The second concert of our new tour had been going well, at least, it had been going well until right now. I had just been dancing, you know, kinda free-styling, like we had rehearsed. But I must have stepped wrong or something and bumped into Howie, because he was down in the pit and glaring at me. Some girl had just yanked out a clump of his hair too, looked like it hurt. We finished the show with no more problems. Afterwards, when we were coming off the stage, Howie lit into me. "Nick, how can you be so clumsy all the time?" he yelled. I shrugged my shoulders, it's not like I meant to knock him over. "I dunno." I turned to go into my dressing room but Howie grabbed my arm and pulled me back around. "Aren't you even going to apologize, you little jerk?" "I didn't do it on purpose!" I yelled back at him. "That's not the point Nick. You're always bumping into someone or knocking something over or messing something up! You're such a klutz!" he turned away with a look of disgust on his face. "Ah, come on D, you know baby Nicky is still growing up on us. He don't know how to control these new long arms and legs of his!" I knew Kevin was only joking and trying to calm the two of us down, but it ticked me off. "I'm not a baby!" I screamed and entered my dressing room, slamming the door behind me. Just because I was the youngest, only 15, they all thought they could treat me like a little kid. "Stupid Nicky. Nicky you're so dumb. Nick why are you such a klutz. Ha ha look at what Nicky did now." I recited their usual taunts outloud. I was sick of it. I slammed my fist into the wall and immediately grabbed it as waves of pain ran through my arm. Tears splashed onto my cheeks. "Okay, that WAS stupid." I moaned. I lay down on the cot and cradled my hand to my chest. It really hurt. "I hate this! I wish I'd never joined this stupid group!" More tears fell from my eyes and I wiped them furiously away. "They'd probably be much happier without me too." I thought. "At least no one would knock them off the stage." I laid my head down and covered my eyes. "I wish I'd never joined this group." I repeated.
I opened my eyes and got up to change into my street clothes. I felt a little disoriented, but I figured I had fallen asleep for a few minutes. My hand didn't hurt anymore though, so that was good. Looking into the mirror, I realized that I had already changed. I was wearing a Nirvana t-shirt and baggy, faded jeans. I didn't remember wearing these clothes here and I sure didn't remember changing into them, but oh well, I must have, right? I whirled around when I heard the door open. I didn't need to get teased for studying myself in the mirror. It was Kevin though, he would be cool about it. "Can I help you?" he asked, bustling into the room and pulling his shirt off. I just laughed and started to gather some stuff up into a bag. I felt a hand on my shoulder. "You know, you can't take anything for a souvenir. I'm right here watching you." "What?" "I said, you can't...how did you get in here anyway?" "I opened the door?" This conversation was getting weird. "Were you in here trying to get something to impress your girlfriend with or something?" Kevin folded his arms and looked at me with a smirk on his face. "What?" I repeated. "Kevin you know I don't have a girlfriend." He laughed. "Now how would I know that?" Kevin turned around and picked something up from the table. "Is this some kind of joke?" I asked. "Let's make Nicky think he's crazy and see how long it takes him to get it?" I put my hands on my hips. "So it's Nicky, or Nick?" "You know I like to be called Nick!" I protested. Kevin looked at me like I had grown a third head or something. "Here." He pushed something into my hands. "Now get out before security catches you in here and you catch hell." He disappeared into the bathroom. I looked down at the thing in my hands. A picture? "To Nick, Peace and Luv, Kev." it read. An autographed picture? What was going on here?
I opened the door and started to walk down the hallway, the picture still clutched in my hand. No one talked to me, not the roadies, not the security, not the arena staff, nobody. A few people smiled and nodded, but no one said "Hi" to me, no one said "Hey good show Nick", no one yelled "get your stuff together or you're going to miss the bus again, dumbass!" I smiled. I kinda liked this. This might be alright. So what if they wanted to play their little joke. I got to be normal, even if it was only for a few minutes. I could hear screaming. The girls! The fans! There was no way that they could have hooked all the fans outside into their game. They would know who I was! I braced myself and opened the door.
One girl screamed but it was because she saw I had a picture of Kevin.
"Oh my God, did you meet him? Is he awesome?" I gave her the photo.
"Keep it." I muttered. This was not so good. I never had attention
from girls when I was in school and I loved to hear the fans screaming
my name and tearing at my clothes. It was fun, in a scary sort of way.
What had happened to me? I could see the bodyguards clearing a path near
the doors. The girls screaming intensified when the guys came out.
"Howie! Brian! AJ! Kevin!" A blonde girl beside me shook AJs hand,
he kissed her and she fainted. I grabbed her program off the ground
beside her and flipped through it. I hated most of the photos of myself
in this one. I had to go through it twice before it sunk in that I
wasn't in the book. In the bios, AJ was listed as the youngest member
of the group. All the group pictures were of four people, the same four
that had just come out of the arena.
I walked slowly to the hotel, it was the only place in town I knew how to get to. Heck, I couldn't even remember what town I was in, so I guess I was lucky that I could remember how to get to the hotel. I slumped down in a comfy chair in the lobby, as far away from the crowd of girls as I could get. The front desk clerk came over to hassle me, but I told him my girlfriend was in the crowd waiting for the Backstreet Boys. He nodded knowingly and left me alone. I found a wallet in my back pocket so I pulled it out and began going through it. The ID inside revealed that my name was still Nick Carter, that was good. I still lived in Ruskin and had the same family members. I found a student ID card from Ruskin High that said I was in Grade 10 and a beginners driving license. I had $10 and some change to my name. I walked over to the pay phone and picked up the phone book. "Toronto!" I hollered. People turned their heads to look at me and I blushed. "Sorry." I gave a little wave and went back to my chair. How on earth was I gonna get home to Ruskin with $10? I noticed Brian coming into the lobby with his bodyguard. I snapped my fingers. Surely Brian would recognize me, we were best buddies. I ran over to him and the bodyguard stepped in front of him, blocking my view of Brian totally. "Um...I just wanted to talk to him." I put my hands in the air so he could see I had nothing with me. "It's okay." Brian moved around the guard and faced me. "Hello!" I shoved my wallet ID in his face almost. "You remember me, don't you Frick?" "Frick?" "Yeah, you're Frick and I'm .........." My face fell. He didn't know the name Frick cause there was no Frack. "I'm your best friend, Brian." I pleaded. "You're from Florida? Where did I meet you, cause I can't quite remember..." I sank to my knees on the floor and held my head in my hands. The guard hustled Brian away, positive I was some lunatic. I felt tears stinging my eyes again. I'd always wondered what it would be like to not be famous, to be a regular person. So far I wasn't enjoying myself at all.
I buried my head in my arms and cried in the lobby of the fancy hotel while my friends were getting screamed at by hundreds of pretty girls. I wanted to be back with them, singing and having fun. I just wanted everything to be familiar again. "Hey Nick?" Someone was shaking my shoulder. "Nick how are you doing?" "You know me?" I asked hesitantly. AJ laughed wildly. "Know you? How hard did you hit your head boy?" "My head?" I was confused. I remembered hitting my hand, but my head? Howie pushed AJ out of the way. "You knocked me off the stage Nick, but then you lost your footing and fell down too. You've been out cold for about a half hour." "You okay Frack? You scared us for a minute there." "Brian? You know me?" Brian looked at me with his eyebrows raised. "Yeah, I know you, Frack." Kevin came over and felt my forehead. "He's got a good size bump here, probably knocked the wiring loose up there. Give him a little bit of time." AJ laughed again. "Knocked the wiring loose or looser? King doofus there nearly killed himself this time!" I smiled broadly. It had never been so wonderful to hear myself being called a doofus. I doubted I would ever complain about it again. I was back!