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 ...
Scarlett wasn't sure how much longer she would last. She had the engraved image of her sister's fiance hanging from a noose he made out of a towel in her mind. On top of that, she had the image of her own sister's murdered corpse burned permanently into her memory. Scarlett wanted nothing more than to let go of the weight she was carrying. It was getting heavier in her chest. There was almost no more space for her lungs. She was running out of reasons to keep going. The only thing that kept her alive was her need to avenge Annie's death. Then she can finally give her soul the rest it deserved.
The days dragged on endlessly and meaninglessly. The summer was coming to a close and fall was just around the corner. Scarlett lost her excitement to go back to school and rebuild her life. What was there left to rebuild? It was like building a tower with blocks, but when you turn around you realize you never had the blocks to begin with. Castles don't appear out of thin air. The only good thoughts she had left were delusions. Mirages her mind played before her like a black and white film with no sound. The pictures so obviously fictional, but incredibly desirable at the same time.
Annie and Frank were happily married with a big house of their own to one day fill with the large family they both wanted. She was going back to college, making new friends, and learning new things. She experiences the brighter side of life where addictions didn't haunt her at every crossing. Annie was there to listen to her every story no matter how long they were. She was there to laugh with her, learn with her, and live life with her. She was there.
Suddenly, the loud buzzing of her dryer brought her back to her ugly truth. There was nothing better than a mind's deception, until reality breaks it apart. Scarlett sorted through her dirty laundry with as much life as a wooden chair. She listlessly checked her pants pockets for anything she might've forgotten to remove. Indeed, she did leave behind a couple of gum wrappers and crumpled paper. She always had the habit of keeping her paper garbage in her pockets whenever a trash can wasn't available. At least she didn't litter. Just as she was about to toss the papers away, she remembered exactly why the crumpled paper was there in the first place.
Shirley Smith- (831) 467-9021
She had forgotten all about contacting Shirley. Scarlett felt indebted to her for providing her with information that could sacrifice her way of living. Especially to a stranger she had just met. Setting her laundry aside, Scarlett immediately grabbed her phone and dialed the number. The phone rang four times before Shirley picked up.
"Hello, this is Shirley Smith speaking," she answered formally.
"Shirley, this is Scarlett. I don't know if you remember me, but I wanted to thank you for your help," Scarlett said, trying to lift up her dispirited tone.
"Oh hello Scarlett. Of course, I remember," Shirley replied, giving Scarlett a great comfort. "Did you get to talk to Ray Toro?"
"Yeah, I did. He's a really kind man."
"Well, that's good. Did he know anything about the murders?"
"He did," Scarlett said, coming to realization. "Actually, he mentioned a name."
"Yes?" Shirley pushed.
"His best friend," Scarlett tried to remember. "He was the groom of the wedding. The groom they never found."
"What's his name?"
Scarlett shut her eyes, trying to replay the scene and listen to every word that Ray let her hear. She dug deeper and left a long pause in the conversation to recall the name Ray seemed afraid to reveal. Then it came back to her as familiar as if Ray had just introduced him to her.
Ray hadn't seen Scarlett in over a week. As strange as it felt, he missed her. Maybe because she was the only one who had been able to break his silence. He'd lived a life of loneliness and misery. And silence; that awful silence. Not a sign of laughter or sanity to be heard. He always was a man of few words, but this was a new kind of quiet. Not just the silence of all sounds, but the silencing of his soul. A power no one should be able to restrict.
The days were becoming too much like the old routine and he wanted nothing more than to escape it. He felt like a slave waiting for redemption day. With Scarlett, life was unpredictable and spontaneous. She literally barged into his life and kicked down his barriers. Now the barrier had begun to rebuild itself and the walls were closing in. He just wanted to hear that persuading knock on his door. He had been waiting by that door for hours.
His eyes lit up when he heard a violent pounding. It sounded urgent and needy---an emergency even. He sprang to his feet and nearly ran to the door. He turned the doorknob and held his breath as he swung it open anxiously. Then all his hopes crashed onto the floor like a pile of useless vomit.
"Ray," said the grinning figure.
Ray couldn't speak. He wasn't even sure if he was dreaming or if it really was who he feared it was in front of him.
"Don't you remember your own best friend?" the visitor continued.
"What are you doing here?" Ray asked, the fear too evident in his voice.
"I just wanted to drop by and say hello to an old friend."
He surely didn't look the same as he had two years ago. His hair had grown; passing his shoulders in the form of a black hurricane. He was as dirty as he smelled. The odor of sweat and dirt was strongly obvious. Ray was afraid that he could even detect the faint tinge of blood on his skin.
"How did you find me?" Ray asked.
"Let's just say I was in town for business."
"Gerard, did you have anything to do with Annie's murder?" Ray questioned him, even if he was sure of the answer.
"So you greet me with accusations?" Gerard said, his grin widening.
He loved the look of fear in Ray's eyes. It was much more frightening to smile in this situation than to frown as dangerously as what's at hand.
"I think you should go, Gerard," Ray insisted. "I have nothing here for you."
"Oh I think you've got a lot for me," Gerard said, his smile in perfect place. "Besides, what are friends for?"
"Friends don't kill their friend's girlfriends," Ray muttered.
"I'm sorry, Ray. I'm afraid I missed what you just said," Gerard sighed. "Care to repeat it?"
Ray remained silent, fuming on the inside.
"Hmm I thought so," Gerard said with a laugh.
"Just leave me alone, Gerard," Ray said, trying not to sound so desperate. "Let me go about my business and I'll let you go about your's."
Gerard said nothing for awhile, but he kept his eyes on Ray. He circled around the room, pacing like he did two years ago in the hotel. He looked like a predator circling its prey. He always had been one to play with his food.
"But I'm afraid you've already meddled with my business," Gerard finally replied. "So why shouldn't I do the same with your's?"
"I haven't done anything," Ray snapped.
Gerard glared at him while keeping his grin glued to his face. He let out a laugh and shook his head as if in disappointment.
"So...," Gerard said slowly. "Who's the redhead?"
"You leave her alone," Ray warned.
Gerard erupted into more laughter. It was rare to see Ray angry and it amused him to be the one who caused it.
"Let me guess. Because I'm really good at figuring these things out," Gerard began. "She's teaming up with you to find out who's behind these mysterious murders?"
"You don't have a clue what's going on," Ray lied.
"Have I ever told you that you're such a bad liar?" Gerard sneered.
"She's not doing anything. Leave her alone," Ray repeated.
"Well, I guess I'm gonna have to ask her that myself," Gerard said, his morbid smile getting even more wider.
"No!" Ray exclaimed. "She has nothing to do with you. You stay away from her."
"Don't you want to introduce me to your new girlfriend?" Gerard teased.
"She's not-," Ray cut himself off. "Why are you doing this? Is it because it didn't work out perfectly for you? So now nobody can have it work for them?"
"Is that what you think?" Gerard mused. "I'm saving you, Ray. I'm saving them all."
"You killed Mikey," Ray said, painfully remembering his best friend.
"You have no idea what happened to Mikey," Gerard snapped, his grin turning into a deep frown. "He was my brother. I would never do anything to hurt him."
"Then why is he dead, Gerard?" Ray fought back.
"It wasn't my fault," Gerard whispered, his eyes giving away his weaknesses.
"Some brother you turned out to be," Ray scoffed.
He could tell he hit a nerve. Gerard wasn't smiling anymore and he surely didn't want to play around anymore. He sent an icy glare toward Ray before stomping out of the house and slamming the door. He left without another word. As much relief as Ray felt for having Gerard out of his sight, another fear took over him---Scarlett. He suddenly regretted saying those things to him. Gerard was always a believer of revenge. He felt incredibly stupid for letting him leave without any knowledge of his intentions. But that was when he realized that it was time. It was finally time to let his burden down and bury the past. Redemption day was coming.