Remember Me This Way – Chapter Six

“Well, well… it’s the elusive Mr. Carter.”

Nick stepped inside the psychologist’s office, grumbling to himself as he did. He’d cancelled three appointments over the last two weeks in an attempt to get out of it. After this he had to head back to Dr. Hansen, to talk about possible drug treatments to slow down his Alzheimer’s and give him more time. Apparently, he was “lucky” because it’d been caught early in the progression of the disease. Nick however didn’t feel lucky. He felt anything but. In fact, he felt cursed when it came down to it.

“I’m here, what of it?”

The therapist stretched a bit, giving a smirk rather than a smile. She wasn’t what Nick expected. Frankly he expected a man, for one. Instead he got a young female, around his own age with shoulder-length brown hair, soft brown eyes and a look of impishness that suggested a wry sense of humor. She was dressed casually, nothing more than a simple blouse and slacks, which despite himself made Nick feel more at ease.

“The fact you’re here helps. I don’t think I could try and help you if you can’t be bothered to even come in here. Don’t you agree?”

“I have a busy schedule.” He retorted, sitting in an easy chair before her.

“You’re a Backstreet Boy, I’d expect you to. Now, my name is Dr. Anne Julewis, and stop giving me that evil eye!” She teased. “You’re making me feel like I’m Satan, I’m simply here to help you Nick.”

“Help…heh, no one can help me. Didn’t you read my file? There’s no cure for what I’ve got. No way out, so why give a damn if I’m depressed. Or if I want to die. It’s all the same in the end ain’t it? Hell one day I won’t remember you, this session, nothing. It’s all fucking worthless.”

“It’s not, you don’t know how many years you have before it really starts taking affect. I’m told you’re in the very early stages. It could be one year, it could be ten. Who wants to waste ten years?” She asked, keeping her eyes upon him.

Nick crossed his arms, staring her down. “You’re not gonna break me, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“I don’t think I want to. Have you told anyone yet?”

“Told anyone what?”

“About your diagnosis.”

Nick rolled his eyes, glancing around the office. It was decorated simply enough, except for a shelf above her desk, which had the most random collection of items he’d seen. Many of the objects were zombie figurines though a cheap set of Noah’s Ark dolls, finger puppets, and a furry, happy looking Bigfoot doll were among the collection as well. “What’s with the zombie fetish?”

She shrugged, smiling. “I could give you some deep over the top psychological explanation about what zombies really mean, but it wouldn’t be honest. I just think they’re cool and like that they eat people’s brains.”

Nick nodded, suppressing a chuckle. He wasn’t going to let her win. His eyes caught sight of something upon the shelf that was beyond unique. It looked like a skunk…except that it had the face of Adolph Hitler instead. That was when he couldn’t keep in the laughter. His giggle was infectious, causing her to laugh as well as he pointed at it. “What…is…that?”

“Oh my Hitler Skunk, it was my Grandmother’s. They made a lot of stuff to mock him during World War Two.”

“Random.”

“That about sums me up actually. Now, back to what I asked you, have you told anyone?”

He shook his head. “No, I haven’t.”

“Why not? Doesn’t your family deserve to know?”

Nick snorted. His family. He loved them with all his heart, but if he wanted to be truly honest, the answer was no. His father forgot his family with Jane, content with the one he had with his wife Ginger, step-daughter Taelyn, and their son Kanden. A new family, with the old Carter family abandoned behind him. Nick didn’t even know them, and it hurt more than he’d ever admit.

Then there was Jane Carter. Nick didn’t even like thinking about how many times his mother had used him, taken advantage, or done things that had split the family apart. Years ago he’d given up on ever having a real relationship with her. It wasn’t possible with her inability to accept any responsibility for the past, and to keep repeating the same mistakes again and again.

His thoughts then traveled to his siblings. The ones he’d been raised with, meaning BJ, Leslie, Aaron and Angel, although he had a casual friendship with his older half sister Ginger. Their relationships were fragmented as well. The twins, the babies really, were now twenty-seven. Angel had ditched modeling, and eventually developed a career in fashion design without his help, yet the two were still the closest out of them all. Aaron, Aaron always hurt Nick to watch, as he was traveling down an almost identical path to what Nick had traveled during his twenties and was still chasing his lost music career. He only hoped Aaron would eventually find his way out, as he wouldn’t Nick help him. BJ had finally calmed down, now married and the two ran their own diner. Being away from the spotlight and Carters had in essence saved BJ, so she kept her distance from them all, including Nick. And then there was Leslie, who had moderate success as an underground music act in Canada, and severed contact with everyone in the family.

“No.” He finally answered. “They don’t deserve to know. Not my family.”

“Ouch.” Dr. Julewis chewed on her pen cap thoughtfully, before taking a short notation. “That’s pretty harsh; they’re still your family.”

Nick simply shrugged. “It is what it is right?”

“What about your band mates then?”

“They’re like my brothers. No, they are my brothers, they’re more my family than…” He trailed off, once again hurt by what was simply the truth. “…well, they’ve always been there for me.”

“So have you told them? They deserve to know right?”

Nick bit his lip with a glance out the window; the clear, crisp blue sky was beckoning to him. “They deserve to know…more than anyone I guess.”

“So you haven’t told them.”

“No.”

*****

“Uncle Niiiiiick!” Two little girls, their dark brown hair in pig tails came running out the door of AJ’s home and into Nick’s arms as he bent down and caught them awkwardly with his arm still in the cast. Their identical faces were alight with glee as he hugged them close. They looked like cherubs, one wearing a pink dress adorned with black skulls and the other wearing a black dress with pink skulls.

“Lily! Lenni!” Their full names were Lilith Jade and Lenore Jane McLean, but Nick had long ago shortened them to nicknames. Now, much to AJ’s irritation, the two didn’t answer to anything else as the nicknames caught on. He picked the three years olds up, pretending to almost drop them, causing the two to squeal.

“What’s on your arm?” Lenni asked, almost inaudibly, pointing at his right arm.

“That’s a cast, Uncle Nick has a huge booboo and that’s there to fix it. Before I leave, I’ll have to have you two sign it and make it pretty for me okay?”

“Okay!” The two chimed. Nick readjusted his weight as his damaged arm began to suffer a bit.

“You two are getting heavy. Where’s your dad?”

“With Uncle Bri an Uncle D!” Lily cried out. She was the more vocal of the two, while Lenni snuggled up against Nick’s chest as he strolled inside the house.

“Hey AJ I picked up something of yours.” Nick joked as he set the twins down, who ran into the living room to watch Sesame Street, which much to Nick’s own amazement was still going.

“You can keep them if you want. Little monsters.” He said, but with a proud look on his face as he watched his little girls sing along with Big Bird. Brian could be seen off to the side, watching with a yearning look in his eyes. Nick knew Brian had always wanted more kids, especially a little girl, but Leighanne hadn’t and now it was too late for it to happen. Howie was in the kitchen, doing the cooking, much to Nick’s delight. He loved AJ; however his cooking had almost killed him on various occasions.

As much as he wanted to die these days, that wasn’t the way he wanted to go.

They sat around AJ’s dining room table, which was the same relic he’d kept over the years from the filming of “The Haunted Mansion” despite all his random moves. AJ had never lost his love for Goth Couture and if anything, had refined his tastes for it. Howie came out, setting the homemade dips and chips down upon the table, portraying the look of the perfect housewife at that moment. The thought caused Nick to giggle to himself.

“Where’s James and Baylee?”

Brian fixed a plate for himself, not hesitating to chow down before AJ and Nick ate it all, as that was what usually happened. “Leighanne and Kristen took Baylee and Mason shopping together.” He made a face and Nick smirked, Brian always avoided clothes shopping for the kid.

“And James is at his soccer practice.” As un-athletic Howie always was at sports, it seemed James was the opposite even at the young age of six.

“I need to go to one his games again D.” Nick commented, for now he knew for sure he’d never know the joys of fatherhood the way the fellas did. His appetite left him immediately following that thought.

“I’ll email you his game schedule.”

“So, the tracklisting. Management wants it today, the album supposed to go into printing in two weeks and they want A&R to have a chance to look it over before it does.”

“Why?” Nick said between bites. He really needed to just have Howie cook for him all the time. “They end up sticking to what we pick anyways.”

Brian shrugged. “Being overcautious, at least it ain’t the bull…” he caught himself, eyeing the twin girls just on the other side of the room on the couch. “…dookey Jive put us through.” Brian had never been one for foul language, but when it came to their old label, he’d never been able to hold back.

“What about this one?”

“Definitely, I don’t care if it’s radio friendly or not, that song is kick a-butt.”

“This?”

“It can be a bonus song.”

Nick nodded in blind agreement as he tuned them out, drifting in thought. His mind went back to his therapy session earlier that day. She’d been right; he did need to tell the guys. But when? He knew, like he did two weeks before, that now wasn’t the time. He still hadn’t wrapped his own thoughts around it. He was still ready to get back at the world for everything. He didn’t care if that was healthy or not, not that he planned on telling the therapist that either way. He’d gone and had the meeting with Dr. Hansen before coming over, and they’d decided what drug treatment to try out first. The pills sat in his glove compartment haunting his mind. They were only supposed to put off the inevitable, not stop it from happening.

“So how’s this look to everyone?”

Nick snapped back to reality, staring at the list the guys had decided on. He was getting used to his space outs more and more. He knew he should care, but couldn’t muster the enthusiasm needed. “Looks good. Guys I’ll be right back, okay?”

Ignoring the looks he got, he headed out into AJ’s backyard. It was spacious, AJ had gone all out when he’d known Rochelle was expecting and the two had still been married. The house sat upon an acre of green, beautiful trees along the edges and there was a mini playground in the middle. At least he’d gotten to keep the house. The technical agreement about the girls had been split custody; however it had turned out to be more like full custody, as AJ had them most of the time.

His hands itched for a cigarette again. Funny how bad habits came crawling back when everything else had gone to hell as well. However he couldn’t do it. He would have to go stone cold sober on the alcohol once more as well, as it could speed up the process and couldn’t mix with his new prescription. Nick’s mind ran through everything, struggling to process everything life threw at him this go around. He wondered what he did in a past life to deserve an ending like this. The words from the day’s session came back to taunt him.

“It could be one year, it could be ten. Who wants to waste ten years?”

Dr. Hansen estimated anywhere from five to ten years before he fell full force into the next stage. Five years, maybe ten if he was lucky. That was when it really hit him. Realization had come head on to smack him in the face.

“I’ve got a few years, to fix everything. Do everything I want to do before it doesn’t matter. To…to say goodbye.” He murmured.

“Uncle Nick?” A small voice called. Nick turned to see Lenni there, her fingers in her mouth as she sucked on them shyly. Nick smiled as he walked over to her, picked her up again carefully, balancing her mostly on his uninjured arm.

“What’s up munchkin?” He asked, while tickling under her chin. She giggled happily.

“Daddy wants you.”

Nick smirked. “Your daddy always wants me.”

She suddenly hugged him tight, her head fitting sweetly against the crook of his neck. She placed a kiss there as well before pulling away and smiling at him again. He beamed down at her. “What was that for?”

“You’re sad.”

“Nah, just tired kid. Now let’s go see what your daddy wants of me.”

“Uncle Nick?”

“Yeah?”

“I love you.”

He swallowed hard, wondering if she’d remember how he used to be, years from now. Will she forget this all because she’s too young? Would she only remember the Uncle Nick she’d see in some facility, helpless and confused?

Nick’s voice was husky as he replied. “I love you too.”

 

Next Chapter

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