Chapter 34: Crueler
Unravel Him Playlist on Spotify.
Song; (Sleeping Wolf - One wish)
Smoke escaped from my lips in one airless string.
It mingled in the air, turning the frosty evening into a cloudless aura.
Closing my eyes, I feel the wind, gently caress my face, causing pieces of red strands to follow it’s direction.
If I stayed still long enough, I swore I could become a statue.
Just a mindless metal, only placed to stare and gawk at by people around it.
That’s how I felt.
Empty inside, no hope or dreams left.
After everything I’ve gone through, this isn’t the worst thing that’s happened.
I’m still alive aren’t I?
I’m still living, I’m still breathing, I’m still aware.
The same can’t be said for those that decide it’s a good idea to jump off a building to escape you’re problems.
I laugh out loud, shaking my head at the thought.
All of them.
If they can’t suck up to life then they’re not meant for life.
Simple, but hard to process.
Sounds of a bell coming from a nearby church made me glance up to see it rock back and forth against the falling snow.
Voices alerted me that I wasn’t alone.
I was here for a reason.
Turning back towards the frosted metal bars, I lifted the cigarette out of my lips before squinting.
Just beyond the rows of headstones and graves, a fresh layer of dirt is present on the surface of earth.
White chairs and flowers are neatly decorated beneath the black canopy, casting an eerie shadow throughout the commemoration.
I guess there is beauty in death.
No matter how painful it is.
“Humbled we are to be in the presence of a once great man. God says there is peace after death-”
Father Maurice is speaking in the distance, his voice loud and foreboding.
Two familiar people can be seen seated as they listen to him drone on.
Long time no see.
Jackson... Principal B...
It’s been more then a year and I can see some things haven’t changed.
Maybe it was me that did.
“We do not walk alone. We do not walk alone, he says, for though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid.”
What did Father Maurice knew about death?
What did he know about walking alone?
Inhaling sharply, I steadied my breath and scanned the dozens of unseated chairs beneath the canopy.
Jackson and Principal B looked out of place in between the fancy masses of flowers and preparation.
They deserved to be there.
They belonged there.
Not for Ethan.
I didn’t belong where he was.
I never did.
He didn’t need a fucked up murderer showing up to his funeral after everything that’s happened.
I know I would be disappointed.
So who’s to say he won’t be too?
This is the last thing I can do for him and I’ll be damned if I messed this up too.
Straightening my jacket I shifted my position over the tree I was leaning on so I didn’t slip off.
What was the point of this?
What was the point of a funeral procession?
There was no need to see a dead person get buried six feet under.
How did that change anything?
The person was still dead weren’t they?
If anything, it only prolongs the agony.
Biting my lip, I kept the curses at bay and glared at a spot on the snowy asphalt.
Useless. Useless. Useless.
What I feel, is useless.
What I see, is useless.
When this is all over, who’s laughing in the end?
The fancy flowers, the fancy chairs, the fancy words, the fancy everything, it didn’t matter.
I never thought I’d be the one to bury another father figure.
I never thought I’d be the one to plan a funeral.
I never thought a lot of things.
But if the world is cruel... then I’ll be crueler.
A movement captures my attention from the corner of my eye.
Behind the procession, lines of black cars arrive before the main gate of NorthVille’s Cemetery looking like an army itself.
Car engines are cut off, doors are open, people clambered out.
Both Principal B and Jackson are silently stunned as unfamiliar people gathered around them, each sporting solemn faces.
One by one, every unseated chair is filled to the brim.
Males, females, old and young, only two chairs remained empty directly in front of Ethan’s casket.
No more secrets.
I lit up another cigarette, watching the scene before me play out in slow motion. “No more secrets,”
The last of the entourage finally arrived.
A black limousine does a slow circle around the parking lot, before finally stopping, making gravel crunch beneath it’s tires.
The driver cuts the engine and there’s only a split second of silence before both doors of the limousine opened.
I held my breath, watching the situation ensued.
As the whole world slowed down to this one prominent moment, I am aware of the silence within the snow and the coldness of the air.
Logos are prominent on the front of every vehicle, some varying in designs throughout the parking lot.
Six petals. One circle.
Four ovals. One shield.
Together, what did that spelled?
Harrison Moore and Richard Fell fell side by side as they walked forward towards the casket and beneath the black canopy.
People bow in respect as they past.
People watch as they seat themselves down.
People remained silent, as both brothers, stared ahead, right through their laying father.
Because this... this was the truth, this was the secret, the final one.
Not my secret.
Ethan’s shame and regret.
The one thing he never talked about.
The one thing he knew had the power to break and mend him.
The one thing... his very own name.
Ethan MooreFell Lane.
Its hard to extinguish as they sat side by side each other.
Graying brown hairs.
Eyes a mixture of blue and green.
Aged beyond years...
At one point they were siblings, related by blood.
They worked together, formed companies. Then they fell apart, split, never to be reunited again.
Ethan was only in the crossfire.
Nobody knew that the two most powerful company bearers in the world were his sons.
Nobody knew that they came from a backwater town.
Nobody knew anything.
I’ve known, of course, I’ve always known.
It’s always been at the back of my mind, so close to reveal itself, yet so far to unveil.
My own mentor that took me in, happened to be related to the people that was responsible for my father’s death.
How fucked up was that?
I should hate him, curse him, hell, I shouldn't even care.
But I did.
I did, because all these years, despite everything, he owned up to the mistakes his sons have done.
Now? Now there was no more hiding it.
No point to do so.
Ethan is dead.
How do you hide a dead man’s secret?
I threw the cigarette on the snow and stomped it with my boot, my mind flashing back to an old memory.
Ethan broke down when he couldn’t retrieve a picture of them in the Skating Rink.
I had risked my life running into the building to get that for him.
He had his skeletons in the closet, he had his regrets and wishes.
The one thing I knew he’s always wanted, was to see his sons again.
At least I did it, right Ethan?
I brought them to you.
Just like you wanted.
“Hey,” A voice called out to me.
I turned to Jonas who approaches me, his fingers slacked into his jacket as flakes of snow covered his dark hair.
“Is it done?”
Craning my neck, I motioned for him to look.
He raises an eyebrow and does as I told, too curious to stop himself. “Damn,”
They were lowering Ethan’s casket, where he will lay for years to come.
Eventually he’ll be forgotten.
People will move on.
“I guess they aren’t as cold-hearted as people think they are huh?” He muses, smiling cynically at the founders of Graymoore and BourneFell.
“People can say whatever they want,” Swiping snow off my shoulders, I cracked my neck and shuffled my boots.
“But at the end of the day, you never say no to family,”
“Even dead ones?”
“Even dead ones.”
We escaped into the secondary gate, keeping our heads down as to avoid stares.
The procession is directly in our path back to the car so I nudged Jonas, reminding him to put his hood up as we did our best to pay ignorance to what’s happening.
People were here to grieve.
We? We were here to watch it happen.
As expected, when we past them, not a single person paid attention to their surroundings.
I made a brief peek to the wooden coffin lowered on the ground and instantly looked away.
He wouldn’t want me to be here.
“I just need to know,”
A faint voice catches my attention as I past the main gates.
Jonas and I continued walking down the streets, keeping close to the bars.
“The service...” A man is speaking to Father Maurice, his tone is laced in anxiety... familiar.
“...do you know who set up the preparations?”
“No I’m sorry,” Father Maurice explains, shaking his head.
“I’m here because someone made an anonymous request. Everything here is all paid for. No one knows who set it up.”
“That... That can’t be right,” The voice continues, desperate. “Someone must have left something behind-”
“I’m sorry.” Father Maurice bows his head apologetically.
“Whoever did this, isn’t here today. But my suggestion is you find them, and you help them... No one plans a funeral and not shows up to it.”
When Father Maurice leaves, I’m brought to a stunned realization at the person he spoke too.
He’s wearing his annoying suit with that stupid red umbrella.
His features are creased, lined with worry and concern.
“Don’t come after me.”
“Because I don’t know what I’ll do if I ever see you again.”
Walking faster towards the car, I am well aware of the heat settling behind my neck over the urge to kill him.
Jonas opens the car door for me and I got in, closing the door behind me with a slam.
I clutch my head in between my hands and dug my nails in.
Did I not tell him what I’d do if I ever see him again?
Did I not warn him?
If he was here... then...
Then the others are not far behind.
If, he hasn't told them yet.
Jonas starts up the Ford Mustang, igniting a powerful growl in response of the engine.
I release my head and chose to focus on my once Guardian, who can be seen rubbing his temples.
I haven’t seen him for almost a week
I wondered if he regret what he did.
I wondered a lot of things.
“Here,” Jonas passes me a brown paper bag before shifting the gear stick to reverse. “It’s what you want right?”
I propped the bag open and withheld a breath before nodding in response. “This stays between us.”
He shakes his head and laughs. “If it’s what I think it is, you’re going to have to face a tough decision, Vanessa.”
I gave him a glare. “Floor it, we got places to be.”
He didn’t have to be told twice.
The car sped of, leaving the cemetery behind.