He awoke with a serenity he hadn’t felt for as long as he could remember. A calmness enveloped over him. He got out his bed and stretched out his back while harbouring a gaping yawn. He opened the curtains wide and noticed the sapphire blue skies that greeted him most mornings. It wasn’t the weather he was thinking about though. It was Summer. He opened his wardrobe and put on the first clothes he saw. He went to brush his teeth and sanitise his under arms before exiting briskly through the front door.
The summer’s sun once again greeted him and accompanied him until he reached the town. Once more he made his way on foot down the hill and then took the road straight towards the town. Before he could cross, the cross-country bus sped past. The number forty-nine it was called. He rarely saw anyone get on it as there was no need to leave. Once he arrived, he didn’t even look at the Submissives and just b-lined his way to her house. This time he had the confidence to knock on the door and greet her properly, “hello Summer, are you free?”
This time not as shocked at his appearance she gleefully let him in. She was mightily relieved he came back again. She had the most awful night’s sleep thinking about if he’d return. Especially after yesterday’s lonely affair. She knew they’d agreed to it, but she didn’t quite believe it. His strong muscular face and dominating jaw made her weak to the knees. They stared at each other intently, neither one managing to get a word out. Summer finally released the words, “I know you said you wanted to ride the horses, but I don’t know if you would still like to. A lady down the road said I can ride them from time to time because of my history of looking after them”. She said nervously.
Thinking to himself that he usually bets on them and has never ridden one before, he is uncertain whether to say yes despite saying he would a couple of days earlier. He doesn’t want to look a fool in front of her. However, he can’t resist the glow in her eyes and promptly agreed to go and ride the horses with her around the back of the town.
“Excellent! Wait right here I’ll be back in a minute with them”.
He waited patiently in her home on a creaky wooden chair while she went to grab the horses from the barn a couple of minutes away. She returned and asked him which one he wanted to ride and immediately he pointed at the one on the right. She helped him saddle up and he certainly seemed awkward, high upon that beast, a feeling he only seemed to have when she was around. Rusty soon ran out to join them and immediately became best friends with the horses. An unlikely friendship, but then so was his and Summer’s. The field around the back of the town opened up for miles. The grass was strawy and dying. The horses slowly trotted out to the barren fields which surrounded the town and made their way to the same small bridge about a mile away. The weather started to turn again as it was grey and blanketed the fields in a glum manner.
“So, you’ve never ridden a horse before?” Summer said with a smile on her face as Mr Walsh’s cool persona had clearly been left behind.
“That bad then”, he replied with a chuckle.
The horse’s hooves crunched down on the straw like grass as he struggled to stay in control. Summer and her horse, however, seemed to float through the air. He watched with awe as they made their way further out to the bridge. There was a very small river that ran through the back of Lower Hampton. It was probably the only bit of beauty the place had, apart from Summer of course. They made their way to the bridge and dismounted the horses, Mr Walsh clearly struggling to. Once they were down, they went to sit on the edge of the bridge with their legs hanging down close to where the water ran. The water wasn’t too deep, but the current was fast. Further from the bridge, about another half a mile or so, was a small town that Mr Walsh had never seen before; it mustn’t have fallen in the jurisdiction of Walsh Inc.
Rusty came and settled himself down on the bank in amongst the tall grass. It was windy and wet, so Mr Walsh was rather disappointed he didn’t bring suitable clothing, again. The weather was hardly ever welcoming down here because of the grey cloud that blanketed the place. They sat and spoke on this bridge for a while about anything and everything they could. Away from the loud and brash Grand Palace, Mr Walsh felt a lot different, more at ease with himself. He felt like the protective bubble he had surrounded himself with for years finally burst.
“Did you always want to be like this?” The way Summer asked this was in a way where she could sense something was up.
Mr Walsh was hesitant to speak about what he used to be. He hadn’t told anyone the truth. Once he decided he could be rich he never wanted anyone to see his weakness. He thought it was pathetic to want nothing else but to be rich. Money governed everything. Every decision he ever took was overseen by money. But for once it wasn’t.
“Not really, I used to want to be a writer growing up. I wanted to write about the world we live in. I wanted to write about the beauty of nature and the way the sky would change its colours effortlessly”.
“How come you didn’t then?” She asked wanting to know more about this man.
Mr Walsh locked his fingers together and started rotating his thumbs around each other, “because I saw the riches of the people around me and I wanted to be like them. The promise of being rich means you are able to do whatever you want in life. Well I thought it was”.
Clearly battling himself he carried on. “I decided to start up Walsh Inc after my father died about fifteen years ago. He abused me pretty heavily. He was quite the drunk. When he died, I felt a power I’d never felt before. It was like a forcefield was lifted and I could be my own man. I haven’t looked back since. Giving up power would leave me back where I was when he was alive. Anyway, I was tired of jumping from job to job. I went to business school and I had an idea to learn the way the horses ran and gambled my way to fame. And once you got a little bit of fame its easy from there. Once you get to meet enough powerful people it all lines up. Crooked people are everywhere and they all want to take money from the next guy they meet. Once I was powerful enough, I decided to start collecting rent from the town in a promise to keep them housed and working, as well as returning their money later on, with it doubled in size. Of course, that was never going to happen, well I did double it in size, but I never gave it back. How could I? It made me richer and richer everyday”.
Mr Walsh said this with a tone of regret and hurt. He could barely finish what he was saying without his throat closing up. Summer could sense an increasing regret over what he had been doing all these years.
“Why don’t you stop then, give them their money back?”
“I may as well move in down here if I did that. Walsh Inc would probably fail, and Digby and Charlie would kick me out of the Grand Palace and take matters into their own hands”.
“Aren’t they your friends?”
“I don’t know, I mean, I never knew them when I was poor, you know what people are like, money’s everything”.
This wasn’t totally true. He’d known Digby at the very start of his business life. He wasn’t poor per se, just not stinking rich yet. As for Charlie, well Charlie only knew the good life. His dad died when he was eighteen and his dad was good friends with Mr Walsh’s dad, so he took him in at the Grand Palace. They’d hoped he’d learn his business nous from them. Which he thought he was well on his way to doing.
She could tell the life he’d lived for the past years had taken its toll. Once he left the bubble and was exposed to just himself and a stranger, he didn’t know who he was. He became a shell, one lacking the confidence and desire he possessed at the top of the hill. Without money, he didn’t know who he was.
“Digby is frightening I must say. He’s been a good lieutenant for the past fifteen or so years, but I can sense an emotional wall within him. I reckon he’d kill his own mother to earn another hundred dollars.”
Summer was rather perturbed by Mr Walsh’s statement and wondered how anyone could be that selfish and greedy. But she knew human nature was for people to be the best. The idea of being second sickened some people. They both went quiet as Mr Walsh seemed to ruminate about his life quarrels and every decision that led to this point.
He was interrupted as Rusty started to bark and become restless, which Summer knew meant the weather was turning even worse. They mounted the horses in a rush as the rain started to pour down heavily. The horses galloped at an excessive speed churning up the ground as they ran. Mr Walsh looked extremely uneasy upon the horse still and as he tried to grasp a tighter hold on the reins they slipped from his grasp. He slipped sideways off the horse and crashed onto the softened wet ground. Summer pulled back on the reins and went back towards Mr Walsh. The storm grew stronger and stronger. As it did, a bolt of lightning crashed into the field and startled Mr Walsh’s already frightened steed. The horse became restless and in its moment of terror kicked its back leg, grazing against Mr Walsh’s forehead, knocking him out momentarily before bolting off into the distance, leaving a horseshoe mark above his right eye.
Summer realising the potential severity of the situation dismounted her horse immediately and went to tend to Mr Walsh. She couldn’t control her emotions. She lifted his head up off the floor and gave him a few slaps around the cheek which duly brought him round. His eyes opened and they immediately locked to Summer’s and he was lost in the void of her soul. All he wanted to do was kiss her and he was about to when she said, “before we do, I have a question”.
“Anything you like”, he replied immediately.
“What’s your name?”
Confused by the timing of her question he replied with “Mr Walsh”. She gave him a look which pierced him with guilt as to why he kept his name secret from her. Knowing that the feelings he felt for her were so real and genuine he gently said, “William”. This was the first time in years he’s had to tell someone his real name and it felt strange when she said it back to him. He felt a shield release from around him and the name Mr Walsh felt like it drowned in the damp grass. She looked back into his blue eyes as he gazed into her green ones. They shared a kiss which made his entire body weak. He felt like he’d let go of years of pain and anguish in one moment. Their lips parted and she looked at him again and said, “why don’t we leave this place?”
The question overcame her suddenly. It was an act of passion. Despite their fleeting moments together she felt like it was the right thing to say. He didn’t know what to make of her question, he knew that, undoubtedly, it was something he wanted to do, but he wasn’t sure it was something he could do. How could he leave behind what he’d built and what he’d achieved? The riches and wealth that welcomed him home every day and that greeted him every morning made his life worth living. That question felt like the answer had changed when he thought about Summer. He’d only known her a week or so and yet he’d never felt this strongly about someone before. He felt she offered all that he needed in order to be happy. She continued on saying, “you have plenty of money that we can live off for the rest of our lives and we can have horses and you can actually learn to ride one”, she said with a grin on her face.
Mr Walsh knew all what she was saying was right. He again thought back to his childhood where he wanted to be an author and wanted the simple life, one where he could enjoy the world go by in the tranquillity of his back garden. He could now have all of that, it was in his palm of his hand, he just had to decide whether to close it shut and seal the deal. What he’d been doing all his adult life. Sealing deals. This was one more of them and yet he struggled with himself to do it. He gazed back at her and made his decision. After a moment of silence, he agreed to go away with her to wherever she wanted. His heart pounded with excitement at his decision.
They ran the rest of the way through the barren fields back to her house with Rusty as the two horses had bolted off to god knows where. Mr Walsh struggled greatly after the blow to his head, adrenaline mainly guided him back to the house. They reached her house and she laid him down on her bed giving him a homemade ice pack to hold over his head. She dabbed the ice pack on the wound above his right eye and the swelling began to go down. She thought it best he stayed the night and as she was about to ask him, she noticed he was sound asleep. She gave him a kiss on the forehead and departed for her rest on the sofa.
She sat on the sofa rather wet and tired. A smile crept onto her face like a welcomed guest. It had still only been a month since her father died and she’d felt terribly out of place since. But now, now she had someone to look after her. Someone who could make her life whole again. The warmth he provided made her feel safe. She knew he’d done some terrible things in his life. But she saw how he regretted them. Who was she to judge him on his past life when all he’d provided her since she’d known him was great care and affection?
“She really enjoyed his company then”.
“Yep, Mr Walsh said there was something about the two of them together that just felt right”. Billy said this in a way which he’d like to experience such a thing. “Mr Walsh said apparently he provided some security to her life which she heralded”.
“Nice to see a woman taking a man for who he is now and not his past”. Marty spoke as if women had been the bane of his life ever since his birth. “Where did they go in the end?”