Instead, It Was Him

I couldn’t save him.

The rain poured down, continuously drenching me. Maybe he was up there crying too. Not that you could tell I was, my tears were hidden within the downpour, mixing bitterly. Maybe he was crying though, and that’s why it was raining, maybe he was grieving too, over giving up, at knowing all the fucking pain he’s caused us.

I kind of hope he is.

I hate him right now. I hate myself.

He saved me, and I should’ve saved him too. But I couldn’t.

Very few fucking people realize he did that for me. But it’s true. He did. He knew that he did though. For awhile, I thought I did save him too, that we were both actually going to be okay for once. Heh, I was fucking blind wasn’t I?

I stared at the freshly covered grave before me, rereading the name on the tombstone again and again. Still doesn’t feel real at all. I don’t want to fucking believe that reality of it. The fact that I failed him.

I failed him and now he’s dead. It shouldn’t be like that! How fucked up is it that there’s supposed to be this God, he sees a man suffering, a man unable to find his way, and lets him kill himself?! It’s fucked up. I can’t understand it. It’s so final. And so then what’s the fucking point?

The two of us, the youngest of the group… of course we were the most fucked up. Ironic, that’s what I keep getting told. But that’s us. No one really got why, hell no one GETS why, even now. Even Kev, D, and Brian just couldn’t get why neither of us found it so damn hard to be happy and why we were so fucking jaded.

The answer’s simple.

Because we were so damn young, we never knew life on the outside. Not like them. So many of the people around us, they got sucked into the fake Hollywood bullshit that ate you up and spat you out better than anything else. You got to where you had to question everyone around you. Do they care, or do they just want what comes with knowing you?

At least Brian, Kevin, Howie, they had a little of that. People before fame, that they could trust. Family that didn’t find the limelight more important. Hell the two of us, we were just fucking kids, barely teenagers. Maybe that’s why they could spot the fakes faster than we ever could. The ones who started us on this shitty ass road we’ve been struggling like hell to get off of.

I could spot them now.

Could he?

I kicked the dirt furiously. It wasn’t fair. This was my fault, all of it. How could I not see any of the signs? I heard some of the fans could, how was I so blind to brush it all off as rumors?

He seemed happy, for the first time in the almost twenty years I knew him. He seemed to actually have it together, hell he had it together before me. He was the one who forced me to see that damn light just a year and a half ago.

I remember it clearly. He had been screaming at me, finding me trashed for God knows how long. I don’t want to know how many times I’d been like that before in my lifetime. Too fucking many. Finally, he’d been fed up. Many thought it was Kevin or Brian who saved me…

Instead, it was him.

“Are you fucking kidding me! You know what, I’m done. I’m just done. I’m trying to get my ass together. You were too. I can’t…I can’t do this man! I ain’t fucking letting you drag me back into this shit! I’m done. If you’re not gonna stop, we’re done.”

Ironic that I’m the one who’s standing at his grave.

I hate irony.

At that thought I could hear gigantic booms of thunder blaring around me. Maybe I pissed him off up there. Good. He’s pissed me off. Brian got mad at me for being so angry. I actually skipped the funeral. I was too angry to go to the funeral. I came after everyone left; to tell him how shitty I felt he was for doing what he did.

I couldn’t actually say it once I got here.

That was when it started raining. That was also when it hit me. Seeing his name, his birthday, the date of the day that…I…that…I…

…The day I found him, passed out on his bed. We were at a hotel, in the middle of our worldwide “This Is Us” Tour. I thought he was sleeping at first. Till I tugged his feet to piss him off and he still didn’t move, not even a twitch. I remember panicking, calling 911 when I saw he wasn’t breathing, but I knew then.

Before the paramedics came, before anyone came, I knew he was dead.

They called it heart failure. I knew better, I’m the one who found the pill bottle, the alcohol, and the other traces of drugs that used to be his flavors of choice. I don’t know if the media knows, I stopped watching. It all hurts too much. How did he not know better? Why didn’t he remember how easily that shit could kill him? Didn’t he learn?

“DIDN’T YOU LEARN YOU FUCK?!” I screamed out into the rain, falling harder and fiercer as the wind blew around me. I didn’t care.

I stared at the tombstone again. He wasn’t here, he couldn’t hear me. He chose that for himself.


I turned to see Brian, walking calmly in the rain like it was some sunny ass day. “Hey.”

“I thought you weren’t coming.”

“Didn’t, showed up after, what are you doing here?”

He shrugged. “Just walking the graveyard, Leigh and Bay went home but I couldn’t leave yet.”

“I was supposed to save him Brian…he…he’s the one who…”

I felt him pat my back gently, reminding me of younger days, when he’d do the same thing when I was thirteen and felt homesick when we were in Europe. “He chose this for himself Nick. No one could save him.”

I just nodded. I didn’t want to argue. He was right, but I could’ve saved him. He saved me, stopped me when I started falling apart. Stopped me from going back to all the addictions that chased us, that I gave into even when I knew about my heart condition.

On the day Michael Jackson died, just one year ago, he called me up maybe ten minutes after I saw it air on the news…

“This could’ve been you Nick.”

Instead, it was him.

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