A tale of weddings, betrayal, murder, and revenge. He never really liked the comparison of knots with marriage. It always made him picture someone tying a noose and hanging themselves. Marriage is ...
They stayed in the car for a few minutes. The apartment's age was evident through its peeling blue paint. There were weeds all over the front yard, and the painted silver numbers were beginning to rust. The shades on the windows were pulled down, and there wasn't a single trace of light emanating from them.
"Maybe he's not home," said Bob, closely examining the windows.
"There's only one way to find out," said Scarlett, opening the car door.
"Let's just hope he won't go crazy on us for barging into his home out of the blue to talk about a serial killer," Bob replied as he stepped out of the car.
They walked up the cracked concrete steps leading to the front door. The corners of the door were littered with thick spider webs, and the rusted doorbell was covered in a thin layer of dust. Not wanting to touch the doorbell, Bob knocked twice on the off-white painted wood. They waited a minute before Scarlett knocked harder. They remained silent until they heard something stirring on the inside. The footsteps were careful and slow. Bob noticed saw the eye behind the peek hole before the door opened.
Ray Toro was a tall man. He had thick light brown curly hair that fell down to his neck. He was wearing a brown shirt that extenuated the muscles on his arms. The jeans he wore were faded and torn from work, but it almost looked stylish.
"Hi, are you Ray Toro?" Scarlett asked as politely as she could.
"Who are you?" Ray asked, quickly putting up his defense.
"I'm Scarlett and this is my cousin, Bobby," Scarlett explained.
"Bob," Bob corrected.
"What do you want?" Ray asked.
"My sister was murdered on her wedding day, and I think she was killed by the same killer," Scarlett cut it short, hoping Ray would understand.
He stared at them for a moment, his expression blank from nostalgia.
"I can't help you with that," Ray said, moving his arm toward the door.
"Wait!" Scarlett exclaimed. "I just want to talk about it. I want to hear your story."
"I don't have a story to tell," Ray countered, he began to close the door. Scarlett forced her hand through to keep it open.
"/Please/," she begged.
Ray looked up to get a first real glance of her. Her hair was messy, even more than his own, and it fell over her cheeks like bright rose petals. Her eyes sparkled and pleaded him to give in. He could feel her strength as she held the door open with her tan sturdy arm. She was taller than most girls he'd seen, and she looked as determined as a salesperson. He felt his arm let go of the door unwillingly, and he found himself inviting them inside.
They entered the modest livingroom, completely lacking of furniture. There was a couch, a small coffee table, and a small television set. There was a lonely plastic plant in the far left corner, and a small painting of a bowl of fruit on the opposite wall. Ray offered them a seat on the couch.
"Can I get you anything to eat or drink?" Ray asked.
"No, thank you," Scarlett declined and Bob shook his head. Scarlett realized how soft-spoken Ray's tone was.
Ray sat next to them and sighed, preparing himself to relive the past.
"What happened to your sister?" he asked.
Scarlett and Bob spent the next half hour taking turns telling Annie's story. They covered what happened before and after the wedding. They even talked about the funeral. Occasionally, Scarlett would have to pause and let Bob finish. The weight in her chest compressed with every word she said. Ray listened quietly until they were finished.
"Carla was the love of my life," Ray said softly. "We were together for three years, and neither of us were in a hurry to get married. But I would've married her if she-"
He stopped and bit his lip.
"It's okay," Scarlett whispered, placing her hand on his knee.
"If she didn't die," he finished, the warmth of her touch forcing the words out of him.
"It still doesn't make sense. If it really was the same killer, why did he kill Carla if neither of you were getting married anytime soon?" Bob asked.
"I don't know," Ray said barely above a whisper.
"Ray, do you know anything about the murders before Carla's?" Scarlett asked.
"I know that the bride and the groom's brother were killed," Ray said.
"And the groom," said Scarlett.
"No," Bob interrupted. "Shirley said they never found a body. Just his clothes."
"But they were covered in his own blood," Scarlett replied.
"The police assumed he was dead," Ray added.
"But why did the killer kill all of those people, and then just go on to killing brides?" Bob wondered out loud.
"I don't know," Ray said quietly.
Scarlett noticed that every time Ray would say he didn't know he would lower his voice. She noticed how he would avert his eyes from their's.
"Ray, this has been going on for two years," Scarlett told him, holding his eyes with her own. "Don't you think it's been long enough?"
"I had nothing to do with this," he pleaded.
"I don't think you do," Scarlett assured him. "But I think you know more than you say you do."
Ray couldn't look away. Scarlett's face was solemn with persistence.
"He was my best friend," Ray whispered.
"Who?" Scarlett asked gently.
"Gerard," Ray replied. "He was my best friend."
"Who is Gerard, Ray?" Scarlett guided him.
"He just wanted a perfect wedding," Ray continued on. "That's all he wanted."
"Is Gerard the groom?" Scarlett asked.
"Yeah, and he was gonna marry Bianca," Ray replied.
"Where is he now?" Scarlett pushed.
"I don't know," Ray said, but this time he didn't lower his voice or look away.
"Were you at that wedding, Ray?" Bob asked.
Ray paused and glanced at them. He looked absolutely miserable, and Scarlett knew that he'd had enough.
"I'm sorry. I can't do this anymore," his voice began to break.
Scarlett could see the same grief she carried in Ray. She knew they shared the same weight in their chests, and they both had to make those fatal walks toward a casket. They were both incomplete people who had no idea why they were still breathing. She scooted closer to him and placed her arms around him. It's been a long time since anyone showed him any type of compassion, and he was almost confused about why Scarlett was so caring. As they pulled apart, Scarlett thought of a way to gain more of Ray Toro's trust.
"Ray, I think you should meet Frank," Scarlett suggested. "My sister's fiance."