Chapter 5 – A Stroll Down Memory Lane
May 24, 2004 – New York City, NY – The Marius Hilton – Nikki’s Hotel Room
“I’ve had just about…” Mo’ette said as her male friend shook his head and then stepped in front of Marc, popping him in the mouth, knocking him backwards into the wall. “Why thank you very much babe.”
“You’re very welcomed love,” the man said with a smile as he rubbed his hands together as though he was wiping his hands of trash. “Let’s get out of this place, before I have to hit him again. I don’t want to get any dirtier than I already am and Lord knows, I don’t need to catch a case around here.”
“I hear ya’ babe,” Mo’ette said as she smiled and then stepped over Marc’s body, laughing as she and her friend walked out of the room.
“I guess it’s just you and your goons now Marc,” Cameron said as he shook his head, laughed and then followed Mo’ette out of the room. “Have fun creep.”
“Fucking jerk,” Marc said as Cameron continued walking down the hall, laughing.
“Damn it, things aren’t working like I thought they would. I gotta do something to fix things between JT and me. I think I’ll give him some space, before I try anything else. I don’t want him getting angrier with me. I know he’s hurting right now and if I try something else, he’ll only get angrier. I’ll just give him some space and see what happens. I know I’m not wanted around here, but that doesn’t mean I have to completely disappear. I’ll just go on along to the next venue and try to fix things there. I just hope Marc isn’t around to cause more trouble,” Cameron spoke as he stood at the elevator, waiting for it to arrive.
A Few Minutes Later
“I don’t even know why I came back here. I should’ve just gone back to my house and just let this stuff die down,” JT stated as he and his friends walked down the hall. “There’s just too much going on Momma.”
“You don’t need to go back home boy, you need to be here, handling this stuff,” Vanessa stated as she walked next to JT. “You need to do a press conference and fix this mess, before it goes any further.”
“Momma, none of this can be fixed. A press conference isn’t going to do it,” JT stated as he shook his head as Nikki walked up to him.
“JT, let’s just get on the bus and we’ll talk about this more on our way to Philly,” Nikki said as JT shook his head again.
“No Nikki, I don’t want to talk about any of this. I just want to go home and…” JT stated as Vanessa shook her head and then grabbed him by the arm, stopping him.
“Boy, you need to take care of business and…” Vanessa said as JT sighed.
“I know you guys mean well and all, but right now, I don’t want to think or talk about singing. I want to go home and—and just ball up and die,” JT declared as he sighed and then looked down.
“No boy, you can’t do that. We’re not going to let you do that,” Vanessa stated as she pulled JT into a hug. “I’m not going to let you cower away from this because you don’t want to deal with it. For once in your life baby, you need to fix something.”
“No Momma, no! If ya’ll want this fixed, ya’ll fix it! I’m out!” JT snapped as he pulled away from Vanessa and then walked away.
“Look, there he is!” Someone yelled as JT turned around quickly, noticing the swarm of reporters and paparazzi heading for them. “Over here JT!”
“Oh, here we go,” JT said as he walked in the other direction as others started following him.
“JT Poole, what do you have to say about the news article that appeared in the ‘Daily Monitor’?” Someone asked as JT shook his head and then started walking faster.
“JT, are you on drugs? What led you to the drugs? Is the pressure of performing getting to you?” Someone asked as JT stopped, looking around and then shook his head. “Come on JT, answer the questions man!”
“No comment!” JT snapped, getting the attention of Nikki, Mo’ette and Justin. “Security!”
“Alright people, back it up,” a security guy said as he got in between JT and the reporters around him.
“Get these people away from me! I don’t know how you let them get this close in the first place!” JT yelled as he turned his back and kept on walking.
“Hey! Why you being an ass man? You’re not all that!” A reporter exclaimed, grabbing JT by the arm, stopping him from walking, almost causing him to fall down.
“Who the hell are you and why are you messing with him?” Justin asked, getting up in the reporter’s face.
“What’s it to you?” The reporter asked, glaring at Justin. “Whatever I do is my business, not yours.”
“When it comes to you messing with my friend, at a time like this, it’s my business too!” Justin snapped as the man smiled and then started snapping pictures of him. “Get the hell out of my face!”
“Gladly,” the man said, smiling at Justin as he continued snapping pictures. “This’ll make a great headline. Justin Tanner comes to the rescue of his drug-addicted, singing friend.”
“Why you son of a…” Justin trailed off as Mo’ette grabbed his arm, pulling him back.
“We were only talking, there was no need for you getting all bent out of shape Mr. Tanner,” the reporter said with a smile as he took another picture.
“Calm down Justin,” Mo’ette said as she placed a hand on his shoulder, trying to calm him.
“Yeah, calm down man, it’s not that serious,” the reporter said as he backed away from Justin. “No one did anything that warrants you acting like a jerk.”
“Oh lawd,” Mo’ette said, shaking her head and then covering her eyes.
“Oh no he didn’t!” Justin snapped as he turned back around and then grabbed the camera from the reporter’s hand, pushing the man backwards.
“Give that back fucker!” The reporter screamed.
“Make me,” Justin said with a smirk on his face.
“We don’t have time for this mess,” Nikki said as she pulled out her cell phone and dialed a number.
“Yeah, what she said,” Justin said as he shook his head as he removed the film from the reporter’s camera, exposing it to the light as he threw the camera at the reporter. “Here you go, you can have it back now.”
“Justin,” Nikki said, sighing as some security guards rushed into the area, doing their best to keep the other reporters and paparazzi at bay.
“I’m going to sue you Justin Tanner, you’ll hear from my lawyers!” The reporter screamed.
“You’re lucky you’re not hearing from mine!” Justin snapped as they all moved down the hall.
“Man, that was hectic,” Nikki said, shaking her head.
A Few Hours Later – A Tour Bus Headed to Philadelphia, PA
“So, has he come out of the bathroom yet?” Glitter asked, walking down the aisle of the bus as she stopped in front of where Nikki sat.
“Nope,” was all Nikki said as she flipped through the magazine she had in hand as Glitter sighed and then sat down. “So, where did you go the other night and where were you all evening Glitter?”
“What do you mean?” Glitter asked, looking at Nikki strangely.
“You know what I mean girl. Where have you been going the last couple of days?” Nikki asked, looking at Glitter closely. “No one saw you around. You were just as much an absentee band mate as JT was. You only showed your face in spells. So again, where were you?”
“I was in my room,” Glitter replied, sighing. “Why are you giving me the third degree here?”
“I’m not giving you the third degree. I just want to know where you were is all,” Nikki replied as she put the magazine down.
“I told you, I was in my room. I was waiting for the damn drama to be over with,” Glitter stated as she shook her head. “I wasn’t in the mood for dealing with the so-called drama that’s been in the air as of late.”
“And you think I was,” Nikki said as she crossed her arms across her chest. “You act like I was ready to hear that JT’s gay and that Marc tried to rape him or the fact that Marc has blackmailed all of his boyfriends away from him over the years. Now, I understand why all of the things that happened between JT and his friends happened.”
“Oh come on now, did you really believe all of that?” Glitter asked, getting up from her seat. “Sorry girl, but I’m not going to be that naïve and listen to that crap. The truth has yet to be told around here.”
“What? What in the hell is that supposed to mean?” Nikki asked, glaring at Glitter.
“It means that I don’t believe all of what JT said,” Glitter said as she shook her head and then turned around. “He’s been acting really strange as of late and I believe what’s in the paper.”
“You what!” Nikki snapped as she stood up quickly and then hauled off, smacking Glitter across the face, knocking her backwards into a seat. “You know gat damn well those things aren’t true!”
“Sure they’re not,” Glitter said as she rubbed the side of her face. “I guess you’re going to beat the truth into me now.”
“Girl, you best bite your damn tongue before I do something I’ll regret,” Nikki said as Glitter shook her head.
“It’s too late for that,” Glitter said as she slid from out of the seat, got out of Nikki’s way and then walked towards the front of the bus.
“Did I miss something here?” Vanessa asked, walking up to Nikki. “What was that all about?”
“That was just Glitter, spouting off as always and me having to put her in her damn place,” Nikki replied as she sighed. “Why do I always stoop to her level?”
“Only you have the answer to that question my dear,” Vanessa replied as she sat down and then patted the seat next to her. “Come on, talk to me. What’s going on with you guys in ‘Mutual Attraction’?”
“I—I think ‘Mutual Attraction’ has run its course,” Nikki said as she sighed again. “We’re falling apart around this place Vanessa.”
“No, you’re not. You guys just need to solve this problem and move past it,” Vanessa said, rubbing Nikki’s back.
“How are we going to solve this problem Vanessa, when the main person that needs to do something about it, is held up in a bathroom, trying to avoid everybody it seems,” Nikki said as she looked at Vanessa and then shook her head. “I know he’s hurting right now, but he has to do something about this and quick.”
“I know my son Nikki and he’ll do something about it soon, we just need to stop back and let him have his space,” Vanessa said as she looked down. “I just hope he comes to his senses before it’s really too late.”
“Me too,” Nikki responded as she looked down the aisle as Glitter stood in the area near the bunks with her cell phone to her ear. “I’m starting to think she has something to do with this crap that’s going on in the media.”
“You think Glitter is the leak?” Vanessa asked, looking at Nikki with her nose turned up a bit.
“Yeah, pretty much so,” Nikki replied as she crossed her arms across her chest again. “She just said she believes all the stuff that was said in the tabloids and she feels that JT did it all. She doesn’t believe he’s innocent of all that stuff.”
“You know my son Nikki. You’ve known him for a long time. Do you believe him to be a drug user?” Vanessa asked, placing a hand on Nikki’s shoulder. “Do you believe he’s using and dealing? Do you believe him to be using his tours and finances to buy and distribute drugs around the world?”
“No I don’t Vanessa. I don’t believe any of that crap,” Nikki stated as she looked at Vanessa. “Anybody that really knows JT should know the truth about that. He may have his issues with the bottle, but he hasn’t moved to the pipe.”
“You know, most people say that the pipe isn’t far behind the bottle,” Vanessa stated as she sighed and then turned around. “I just hope those tabloids were lying.”
“They are lying,” Nikki said as she turned towards Vanessa. “JT may have some alcoholic tendencies, but he’s not a crack head.”
A Car Following the Tour Bus
“… I’m trying to tell you what’s going on Josh! If you’ll shut the hell up, you’ll hear what I’m saying, so stop wasting my damn time,” I said, wondering if I was making a mistake, trying to get him involved in what was currently going on.
“Why should I even care Justin?” Josh asked as I shook my head.
“Do you still love her or not Josh?” I asked.
“Why does it even matter? We’ve been apart for so long,” he said as I shook my head, feeling as if I were wasting my time here.
“Because she’s single and she’s still wearing your ring man,” I said, hoping that would make an impact with him.
“She—she’s still wearing my ring?” He asked.
“Yeah, she’s still wearing the ring you gave her,” I said as he gasped. “I’m sure she still feels the same way about you, that you feel about her. All you have to do is meet us at their next stop and see what happens.”
“Where—where is their next stop?” He asked.
“In Philly,” I replied, picking up the itinerary that Nikki had given me as I read through it as quickly as I could. “Why don’t you go ahead and get on a plane so you can meet us.”
“Alright, I’m going to go pack and head out. I’ll call you back later on with my flight information,” he said.
“Okay Josh, I’ll talk with you later on,” I said, taking a sip of my coffee so I could stay awake.
A Tour Bus Headed to Philadelphia, PA – The Bathroom
Why am I always the one that gets hurt? At the end of the day, when everything’s said and done, it’s always me that’s left upset and crying. Why am I the one that ends up being alone? Am I really that bad of a person that everyone has to always leave me? I thought that Marc was the root of my troubles, but maybe it’s really me. Maybe—maybe I’m the reason why my relationships go haywire and I end up doing things by myself. Does anyone really care for me?
Who really cares?
Who really cares?
When I talk?
What I feel?
What I say?
Nobody not really
Who wants to take
The time to understand
I would like someone to heal me with some empathy
But I can’t find…
Nobody not really
Maybe I’m invisible to the world
Does anyone in the world even think of me?
As more than just a hopeless cause
Maybe the world is not my block
My anything, anything
Who wants to help?
Mama, but she’s so tired
Papa, but you’re not here
I’m alone in a big empty space with
Nobody not really
“JT, JT can I come in?” I heard Nikki’s voice as she lightly tapped on the bathroom door.
“No, I don’t want to be bothered right now,” I replied as I heard her sigh.
“I heard you in there singing, let me in,” she said as she tapped on the door again.
“No, I just said I didn’t want to be bothered right now. Just go away and leave me alone woman,” I said.
“I’m not just going to leave you alone JT, you’re my best friend,” she said as I could imagine her standing out there with her arms across her chest, waiting for me to open the door with that ‘Imma beat his ass’ look on her face.
“Just let me have some peace for a while longer,” I said as she tapped on the door again. “You’re not going to stop knocking, are you?”
“Nope, so you might as well open the door and let me in there or you come out here,” she said.
“Fine,” I said, opening the door as she walked in and then looked at me like I was crazy.
“Are you feeling any better now?” She asked as I raised an eye at her. “Guess not.”
“Really, no, you don’t say,” I sarcastically said as she shook her head and then moved to the little stole besides the shower stall. “How am I supposed to feel at a time like this?”
“I really don’t know, seeing as I don’t know what’s really going on with you right now. I don’t know how I would feel if I was in the same situation as you. I do feel we have a lot to talk about though. I’ve missed a big part of your life; a part that I never knew existed. I don’t know why I never suspected that you’re gay. I guess it’s because you don’t act like the stereotypical gay man,” she said as I shook my head. “Sorry.”
“No, I’m sorry that I don’t glam out like Glitter and I don’t spruce out like RuPaul, that’s just not me. I do the suits, I’ll keep my hair cropped and trimmed and I make sure I smell good enough to not be stinky, but I’m not one of those girly boys you see on TV during those gay pride things,” I said as she giggled.
“I know you’re not JT,” she said with a smile. “That’s something you’ve never shown the rest of us. I guess you only showed that to Cameron, Justin and who?”
“Hmmm,” I said, wondering if I should go there with her.
“Don’t hmmm me, just go ahead and dish JT,” she said, looking at me closely. “Justin outed himself earlier, so I know you two were together and…”
“Me and Justin were never together,” I said as she looked at me strangely, turning up her nose as she scratched at her head.
“What? You weren’t,” she said as I shook my head. “Then what…”
“Back in the day, when we both were on the Mouse, he developed a thing for me,” I said as she looked down, probably thinking back to that time. “He had the biggest crush on me, but as you know, I’m six years older than he is. I didn’t want to go to jail for being a pedophile and Lord knows, I didn’t want to be in the clink for statutory rape, so I kindly told him when he became of age, we would see what happens.”
“What happened?” She asked.
“Nothing at all,” I said as she looked at me strangely again. “The night you and Josh first met…”
“And,” she said as I sighed.
“We talked that night and he—he decided to be with the woman he was with at the time, Emma,” I told her as she just looked at me like crickets were chirping around.
“So, you two never got together,” she said as I shook my head. “No romance at all?”
“Nope,” I replied with a frown. “All we had was a kiss and then a smacking.”
“Lawd, who smacked who?” She asked.
“He smacked me,” I replied as she looked down while shaking her head.
“Why did he smack you?” She asked.
“We argued that night and I kissed him without his permission, so he smacked me and then walked off,” I said as she shook her head again. “The next conversation we had was a year later when I started dating someone else and he was actually ready to give me a chance. Well he set up this nice weekend getaway, but I turned him down and decided to cut all contact with him.”
“You didn’t,” she said as I nodded my head.
“I didn’t want to get my heart broken again,” I said as she rubbed my back. “He pulled out all the stops on that one though. The weekend you and Josh… you know, that was the weekend he tried to get me to go away with him. He poured out his heart to me and apologized for all that had happened between us and then he pledged his love to me, but I just couldn’t have him hurt me again, because he was scared of what would happen with his career.”
“So, you broke his heart and that was that?” She asked.
“Not exactly,” I said as she looked at me strangely again.
“This is getting drawn out JT,” she said as I sighed.
“He poured his heart out to me and—and we ended up sleeping together that one time,” I said as she sighed. “The next morning, I was back where I belonged and he was alone.”
“JT,” she said, smacking me on my arm. “How could you?”
“I got weak, but…” I said as she interrupted me.
“I’m sure you were, but still,” she said as I got up and then moved over by the door. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” I said, wondering if this conversation with her was going to get any easier.
“So, besides Justin and Cameron, who else were you with? Now that I know about you, I get the sneaking suspicion that some of your friends in the past were actually boyfriends and not just friends. Am I right?” She asked as I sighed.
“I don’t know, are you?” I asked as she sighed. “Well, what do you expect?”
“I expect you to give me an answer here JT,” she said as I sighed.
“Fine, ask the rest of your questions and I’ll try to give you some answers,” I said as she shook her head. “What?”
“Stop being difficult JT,” she said, pointing her finger at me. “So tell me JT, Todd and Wes? Were they just friends or something more?”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I want to know man, that’s why,” she replied as she looked up at me. “Were you and Wes a couple? What about Todd? Did you two fool around?”
“Before I started my singing career, Wes was there to help me get my thoughts together. Like Cameron, he didn’t want to be out in the open with our relationship, so we kept things secret. Things with us were going great for a while, until the management company sold my contract to the company that Marc works for. Hell, if I would’ve known then, what I know now, I would’ve fought tooth and nail to keep my contract out of the hands of that damn fool,” I stated as she shook her head.
“Do tell,” she said.
“As soon as Marc took control of things, it was like the flow that we had vanished. It wasn’t me, Mo’ette and Syndi, it was just ‘Soul Connection’,” I said as she looked down. “He rode us hard as he could, because he wanted to make a name for himself. It was like he didn’t care if the fans cared for the music, he just wanted to establish himself as a manager and a music promoter.”
“Well, it’s not like he’s changed much since then J,” she said as she looked at me and then placed a hand on my leg.
“Nope, you have to love being rode like a damn government mule to put up with Marc’s depictions of fame and fortune,” I said as she frowned and then sighed.
To Be Continued…
 Song Excerpt = Nobody Not Really by Alicia Keys