The studio was empty, the program ended and the star was lonely.
Nicholas retreated to his dressing room. He was public and popular but private and desperate.
He undressed into his robe and looked into his mirror.
He forced the kind of wry smile that was his trademark and sobbed.
He ignored the entreaties by his co-stars to go with them to supper. Nicholas was tempted to be more social but his efforts were for naught.
Every time he would venture out, he felt that he never would measure up in the face of the glamorous types who could take a man and leave him a sniveling little boy.
The bottle that rested under his arm called his name and he obliged ruefully.
"Didn't becoming someone mean that I would stop being a nobody?" he asked to himself.
His television program made him a friendly face for many but he remained the shameful little loner who first worked odd chores for bigger names.
The wife and the happiness would eventually come as soon as he made it past fetching coffee. But now even the errand boys seemed to be happier with their girlfriends, fiancees and wives. All this ladder climbing for naught.
"Sixty-hour weeks and nothing but a sexless existence," he wondered.
The bottle fell from his hands into the well-placed wastebasket.
He was a hero to many but a coward to himself. He had the guts to claw himself into a coveted spot in front of the camera. He worked until exhaustion for the status that he thought would bring him the world. He could not, however, bring himself to overcome his painful shyness at asking a woman out to something as simple as coffee.
"Can't you do a fucking thing right, Nicholas?" shouted the young child's mother when he brought home an unsatisfactory grade in school.
"Get out of bed! You're a lazy slob who needs to do something around this house other than lying about!" his mother harangued, snatching the bed covers off at three in the morning.
His heart pounded with resentment for the martinet who raised him. She forced him to focus on perfecting his life to a fault. The fault was painfully clear. He was a professional in work but an amateur in dealing with the opposite sex.
Except for his program's audience -- teenagers.
The young girls were in awe of the Nicholas who was better known on afternoon local television as "Nick North" -- the charismatic host of "Nick North's Record Palace."
He basked in the squeals of the vibrant young women and girls who would cheer his every entrance. He was energized by the experience of meeting musicians and singers from near and far.
His magnetism was apparent from all of the autograph seekers. He signed every autograph book at the risk of making it to work on time. But it wasn't really work to him; it was like a hobby for which he was paid.
He snapped out from his ennui and continued the process of returning into 'civilian mode.' Back in his street clothes, he made his usual journey back to his car.
The corridor to the parking lot was a long straight path to the station's rear door. Nicholas snapped his fingers and whistled the week's top record.
There was a storm brewing in the distance; Nick heard the thunder from beyond the station doors.
A figure stood in the thick grey gloom that awaited him. Sometimes, a stray fan would wait for a while either for Nick North or until her parents finally picker her up in the family car.
There was no question of whether it was a mugger or some other menace. Perhaps it was a ghost playing games with his booze-addled mind.
He prepared a snappy smile and reached for his pen in his shirt pocket. He hoped that his poor soul would not be disappointed by his not-ready-for-cameras appearance.
It was Patty. She was a fourteen-year-old regular on his program. She always was perfectly coiffed with her red hair teased into a cheerful bouffant or some other concoction of the day. She was a novice to the show but earned a reputation for her tight skirts and friendliness with the boys.
"Mr. North," she said, "I wondered why your car was still here. I figured that you might drive me home."
"Where do you live?" he asked, putting away his ready pen.
"I live up Charles Street," she explained, reaching to adjust her bra strap underneath her blouse.
The thunder's volume grew louder. The sound of raindrops approached gently into their vicinity. "I would be glad to drive you home," said Nicholas, "Let's get in before the rain comes."
Why was Nicholas driving this girl home? She was the one who could most wreck his career. The other girls on the show deemed Patty to be 'easy.' She was caught with her hand in one boy's pants during a commercial break. She received a reprimand but it did not stop her from seducing many of the older boys on the program.
Freshmen girls were not supposed to be so forward with seniors but she was already making moves on boys from the university.
Even Nicholas was not off-limits to this sprightly girl. She grabbed his ass at an opportune off-camera moment. He knew that she meant business.
The fact that she was jailbait became even clearer when Nicholas noticed a hint of smoke on the girl's breath.
They rushed to the car.
He drove the young girl to her house in the northern section of the city. The cityscape was like an impressionist painting behind the rain streaked windows of his car.
Once in front of the home, he exited and opened the passenger door. She thanked him.
"You're a real gent," she complimented, "Would you like to meet my parents?"
He was curious to know what kind of people would raise such a budding young sex goddess.
"Sure," he replied.
Once inside, the lights were on inside the foyer to the home but there was not a sign of anyone present.
Patty locked the door behind her and looked suddenly coy.
She approached Nicholas until his back was against the front door. He nervously reached for the doorknob. She forced her busy little hands on his trousers.
The stale air of the house was pierced by the sound of his zipper.
"I want you now," Patty plainly ordered of him.
He rubbed his brow with his hand. The palm immediately became coated in anxious perspiration.
"We can't do this here," he mumbled from guilt and fear for his job. Deep inside, though, it was like he was finally getting the pleasure he wanted.
"I'll make this quick," she said with the voice of an experienced seductress.
Once she had Nicholas' member in her hand, she began to massage it into full erectness. She kissed, licked and teased it into attention.
She rose for a moment to kiss Nicholas firmly on the mouth and then returned to her task. Her lips encased Nicholas' manhood with aplomb.
She fondled her breasts while she sucked him.
He bit his lower lip from this unexpected euphoria. He savored this moment carefully wondering if this was a trap. He calculated what might happen if Patty's parents were in on this and wanted to blackmail him. He wondered what would happen if she claimed rape.
His thought processes shut down when he began to ejaculate into her hungry mouth.
Physically satisfied and deflated, Nicholas breathed a sigh of unchained relief and pulled Patty back up to her feet.
A sign of life finally made itself apparent from a door opening in the rear of the house. Patty's mother sounded very upset. This woman was on the warpath.
"Patty, why does this have to happen to me?"
Nicholas' heart came to a painful stop.
Patty's mother explained that the rain had ruined the laundry that was hanging out to dry. She would have to do the wash again on Saturday.
"Well, excuse me, Miss Patty," the mother exclaimed when she realized the local celebrity in her home, "Mr. North, what brings you here?"
He gagged and coughed from confusion and sudden relief.
"I drove her home."
"You're a saint! I hope that dear Patty has invited you over for dinner! It will be ready when Patty's father comes home in an hour. And thank you for driving her home!"
"My pleasure," he said with a knowing arm around the young girl.