Thank you to: Jeff (SLJ), DLS, Matt, Ryan, RCJ, Adam, Rebecca, and everyone who emailed me... it was muchly appreciated (and I'll see if I can convince myself to get back to you).
Disclaimers are FUN!!!! If you're under 18, you shouldn't be reading this... and c'mon... do you really think it's wise to be looking up gay websites on your parents' computer?
The members of NSYNC may be gay, they may not... the world may implode tomorrow, it may not... the point? I'm not a psychic and I lost my Tarot cards a few years back... so don't hold me to ANY of this! This whole thing is FICTION! There is no Evan Matthews, no Santa Claus, and no Justin Timberlake! Oh... wait...
"I pour out onto the floor
like liquid white from fallen glass
nothing to cry over
my skin went sour long ago
it knew it had no place left to go"
and now... chapter 1 of... "Yellow"...
It's funny. Life, that is. It can throw you for a loop sometimes, that's for damn sure. Take the last couple years of my life. I had never really planned to stop singing and recording... it just kind of happened that way. Do I have regrets? Yeah, a few. But I can't change what happened, nor would I really want to... for the most part. When Aaron, James, and I stopped playing, it was definitely JUST a temporary solution to a big problem: we HATED each other. Which kind of sucked, ya know... considering that the two of them had been my best friends in the world.
I guess that spending three years or so in a cramped little tour bus will do that to a group of friends. But whatever the reason, when that tour ended in Chapel Hill, we stopped seeing each other. In fact, I didn't see either of them for the rest of that year. That may sound kind of odd... but it's just the way it worked out. What drew us back together? Well, it's a bit of a long story... the short version basically being this: I almost died.
That's kind of a blunt statement to make, I know... but it's what happened. Anyway, after "the incident" occurred, Aaron and James were there to help me through the aftermath, and it kind of re-solidified our friendships. So at least something good came out of it, I guess. And, in the year and a half (or so) since then, I've managed to keep myself busy... producing some stuff, doing a few guitar and piano lessons (how weird is that? A "rock star" who's sold 8 million albums teaching... piano lessons?) but in all honesty, I miss it. I miss it a lot.
Will we ever get back together? Well... the answer I gave to that chick who interviewed me (a gorgeous woman, she was) was "oh yeah... definitely..." or something like that. In truth though, I don't know. I just don't know. And I'm left with all these questions. If we don't, should I start another band? Wouldn't I feel bad "leaving" Aaron and James? If we do come back, how easy will it be for us (for me) to adjust back into the lifestyle? What if we tour again... and the same thing happens to our friendships again? What if we tour again and...
Too many questions, too few answers. I guess that's the way that life works though. If we were meant to know everything, we would have gotten a "Life for Dummies" book free with every placenta. I feel like... I feel like I'm at a turning point in my life. I don't know... that may sound stupid for a 22 year-old to say... but it's just the way I feel. It's like... I feel like... I need to do... SOMETHING! I don't know exactly what yet, but it just feels like there's this big, gaping hole in my life... and I'd kind of like to fill it.
The sound of the phone ringing startled me out of my sleep. Ok... honestly? I jumped about a foot and a half off the bed. Once my heart started beating again, I picked up the phone that was seated on the nightstand. "Yeah?"
"Good morning Mr. Matthews! This is your 10 am wake-up call! Have a pleasant day!" And with that, the perky talking head on the other end of the phone abruptly hung up... which I thought was kinda rude. I mean, yeah... I wasn't expecting a full-on, major conversation with the wake-up call lady, but she could have at least waited for me to say... something.
I looked up from my lunch to see a teenager, probably no more than 16, standing across from me, looking nervous as hell. "Yes?"
"Ummm... hi... wow... ummm... I thought it might be you..."
I sighed and dropped my fork to the plate. "Well, you were right. What can I do for you?"
"Oh... I... I dunno... I just thought that..."
"That what? You'd come over here and we'd have some wonderful conversation and we'd become great friends? Well it isn't gonna happen. Sorry." He looked near tears at this point and I could feel a little twinge of guilt going off in my stomach. But, as I had done so many times in the past, I ignored it and went on. "Look... how would you feel if every time you went to lunch or to the mall or wherever... you were constantly bothered by people who just wanted to talk to you? It isn't as glamorous as it sounds. So, if we're done here, I'd like to finish my lunch."
The tears really were flowing at this point. He backed away from my table slowly, just barely able to vocalize an apology for bothering me. Shit. The guilt was really gushing now. For a brief second, I thought about going after the kid, telling him I was sorry, talking with him for a while. But as quickly as that thought came over me, it vanished. What would the point of that be? The damage was done.
Look. I know what you're probably thinking. This guy is an ASSHOLE! Why should any of you give a damn about me?!? Am I right? Yeah? Well, so are you. I am an asshole. And you shouldn't give a damn about me.
Am I bitter? Jaded? Cynical? Yes, yes, and... yes. Let me tell you a story. There was once this guy... let's call him... Evan. And he became famous. And at first, he talked to EVERYONE. Everyone who stopped him at a restaurant, everyone who found out his unpublished phone number, everyone who showed up on his doorstep. And then one day, something happened. And he couldn't talk to his fans anymore. And he still can't.
Now you're probably asking yourself... what happened... right? Because even though I'm an asshole, I tell a good story... correct? Well... hang on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen... because I don't think I'm gonna tell you just yet.
"How are you holding up?"
"What do you mean?"
"Evan... this is the first time that you've left North Carolina in over a year... so... as a result of that, I'm wondering how you're doing with the... I dunno... culture shock or something."
Aaron called me a few minutes ago to see how I was doing... and to, I suppose, play mother to me. "I'm ok."
I groaned. "Yes Aaron... really." Don't get me wrong. I love Aaron like a brother... but he can be a little overprotective of me... especially lately.
"Alright then. What time do you have to be at the awards?"
"Well, technically, I don't have to be there at any particular time... it's not like I'm actually DOING anything. But I'll probably try and show up there around seven."
"Ok... have fun, ya hear?"
"I'll do my best."
"If you need anything, call... got it?"
I smiled. Aaron really could be sweet sometimes. "Yes sir. I'll talk to you soon."
"Damn right. I love ya."
"Love you too dumbass. Bye."
Ok, so I didn't go.
I guess I need to backtrack a little. Dave Grohl (lead singer of the Foo Fighters, former drummer of Nirvana) is one of my oldest friends. I've known him for a bunch of years, and I have to say, he's one of the coolest (and most talented) people I know. He invited me, a couple of months ago, to the MTV Video Music Awards. It sounded like a good idea at the time. I'd get out of North Carolina, have a good time, hang out with some friends I hadn't seen in a while... the whole nine yards.
So I was all dressed, ready to go... and then I started thinking about what the night was gonna be like. All those people... crowded around me... pushing, yelling, screaming... and I just couldn't do it. I got as far as the elevator before I just... stopped. I tried calling Aaron for some support, but he wasn't answering his phone. So I left him a message, ordered a movie, and collapsed on the bed.
What movie did I watch? "High Fidelity." What was the plot? I have no idea. I fell asleep about 20 minutes into it. When I finally awoke after my little nap, I glanced at the clock. 4:43. Shit. I was wrong. That wasn't a nap... that was a fucking coma. I yawned and smacked my lips together a few times. I needed a Coke. I slowly got up, stretching out my muscles, and made my way to the door. I walked out, and slammed headfirst into... something. I deduced that it was probably a person, judging from the exclamation of "OW!" that emanated from it. I didn't have too much time to think about anything else though, as the next thing I saw was the rather thin layer of carpeting that my head bounced off of. It hurt.
"Crap! Are you ok?" Was someone talking to me? I felt someone put their hand on my back. "Hey... are you alright?"
I rolled over onto my back so I could try and look at the person who was attempting to communicate with me. "No... not really." I heard another voice speak up. How many of them were there?
"I don't blame ya... that was a pretty nasty fall."
"No shit Sherlock." I tried to laugh. I didn't succeed. Pain was shooting through every cell in my brain and I honestly thought that I was about to die. I tried to make out the people who were speaking to me, but everything was blurry... all I saw were vague shapes. I thought I heard one of them say something about calling a doctor. As it turned out, that was my last conscious thought for a while.
I awoke with a start, nearly smashing my already damaged head into someone who was sitting over me. My eyes began to focus again, and I made out someone whom I perceived to be a doctor, now sitting in front of me. "There ya go. Smelling salts do the trick every time. What's your name son?"
I smacked my lips together. I was desperately thirsty. "Ummm... what?" Ok, so I was a little disoriented as well.
"Do you know what your name is?"
I shook my head slowly, trying to make sense of everything that was going on. "Uhhh... yeah... Evan."
"And why are you in New York?"
"For the Video Music Awards."
"And where do you live?"
"Chapel Hill, North Carolina."
"Ok... I think you're gonna be alright, Evan. Your head's gonna hurt a lot for a while, but just take some aspirin... if you start feeling dizzy or nauseous, give me a call, ok?"
"Ummm... yeah. Ok. Can I go back to my room now?"
"Well, that depends. Are you here by yourself?"
The doctor stood up and started gathering up his things. "You stay with your friends tonight, ok? I want you to be around people just in case you black out again. Tomorrow afternoon, you can go back to your vacation."
Friends? What the hell was this guy talking about? I was in too much pain to argue though, so I just nodded my head slowly. "Alright. Thank you."
"No problem. Have a good morning."
"You too." The doctor left quickly, leaving me to ponder what he had said. Friends? Who was he talking about? I tried to recall what had happened before I blacked out. I vaguely remembered some people talking to me, saying something about a doctor. Another voice from across the room shook me out of my thoughts.
"You're Evan Matthews from Broken, aren't you?" Shit. Fans. I tried to stand up quickly to get the hell out of there. "Hey... where do you think you're going?"
"Ummm... thanks for getting the doctor, but I'm fine. I'll get out of your hair now."
"I don't think so dude. You can barely stand up straight. You're not going anywhere except right back down on that bed."
I ignored him and kept at my snail's pace to the door. I heard footsteps race across the room and felt a hand come down on my shoulder, causing me to jump about 3 feet off the ground. "Stay away from me!"
"Hey... calm down! What's wrong with you?" I continued to ignore him as I finally reached the door and began fumbling with the locks. "EVAN!" I sighed and turned around slowly, my head pounding, and fear overtaking most of my body.
"Please just leave me alone," I whispered. I finally looked up at my companion. I had to laugh a little from the irony. "Well... wasn't expecting that." I sighed and extended my hand. "Hi... Evan Matthews."
My new "friend" seemed somewhat mystified by my sudden change in demeanor, but accepted my hand nonetheless. "Justin Timberlake. Are... are you alright?"
"Peachy. Just peachy." I made a motion towards the bed. "You mind?"
He shook his head. "Naw dude... go right ahead. Need some help?"
I smiled. "No... I think I'll be ok." I slowly moved back towards the bed, reaching the edge of it (after about 7 minutes) and sitting down gingerly. Justin sat in a chair across from me, still seemingly confused.
"What happened there?"
My mind wasn't working too well at the moment, and he kind of lost me. "What happened where?"
He pointed his head towards the door. "Over there... why'd ya flip out?"
"Long story," I sighed.
"Well... if you wanna talk, I'm here. We have all night... or... I guess... all morning, considering what time it is."
"Well, I appreciate the offer Justin, but I don't really feel like going into it with a complete stranger. No offense."
He sat there for a moment, looking at me. "No... that's ok. I understand." We sat there in an awkward silence for a minute before he spoke up again. "So... I heard you tell the doctor that you were in town for the VMA's. I didn't see you there though."
I grimaced as I shifted positions on the bed. "Well, that's probably because I didn't go."
"I just didn't... feel like it."
He shook his head, as if he was trying to comprehend what I told him. "I'm sorry... but that doesn't make much sense to me. You came all the way up here for the show, but then didn't go? It just seems... weird."
I sighed again. "Again... long story."
"Ok." Maybe it was the massive head injury talking, but I kinda liked this kid. He seemed to know when to drop a subject... always a plus in my book.
"So... what happened?"
"To your head?"
"Yeah... well, unless any other parts of me are damaged and I just haven't figured it out yet."
He laughed. "That I wouldn't know about. I can tell you what happened to your head though. You came out of your room and smacked headfirst into JC. He survived it ok, but you fell and slammed your head into the ground. You seemed to be alright at first, but then you passed out and we called a doctor."
"Well, I appreciate that." That caused him to laugh again. "What's so funny?"
"Well, you make it sound like we were just gonna leave you there unconscious... of course we were gonna call a doctor."
"Yeah, I guess." Silence again. I guess it was kind of a weird situation... something neither of us had planned for.
"I read what you said about us."
"In that interview you did."
"It was really nice."
"How so?" Actually, I was having trouble remembering what I had said... it hurt my head to think.
"You actually didn't put us down... it seemed like you even defended us a little bit. That's kind of a new experience for us."
"Well... to be honest, I don't really remember what I said right now, but I'm glad you appreciated it." I studied him for a second, noting the concern that was evident on his face. "What time is it?"
"Ummm... a little after six," he answered, glancing at his watch.
"Don't you need to get to sleep?"
"It's ok... the doctor said someone needed to watch you, so... I'm watching you. We don't have anything to do today, so I'll be able to catch up on my sleep at some point."
"I'll be alright. You can go to bed if you want."
"Shut up," he said, smiling.
"Alright... but don't come whining to me when you're dead tired tomorrow. Or today. Or... whenever."
He grinned. "I'll keep that in mind. Can I get you anything?"
"Like what?" He laughed again. Well, at least I seemed to be amusing him. "What's so funny?"
"Nothing... I'm just trying to figure out if you're always this slow, or if it's just `cause of your head."
I smiled. His laugh was a little infectious. "Well, probably a little of both."
He nodded and grinned. "That's what I thought. What I meant was... do you want something to eat? Drink?"
I thought about it for a second. The thought of food was making me ill, but I was still pretty damn thirsty. "Yeah... I could really go for a Coke."
"Is that ok for you?"
I shrugged. "I don't know."
"Well... me either."
"I tell ya what... we'll go get a Coke, and if I should happen to pass out, just leave me... no hard feelings."
"Ok... deal," he laughed. "You wanna go down to the little café they have near the lobby? Can you make it down there?"
"Well, jeez... I dunno... it'll be tough and all... but maybe... just maybe... with a little hard work and perseverance, Lord willing, I can make it there."
Justin stood up slowly, still grinning. "Alright, alright... I get the point. Let's go."
"So... what have you been doing?"
I looked up from my Coke. We had successfully made it to the café with me almost falling down only three times, ordered some drinks, and had been sitting in a uncomfortable silence for the last ten minutes or so. I guess it finally became too much for Justin. "When? Now? In New York?"
He grinned a little and shook his head. "Man... you really are slow, aren't you?"
I flicked my straw wrapper at him. "Now that's not fair. That really was a vague question. You could have meant anything."
"Ok, ok... I guess you're right," he laughed, picking the wrapper out of his hair and tossing it back onto the table. "I dunno what I meant... take it anyway you want. Here in New York, the last couple years... whatever."
"Well... not too much, really. Since the last tour, I've just been hanging around Chapel Hill, producing some stuff... I did piano and guitar lessons..."
"Are you serious?"
I smiled a little. "Seems weird to you too, huh?"
"I guess. I mean... you're EVAN... from BROKEN... and you're giving piano lessons?" He laughed.
"Yeah well... I haven't done too much of that in the last year or so. Not really since..." I shook my head and stopped my train of thought. "Well, anyway, it was just getting to be hard for me, so I've pretty much stopped." I looked down at my drink as I finished my statement, hoping Justin wouldn't catch my subject shift. I should have known though... I'm never that lucky.
"Not since what?"
I sighed. "Long story."
Justin leaned back in his chair. "You know, one of these times, I'm gonna force you to tell me this `long story.'"
I paused for a second, wondering how I should respond to that statement. I decided to go for light-hearted. "Oh yeah? You and what army?"
He smiled a bit. "Hey... I could take you! You're just an aging, out-of-shape punk!"
"Oh yeah... compared to you, I'm practically a senior citizen. What is it? A whole two and a half years between us?"
"Something like that. What's your point?"
"Absolutely nothing," I laughed.
"So... do you miss it?"
I shrugged a little. "I dunno... you read the interview I gave." I glanced up at him, only to see him staring back at me intently.
"Yes, I did. But I want the real answer... not the answer that's suitable for the press."
I stared at him for a minute, trying to decide whether or not to tell him the truth. I sighed. "Yeah, I do."
"So why don't you go back to it?"
"To what? The endless touring, the marathon nights in the recording studio, the millions of promotional stops..."
Justin sat back up in his chair and leaned forward. "Hey... you just said a second ago that you miss it."
"Well... I do... mostly. Shit. I dunno. I'd like to be in a band again. I'm pretty sure about that. I just don't know if I want it to be Broken."
"So why don't you just start a new one? I'm sure there are tons of guys who'd wanna play with you."
"It's... not that easy."
He shrugged. "Sure it is."
Ok. I was actually debating telling him everything... why it wasn't so easy for me to start a band, why I couldn't face going back out on tour, why... why I'm such a nutcase. I was just about to open my mouth to do so... when I heard it. A voice. And it was calling my name.
"Evan?" SHIT. I turned to look at who was calling me, sure that I knew who it was. And... I was right. "Are you Evan Matthews?"
"Wow... it's such an honor to meet you... I'm such a big fan..."
"That's really nice and all, but I was having a conversation that I'd like to get back to," I interrupted.
The girl looked somewhat dumbfounded. "I just wanted to..."
"Honestly? I don't give a damn what you wanted to do. Now, if we're done here, I'd appreciate it if you would leave us alone."
I expected tears, like what I had experienced earlier with the kid during lunch, but she surprised me. "You... you asshole! You know, all I wanted to do was tell you how much I enjoyed your music! I'm so sorry that you were having a conversation with a fucking NSYNCer and don't have any time for me, one of the few fans you probably have left! You can fucking go to hell!" And with that, she turned around and walked away. I turned back to Justin, who was looking at me with some sort of incredulous expression on his face.
"Sorry about that."
"You know, that was really mean... what you did."
"Yeah... it really was. Why'd you say those things to her?"
"Like I said... long story."
"It must be a real damn good one."
I studied his face for a minute. "What does that mean?"
He stood up quickly from his seat. "It means, Evan... it means that you were downright NASTY to that girl. And back in the hotel room, you freaked out on me BIG TIME! And every time I ask you why, or what's wrong, all you answer with is `long story.' So you must have some real good reason to be a basketcase... that's all I'm saying. What? Are you a split personality? Schizophrenic? Have Tourette's? Because you must be COMPLETELY out of your mind, Evan. No one, NO ONE, deserves to be treated like that. So either you spill your so-called `long story' to me as a way of explaining your actions, or I'm gone."
I sighed and leaned back in my chair. All the willingness to spill my guts to him had somehow faded away. "Well... then... goodbye Justin."
He stood there, seemingly stunned for a minute that I refused to tell him anything. He regained his wits soon enough though. "Bye Evan." And with that, he was gone.
Well, there's chapter 1. So now, I bet all of you are thinking, well, they hate each other now, but... in 4 chapters, they'll be madly in love! Ummm... nope. Sorry. This story's about how a RELATIONSHIP develops... and relationships take time... so don't be expecting any sex for a while, ok? If you wanna tell me that you loved the story, hated the story, printed the story out and used it to line your birdcage, drop me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep in mind that you do so at your own risk: replies from me happen only on occasion, when I'm trying to avoid doing something that I really should be doing... but if you wanna attempt it, be my guest. The next chapter'll be out in around a week... so until then, my friends... don't let the man get you down!