CHAPTER TWENTY ONE
“They can’t know, Mr Perkins. Not Kevin, not Nicky…nobody. I can’t let them endanger their lives.”
Mr Perkins looked on in concern.
“What are you talking about? Who are you afraid of?”
He had known this kid for awhile now, and in the back of his mind, he had always known that this was not a firm, closed case. There was always going to be more to it with a young man of Brian’s nature.
Brian covered his eyes with his hands, hoping that he could fall into the blackness of his own palms. He thought of Kentucky, of High School, and of any other time in his life when he was innocent. Not like now. He wanted to be somewhere other than here; wanted to forget about everything, but he knew that he couldn’t.
“I can’t tell you, Sir, but…please, understand why.”
Mr Perkins shook his head. “I can’t let that go, Brian. If you have been blackmailed in any way…then this is not a straightforward case.
Brian burst out of his silence. “But I can’t prove it, how many times to I have to say that? There is nothing that ties anyone else to this but me. He made sure of that…”
How could he tell him? Even now, he was afraid for his life. How could he go ahead and say the name, knowing that it could make things so much worse for him?
“Just a guy I knew…I know. Please”, he asked tearfully, “I don’t know where he is.”
Mr Perkins jotted the facts down into his pad. “So can you tell me what happened? I won’t expect you to name any names or any details until you are comfortable with it, but please know that you have four days…and no longer.”
Brian nodded. He knew that. He just hadn’t been able to process anything as of yet, and he needed to be straight with himself before he could be straight with everyone else.
“Well…” he began, and proceeded to tell the basics of his nightmare. Nothing incriminating. Nothing too deep, until he knew how to deal with it.
Mr Perkins listened intently, but he reached the same conclusion as Brian did. No evidence, no case…and that was how it would be.
Billy sat in the kitchen, filing his nails. He’d been there for hours, just waiting. His guys had told him that Brian had left alone at around 6.30pm, and it was now 9. He was sure he’d be home soon.
Don’t leave the country, he’d probably been told. He’d heard it all before.
There was hardly any food in the kitchen. Was the little pussy on a diet? Did he count the calories whenever he ate, or did he just not eat? Faggot.
Faggot, pussy wimp. He’d shit his shorts when he opened the door to find him sitting there. Hey, he might even have a heart attack. That would be funny, with his old messed up ticker. Hmm, would that be murder?
Laughing at his own train of thought, Billy realised that he had no nails left to file. Dammit, what was he to do?
He reached in the drawer and grabbed a knife. Maybe he could find something to use this on?
Brian sat in his car, looking out over the city. Such a beautiful place this was, here in the dark. He looked to his left, and noticed the young couple making out in the vintage car next to him. It reminded him of Grease…
So innocent. So alive. And here was him, so devoid of life.
Kevin hated him. His own flesh and blood couldn’t look him in the eye without wanting to string him up and quarter him. The other guys tried to act normally, but he could see it in their faces. Disgust.
He’d ruined everything for them.
But could he tell the truth, or was that part of Billy’s Revenge? To make him suffer because his tongue was tied? To make him bleed from his heart, a wound which would never heal?
Kevin’s voice ran through his mind. “Go back to sleep, Brian.” There was no support evident; no softness. He didn’t sit with Brian and speak soothingly to calm him. All there was was shame.
And he deserved that. He deserved all of it.
But thinking about it now, he didn’t. He didn’t deserve any of it. He didn’t deserve to be sitting here without a friend in the world, waiting for his life to end. He was stronger than that.
He was, however, tired. He wanted to go home to his own bed, with his own blankets, and fall asleep forever. He knew they’d be watching, but he didn’t care. He wanted them to see how strong he was. Or was he?
Confusion was the only word that described his state of mind right now, and that was something that was only going to get worse.
Billy would make sure of that.
CHAPTER TWENTY TWO
Kevin finished his drink in one swift movement, banging the glass down on the table in front of him. The whole table shook from the sheer force of it.
“Look, I know you think I’m being an ass, but look at it. He goes out and does something fucking stupid, then BAND! No more us, not to mention how it’s going to make the family look. Not so much as a bad school report, and now this? His mother will just fucking die.”
His face was filled with heartfelt anger, but howie just shook his head.
“Kev, did you not for one second consider Brian in all of this?”
Kevin snarled. “What?”
“If he’s got involved in something illegal, then did you not consider what might have driven him to that?”
“What are you talking about, D? What drove him to it?”
How could the taller man be so blind? “Us, Kev. All of this. It happens all the time.”
“Bullshit. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You will fucking listen to me, Kevin, and I know that this isn’t something you want to hear, but you have to hear it. If nobody else will say it to you, then I will.”
Kevin was shocked. Howie barely raised his voice, and here he was shouting at him?
“You know what kind of a person he is, and he wouldn’t get anywhere near this kind of thing unless he was weak….and vulnerable.”
“I have it hard. You have it hard. We all do, but do you see us all getting ourselves arrested? No, Howie, you don’t. What makes him so different?”
Howie sighed, hoping that Kevin would listen without getting angry.
“We didn’t have to suffocate on stage for weeks because we were still fucked up from heart surgery which had been put off to please everyone else. We didn’t have to dance our way through hours of songs when we should’ve been at home recovering. That all hit him pretty badly, Kev.”
Kevin nodded. “I know”, he said softly.
“He risked his life, and nobody cared if he was mentally ready to come back. Do you think that felt nice? I’ll tell you the answer that. No, it didn’t. Maybe he didn’t recover mentally. It hasn’t been that long. Maybe he’s still worn down, and that’s why he was dragged into all of this, because a headstrong and completely healthy Brian wouldn’t go anywhere near this.”
“Maybe he was weak”, Kevin admitted. “Maybe they used him while he was vulnerable…”
Howie nodded. “Exactly.”
“Or maybe he’s just as dumb as the rest of them.”
No matter how he tried to snuff it out, the anger was still inside of Kevin Richardson, and it was only out of love. He wanted to feel as one with Brian…but he couldn’t.
He smashed the glass on the floor, watching it break into pieces….
…as the crystal ornament from Brian’s kitchen fell to the floor at his feet.
“Fuck you, Billy”, he trembled. He was cornered.
Billy laughed as his young prisoner reached for the phone, only to find the receiver dangling limply in his hands.
“Oops, must have cut it” the dark haired man laughd, “but never mind. It’ll give us some privacy.”
Brian felt trapped. He had nowhere to go…
“What do you want from me?” he begged, scratching at the work surface with his fingernails.
“Everything”, the other man yelled, as he knocked his smaller companion into blackness.
He ran the knife gently up and down Brian’s smooth chest, careful not to scratch or cut the young man. He stared intently at the knife. So destructive.
So ultimately and sadistically erotic.
“So beautiful”, he said, his hand now shaking enough to cut the skin. It bled, and the unconscious man twitched slightly with the cut.
“Oops”, he said, and carried on running the blade up and down; up and down.
“You won’t tell anyone, will you?” he whispered, not expecting an answer. Brian’s face was calm and expressionless, his breathing even.
“No, you won’t tell…you won’t tell, because you know that I have power above any power you have, little boy.”
He watched the thin line of blood as it ran down Brian’s side, and onto the kitchen floor. It mesmerised him.
“I always dreamed of watching your blood flow”, he said absently, “but I never expected it to be so good…such a turn on.”
As he looked into Brian’s blank face, frustration came upon him. This was pointless. He wasn’t getting any reaction; no satisfaction was he gaining by tormenting a sleeping man.
He stood up, looking down at the body underneath him, and he laughed.
“Pathetic”, he said, before leaving.
As the door slammed, Brian’s eyes shot open, revealing redness and tears. He looked down at his open shirt, and the blood that was flowing from the tiny wound just underneath his nipple.
When he was certain that he was alone, he sat up and tried to even his breath. He was probably in shock, which was why he felt so cold, and he ran as fast as he could to his bedroom, pulling the covers up over his face.
He reached into his jeans and pulled out his cellphone, keying in a phone number which he must use quite often, as he didn’t even look when he dialled.
He waited for it to ring….
“Nick? Is that you? Please, can I come over?”
“Brian, what’s wrong?”
“Please, can I just come stay with you tonight? I don’t want to be on my own.”
“Sure, Brian, but what’s wrong? You sound terrified…”
“Nothing’s wrong. I’m just a little scared.”
He sounded so sincere. He didn’t know who was listening, so he couldn’t say any more than that.
“It’s ok, Brian. Come on over….”
“Thank you”, he breathed, before hanging up, and screaming muffledly into his pillow.
Anything as long as he knew they weren’t listening…
CHAPTER TWENTY THREE
He’d be safe with Nick.
The estate on which Nick lived was ‘exclusive’. That was why the obsessively private Nick had chosen it. Here, Brian couldn’t be followed. Only authorised cars were allowed past the security gates, and only those showing an identification pass were allowed inside of the boundaries.
Why hadn’t Brian chosen to live here himself?
The security guard waved him on, and he drove around to Nick’s big old beautiful house. It looked so…old, but that was why Nick loved it so much. It was like a 19th Century home; so filled with character.
He pulled up the path and sighed; relieved. He wouldn’t have been followed here.
Nick opened the door when he heard the car pull up, and Brian ran inside quickly and nervously, not wanting to look behind him for fear of what he might see.
“What’s wrong, Rok? Why are you acting so strangely?”
Brian watched as Nick closed the door, and then burst into tears, much to his younger friend’s dismay. He ran to him, and embraced him where he had fallen, holding him close and trying to stem his flow of tears. Brian winced as Nick touched the tiny knife wound, but it was ignored as trivial. Brian was always hurting himself, so it was probably no big deal.
“Brian, I’m worried about you. We all are. Can you please tell me what has gotten into you lately? “
Brian shook his head. “I can’t. Please understand that I can’t.”
He thought of Billy’s words. He’d feigned unconsciousness because he knew what he was playing at. If he’d been awake, he’d have gained satisfaction from his pain. As it were, he had been close to passing out from sheer terror as that knife ran along his skin, it’s cold edge scratching him ever so gently…and then had came the slip. He’d almost gasped out loud, only he had controlled himself. He’d been so scared.
“You won’t tell, will you?” he’d been told as he lay there. Judging by what had gone before, and the amount that Billy already knew, he wouldn’t. Hearing in detail how your friends were going to be slaughtered was enough for him to stay silent forever. But if he did, when would this ever end?
“I don’t understand it, Rok. Unless someone is forcing your mouth shut, then I can’t see why you wouldn’t tell us.”
His silence said all that needed to be said. Nick recoiled in horror as something clicked in his mind.
“Oh dear God, that’s it isn’t it?”
He was a clever kid, Nicky. Couldn’t put anything past him. Brian wondered whether he secretly wanted him to figure it out. Was that why he had came here?
“NO!”, he yelled, terrified. Nick placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Tell me who it is, Brian. Please…”
“It isn’t anybody.”
If Nick acted differently, Billy would know something had happened, and he’d keep his promise. Hell, he’d kept every other promise he’d made, no matter how awful they’d been.
“Brian, I aint stupid. Don’t look at me with those big soulful, tearful eyes of yours and tell me I can’t tell what you’re thinking. We’re brothers, Brian. I can see it.”
Brian closed his eyes. They continually betrayed him…
“Nicky, I can’t tell you anything, because I’m scared, but know that I didn’t do those things by choice.”
“I know, B-rok. You didn’t need to tell me that. You didn’t need to tell any of us that, but you have to tell us what’s going on. We’re worried…”
Brian shook his head repeatedly. “Nicky, I can’t tell you. Please don’t tell the other guys about this until I’ve thought of something to do. Please?”
Nick was torn. What in God’s name was he supposed to do? He could only do what his friend requested.
“Ok, Brian, but I want you to be careful. You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.”
“I do know. That’s the problem”, he said, before sadly wandering to the living area.
He looked at Nick lying on the floor, sleeping, and he smiled thoughtfully. He looked so childlike and innocent when he slept.
They’d talked until the early hours about things that were supposed to make Brian feel better, but in reality they only made him feel worse. Back when he was Brian, and when he was innocent, and when he had never done anything against the law in his life (unless you counted underage drinking, which he had indulged in quite frequently…but who didn’t?)
He’d let everyone down, and as he looked at the kid lying on the floor; the kid who thought the world of him, who looked up to him and who treasured him before anyone he knew, he felt as though his world and his life had already ended. In three days time, he would probably be locked away for 3-5, like his lawyer had said, shattering their lives and careers aswell as his own.
They didn’t need him; tainted Brian; looming over their shoulders.
He made his decision.
Wandering up into the bathroom, he sat down to admire the painting on Nick’s wall. Surrealist art. It looked like the inside of his head would probably look right now. Mixed up. Abused. Distorted. He hated it all.
He thought about Billy, running that knife up and down his body, and he shivered at the words he’d said when he thought that nobody could hear him. He had intruded on the privacy of a man who admittedly wanted only to make him suffer. The most frightening part of it was that he found it erotic…and that made Brian sick.
He pulled out his cellphone, teary eyed, and pressed the buttons, writing a message on the screen.
“I’m sorry”, it said. Simple but effective.
Opening Nick’s cabinet, he pulled the painkillers Nick had been prescribed for his recurring knee problem. They were strong…and plentiful. Nick was such a snob when it came to pain. He couldn’t admit he was feeling it, so the bottle had never been opened.
Looking into his palm, he counted five pills, and swallowed them with a glass of water.
He repeated the process until they were all gone.
Billy couldn’t hurt him now, and he couldn’t hurt his family any more. This was the only option open to him, now…
It saddened him to think it, but he was better off dead.