CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR
As he drifted in the dreamworld between awake and asleep, he imagined where he would go? Suicide was a mortal sin, but would God understand? Would He see that he was saving lives by taking his own? Would He see that this would all work out for the best?
He felt sick, but he was too drowsy to relieve himself. He felt tired, but he was feeling too sick to sleep. He was feeling strange, but it was a comforting strange. He didn’t regret what he’d done, because they were better off without him.
He’d even shamed his mother. God help him for that one.
Sooner rather than later, however, the effort to stay awake just became too great, and he succumbed to the sleep that had been seducing him for so long. She could have him, now. He was hers.
“What time is it, Brian?” Nick asked, sitting upwards as he awoken to the sound of Brian’s cellphone, with that annoying jingle it had. “Singing in the Rain”, he said it was, but it didn’t sound like it.
He sat up, seeing his friend gone, and he laughed. Typical Frick, leaving him there sleeping on the floor. Nothing like waking him up to go to bed, was there?
The phone still rang…
“Brian, your phone has been ringing for ages, why don’t you pick it up? They’re not giving up.”
Still no reply. “God dammit”, he said under his breath, as he stood up and followed the sound.
It led to the bathroom.
“Jesus, Frick, did you fall asleep on the John?”
When he opened the door, however, his humour was gone. Vanished. Dead in his throat.
“Brian?” he whispered, as he looked upon his deathly pale and completely still friend, lying slumped against the bath, the empty bottle of pills next to him.
“Oh fucking Jesus, what the fuck…Oh God”, he panicked, checking for a pulse. He found one, but it wasn’t strong. It wasn’t good. It wasn’t good at the best of times, but now?
The fucking jingle still played.
Picking up the phone, he saw that it was an anonymous number.
“Who is this?” he demanded, but the caller hung up. “Fuck”, he yelled, as he looked at the screen.
Words danced about it. “I’m sorry…”
“You’re sorry? You fucking will be if you die on me, you son of a bitch, now wake the Hell up. Dammit, Brian, open your eyes. “
He slapped his face a few times, dialling the number with his other.
“Come on, come on”, he demanded.
”911, what is your emergency?”
“It’s my friend. He’s taken a lot of pills, and he’s unconscious. Please, help me.”
His voice was panicked, but he kept his composure the best he could. He told the operator the details of his address, and the state Brian was in. It didn’t look healthy. As he lifted Brian’s shirt up to put his head against his chest, the knife wound stared back at him. It was deep…had probably bled a lot. Only tiny, but deep enough…
“Oh God, what the Hell is going on?” he screamed, before dialling his next number.
‘Kevvy Kev’, the caller display read. It rang….
Billy frowned. Why didn’t Brian answer his own phone, and why the big panicked voice? Had something happened?
He’d have to have his boys look into that.
CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE
Kevin sat with Brian at the hospital. He’d been subjected to a stomach pump when he’d arrived, but thankfully, he’d been oblivious to the whole thing. The tube going down, liquid being poured in and the white, fizzing substance that came from his mouth. It was terrifying.
“We’ve managed to extract the pills that hadn’t been absorbed into his bloodstream, but we don’t know how many he took. Mr Carter claims it to be around thirty, but with this type of painkiller, three is considered an overdose. They’re pretty strong…”
Kevin nodded his head, trying his best to process the information as it was given to him. He stroked Brian’s hand, hoping that he couldn’t hear what they were saying. He didn’t need that.
“We’ll wait until he regains consciousness before we perform tests, but there is a high risk of liver damage, not to mention the psychological problems which actually put him in the frame of mind to do this. Do you have any idea why he might want to take his own life?”
Kevin felt the tears as they fell down his cheeks, and he wished to God that he could stop them before they got out of hand.
“Yes, Dr. He’d been, um, involved in some serious stuff. I don’t think it was his fault, but he was due in court in a couple of days. He, um, thought that he was going to jail.”
Dr Chantler nodded his head. He was Asian, and middle aged. He ruffled his eyebrows.
“I see. Thank you, Mr Richardson. That will be a great help to our evaluation.”
Kevin closed his eyes. “This is private, right? No-one will find out about it?”
Dr Chantler shook his head. “Not from me, Sir.”
And so Kevin waited patiently, trying to ignore the respirator that snaked down Brian’s throat, or the monitors which beeped so irregularly, or the straps which held him down; not that he was going anywhere anyway. He looked so innocent. So sweet. So tiny and fragile, as though any little piece of hurt would kill him there and then. Kevin felt shit.
“I’m sorry, Brian. I shouldn’t have behaved that way. Can you forgive me?”
He received no response from his deeply unconscious and possibly damaged cousin, who lay there, between life and death, leaving his fate in the hands of God.
Billy snarled as he picked up the newspaper the following morning.
Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell attempted to take his own life at fellow band member Nick Carter’s mansion last night, amidst accusations of theft and handling stolen goods. Sources tell us that Mr Littrell is in critical condition in hospital, where it is thought that he overdosed on painkillers. These reports are, however, unconfirmed.
“Fucking idiot”, Billy whispered, throwing the newspaper to the floor in disgust. He’d ruined his fun. He wasn’t meant to be that weak…
“It makes him look all the more fucking guilty”, he laughed, shaking his head at Brian’s stupidity. “Like he had something to get away from…”
He sat back, taking in the events of the previous night. Maybe he’d gone too far. Maybe he’d freaked the kid out a little bit too much by waiting for him in his kitchen, but he was just having a little fun with him. He didn’t really hurt him, so where was the harm?
Then it hit him. Was it Carter who’d answered the phone? Was that why he sounded so panicked? Because Brian was lying at his feet, his phone just ringing and ringing…and ringing, because he couldn’t hear it?
“Fuck”, Billy said under his breath. Had he told Carter anything, because if he had, then they could even try to trace that call. It would lead to his cellphone.
Nah, they couldn’t do that. Could they?
Howie called a band meeting that day. They had to figure out a way of diverting the attention from Brian. If he woke up to that kind of attention, they were fucked.
“I don’t know about anyone else, but I really couldn’t care any less about the fucking band right now. Brian isn’t as strong as any of us. His heart…”
Kevin broke down as he said those last two words. He couldn’t handle this feeling inside him; couldn’t handle this guilt.
“We all feel the same, Kev, but it got out somehow. If this got out, who knows what else will? How is that going to help him, having the whole world involved in his fucking mental torture?”
AJ was right. It wouldn’t help him at all.
“Look, I can’t really think about this right now”, Kevin said tearfully.
“I should be with him right now. What if he wakes up and nobody is there for him? He’ll think we’ve all abandoned him.”
Nick rubbed his arm, trying his best to stem his own tears. He wanted to be the strong one; not the one who fell apart.
“Kevvy, he knows you love him.”
He sensed what Kevin was thinking; that Brian thought he’d shut him out. He was only doing what he thought was best. He didn’t want Brian to think that he’d done something forgivable. Family were always so much harder.
“He thinks I hate him, and for all I know, that might be why he felt he had to do it.”
His pain was raw, from his heart. He was in agony.
“He didn’t give us a chance to understand…”
Nick bit his lip, thinking about what Brian had told him. Could he tell, in this situation? He didn’t even know the full story.
“He was involved in something fucked up, guys. Our Brian…Why did he do that? What was he so stupid?”
AJ punched the table in frustration, and Nick could take it no longer.
“BECAUSE SOMEONE MADE HIM…”
All eyes turned to the young blonde haired kid, sitting there so quietly but so strongly. Kevin’s eyes opened wide.
“I don’t know. He wouldn’t tell me.”
Howie wiped his eyes dry, and looked at Nick questioningly. “Has he told Perkins about it?”
Nick shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. All I know is that he came round to my house last night, and he was really upset and afraid. He said he didn’t want to be alone. We talked, then I fell asleep, and he….and he….”
He couldn’t continue, and the tears overcame him. He broke down. So much for strong…
“It’s ok, Nicky. It’s ok. You were there for him, which is more than I can say for me.”
They embraced each other, feeling comfort in themselves and each other. They had to stick together if they wanted to help Brian. They had to keep themselves alert, so they could get to the bottom of this nightmare.
“Whoever it is will slip up sooner or later, and we’ll be there to snatch them”, AJ said quietly. He hoped so…
CHAPTER TWENTY SIX
Dr Chantler checked his patient’s vitals for the third time in his shift. He hated to admit it, but the likelihood of long-term damage was increasing with every moment he remained unconscious.
He was responsive to pain, but that was all. It had only been a day, however, so that was quite normal.
“How is he?” AJ asked quietly, until he realised that he didn’t have to be frightened of waking Brian. He wasn’t asleep.
“The same, I’m afraid. He is responsive to pinpricks, but not to sound or movement of his limbs. His body has been through a lot during the past day. His system has merely shut down to deal with putting things right.”
AJ nodded, although he didn’t understand. Brian was in a coma? Was that right?
“So when will he wake up?””
The doctor shook his head. “I’m afraid that’s up to him.”
AJ took Brian’s hand. “You hear that? All up to you, my man. All up to you.”
The only response was the hiss of the respirator, breathing for his friend who was too weak to do it for himself.
“Mr Perkins, I know it’s confidential, but did Brian mention anybody else being involved in all of this?”
Perkins nodded. “He refused to give names, however, but he told me his rather fragmented story.”
“Can you tell me what it was?” Kevin asked, matter of factly.
“I’m afraid THAT part is confidential.”
Kevin sighed. It had been worth a shot.
“But I will tell you this. If there is no evidence to back his claims up, he will be found guilty. Understand that.”
“Now, I’ve explained the situation to the judge, and he’s agreed to put the hearing on hold until Brian is well enough to participate, but he has ordered a full mental evaluation. I assume your cousin will be receiving that anyway?”
Kevin nodded. “Yes, his doctor said that it is standard procedure to perform a 72 hour evaluation in a psychiatric unit. He’ll be getting that once he wakes up…if he wakes up”, he added sadly.
“I thank you for informing me, Mr Richardson. It makes my job a lot easier.”
Kevin and Mr Perkins shook hands professionally, and Kevin exited to be met by the other guys.
“No leads, guys”, he said, disappointed.
“Well then we’ll just have to wait until there is.”
Nick hesitated, before spitting it out. “Um, guys? Brian was adamant that you didn’t find out about this. I’d say act cool. He seemed genuinely panicked at the thought of us acting as though we knew. I think that is part of why he didn’t tell us.”
“Sure think, Frack”, Howie said. “Act cool. Let ‘em come to us…”
It had been an unwritten agreement, unspoken, but Nick just wanted to be sure. If they were in any danger, they were better to be safe rather than sorry.
“Have you found out what hospital he’s at, yet?” Billy barked to his ‘associates’. They looked at each other, then shook their heads.
“Well then, I suggest you get to it.”
Billy was putting the finishing touches on the flowers he had ‘purchased’ just that afternoon. He had faith in his men. They were diggers; and they’d find him. He wanted to ‘send his respects’. He may not BE dead, but he may aswell be. After all, he’d just ended his own life as he knew it. Stupid fucking child.
“I hope he likes these flowers. I picked them myself.”
He’d know that all the decent flowers were at the cemetery, and he’d found these beauties on the grave nearest to the gates. First time lucky, he thought to himself. They were a little worn, but he’d picked out the dead ones. He’d thought about sending those, but that was crude even by his standards.
The card was short and sweet. He didn’t need to be a poet to get his point across, although his limericks were pretty spectacular.
He got it across in a few simple words.
‘Flowers for my Sweet-Blooded sweet. I’ll see you soon.’
So ambiguous; so chilling yet so loving.
Nobody would ever know….except Brian himself.