Episode 2, Part 2
Icy gravel crunched beneath the tires as a car pulled up to the curb and ground to a halt. Dylan tipped the Uber driver, exited the car and retrieved his luggage from the trunk. A suitcase in each hand and a guitar slung over his shoulder, he scanned the property from the sidewalk for signs of life.
All the buildings were abandoned and the derelict vehicles that his father had always claimed he’d restore “someday” had disappeared, though their indentations were still visible in the trash-strewn mud.
He walked slowly toward the garage and let himself in through the unlocked door. He steadied himself before entering, then made a slow lap around his former home. Aside from a significant accumulation of dust, everything was just as he’d left it, right down to the rusting stop sign that rattled noisily against the door as he entered. Billy’s drum set was still assembled in the corner.
Dylan knew he had no justification for feeling abandoned, but he felt a profound lump growing in his throat just the same. He hadn’t kept his parents apprised of his whereabouts for over 20 years and apparently, they’d reciprocated.
He sat down heavily on his suitcase and dropped his head into his hands.
Matt hesitated at the door to the sun porch, watching Ashley read and trying to find his words. He swallowed hard and went oot, taking a seat at the frosted glass-topped table across from Ashley.
“Hey, Babe. Good book?”
“just a trashy romance novel.”
“Living vicariously through fiction?”
Though Matt intended this as a lighthearted quip, it prompted Ashley to close her book and heave a nervous sigh.
“matt…i’ve been wanting to talk to you aboot something.”
“when we got married, did you picture things turning oot like this?”
“’Like this?’ I don’t think I follow.”
“i guess i mean, you know, comfortable…habitual.”
“Ah. Well, yes to the former, no to the latter. I didn’t know you felt like that.”
“i don’t always…but sometimes i wonder…where we’re going.”
“You wanna know something, Ashley? I wonder aboot that a lot, too. I mean, I love you and I love the life we’ve built. We’ve put an awful lot of time and effort into this home. But since neither of us want kids and we have such different careers…oh, fuck it. I need to confess something, too, Ashley. Even though I’m surprised to hear you talk this way, I’m also a little relieved.”
“Yeah. I came oot here because I have something to tell you, but I couldn’t get up the nerve. A little while ago, a producer from W Network in Vancouver gave me a call.”
“He’d been in Toronto on business and he caught an episode of House Rescue. He wants me to come to Vancouver and host a prime-time home renovation program.”
“matt, that’s wonderful!”
“Yeah. I certainly never expected anything like this to come oot of my crappy little no-budget show.”
“are you gonna do it?”
“I don’t know. That’s what I wanted to talk aboot. Your job is here and you’ve made so many friends that—”
“matt, you have to go. maybe this is the best thing for both of us.”
Matt’s eyes began to well up with tears.
“Well…this certainly went easier than I’d expected. Is this it, Ashley? Is it over for us?”
“maybe the romance is, matt. but not the love.”
Matt placed his quivering hand on top of Ashley’s.
“I love you, too.”
Jerry exited the offices of NAI Commercial and walked up Georgia Street to where he’d parked several blocks away. He was wearing a striped dark blue Brioni two-piece suit, an ootfit befitting the new owner of The Avalon Bistro along with two other large vacant business spaces situated on the east and west sides of the city, respectively.
Yesterday, he had received a curious phone call from someone named Janice who claimed to have been a regular at The Avalon back in the nineties, but no matter how many times she described herself, he couldn’t remember her. She told him that she was the Director of Programming at BBTV and had a “business proposition” she wanted to discuss in person. Somewhat skeptical but never one to rebuff a woman expressing an interest, he agreed to meet her at The Bistro tomorrow at noon.
In the meantime, another high-end escort would help to pass the evening.
Martini Film Studios
“So what did God do to you? Should I go beat Him up?”
“Very funny. I’m so happy you called, I didn’t know if you were too busy…”
“Yeah…I’m sorry aboot that, Courtney. No excuses. I should really call you and Mom more often.”
“I’m sure Mom would appreciate it – all she ever does is gush aboot what a wonderful actor you are.”
“Then she’s obviously never seen any of my films or I’m sure she’d be singing a different tune.”
“Are you still in California?”
“No, I’m here at the new studio in Walnut Grove. We’re filming the last few scenes and doing some of the post-production for the next Kill Tank movie.”
“Sticking with the foul-mouthed superheroes, eh?”
“Foul-mouthed superheroes are my raison d’etre, Sis. So what’s going on?”
“I resigned from the convent this morning. God, trying to explain to Mother Judy that I’d lost my faith was the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever had to do.”
“I doubt that.”
“I have to move oot in less than two weeks…I hadn’t really thought aboot that part.”
“Say no more, Courtney. If you’re gonna be around in aboot two hours, I can swing by and pick you up. Maybe we can grab some dinner?”
“That sounds great, Billy. Thank you.”
“Who said I was paying?”
“How presumptuous of me. I love you, Billy.”
Chris steadied his shaking hands and deposited six bullets into the chamber of the revolver. Through the rear sliding glass door, he watched Roxane as she stood over the sink washing dishes. A curled cylinder of ash hung downward from the cigarette dangling between his lips until it reached the filter and caused a burning sensation in his mouth.
He spit the butt into the grass and slowly eased the door open with one hand while his other rested on the grip of the gun.
Three loud rapid reports sent a row of pigeons flying from the roof into the clear afternoon sky before an eerie silence fell over the complex.