Saturday, June 27, 2020


Chapter 10
TRAVERSING THE TUNNEL OF TIME


The EMT made a fist, forcefully rubbing Nick’s chest on his sternum and told Katie to call to him still. Nick groaned, and the EMT gave a nod that this was a good sign. Nick felt a pain on his sternum and grabbed his chest as he drifted in his unconscious mind down further deeper into the tunnel and away from reality. 
“Nick, wake up, open your eyes, and look at me. C’mon stupid star, I owe you some serious payback, but I’ll cut you some slack if you open your eyes.” Katie heard Nick moan, but he did not open his eyes nor respond. 
“His vital signs are good and it’s a good sign that he’s moaning to my stimuli on his chest. Keep talking to him,” the EMT said as he kept filling out the paper work for the Emergency Room doctors. 
“You just better be okay, because I don’t want to waste all this good anger I have got built up inside me, but I’ll tell you now, what you’ve waited two years to hear. I love you, Nicolas Paul, I do.” She laid her head down on his chest and spoke to his heart. “You stupid, big oaf, you got me to fall in love with you. I fell in love with you that night. Now, stupid-star, if you can hear me, hear this; I will deny what I just said til’ the day I die. Oh, and another thing, PC, if you think of ever throwing what I just said in my face, then I will make you pay. Do you hear me? It won’t be pretty. I don’t like this Nick Thomas. I want my Nicolas Paul.” The EMT chuckled at Katie’s profession then her denial of her profession. Katie crooked her head up and looked at him briefly with her eyes. “Men, you can’t live with them, and you can’t kill them. The best we can do is make them miserable every day of their lives for the angst they cause us, huh?” 
The male EMT shook his head while the driver looked back in her rearview mirror. 
“You got that right, girl.” Katie chuckled then laid her head down on Nick’s chest and wept. She picked up his hand and covered her cheek with his hand. It remained that way the rest of the short ride to the ER at the University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital. 
“HIPPA laws, right?” Katie asked. Both nodded. 
For a second time, Nick’s consciousness balanced between two realms. The first time, he chose to move his body toward his Teach. This time, the sound of his happy giggling Teach from the amber end of the tunnel seemed more worth having to watch those days of debauchery. The teacher on the sidewalk did not give him much of a reason to stay awake, and to Nick, it seemed that going back, knowing what he knew, he assumed that he could change his future.   
While conscious enough to understand the ramifications of entering and journeying down that tunnel, it  occurred to Nick that if he did indeed enter the tunnel and bear through the memories, he could get to the happy end and possibly re-enter the past. With the knowledge and wisdom he had just gained from having superstardom hit him from behind, he deduced that he could go back and change things. A few moments of recompense followed by re-living that wonderful night seemed like a no brainer to Nick. He turned back to the cold stark end of the tunnel to deliver  another promise that he would not be able to make good on, again.   “Don’t worry Princess, I’m going back to fix things. I’m going to make it right for us, for you,” he yelled back to her in his subconscious, as he entered into the tunnel of his past. “I’ll be back, Princess, I’m going back to make it all better. When I come back, none of this hurt will be here. We’ll be together and it will be good,” he called out to the cold end of the tunnel.“Don’t worry Princess, I’m going back to fix things. I’m going to make it right for us, for you,” he yelled back to her in his subconscious, as he entered into the tunnel of his past. “I’ll be back, Princess, I’m going back to make it all better. When I come back, none of this hurt will be here. We’ll be together and it will be good,” he called out to the cold end of the tunnel.  As Nick’s body moved toward the tunnel just ahead, Nick saw what seemed like collages depicting his past two years. Each picture contained a memory and the sounds of the scene. The ceiling played his semi and completely blacked-out drunken stupors. Nearing the end were weeks when his songs flew up the charts to number one in record time. Those mega-hits were the ones he wrote with his Teach as his muse. He adored those days in the studio, creating a craft he loved. At the end of the tunnel was an amber light, and he noted a wonderful feeling that was permeating from that light. He could hear the happy giggling of his Teach coming from the amber light.  
There was an ominous dread that made him aware of the fact that he could not get to the end, where they happy amber light was until he passed through the rest of the tunnel of memories. He was going to have to face the truth of what and who he had become in the scenes of his life played out like a bad movie on the walls of this tunnel. With the consciousness of knowing Katie Lynn Moore as his Teach, a dread of watching his slanderous behavior toward his one true love came over him. Every malicious statement, slanderous accusation, and evil intent, he knew was now aimed at his one true love, his only jolt-giver, and it disgusted him with the man in the pictures. 
His curiosity lured him to the tunnel where the voices of his past appealed to him. He listened to the echoes of radio DJ’s praising his latest number one hits, as well as his name being mentioned as a nominee for award shows, such as the ACM’s and CMA’s, with the most notable as his win of single of the year with Cindy’s Magic at the newest award show, the ACA’s. He watched clips from the award shows, radio stations, and live television appearances. For the most part, those were the pleasant memories. Conversely, on the ceiling, there were what appeared to be high definition three-dimensional clips of his post-show parties, including his drunken stupors and some of his blackout periods.
Nick could not figure out how it all went so bad so fast, almost literally overnight. While floating along in the tunnel, a pain in the gut hit him unexpectedly. As he turned to look at a scene on the wall, his heart stung when he realized that this particular moment of heartache in his life, was just one of the early catalysts that turned things around, putting him on the fast trek to the back of the morality train. Much like before, Nick had to watch and relive one of the most painful days of his life. That dreadful night at the Kentucky State Fair was six months after his most wonderful night of his life. He watched as an over-the-top, anxious, would-be-lover paced the floor for that long awaited and pined for  reunion with his one and only. He had driven all his guys crazy. Nick never expected it to take the full six months for her to get back to him. His parents attended that concert hoping to meet Nick’s jolt-giver and the only woman to ever light up his life as she did. He played and sang his heart out that night, assuming that his Teach was in the audience. 
He tried to avoid looking up at the ceiling, but his head and his eyes drifted upward beyond his control. It was as if another entity was forcing him to look up at those worst moments of his life that Nicolas Paul would never have dreamed of, let alone consider and do. 
Brooke McIntosh, aka the whack job, was larger than life in the footage of a dreadful clip on the ceiling. While at the Cheapside, Brooke had kept on insisting they made love. Nick, out of his ignorance, wanted to live in denial. He refused to acknowledge such a preposterous act. In this tunnel of torment, however, his body stood frozen beyond his control. He had no choice in the matter and was doomed to view a particularly disturbing scene. It was Brooke in the back room suite of his bus under his royal blue silk comforter, naked as the day she was born. He stood there, motionless and in shock as he watched a foggy vision of the two sweaty bodies rolling around between the sheets. The longer he stood beneath the scene, the more his body seemed to be melding into the scene, as if he was in that very room with them, as a silent witness. He was living through what he had hoped was just memory of a hazy nightmare, but then he became fully conscious enough in this tunnel to remember every nightmarish detail. 
Against his will, his body drifted over toward the bed; close enough for him to see the crystal beads of sweat that pooled at Brooke’s temple along her platinum blonde hairline. The guttural groaning of the man underneath her naked body was not completely visible to him as her body blocked his view, but he had hoped those groans were that of Tommy his troublesome drummer. 
His stomach turned when he heard the baritone-slurred voice of the man, confirming his worst fear that the voice was in deed his, as opposed to the tenor-pitched voice of Tommy Simms. He wanted to leave the room, but he could not move his legs, nor will his body out of that scene. It was as if he was serving out his a sentence in this X-rated hologram, as punishment for his crimes of the heart. 
As Nicolas Paul stood there watching against his will, the memories of this evening’s events started to materialize in his own brain, as it if were coming to light now, after being hidden in the drunken blackout.  

****

“Nicky, I’ve loved you for so long. I’ve dedicated my life to you, and I will always love you. This is so good between us, right now, isn’t it?” She looked up to him, attempting to get Nick to open his eyes and look through hers to see her love for him. She assumed that using the same name his grandparents called him would bring a warm happy glow when she was around. He never told her how much he loathed it, as a reminder of how much of a nuisance she was to him. . “This is how we belong. I want us to always be like this.” Brooke rattled on during their act of marriage between the sheets without the ring, or the license. The man did all he could to ignore her rattling and chatter, trying not to let it distract him from the physical pleasure of the act. “Do you love me, Nicky?” 
“Shhhh!” Was his polite response. 
“Nicky, tell me that you love me. I’ve done so much for you. 
“Let’s just do this thing, like you asked. My guys will be coming back soon, and you have to leave.”  
His slurred speech indicated that his excess amount of blood alcohol exceedingly exceeded the legal limit to think straight with any sense of right or wrong. The woman of his dreams, his true jolt-giver seemed so far removed from his life at the time. His hope for their reunion was at an all-time low. This man was not the Nicolas Paul that he used to be, but the licentious playboy super-star who could do no wrong in the eyes of the ones who worshiped him. 
A vagueness seemed to cloud the memory of his vision of the details of his jolt-giver’s face. Even her beautiful light royal-blue eyes were sketchy in his drunkenness. He closed his eyes and envisioned what he could remember of her in Brooke’s place, wishing it were her. 
“I love my teacher,” he sighed spontaneously without forethought. 
Brooke’s heart sank as she quickly fell over by his side. The love of her life, just confessed his love for the mystery woman of his past. She had assumed that enough time had passed since the story had died down that he would have gotten over her. Without even realizing that he spoke out loud, Nick turned to Brooke with a puzzled look. 
“What’s the matter? Why did you stop?” 
It was time to put “Operation fade to Brooke” in motion. If she could convince Nick that the teacher was taken, married, or not coming back to him, then Brooke’s possible future with him would be that much more likely. She reached up over their heads to grab a cold beer and gulp down a large sip, leaning up on her elbow. She handed the bottle to Nick. He gulped down the rest of the bottle and asked her if she wanted another to which she nodded yes. 
She sat up in full view of her exquisite form for his pleasure to see and walked over to the mini-fridge, while Nick admired her perfect form. Brooke had to bluff her way back onto center stage in Nick’s mind, especially at the moment. This was her once in a lifetime opportunity. She thought that if she pleased him enough that she would become a regular visitor in that back room suite, messing up the sheets. 
“She’s married, now, my wonderful lover. You are going to have to forget her. She’s gone. It’s time to move on.” 
“What are you talking about?” Nick asked as he sat up and opened the blankets, welcoming her back into his bed and taking the beer that she offered him. 
“Nicky, you were just making love to me and confessing your love for another woman. I thought you loved me, and that was why we’re here making love.” Nick opened the beer, took down a large gulp and then handed the dark bottle back to her. 
“What did I say?” 
“You said you loved your teacher.” He apologized for the mishap in his slurring baritone voice, feeling a little guilty about how that must have sounded to Brooke. 
“Sorry, Brooke, I didn’t know I did that. So, what do you mean, she’s married? How do you know?”
Passing the bottle back to Nick, she took the risk of her life and bluffed exclusive knowledge about a woman with whom she had no clue of her identity, or whereabouts, only that she was a teacher. 
“Don’t you remember? We talked about her months ago. You said that you figured she was married by now, and I checked it out, with someone I know who knows her. He looked her up on Facebook, and her status said married. He even said he saw a baby in her cover photo.” 
Brooke held her breath, hoping he would not ask any more questions. With Nick as drunk as he was, there was not a lot of academy award winning acting that Brooke had to do. Nick plopped his head down on the pillow, with his hands clasped under his head, looking off onto the ceiling. 
“Are you sure?” His heart sunk, with that news. Brooke laid back down with the upper half of her body lying across Nick’s chest, kissing him. She wrapped her arms around his ribcage, and turned her head to face toward the end of the bed. While kissing his chest, she muffled more lies, hoping he would not question her further. She had to distract him, and she knew just how to do that. She slowly shuffled her way down to the other end of the bed and began to do that which every drunk man craves. 
“She married him a long time ago.” 
“The deputy, she married the deputy?” He asked in a breathy, moaning voice. 
“Yes, him, I remember seeing a picture of her with a cop, that’s right,” she said in between strokes that worked like a charm to distract Nick. 
His breathing began to become deep and quickened. He responded to her dedication to him with guttural groans that only increased her desire for some groaning of her own. Nick did not even have the clarity or forethought in his mind to question what possible Facebook friends his teacher from Kentucky could have with this Arkansas-based twenty-five year-old office clerk, whose only traveling consisted of tailgating or stalking his bus. 
She continued to work his manhood to bring him up to their previous passionate status. This time beads of sweat rolled down toward his ears from his temples while his body temperature continued to rise, with his heartbeats among other things. 
“Nicky, it’s me you love, remember?” Tell me, again. I love hearing it from you.” 
She lifted her head as he looked down at her, and she made eye contact with her seductive perverted eyes, promising him his just reward if he dropped the subject and the notion of his teacher. Nick furrowed his eyebrows, not remembering ever saying that to her. When he refused to speak those three words, she stopped abruptly, creating a sense of frustration the no man wants to experience. She made sure that he was at full impact, with his breathing and guttural groaning at hi impact mode, when she discontinued her ministrations. 
“If you don’t love me, then I can’t be here doing this with you,” she said bringing her face back up to near his, and letting his body suffer the loss of the pleasure she was amply supplying. “I love you, so much. I can make you so happy all the time,” she said letting her hand slip ever so slowly under the sheet, down his chest, then to his stomach, and she stopped on his inner thigh. 
“C’mon, Brooke, stop teasing me. Go back down there,” he pleaded with his eyes half-open and pushing on her shoulders. 
“No, not if you don’t love me. I promised myself that I would only do that for the one man who loved me. If you don’t, yet, well, then I guess I’ll have to wait until you do, or just call it a night.” She maneuvered her body down and over, climbing on top of him and working her way out of the bed, letting her hand trail behind. Nick grabbed her and stopped her from leaving the bed, again. “It’s a shame, too, because I love doing it, and I love looking up into your eyes to see how much I am pleasuring you. I want to send you over the edge. I want to hear and feel you in me, when your passion and love for me explodes, reaching new heights of ecstasy. I can bring you there, but only if you are in love with me. I can’t do this with any man who doesn’t love me.” 
She slithered her body up towards his face, then slivered back down, giving him that one final tease to bring his desperation to new levels of eroticism. 
“All right, Brooke, I love you.”
“Promise me we’ll always be together,” she wanted just that much more of him. With his Teach gone for good, and his body screaming at him to be satisfied, he was willing to promise her anything. 
“Fine, okay, Brooke, you’ll always be in my life. Now c’mon, stop teasing me, and show me what you got.” He wanted that physical satisfaction, while she wanted the verbal contract that he had just signed with his false profession. That was enough for Brooke. She handsomely rewarded him for his a drunken, semi-blacked-out profession of love and commitment, even if it was insincere. He enjoyed his temporary moment of ecstatic pleasure, a moment so minute, that he contained no memory of it, whereas, for the rest of Brooke’s life, she would be bound and determined to hold him to it.

****

He wanted to erase that horror scene on the ceiling, but the truth brought him a pain from deep within his gut. He was disgusted with the man in that bed and all he did to practically force perversion from this young innocent woman, delusional as she was, but still, just a woman in love.  He knew now, that Brooke was not lying, and it was he who was living in denial. 
He had spent most of that year denying the obvious, which was that Shawn and all his family were right to point out his drastic change in his personality, character, and moral fortitude. He contemplated those past two years as he neared the end of the tunnel. He thought his adventures between the sheets with Brooke and Jenna weeks earlier was the lowest point, but Brooke proved him wrong when out of desperation, he professed his love for another woman, which he swore he would never do. Worse than professing his love, he promised himself to her. Brooke had told him that his Teach was married, and yet, he was not level-headed enough to realize that she could not have possibly known anything about his Teach. 
At the end of the tunnel, he heard the fight he had with his band members, less than ninety minutes ago in real time, but what seemed like a lifetime ago to Nick’s confused state of mind.
“Go to hell, Shawn. You can’t quit and even if you do, keyboardists are a dime a dozen, so aren’t stage managers.”  
“And lead guitarists?” Jerry asked. 
“And bass players, right, Nick?” 
"I could have you guys replaced tomorrow.”   
“Really? And where are you going to get new friends, jerk? You know what, dude, you’re an ass. Find yourself a new friend. You may have to look for a while, because no one likes you. 
“Fuck them, I don’t need them,” were the last words to pass over his lips, as if vomiting up an endearing friendship, when in fact the one person he did need the most was his wise and best friend, Shawn. Nick watched the back of the one who was closer than a brother as he faded into the black abyss. He yelled to his friends, beckoning them off the scene to come before him and stand in front of him. 
“I’m not going to let you all go. Jer,' Mike, Shawn, I’m going back. I’m going to fix this. Don’t quit on me, don’t leave,” Nick called to the fading scene on the wall. “Thomas, you are an ass, why didn’t you just go with them,” he said to himself, as he saw his reflection on the wall as the scenes changed. 
He then had to watch his abuse of Brooke. Even that cut to his heart. He led her on, yet, he also treated her as if she had no feelings, at least none that the man in the scene cared about. 
"You told me you loved me, too, remember? You said it.” 
“I have never been with you, nor would I, and I certainly would never say that I was in love with you. I don’t even like you.”
He began to loathe that man in those scenes. One last horrifying scene seemed to drop down on a tremendously large screen, blocking the amber-lit exit to paradise. He watched in horror as one of the last obnoxious acts of Nick Thomas, the drunken reprobate, spieled one hateful malicious insult after the other to his one and only jolt-giver. 
“Seriously dude, how do you look at her? I’ll bet you have to keep your eyes squeezed shut the whole time you are fucking her.” 
He gasped as he heard in his own rich baritone voice spiel such hate to the only one he ever loved. It was the same voice that laughed uncontrollably at her funny drunken antics, only this time he was drunk and none of what he was doing and saying was funny in the least bit. The screen vanished into thin air and there stood thirteen year-old Marianne, pleading her heart's case to Nick to not break her beloved Auntie K's heart. 
“Mr. Thomas, please don’t hurt our Auntie K.”  
Hearing that sweet girl pleading on behalf of the Aunt that she adored and his promise to her that he would not ever hurt Katherine Lynn’s heart pushed him over the edge, causing him to long for that uncomfortable leap into the past. One step down and he would be with his Princess Cindy, again. He was ready and poised to redo his life. 





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