I watch them surround the cake, each wearing a plastered smile. None of them are real, none of them are genuine. Each smile doesn’t actually reach their eyes. Lesson I’ve learned over the years – you can fake a shit load of emotions, but you look into the eyes and it’ll tell you if it’s there or not.
It’s not easy, watching them like this. Really I think this should stop. Every year it’s the same thing. No one’s happy, no one’s really celebrating. Honestly, it’s my damn birthday, and you’d think I’d have a say. But hey, I’m the youngest, so I’ve never really had a say. That’s always been Kevin – even after he quit the group. How unfair is that?
I glance at Brian, who’s always unusually quiet this day. He shows up, but he’s the one who’s wanted to stop this already. I’ve seen the arguments. I see them brewing in his blonde balding head now. Ha! I’ll always have more hair than you.
“Don’t you think we should stop doing this?” See? What did I tell you? Even after all these years, he’s the Frick to my Frack. His mind’s always been easy to read.
“Do we have to do this every year? Just stop coming!”
“I’m serious, Nick doesn’t want this.”
“How the fuck would you know?” AJ cuts in. All this shit? His idea. Not sure why the others went for it. They should know better.
“It’s not like Nick can tell us.”
I sigh, walking away from them. They continue to argue in the background as the sun sets into the night. I see the stars above, and I know there’s a breeze blowing about through the trees. But I can’t feel it. I step on the grass casually as I continue to put some distance between me and the fellas. But you can’t hear my footsteps.
They don’t notice my absence.
See, they don’t know when I’m with them either. Which is pretty damn often. I’ve wondered about Howie though, when I’m near him, he gets on edge. I think if anyone guessed I was around, it would be him. You wouldn’t think so, with as analytical as he is. Maybe it’s the Latin genes or something. Maybe it’s because when I licked him all the time back in the day, he tasted like hot sauce! I don’t know. I don’t know shit about this.
All I know, is that I’m dead.
I remember that day. I wish I didn’t. It started as fucking robbery. I came back to my beach pad out in Malibu, a few days off before the NKOTBSB tour started. I just got back from my solo promotional tour and appearances in Germany. I was tired as hell, but excited too. Life was the best. I didn’t think it could get much better.
I’d even been considering finally marrying Lauren.
I never got the chance. Not for the tour, not to keep getting my solo project out there, not for the first person I actually loved. I walked in the door to a scene of absolute chaos. Absolute fucking chaos. I walked in on two people robbing the place blind. I hadn’t been part of their plan.
The rest is a bit of a blur. I know they rushed at me before I could do anything. I know I was bound, gagged. I went missing for months. All because I was hidden in some fucker’s random basement. They didn’t know what to do with me. They didn’t know I was a celebrity till after it hit the press. I was living in hell. A hell I didn’t deserve, didn’t earn. I had finally got my life together and got rewarded with that bullshit.
I never learned the assholes’ names. I hope to God they’re rotting in hell.
Sorry if I sound bitter, but to be fucking honest, I am.
See, one day, it got to be too much. Assface Number One committed suicide right in front of me. Just shot himself in the mouth and splattered his brains all over the wall like it was spray-paint. You’d think that’d be enough. No, Assface Number Two blamed me. There had been a large kitchen knife, brand new. The last thing I knew while I was alive was the pain. Blinding, repeated flashes of pain beyond anything I knew. Before finally the bastard had mercy. Finally, he slit my throat and within moments, I could see my body on the floor. The pool of blood was growing, turned my hair pink as it soaked in.
My eyes were open, staring into nothing.
It was disorienting, floating there, seeing myself. But believe it or not, there was a bright light. If there’s a heaven, it was calling me. But I was too bitter. Too angry, I ignored it. Now I’m stuck here on earth, floating around like fucking Casper.
They never found my body. Assface chopped it up, stuffed it in a random trash compactor. I rotted in some dump in Southern California. How do you think that makes me feel? And the worst thing, is that Assface Number Two is in Mexico somewhere. I could be trying to find a way to get justice, but somehow, I was drawn back to the fellas. My “real” family, the Carters, moved on. They haven’t, which just reminds me who my real family is.
It can’t be easy for them. I’ve never been declared legally dead, I’m still a “missing person”. But I think the fellas know. That’s why they had a grave put in this memorial garden thing. They buried my stuff, like my art book, and my guitar in the coffin, instead of me.
AJ still has hopes, and that’s when the birthday parties at my grave started.
Five years of this, and it’s not easy. I wish they’d stop. I wish they’d move on.
Then again, I can’t even move on, so why do I think they can?
I sigh, and float back to them. I could do the whole materialize there instantly thing, but I don’t like it. It reminds me that I’m dead, it reminds me of the friends I was forced to leave behind. I sit next to Brian on the grass, as they continue to sing.
Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you…
Happy Birthday dear Nick…Happy Birthday to you…