?”
“I don’t want you to think that you can’t come to me if you need to talk something out…I know I’m no better off than you, heck, I think I’m more messed up than you sometimes and I may not give you the best of advise…but I don’t want you to go thinking that you have absolutely no one to talk to, I don’t-”
“Nick, I get it. I won’t shut you guys out ever.”
“Promise me that Bone. Promise me that you’ll come to us for anything. Promise me that I will never have to see you that way again.”
“Promise me you’ll do the same?”
“Well then, it’s a promise.”
AJ gritted his teeth, wanting to stop the memory from taking over. Who was it that said promises are meant to be broken? That person is a genius.
“I’m sorry.” Kevin said, breaking the silent tension that was mounting in the car. “I didn’t mean to get out of control like that.”
No one said a word although it did pull them out of their hazy thoughts. Kevin didn’t dare to look at Howie so he turned back and looked at AJ and Brian. “Well? Nothing at all?”
“There will be nothing at all if you don’t turn your head back and pay attention to the road.” Howie exclaimed. Kevin wanted to tell Howie that he had had enough of his lecture when he saw the _expression on Howie’s face. Utter panic. “You planning on killing us?”
“Nice Kevin, just nice.”
“Actually Kev, that was a good one what you did to that asshole.”
Kevin turned again. “Excuse me?”
“I said it’s a GOOD one!” AJ cried.
“Can you please keep your eyes on the road? God!” Howie exclaimed.
“I’m not saying what you did is right Kev, but, he deserves it.” Brian said.
Kevin stopped for the red light and leaned back on his seat. His thoughts on Nick and wondering where he could be by then. “Yeah well, that felt good, but it bring us no where closer to Nick.”
Someone’s cell phone was ringing but Kevin gave it no thought. He was already drifting miles away to care.
“What do you mean you don’t have my reservation? I made it like, 2 weeks ago!” Marianne said, almost losing her patient with the receptionist at the front desk of the hotel. “Could you please check again? It’s Marianne McCloud, should I spell it for you?”
“Was the reservation made under your personal account Miss McCloud?” The young woman asked. Her nametag spelt ‘Julie’.
“Actually a colleague of mine did the reservation, so it should be under the company’s account. Try Charles & Malcolm, thanks.”
Marianne looked around the lobby as Julie typed away the information. The last time she was here, they had spent the night talking about the past.
Now he belonged to the past.
“Miss, do you also go by the name Marianne Schmedley?” Julie asked.
“There’s a reservation made from Charles & Malcolm for Marianne Schmedley, I’m assuming that’s your husband’s last name?”
It dawned upon her now. The prick.
“Thanks, that’s the one. I didn’t know they used my other name. Sorry about that.”
“That’s quite all right Ms. Schmedley. Here’s your key card, 7th floor, the 4th door to your left.”
“Thanks…Julie…you have a great day.”
“You too Ms. Schmedley, enjoy your stay.”
“Oh I’m sure I will.” Marianne smiled before making a beeline to the elevator. Fortunately for her, she had the elevator all to herself.
“Ms. Schmedley my ass!” Marianne grunted. She tried dialing his number back in Florida but couldn’t get any reception in the elevator. Once out of there, she made a sharp left and counted the 4th room. Slotting the key card in, she finally got in the room and quickly headed for the bed.
“Ah this is sweet.” She tried calling Daniel again but to no avail. “I should try tomorrow I guess.”
Making her way to the washroom, she had a quick face wash, not wanting to be too awake when it was almost midnight in LA. Creeping back to her bed, she switched off the lights, leaving only the reading light on and got herself under the huge comforter. It was a cold night in LA; she could stay that way forever and forget everything else.
That didn’t happen though. It never did. She couldn’t remember the last time she actually had a peaceful night sleep. At least not after she lost her two best friends.
And then her thoughts went to Maria, the purpose of her visit to LA in the first place. It made her feel better, knowing that as least of her, she had a closure, for her new client Maria, it was still endless sleepless nights worrying of the what Ifs.
“Okay, happy thoughts, happy thoughts.” She murmured to herself. Perhaps she could find out where the Backstreet Boys are. She knew they were in LA, Nick often tried to keep in contact with her, always so nice to ask how she was holding up. It often ended with her listening to him talk about some issues he was faced with.
Her cell phone rang, pulling her away from her almost sleepy thoughts. It was Daniel.
“Hey wifey, how’s the hotel room, good enough for you?”
“Oh shut up! Not in a million years Daniel. And YOU almost got me in trouble checking in!”
His ever annoying laughter invaded her ear. “Oh come on Marianne, I can feel your sexual tension even from here. You know you want me.”
“There’s a lot of tension here Daniel, and none of it is sexual. And yes, there is one thing I want from you.”
“And what is that my dear?”
“Don’t call me or bother me while I’m still in LA. I need my Daniel free time.”
“No problem. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder.”
“It also makes me wanna puke.” Marianne sighed. “Goodnight Daniel.”
“Goodnight Marianne. Don’t let the monsters bite.”
She hung up and found that she had several missed calls from Nick. “How come I never see that before?”
She tried calling but no one answered. She felt horrible all of a sudden. She always feel like throwing up when she felt something bad had happened. So maybe it’s not Daniel who was making her sick after all.
She looked through her phonebook, wondering if she still keeps Howie’s number.