Awaiting the release of the record I would work on projects here and there and occasionally scout out new talent. Being as most of the venues consisted of drinking I would only stay for a few songs of the talent and then return home. Knowing staying inactive wouldn’t work well for me I decided to sweat off some of my nervous energy at a local gym. I told myself it was to stay fit for Jaeger but I found it helped to wear myself out too, and sometimes I could even sleep.
I started to fix up my place when the first of Carissa’s album checks reached my bank account. The carpeting was removed to expose the hardwoods underneath that took their fair share of abuse but I couldn’t afford to redo them yet. Instead, I purchased a cheap rug and got a secondhand couch. I had thrown out most of my furniture due to the stench of parties and mayhem of my past but was slow to buy any replacements actually liking the barren look. What did I really need anyway? A couch to sit on and watch TV. A bed and maybe a chair to sit outside when the feeling struck me but the need to buy to excess escaped me. I guess not all the new JJ was a materialistic asshole.
After hitting the gym, I settled down on my couch at home to watch some TV. Nothing interested me, but I was too wound up to even try sleeping. The working out helped some but I still found myself up at all hours of the night not feeling the least bit tired. That was until the next day when I drowned in a pot of coffee just to function.
A knock on my door startled me as I couldn’t think of who would be out there. Bonnie and the kids were settling into mom’s old house and Tabitha wouldn’t think to slum it with me, so I almost ignored the intrusion. Instead, I got up to open it and received a shock when I saw who presented to my house.
Quade stood outside my door and I couldn’t even think of the last time I talked with him. Surely not since Jaeger had been in the hospital. Not only was I too strung out but the guilt of him knowing my secret started to eat away at me and I couldn’t face him, showing my true colors and avoiding contact.
He looked good. He changed his look some with a beard kept close to the face and seemed somehow better at least physically. It seemed both of us were looking for an outlet and maybe our age pushed us to utilize a healthier habit. We all indulged in greasy fast food on tour until Chelsea started to crack down on Brandt’s eating habits. She was adamant about him taking care of himself but being diabetic always put him at risk of passing out or some shit like that.
Quade on the other hand looked broader chested than usual. He had a bronzed look common to his skin from the California sun when we wouldn’t be touring. His black hair reached his shoulders, more shaggy than usual. As the showboat in the group, I was always the outlandish one with the crazy colored hair. By contrast, Quade gave off the boy next door look which got him laid on more than one occasion. That and the fact he played in a famous band of course.
His green eyes were steady on mine, and he could see my shock, “Quade?”
“Can I come in?”
I knew the time would come that we would need to talk but I never thought he would just end up on my front porch. Nodding, I stepped to the side while motioning for him to come in once the feeling came back to my legs as I suddenly realized why he was here. “Is something wrong?” Jaeger must be sick again and need something from me. It could be the only reason he would come here and now I had a new fear.
Quade shook his head, “I told Jaeger you were his father tonight.” He dropped the statement like a bomb and went to sit on the couch. Letting out the breath I didn’t even know I held in, I swallowed deeply thinking of all the implications of Jaeger knowing who his father was. The door was still open and although there was no one outside I shut it quickly almost thinking I could block the information from the rest of the world.
“Ah, you want something to drink? I... I don’t have any beer or anything stronger.” I couldn’t think of anything else to say and honestly, I craved a drink right then, more so than any other time since becoming clean. He looked skeptical almost as if he didn’t believe me and I couldn’t blame him. I didn’t know how much he knew about my life over the past eight months, but he obviously didn’t know I had stayed sober.
Ignoring my offer, he went on, “Look I just thought that things needed to be out in the open. He needed to know.” I crossed to the other side of the couch but didn’t sit down. Jaeger knows. He knows he had a fuck up of a sperm donor. Did Quade think he would be any better off with him knowing? Unable to hold in my hostility I let it out on Quade. “Why? Why did you tell him? He didn’t need to find out.”
“Yes, he did. He deserved to know.”
Quade was just too much of a boy scout. Of course, he wouldn’t be able to lie to him but what he didn’t realize was that Jaeger would be worse off now. I sat down rather hard on the sofa as my legs gave out. Unable to sit quietly I picked up a pen lying on the coffee table just to be able to fidget with it. “I am not his father.” Quade shook his head but I stopped him, “You are his father. You, Quade. Not me. You shouldn’t have told him.”
“Well he knows and there isn’t anything we can do about it. I just thought I would let you know in case Jaeger would want to come and see you.”
My eyes grew wider and I shook my head, “No. I don’t think that is a good thing. Why the fuck would he want to see me?”
Quade just sighed, “He might come to you for questions. Ones I can’t answer.”
Questions? Like why did I fuck his mother? “What could he possibly want to know from me?”
“Listen man, don’t go there. He is just a kid and a really good kid at that. He doesn’t need the down and dirty just answer his questions if he has them. Just be honest. He really is a great kid, and he can handle almost anything.”
Great now I had to answer to a fourteen-year-old about why I was such a fuck up. Did he know about the drugs? About the women, well other than his mother? Shit. Didn’t I know this day would come? Quade wouldn’t keep it a secret being so straight-laced and it still stunned me why Mac didn’t disclose the information before as well.
We sat in silence for a while as I came to terms with the news. Fucking Mac. I still couldn’t stand to even look at her. The way she would walk around naked and her big tits hanging out. The way she would look at me over the head of Quades when we were all on the bus. Quade and I had the top bunks across the hall from one another, and she would purposely leave her curtain open at night to stare in my bunk or open it when they were fucking. I started to close my curtain all the time after to avoid looking at her anymore. It was hard enough not to look with having her around prancing with her shirt off, and those big fake tits of hers hanging down.
Quade hated it too. It didn’t seem to stop her until Chelsea figured it out. To our relief, she put a stop to it shortly after. Even though Mac didn’t come from high society, she still acted like the rich cheerleaders did in high school who would make like they were better than me. Reject me until they needed something from me. She repulsed me with her fake attitude, and If I wasn’t so high the night she found me in the back room of the bus zonked out on drugs and rode my cock with her big fucking tits in my face, I would have denied her and went to Quade myself and told him. But by then the deed had been done, and I was just as much to blame when I didn’t stop it right away. I realized now how I fed into her plan all along and how she even helped to get me stoned.
Turning to Quade I hoped the rumors were true, “I heard you were going to get full custody.”
He nodded his head, “It looks that way but it isn’t final and you never know what type of shit Mac would pull just to be a bitch.”
Relief flooded me. If she would feed me full of drugs would she stop at doing the same to her son? Jaeger needed to stay away from her. I didn’t know if he would accept it but I wanted Quade to know my offer, “I might be able to help you if things go south.”
A look of apprehension covered his face, so I started to explain, “If it goes to court. She was my supplier for a while. There is probably a statute of limitations on that shit but it wouldn’t look good to a judge.”
Quade’s eyes cocked up, “Supplier?”
Putting the pen down, I leaned in, “I got started on pain killers with my kidney stone I had when we were on our second tour.” He nodded and I went on, “Well when my pain pills ran out, I didn’t have an issue stopping but Mac said she could get me more.” Fucking kidney stone. The first time I took one of those pills and felt the pain go away I loved it. But after the pain subsided she took some of the ones left over with me one night and I realized the convenient high I could get with it. Not only that, but there was no hangover. Very convenient when you were doing show after show on the road and needed to perform nightly.
“She forged doctor’s prescriptions all over the country, and I had quite the supply by the time she left the tour. It even caused Jaeger to be, ah... conceived” After the confession, I looked back at the ground wondering if I really was being any help to him.
“Mac got you hooked?”
I shook my head, “Not really. C’mon, we both know that I was headed there all along but Mac just helped.” I couldn’t believe I was going to confess this but I felt as though we needed to get it out in the open. “We only had sex the one time. She waited until I was drunk and slipped some pills in my drink. You guys left the bus thinking I passed out, and she said she had a headache.”
Unable to sit without my pen to keep me from fidgeting I got up and started to pace, “It was only the one time. I would never let her do that to me again. I... I am sorry man.” It felt good to apologize. To be able to make amends for it. I didn’t even realize how it gnawed at me for the past fifteen years. Not that I knew for sure Jaeger was mine, but just the fact I poached a bandmates chick. Even for me, that was low and I had a hard time letting it go. Quade was too nice of a guy to deserve it even if it had been a skank like Mac.
He should have decked me. Hell, I would have welcomed it but instead, he took the high road once again, “Well, I guess I am glad how it turned out not that I would have wanted it this way. JJ man you should see that kid. He is amazing. So intelligent and full of life. I can’t stand to not have him with me.” I nodded my head. Yep, that was the Quade I remembered. Not the one hooked into a relationship with a gold-digging bitch but the one I knew early on. Before the fame and before the women took over our lives. I missed this Quade from my past and I enjoyed the fact he returned to his former self somehow. I could see myself changing as well. We had good times. No, we had great times and I couldn’t help having the nostalgia flood me as we talked.
We talked about the good old days before things got so screwed up. It wasn’t the same but it was damn close. I told him about getting clean but pussied out about telling him what happened between Brandt and myself, although he seemed to know I pissed him off when Chelsea came to help me detox. I even confessed my staying clean had to do more with Jaeger. That I fucked up in the past but if he ever needed me, I would be there for him. For the both of them.
Quade confessed to me as well. He told me about Sydney, a woman he met in North Carolina while hiding out there trying to find himself. Another hit to my conscience about why he was out there in the first place. As he told me about their time together, I could see he really loved this woman. More so than he ever loved Mac. Red flags flew up of course. Why would she leave him if she wasn’t good for him? It didn’t make sense but I could feel how hurt he was. Not just that she left but from not knowing why.
“Hey man, what is stopping you from looking for her?” He seemed startled by my question, almost as if he never thought about it.
“She told me not to.” It sounded so like him to do what others asked of him.
I just shrugged, “So? Why let that stop you? You need answers. Go get them.”
He pondered what I said as if it was a creed from God himself. Quade was always a rule follower. Well, time for him to break the rules then.
I was glad when he thought so too as he confessed, “I wouldn’t know where to start.”
I didn’t think I knew of anyone that could help but then it dawned on me, “Doesn’t Brandt have a private detective that he has worked with in the past?” It shocked me a little how easy it was to talk to Quade and have things settle between us but I realized that it would never get there again with Brandt. Even if I apologized, I severed ties with him with the shit I pulled.
Quade’s eyes looked a little brighter at the suggestion, “Yeah, I haven’t thought about him in a while but the guy was pretty sharp. Maybe I will just call and ask him to at least look into it for me.” I loved seeing him perk up from his sour mood. Quade deserved all the happiness in his life and would finally take the bull by the horns.
I slapped him on the back, “Can’t hurt.”