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 ...
"I'm really sorry for bothering you. You didn't have to come with us today," Scarlett apologized for the tenth time.
"It's okay," Ray reassured her. "I don't have work tomorrow, anyways."
Ray gazed out of the car window to see Frank's home illuminated by the porch lights. It was a mansion compared to his apartment. The beige walls were clean with the paint perfectly in tact. The front lawn was the cleanest he'd seen in a long time. Where he lived, his lawn was considered the cleanest. There was a thorny bush carrying red, white, and yellow roses. The roof was a bright shade of maroon with a small chimney. There didn't seem to be a speck of dust near his doors. The silver numbers on the side of his home didn't even have a hint of rusting.
"Well, let's go," Scarlett suggested.
She walked toward the window and peeked inside. She waved at Frank's figure and waited patiently before he finally saw her. Frank didn't answer the door to just anyone anymore.
When the door opened, Scarlett was relieved that she couldn't see Frank's face through the window. She might've just turned and drove away.
"What do you want?" Frank asked, sounding irritably impatient.
Scarlett was speechless. She couldn't imagine him to look any worse after the funeral. But the man in front of her had little to no resemblance of the Frank she knew. He had a full grown beard and his hair, apparently unwashed, stuck up in the back and hung limply down the sides of his face. His eyes were bloodshot from a lack of sleep and an excess of alcohol. She could smell the evidence of smoke left behind by cigarettes. He quit for Annie, but since Annie was gone there was no more promise to break.
The silence had gone on for too long.
"Frank, we have someone here we thought you should meet," Bob announced.
Frank said nothing, only averting his sight towards Ray. His eyes seemed careless, full of hopelessness and indifference.
"Uh...This is Ray Toro," Scarlett said, coming out of her trance.
"Hi," Ray greeted, politely offering his hand.
Frank only stared at it, not moving an inch. Ray's hand retreated, leaving him feeling embarrassed and unwelcome.
"Frank, the same killer murdered Ray's girlfriend," Scarlett tried to explain.
Frank gazed back at her, not saying a word. It was as if he was waiting for her to say more.
"We thought you two could talk," Bob added. "You'd understand each other."
Frank gave them an icy glare. His eyes rested on Ray, sending chills over his body.
"What could I possibly want to talk to him about?" Frank snapped suddenly, making the three of them jump.
"I just thought you could grieve together, I guess," Scarlett suggested. "We all could use someone to share our pain."
"Save that shit for church, Scarlett," Frank spat. "I don't need you bothering me in the middle of the night bringing strangers to my home."
"We're not strangers, Frank," Scarlett argued. "We're family."
"I'm not related to any of you," Frank said coldly. "I don't share your blood."
Scarlett's patience was deteriorating in front of her eyes. Her temper was beginning to flare. She didn't have Annie's patience, she never did. All she wanted now was to smack her sister's fiance across his face and literally knock some sense into him. Bob noticed her step forward and immediately intervened.
"We'll leave now," Bob said, standing in front of Scarlett.
He returned Frank's glower with his own threatening glare. In one quick motion, Frank slammed the door and they heard him lock it tightly.
Scarlett rushed back into the car. Bob directed her to the passenger seat offering to drive. Ray quietly followed and seated himself into the backseat. Once Bob got the car back on the street, Scarlett burst into tears. Bob gave her a quick glance before returning it toward the road. He used one of his arms to wrap around her and rub her back.
"It's okay, Scarlett," Bob whispered. "He's suffering."
"We all are," Scarlett sniffled. "But now it feels like I lost two people."
Suddenly, Scarlett remembered that Ray was still with them. He was sitting in the backseat, a silent witness to the disastrous visit.
"Ray," Scarlett said, her voice unsteady but soft. "I'm so sorry."
She turned her head to meet with his eyes. She could see the sympathy in them. But it wasn't the same pity that angered her at Annie's funeral. It was true understanding that she could feel resonating from his gaze.
"Do you want to spend the night at my home, Ray?" Scarlett offered. "It's the least I can do."
"I don't want to be a disturbance," Ray replied.
"No, you won't be at all," Scarlett insisted. "I'd like you to stay. If you don't mind."
"Thank you," Ray accepted.
It was a tiring night for Ray Toro. After another exhausting day of work, all he wanted to do was to sleep in for the rest of the week. What he got was a couple of visitors forcing him to relive the past he wanted to forget, the present that he refused to believe, and the future that he was afraid to see. If it were anyone else, he would've kindly told them to leave. But he felt drawn to Scarlett. There was something about her that made him feel a little less tired and a little more determined to put an end to what he let continue. He pushed his guilt aside, and knew that she was the one he could tell. She would be proof that letting those forbidden words escape his lips would not kill him. If only he could get them out.