Miserable, Joseph collapsed on Riley’s leather couch. That and an old record player and a coffee table were all that was left of Riley’s possessions. Everything else had been moved to his new home. Akira quipped that Joseph would have to be carried out in his pajama bottoms on the couch to get him to leave. Joseph was not amused.
He picked up a copy of his wife’s latest book, Clockwork Carnival. He was torturing himself. She didn’t want him anymore. She wouldn’t be his wife for much longer, but somehow leafing through the pages made him feel close to her again. The story followed a handsome Ferris wheel operator, muscular, tattooed, and dark haired, who kept having mysterious encounters with a beautiful redhaired woman every night at midnight on the carousel.
Unbeknownst to him, the woman pined away for her love from inside the mural on the carousel walls, forever trapped within the paint. On their final night together, she finally told him her fate and then climbed to the top of the Ferris wheel begging the gods to fly… just once. And when she fell and lay dying in his arms, she asked him four little words, “Do you still love me?”
Joseph couldn’t help but tear up a little at this couple’s ending. The male protagonist was named Joe. It was fitting. He could practically hear his Lizzie asking the same thing. The parallels were astonishing. Of course, he still loved her. He balled his fist and slammed it into the couch. I’m an idiot! She needs to hear that. In all his phone calls, messages, texts, and letters, he never once assured Lizzie of his love.
“Come on, get dressed,” Riley burst into the apartment.
“Not now, Riley,” Joseph shrugged and turned to face away from his friend, feeling pretty glum.
“No, you don’t have a choice,” Akira sauntered into the room. “We’re going out.”
They arrived in Newcrest by nightfall. Riley and Akira planned some guys outing, and while Joseph wasn’t in the mood, he did appreciate his friends trying. John, Lizzie’s cousin was there, and his old roommate, Issador, whom Joseph had met at Cathy and Amy’s wedding. Munter Bacon flew into town to join the group, and that fighter pilot, Ace Reynolds also made an appearance. As they stepped off the tram, Joseph wondered what they were doing here.
“This is where you and Lizzie first had your date,” John explained.
“Yeah, so?” Joseph was confused. “It was a horrible first date. And I was an llama’s butt.”
“This,” Riley called from the sidewalk, speaking between sit-ups. “…is an… intervention, Joseph. You need Elizabeth. She needs you. And you need to be reminded of your love for each other.”
“So you took me to the site of a failed date?”
If he wasn’t so tired and heartachy from the past few months, he’d be amused.
“Come on,” Riley popped up from the curb, walking between Munter and John as the two were sizing each other up. “Now you boys play nice. We’re here for Joseph.”
“Of course,” Munter replied coolly.
“Right,” John grunted.
Joseph frowned. Were those two getting along now? He couldn’t keep up with Karleen’s exploits, but in the end, she seemed happy with Munter and John seemed happy with Ash.
“Julian’s already inside,” John remarked, waving to Joseph’s almost brother-in-law.
“Great, let’s go get some Bernish coffees,” Ace grinned.
“And wine,” Izzie said. “Do not forget the wine.”
“Oh the joie de vivre,” Riley swooned. “We drink wine. We sing loud. We fight the establishment…” he cleared his throat and hit his chest proudly. “Viva la revolucion! L’chaim! To Life! Let’s drink!”
“What revolution?” John wrinkled his nose.
“Space age or old world?” Ace interrupted.
“Don’t look at me,” Munter shrugged.
“I think he might already be intoxicated from raiding the mini bar in our train car,” Akira laughed lightly, steadying his partner by offering his arm. “And he’s mixing languages again.”
“De nada!” Riley leaped onto one of the fence posts, scrunching like a leap frog. “People! There’s a party to be happening,” Riley said in an excited childlike tone. “Now come on, Joseph…” he urged, grabbing Joseph’s hand as he jumped from the post. “I’ve got something awesome planned.”
Forty minutes later, Joseph was laughing and dancing and singing along to “Ooo Child.” It was the song playing the night that Lizzie tried to get him to dance with her for the first time. He realized as he waved his arms in a silly fashion that he had been trying to keep up with her ever since, and she needed more than that. She needed him to be himself and to know who he was and to be confident in himself. He had struggled to hold a job and make sense of his life in orbit around the wildly successful and popular Lizzie and that jealousy and insecurity and pride had damaged their relationship and his sense of self.
“Ooh, child, things are gonna get easier,” Akira sang loudly from out on the patio.
“Ooh, child, things are gonna get brighter,” Riley sang tiredly from his seat at the table. “If I wasn’t so drunk off my llama’s butt,” he pumped his fist in the air. “…I’d come over there and join you all.”
“Some day, yeah,” Joseph sang as he spun around. “We’ll get it together and we’ll get it all done. Some day when your head is much lighter.”
“Oooh yeah,” Riley said. “Someday… my head is gonna… tolerate… more… nectar…” he collapsed on the table.
“We’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun,” Joseph continued. “Some day when the world is much brighter.” He took off his cap and saluted the bartender. “You guys!” he exclaimed. “I gotta go.”
“Yeah, you go… you go get her!” Riley said, muffled, pumped his fist in the air without looking up.
“You want to borrow my jet?” Munter asked. “You could fly back to the city and pack your stuff.”
Joseph blinked a few times. “Right… um… sure… where is it?”
“At the airstrip, I’ll call ahead and arrange everything,” he replied, pulling out his phone. “Oh shoot!”
The device was already ringing.
“It’s my dad. He and my mum are coming into town. They want to meet Karleen,” Munter sighed. “I was kinda avoiding telling them about the baby.”
Joseph grinned and slapped his friend on the back. “You’re gonna be a great dad! I’m sure they’ll love her.”
“Hey man, you’re going to be a great dad,” Munter said. “Seriously, you and Lizzie are made for each other.”
“Thanks Munter,” Joseph smiled. “Thanks guys.” He waved to everyone. “Now I’ve gotta get to the airport.”
Everyone said goodbye, everyone except Riley.
“My head feels… funny… and words taste like…Skittles.”
Akira chuckled. “Alright, sweetie, it’s time to turn in at the hotel.”
I wandered through the Von Haunt Gardens, one of the most beautiful parks on the Eastern seaboard. It was a cool, foggy night so I opted for a leather jacket I had picked up at a thrift shop last time I went shopping with Karleen. My cap kept my hair from blowing all over the place in the wind. My wedges crunched against the gravel as I followed the brick wall surrounding the landscaped gardens.
I was happy. My flight was scheduled for the day after tomorrow. I would go home and see Joseph and make things up to him. I would ask for him to forgive me and take me back. That was the plan. I figured I had the next forty hours or so to come up with more eloquent lines, something that really reflected the state of my heart. Any time I was stuck on wording, I liked to stroll around town, usually late at night, to help freshen my perspective. I could’ve sworn someone was calling my name.
“Wow, you walk fast in heels,” Rob remarked as he stopped to catch his breath.
“Rob, what are you doing here?” I inquired.
“Still in town. Saw you. Thought I’d come. See how you’re doing,” he said, as he sharply inhaled between each statement. “And see. If. You. Want. To grab a coffee. With me. You still like.. Simithiopian?”
“I’m going home, Rob,” I said. “To Joseph.”
Not even coffee could tempt me away.
“Really? I’m glad for you,” Rob panted, bending over to grab his knees.
“You don’t sound too convincing,” I narrowed my eyes.
“Look Lizzie, I always wanted you to be happy,” he said, taking some gasping breaths.
“Are you okay, Rob?” I asked, frowning.
“And I always wanted you to be mine. But those two things aren’t necessarily in line with each other,” he offered with a shaky laugh. “And yeah, I’m fine. I wish you luck, Lizzie. Now where can a guy find the facilities around here?”
“Good night,” I waved as he ran away, puzzled, but still feeling peaceful in my heart about my choice to go home to my husband.
I toyed with my ring. “Oh Joseph, I’ll be home soon,” I whispered.
Thirty minutes later, Rob hit yet another dead end in what felt like the endless maze of bushes in the Von Haunt Gardens. This felt like some sort of strange parallel to his life. He once loved Lizzie, but he lost her every time to Joseph. The guy was obviously the better choice and he meant what he said, but Rob couldn’t help but feel sad. Sad and uncomfortable. By now, his bladder had grown excruciatingly full.
“What the hell!” he faced a tall hedge and unzipped his fly.
A sharp pain whizzed through his brain and he groaned as he felt his whole body teeter as it was shutting down. This can’t be… how… I go… he thought. Carrie? Would his daughter be okay? Yes, he winced. His final thoughts in this world as he gripped his head were about how Lizzie would make such a good mom.
Author Notes: So much happening in game. Okay, first, we’ll start with the ending. I got a notification that it was Rob’s time to go. I thought it odd since he was still a young-ish adult. I followed him around a bit, he had an “accident” in the maze, and then he died from over-exertion in the garden. Poor guy! R.I.P. InfraGreen‘s Rob. This version of the Von Haunt Estate was created by Peacemaker. LegacySims2017‘s Joseph wouldn’t leave simscognito‘s Riley’s couch even after I moved him out and into Akira’s penthouse. I decided to expand a bit on the novella Lizzie wrote in game. Then Riley invited Joseph to join him in Newcrest. The part about Munterbacon‘s Munter’s plane was a convenient way to get Joseph back to San Myshuno quickly. Helps that he’s a billionaire in game. 😉 Hope you enjoyed. Thanks for reading. This chapter also featured MINEZ‘ Issador and Julian. townies, Akira and did I spy J Huntington the III? Ace Reynolds also made an appearance along with my Simself’s cousin, John Schooner.