Her sweet lips caught his ear, promising love and devotion as she whispers, and Will Graham was so touched he smiled at the impeccable woman standing beside him, hand intertwined, thumbing the skin to feel the warmth there. Her somber eyes lit up, his blue eyes glitter, the tears of joy run down their cheeks, and she leaned over, gloved hand clutching his arm, the other to the back of his neck, and Will does the same, holding her smooth jaw, the other around her waist as they sealed the ceremony with a kiss. Their foreheads touched, they breathe as one, their devotion blurs and every person in the room applauded. Lo and Behold, the Bride and the Groom!
Husband and Wife.
And they live happily ever after.
Will Graham had a life. But that life filed a divorce six months ago.
Dreams do come true as they say, but one had forgotten that nightmares are dreams as well.
Lying naked on the floor, neck twisted, arms bent, Will Graham woke up with a massive migraine. One eye open, then slowly, two and saw the beer cans and whiskey bottles scattered across the room, some tilted, some broken. He couldn't recall if he did go out and purchased the little devils that brought that darn dream to his head. He is the living walking dead when it comes to fucking ups, head someplace else, body sucked down South, or downstairs, probably at the bar, or to the store, Jack Daniel's as his bestfriend, sometimes Xanax, sometimes both at the same time. He knew it triggered something. He is sober for the past seven days, nothing to do just stare at the fridge, wondering what on earth pickles are there for.
Then he remembered about the letter that came by yesterday and Will hurled the empty mug he was holding to the wall as he recalls the returning address. The nerve of that woman! Now she wants my house? The house he’d built by his own hands but never had a chance to live in it. It's not even finished! Will should be the one who nailed her to the court. It was her betrayal after all. And what is this William Graham was an abusive husband, he said loudly to the sink, as if his wife was there washing dishes. Jesus Christ, Molly! I didn't even lift a finger towards you. What were you thinking?
They have good old times. The good ones and the bad. The bad ones, he cannot recall, not until Molly, the sweet, loving Molly took boredom too seriously and fucked somebody else. Will was kissing the dessert sand that time, out there in the land of jihad with his canine companion, Winston. Wow, is it really normal these days to dream to be with someone else because she was upset, rather than waiting for a husband who didn't come home because the army extended his contract and deploys him somewhere along the jungles of Brazil? Molly's 30th birthday, Will promised to be home, and he did, only to find that his wife is sleeping at two in the afternoon with a young man four years her junior on her side. Where’s the sickness and in health, till death yadididadida and all that shit fit in?
Will sighed as he left the kitchen and passes the living room. Molly was with that guy now, some blond she'd met at the street. The one Will beats to a pulp after the homecoming birthday. The new Mr. Perfect. That dick! Will could still smell the man’s blood on his hands. Oh, it feels so good turning him into a punching bag. It could escalate into a murder if not for the screaming Molly attracting attention. He left them both, Molly, naked, screaming colorful words while dickhead, ass bared, sobbing like a child. Three days later, Will was charged with an assault.
There was a note included with the letter too, small and scented. Will wrinkled his nose as the scent reached his nostrils. Remember the Diner we use to hang out, it says. Meet me there tonight.
The note found its way to the bin and Will goes back to bed.
Nine hours later he found himself sitting alone in the Diner, waiting.
Hello, Will. It's nice to see you.
Will was trying very hard not to fling the coffee mug towards the wall. Cut the chit-chat, Molly. What the hell do you want?
I'm getting married.
He wasn't surprise. He did see it coming. Will stared at her. It's so ridiculous having a conversation with an ex-wife without thinking of murder.
You want my house. You and you're soon to be Mr. Miserable-in-the-making want my house? As I recall, the bastard is wealthy enough to change your face.
It's conjugal, Will. It was included in the prenup.
Will laughed bitterly. You sank so low, Molly. I thought I'm the loser here.
She didn't speak. She just tosses the documents in front of him, wasting no time, and Will wondered why on earth this woman is still alive.
He signed the papers, signed every dotted line and tossed it back to her. She can have it all for all he cares! She smooth down her dress, ready to leave and spoke something about forgiveness and luck like a mantra as if she really, really means it. As if she's a human with a loving heart. Will wanted to rip it out from her chest so he can dangle in front of her eyes to see how black it was. Before she left, he said his utmost goodbye to her with a sneer and she said fuck you too with a smile and a middle finger in return.
He walked himself out, head high, doesn't care if the patrons inside the Diner was staring at him, out of spite or pity, fuck them, and breathes the shivering November wind. As the glittering stars shine above the city, Will realized this was the same night he proposed to the woman who wrecked his life. Oh, that was epic, Molly. You always had a way with everything. Seven years, six months and four days. The red velvet box was hidden beneath Will's knapsack just in case the moment comes along. He took Molly to dinner. Dinner, not a date. Dates should be at a fancy restaurant, not a Diner. One thing he used to like about her was her simplicity. She preferred to be simple, so Will gave her that. Now it's like an evolution, from meek to grandeur, from copper to gold. She likes shiny things with a raised-brow price now. The young man Molly chooses can give her that apparently. Will laughed as he crossed the street. Good luck to you, fucker. You needed it more than I am.
Will decided to walk all the way home, the night is still young and tempting, anyway, so he waved the taxi away. His phone vibrates. A text message. He knows it was Beverly. Smart, charming and has a good sense of humor, Beverly. She is the only one who can give Will Graham a smack in the head if needed be. She's always there for him, thick or thin that sometimes Will thinks what if she's more than just a reliable and dearest sidekick. Will they make it? Will they be happy? Maybe, maybe not. She used to have feelings for Will, back in their teen years, the puppy love, and kissing her feels so right till he realized it was so wrong from the start. He told her it was a mistake as humanely as possible the next day. It didn't go well and Beverly throws a fit, shoved him into the wall and punched him in the face. They became best of friends since then.
You alive? The text says. Okay that was...Will shook his head. Beverly words everything in three syllables to push him these days – You okay; You did what; Oh hell no; Damnit Will; You jackass; Don't you dare; Where are you – to name the few. Beverly will torture him on and on until Will caved in, ending up telling her everything and she would freak out of course, about the house, Molly's upcoming wedding day and Will's passive-aggressive approach with the whole situation. Her threat of shaving Molly's head a few days ago perhaps will come to fruition, and although it made him laugh, Will wouldn't want that to happen. He flipped the phone and shove it inside his pocket, let it simmer for a while. He'll talk to her later.
Will was in somewhere between sitting on the pavement and continue walking when he saw the Riverside Park sign just ahead. This is where his dad used to take him when he was a kid. Those were the days of normal life. A boy of nine years with his father on weekend outing, cajoling him anything he wished. Will smiled at the memory. His father was not that expressive, but he made sure Will can have what most children should have. As a single parent, Henry has to struggle to deal with daily battles, between twelve-hour shift plus a side job and keeping up with his only son. Will's mother left them a long time ago and because she never even glances back just to get to know him, Will vowed never to look for her. As he was standing now in front of the park entrance, Will felt a jab of loneliness. He misses his dad. He misses his smile, though awkwardly rare as it is, it is still a smile. How he wished Will should have been there when his father died.
The sound of children's joyous screaming caught him from his reverie. The park was different now. It's more like an amusement than a historical one. A Mary-go-round here, a Ferris wheel there, a coaster beside it, game kiosk scattered around, with couples laughing as the girl finally had a chance to win the big fuzzy bear over. The smell of caramel popcorn was the one Will recognized. It was one of Henry's treat for him each time he got an A+, along with a Tonka truck. Molly never met Henry. He died long before she even a get a chance to know him.
He walked passed the children and their parents swatting their hands on something oily and artificial, to the curb of cultured dandelions of which Will still wonder how on earth it's still there, then to the benches with young couples kissing like there's no tomorrow. The crowd is getting thinner as he walked further inside the park, towards the trees that used to be pine now cherries, towards the brick road he recognized by heart, till he reached the docks and... there it is. The Celestial Lighthouse.
He smiled. That lighthouse was the epitome of his childhood. He spends most of his times there, happy, troubled or otherwise. It gives him an unknowing and requited peace. The last time he stayed there was when his father died. He never came back since.
Ah yes. Of course, it was closed now. The city has no used of it anymore. It was just a display. A memorial. Will tried the gate but as expected, it was locked. The chain around it is nearly as thick as his forearms. The fence, however...
It was dark and the only guide of light was the full moon. No is one around. The Lighthouse is too creepy looking now no one dares to art them a graffiti. Will took off his jacket and tossed it just enough to cover the barb wires spreading above the fence. As he lunged for a climb a voice caught him mid stance. There, sitting on one of the rocks, blond hair past down shoulder over a red, or brown, shawl, holding a miniature poodle, was a woman, obviously much older than Will and yes, Will's face looks familiar to her because yes, he does look like Henry from the docks for the reason he was his old man. You had his eyes, she said, and Will knows she only said that to have a conversation because how would she know the color of his eyes if it's dark.
Will is your name, am I right? William Graham. Henry's Little Willy.
Little Willy. He had to laugh. It's been a long time since someone called him that, nearly twenty years, to be exact.
Not little now, he said. And you are? -- I'm sorry. It's been a long time...
Mrs. Erlington. Joana. Madam Joan as they called me, and so do you.
Oh. Will recalls the days when he held a balloon in one hand and a toy truck on the other. Madam Joan was a frequent visitor of his father. 'Close friends' they said to their peers, but Will is smarter than that.
You used to date my dad, he said.
The woman laughs. He remembered that, too. Her laugh, that is. It was so sophisticated it annoys him. He was just nine, for christsake! Of course, everything annoys him especially when his father's attention was elsewhere other than him.
As he stepped closer, the poodle cried a warning bark and Will absently lower his gaze to his left side where Winston usually sit, tongue lolling out and glancing back at him. A twinge of emotion hits him. That dog knows how to cheer him up. He's much more human than Molly, really. Sadly, Will didn't make the cut for Winston's adoption. It was too late for him to make a case now. Winston was shifted back to America when the divorce case landed on Will's doorstep. The loyal, loving dog is now somewhere in Michigan, with a family much more competent than him.
I could guess what you are doing here, young man, she said. Trespassing is against the law, however.
It is if you get caught by an authority.
And I am not one of them.
Will smiled. No, you are not.
There's a glint in her eyes as she stood up. I have the same agenda as you, she said, sans the climbing, of course. Soon this place will be torn down. Three years from now it'll be an Opera House, the lighthouse as the backdraft. This place was built long before the city named themselves and the people had no idea the importance of it for someone like us.
Will glanced up, past the cracked white paint of the column, up where the tower lights should have been. The harbor is covered in darkness now, no beacon to call the boats home.
This will all be torn down, he murmured. I wonder what's up there now.
It is still intact. I don't know about the lights though. Why don't you find it yourself?
Will looked at her and slowly his lips beam to a smile. With a nod, he moved to climb the fence again.
There's an entrance near the pontoon, boy! What the hell are you doing?
Will couldn't hear her anymore. He was on the other side now.
There is some idiot banging Will's door as if there are zombies all over the place.
And he had an idea who that was.
Since his last encounter with Molly, Will refuses any calls from his friends. That was four days ago. Sure, they were worried. They should be worried. Will was a suicidal, or at least they think he was, and for them, any moment passes by might be too late.
The footsteps from the hall doubled, running and alarmed now. Three people, no, five, and their voices were something close to panic. Oh, that would be Mrs. Brown of door 10B, Mr. Kempis of 11A and Mrs. Forgot-the-name because she finds Will weird and refuses to talk to him of 11B.
What is this ruckus all about. Mrs. Brown has this funny accent that every person within her vicinity rolled their eyes. She’s a small woman with a posh attitude, claiming she’s an English woman born in a wrong country.
We are looking for Will? Is he here? Have you seen him?
Will sighed. That would be Beverly. The knight in shining armor to his dark ages. He frowned. Shit. He forgot to call her a few nights ago. No wonder she's pissed.
Have you tried calling him, says Mr. Kempis. Sweet old man, always with a smile and pancakes for Will.
We wouldn't be here if we didn't!
Will groans. Is Jimmy here too?
Will the Weird. You know your friend is weird, right? Is he in the spectrum or something.
Ah, yes. That would be Mrs. Forgot-the-name. She hates loitering, and noise, and laughs, and morning sun, and dogs. Actually, she hates everything. Very humane of her.
The door is locked! Bev sounds like she's on the verge of strangling whoever her hand could reach.
Of course, it's locked, says Mrs. Brown. There's no one there! He left a few days ago. No one saw him since.
Okay now, wait a minute? Will felt dizzy as he slowly crawled out from the bed, walked out of the bedroom door, passed the living room, paused because his head felt like a roulette wheel, walks agonizingly again, only to find there is no one there outside of his apartment door.
Strange. Did coming out of the bedroom took him that long?
Jesus Christ, he must be daydreaming again.
He stood there for two minutes just to make sure, and when nobody shows up, he shrugged and dragged himself back to bed and played dead to the world once again.
It took another twelve hours before Will decided to move his ass and do something consciously, only to find the beer was gone and the box of liquor was empty. Did he drown himself retarded for four days? He can't remember.
He stepped out of his apartment by ten in the morning and cursed because the sun is fucking his senses. The fridge had run out of edible things and he must do something about it. The idea of food intake made him winced, however, and he was the living proof of not giving a fuck anyway so off to the liquor store then, although liquor store usually opens at noon, that is what 7/11 is there for. What was their slogan again? Thank the heavens there's 7/11? Oh God bless them! He'd lost count of how many times he landed on his knees before he reached the place, sneering back to people who thought of him as a plague. Who wouldn't? He's a drunk, rugged man walking like a living dead along the streets at ten A.M. The young Asian guy manning the store didn't even look at him when Will grabbed a bottle of liquor which brand he couldn't pronounce and tossed a dollar and a few coins to the counter, murmuring keep the changed as he marched away. Drink-here-drink-here-not was the only battle his mind was playing on. He glanced back to where he came from, the road to his apartment and realized the walk there was like a maze, too many curbs and people and seventy-eight steps because the apartment building is so old the elevator is jammed four times a week. No wonder Mrs. Brown complains about her rheumatism.
So no. He's not going back there.
Where would he go?
He smiled as an idea dawns on him.
When Will reached the Riverside Park, he groans. All the benches were occupied. Families, joggers, old people, anything with two feet and toddlers. He is pissed because it was almost eleven and his throat was dry. It took him another five minutes to find a bench and finally it was there behind the line of trees, where there is much privacy. He dragged his feet quickly, alarmed that someone might sit on it. He was panting as he occupied the space and jolted when he saw a pair of amber eyes glaring back at him. Will shrugged and ignored the person sitting on the opposite side. The owner of those amber eyes was a man, with ash blond hair and prominent cheekbones and reading a book. Will snorted a bitter laugh as he pulled out the liquor bottle from the brown paper bag. A huff of disgust grunted from the stranger, he even inched back as if Will was a freak of nature. Will rolled his eyes at him. Oh, piss off. What? Haven't seen a man drinking before?
The bottle was half empty when Will realized the stranger was still there, still reading a book. Such an asshole am I, he said. Here, and offered the stranger a drink, held up his bottle, smiling like a fool. It's a peace offering. You know, for not freaking out?
The stranger stared at him again, this time hard and long like, look at this guy, unbelievable.
Sorry for being rude, Will said, still smiling. You want...?
Suit yourself. Will leaned back and chugged the bottle. His eyes plastered towards the trees, dancing leaves and birds chirping. Never saw you before. Turning his head towards the stranger, You new?
The stranger twitched his left brow slightly and shifted, moving his shoulder away from the man sitting beside him, a subtle way of I forbids thyself speaking to the likes of you, and returns to his reading.
Will chuckles. This is me being friendly, and I'm not even friendly.
The stranger ignores him as if he was not there. Oh, Will gets that all the time, twenty-four hours, seven days a week. This bench is a government property, Will declared, and it's my privilege, too, to use it like everyone else so, nope. I'm not leaving.
Standing as doing so, the stranger spoke, finally. Then I'll have to find peace elsewhere. Excuse me. His voice is two octaves down from a basic note, smooth and little raspy, Will noted. Baritone, and with an accent! European! Hah! A tourist then! Welcome to the land of opportunity, Mr. Cheekbones.
The stranger straightened his shirt and nodded curtly at Will. Good day to you, sir, he said and then he walked away, leaving Will guessing what part of the globe the stranger come from.