Nick came home from yet another long day at work, feeling so tired and drained….but he couldn’t sleep until he checked his answering machine. He had been working 14 to 16 hour days to make money for his demo CD. Nick had finally sent it out to all the major record labels he could think of….Jive, RCA, Universal….Atlantic….and Virgin. He rushed home every day from work to check the answering machine for calls, but no record executives had left messages, no secretaries had called with audition times. He went upstairs, hanging his head in defeat again…hating himself for getting even the least bit excited about a call. He checked his email as well, but no messages about auditions. After two months and waiting all summer, Nick was getting impatient. He fell asleep and dreamt about being on a stage….performing for a crowd of thousands, playing his guitar and singing. Nick wanted this more than anything in the world…well, except one thing. Nick wanted to be with Amanda even more than he wanted this singing career. He loved how she smelled, how she felt when she touched him…her voice. Nick thought about her every single day now that she was away at the University of South Florida. He called her when he could, between jobs and before work.
“AJ….has anybody called yet?” Nick asked fervently one morning in October when he came down for breakfast.
“No, sorry buddy. Nothing yet.” he replied.
“Joey?” Nick asked the other man at the table. Joey was one of his classmates, and a friend of Lance’s from high school. Nick had let him move in over the summer while he went to school and worked part time. Joey just shook his head and stuffed more eggs into his mouth, chewing loudly.
“Nope.” he said, spraying eggs onto his own shirt.
“Gross, dude.” AJ commented, pushing his chair away from him. Joey simply shrugged and kept eating.
“I hate this waiting…I sent that demo out months ago…you’d think one of them would have called by now.” Nick said.
“Don’t worry so much, Nick. You’re really talented, I’m sure one of them will call any time. Just be patient.” AJ reassured him with a smile. He looked at Joey to help him give Nick a confidence boost, but Joey ignored him and kept eating.
“Thanks Jay. I just really want this so bad and its killing me.” Nick said. He looked at the clock and jumped out of his seat as if his chair was on fire.
“God, I’m gonna be late and Mark is gonna kill me!” Nick shouted as he bolted out the door. Nick went to work and was a minute late, which to normal standards was ok for any normal job….but not to Mark, the general manager of Game Zone.
“Carter….I expect you to be on time! You are not setting a good example for the employees by being late!”
“Mark, its a minute….only a minute.”
“You’re a manager…I want you here ON TIME! No excuses!” Mark snapped before sending Nick to the storage room. He hated doing inventory, being stuck in the back room for hours on end. When his shift was finally over at 4, Nick excitedly punched out.
“Carter! Come here for a minute.” Mark called as he was leaving.
“Can you close tonight? Ken called out and I can’t close by myself.” he added once Nick walked over. Reluctantly he agreed, he was never able to turn down extra hours.
“Sure, Mark. I will be back at six.” Nick promised with a sigh. Nick drove home and immediately checked his answering machine. There was a message on it for him, and once he listened to it…Nick almost cried. A record label wanted him to audition for them in New York City on Wednesday afternoon.
“AJ!!! AJ!!!!” Nick screamed, running into the other room.
“Where’s the fire, Nick?” AJ asked with a chuckle.
“I got great news, but I am gonna go shower and head back to work. I will tell you about it when I get home.” Nick said.
“You’re going back to work? Didn’t you just come home?” AJ asked.
“Mark needs me to close. I hate that damn job. I wish they never made me manager, I can’t stand working there.” Nick complained.
“If you hate it that much, then quit. Do what Nick wants to do and fuck them. You don’t owe that guy shit.” AJ said. Nick smiled, he could always count on him for good advice. When he returned to work, Mark was in a bad mood.
“Carter, I need you to count inventory over again because I entered it into the computer and your counts were off.” the manager snapped.
“Are you trying to say I cannot count?” Nick said without thinking.
“Well maybe if you had gone to college….” Mark commented. Nick felt angry, more angry than he had felt in a while.
“I had a 4.0 GPA, Mark. I chose not to go to college for a reason.” he replied.
“Your made up music career? Heh. That won’t amount to anything. You’re gonna be stuck working here the rest of your life.” Mark said, laughing at him. Nick clenched his fists, his blood boiling.
“Fuck you.” he said softly, causing the manager to turn around.
“FUCK YOU.” Nick shouted, and several customers turned to look.
“You’re out of line, Carter.” Mark snapped.
“No, YOU are out of line! You don’t know shit about me, and I am much better than this stupid job. Close the store yourself! I QUIT!!” Nick screamed, throwing the keys at Mark and storming out of Game Zone, smiling as he went. Who needed a job when you were about to be a rockstar?