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In Edenridge 26 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay

The day had all gone by in the blur.

Moments strung together my threads that didn’t seem like they belonged but that Beau had no reason to question.

He had been ushered from his home by his children, swifter than the fastest race car burning its rubber against the hottest tarmac. No one made mention of any destination, only a journey, a journey which took the literature teacher to the furthest corners of his adopted home, Edenridge and deep into its tragic heart. Ferried at different intervals by Desmond, Delphine, Genevieve, Evangeline and Zara; Antoine was taken to see faces from his past.

It began with a sit down with Big Rey Gonzales, who played with his grandchildren in a spritely manner that did not give way to his advancing age. The Serpent Patriarch was followed by a trip through the cracked streets of the Southside, beyond the train tracks where the line between the haves and have-nots was as thin as pink tie adorning his thick neck.

Soon he ended up at Faith’s Fish House for a sit down lunch with Colleen that reminded him of his childhood in the French Quarter. The spicy smell of crabs, shrimp and crawfish took him back to simpler times. Lance had really out done himself with this new venture. Plus it was always nice for Beau to brush up on his ASL when communicating with Lance’s youngest daughter Eden. You’re never too old to learn something new.

The final stop after a long day was Edenridge High, decorated in black and gold instead of its usual green, the school was to hide Beau’s retirement party. When Antoine entered the room he was taken aback by the sheer number of people there. Former students, old friends and even some family from back south. Seeing his girls on stage, beckoning him into the room with the songs of Sam Cooke, his heart filled with light and joy. Everything felt right in the world.

“Look at them all.”

A deep, resonant voice to rival his own bellowed behind Beau before he soon felt a heavy hand on his shoulder. Turning his head ever so slightly, he noticed that the large mitten belonged to one of his own, a boy in blue to the end, Windham Broadus, the Chief of Police. Antoine did not envy Windham’s position as head of a force that was more corrupt than pure. Back in his days in NOLA, Mr Beau too had to deal with an amazing level of dirty police and southern white politics. And yet there was always a clear line, a definite black and white and good versus evil. In today's world, that line was more blurred than ever. Some more even hazard to say, that the line no longer existed. “Mr Broadus, are you about to get all whimsical and nostalgic on me?”

“You bet your black ass, so sit down, shut up, grab yourself a scotch and listen.” The two men began to laugh together, hearty, strong laughs that were infectious to those around them. Immediately the room lightened even more as the old coppers took their seats at the edge of the room to survey the younger generation that mingled before them.

Windham was not known to be an emotional man; some might even hazard to say the man was cold but Antoine knew that to be a falsity. Like him, Broadus grew up on the streets, fighting tooth and nail for all he had, supporting a family and doing right by the code of the corner. He was known amongst various police forces for his skills at interrogation and getting confessions from his perps. It was awe inspiring really. He closed himself off to protect himself, to hide away from the horrors of the game so that he could not thrust those same nightmares onto his children, Alonzo, Bianca and Quinton as well as his niece Maya. Antoine knew that beneath the shield, Windham was a devoted father and uncle and a man behest to walk a path of righteousness lest God smite him with fury and anger. He was a good man, a good cop and someone that Beau had the utmost respect for.

“You know, twenty years ago, a lot of the faces in this room weren’t even born? Some were about to be, others weren’t even swimming in their daddy’s sacks yet. Me and you? We were working them corners. Banging up on hard boys, flexing on em to stop slinging their product. Shit never worked but it’s what we did. I remember, I remember that moment. When I heard the first bang and the screams.” Windham’s voice turned darker and more sombre. “I was running through an ash cloud thicker than anything I’d ever seen before. Hell I couldn’t see shit. Then I got to where the towers used to be and….”

He paused, solemnly letting his words hang in there. “I just started digging with my bare hands. People were pulling me from left to right, screaming for help whilst the smell of burnt flesh and oil just suffocated me. I thought of Lonzo and Bee, who I didn’t get to see because she was living here with her mother and I just…I knew that I had to save as many people as I could and then I had to get out. It was because of that day, then and there I decided to leave New York and come here.” Windham looked across the dance floor of the gym, his three babies were all together, talking with their respective spouses. “Memories; fade. People die. But what we do, what we leave behind, that’s what lives forever, I served these people and the streets but what I leave behind are those three.”

Beau could not agree more. He was an old man, there wasn’t long left for him on this planet but that was ok because he knew he was leaving behind something much more than himself, his kids. Not just the ones that his Colleen birthed but the ones he taught, the ones he dug from the rubble that he found in Edenridge and pulled out of the life that would’ve surely ended theirs. It was here where he understood the point that his compatriot was trying to make: Antoine was leaving behind everyone that stood before him and many more beyond, that would be his legacy. As he gazed upon those happy faces he smiled. The line was blurring over time but it was his hope that with his lessons, his children could repaint it and it could live on for the next generation.

“You’re a sentimental old bitch, ain’t ya Windham?” Beau’s soft southern drawl could make even the most insulting comment sound almost endearing. Though his fellow officers recounting his reasoning for moving to Eden also reminded Antoine of his own story. “Colleen had been desperate to move back here for years. She really missed her family, especially Cynthia; ain’t nobody closer to a girl than her sister. My parents were long gone and my brother was off doing his thing but NOLA was home you know? But then I started working this case…” Beau’s mind drifted back. “Triple. Mom, two daughters. Husband missing, presumed the murderer and no weapon. I thought it was gonna be big, you know? Constantly in the papers. Especially cos it was a white family too, you know how the media is. But then nothing; not a word. Didn’t even get a paragraph. I spent months working that thing, ran every lead. Not a word.”

Beau finally brought his glass to his lips for the first drink of the day. “Then we found the husband's body; sunken in a refrigerator in the bayou. He was a victim too.” He took a long held sip. “Then the media got interested. Didn’t matter that these baby girls were gone, nor the wife, nor the husband. No victim mattered but the mystery? Oh they loved the mystery. That’s when I realised that the line didn’t exist no more. I realised it was never gonna be like it was. I told Collie that night to start looking at houses.”

Windham shook his head at the very thought. He had heard Beau say for years “Nobody no victim that don’t matter.” And he was now beginning to see the origins of Antoine’s motto. It was something he carried with him always. They were of similar ages but just like everybody else in that room, in that town, the Chief of Police had learned a lot from Antoine Beauregard. “Did you ever solve it?”

Beau’s lips widened into his famous bright white grin. “Of course I did. It was the last case I ever worked. Turns out the husband’s business partner was in love with him but was denied affection. So he murdered the family, kidnapped the husband, then killed him, sank the body and then hid the murder weapon in the foundation of a new building. One month later, I was teaching at Edenridge High.” As the two men smiled pridefully at one another, Beau noticed Windham’s son Alzono beckoning his father over. “Looks like your attention has been requested, Win. Goddamn though, what did you feed that boy? Motherfucker is huge.”

The younger man stood up to his feet and placed his hand once again on Beau’s shoulder. “He gets it from his Momma rest her soul.” He polished off his drink and placed it onto the nearby snack table. “People like you and me, we gonna go to our graves, forever knowing what corner Soulman got shot on or where the fastest routes around town are. We gonna know forever, where that line is and how to keep people on their sides of it. That’s the curse we bare, the burden we have undertaken. Ain’t nobody though, can do it better than you Antoine. Bet that. Enjoy your evening, you deserve it.”

As Windham departed to allow Beau time with his thoughts, the old man once again gazed out across the party and the faces amongst the number. In each, he could see a lesson learned and a lesson taught, a heart beating with purpose beyond living.

This was what he was leaving behind.

The gift of memory.

Some might call it a curse.

Antoine remembered most every little thing about his sixty years on this planet. Some memories were stronger than others, clearer, like the crystal clear reflections of Eden lake. Others, not so much, dredged and submerged in the bayou bog water of his Louisiana Creole kin. Yet all were still there, all came back to him in waves of nostalgia, tinged with pride or penance. As his days in retirement rolled onwards like a young soldier, Beau found himself deeply lost in the waters of his mind, wading through the good and the bad as he wistfully looked beyond the horizon to truly find what made him the man he was and to search for the exact lessons he learned so that he could pass that knowledge on to those that he would eventually leave behind. It would always be Antoine’s mission to leave the world a better place than when he first entered it.

The French Quarter. 1st October 1961

Marcellus Beauregard had broken his back trying to do what a man must, provide.

In no uncertain terms, he had been slaving away, building homes and hearths for the white man that spat on him every time he walked by the very walls he had crafted skillfully with his bare hands. Their words, whilst guided like poison tipped arrows aimed directly at his heart, could not stop him from his path. Held together with honey and duct tape, Marcellus was on a mission through the crowded streets of the Quarter. Despite the jagged feeling of pain he was enduring, he would not slow down his march as he made his way to his wife, his beloved, Monique, as she was about to give birth to their first child. No amount of pain in his body or thinly veiled racism in the midst of what would soon be a full scale riot would stop him from being there to bear witness to that miracle.

It all began the week before; Jacob Ellis was thirteen years old and was walking home from school. As with most boys of colour, his walk home was one always littered with words of hate, the bile of his contemporaries but Jacob ignored them. He had learned to wrap himself in a cloak of toughness, like the wizards and warlocks in the fantasy books he loved so much. No cloak or shield would be enough to starve off what happened next. In absent-mindedness, his head buried in JRR Tolkien's magnum opus, the young boy didn’t pay any attention to his surroundings and accidentally knocked over ten year old Alice Menard. Alice, a small girl even for her age, cracked her head on the pavement. Although she stood up and proclaimed her health, the onlookers immediately accused Jacob of assault.

When he never returned home from school that night, Jacobs' parents went out looking for him. After an exhaustive search, he was soon found strung between two low hanging trees, hands and feet bound together and his head fully submerged in the dirty swamp water of the bayou. Nobody would ever be charged for the crime but for the ensuing riots, a small army of black and non whites would be charged for their protesting. Violence would soon erupt amongst the residents and police if the Quarter which would only end upon the further seven deaths of four rioters and three servicemen. The event would be lost to time for all but those that were there.

Attempting to navigate the sea of bodies with a shattered vertebrae was by no means an easy feat but Marcellus could not allow himself to feel the fragmented bones that were piercing his muscles further with every laboured step. He had worked too long and too hard to miss the best day of his life despite being surrounded by those experiencing the worst of theirs. His entire family, from himself and his twelve siblings, fighting to survive on the streets with nothing but each other to rely on. He thought of his father, hacking rocks on the chain gang, locked away for the colour of his skin. Marcellus remembered the stories of his grandmother, who toiled away on the tobacco fields of Monticello, unable to speak any language beyond her native Haitian tongue.

A Beauregard fought through pain. Giving up wasn’t a thing.

As the uprising around him swelled to a crescendo, Marcellus could feel the claustrophobia closing in. The crowd was getting denser, the combative words between his brothers and the white man that stood on their balconies worsened only to be followed by tossed homemade bombs of cleaning fluid and a lit cloth. Amongst all this, their arms linked together in unbreakable links, silently bowing to not disperse and never let go, to never give up. Beauregard’s one and all. Marcellus dove away from the flaming automobiles and the shattered glass of broken shop windows and into a side street. On any other given day, he would stand with his brothers in solidarity for a boy who did not deserve that which the fates bestowed on him but on this day, they would understand that he had to unshackle his chain to get where he needed to be.

The stairs up to the apartment he and his wife shared with three other families might as well have been Everest and he might as well have been Edmund Hillary, without Tenzing to guide him to the summit. Clutching the railing with a trembling grip, whether from nerves or deteriorating energy, Marcellus began his perilous ascent. With every new step, the man made of oak pushed through what felt like a wall of sand. As he climbed further away from the raucous noise from the riot, another sound began to whisper into Marcel’s ear. A melodic tease of something more, something new. Then there was something else, a cry, a shrill shriek from unfinished lungs. It was enough to strengthen his resolve, to feel the hands of those that came before him push Marcellus to the top of the stairs and through the front door.

With the dulcet sounds of Sam Cooke singing his latest track Chain Gang as a backing track, Marcellus, drenched in the sweat of his ancestors, dragged his almost lifeless body to the bed where his wife lay, in her arms a bundle wrapped in a blue blanket. Pulling his huge frame onto the bed, he all but collapsed next to Monique with a hefty sigh. With roasted coffee colored eyes he gazed upon the baby boy that matched his stare intently.

“Hey hey, no tears for me”

The gathered neighbours cooed and cried at the sight of the newborn, Marcellus reached out with a calloused finger tip and the child reached back, wrapping his tiny hands around his fathers digit.

“Antoine. I think we should call him Antoine.”

For the recently anointed Dr Trevor Moreau, throwing himself into danger was part of his job description. Yet he had never felt fear in the same way he did in that moment as his bike approached the marina.

Trevor had done much to forget his time at the elite Kings Academy. In his mind, the sad memories far outweighed the positive ones. From day one, things proved difficult. Trev arrived in Florida with his writer mother when he was fifteen and took up residence in a small, quaint house overlooking the beach. They had left his father behind in New York so that his mother Martina could consult on a new TV show that would be based around one of her best selling novels, Death Rider. To begin with, Trevor believed that going to school with the world's elite, in a new city, a new state would be an awfully big adventure. Swiftly, the would-be explorer realised that it was an undertaking that he had not prepared for and was definitely not ready for.

Foremostly, he missed his father. Trevor loved his Dad, they shared everything from an interest in history and hiking to fierce eyebrows and a tall frame that towered over most of their compatriots. When Simon Moreau decided to stay in New York to continue to teach at Columbia, it broke his son's heart. The only blessing was that his parents did not separate and still deeply loved each other, they just did it from afar. The trips back to the big apple to spend time with his father and following him on archeological digs were the highlight of Trevor’s summers.

He didn’t really much care for Florida or the people in it. Most did not treat him well for various reasons that only they could really justify or begin to explain because Trev never really understood it. If he wasn’t being picked on for his interests and academic mind, it would be for his height or his looks or a perceived lack of God knows what. It also didn’t help that he arrived into Kings later than most. Friendships and relationships had already been formed and he was the latecomer encroaching.

Kids could be so horrible.

When graduation came around, Trevor ran out of those big doors and never looked back. He was on the first plane to New York, left his cell phone in the house and then immediately he and his father were off on an expedition to Africa. The Moreau men spent months out there before the younger man then began his education at the illustrious Eton. England treated Trev much better than Florida ever did. These higher education types were much more his kind of people. Though strangely, the future archaeologist did long for some of the sun-kissed days at the Academy, it wasn’t all bad, after all. He found friends in the likes of Matty, Ziggy, the Swimmer twins and Kai. Although in the intervening years he tried to keep up with them as much as he could, Trevor also developed a tendency to fall off the edge of the map, a trait that only got worse as he progressed deeper into his dream career. It soon became commonplace for him to spend less than two months out of a year actually in the US.

Pulling his bike off to the side of the road, Trevor parked up for a respite and to manage the pounding in his chest. He has climbed mountains, dived into crushing, unfathomable depths, he has traversed deserts and faced death herself on too many occasions to count. Yet what sat moored around the next bend of the road, a yacht brimming with ghosts of his own buried past, was the greatest challenge he had ever undertaken. He began to use the breathing techniques his mother had taught him, tightening his grip on the straps of the lone rucksack he brought with him.

“It is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown. The only true failure would be not to explore at all.”

Ernest Shackleton was one of Britain’s greatest explorers and he held a place on the Trevor’s Mount Rushmore of adventurers. In times of desired guidance, he would turn to the words of those that paved the way for him to continue to fill the uncharted waters of the never ending map. In this instance, Shackelton’s words would push Trevor onwards. He didn’t want to really go forward to this reunion at the gates of Atlantis but he knew that if he didn’t, he might regret it. And by the grace of God he did not want to live with any regrets. With a final sigh, Trev started the engine again and made the final push towards the port and to the Thousand Sunny.

After a few more minutes of riding, the archeologist and his bike arrived in time to see that a group had already begun to form at the boat. Some faces he knew instantly, like Ziggy and Kai. Others he had to do a double take and search through the history books of his brain to match a name. Luckily he was good at that. Trevor handed his keys to a valet and had a stranglehold on his bag straps once again as he began to step closer towards the crowd. Would they even recognise him now? He had changed so much. He had gotten in good shape, his hair had lightened due to time spent in the scorching sun and his clothes were much more rugged than that which he wore in high school. Did he even leave a legacy in their minds? Or was he a footnote in all of their far more interesting stories? Time would tell.

“Hey everyone.”
Early Morning - What If
FT. The Milligan-Hyde Family (Cameron Hyde, Jessica James Hyde,and Jasmine April Hyde)



Early morning rising was never something Jessica Hyde was ever a fan of. For years before becoming the wife of her longtime boyfriend and giving them everything they’ve ever talked about, she wasn’t known for waking up with the sun. She hated when she had to wake up that early for school. She hated leaving her bed. In college, she hated it even more but she had so much to look to during those years. Even while going to college full-time and getting her leg in the Milligan family business of managing the Milligan Apartments, Jessie was also there for Cameron.

She loved her Cameron. She loved him with all her heart. He had problems and early into their relationship, she came to see some of it. His mind was almost as beautiful as the sapphire gemstones she could get lost in forever, but in those very eyes, she saw a darkness but there was light at the end of the tunnel. She helped him in every way that she could. Jessie was a force. The Milligan girls all were forces, but JJ had this special power of seeing the light before anyone else could. She was by Cameron’s side when he started therapy and through all the ups and downs on the roller coaster that has been their entire relationship, they were so happy together. They were married and had a beautiful 5-year-old gingersnap for a daughter. Jasmine April Hyde was the apple of their eyes. She had her father’s eyes and JJ’s grandmother’s hair.

And every day was a blessing with the only two people in this world who could make these early mornings where even before the sun officially rose bearable. Cameron was always up before JJ did and it took a while before she trained her body to wake up with him because between attending to the Milligan apartments as the part-time super and dropping Jas off at daycare or with Papa Charlie (whenever he could take her, otherwise it was with her parents), they only had the hour or so in the morning to spend as much time as they could with each other. Some days it was longer and some days it wasn’t even that, depending on how soon Cameron needed to be at the workshop.

Unfortunately, on this particular day, Cameron was rushing. Jessie hadn’t gotten their daughter up before he was out the door. When Jas was up and was eating breakfast - eggs, toast, and bacon - Jessie was having her coffee and saw that on the countertop, still hot to the touch, was the coffee thermos that Cameron used all the time to keep his coffee in.

A black coffee with a dash of cinnamon. No cream. She always thought her husband was a menace for that, but he was not like most in so many ways.

“Looks like daddy forgot his energy juice, Jasmine.” Jessie giggled as she watched her daughter laugh too.

“Uh oh! Dada needs energy!” The little Milligan-Hyde girl chipperly said, arms raised up in the shear excitement she was feeling.

“I couldn’t agree more, sweetie. Finish up your breakfast and we’ll get you dressed. We’re going on a road trip!”


Jasmine was a force just like her parents were. In what seemed like blindling speeds for the 5-year-old, she scarfed down what remained of her breakfast, drank her passion fruit juice (she was obsessed), and in twenty minutes, both mother and daughter Milligan-Hyde were out the door. JJ got Jasmine in the family’s 2017 blue Mazda Sedan and situated in her booster seat in the back seat behind the passenger’s side (she always wanted to be where her father would typically ride as she was a massive daddy’s girl).

Cameron had already had a day. He had woken up late after his usual two hour power sleep and rushed out the house without following any of his usual routines. To any normal person that would’ve been fine but for him, well Cameron needed his routines. Structure and balance helped anchor him in the wild sea of chaos that was his mind. They protected him and everyone around him from the rage that bubbled constantly beneath his surface, the rage that he promised Jessica and his baby girl Jasmine that he would keep in check.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder they called it, IED. According to the doctors and therapists it was a behavioral disorder that causes disproportionate reactions to situations in the form of anger and violence. There was little in the way of treatment for it, there was only managing it. Which was why the routines were so important, following a path allowed for Cameron to focus on his steps rather than the steps made against him. There were a handful of medications he took but he believed they were more for show than anything else, they didn’t make him feel any better but for his wife and daughters sake, he would keep pretending.

Today was an important day; Beau’s retirement party. Cam had been tasked with carving an effigy for the old man; others would call it an obituary. He had yet to start it before that day as the shop had been very busy and his workload was hefty, hence why rushing out to get an early start on something due that weekend was extremely frustrating. It didn’t help that he was nearly run over by his sister Jane’s boyfriend Spencer that morning. He didn’t like that guy all that much but he made his twin happy and that’s all he cared about. Cameron would protect his siblings and his family with his life and he had no qualms sacrificing the lives of others for them.

Sitting at his desk, carving into the wood, the carpenter did not raise his head when he heard the bell above the shop door jingle. “Hey, sorry we’re not open yet.” He spoke rather bluntly as his blue eyes fixated on his knife work. It wasn’t until he heard the pitter patter of tiny feet that he raised his head from his job and saw the beaming face and flaming red hair of his daughter with arms outstretched.

“Daddy!” She excitedly called out.

Cameron had just enough time to put his knife down and push it to the other side of the table before Jasmine leapt into his lap and wrapped her little arms around his neck. There was one other thing on the planet that could calm Hyde’s inner turmoil and that was the love of his little girl. Whenever Jasmine was around, she helped to soothe the devil within, her words and spirit washing over the flames like a cool breeze and light rainfall. She kept him sane. “Jasmine April Hyde why are you not at home young lady?”

“Because someone was in such a hurry this morning, they forgot their coffee,” JJ laughed as she walked closer to where her family was, holding the still very warm thermos in her hand. “So we just had to make a trip out of it.”

The little redhead stared fondly at her papa, though was immediately lured in by the shiny metal objects in front of her. “Ooh shiny!” She had reached out to touch them.

Jessie was trying to maintain a straight face for the sake of not encouraging Jasmine to touch the tools and whatever had her attention. It amazed her how much of both Cameron and herself that their daughter inherited. The natural attraction to her husband’s workspace mixed with the recklessness that JJ had all her life was a dangerous combo. But if there was one thing that always filled her heart it was seeing Cameron be at peace whenever Jasmine was in his lap. A true peace that just made everything make sense.

“She’s truly your daughter, Cam,” JJ snickered, setting the thermos on the table and giving her husband a kiss.

“Thank you.” Cameron held his wife’s face close with the free hand that wasn’t preventing his five year old from picking up a jagged work blade. He really could kiss Jessie forever. He hadn’t really acknowledged her in high school as he should’ve, at least not until he started the therapy. He had always known of JJ’s feelings for him and for a time he had used them to his advantage. She had social standing after all, power and privilege that Cameron, as a Southsider never could have. Even his younger brother Mika held that power in his hand with his connection to the O’Hara foundling line. Cameron did his best to exploit both of them for his own gains.

Many believed that he was a wild animal, a being of pure instinct. The reality was that Cameron Hyde possessed an indelible IQ that many could only dream of. He just had a habit of letting his emotions govern his actions. It wasn’t until he finally had what he felt was a grasp on reality that he realized that Jessica James was the love of his life and that he would marry and start a family with her. It’s what he wanted and Cameron always got what he wanted.

He kissed JJ again before freeing her so that he could focus on his baby girl. “So what are you two’s plan for the day? Are you helping prep for the party? Also whose taking Jasmine tonight, I forgot?”

She nodded, smiling at how adventurous their daughter was. She really did inherit both of their unique sense of fearlessness with Cameron’s attraction to shiny objects. They were both builders in a sense. The Milligans were the ones who built Edenridge’s infrastructure and Cameron had his woodworking. Both built things and set out foundations where anything added just increases the value and meaning of it. “I’m going to be heading over soon. Charlie agreed to watch her for the afternoon. I know she loves spending time with him and Sam.”

Her relationship with her biological father was, for the most part, still fresh. It’s been close to half of a decade. Understanding her entire background was important for her and now her family was even bigger. Jessie was still coming to terms that she was tied to the Angels, but that was something for another time to think about. “I might be able to arrange for Lamb to take her tonight, if I can sweet-talk her enough. She’s always had a weakness for my puppydog eyes and..” She glanced towards Jasmine, smiling at how utterly content her daughter was in Cameron’s lap, “she could never resist spending time with Jasmine.”

It was a strange thing, the difference that time can make. As a teenager, Cameron had constantly feuded with Clay Costigan. Whenever he saw that foppy haired rich boy it would make his blood boil. Clay had it all. He had good looks, social status, somehow he passed school with flying colors despite being an idiot and he had a station within society. Cam hated him for it, despised him for it. Yet here they were, ten years on from high school and the two men were now related through Cameron’s wife and Clay was considered an Uncle to Jasmine and the idiot's twin Laura was an aunt, who so fondly looked towards her time with the child. Time really was a strange thing.

“I mean, who could?” Looking down at his daughter, her big blue eyes twinkling as she gazed upon Cameron’s work tools, he smiled and kissed the top of her tiny ginger head. “Worst case scenario, I’ll just give my mother a call. No doubt she’d love to spend time with Jas, though I’d rather Laura take her.” Even after all the years that had passed and all the therapy sessions, there was still a huge part of Cam that couldn’t forgive his mother April for the life that he had led, the life that, in his opinion, she had forced upon him because she couldn’t control herself. Cameron had learned to be cordial with his mother, he had learned to tolerate her presence and allow her a relationship with grandaughter, that didn’t change the fact that he didn’t believe she deserved any of it, Jasmine was a treasure, a reward, April McMahon didn’t deserve to find that treasure, she deserved to drown in the search.

Cameron brushed the back of his daughter's hair as he looked towards his wife. “Thank you for this, Jess. I needed this today.”

Jessie looked at her husband. Today must have been a bad day. She didn’t know if it was just work or if it was something else. Sometimes she struggled to truly comprehend Cameron because he was such a complex person, but she knew enough to know what he needed. Being with him for as long as she has been, she’s come to slowly remove the layers of the man that remained closed off from her for so long. Jasmine was the blessing they both needed because all what seemed to not make sense to her did when she saw him hold their daughter for the first time. Similarly to how he was holding her right now. She was his center. Hell, Jasmine often reminded Jessie that no stress was too much if she could do right by her and Cameron.

It didn’t matter the reason that brought her and Jasmine to Cameron’s workshop, she was grateful that the greater powers aligned for this moment to happen at just the right time. “Did something happen today?”

“No. No.” Nothing did happen but Cameron couldn’t shake the feeling that something either did, would or was happening. Like a sixth sense or a character breaking the fourth wall, the carpenter could just sense that something was off with the world and it was forcing his hairs to stand on edge and sharpen like a thousand tiny daggers on his skin. “Just feels harder to put out the fire today, you know?” He tapped the side of his head with his index finger, signifying where the issue truly was. Cameron began to gently run his hands through his daughter's growing red mane with a smile on his face. She helped to put out the fire and he hoped to whatever celestial entity that was the puppet master begins his life that she would never see the inferno inside. “I didn’t really sleep last night. That’s probably why.”

She nodded, understanding at least a main part of what he meant. She couldn’t truly understand because she didn’t live with that fire that consumed Cameron on some days. Everyone had their off days, but for Cameron, it always seemed different. “It almost makes me think that there really is some higher power or spirit or guardian angel that arranged…this to happen at just the right moment.” She glanced down at their obviously content daughter who was just as happy and at peace in her father’s lap as Cameron was having her there. “Charlie T loves to quote the FAMC’s mantra of ‘from darkness we rise’, and I never really gave it much thought, but maybe that’s who we are. We can come from darkness and rise into light. Our Jasmine is our light. No amount of chaos is any match for the superpower she possesses. That much I’m certain of. Our blooming flower has this ability to make any soil rich with life just by merely existing and shining her light on it.”

“You’ve been spending too much time with my mom.” Cameron had done what he could to mend fences with his sole surviving parent, April. He didn’t approve of her lifestyle as a bible thumper but she had found whatever purpose in a fake God that she lacked as a mother to Cam when he was a boy. They had nothing, he grew up with nothing except the festering vile and venom that ran through his veins and it was all her fault. April had money, or at least her family did. She had a sister who was doing well for herself in Pinehurst and she chose not to ask for help, she chose not to provide for her only child. It took a long time for Cameron to forgive her for that.

However seven rehab stints and a granddaughter later, April seemed to be making strides. Cam allowed her to be in Jasmine's life which would help to provide a safe family structure, something that he himself never had. And it was a conversation JJ, where his wife said to him: ‘Maybe your Mom finally learned to be a Mom when she became a grandmother.’ It did seem like that was the case. All that Cameron knew was that he would never, ever let Jasmine feel the same way he did. He would give her every right that she could ever want and everything she would ever deserve. Nothing was going to stop him and nothing and no one would ever stand in his way lest they be buried six feet in the ground.

“Alright baby girl” Cameron bounced Jasmine on his lap slightly before kissing the back of her head and lifting off him and onto the ground. “Daddy has got to get this done before tonight, so I think it’s time for you and mommy to go on your daily adventure.”

Jasmine pouted when she was lifted off of her father’s lap. To her, even though the time spent with her daddy seemed like a lifetime to her, the worst thing was when that time was cut short. “But daddy…!” She whined, a sad expression on her face.

It broke her heart to see, even for a moment, her daughter become sad. She knew their daughter cherished her time with Cameron because it was just as much her happy place as it was Cameron’s. She knelt down to Jasmine’s level, running her hand along her daughter’s ginger locks. “Your father is right, Jasmine. He has a lot to do. Besides!” She literally lifted her daughter’s spirits up as she repeatedly raised her up to the sky, securing her daughter in her arms until Jasmine’s contagious laughter and radiant smile filled the workshop. “If you stay, you won’t get to see your Auntie Lamby, who I just know is dying to spend time with you!”

As the girl laughed, she excitedly squealed, “Auntie Lamby! Auntie Lamby!”

Like the flip of a switch, the glooming cloud that poured over Jasmine’s mood had been cleared and she was re-energized. Jessie knew it was because of the support system they had, between her girls and her family, that Jasmine could live the life she deserved. Seeing her smile was the one thing that made the tough times worth it. Seeing her with Cameron and how at peace both of them were made every bit of stress that her life came with worth it.

“That girl, I swear, she never fails to surprise me,” she mused, almost giggling, watching Jasmine do a little in-space dance, which allowed JJ enough time to give Cameron a tight hug and a series of kisses. “I’ll see you later tonight. Love you.”

“I know.” Cameron nodded as his steely gaze drifted across the visions of love that were his wife and daughter. They were so alike, even down to a light freckling that existed in the base of their necks, the curse of the ginger. “If I make some decent progress maybe we can meet for lunch. See who's about town. There’s gonna be a lot of old faces just dying to catch up.” Cam knew that one face that would definitely not turn up was that of the father he shared with Jane and Mika. He had made sure of that with the use of a rope and with the help of his long suffering wife. That monster was long buried in the dirt where he belonged and Jasmine would never know that running through her veins was the same dirty blood, the same devil’s vile and venom that cursed Cameron and his siblings with demonic thoughts and the capability to awash the world in violence and hurt.

She would never know.

“Give my best to Laura.” He refused to use that silly moniker she chose to go by; Lamb. What self respecting person would allow themselves to be named after something raised for slaughter? She was as bad as her idiot brother. The sad part was, the doofus’s daughter also happened to have become best friends with Jasmine. “Don’t get into any trouble.”

“Who us? Never. We’re complete angels!” Jessie said, just briefly before she and Jasmine left the workshop and she secured that daughter of hers, whose energy was newly rejuvenated after the prospect of getting to see her auntie Lamb was mentioned. It warmed her heart that her baby girl was able to be surrounded by so much love and not have to know what it was like to feel pain. To know what it felt like to have to suffer. To be around with so much love. Even April, her second namesake and sometimes the bane of her Cameron’s existence, has proven to be essential in being that safety blanket for her rebel of a daughter.

Not all too different than she was at one point.

She smiled and got into the driver’s seat and drove away from the southside, playing the classic bops of her childhood that Jasmine was taking a liking to.

Life didn’t get any better than this.
FT: Spencer Kesar & Anya Kamensky Jane Taylor
Midday - What If



Spencer had loved flying all his life.

He was born for the sky; the one thing he had left from his birth parents was a soft toy plane so being a pilot felt like it was fated. On those long, lonely nights before the Kesars brought him into their world, Spence would imagine himself piloting one of the planes he could see soaring through the sky, unknowingly shepherding the parents that left him behind to a new destination. The sky, the infinite journey across the planet, that was meant to be an escape and it was but now he had something to come home to, someone to come home to.


It wasn’t difficult to visually fall in love with Jane Taylor. With her gorgeous green eyes, silky blonde hair and incredible body, any man or woman would literally kill to be seen standing next to her and Spencer to this day had no idea what she saw in him. However it wasn’t just her breathtaking looks that allowed his heart to soar. What really captured his soul was her wonder at the world. There were moments, which he froze in time in his head, where he would look at Jane and she would just be stood silent, staring at something as innocent as a game console with an ethereal amazement that such a thing even exists on this Earth.

He first knew her once upon a time in the orphanage, back then she was called Anya and did not speak English. She was one of the girls that left in the middle of the night and never came back. It happened more often than people liked to admit and it was a main reason as to when Spencer himself was adopted, he wanted to take a young girl called Flora with him. Thankfully, the Kesars allowed this and Spencer gained a sister. It wasn’t until his Senior year of high school that the girl with the big green eyes resurfaced in his life as Jane Taylor, transferring in after being homeschooled. Spence was assigned as her buddy to help her get acclimated with Edenridge life. Their love didn’t blossom right away but once it did it was stronger than anything and flew higher than the stars. When he was a boy, Spencer would look to the heavens above and wonder if his parents were space people who had left him there to live amongst the humans. Sometimes he looked at Jane and he wondered if she was the real visitor from the sky.

He couldn’t wait to see her, to be with her. All through the long haul flight from Perth back to Boston, all that was on Spencer’s mind was Jane and the next week of their lives. He had plans; big plans for the coming days. After Beau’s retirement celebrations were through, Spencer would be taking Jane and her parents, Charlie and Samantha to Russia. The reason? They were going to look into Jane’s family and try to find the past that someone had locked away from her. For a while she had been yearning for answers about where she came from, another thing that bonded her with Spencer; orphans in search of family. He too was going on that quest but not in the same way. Whilst he was in Australia, the young pilot had picked up a ring which now sat roomed away in his travel bag; a ring he hoped Jane would take, a ring which would tie them together forever as family.

Having just asked Sam and CT for their blessing, Spencer now stood outside of his home, his tie loose and his body aching to get out of his officer uniform and crash for a few hours before going to see Jane. It was early day time and most of Edenridge was starting their morning with aplomb, his was just ending. Spencer pressed the key into the lock of his front door and entered the house to a sweet smell…pastry? He dropped his bag by the entrance and poked his head around the corner, his kitchen light was on. He definitely didn’t leave it on. Spencer had gotten into a perfect routine before his flights and he knew that there was no reason for that light to be on. He took a few steps forward, reaching for a baseball bat before freezing. Now with a full view of the room, a smile crossed his face as he gazed upon that which made his heart skip a beat.

“Hey beautiful.”

With one airpod in her ear, so she could hear her surroundings, Jane Taylor, once upon a time Anya Kamensky, was swaying her scantily clad body to the newest playlist her cousin Jade linked her to on Spotify. Currently what was playing: Just Like Heaven by the Cure. She had set her mind on making waffles and to her misfortune, she could not find the waffle maker. That was only a minor obstacle for Jane since she learned how to cook at Dolly’s from Brandon Lyon. Using Spencer’s grill-pan, she let the waffle simmer and form ridges. While the taste and texture would be 100 percent waffle, the telltale ridges would lean more toward pancakes. No matter! Jane was improvising and making food for her man. Plus! Grill-pan waffles held syrup and butter differently than traditional waffles. Toppings pool into a luscious stream along the ridges and in all honesty, it gave each bite so much flavour. One could easily say that breakfast was Jane’s favourite meal of the day.

Her parents had given her a heads up of when Spencer was heading back to his place. They said he stopped by to see them first and she was quick to make her moves. For the past week she had worked with her best friend, Faye, to surprise her boyfriend in a way she hadn’t done before. Sexily. She had already decorated their bedroom in every way that her more experienced friend said would make him lose his mind. They also visited the ‘Panty Lady’ to get Jane lingerie in her favourite color, blue. The moment he texted her he landed, she made sure to break into his apartment and execute her plan of attack. She was hoping breakfast would be done before he arrived but it made sense he was eager to go home and go to sleep. He was up all night.

“VAL: Stop music,” Jane gently commanded her smart device, her earpiece immediately pausing her spotify. With spatula in hand, she quickly flipped the waffle before twirling herself to face her lover. “Hi, Pooh Bear! Welcome home!” She enthusiastically greeted with an innocent glint in her green eyes and a wide, child-like smile. How she was behaving contrasted how revealing her body was but teaching Jane how to be sexy would take more than just a week with her best friend. Around her neck, she wore one of the necklaces left by her birth mother and pearl stud earrings to match. While some people wouldn’t say visiting their boyfriend was a special thing, and Jane was practically wearing nothing, she wasn’t held down by social constructs and if she wanted to wear her family heirlooms, well, Jane Taylor would wear her family heirlooms.

Although it took a few years to teach her how to live a normal life, all the people she loved working in tandem to help her embrace the childhood she lost, Jane was now confident in herself, could speak fluent English and had more in life than she could ever dream of. She had a mother who would die for her and her sisters, quite literally. To this day, Samantha would stop everything if Jane cried ‘I need you’. She had a father who made a promise with her birth mother and kept to it, being the best man Jane could ever ask for and giving her an even larger family in the form of the Fallen Angels. Charlie Taylor meant so much and more to her. She still had all her sisters from the time no one really talks about anymore, seeing how the last time she saw one was yesterday. She had new family, who always kept her in her best interest, like the Taylors, the Dawsons and the Callahans. She had friends she found on her own, like those that worked at Dolly’s and loved seeing her smiling face. But more importantly? She had love. Jane had someone who was her whole world and her other half. Jane gave someone purpose and in return he loved her unconditionally, all the trauma, all the sadness and all the side effects from her past, he loved. He loved her and that really was what life was about. To love and be loved in return. She loved him too.

“I’m making waffles!” She beamed, stating the obvious which is something Jane did more often than not. She didn’t know any better and it was her cute way of showing she cared.

“I can tell!” Spencer’s face was plastered with a grin that covered ear to ear as he wrapped his future fiancée up in his arms. “Smells great!” Jane looked absolutely ravishing and as his steely eyes drank in her perfect body bathed in royal blue, he could feel the warmth of her skin on his. He could tell this was Jane’s sister Faye having some form of influence on her. Over their years together, his lover had shared parts of her past that were unthinkable to a normal person but one of the few bright spots of her stories were her sisters as she called them, Faye being the brightest. When he had met her, Spence found the Asian woman excitable, playful and a tad irritating. She was flirty and revelled in her sexuality. Faye was the complete opposite of his Jane.

As time has passed and more and more of Jane’s previous life was unveiled, Spencer found himself crossing paths with more and more people she considered siblings. Imogen. Mika and then there was Cameron. “I bumped into your brother this morning. And by that I mean I nearly ran him over with my car.” Cameron was the closest thing to what Jane could consider a twin as possible. He was a touch older than her and they shared a father and a birthday but had different mothers. In his youth, Cam was a scary guy and a bad dude but now he was a husband and a father and ran his own little carpentry business in the Southside. He was still absolutely terrifying though. “He was going to work and sent his love. Says Jasmine misses her auntie.”

Family was a common theme for Spencer and Jane. Having both been orphans and having family thrust upon them in their lives and probably was part of the reason they gravitated towards one another. The young pilot had spent many years proving himself to Jane’s chosen family whilst she immediately ingrained herself in his. Flora absolutely worshipped the ground she walked on and in turn Jane would tell Floss she reminded her of the most beautiful girl in the orphanage, Kelsey. Spencer remembered Kelsey somewhat and his lover was right, she was stunning yet from what he could recall in his nightmares, Kelsey was not a good person.

About now, Spencer would be questioning how Jane got into his house but he knew better than to ask. She had more skills in her pinky finger then he had in his entire body. Besides, how could he focus when she looked like that? “Now that the pleasantries are out of the way..” He felt her fingers tighten around his handsome pilot's uniform as their eyes locked in a deep loving gaze. “Would it be ok for me to kiss the love of my life?”

“You may,” Jane granted, putting the spatula down on the counter behind her, while keeping her attention on her boyfriend. With her chest pressed against his uniform and her hands resting on his shoulders, she was quick to take the initiative and kiss him first, having eagerly waited for his arrival for what felt like hours. The alluring blonde wanted to do that since the last time she saw him. She always wanted to be in his arms and be given all the kisses in the world that he had to offer. She wanted to give him all the kisses in the world too. She wanted him. Each and every day she wanted him.

Jane knew it was greedy of her to want so much from one person but Spencer didn’t mind. He understood the value of her need and how he, to her, was a constant which wasn’t something she had during the many years she lived in the dark. He was her first friend out of the Garden and he was the first and last person she heard from each and every day. They built a dynamic where neither could go a second without thinking about the other. It might’ve been a bit obsessive of them but at least they could say they loved and were loved. With all their heart, with all their soul, they found their other half. She giggled into their kiss, completely elated that he was home. Her hands shifted to his face, tenderly cupping him. She closed her eyes and surrendered, falling even more in love with him by the second. Jane was a being with so much love inside of her and that love all belonged to him. She belonged to him.

Spencer scooped Jane up into his arms and stepped forward a few feet, carrying the smaller woman to the nearby table and placing her down on top of it. As his hands caressed her strong thighs, the pilot took a moment away from their kiss to really think of how lucky he truly was. When Jane re-entered his life he was pining for another girl, a neighbour girl who had no interest in him whatsoever. Spence wouldn’t want to admit it but during that time; there was a darkness encroaching his thoughts, an inner monster that was scratching at the cellar door waiting to be unleashed. He had felt it all of his life and he wondered if perhaps it was his true self. Then Jane Taylor entered his history class and the trap door stopped rattling, the beast fell silent and the birds outside began to sing.

Gently, his fingers traversed the wonder that was her body, moving from her thighs and skimming her firm backside, up her back and arms until they reached the straps of her blue lingerie. Spencer smiled as he planted another soft kiss on her pouty lips with a short laugh. “You’ve been spending time with your sister while I’ve been away haven’t you?” As he felt her legs tightened around his waist, his eyes fell upon the classic jewel situated around her neck. Jane had such love for pretty trinkets such as the one she presently wore. In her mind, they were a portal to a life that she never knew but so desperately wanted to grasp between her finger tips. It was Spencer’s hope that the ring in his bag would be a perfect addition to his lover's collection. “If this is the welcome I get, I’m going to have to start doing more long haul flights.”

“Noooooooooo,” Jane protested, frowning at the idea of Spencer being gone for longer periods of time. “Video chat isn’t the real you,” she complained, her arms wrapped around him. Before he could respond, she could smell the burning of the sweet delectable treat. “Oh shoot,” she gently slid off the table, pushing him back so she could turn off the grill pan and salvage the last waffle. “Well, at least I made a bunch before this one.” She knew she ruined their moment but she couldn’t burn his apartment down. That would be the worst girlfriend move ever. “I’m sorry, my Other Half.” While sad she wasn’t kissing him still, Jane didn’t sit on her sadness for too long. Instead she grabbed the stack of waffles, holding it up to him like an offering, “We should eat and you should tell me all about your flight!”

Spencer chuckled as he took the plate of sugary goodness from his beloved and placed it down on the table where she once sat. He took off his flight jacket and hung it off the back of a chair before taking his seat at the dining table. “It was a fairly uneventful flight.” Reaching for a fork, Spence sliced a corner off of the waffle and took it into his mouth. The moan that soon escaped from between his lips was a perfect summary for how well Jane had cooked his breakfast…or technically was it his lunch? “Hey, come here.” Placing his fork down, Spencer wrapped his fingers around his girlfriend's hand and pulled her into his lap. With Jane now situated atop him, he continued to eat his breakfast, his free hands fingertips tracing circles around her back. “Some minor turbulence and I’m pretty sure Samara tried to curse a passenger but beyond that, the usual. Australia was very pretty but there’s no sight I’d rather see than you.” Cutting off another chunk from the waffle, Spence placed it into his mouth. “You should try some.” He mumbled. “Come here and give me some sugar for my waffle.”

“But you’re sticky,” Jane playfully teased, only jesting. Leaning herself to one side, she turned her head to look over her shoulder toward him. As he requested, she went in for some sugar but instead of kissing him, she licked his lips to taste the syrup and simpered, “Yes, definitely sticky.” Over the course of years, there was one thing about the shark girls that was a certainty. There was part of them that still lived in the past. Not in the sense that they lived in their trauma, even though that was still very much true and it took some girls longer to process it than others. One of those girls being Samantha, Jane’s mother, who was still trying to accept a life that wasn’t what she originally hoped for.

Most if not all of the girls had their inner child still living at the center of their heart. For Samantha, her inner child was that of a big sister always looking out for her siblings. She has channelled that in helping this town improve the welfare of kids who aren’t blessed with the best upbringing. She’s worked directly with the Southside Serpents to improve environment conditions and lessen the rate of children falling into the hands of the Shark. She’s even gone to school for social work.

Jane, on the other hand, is one whose inner child is her personality. If she wasn’t looking at the world in wonderment or intrigue, or excitement, then the chances are she’s stuck in a PTSD episode which required someone to bring her back out of. There have been nights where Spencer isn’t present, even if he very much is, where he’s talking to a wall and his Jane was that of a ghost. Voidless of emotion and hard to reach. Today she was here and she was with him. And that’s all that mattered. Today, she was Jane. “Pooh Bear!” she exclaimed. “Are we going to the party?”

“Beau’s retirement party? Of course!” Spencer had always really loved his classes with Beau. He actually had quite the love of dusty old books on long forgotten shelves. He wondered if that was some sort of passion that had been passed on from his birth parents? Yet he and his former English teachers' conversations were not limited to the written word. Beau always had the uncanny ability to relate to his students on extremely personal levels, to know something that they needed when they needed it or how to explore their interests. Spencer was sure that at some point Beau must have seen his books on aviation and then spent an entire weekend reading up on it just so he could find common ground with the teen. That was just the sort of guy that Mr Beauregard was.

Spencer brushed a strand of Jane’s hair away from her beautiful face and smiled. “I’ve got a couple of dollars saved.” He began as he tried not to lose himself in her smile. “How about after I get a few hours power nap, you and I head out to Ospreys and buy you a new dress and I can show you off to everyone at the thing and they can be insanely jealous of me?”

Wrapping her arms around her lover, Jane’s eyes sparkled in giddiness, “A new dress? Will you pick it out for me?” She gazed into his eyes and played with the chain around his neck, the dog tag that belonged to his father. “Though I’d like to think the dress I’m wearing right now is very cute.” After all, she picked it out especially for him. From behind him, she had twirled the tag around his neck and was now holding it in her hands. She embraced him and stared at it. Her mind drifted as she waited for a response for him, thinking of family and whether Spencer was happy with this life he had with her or was it too simple. Was she enough to give him purpose or did they both need to discover their roots to be whole and happy?

Jane held the tags in her hand, something she did often when they were cuddled up on the couch or laid in bed together. She liked the sound of the metal clanging together. Spencer found the dog tags hidden inside the plane plushie he had as a child. “Robinson” was the name on them. Alexander Robinson was his father; killed in an accident in basic training. Though Spence chose not to pursue the link further once he found them; he didn’t want to insert himself into somebody else’s life without them wanting him there. None of his birth family ever came for him, so it was obvious that he was meant to stay away and he was alone; except for his Jane. “We’ll pick you out something nice and blue like you like.” He smiled whilst his hands cupped her face and he became locked inside of her big green eyes. “As for this dress, well I have to say baby I really fucking like it.”

Burying the sad thoughts beneath the surface, Jane released the dog tags and kissed his lips that tasted like breakfast. It was a little peck at most, since she wasn’t thinking about anything beyond the moment they were sharing together. She nodded, pleased her purchase was worth it, “Good because I bought it just for you.” Bringing herself closer to his face, she traced circles on the back of his neck and spoke softly, “Can I nap with you, Spencer?” Polite and sweet, yet her eyes said it all. While she wasn’t acting aggressive, nor behaving in a provocative way, she looked fixedly on him with heat emitting from her body. “I really missed you.”

Spencer knew every look in Jane’s eyes. He knew when she was mad, he knew when she was sad, he knew when she was confused and he knew when there was something she wanted. Pushing his plate away, he wrapped his arms tightly around his girlfriend and began to pull them both up as he got to his feet. Within a second her legs were gripping his waist like some kind of constricting snake but he didn’t mind. He pushed his lips to hers and their tongues began to dance like only lovers could. With Jane’s body enveloping him, Spence walked them both a few feet out of the kitchen and into his bedroom where they swiftly collapsed onto the bed.

Jane has decorated the room for the action they were about to take. She had lit candles and the soft flower petals were like gentle kisses on their skin. As they began to explore each other and clothes began to fall to the wayside and heat took over their beings, Spencer gently held her face in his hand, sharing breath he could only gaze upon the beauty of this woman, this woman who was his everything, this woman who was his heart. “I’m so in love with you, Jane. I love you so much.”

“I know, my Other Half. And I’m so happy you love me,” Jane’s eyes grew a little teary, as she thought of how much she’s been through and how she was still able to heal and find love. That she wasn’t a monster that her Creator forced her to believe. She was worth love and worth a life. She wasn’t locked in a dark room anymore. She had a light and that was Spencer. “You are the most important person to me, I hope you know that.”

“I do.” Spencer knew that they were two lost souls, bound together by a trauma that dare not speak its name. “And you are to me.” They both had spent so much time wandering in the dark, clamouring at walls, scratching at floors, searching, foraging, desperate to find something or someone to cling on to and they found each other.

“I love you, my Pooh Bear.”

Thank whatever powers that be, they found each other.

“So much and more.”
TIMESTAMP: Sunday Evening → A Dream
A world if Allison Davies never died.

Beau didn’t know how long Eva would be gone for but there was always time enough for a good book.

Antoine’s love affair with the written word began nearly sixty years ago, in a little place off the beaten track in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans. As a boy, Antoine’s family had very little in the way of finances or even a decent place to live. He was the second oldest of six children, his parents Marcellus and Monique were humble people, a day laborer and a housekeeper respectively. They were good, hard working people and even as a boy, Beau wanted to do everything to help them provide for their family. Which was how, even at ten years old, Antoine found himself scouring the Quarter to find anyone willing to hire a child.

One evening, New Orleans was struck by a terrible storm and Beau was unable to make it home. The streets were closed and he was lost in the monsoon, so the boy found the only building with a light on and hid inside. He had stumbled into a tiny bookstore, which May has well been a castle. Mister Moriarty, the kindly owner, offered the boy hot cocoa and a choice of any book to read to pass the time whilst the storm raged. Antoine found his way to the classics and began reading H.G Wells “Time Machine”. Something about the idea of seeing what life could be like if things in the past could be changed was intriguing.

From that evening onward, Beau found himself immersed in books. He began walking for Moriarty, cleaning the shop and maintaining the books. Even during the brief time before he became a police officer, where Antoine tried his hand in the underworld in hopes of helping out his family, he always made the time to go back to that shop and help out. To him, they weren’t just words or stories, they were lessons, they were worlds he could inhabit and feel and relate to. It could take only one book, one life or turn of phrase to completely change a person's outlook and perception on a world fraught with trials and tribulations. Whenever Beau needed to know the answer, whenever he needed the answer to help someone he would find it in his books.

As he collapsed into the comfy chair that Colleen had got him for his last birthday, Beau’s chestnut eyes fell upon the framed photo on the side table, his five children smiling together at his retirement party. They were his world and the reason he pulled himself out of bed in the morning. The resolute twins, Desmond and Delphine. His little creatives, Genevieve and Evangeline and his wild child, Zara Antoinette. His babies. His life.

Beau picked up the book next to the photograph of his family and examined the cover. It was a simple black hardback, a silver engraved tree in the middle. There was an author's name written at the bottom but his eyes were feeling slightly heavy or at least heavy enough that he couldn’t make out the name. As VAL continued to play Sam Cooke’s magnum opus ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ Antoine settled on the idea that he would probably go to sleep when Eva returned. He was old now, it was past his bedtime. Though if for nothing else, he could’ve sworn it was Hamlet he had left on the table…

As he prepared to open the book, he was disturbed by a thrice knock on the front door. Had Eva forgotten her keys? Probably, she often did. It was a good job that he and Collie were going to get her a talking key ring for her birthday. She always had so many ideas. He pushed himself up from the chair he had just got situated himself in and rested the book back on the table before heading towards the door once again. Opening up the heavy door, Antoine was blinded by a white hot light, like someone had immediately turned on their high beams directly into his gaze. As the brightness faded, the old man unshielded his face to look upon a familiar figure standing in his doorway.

“Hey Mister Beau! Long time no see!”

Charlie looked exactly as he did the day he……wait when was the last time Beau had seen the young native boy? He couldn’t place it. He was always one of the tallest of his students, standing a whopping six foot three. He looked happy, healthy, he was dressed in a pair of blue jeans and a buttoned down shirt and thick rimmed glasses with a book tucked under his arm. The morning…wait it was morning? Wasn’t it just the evening? Did Beau fall asleep? What was…why was his head so foggy? “Ch…Ch…Charlie it’s early, what are you doing here?”

Brushing his hand through his shaggy black hair, Charlie pulled the book out and offered it up to his former teacher. “I brought you an advanced copy of my next book to proofread. It’s not finished yet, obviously but I’d love some feedback whenever you get a chance but don’t worry about that too much right now. Just think about your party.”

“Party?” Beau was struggling to make sense of the morning, he felt like had been asleep for days and was only now just waking up, almost to a new world or so it felt like it. The faint smell of baked goods wafted through the house and the low humming of a female voice emanated from the kitchen. “Collie?” Why was he surprised to hear his wife sing? Who else would it be? He had to stop eating cheese before bed.

“I’ve said too much. Listen, have a great day, I’m sure I’ll see you at some point but I have to go and get gone before the wife wakes up. She can be cranky. Talk later Mister Beau!” Charlie jumped down the steps of the porch with a wave and climbed into a nearby car, leaving Beau alone, holding the boy's book.

“Bye Charlie.” Antoine waved as he took a few steps out of the front door to stand on the patio. Edenridge looked colorful. The sky was a light shade of blue with an orange hew sinking in the distance from the rising sun. He looked out to see the earlier risers heading to work, walking their dogs or jogging around the housing cul-de-sac that looked like it had been copied directly from the American dream itself. He could smell the damp of a summer's rain and Colleen’s wildflowers in bloom. It smelled cleaner.

Turning and entering back into his home, Beau wondered why his head felt so cloudy? It was as if he had been drinking the night before and had only just awoken to the world. He was clinging to a thought, a whisper, the last breath of a dying fantasy. Something carried on the current of the soft summer wind made him think that something just wasn’t right. Something wasn’t as it should be and he might possibly have crossed over into the uncanny valley. He walked by the sign for his retirement party and towards the kitchen where he could hear his wife.

It was as if it was a dream…

TIMESTAMP: Sunday, July 25th
FT: Antoine & Evangeline Beauregard
Sylvester James



Sitting in her father’s chair, Evangeline Beauregard, the second youngest of Mr. Beau and Colleen’s children, played notes on her travel keyboard of one of her songs she was creating for Kimber Bedlam’s next theater musical, Afternoon Daydream. A story that focuses on a cafe that attracts dreamers. The main characters, all young adults coming from different walks, navigate through love, friendship and the pressure of life in hopes to find their center and purpose. It showcases the everyday struggle of small town people, who need to survive but who want more than this provincial life. Those who are mad and can’t help but dream.

This would be her big break because up until this job, she was making songs for small troupes and starving musicians hoping they’d get lucky at one of their gigs. Freelance mostly. It wasn’t until two people, known by everyone on Broadway as the newest It Couple, approached her in Pittsburgh of all places, while she was busking for some extra cash. Eva had pride and didn’t like calling her parents for help unless she desperately needed it. She recognized them immediately as the young and gifted playwright and filmmaker, Kimber Benson (now Bedlam) and the prolific American actor and singer, rising to prominence for his work and his portrayal of Aaron Burr in Hamilton, Maxwell Bedlam.

Entertainment business was all about luck and by fate, she was given a little chance encounter that might be what separates her from her siblings, giving her parents maybe something to hang up on the wall since she wasn’t one with academic achievements nor did she participate in many competitions. All she ever had was her pen, paper and piano. Simply by singing a song she wrote with her father, she was able to win the heart of a couple who wasn’t even that older than her but who had their breakthrough in highschool.

Eva kept up with trends, ratings and those leading the industry. A month ago, the stars aligned and who knows? Maybe she would be able to go to La La Land as the most commercially successful composer and lyricist of all time, like Gaston Leroux, or maybe she would be able to change the world of musical theater like Leonard Bernstein. If only she could be like the greats, just like the Bedlams were swiftly becoming. What also benefited her was when she found out the premise of Kim’s working play, it reminded her a lot of her father and couldn’t help but talk about her own experiences helping him run a cafe, how he was a former English professor and prior to that, he was an officer. How much of a role model her dad was in her hometown and to her.

To say she piqued Kim’s interest was an understatement and now excitedly Eva wondered if the celebrity couple would visit Edenridge for inspiration. Until then though, she needed to keep making songs and pray she was exactly what they want and need. This was her someone-in-the-crowd and she couldn’t fuck it up. Staring at her small notebook while playing on her travel keyboard (it was on a stand), Eva listened to the nostalgic melody which focused on two childhood friends getting pulled away from each other because of the forces of their environment. Tapping her pencil on her paper, she stopped pressing the piano keys and whispered some words, “...I finally opened up. For you I’d do anything. But here I sing, and you aren’t listening to me. Can’t you recall when this all began? It was you and me. It was only me and you…”

She scribbled a couple more lines about the boy being pushed to the edge with his vice and the girl feeling hopeless, not knowing what to do. All the boy did was drown her out with his music, the song of his heart, and failed to see what was in front of him. The song was a desperate cry from a girl madly in love, wanting to be seen, and a wake up call for the boy, who desperately needed to come to his senses. If he just grabbed her hand, he’d be okay. They’d be okay. Whatever they did, be it big or small, they could do it together. They would always have each other and yet the song was bittersweet, because it was the girl coming to terms that he would never look her way. Not in the way she wished he would. This was her afternoon daydream but it ends with them walking past one another, in a way that only strangers would.

Antoine was amazed at all the things his children had accomplished in their young lives, so much more than even he could’ve predicted. Each had grown into their own person beyond the shadow of the cafe owner and his beloved wife, Colleen. Desmond was serving their country, Delphine was serving her community as a lawyer, Genevieve and Eva were serving their creative sides and Zara was serving the public as a hairdresser. Each of his children, for all their differences, were giving themselves to a cause that they believed in and which was greater than themselves. Selfless was only one word to describe the Beauregard brood.

Beau was startled at the end of another busy shift at Rochambeau when he returned home to find a light on inside. He knew he had turned them all off when he had left earlier that morning and Colleen was away for the weekend, visiting Genevieve in New York City and watching her slay Jennifer Hudson in a production of Dreamgirls. He was taken aback by something fierce when he entered the home, his service pistol drawn and he found his second youngest baby playing her piano and writing a beautiful melody. He needed to change where he hid that spare key.

Coming up behind his daughter as she sat in his chair, Antoine rested his hands on her shoulders before kissing the top of her head. He had learned to navigate the wild curly hair that Evangeline had inherited from her mother. “Ça a l'air magnifique ma petite fille.” The former police officer missed speaking French in the Quarter. When he and Collie moved to Edenridge with their children, he discovered fairly quickly that he was definitely not in New Orleans any more. His beloved had warned him of the ghost stories and the monsters that lurked beneath her hometown but Beau had never been the superstitious sort despite growing and maturing in a world enveloped in the fog of Hoodoo, Voodoo and Black Magic. He believed in the evil of man’s heart but also the good and that was the part he had dedicated his life to. “Are you happy with it, mon Cherie?”

“Hi, daddy,” Eva closed her notebook, leaving her pencil inside it, before placing it on the keyboard. “Um, yes and no. I know what I got is good but I want it to be better. I’ve been working on this song specifically far longer than the other ones for my client. It’s just,” she briefly paused as she stared at the keys of her travel instrument, contemplating what she was missing and why her song just didn’t feel there yet. She looked up at her father and sighed, “You and mom have this profound love story and I’ve had two boyfriends that all ended with a mutual break up. One because he and I were far too committed to our own pursuits and it just never felt like we were dating in the first place and the other because he thought he was too grounded for me and didn’t want to hold me back.” There was no bitterness in Eva’s voice when she talked about her exes and if anything, she was glad they maturely let things go before it became toxic and they did start hating each other. She wasn’t so attached to them that she needed to keep the romantic flame alive. At least with one of them, she would still consider him her friend but she wondered if she simply was missing something and just didn’t understand what the concept was all together. How could she write about love if she never experienced it, truly? Not young, first love but the kind of love that gets immortalized in classic literature. A soulmate kind of love. A love that lives forever and throughout history. A love so strong, it’s painful.

“I get it, I’m very whimsical and I’m always traveling and that’s hard to commit to. But,” she explained, her creative madness spinning in her head as she tried to make sense of her thoughts, threading all the pieces together. The song was clearly there but she was trying to find the heart of it. Gently pushing her keyboard stand to the side, she stood up to offer her father his seat as she rambled on, “This song is supposed to be about people you know are supposed to be… but they have so many obstacles that force them apart, that they never do cross the line and all they’re left with is what if. I guess if I knew the feeling of what it meant to love someone like you love mom, maybe I wouldn’t constantly rip my music sheet and start over. I can’t be stereotypical either and have just another love song. No. This song is meant to be sad because these lovers will never know even though it’s so clear they’re meant to be together. Am I making sense?”

“You’ve never made sense in the twenty three years since I first held you in my arms in that hospital room and wept.” Beau moved around the chair to meet his child’s gaze and offered out his hand for her to take. “VAL: Play the Cafe Playlist.” The small orb on the side table illuminated itself at the sound of Antoine’s dulcet New Orleans drawl and burst into life with the music of Beau’s favorite artist, the legendary Sam Cooke.

As “Bring it on Home” played around them, the elderly man pulled his child from her seat where he entwined his fingers with hers whilst wrapping his other arm around her waist to dance along to the music. Music had always carried such power in the Beauregard household. When Antoine was a boy, he and his parents would often take part in Mardi Gras, his father playing trumpet and his mother the trombone. Even after they had passed, he would always go with their instruments in hand to make sure they never missed a show. When Beau was an active police officer, it would be the music that helped center him after a particular horrific evening on the beat.

There was one instance in particular that he remembered. He had yet to make detective and was still nothing but a beat cop when he became the first responder to a scene. Three little girls, mutilated by the train tracks. After handing over to the “real police” Beau drove to Tulane University and climbed into bed next to Colleen, they had only been dating a few months and she held him close whilst he wept. He awoke the next morning to find her dancing so gracefully in the kitchen to Nina Simone’s Sinnerman whilst cooking breakfast and he knew then that he wanted to marry that woman.

He proposed a week later.

Desmond and Delphine never had the ear for music that Beau would’ve liked, they had too much of Collie in them. Evangeline and Genevieve though? Those girls would sit for hours listening to Antoine’s old vinyls. They would sing and they would dance and they would brighten the world with the stars in their eyes. It was no wonder both now shone so bright. “Love is out there for us all, baby girl. Some find it, others don’t. That’s a sad cross we all bear.” He looked deep into his daughter's eyes and offered a supportive smile. “It’s something we long and yearn for. It’s what makes the word turn. You don’t need to plan roots to find it. For you, it’ll happen when you least suspect, I mean who couldn’t love that face? Or your mama’s hair?”

After blowing some of her curls up when her dad complimented her hair, Evangeline softly put her toes dressed in yellow bumblebee socks on top of his feet. Something they’ve always done, ever since she was young. She’d put her little toesies on his feet, usually he was dressed in business casual shoes like old oxford sneakers, and he’d lead them in a playful dance. Holding onto him, she grumbled, “That’s not the point, daddy. The point is, I need this song to be perfect but I’m doubting myself because maybe I’m out of my element.” Even if she acted like his advice was not needed, her expression betrayed her as her mind lingered on his words.

Getting boys to like her was easy, but being with a boy that she could see a future with? That wasn’t. Her type, at least what she thought it was, were intellectual boys with clear passions. Dean loved his ghost stories and being part of the journalism club, he also had an eccentric group of friends she enjoyed being around from time to time. Her other ex, Terrence, she met in Atlanta. An aspiring filmmaker who didn’t see beyond his vision. She already knew getting involved with him wouldn’t be easy, seeing how she traveled a lot and he was innately selfish but she tried it and it led to her breaking ties because he really didn’t care about her mind and her aspirations. It was his way or the highway and that kind of mindset, be it friendship or lover, would never work for a child of Colleen and Antoine. They all were their own individual, fierce ones at that, and each had a mind of their own. They couldn’t be kept on a leash, and that was a simple fact.

Her healthiest relationship was with Dean who she didn’t really date until after he turned eighteen and even then they were just friendly, hardly intimate, and it felt like she was helping him get over his trauma from the shooting than them actually having sparks and a heated honeymoon phase. Love was weird. She thought logically, if she dated a friend or a guy passionate about something, just like her, she would feel something but in the end, all she felt was loneliness and realizing what they had was not love. Not really. Terrance liked the validation she gave and Dean was… simple. Sweet. She craved something interesting, challenging but she also needed someone who understood that she wasn’t always all there. Sometimes she just got lost in the clouds. At the end of the day, it was her dad who brought her back to Earth and reminded her of what really matters. She loved her dad, ridiculously so and if he would be her forever love, that was okay in her book. She didn’t need a husband when she had the best dad in the world.

“Mon petit, you wouldn’t have been asked to write the song if people didn’t believe in you.” Beau was instantly transported back years as Evangeline placed herself atop his feet. There was nothing more precious to him than a dance with his girls or a quiet Sunday watching the game with his son. Like his middle child, Antoine had always carried self doubt in his heart. Was he good enough to catch a criminal? Was he good enough to teach? Could he make a decent cup of coffee? Was he the right person to try and make a difference in the lives of those that he felt needed it?

What gave him the right?

“You’re not out of your element, sweetness. You’re the periodic table.” Beau was smiling from ear to ear as he danced with his baby girl. Before he could say another word, there was a knock on the front door. Stopping the movement, Antoine tapped a finger on Eva’s nose with a little smile. “Hold that thought, button. I’ll be back.” He propped her back down onto the floor before he made his way to the other side of the sitting room to the front door, opening it up to be greeted by a familiar face.

“Sylvester? To what do I own this fine pleasure? I promise my beignets are up to code.”

“Are you free?” Sly’s exasperatedly asked, his expression distraught as the weight of the world looking like it was just about to push the officer over the edge. Rocky was known for his strength. For being a boulder throughout adversity, throughout the harsh climate change, and throughout all his losses that try time and time again to force him into the dirt he came from. The thing about strong people is, they didn’t start off strong. They know what it means to be weak and they fight. They have a reason to keep going even if they had the things they love ripped away from them and they’ve had blows straight to the heart trying to destroy them. Even strong people need support. Sylvester “Rocky” James was no exception. “I need to clear my head but if this isn’t a good time, I—”

“OH SNAP! I forgot I had something to do,” Eva rushed around her dad’s house to gather her things, having received a text from her brother. Internally, she felt impending dread that Desi would be mad at her for forgetting to pick him up. It was going to be a surprise for their dad. All his children back, like the good old days. Hurriedly and with a little struggle she put her shoes on over her bumblebee socks. Eva’s style was always fun and eccentric. Today she wore a long teal floral maxi skirt, loose white tank, light blue washed out jean jacket, fun socks and combat boots. With her leather tote hanging over her shoulder, she scurried beside her dad to give him a kiss on his cheek. “Love you daddy,” Evangeline beamed brightly before quickly waving at Officer James, “Hello and goodbye Mr. James. It’s good to see you. And he’s free! Make yourself at home.” As much as she wanted to make conversation, she was in a rush and luckily for her, Sly was good at getting the hint.

The officer stepped to the side so she could rush past him and gave a weary smile, unable to bury his depressive state, especially now that he was near one of the few people he trusted with all his heart. “Good to see you too, Eva. Now, you better not speed. Don’t need you getting in an accident. No place is worth rushing to if it risks your life. Remember that.”

“Yes. Absolutely. Got it. No speeding. Thanks!” Prancing down the front porch stairs and getting to her silver 2018 Subaru Outback, her green 2000 Subaru Volkswagen met the end of its life not too long ago, Eva rummaged through her bag. There was an immediate look of bewilderment. She couldn’t find her keys and she could’ve sworn she put it in there. She checked again.

“Two seconds, son. And I’m all yours.” Beau motioned for Sly to take a seat on one of the porch chairs that he had overlooking the street before heading back into the house for a moment. He headed to the kitchen and looked upon a hand carved wall hanger, which had a photo of every Beauregard and beneath each image, a key hook. As sure as the worth of gold, beneath Eva’s beautiful smile sat her car keys. Antoine quickly grabbed them as well as two sodas from the fridge before hurrying back to the porch. He placed the drinks in front of the police officer before tossing the keys to his daughter. “Remember me as a time of day, darling. That way you never forget!” He called out.

After watching Evangeline drive away, nearly allowing a cab to sideswipe her, Beau took his seat next to Sly and his jovial smile harshened slightly. Something was seriously wrong with his brother in blue. “What’s the matter boy?”

Where should he even start? Holding the pop given to him and pulling the tab off with his pointer finger, in one single hand motion, Sly looked out at the friendly neighborhood that Beau resided in. Eastbrook was quaint, full of history and families of all sizes. One of the more private streets, Rosebury Loop, where it reaches a deadend, at times felt like its own little world. Peaceful even with the Ossos living across the street. It housed one of the founding families, the O’Briens, who left Scott Street and immersed themselves into the community by not living in the heavens, or Scott Street as this town calls it, like most of the royalty do.

Sly could see the allure of this street. It felt like it was straight out of an old-world storybook. Charming with mossy trees that hang down the sidewalks and homes, 18th and 19th century wood frame houses, colorful doors and a feel where you want to take a slow walk to be part of this timeless picture. It made sense why the Beauregards moved here. This street was made for someone like Beau. In truth, Sly had considered for a while now, ever since Max passed away, of finally renovating his old friend’s house and moving there. Not too far from here, on Hanging Hill. Scary story aside, it was in far better condition than his Uncle Woody’s house, a safer neighborhood and just a different experience. An opportunity for growth. Maybe he was just getting tired of staying in the same place while everyone else moved. Everyone else tried to leave their past behind. He was living it each and every day, especially when another kid died and he failed to save them.

His house was full of memories, both good and bad. A reminder of how far he’s come and how nothing about it has changed. People can come and go, and most recently his house has seen more activity with Mordechai’s family. The house itself - all the same. His girls were only babies when his brothers, his blood brothers, used to visit, trying to get some money off him. They used to play it off as if they were healing and trying to do better. What they really were doing was guilt tripping him on moving back to the compound, where he belongs. He had nieces and nephews that would love to meet their Uncle Sly.

Hell, even his uncle Woody was trying to see if they were genuine or not. Obviously bridges were burnt and they didn’t have their happy ending. It didn’t help Vicky wanted nothing to do with them after all they’ve put Sly through. When he was with her, he felt like he had no spine. All he wanted was to make her happy and it seemed a relationship with his brothers was only going to destroy his own family in the end. So Sly decided to put his efforts into everything else: his children, the wife, this town and burdensome secrets.

Life didn’t always feel worth it. Sly wasn’t a quitter though. No matter how much time weathered him down, he fought and he’d keep fighting until he absolutely couldn’t anymore. He knew clinging to those that gave him purpose, keeping those that center him, like Mr. Beau, close, and grasping onto the little things that make him smile and never letting go… that’s what really counts. And yet, he could feel the constant pain that stems from years of hardship.

He didn’t want to fail his family and yet, one of his little girls was murdered and the other one was going through hell, hanging by a thread as she relived the moment of seeing the love of her life die by the hands of her father. He knew he was failing kids like him. He sees Mordechai every day now and prays. He doesn’t even believe in God but he sure enough prays. Prays he could make it up to him, a kld that’s like a son to him, for not being the rock he needed when Danny died. If Mordechai couldn’t breathe, Sly would’ve done what was in his power to help him find oxygen. Rocky had already failed his friends. No longer talking with any of his serpent brothers like he used to when he was young. The failure kept growing, the mistakes even larger and impossible to repair and Sly was still here. Why the fuck was he still here? “I don’t know what I’m doing, Beau. I feel like… I don’t know. I’m not good at this, I’ve never been good at this. I just needed you.”

“Well I’m here my brother.” Beau reached out with his giant hand and placed it atop Sly’s burly shoulder, brushing off the weight of the world so that his fellow officer only felt his presence instead. “And I always will be.” Leaning back in his chair, Antoine took a sip from his soda and glanced out at the town he called home. “You know when I first moved here with Collie and the kids, she said to me that Eden wasn’t a place for good men yet in all the time I’ve called this place home, I’ve met a lot of good men. Not all of them start out that way though but they get there.” He offered Sylvester a knowing glance. The teacher was aware of his current company's previous past wearing the serpent insignia but he didn’t hold that against him. Hell, Beau would consider Reynaldo Senior one of his closest friends. “I was having a conversation with a student recently and he was having worries about not being good enough about walking that other path. And I told him, all you have to do is try. Are you still trying, Officer?”

“Of course I’m trying,” Sly took a sip of his drink and leaned back in his own lounge chair. “I never stop trying,” he ranted. Exasperated and exhausted. Two words that described the officer nearing his wits end. Sighing to himself and resting his can on his leg, Sly glanced over to his friend and admitted, “And there, I believe lies the problem, right?” He shook his head clearly at war with himself and sipped again from his drink. “You think after all these years, I’d be so tough that I wouldn’t get hurt. I lie to myself thinking I’m unbreakable but days like these come around and remind me that what I do doesn’t really do much does it? I’m just here and I’ll always be here. And I’m small in the grand scheme of things. Rocky, the legend. Rocky, the badass. Rocky, the failure more like it.”

Beau had been where Sly had been. He had traveled down and parked on that road so many times that he had lost count. “There comes a time, multiple times actually, where a man will be tested and he will fall. We will all fall. The true measure of a man isn’t some grand mark he leaves on the world. It isn’t some legacy or legend. The true mark of a man is the love he leaves behind, the love that lives in the hearts of the people that he loved so fiercely. Your baby girl, she has had a life fraught with danger and pain yet when she is at my cafe and she is talking about you? The love in that girl's big green eyes is brighter than the sun. That’s your legacy. Maxine is your mark. We’re all small, Rocky, just specs of stardust in the grand scheme as you put it. But what a scheme.”

Being in Beau’s presence did relax him as he listened to the sage words of a man that walked a hard road, similar yet different. Life was full of hardships and they were all our own. Laying his head back, Sly inhaled and exhaled, taking in this moment and accepting it for what it was. A talk he needed. However long or small, when he was with Beau he didn’t feel as lost. This man didn’t even realize how much of a compass he was for many people of Edenridge. He meant too much to many people. Without him, this town would go into chaos.

How lucky Sly felt knowing that he met such a wonderful human being. One of a kind. The best of them. Because Sly knew Beau, he would be changed for good and that was more than enough reason to keep trying. “How do you do it, old man?” Sly opened his eyes, smirking. At least in this space, in this time, all of Sly’s worries had lessened and it could all be because he needed a gentle reminder of his measure. Doesn’t matter what side of the train tracks you live on. The violence? That doesn’t prove a thing. Good people could still burn someone and bad people could save someone from a burning building. All that was part of a bigger picture. A story. What matters is that everyone was looking at the same night sky, the same sunset and sunrise, the same sun and the same moon. And everyone wanted one thing. To love and be loved. Even if he was small in the grand scheme of things, he had someone who made him feel like he could carry the universe. He had a daughter who looked up to him and the last thing he needed to do was let her down.

Beau joined Sylvester in staring at the stars. All around the world, there were an uncountable amount of people doing the same thing as they were: living, It was times like this, wistful times with good friends which forced an old man to reminisce about bygone days. Beau had led a good life if not a hard one but he knew that there were six people that made it all worthwhile and then another few million on top of that. Some might change the world, some might leave it altogether. Every single one is different, everyone the same. In the end, they were all part of the same book. He looked at Sly one more time and took another sip from his drink.

“One page at a time…”
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