86,400 Seconds 18


"You ready?"

"Yeah."  Everyone answers at the same time and a little giggle comes from everyone when they realize it.

"Go on out then."  I motion towards the door.  "I'll set the alarm."

"Daddy.  Do you gots your camera?" Jayden asks.

"I've got one you can use," Justin says and holds out a tiny digital camera that is just bigger than his palm.  "It should be interesting to see you taking pictures.  I'm sure everyone will love that idea."

Jayden's eyes go wide with excitement.  Her little lips purse as she looks at it in his hand.  "I can use it?"

"Yeah," Justin says.  He takes the long string and puts it around her neck.  "Just don't lose it ok?  If you want to hold it any more, let mamma have it and she'll put it in her purse.  Ok?"

"Ok," Jayden says nodding before she puts the camera up to her eye.  She looks through the viewer then snaps a few clicks, but the front part of the camera is closed and nothing happens.  "Can you help me work it?"

"Sure," Justin said.

"Outside," I point and shoo everyone towards the garage.

When everyone is all the way out into the garage, I set the alarm and lock the inside door before we all walk out into the fading light of the afternoon to get into the car.  It's hotter than hell in the

When we all finally pour into the car, Lynn and Paul sit next to Justin in the back seat, looking a bit snug and yet somehow comfortable to be all sitting next to each other.  That family is close and I like the way that they can still sit together and lean on each other in a time of need.  Vivian and Jayden sit in the middle seat together.

I can feel the tension build the moment the doors close.  It feels claustrophobic even though I'm alone in the front seat.  We've all been avoiding this all day long, hell all week long, but tonight is important, more than important.  It's going to set up Justin's career and all of our lives for the next few months and maybe the next few years.

Flat out, the outcome of tonight tells us how we will spend the next part of our lives.

"Daddy?"

"What pumpkin?" I ask as I start the car up.  I turn off the radio when it starts to play and begin to move around so that I can see the way to pull out of the driveway.

Jayden sounds a little scared when she speaks next.  "I have to go to the bathroom."

Justin and Vivian immediately crack up, laughing out a machine gun style laugh.

"Jay-den," I sigh.

"Oh hush Tiny," Lynn says from the backseat.  "I'm gonna have to pee the first thing when we get off the red carpet."

I press the garage door opener and the door comes sliding up and out of the way as Jayden quickly slips out of her seat, out of the car and goes running for the door.  She looks so cute holding onto her t-shirt so that she doesn't lose the look she's wearing.

"I'm really sorry about that," I say turning towards the back seats.

"It's not a bother," Lynn says curling her arm through Justin's.  "We all have our moments."

"Yeah," Justin says still laughing at the thought.  It's not the most comedic moment of our travels together.  Every tour there has been at long list of events.  I try to describe it as if the crew goes off to camp for the summer.  We all hang out with each other too much and the littlest things become the most important things on the planet, then afterwards only the people that were there in the moment really can understand what is going on.  This is one of those moments.

Justin slaps the edge of the seat.  I know the sound well.  Usually this is done in anger, a strange grown-up temper tantrum, but this time it's done in pure fun, a noise loud enough in the car to get everyone's attention without having to raise his voice.  "I think I may use that excuse the next time I have to go somewhere I don't want to go."

"YOU WILL NOT!" Vivian says turning back towards the back seat.  She looks at him with this mortified face.  It's not her fault that she has this reaction.  Every time Justin doesn't show up to a place or is late, her phone starts to ring.

On the West Coast it's Barry usually calling to ask where they are and why they are there and not where they are supposed to be.  It's harder to dodge him since traffic hangs up our plans on a daily basis.  Sometimes I love the fact that LA stinks when it comes to public transportation.

On the East Coast once it even was Clive Davis asking why Justin wasn't at an event.  She hates those calls because there are a million and one different excuses that we give out to let people know what really is going on.  If it's a VIP level person, we tend to kiss a little more ass, or rather, Vivian kisses the ass.  I only seem to have to kiss ass in person.  I hate it, and I'm sure I'll run into it tonight, but Vivian gets calls in the middle of the night where she has to snap to the task and kiss ass.

"Aweee," Justin says pouting and scoots forward a bit and kisses her.  "You wouldn't like that?"

"No," she shakes her head.

"You guys better watch it tonight," Lynn says.

I turn around and face forward.  I know that comment is going to bring up a conversation I know that his mother has wanted to have with him the moment that we got home.  No one could ignore or even miss the way that Justin and Vivian have become more than co-workers.

Just as I think Lynn is going to say something else to them which I'm sure will open a can of worms tonight, Jayden comes jumping back into the car.  With a smile on her face she reaches to pull on her seatbelt.  "Much better!"

Before I press the button on the garage door again I turn back to everyone and give everyone a look.  "Are we ready or do I need to come back there?"

"We're ready," Everyone mumbles as I finally pushed the button to put the garage door down and started to pull out of the garage.

Tonight is going to be a long night.  I know it'll be fun.  Good people will be around, but considering the sun is just going down and we're slated to come home early tomorrow morning, I'm going to be dead on my feet when its finally time to pile back in the car and head back to the house.

* * * * *

My foot bounces on the floorboard as I steer through traffic.  It's hot in here even though the AC is on and actually there isn't much steering going on.  There isn't much moving at all going on other than the fidgeting that is coming from the back seat.  I don't have to look back there to see what's going on.  I know who's causing the tension.  I know what is causing the tension.  We're all feeling it, except there is only one of us who is reacting to it.  Justin seemed calm enough when we left the house, but two miles later and the fact that we've been sitting in the same place for ten minutes now, has flipped some switch in him.  He's been humming and tapping his hands on his legs and bouncing his foot, I can hear the squeak of it against the leg of one of the middle seat legs.

It's the tail end of rush hour and as well as we've planned ahead to get there on time, actually getting there is taking time.  As much as I want to get all of us there and out of the car, I know that there isn't any way around the four blocked lanes of traffic heading southwest.  Sometimes I wish that there was a subway system that ran through the LA basin.  I know for a fact that a good fifty percent of these cars around us wouldn't be here if there was a subway system.  Half the cars only carry one person anyway.  I hate that.  I've got a little carpool going on here, and there are these idiots just taking up space by only having one person in the car.

"What time is it?" Justin asks.  He's been quiet so far, just moving and twitching in his seat and annoying everyone without saying a word, but this is the beginning of what we all know is going to be a long string of nervous and hyper questions.

Looking in the rear view mirror and wait for Lynn to answer the question.  It's better to have her answer than me.  While most times I will give him the time without a second thought about it, he knows better than to ask me the time when I'm driving.  There is a short list of things that annoys me and that's one of them.  When we're clearly stuck in traffic and there isn't a way for the car to get out of it, asking me, no pestering me, with stupid or redundant questions.

"Time for you to get a watch!" Jayden says with a fairly serious tone then she giggles.

"Jayden!" I say the same time Lynn says her name.  It's that instinctual parental voice that forms in your vocal chords when you become a parents.  It's like a gift from God that you receive the moment your child is big enough to get into trouble.  It usually starts around the time that they learn how to walk.  For Lynn and I, we've both had too much experience with this.

Justin reaches over and tugs a little on her ponytail.

"HEY!" Jayden yells.

I don't think it really hurt her.  In fact I'm sure that it didn't.  The tone in which she uses to yell is her little sister tone yell.  When she's been with other kids playing and she doesn't get her way or something happens that she doesn't agree with she turns into a little sister even though she doesn't have any siblings.  It's strange because Justin is the same way.  He's the big brother of two step-brothers and yet, when the three of them are together, he's the biggest baby of the three of them.

Justin crosses his arms across his chest.  "Jayden did it first."

"JUSTIN!" Vivian now joins in with the parental tone along with Lynn and me.  She does a really great impression of a parent considering she doesn't have kids.

"But she did," he whines out.

"You were being a big baby and asking what time it was.  I was being good and not making noise," Jayden argues turning a bit in her seat.  I can see her in the side mirror, moving her head to turn around and finding herself choking herself on the shoulder strap.  She finally pulls it away from her face and turns towards him to stick out her tongue.  My daughter, the diplomat.  Gotta love her.

"Just-tin."  Vivian starts to try to correct him, as Lynn does to.  Paul, by contrast is looking out the window with a slight smile on his face.  I wish I could do that, but the sound of Jayden arguing keeps me paying attention.  "You're over ten years older than her.  You should know better."

"Do we have any movies in here?" Justin asks leaning over the chair.

"Yes!"  I say instantly.  "Under Jayden."

Justin moves past his mother, pushing a little too much against her and raising protest from her.  I remember those days, when you just want to get somewhere and you don't know your own body strength and movements.  Justin is smooth on the dance floor, but there are times when he seems a little out of it when it comes to his body.  He's got average sized feet for his height and his build is rather slim, but even a slim someone can get out of control when not careful.  "Just-tin."

"Sorry Momma," he says quickly.

Lynn, being the sarcastic woman she can be slaps her son's butt, that is now stuck in her view from her backseat.  "And can you imagine that he used to fit on my lap."

Justin turns around and looks back.  "MOM-MA!"

Paul laughs a bit from his seat.  "This is the best entertainment I've had all week.  Is he always like this with you Tiny?"

I shrug and even though I know I shouldn't answer, I can't help but to say something.  "A little worse."

Justin stops where he is, half way between the two seats and stares at me in the mirror.  "TINY!"

"Sit down Justin," Lynn says.

"Yeah," Vivian says.

"Yeah," Jayden says.

The sound of laughter fills the space behind me and a moment later I hear Justin pulling the book of DVDs out from under the seat.  The zipper noise fills the air then slapping noises of the DVD pages hitting each other.

Moments later, an arm brushes passed me and a DVD is shoved into the player.  Justin scoots back and drops down the TV and Jayden finally asks, "What are we gonna watch?"

"A good one," Justin says.

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