Haplessly Ever After

It Happened One Night

Willie careened into the sleepy village and headed for the hospital in search of his bosses. Parking halfway up the curb, he fell onto the sidewalk and scrambled to the front door—which was locked for the evening, so the young man dashed around to the Emergency Room entrance at the rear of the building. A sturdy, middle-aged nurse took him firmly by the arm and attempted to guide him to the triage area.

"Don't worry, we'll take good care of you. What are your symptoms?"

"Me? No, I'm not sick—" he panted.

"Sir, you're very pale, and your head is bleeding."

"Huh? It is?" He wiped away the moisture dripping down his face. "It's nothing. I just fell down the stairs. Where's—?"

"Please sit down and I'll page the doctor."

"I need to find Dr. Hoffman and Barnabas Collins now!" He yelled. "Where are they?"

The woman regarded him quizzically. "They left a while ago."

"Shit! Gimme your phone!" He grabbed the receiver from the admission desk and began to dial the Old House.

"You can't use that. There's a pay phone in the hall."

"Lady, please shuddup. This is an emergency room, right? Well, I got me an emergency—"

The robust woman reached over to the intercom and paged Dr. Lang. Meanwhile, Dr. Hoffman answered the telephone.

"Julia, thank God you're back—I mean, No, Run! Angry! Blood! He's loose and he tried to kill me! Get out of the house!"

The nurse gaped at the frantic young man, then decided she had better summon a security guard or orderly as well.

"Too late for that," the doctor replied with unexpected calm. "Looks like Adam had one of those little tantrums you talked about. Then he tossed a wingback chair though the parlor window and escaped."

"Holy crap." Willie collapsed into the desk chair.

"I'm glad you're safe—where are you calling from?"

"The hospital. Came here looking for you guys."

"For heaven's sake, watch what you say. Can anyone hear you?"

Willie and the nurse exchanged looks as he jumped out of her seat. "Uh, maybe."

"Don't say anything else."

"Julia, what are we going to do?" Willie yelled.

"Not panic. Now, listen carefully. Adam won't get far in his condition; he'll never survive without his IV tubes attached but there's no saying how long it will take. He may bleed to death before the organs shut down or toxins back up into his system. My guess is that Adam's wandering somewhere in the woods, probably searching for you. The important thing is to find him before anyone else does. I'm waiting here in case he returns and Barnabas is searching the grounds with your rifle."

"I'll be right back."

"No, thank you. You've done enough damage for one evening. I'm afraid seeing you will infuriate Adam further and create a dangerous situation."

"Then what am I supposed to do?"

"Just stay away for now. Get a room for the night at the inn and I'll call you in the morning."

"Julia?" There was silence on the other end. "I'm sorry. I shoulda done like you said."

"We'll discuss it later. Get some rest because we'll need you tomorrow—and speak to no one."

"Sure. I promise." Willie hung up and noticed the head nurse now standing in tandem with a large orderly and a white-haired doctor, all observing him with uncertainty.

"You're the one they brought back from Wyndcliff, aren't you?" Dr. Lang stated.

"Maybe. Yeah." The young man backed toward the door. "Got to run now." Willie ran.

"Should we call the police?" the nurse questioned.

"Not my problem," the doctor replied dismissively. "That's Hoffman's headache."

Willie sat by the open window of a Collinsport Inn guest room. The street below was deserted and dark, except for light and music peeking out from behind the door of the Blue Whale Tavern across the way. His thoughts returned to poor Adam, sick and frightened, wandering lost in the shadowy woods, hiding from a homicidal vampire. And that was Willie's fault. If he wasn't always so thoughtless and selfish, monster boy would have been sleeping peacefully at home on his metal laboratory table.

He restlessly paced the little room. Sprawled on the bed. Returned to the window. Willie rubbed the back of his neck to work out a kink, realizing his entire back ached from the body slam earlier that evening. A bottle of aspirin would have gone down very nicely just then, along with a couple of drinks to help him relax and fall asleep. The tavern wouldn't be crowded, not this late on a weeknight, and he would be careful not to talk to anyone.

The young man's assumptions were correct. Crystal the bartender was cleaning up while keeping an eye on a young blonde woman feeding the jukebox and a guy mumbling to his scotch at a nearby table. Willie picked up his glass, ordered a second, and approached the old drunk.

"Hello, Mr. Evans, can I buy you a drink?"

Sam looked up and smiled sloppily. "Loomis, you certainly may. To what do I owe this honor?"

"Just trying to be friendly."

"Well, you came to the right place. I'm the friendliest guy in town. Cheers."

They clinked glasses. Willie downed some peanuts as he observed briefly the look of despondency on his former father-in-law's face.

"Is everything…okay? You look kind of down."

"Just tired, that's all. I'm too old to be chasing a toddler all over the place. That girl runs me ragged."

Willie chuckled in commiseration. "I know what you mean. I got the biggest tod—" his jaw dropped. "Wait. You mean…my…?"

"Your daughter, yes. Her name is Samantha. Now that you're back in town, perhaps you'd like to take some responsibility for her."


"I don't mean in person. Maggie doesn't want you anywhere near her or the child, but a check would not be unwelcome."

"What's she like? Samantha."

"Headstrong and pretty, just like her mother, but she's a little hellion, breaking things, getting into my paints. Don't get me wrong, I love the girl, I just can't watch her by myself."

"Where's her mother?"

"Just who do you think is supporting us? I haven't sold a painting in over a year. Maggie thought we'd be set when she bought the diner, but now we're in debt to the bank and the damn place doesn't turn a profit. Can't afford to hire more help so she works all the time or is exhausted. I help out as much as I can with Sammi."

Willie frowned, feeling partially at fault for their misfortune. "I'm sorry things haven't been good. I can send her money for the kid. I got some savings."

"In that case, pal," the artist laughed with a sudden change of mood, "let's splurge on another round."

"Uh…sure, Mr. Evans." He smiled uneasily.

"You know, Loomis," Sam slapped the young man's shoulder as Willie winced in discomfort. "I feel I somewhat misjudged you in the past, but you can't blame a father for wanting to protect his little girl."

"No, sir, you can't," Willie replied quietly. "By the way, when did you start drinking today? Was it before lunch?"

Willie was about to call an order to the barmaid when Joe Haskell appeared in the doorway.

"No, you don't, that's enough for tonight, Sam." He helped the old man to his feet. "Let's get you home."

"I don't want to leave," Sam whined. "I had a hard day, now I'm relaxing with my friend."

"He's not your friend." Haskell shot a dirty look at the drinking companion. "Stay away from us, do you hear?"

Willie watched as Joe led his besotted buddy out the door.

"That Sammi is a wild child."

Willie turned to discover Carolyn Stoddard watching him as she leaned against the juke box. "Adorable little girl except for that temper of hers. That's what they say, anyway." She looked tipsy as well as she crossed the room towards him. "Are you buying drinks for everybody or does your taste lean only to old bearded guys?"

"I guess so." He was slightly bewildered that the Collins princess would speak to him. "I mean, yeah, okay. What are you drinking?"

"You have to dance with me first." The young woman took hold of his belt buckle and led him onto the modest dance floor.

Willie shook his head. "I don't—"

"Sure you do. It's easy." She leaned her head on his shoulder, wrapped her arms around his neck and swayed to the music. "Isn't this nice? Just you, me, the martinis and the music."

They continued to slow dance for a while in silence as the young woman caressed her partner's back with a familiarity Willie welcomed but regarded with suspicion.

"What were you doing here by yourself, Carolyn?"

"Same as you. Looking for companionship, a kindred soul to help me through the lonely night."

It was certainly news to Willie that a babe like Carolyn would consider him a kindred soul. She had responded to his previous attempts to establish contact by shoving a half grapefruit in his face and another time had pointed a pistol at his pecker. The handyman had to wonder if he would be receiving such attention had there been anyone else in the bar to choose from. But she smelled nice and Willie couldn't remember the last time he held something warm and soft and pretty.

"Okay," he said. "I'll keep you company if you want."

"Less talking, more dancing! Whee!" The music changed to a high voltage number and the girl began to fling herself around the dance floor, her blonde ponytail bouncing after her. Willie grabbed the young woman by the waist.

"You're going to fall; come sit down."

"Are we getting a drink?

"Yeah, you bet."

Willie and Carolyn gazed at each other over a double rum and a Harvey Wallbanger.

"So, what do you want to know?" the girl chatted away. "Well, everyone at Collinwood is just peachy—pretty much. Mother seems fully recovered from being catatonic, dead and/or crazy, Uncle Roger is drowning his sorrows since his wife took off. At least she didn't steal the silver when she left, unlike your pal, Jason. However David found his stepmother carousing in the gazebo with my boyfriend. Former boyfriend, that is."

She paused to take a long draw on her straw before continuing. "What else? David has been going through his awkward stage for about six years now. Dr. Hoffman continues to use our home as a free hotel. And me? I thought you'd never ask. No, I do not have a job, and no, I'm not going to college. My immediate plans are to continue my shallow, privileged existence."


"Is that all you have to say? Tell me some dirt. When did you come back to town? Cousin Barnabas missed his pool boy, I guess. And how does Julia feel about that, one has to wonder. What a cozy little trio you make."

"I don't know. I'm sorry, I'm not good at small talk."

"What are you good at?" She smiled suggestively.

"Not much," Willie shrugged. "Except getting in trouble."

"Now that sounds intriguing." Carolyn pushed her empty glass towards him. "I need another drink."

Apparently Ms. Stoddard needed to be completely tanked in order to justify spending time with someone like Willie Loomis. So he bought another round.

Three cocktails later, Carolyn was sitting in the intoxicated man's lap as they sucked face and otherwise expressed their mutual affection with little regard for discretion. Her hand wandered inside his shirt as the bartender tapped him on the shoulder.

"Do me a favor, get a room, please," Crystal snapped. "I would like to close up."

"Aww, the party's over." Carolyn lamented. "Party pooper! I don't want to go home."

"Well, I do want to go home so you can't stay here," the barmaid retorted with a disapproving glance at the couple. "This is not a motel."

Carolyn pulled her companion to his feet and staggered out the door. "Bob is a lot friendlier than you!" she called over her shoulder.

The couple made out in the middle of the street. "What now, Mr. Loomis? We can't go to my place, and we can't go to yours."

"Then we should get a room, like the lady said," ventured Willie. "I mean, I have one. A room. If you want."

So Carolyn and Willie made out in the lobby, going up the stairs and in the hallway. Willie pulled away just long enough to tumble the key in its hole.

Inside, they began to pull at each other's clothing, then switched to removing their own instead, to expedite matters. Willie fumbled with his sneakers as, with one zip, Carolyn's dress fell to the floor and she stood before her playmate wearing an ice blue, lace teddy. Pristine and petite, she was as stunning as Willie had always imagined her to be, and she sure knew how to present the goods. The young woman pulled off the hair tie and the world's most pampered hair cascaded to below her shoulders.

Willie allowed himself to be pushed backwards toward the bed and fell onto it. Carolyn unzipped his fly and removed the man's jeans, after which he pulled the girl down on top of him. Carolyn proceeded to confirm his long-held suspicion that she was a firecracker in the sack.

If this was a dream, Willie had no intention of waking up.

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