Brian drove to Nick’s house to pick him up, they were going to Howie’s place outside of LA for a barbecue. Nick still didn’t seem like himself, he was down. Brian almost had to fight him to get him to come along.
“Nick, is everything okay with you? I mean you were acting strange at the diner the other day. Is it true what Kevin said about you drinking?” Brian asked. Nick shifted in his seat, crossing his arms.
“I don’t want to talk about that.” he snapped.
“I’m worried about you.”
“Bri….I don’t want to talk about the meeting you guys had WITHOUT me.”
Brian sighed as they continued down the winding road, he felt such hostile energy from Nick and it was hurting him.
“Just drop me off. I can walk the rest of the way to Howie’s.” Nick said suddenly as the radio changed songs. “When did things become like this? What’s happening to all of us?” Brian asked out loud. Nick stared at him, shrugging.
“I dunno. It all started with…..hey, isn’t this us?” he began. Everybody was playing on the radio and the two of them began to laugh.
“How ironic.” Nick said as he turned it up.
“Even when we are off we can’t get away, can we?” Brian chuckled. Nick began bopping his head and humming along to the music, tapping his hand against the side of the car.
“Brian, I’ve been thinking about some things…..and…”
Nick’s eyes narrowed when Brian didn’t answer him. His eyes were focused on the road, cold and empty like he was in a trance….the car beginning to speed up.
“Brian?” he said shakily, waving his hand. Brian’s face didn’t show any emotion at all. The song should have stopped long ago but it was playing again….Nick realized that it was not the radio….Brian had never turned the radio on, no matter what buttons Nick pressed, Everybody came out of the speakers, taunting him with his own voice.
It was time to panic.
“Shit….” Nick muttered when he saw the lake at the end of the long patch of highway ahead. The car was going faster and faster, Nick’s heart racing along with it. He tried to undo his seatbelt but it was stuck.
“BRIAN!!! STOP THE CAR!” he half sobbed, half screamed. The doors had locked as well, the car doing well over the speed limit. It was then that they ran out of road. Nick threw his arms in his face, bracing for impact as Brian’s car plunged hood first into the lake with a deafening splash. Nick almost wet himself in fear, the water seeping through the bottom of the car.
Nick tried tugging the seat belt, but every time he pulled at it….it seemed to grow tighter and tighter, holding him into place. Tears rolled down his face, water halfway up the windows on the outside of the car. The hood of Brian’s car was submerged, the music still playing.
Nick shook his head in disbelief as he watched Brian undo his seat belt, still stony faced. His was still locked, he couldn’t budge it. The water was overtaking the car at a rapid rate, Nick screamed for Brian but he didn’t answer….it was as if he was ignoring him completely. Nothing could have prepared Nick for what happened next…..
“Come back! Come back!!!!!” he called, sobbing as his voice broke. Brian had somehow managed to get the car door open, leaving Nick alone as he swam away. Nick was still struggling with his seatbelt, the music not ceasing as he screamed….the car almost completely underwater. He reached for Brian, but his best friend was gone- the one person he never thought would leave him behind….the person he cared for the most. As the car went under…..Nick sat there sobbing, he had no way out of this one.
Howie stood on the balcony of his lake front property, prepping the grill for when Nick and Brian would arrive. He expected AJ sometime soon, but not Kevin. The eldest of the five claimed to have “better things to do”, so it would just be the four of them. Howie preferred it that way. His head shot up when he heard the car splash. Running down the deck stairs two at a time, Howie made his way over to the spot where the car had fallen. He was stunned to see Brian laying on the sand, soaked to the bone and unconscious.
“Bri, can you hear me?” Howie asked, shaking him gently. Brian stirred after a minute, blinking.
“What happened? How did I get here?” he asked groggily, rubbing his head. Howie’s eyes moved towards the lake, where the car had gone down.
“Where’s my car…..and where the hell is Nick?!” Brian yelled, standing up. It was then that Howie realized Nick was in the car. He quickly stripped off his shirt before running and jumping into the lake after the car. The lake wasn’t deep in this spot but it did get deeper towards the middle, Howie was afraid he wouldn’t make it in time. He swam until he found the car resting at the bottom, Nick still trapped inside.
Thinking quickly, Howie went up for air and checked his pockets as his head bobbed over the water, he found the pocket knife Nick had given him for Christmas. He always carried it with him for sentimental reasons, had never thought he’d use it. Taking another breath, Howie dove under to find the car once more. He managed to cut the seatbelt off of Nick, freeing him. He pulled Nick to the shore where they came to rest next to Brian, who was panicking.
“Is he okay?” he asked as Howie listened for a pulse. Nick wasn’t underwater that long but Howie wanted to make sure nothing was majorly wrong with him.
“He should be ok, but I want to call an ambulance.”
“How did this happen? I don’t remember anything, D. I wouldn’t hurt him on purpose!” Brian said in frustration. Nick began to stir, coughing up lake water while Howie called 911.
“Oh thank god. Nick, you’re not hurt are you?” Brian asked. Nick glared at him, his eyes burning with hatred.
“Get the fuck off me. You….you’ve done enough.” he spat, pushing him away. Brian fell back, landing on the ground.
“I don’t understand…”
“I do. You were supposed to understand. You were like a brother to me! Fuck you! ” Nick hissed. Howie got off of the phone, kneeling down next to Nick in a fatherly sort of way.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about, Nicky. Brian wouldn’t hurt you on purpose. Just try and calm down.” he said softly.
“Calm down? He drove me into a fucking LAKE and left me for dead!!!!!” Nick said as the tears began flowing. The ambulance came to pick him up and once everything calmed down….Howie walked over to Brian.
“He’s gonna be okay. Just give him some time. I will bring you down to make sure he’s all right.”
“Nick doesn’t want me there. I just don’t understand how this could happen. We were just driving and talking. I don’t remember driving into the lake at all.” Brian said, rubbing the back of his head with his hand. There were so many emotions running through him, he wondered if their friendship could bounce back from this.
As Nick lay in the back of the ambulance, he couldn’t help thinking about quitting the group once more. There was no way he could trust anyone now.