|Previous Issue - The Harbor|
Issue 27 - All the FarewellsEdit
Valez didn’t have time to retaliate; he instantly fell to the ground, dropping his gun, and the clutch he had on Hamill’s arm. Hamill, out of surprise, was slightly ducked down, covering his head. After a few seconds of silence, he peeks to see his captor, lifeless on the ground.
“What the hell’re you doin!?” Rick barks at Vinnie, looking in between him and Valez. “H-he had a family! He—”
“Had to be done Rick,” Vinnie replies, his tone worry-free. He walks over to Valez, who was profusely bleeding in the cement, eyes still open. “This damn hostage shit woulda taken hours.” He crouches down on his level, scanning his suit. “And plus, I freakin’ ‘ated him…” He taps Valez’s breast pocket and reaches inside, retrieving a piece of metal that was almost invisible to the naked eye. He transfers his look to Hamill, and lobs it to him; Hamill catches it by the cup of his cuffed hands.
“Yeah, but… w-we coulda…” Rick scratches the back of his head and walks over to Vinnie, observing Valez with him. Vinnie was half-way through standing up. “I hated him, Rick,” he says, upon turning to him; he pats his shoulder twice. “You know I been wantin’ to do that for ages now.”
Rick shoots him a look of concern, starting from his eyes. The look eventually drops and turns into a half-smirk. “You crazy fuckin’ old man.” He nudges him on the side of his shoulder.
Rick had all the reason to believe Vinnie; he often expressed how he regretted hiring him. Valez was often too unfriendly and stubborn when they worked together… not to mention he supported every choice Mr. Burrough made. The way he looked so vulnerable when he was “taking his leave” seemed to be the first time he lied to them. Maybe he did deserve this.
Hamill was finally free from his handcuffs after a few minutes of removing it. “Gimme that, kid,” Vinnie asks, as he sees Hamill about to discard them. He pauses for a second and drags it to his hand, dropping the small key with it.
Hamill then runs to Laura, who was already walking toward him; they both leap into each other’s arms, hugging tightly like they’ve never done before. “I shoulda taken you with me,” he whispers to the side of her ear. “Y-yeah,” she replies, her voice slightly weak from weeping.
“What…. what the hell is going on here?” Nina asks to Julius; they were the closest to the front door, watching the scene unfold before their eyes. Julius takes a few seconds to respond; it felt like he was watching the ending of a movie.
“Oh, uh…” he turns to her, trying to gather everything he had just learned. “That’s Mr. Burrough’s son right there. Ha—Hamill? I think. The woman he’s hugging is Laura, Burrough’s old… I don’t know, lover? You were gonna be the replacement.” He nudges her side with his elbow; Nina’s eyebrow was raised as she exchanges looks between him and the scene in front of her.
“Hamill fled… to the harbor, or something. Was probably securing a boat for him and Laura. But… I guess, that guy over there—the one Vinnie shot—” He points toward Vinnie and Rick, who were now walking toward Laura and Hamill. “He caught Hamill and was about to bring him back.” He looks to the direction Nina looked at, partly to confirm that she was listening; the way she was quiet, as if observing everything, answered for it.
“Wait... uh—” Nina absent-mindedly points her hands up, and fumbles her words. “So… he—hmm…” She lets out a sigh as she cuts her arm-flailing short. “Ohhhhhhh…” she bellows, folding back her arms.
The sky was starting to turn into a dark-blue hue, as everybody prepared their goodbyes; Laura and Hamill were the first to get ready, their luggage already arranged in the living room. Julius and Nina were in the same room as them, discussing their next plans.
Hamill was telling everyone the boat he was going to use to escape; Julius, picturing an old-fashioned row-boat, seemed to be way off. “It was my dad’s. I mean, I looked after it more, but he was the one that bought it.” It was a small motor-boat with enough gas for them to travel for a long term, according to Hamill.
Julius recalled the news he once saw on the television; the sight of a small, unnamed shore somewhere in Tennessee, where people fumbled to reach one boat, any boat they can ride. Some were fishermen boats, others luxury yachts; it was a melting pot of boats. This was a few weeks before the apocalypse. “How’d you guys manage to save this?” he asks, his curiosity growing as he recalled this particular news segment.
Hamill, who was standing as if he was presenting a lecture, turns to look at him. “Oh, well… it was pretty well-hidden behind a few abandoned boats. I mean, I thought it’d be discovered somehow…” He turns away to ponder this thought, but stops, turning back to Julius in almost an instant. “... but, again, it was too well-hidden.”
“And I’m really sorry guys, again,” Laura adds; she transfers glances between Nina and Julius. “Wish we had room.” Nina gives Laura an indifferent, somewhat pleasant look; from Julius’s angle, they looked like sisters.
“It’s okay… I mean, you guys are going to a different place after all.” Nina gives Hamill a brief look. “I mean… where… where again?” Nina raises one brow up and gives them both a curious look.
“Delacroix, Louisiana. Maybe,” Laura responds.
“Or Toronto. Honestly…” Hamill gives Laura a long look, to get her approval; instead, she just smiles at him. “… we don’t know.”
Vinnie’s hand rested on the back of a grumpy Harold; the flat side of his hair answered for much of his bed-head. He was leading him to a familiar area somewhere in the backyard.
Rick followed closely behind them, finding it hard to hold the tingling feeling he had for seeing Mr. Burrough’s messy bed-head. He tries his best to hold his mouth closed, even covering it with his hand a few times.
They arrive at the basement, which is just outside the house; it was literally built underground, with a somewhat visible passage on the lawn.
The way Harold’s face fell made a perfect mugshot. Of course, his current predicament wasn’t any different; he was handcuffed by Vinnie, and is on the way to being “confined” in his own basement.
Rick pulls the entrance open, revealing a darkness-shrouded, semi-long staircase. Vinnie nudges Harold down there to move. “It’s too damn dark,” he complains, as he starts to descend on the first few steps.
“Yeah, well we’ll light it up once we get down there,” Vinnie responds, looking at him impatiently.
“Why, Vincent?” Harold stops in his tracks, and turns toward him. “Just yesterday you couldn’t wait to impress me again.” Vinnie pauses, looking at him with a somewhat muddled expression.
“Yeah, well…” he scratches the corner of his mouth with his finger. “…that was yesterday. I couldn’ believe it took me that long to realize that you’re too far down.”
Harold curves his eyebrows down. “Too… far down?”
“You’re messed up.” Vinnie points to the temple of his head. “In here.”
Harold turns away, a brief smirk forming in his mouth. His eyes were somewhat closed, looking down on the dark interior of the basement.
“What the hell do you FUCKING mean, I’m ‘Too far down’!?” His head suddenly shoots toward Vinnie, raising his volume to an uncomfortable level. Rick almost flinches.
“That’s exactly what I mean, old friend.” Vinnie shakes his head, and continues to nudge him to go down. They both descend into the shrouded open space, the smell of dust and old antiques mixing together.
Rick, who was right behind them, finds the switch and flicks it on. A bright, white light suddenly illuminates the room, revealing the hoarded trinkets Harold once bought; there was a small slot machine, a pile of board games, a few moose head trophies, and the zamboni, to name a few.
“Y’remember this shit, Harold?” Vinnie digs one hand on his pocket while he points to the items with his other. “Never got to use ‘em. Now’s your chance.” He looks to Rick coolly, and reaches for his breast pocket. Out comes a small, stick-like piece of silver held by his two fingers.
“Y’got all yer life, Harold. Make use o’ this shit.” He turns away, and flicks the silver piece into the pile, passing by a small crevice in between an 80’s style chair and an intricately carved wall clock.
Vinnie walks past Harold. “Let’s go,” he says to Rick, whom he meets in the side of the stairs.
“Like I said ol’ friend, y’got all yer life.” His voice trails off as his stomps echo behind Harold.
“What the hell do you fucking mean, Vincent!?” Harold’s voice had an even louder echo; Rick still can’t get over that particular volume his voice can reach.
“Leavin’ the lights on. When yer hungry go ahead an’ look through that antique fridge over there.” Harold turns to the wooden, 80’s style refrigerator he couldn’t recall buying. “Y’stuffed that shit with food if y’remember…”
The footsteps suddenly end, and after a second, the sound of wood making solid contact rings behind him. It was followed by a few metal clicks soon afterward.
The people inside the house find themselves in front of it again, the sky weakly bright above them. Vinnie and Rick made sure Valez’s body wasn’t there, but they couldn’t do anything about the puddle of blood left by him. Instead, they just tried not to look at it.
Vinnie talks to Hamill, while Rick aids Laura in putting their numerous belongings onto the back of the car. Julius and Nina stood side by side with each other, much like earlier, but the only difference this time is that they stood in front of the garage.
Vinnie pulls Hamill to a hug and does two firm pats on his back, then walks him to the car. Rick finishes up the packing by pushing the trunk down, while Laura enters the passenger seat.
Hamill was about to enter the car, when he sees Rick stop by at Vinnie’s side; he jogs over to him and gives him a firm embrace. Hamill sees the two visitors from behind him and waves with one free hand, a friendly look on his face. Julius and Nina wave back.
Hamill runs back to his car, enters it, and starts the ignition. Rick and Vinnie, their arms folded, look at the car as it drives off. Rick waves as it vanishes into view.
They both walk toward Julius and Nina, two guests they almost forgot to accommodate.
“Yo um…” Vinnie looks to Julius and stops walking, while Rick passes behind him. “Guy. Y’wanna take a shower?”
Julius looks a bit bewildered, mostly because of his shyness and surprise mixing in together. He gives Nina a few glances to mediate it down. “Uh… um…”
A smile grows on Vinnie’s face. “Just say yeah, pal. Y’friend seems to already approve.” Julius turns to Nina; she was covering her nose, while her eyes playfully try to look away.
Julius hasn’t had a shower in weeks. In the first few days since he broke into the house, he remembered feeling the grimy heaviness he was afraid of feeling. He felt a bit dampened when he went on his lone scavenging runs, almost discouraged on doing the task at hand. But after a while, he realized it was nothing but a first-world problem; he knew he won’t be able to afford regular showers these days. Not anymore, in fact.
He made room for this problem, and before he knew it, he was back on his feet. He let the breeze and the pleasant warmth of the sun relax him instead.
Once he found out that they had a working shower, he felt a bit indifferent. But once he received a clean, pearly white towel from Rick, his heart started to pound rapidly. He was nervous… nervous, in an extremely excited way. Nervous because once he takes this shower, he’ll want to have many showers again. Nervous, because he might’ve forgotten how to take a shower…
As he entered the bathroom and saw the sparkling white tiles, designer wood pieces, and the sophisticated shower tub itself, he was almost going to faint. How could he have deserved this? He couldn’t help but say the phrase “Oh my God” about twenty times in his mind when he removed his jacket, then his socks…
The next twenty, or thirty, or maybe even forty minutes was nothing but pure bliss. The way the water was so cool, then warm, then cool… and the soap. And the shampoo. And the water… He was sure he was going to fall asleep in that tub, but he knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
Everything passed by in a blur. He rummages through his backpack to see if he had extra clothing, so that he doesn’t have to put back his thirty-days-of-unsanitary clothing back on. He was lucky to acquire a few unused undergarments and some shirts during his scavenging runs, since he knew there was going to be a time like this…
As he chooses to put on his grimy pants, he hears knocking on the bathroom door. “Julius?” a female voice calls from the other side. “Screw it,” he mutters, and slips the pants on.
He holds the knob and pulls the door open, revealing Nina in front of him. “Yes?” he asks.
“Oh, alright,” Nina pauses briefly, “…you’re alive.”
“Why? How long was I in there?”
“Oh, nothing.” Nina casually looks away. “About an hour.”
“Oh.” Julius turns to his eyes to the side of the door shyly.
“Anyway… do you have… any clothes that need to be washed?” The last half of the sentence came out of her mouth in an instant.
Julius gives her a quizzical look. “Uh, yes?” He was just wondering in if they happened to have…
“Because we can do our laundry upstairs. Rick said we could be the last people to use it.” Nina maintains her look at Julius, but she knew something was going on in his head; the way he briefly smiled, plus the way his eyes suddenly grew told her everything.
“Um y-yes, I got some um…” Julius glances behind him and scratches his head, as if he did something embarrassing. “I got some clothes in t—that I would want to get—washed in there.” Once he finishes his mess of words, he tries to look normal. A smile grows on Nina’s face, telling him that he did something wrong.
She was trying her best to hold her laugh back when Julius squeaked his voice like a little girl when he said the word “clothes”. She tries to pass it off by staying on subject. “Alright. It’s… right upstairs, on the far—hahahahahaha—” She breaks into a loud, piercing giggle, one that Julius can’t seem to sympathize to.
Rick was nice enough to lend Julius a spare pair of pants, so that he can wash all of his unclean clothes on the washing machine. He even took this time to wash the new clothes he was held onto.
He didn’t remember seeing the door for this laundry room. It was to the right side of the hallway after all. He waits inside of it, looking at the machine rumble in front of him, while its loud, spinning sound drowned out any noise in the room. Nina was in the same room as him, sitting on the dryer which was to the left of the washing machine; it was her clothes drying up, after all.
Julius leans back behind the tall, thin closet behind him, folding his arms.
“Why’re you still wearing that?” he asks Nina, briefly looking at her clothes. “In fact… why’d you dress up for that sick old man, anyway?” His volume was loud enough to stay on top of the washing machine’s rumble.
Nina, who was playfully swinging her crossed shins in front of the dryer’s opening, turns to him with a curious look, as if she woke up from daydreaming. “Oh, uh…” She looks below her chest to scan her dress. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, but… why’d you wear it? Did Vinnie make you?”
Nina leans forward and curves her eyebrows, as if she didn’t hear what he said. But, she soon leans back, nodding. “I figured it was a good time to dress up. Y’know. I didn’t want to wear my clothes because they were so… yucky.” She points to the dryer down below her briefly. “And since there was a good selection, I … y’know, might as well. And they all fit me pretty good, and stuff.” She looks down onto her dress again, clearly admiring it.
“I didn’t know your hair was that long,” Julius adds, his eyes now observing her untied hair.
“Oh, yeah,” Nina replies, looking side by side on the blonde locks that go down to her shoulders. “It hasn’t been this free since… ever!” She briefly shakes her head to let her hair wave side-by-side. Julius smirks and returns looking at the rumbling washing machine.
“I think I’m keeping this dress!” Julius turns to her, seeing her point to it. “It looks so nice, right?”
Julius raises one brow up, then shrugs, reverting his expression to an unimpressed one. “It’s alright on you.”
“What?!” Nina tries to nudge him with her foot, but he was just a short distance too far. “It looks awesome!”
“It looks like moss,” he interjects, trying to maintain his expression.
“You look like… moss!”
“Ow, I’m hurt.”
“You better be!” Nina tries to kick him some more, but eventually quits; instead, she leaps from the dryer, and lightly kicks his shin.
Vinnie sat in the dining room, on one of the chairs. Rick, standing up, was looking at him.
“So what the hell changed yer mind, old man?” he asks; Vinnie, who was looking away, his arms folded on top of the table, turns to him.
“About what?” he absent-mindedly asks.
“About that old man, Harold, and his sick fuckin’ ways. You were all supportive o’ this just a day ago.”
Vinnie pulls up one arm and lets his head rest on its hand, while he taps his fingers on the tabletop with the other. “He got me sucked into that disillusionment shit. Iunno. But I bought it for a while. Figured now that…” He sighs, and now leans back on his chair. “… the world’s ended, might as well make adjustments. Kinda late though, an’ I’m sorry.”
Rick shakes his head, and approaches the dining table. He pulls the chair directly in front of Vinnie and casually sits on it. “It’s fine ol’ man. Least we’re still ‘ere, not dead, still workin’agether after all these years.” Vinnie, looking away, nods; he turns to see Rick sitting right in front of him. “Don’t—don’t gimme that dramatic shit, Rick. Y’know I ain’t got tears f’that.”
Rick leans back on his own chair in a similar fashion, and smirks. “Sorry, boss.” They both look away in silence for a few moments. Above them, the sounds of the washing machines roared in a muffled manner.
“So… uh, what’d’you think ‘bout these kids?” Rick suddenly asks. He stops leaning in from his chair and assumes a straighter posture. Vinnie, on the other hand, stayed the same. “Nice bunch o’ folks. I mean, if it probally hadn’t been f’them…” Vinnie glances the ceiling once. “… I wouldn’ ‘ave realized any of this shit.” He impatiently taps the table with his right hand, while Rick relaxes both his.
“Y’still think they a couple?”
Vinnie raises an eyebrow as he turns to him. “Y’still think I’m a matchmaker?”
Rick intently nods his head. “I wouldn’ta met my wife if it wasn’t for you.”
“Y’still think that?” A bright smile grows on Vinnie’s face. “Match made in heaven, chief.”
“Get outta town.” Rick shakes his head, clearly showing that he was certain.
“Well…” Vinnie stops leaning, and places both his hands flat on the table. “I don’t… I dunno. Kids these days’re weird. Y’guys were born at a good year, at least.”
Rick scoffs, and looks away. “I mean, the woman… Nina? Somethin’ tells me she ain’t into him.”
“… ain’t into dudes.”
“Exactly.” They both look weirdly at each other, pausing for a moment, then looking away. “Honestly, I don’t know,” Vinnie adds.
“That girl, Nina though. She was as short as Patrice. All… happy, like ‘er, too.” All the happiness from Rick’s face changes into a more serious and blank expression.
“Probably about her age by now,” he replies. “Yeah…” Vinnie nods. “Yeah, she would be.”
“We got…” Rick folds the sleeve of his right hand, revealing a watch. “... time. We should say hi.” Vinnie looks up above him once. “Yeah, we should.”
Vinnie couldn’t help but notice his working watch. “Y’got any spares for that?”
Rick turns to him as he folds his sleeve back. “No.”
Vinnie curves the corner of his mouth. “Ah, that’s a shame.”
As soon as they prepare packing, they tell Rick of what their intention was in visiting the house in the first place; Nina wanted to take the car, the particular one that was parked on their driveway. Rick leads them both out to meet Vinnie, who seemed to be waiting outside, in front of the garage.
“Yo Vin,” Rick calls, as they approach him. “They… wanna use the car.” He points to the jet-black four-seater with his thumb. Vinnie looks to the car, then to Julius and Nina. “Oh…” He tightly closes his mouth. “Sorry kids. That… that’s our only vehicle. We need it.” He gives them a somewhat disappointed look, and lightly shrugs.
Rick, looking down on the cement, was rubbing his chin. “Wait… wait a moment…” he mutters, just right next to them.
“Hey Vin… y’remember Chill Bill’s car?” Vinnie’s look suddenly shoots up, then turns around, setting his eyes on the unattractive, dusty, rosewood-colored car parked on the opposite side of the house.
“The keys’re in the shelf, near the key rack,” he tells Rick, gesturing him toward the front door. Rick nods, and quickly runs to go get it. Julius and Nina look to each other with a bit of astonishment.
“That’s Chill Bill’s car right there,” Vinnie tells them, pointing to the car he was looking at.
“If you don’t mind me asking… w-why Chill Bill?” Nina replies. Vinnie pauses, then gathers his thoughts.
“Well… that’s actually our back-up car. Looks like crap, I know, but… it had gas.” He turns his direction toward it. “We didn’ know who owned it but we assumed it’s one o’ those…” He points to the horizon of other houses in front of him. “Young kids livin’ in these parts. Kinda me and Rick’s name for… y’know. Stoner kids.” He scoffs.
“Anyway, we claimed it when the world went to shit, y’know… just in case we needed a second one. I mean, we’re willin’ to give it to ya for free.” A smile of amazement grows on Nina’s face, while Julius sighs in relief, but does it quietly.
“I mean, I think it has an extra canister in the back—” Vinnie stops once he sees Rick shoot out from the front door, running to the side of the pair and handing them the keys.
“Still has a canister, right Rick?” he asks him, to make sure. Rick nods. “We needed the other one and stuff… it’s full, though.”
“Y’guys know how to siphon gas?” Julius and Nina look to each other in response to Rick’s question.
“Um… I, uh, saw a poster of instructions once,” Julius replies. This was back in his scavenging days when he ran across an abandoned mechanical shop. “Haven’t put it into practice though…”
“Oh, well…” Rick looks to Vinnie, then to Julius. “Should be fine.” He gives him a smirk of confidence, and pats his shoulder. “Just don’t swallow the gas. I mean, Chill Bill left a wire with a rubber pump so taking it out shouldn’ be too hard.” He pats his shoulder twice more, to ensure it.
“Alright then.” They all look at each other, as a last gesture before saying goodbye. They all then exchange pleasantries, with hugs here and there.
“Thank you thank you thank you for everything,” Julius says to Rick, as they both firmly shake hands after a hug. “The shower, the laundry, the…” “Don’t mention it, kid.” He pats the side of his arm.
Vinnie and Nina discuss their plans after hugging. “Where you off to next, kiddo?”
“I’m taking him to Portola, for… something. I forget.”
“For a date?” Vinnie smirks. “I mean, y’all are together. He’s a guy. Yer a gal. What could…” The way Nina looked apathetic made him think twice. “You mean you don’t…” Nina glances at Julius, then turns to Vinnie, shaking her head; the way she did it so adamantly seemed to confirm his thoughts. “Hmph… alright.”
“Oh, now I remember,” she adds. “His girlfriend is in Portola.”
Vinnie pauses for a second then opens his mouth. “Ohhhhh…” he bellows. “Well, was nice seein’ ya, kid.”
“You really mean what you said earlier?”
“About how I look like her.”
“Oh.” He pauses and looks at her face one last time. He then puts his hand up above her head. “Height, attitude, an’ everything.” Nina smirks, as the look on Vinnie’s face spreads over to her.
Vinnie looked for the best clothes he had; he changes to a clean suit and tie, and wears his leather jacket and gloves. He didn’t have to tell Rick to change; he knew what the occasion was, like the good partner he was.
An hour after Nina and Julius’s leave, they both decided to take the car for a spin. Rick decided to drive Vinnie there.
“How many years has it been?” he asks Vinnie, as the car steadily moved in the road, the surroundings passing by in almost a blur.
“About ten.” Vinnie never thought he could say that, after holding it for so long; there was no perfect time but now.
After a few turns, and some stops to kill walkers, the landscape was starting to come into view; the addition of large, rectangular stones, crosses, and dead flowers made it as depressing as ever.
It was Sunset Cemetery, a place Vinnie could never imagine visiting again in a while. Rick parks the car on the sidewalk just in front of the entrance.
They both exit silently, their silenced pistols in hand just in case. This was a fortunate day for them; no walker was present in sight.
Vinnie adjusts his collar while Rick follows him closely. They walk over a few run-down rectangles and crosses of stone, until they were in the middle of the landscape
To the grass-covered ground lies a simple stone plaque, the words “Patricia Adalberto, 19” were engraved on it. Vinnie kneels down on one, and removes the glove that covers his right hand.
“Here I am, kiddo, your old man,” he says. “I have time now. Got time to… visit you.” His voice starts to whimper, slightly. “You look good. You… grew up some.” He looks up to Rick with a smile, and eyes shining with wetness. “I… didn’t even…” He stops talking, as tears fall down onto his cheeks. “Y’don’t know how I much I loved you when I was away. Sorry I took work before… before you.” He kisses his two fingers with his lips and taps it onto the plaque. “Love ya, kiddo.”
Rick lets his quietness subside, as they drive back to the house, to discuss their future plans. Once they parked onto the driveway, Rick decided it was time to talk to Vinnie again.
“So uh… what next?” he asks him, as they both walk side by side toward the front door.
“You remember Alberta?” Vinnie responds, looking at him while opening the door. Rick looks away, shaking his head.
“Really? Wait. Wait a sec.” Vinnie runs upstairs for a moment, while Rick tries to recall what “Alberta” was. He remembers that he wanted to go to Canada once…
He turns as he hears Vinnie’s footsteps return. He appears again with a busy-looking set of keys in his hand; there was a brown, square piece of leather that hung from it.
“Alberta?” he asks, displaying the keys to him. Rick folds his arms, still trying to recall it. “Is it… the country…?”
“Close!” Vinnie takes back the keys toward him, making them jingle. “Where did your wife live again?”
Rick curves his eyebrows. His wife? He knew she either ran off with another guy, or she’s a walker. He got over this about a week ago. “What? My wife? She uh… Vermont?”
“And tell me, Rick… do you wanna go to Vermont?” Rick, again looks puzzled at him; but after a few seconds, his look grows into amazement. “But y’haven’t—this was back in ’92!!”
Vinnie smirks; it looks like he knows what he’s talking about. “You…” Rick shakes his index finger toward him. “That why y’been sneakin’ out sometimes?”
“Maybe, maybe.” He examines the keys again by bringing it up to the level of his eyes. “But I just know it’ll be good firin’ up ol’ Alberta again.”