Longest Novel Fall of the Republic Remaster - Chapter 2 - MorganKingsley (2024)

Chapter Text

Volume 2 Part 1: The Spy (Rhett Confidant)

Scene 1: March 25, 2024 1:20 AM

When I was sitting on the couch, unsure what the hell I was supposed to be doing besides being asleep when my body couldn't handle it, that was when there was a doorbell ring. I looked up, unsure of what I was supposed to be doing. I just looked around, and I had no real clue what I was even supposed to be doing.

I heard a knock on the door. I stood up, walked on over, and answered it, even though I knew that if I did this, and my parents f*cking knew it, I would get in so much trouble that it wouldn't even remotely be worth it. But to be honest, I hardly gave a single sh*t at all. People were going to judge me no matter what I did, so why did it even f*cking matter?

When I saw who it was though, I was glad to see that it indeed was just Rhett, which made me feel like it was not that big of a deal that I answered his knock. He did look shocked to even see me there to begin with. I then smiled though, and I had hoped that the two of us could be able to hang out and just talk for a while before he was off to do his own thing, and to hang out with Josiah and what not.

"What are you up to?" He asked, and I smiled at the fact that he seemed interested enough to know what I had been thinking. I shrugged, since I had no real clue if it was really worth taking the risk and talking to him about this. But to be honest, I didn't really care all that much anyways.

"Trying to sleep." I said, smiling at this, and I could tell that he found my comment to be amusing enough, but chose to not say much beyond that. Almost as if he had felt like if I wasn't asleep, then that might be kind of my fault, and not his any longer.

"Fair enough. I promise that I will not take up much of your time. I just need to try and see if Josiah is available." He said, and I felt like there was no way he would be. After all, Josiah was probably still trying to work on his projects and sh*t. I felt like maybe I would have to tell him that this was the case. But I had no idea if he would really want me to do that.

"He's busy." I said, feeling like I just needed to tell him off there. As I did that, I could see that he wasn't too caring about that. As if he had felt like that was just the story that he wanted me to tell him, and nothing more. But I felt like this was not really how it f*cking worked at all. I rubbed my eyes, since I wasn't really too sure how I was supposed to f*cking feel here.

"Okay, well then, I feel like he will have to make the time to not be as busy anymore. I have some sh*t that I need him to do for me." He said, and then he sat down, as if he had felt like there was nothing else to say. "To be honest, I still feel like I am way in over my head. You know, like I thought that I could be able to handle something. But that was all a f*cking joke, and I feel like I made myself into a even worse pickle than I was in earlier."

"Now I am starting to wonder if the things that I thought were so important are even really all that important after all. You know, like if the sh*t about my mom even matters anymore. I mean, I feel like after nearly four years, what happened to her might not even be all that big of a deal anymore." He told me, feeling like he just needed to be honest with me.

"All in all, maybe I am just mentally trying to find the excuses to not be looking into it anymore. Maybe deep down inside, I have lost all interest in what happened to mom anymore, and now I am just trying to move on forever." After he told me that, I slowly nodded. I felt like I could be able to respect what he was saying. Even though I didn't really like it, I could be able to understand what he was saying. After all, Rhett spent more time on thinking about this than I ever had.

"Stop investigating then." I said, plain and simply, feeling like he was thinking too deep into this. Rhett shook his head, as if he had felt like what I said was just completely wrong. There was no way in hell he could forget the sh*t that had gotten him into this in the first place. It was just not f*cking allowed to do something that simple.

"I wish it would be that simple. Just drop everything I am doing. But that is not how it works buddy. People want a piece of the equation, and they will take it. They will never take no for an answer, and I feel like I can't even blame them. I wouldn't want to take no for an answer either. And you shouldn't either." As he told me this, he took a cigarette out as if just getting himself at home, and ready to talk with me more.

"But to be honest, part of me wonders if I am stuck in this limbo. If I am stuck in a limbo of wanting to do so much more. But not being able to actually f*cking do it. And that feeling will be the thing that eats me away. Feeling like I should do so much more than I have." When he finished, I then felt like there was nothing else to say. He got his point made, and I felt like maybe soon enough, I could be able to come to a complete and total understanding.

"What about Josiah?" I asked, feeling like maybe he would tell me if Josiah was in this 'limbo' or not. As I asked that, I could see that Rhett hadn't looked too sure if he was sure how to respond to that. Almost as if he felt like I was just setting him up there at that moment.

"Well, Josiah seems smart enough, and I feel like he probably knows what he's doing. But that is the issue. I feel like he already knows what he wants to do, and that he won't take no for an answer. Josiah is a smart man. But he is a stubborn man as well, and I feel that both of those things can only compliment each other for so long before they all fall apart." Rhett told me, and I had seen him appreciate the fact that he was finally coming to his senses.

"Look, I don't really want to talk about it that much anymore. I mean, I think that even though Josiah and I get along well, and I very much respect him like a brother, the two of us are just never meant to f*cking work together. And I feel so awful knowing that somebody who really respects me is a man who I can never be able to work with." As Rhett was looking at the television, I could see that he wanted to say something to me about this.

"Did you know that at one point in time, there were these strange broadcasts from the past that would come on TV late at night? Things from several years ago that were recorded without anybody knowing. Your brother Jack told me all about them, and I tried to watch a few of them. But I never got the same interesting results that he did." Rhett told me, and with the smile on his face, I knew that I was getting him back up to being a bit bubbly."

"Do they still play?" I asked, not exactly sure what else to f*cking ask. Rhett looked at me, and I was seeing that he was trying to decide if he wanted to tell me or not. Then with that, he just put down his finished cigarette, as if feeling like he would at least be honest about his answer to my question.

"I don't doubt it if I am being honest. But I haven't looked into it as much as I wanted to. I keep getting distracted by stupid bullsh*t that goes on around me. If I did know the answer, I am not exactly sure what I would want to tell you." Rhett said, and I could tell that he was saying that in a way to make it seem like he was acting like a hero there. But to be honest, I was feeling like there was nothing he was giving me.

"And to be honest, even if I would rather look into this than anything else, I still feel like at the end of the day, it will all lead to very flimsy results. And I guess that maybe you probably understand that already. But what else do you f*cking expect?" Rhett asked, and I was hearing Rhett just talking in a way that made it seem like he was trying to have even a tiny bit of hope back in his life once again.

"I don't want my kids to ever watch those. Not because of the material. But because I do not want them to pursue the sh*t that I have pursued. I know that it ruins what people are looking for, and it ruins peoples happiness. In no way so I want people to lose their happiness over this." He told me, and I felt like what he was saying was just him trying to sound like he was the good guy here.

For some reason, I felt like it was just rather funny. The idea of him acting like he was could still be a father of honor. A father who could actually be better than the dads in this town. I think he knew as well as I did that his hopes were going to be bullsh*t. But I chose to not say much about it as being a smartass to Rhett was not going to give me anything at all.

"How many will you have?" I asked, feeling like I could get him to just talk to me normally. He shrugged, as if that was a question he didn't have ready to answer, or care to answer. I looked down after that, kind of feeling a bit sad there.

"Probably just one or two. I have no idea if I could possibly even be able to handle having anymore kids than that. I mean, your dad is either the most insane, or most determined man in existence for being able to have f*cking eleven kids. I feel like if your father could be able to handle that, then maybe I should be able to handle that. But for now, no f*cking way can I do it." After he told me that, I laughed at that, feeling like it was fair enough.

He turned it on, and after a bit of time, he found the channel that he was looking for. Then he smiled, and then with that, I had felt like what he was doing was just completely insane. There was no way in hell I felt like any of this would make sense at all.

"I might regret this, but to be honest, I feel like you just need to know what you are getting yourself into when you live here, and I am not going to be like your brothers and trying to hide the sh*t that is really going on here." He told me, and I could tell that he had genuinely felt a true amount of ambition as he told me that. And I had no idea if that ambition was a good thing or something that I thought was just a disguise for his fear.

The thing that showed up on the television was Robbie Dan. From last July. He was sitting down in the skating park, and he was smoking a cigarette, and I could see that the general attitude that he was having when he was looking out ahead of him was just one of being rather pensive. I could tell that Robbie Dan had been trying to hide the fact that he has basically given up all his hope in humanity. As if he was trying to decide if he really even knew what humanity was in the first place.

Stanley sat down next to him. "Look Robbie, I am concerned for you. Just a few months ago, you were telling me that nothing that ever happened would ever get you to even consider working with Lars. You said that as if it was the one thing that you were never wavering over. Now you are suddenly over here, and you said that you want to maybe give him a chance?"

Robbie looked at Stanley, and then he took a deep breath, as if feeling like he just needed to be straight up with the question he would ask his friend. "And why, Stanley, do you even f*cking care if I am doing this or not? You shouldn't be worried about if I respect Lars, or feel like he is the devil…" Robbie said, with his accent being slightly altered due to the cigarette. One of the first times I could hear somebody be able to actually have some affects on their voice due to smoking since everybody else I talked to who was already smoking had been into it for a while.

"I care because I do not want you to be a man who regrets your decisions, and I certainly do not want you to be a man who claims that you can hold to your beliefs, then you f*cking back out of them when it is easy for us to." Robbie told Stanley, as if he was tired of constantly having to f*cking fight people for just doing what he thought was the right thing.

"Don't tell me you never made decisions that you regret. Because if you try and lecture that, I feel like we both know that you are giving off a world full of the biggest bullsh*t." Robbie said, standing up, and stomping the cigarette out, as if he had felt like he was finally done being nice.

"Of course I made decisions that I f*cking regret. Who the f*cking hell doesn't here? But to be honest, at least with what I do, I feel like they are the best choices that I could make in the moment." As he said that to Robbie Dan, I was seeing that Robbie Dan had looked like he wasn't buying a word of what Stanley was saying. Almost as if he was feeling like Stanley was just trying to make himself feel better for what happened.

"Are you telling me that you f*cking snapping at Lydia a couple of months ago for no good god damn reason was the best thing you could do in the moment? We both know that what you are saying is a load of f*cking crock." He told Stanley, as if he was ready to take this man on toe to toe. I saw Stanley get a look of uncertainty on his face.

"Yeah, am sure that snapping at Lydia about my parents divorce was the best thing I could do at that moment. I needed her to see that it is not f*cking good to get in peoples business that is not their own. I even admitted that some of the people that my father worked with were not good people. How in the world do you keep expecting me to just drop even more and more sh*t?" Stanley asked, and I could hear that he was just in denial there.

I had vaguely remembered the whole day. Lydia coming home crying, and then claiming that Stanley hated her, and then claiming that what she was doing was so wrong. She said that she was not a good girl at all, and she said that she regretted ever doing anything. And in the moment, I felt so bad for her.

"Well, maybe what I did was wrong. But I feel like you talking to Lars might end up getting you f*cking killed. And I can't explain why I f*cking feel that way. But please, just be more care." After Stanley said that, Robbie shook his head, and seemed to think that this wasn't going to work out at all.

Then with that, Robbie took a deep breath, and then rubbed his eyes at this. "Look, what is making you so sure that Lars will f*cking kill me anyways? What makes you so sure that I can't be able to f*cking handle this in first place?" Robbie asked, and then with that, Stanley just took a deep breath.

"Because every single god damn person in Wayside basically considered Lars to be the second coming of Jesus Christ. And you know that there is no way in hell that you can be able to change the public reception of a man who is seen as a f*cking hero. So what is the point in trying?" Stanley asked, clearly giving up on this. I had heard him just seem like this wasn't going to work out nearly half as well as Robbie had hoped, and he was fully prepared for that.

"Look, I know that Wayside loves Lars, but I feel like in due time the town will snap out of it. This town will see that Lars is a man who is mainly doing it in his best interests. I respect the guy, but I don't at the same time." Robbie said, and I could tell that he had been conflicted. He hated the way that he felt about the whole situation. And to be honest, I did suppose that it did make sense.

"And besides, Bebe told me that the worst thing that I have done is refuse to give him a chance. And when I look at him, and I see how much Lydia is happy to be around him, and how proud she is of him, then I can't help but feel like I am a f*cking monster." Robbie said, and then Stanley was now the one who sat down.

"Of course, she f*cking feels that way. I mean, with the fact that he is her biological father." He said, as if this made a lot of sense. Then with that, Robbie shrugged, as if feeling like that wasn't really all that big of a f*cking deal at the end of the day.

"But does Lydia really know that Lars is her biological father? Or does that seem like something that he has been able to hide from her? Because if it's the latter, then she just respects his pathos." Robbie told Stanley, and with that, I had seen that Stanley had looked like he was trying to consider what Robbie said.

"I don't know. But I mean, it's really f*cking obvious. Every f*cking year that passes, she looks more and more like him." He said, as if feeling matter of fact there. Then with that, I saw Robbie looking like he considered that comment for a second. As if he felt like there was a degree of fairness in what he heard. But that didn't mean he had to like it.

Without any warning at all, Robbie just punched Stanley in the face as hard as f*cking could. Then with that, he took a second to calm down. "Why does everything have to be a f*cking war with you? Why can't you just let me f*cking try to do what is best, and not get in the way?" He asked, and then gave a few more punches. "Why do you have to be a better man for Lydia than me? You don't even f*cking like her and you are better for her in every way possible?" He asked, and kept beating Stanley. And I noticed that Stanley did nothing to try and stop it. He just took the beating, and took it like a champ.

After a moment, when I was seeing Robbie's bloody fists, I was seeing that he had looked like he regretted what he did. I could tell that he didn't want to beat up a friend of his. But felt like he had been pushed way too f*cking hard to not want to do it. "Sorry Stanley. I really shouldn't have. Just don't keep doing this to me. Let's talk about this later." He said, as he was running off, and Stanley was wiping the bloody nose he got. In a strange way, despite the fact that he didn't want to admit it, he was able to vaguely respect the work that Robbie put on him, as if this wasn't so bad after all.

This connected some of the dots. Such as the sh*t with how Stanley had to wear a nose cast for like five weeks during the summer, and when he took it off the nose was still partially disfigured, and the damage was permanent. I was so shocked to see Robbie be a man who would do that to somebody, even if he had thought that what he was doing was somehow justified in any way shape or form.

Eventually, when the recording ended, Rhett looked right at me. He looked like he was glad to see that he was proven right, and that he knew exactly what he had been doing. "Look, just try and be careful about this stuff in the future. I get that it might be exciting to watch more of this. But just make sure that you are actually ready for this when you do." He said, and then he seemed like he was coming to face mild regret.

"I will be heading home for the f*cking night. I will try and talk to him again tomorrow. Hopefully we can talk about this later. But for now, the things with Josiah is my main priority." He told me, and then with that, he left the house, and this time, when I went to bed, I was out like a light in less than five minutes.

….

Part 2: March 25, 2024 3:17 PM

A few hours later, Rhett was back at the house, and he was talking with Josiah a bit. I could see that they were getting along decently well. And I was left wondering if they needed any help here. But I just sat down, feeling like I just needed to respect their space since to be honest, I wasn't sure what they were discussing, and I was feeling like trying to press the matter any worse would only make things twenty times worse than it already was.

"Hey Ridge, sorry about last night." Rhett said, with a smile on his face as if he had known that this was going to be a fun little thing between the two of us. I could tell from the look on Josiah's face that he was feeling a bit confused as to what Rhett even f*cking meant there. Then with that, I felt like I could clarify what went down. To a degree, just to make him not be wondering what was happening here.

"I couldn't sleep." I said, feeling like that was all that he had needed to f*cking know. Josiah shrugged at that, as if he had felt like that could be good enough. "What is going on?" I asked, feeling like I would just try and move the subject forward a bit. With that, Josiah took a deep breath, and seemed to be rather annoyed at the fact that I was trying to interject my way into a talk that I probably was never going to truly be ready for.

"We were just talking about Rhett's plans on the casino. He said that he was talking with his father about branching out. Since the new location is only attracting certain numbers, and he wants to make sure that things don't lose any steam." After he said that to me, I shrugged, since I had no real clue what was going on there.

"Can I go there?" I asked, feeling like this would be a fun little thing for me to get into. Josiah shook his head at that, as if he had felt like this was the last thing that he ever thought could be a good idea for me. I looked right at Rhett, hoping that he would find a way to defend me coming along.

"No, you f*cking can't Ridge. You're only three and a half years old. You are way too young for something like this. And besides, even if I was personally fine with it, I highly doubt that Rhett would be, and I feel like I would have to agree with that." He said, and I felt like this was just a f*cking cop out. He was just hiding from the idea of me doing something that would have actually been mildly fun to do.

"Look, I get that it might sound fun for you to play along with us, and go along with everything. But trust me when I f*cking say that it is not nearly as f*cking worth it as you think it might be." He told me, and then with that, I felt like he needed to give me something else that I could do. Something to make this feel like it would f*cking be worth all that I was going through.

"Anyways, Rhett, how are you and Chelsea holding up?" Josiah asked, and I had never thought of the idea that maybe they weren't as happy anymore. I thought that they might have been holding up extremely well. At least, with the way that Josiah had been talking to me about it, I had every reason to think that this was the case.

"Well, Chelsea said that she was having second thoughts about staying in Wayside. She said that she felt that raising a family here wasn't as smart of a idea as she thought that it would f*cking be. I am just glad to see her finally coming together, and being smart." As Rhett said that, I could tell that he had looked like he was both annoyed that things had to escalate like this. But he was glad to finally just put this behind him, and see that Chelsea wasn't blinded by the place that she had f*cking grown up in.

"Well, do you think that you might try and actually get her to really f*cking move? Or do you think that you are just saying all that, and then you aren't going to f*cking go through with it?" Josiah asked Rhett, and I had no idea if he was asking this in a way to test Rhett on if he actually had the courage to do this, or if he was just trying to have a casual discussion there.

"Well, to be honest, I want her to do this. But at the same time, I am not going to f*cking force her into doing something that she isn't ready for. I know that she is considering dropping this whole thing, and I can appreciate that for what it is." Rhett said, and then with that, he was picking me up out of nowhere. "I was thinking that maybe the three of us could just go out for a bit. Get out of the house, and just find something else to talk about."

Josiah looked at me after Rhett made that suggestion. He had seemed like he wasn't too sure on the idea of bringing me. But then he shrugged, as if he had known full well that this was going to happen. One way or another. So with that, he just decided that maybe the best thing to f*cking do was just go along with it.

"Well, since I know that this is going to happen one way or another, I guess that I might as well just go along with this idea. Hopefully neither one of us regrets this." He said, clearly sounding a bit bothered by the fact that this was happening. "Please Ridge, just promise me that you will not tell anybody else what f*cking happens here. We do not need you to tell anybody."

Feeling like this was a sign that I could be trusted with adult things, and adult talks, I felt like this was what I had wanted to do. I felt like I was finally able to be a part of something much bigger. "I promise." I said, without a single second of hesitation, and with that, I felt like for once in my life, everything that I could have wanted would be going to my direction.

"Okay, if that is the case, then I feel nothing wrong with bringing Ridge along. I just hope that you know what you are doing." He told Rhett, and then with that, the three of us left the house, and I felt f*cking ready to see the world for what it was. Even if it was just Josiah and Rhett talking to each other, and I was able to pick up on certain context clues from there.

We eventually reached the Mexican restaurant, and once we were there, I was feeling ready to just hear what had to be said. I was given the chips and salsa since I was still far too young to actually have anything f*cking good.

"Okay Rhett, so what were you wanting to f*cking talk about?" Josiah asked, and Rhett looked right at him, as if feeling like this was one of the last things that he was ready for. Rhett looked like he was a bit unsure as to why Josiah was so clearly on the edge this entire time, when in all honesty, he hadn't even really given him a chance to talk.

"Well, I was wanting to talk to you about the fact that I was hoping to bring you into my job. I mean, I have been a private detective in training with your dad for a few years now. And I feel like there are some cases that you would want to know more about." As Rhett said that to Josiah, I could tell that Josiah hadn't exactly been decided on if he was ready to go down with this or not.

"One of the cases that I wanted to talk to you about was of that girl Serena. You know, the thirteen year old who went missing back in October 2013?" Rhett asked, and then Josiah slowly nodded. Vaguely remembering that, but not much else about it. He had seemed like he was still trying to decide where this was going to f*cking go.

"Are you saying that you might know where she f*cking went? How in the world is this not public knowledge then, if this is true?" Josiah asked, and I could tell that the shock was still setting in. I was wondering why in the world Josiah was so shocked to hear that in the first place. But I was feeling like the first thing that I should do was just listen in on this much more.

"Yeah, I think I might. And while this answer might not surprise you, I think we both know deep down inside that it is not really the answer that either of us want to f*cking hear." As Rhett told him that, he looked around, as if feeling like the best thing to do was just make sure that nobody was really listening in on the discussion.

"Well, I am ninety nine percent sure that she was sent off to the labyrinth. And she had been there for roughly nine and a half years before she died in May of last year. And I think that the grinding noise that we heard on May third last year was her being grinded up and dying." Rhett said, in a super matter of fact way, and I could tell that he wasn't at all doubting what he had just said.

"Are you sure that it is her, and not just a theory that you f*cking have? I mean, either way this seems to be a bit much for me to f*cking handle." Josiah said, and I could hear from the tone of his voice that he wasn't really buying what he heard at all.

"Yes, I am sure that it is her. I have never been so sure of anything in my entire life. And I feel like she is just one of many that have been brought to this. But I am sure that you know that. Anyways, I tried to look into it, and the thing is that I have found that there are a few kids in this town that have been born in the last nine to ten years, and it seems like they have her lineage." He told Josiah, and I had seen that Josiah looked like he wasn't really sure what to say to this."

"I think that she has a daughter named Annabeth Chase. Born in July 2014. That is the oldest one. I am sure that this isn't her only one. But the oldest one that I found. As for who the father is, I am still not exactly one hundred percent sure who he might be." Rhett said, and then with that, he just shrugged, and seemed like there was not much else to f*cking say at this point. He said all that he could say, and all that he had wanted to say.

"So Ridge, did any of that make any sense to you?" Rhett asked, and I looked right at Rhett, and I had no real f*cking clue what to tell him. I mean, I was feeling a little bit lost there. But to be honest, I was feeling that I just was kind of a spectator for a story that I had no real business ever f*cking being involved in at all.

"No, not really." I said, feeling like I just needed to be honest with him. Rhett slowly nodded as he heard this, as if this had almost been what he preferred to hear. As if this was giving him a sign that maybe he wasn't going to be speaking to people that would barely respect his space or anything like that.

"Well, basically I am just trying to do what is right, and make sure that nothing happens to a person that deserved better. And that is the main thing that you really need to f*cking know." Rhett said, and I had seen that this was something that he was aware was becoming increasingly subjective the more and more that he talked about this here.

"Honestly, I don't really f*cking know what is right. But what I do know is that maybe if I just simply learn more about the Annabeth girl, and see how she is, then maybe I could be able to help her out. I feel like at the end of the day, that is the main thing that I can do to do what is right." Rhett said, as he was looking at the enchilada that had been placed down for him.

"Do you want me to accompany you on that? You were saying that you wanted my help, and to be honest, I have no idea how much I will be able to help. I just feel like that is the best thing I can do." Josiah told Rhett, and he had sounded like he was hopeless there. Rhett then looked at me, and I saw Rhett looking like that was something he was willing to consider.

"If you are going to be helping me along, I want to f*cking have you bring your brother Rhett along. I feel like at this point in time, he already knows enough to where he deserves to know what I have been trying to f*cking do." Rhett said, shrugging, and I had no idea if I agreed with that sentiment at all. But at the same time, I felt like if he was offering, then I might as well just go with it for the time being.

"Well, I feel like that might be the best thing. But what I think is the best thing, and what turns out to be the best thing could end up being two totally different things. And to be honest, I feel like there is no real point in just doubting myself. Your father himself told me that I shouldn't try and hide from doing what I feel like is right." Rhett told me, and he had noticed that Josiah had barely touched his meal at all. And when he saw that, he had known full well that Josiah was having something on his mind. And that something was going to be bothering him for a while.

"Is there something that you were thinking?" Rhett asked, and I could tell that he had half way regretted even asking that. But he also had felt like there was really no f*cking choice on the matter. He had needed Josiah to just work with him as long as possible. "I promise you right now, right here, that no matter what happens to me, the main thing I will do is to make sure that nothing happens to your brothers or Lydia. In fact if anything what I am doing right now is my best bet to ensure that no matter what happens they will stay safe."

When Rhett finished with that, I could tell that he had hoped deep down that Josiah would listen to him. He had hoped that Josiah was going to see that this was the best thing that he could f*cking do. "And I understand if you have a hard time really processing everything that is happening right now. But I feel like I really do not have much other choice but to do this. I know that your father would very much approve of the things that I do, because at the end of the day, everything that I do is still in the best interest of the people."

With that, Josiah looked right at me, and I was seeing him looking like he was already trying to decide what the best flowers would be for my grave when the time came. But I didn't want that to happen when I was still only three years old. I wanted to have the life that so many people had. Even though I was still so young, I knew that I wanted to live as long as I can, and rack in as many years under my belt as I could before my journey would come to a f*cking end.

"I want to help." I said, and I was seeing him looking like he had hoped that I had mis spoke. Then with that, Rhett looked right at Josiah, as if feeling like this was something that I had already decided, and that it would be wrong for him to deny me my right to be able to f*cking help out as much as I could.

"Look, you might thing that you f*cking do. You might think that you are ready for this, but the truth is that you are not ready for this, and you do not want to do this. It might not be the answer that you want to hear. But it is the answer that you need to f*cking hear." Josiah said, and I was seeing that the tears were starting to slowly come down his face a bit. And I was feeling like I was going to be the man responsible for the first time in a long time that he would truly shed tears, and truly hate the world for what it f*cking was.

"He needs to make his own choices. And if he choses that he wants to help me out, and he wants to throw his hat in the ring, then who the f*ck are we to stop him?" He asked, and I had seen that he had wanted Josiah to take this for what it was. Even if it was clearly the last thing that he had wanted to f*cking hear.

"Let me eat first. You know, before you go on and try to talk to Annabeth, and see what is going on in her mind." Josiah said, as if this was his way of conceding defeat, and admitting that there was virtually no f*cking hope that he had left over.

Josiah spent the next ten minutes eating his food as if he was a starved animal. Then with that, when he was done, he seemed to be rather deep in thought. Almost as if he was deciding the course of action he could take to make sure that this didn't f*cking happen.

"Okay. There. I know that you are going to do whatever you want to f*cking do regardless, and I guess that at the end of the day, I feel no need to fight your choices anymore." He said, and with that, I finished eating and Rhett finished to. Then Rhett took the money to make the payment, and seemed like he was glad that the talk was moving along as well as it had been.

When the payment was made, the guy who was collecting our check looked right at Rhett. "I heard you were mentioning something about a Serena who went missing about ten years ago?" He asked, and then with that, Rhett felt like the best thing to do was just be as honest with him as he possibly f*cking could be.

"Yeah, that girl. I was telling Josiah about some basic facts about her. Such as the age she went missing, and what I think had happened to her. To be honest, I think that she is gone forever, and I feel like more often than that, this is exactly what happens with the girls who go missing. We think that we have a chance of bringing them home, but that is all a f*cking joke." Rhett told the guy, and I saw that the guy had looked like he wasn't sure what to tell him.

"Yeah, well, I was curious because I actually went to school with her. My name is Calem. And let me tell you when I say that I never bought a f*cking word of the police stories at the time. I thought that they were borderline corporate crap that was spewed out in order to ensure that we all stayed in line, and that we would suck up everything that would happen." As Calem said that, I could tell that he wasn't giving a single sh*t that I was hear, and I was hearing him talk like this.

Like I didn't mind it when people I knew for years, like my brothers and Lydia and all their friends swearing. By that point, I was completely f*cking used to it, and at this point in time, if I was upset about it, and making a stink out of it, then at that rate it would be more on me than it would ever be on them.

But hearing an employee who I had no connection with doing all that, for some reason, was much different, and much worse than anything else. And to be honest, when I was hearing them say it, the whole thing somehow really f*cking bothered me.

"And I know that I am not the only guy who f*cking feels that way. I know a bunch of guys, even as recently as a year ago, who I talk with, who also feel the same way. But I guess that you do not want to talk about it right now." He said, and then with that, Rhett pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket. As if he was feeling like he could actually take this now. That this was something that would finally give him a small measure of hope and peace.

"Yeah, I would actually like to talk to you about it. I want to know all you f*cking know, and I will tell you what I have been able to learn here. But I got other matters that I need to attend to." Rhett said, and he must have known that this wasn't exactly the best choices to make. But that this was something that he could be able to handle.

Calem then placed a second piece of paper down on the table for us when we were all done. I caught a glimpse of it to see what the hell had been said. I saw that it was the name of twelve girls, who I could tell instantly just from the context of the conversation had all been labyrinth victims at various times: Kris in 2000, May in 20003, Leaf in 2004, Dawn in 2006, Lyra in 2010, Hilda in 2011, Rosa in 2012, Serena in 2013, Selene in 2016, Elaine in 2018, Gloria in 2019, and Juliana in 2022.

I would much later on learn, even if I never learned the exact when's of each of them, that all twelve of them were dead by the time that I turned roughly ten to twelve years old, at the very latest. In sure that some of the later ones, especially the last three, were probably alive at the time that I saw their names on paper, but that very clearly changed over the years.

The whole thing shamed me to even f*cking know. But to be honest, I was expecting it. Even if I was just a three and a half year old kid who didn't understand what the town was really like, I was able to pick up enough hints from various conversations that I heard, that basically one a person went missing, the chances of them being passed away were a good like ninety five percent.

When we were outside of the restaurant, Josiah looked right at Rhett. "Look, I will never try to stop you from doing what you feel like is right. I just feel like maybe you doing this in a way that Ridge knows about what you are doing is the thing that really bothers me. I mean, he's still just a little kid. I mean, you know that Lydia still doesn't get the full picture yet, and she is seven years older than him." As Josiah said, he looked right at me, and I was seeing that Rhett looked like he was just mildly annoyed to hear him say this.

"I just wanted Ridge to come along for dinner. And besides, we both know that there is like a ninety five percent chance that he will forget all about this in due time. You just need to let this whole f*cking thing go. If Ridge ends up getting himself in danger, or something worse, because of me, then I will take all the blame. But for now, I feel like there is no real need to worry about this." As he told me that, I had no idea what else to tell him.

"And besides, didn't you tell me yourself that hiding things from people was a massive f*cking mistake? You were the one that said that lies and deceit were the only thing that could make things even worse? You said that to me, and I agreed with you. Now you are suddenly turning around, and acting like what you said never f*cking happened? I just feel like you need to have a level of consistency in your takes." He said to Josiah, and I saw that he was just desperate to make his point clear in a way that Josiah would be forced to take it, and never try to oppose it ever.

"Rhett, I love my brothers more than you can know. There is no way in hell that I could be able to be cool with any of this. And Lydia has never really been one to pick up on hints. I mean, you said it yourself. She basically admires Lars like a role model, and she basically views him as the greatest hero that Wayside has ever had. And while I don't want to take that away from her, are either of us really feeling like this is something that we can trust?" Josiah asked, feeling like he needed to kind of play the "Lydia is naïve" card to get him to talk.

"Well, I mean, at least on a public display, Lars has never really done anything too awful. And I think that Lars is just a guy who might have been brought up in the wrong upbringing. You never know, I just feel like maybe we might have been too harsh on the guy when we started. We never know what he is trying to do exactly." Rhett told us, and I had seen that he was a bit unsure.

"I mean, I didn't exactly have the best upbringing. My dad always going around, hooking up and screwing around at the casinos, while my mom was trying her best to work to provide even a tolerable living for me. Then that f*cking divorce happens, and mom getting murdered right when she was about to win the court case." Rhett said, and then Josiah just shrugged, as if he was kind of tired of hearing that get brought up.

"Look Rhett, I have always agreed that what happened with you and your mother was a horrible f*cking tragedy. I have always f*cking felt that. But to be honest with you my dude, you were already fifteen years old at the time that happened. That is much different than a ten year old girl who is going to have to learn one day that her dad is not a good man. Or a three year old boy who is being brought to super important dinners. And you shouldn't make everybody else around you have to suffer through what happened to your mother." Josiah said, half way just giving up on everything, and feeling like his patience for the entire matter was just f*cking gone now.

As he said that, I had seen that Rhett had looked like he was mildly hurt by what he had heard. As if he had felt like he didn't quite deserve what he had been told. But at the same time, he had hoped that this was something he could be able to sort of move past, and show those closest to him that this wasn't the worst thing to hear.

"Look, I feel like I still need to have a f*cking pathos, and I need have a guiding light to be able to help me through this long and difficult journey. I am not asking that you like the fact that I valorize my mother the way that I f*cking do. But I feel like deep down, you understand why I do what I f*cking do." Rhett told Josiah, and then felt like he would just shoot a different way of looking at this.

"Imagine what it would be like if your mother, the woman that brought you to this world, and raised you for so long, had finally started to get the one good break in her life, and then she was murdered and then raped like a god damn broken toy? And then the police do nothing about it, and before long it is like she is just a story that people talk about and nothing more? If that happened to your mother, you would certainly see where I am coming from." Rhett said, and then Josiah said something that I had never thought that I would hear him say. Something that was rather dark, and kind of showed a more bitter side to him than I could have imagined.

"Honestly, if that happened, given the way that mom treated the boys before Lydia came into the question, then honestly a part of me would feel like she deserved it. Before Lydia came into the equation, she was so focused on having a girl finally that she basically didn't even acknowledge us at all. So yeah, in all honesty, something happening to her might not have been the worst thing ever." Josiah said, and then Rhett looked at Josiah, as if he was mildly sickened at what he heard.

"But that was nearly eleven years ago. Surely she has improved since then?" He asked, both as a way to defend her, as well as to get Josiah to see that this was a horrible sentiment that was not going to accomplish anybody any good at all. He shook his head, as if feeling like this was the worst thing that he could have ever f*cking heard.

"Look, I will admit that she has gotten much better since then. Compared to what it was like before Lydia came into the equation, she is like night and day. I will f*cking fully concede to that. This being said, she is still nothing like the actual parent that she needs to be. And she nothing like the parent that your mother will ever be." Josiah said, and while Rhett was disheartened by the nature of the comment, he did appreciate the compliment his mother was given.

"And to be honest, part of me feels like maybe she has come around to accept the fact that she was a bit of a bitch at one point in time. But to be honest, I feel like I don't really give much of a f*ck anymore. Being a decent woman eleven years later doesn't change the fact that at one point in time, you were not a decent woman. And while I can respect redemption, and I can certainly respect a desire to show that you are better than you used to be, I can't respect the idea that I should just ignore this all, and act like none of this ever happened." Josiah said, and I could tell that he had given this a lot of time and a lot of consideration, and he had already made his decision on the matter.

"Well, maybe you need to talk with her about these things. Get her to see where she went wrong. Get her to see her errors, and I feel like maybe the two of you guys can be able to come to a understanding. You guys really need to f*cking find that understanding between each other if you guys are to come around and change this. And if I need to be there to help you out, then I will do just that. But for now, I need you to give me something else. I need you to give me a level of change in conviction here." He told Josiah, and I had seen that he had really hoped that I would hear what he was saying.

"Please try and understand what I am saying. You can't really get on my case about the way that I view my mother, and the way that I still view her as a bit of a beacon of hope, when you go around, and treat people horribly still even when they have clearly made the effort to change and improve. I just feel like this might not really be fair to me or to her." When he said that, there was a bit of a silence. There was a bit of a understanding, and I could tell that both Rhett and Josiah had heard what the other man was saying. They had both understood what the other man was trying to accomplish.

"Look Rhett, I think the thing is that deep down inside, I know that what you are saying is fair. I feel like I can't ever take that away from you. But for the f*cking love of god, I still feel like this is not the best way to really get me going here. Let's just try and drop this for now, and not make a f*cking deal out of it any longer than we have already been." As Josiah said that, I could tell that he was just desperate to try and end this discussion for now. And I was not exactly sure what was making him finally just decide to put his foot down there.

"But I don't know. I still just feel like your father is an extremely shady man. Can you really pretend like what I am saying is f*cking wrong? You know how he is around me, and you know that he has never shed a single ounce of honesty in his entire life. Maybe this is something that you need to f*cking consider before you start to really drive the idea that he is becoming a man of his word." After Josiah said that, I was seeing Rhett looking as if he was willing to consider what Josiah had said. Even if he wasn't much of a fan of it.

"Shouldn't the fact that he didn't kill my mother be enough for me to feel like I can trust him, and not turn too hastily on him? I feel that is already going to be more than enough to know that I can just keep a eye on him, but be willing to give him a f*cking chance." After Rhett told Josiah that, I was feeling so f*cking lost on where this was going.

"And to be honest, when he talks with Lydia and Ridge, he has always been nice. I do feel like he actually genuinely likes them enough to want to keep them safe for now." He said, and shrugged, feeling like that was enough to keep Josiah at bay for a while longer. And I could tell from the look on his face that Josiah was actually considering what he had heard a little bit. Which was enough to get me to feel like for once, there was actually a chance that this whole thing could actually work out.

"You know, that is true. I will concede to that. But to be honest, I still am not too sure what to tell you my dude. Maybe I just have to actually meet the man again, to actually see if I can trust him. After all, if you feel that way, and you trust him, then maybe I do owe him a f*cking chance." As Josiah said that, I had seen that he had finally started to gain just a bit more composure. He was starting to feel a mild amount of control over the subject here.

"Yeah, I can respect that enough for what it is. I was going to be meeting him in like an hour or so anyways. Might as well bring you guys along, and maybe you can see what he is like now. And maybe then, will you understand that I have the right to trust him as much as I do." He told both of us, and I had seen that he was starting to stand his ground just a bit more than he had earlier.

Josiah looked like he wasn't ready to buy it fully yet. But then he nodded. "Deal. I will talk with your dad, and then I will see what he is up to. Once I do that, I will see if I am ready to fully trust him and give him the chance. After all, like you did say, you know that he didn't kill your mother, and I feel like that might have to be good enough for now." He said, and then with that, I wondered what the catch was going to be.

"That being said, I do want to tell you one f*cking thing. I still feel like your dad is very shady with all the sh*t that he knows about the casinos. That is something that I will never be able to f*cking move away from. Even if he is a decent man, he is still a shady man. And I feel that maybe I should have been more considerate of this fact." When Josiah finished, I was seeing him looking like he had hoped that the response, and the composure was enough to change this whole thing.

With that, we got back in the car again, and then Rhett had looked like he had been thinking once again about what he was telling us. "Look, all that I need to f*cking do is just find out the truth about the f*cking files that he has. I have gained his trust enough to watch over the casino when he is out of Wayside. Now I just need to gain his trust enough to let me be able to actually read his information. I will tell you everything I know the second that I f*cking know it." As Rhett told us this, I was hearing him seep with confidence, and that confidence was enough to keep me going just a bit longer.

"One of these days, I will know the truth. And when I do, I expect that everything will be much better for both of us. And I expect that you will be able to look at everything with a much more objective eye than I have been able to." Rhett said, and then with that, I could see that Josiah had looked like he wasn't sure what to tell me.

"What do you mean? Are you saying that you yourself are not fully confident in the things that you are doing? Or are you saying that there is more to this than you admit? Because either way, I feel like this is something that I need to be f*cking ready for." As Josiah said that, I could tell that he hadn't exactly been sure where to go from that intel. I saw that Rhett had been sort of half way on what he was saying. As if he was both believing in what he knew, and believing that there could be a grave mistake at any given moment.

"Would you believe me if I told you that to be honest, I feel like it could f*cking go either way? And would you also believe me if I told you that you are a smart enough man to be able to know why I would feel both ways?" Rhett asked, and I was hearing him sounding like the humbleness was starting to show on through much more than he could have ever been able to hope to show.

"Yeah, I could very much believe that. In all honesty, I would be shocked if this hadn't been the case." As he said that, he shrugged, and seemed to hope that this was going to be enough to get Rhett to see that there was a bit of a understanding between what they had been discussing. And I could tell that despite everything else, this was a reason why their friendship had made perfect f*cking sense.

Eventually, we were at the casino that I had wanted to visit. I don't know, despite the fact that I wanted to be there, I will admit that when I was actually there, and I was seeing what it was like, I wasn't as sure if I actually wanted to be there anymore. I felt like maybe I should try and find my way out of this.

Once we were looking around, I was seeing Rhett looking like he was already immediately regretting even getting involved in this in the first place. He looked right at Josiah, and I was seeing that he was thinking of how he wanted to say that he was already going to pull out of this, and pretend like this wasn't really going to be worth it. "I don't know why I thought it was smart to bring you guys into this. I should have thought this whole thing out better. I am a f*cking idiot, and I am so f*cking sorry for this." After he told us this, Josiah was shaking his head. As if he had felt like Rhett already got himself into this, so he might as well just see it through to the end.

"Well, we might as well talk to your f*cking dad, and see what that man has to offer. Can't f*cking be worse than anything that he has already done, right?" He asked, and I was hearing him sounding like he wasn't all that convinced in what he was saying. Almost like he was just saying this to himself, to make himself feel better.

As we were looking around, and seeing people play various games at the different slots, I was saw that Rhett's dad was talking with a older guy, probably in his seventies or eighties, and I was seeing that Rhett's dad was clearly looking like he was regretting ever letting this man into his life, and that he was probably wishing that he had never gotten involved in this business with him.

We eventually reached him, and then Rhett's dad, who I finally learned his name from his name tag, Ross, was looking right at us. "What are you guys going here today? And why did you bring a little kid into the casino?" He asked, referring to me, and I was looking right at him, as if I was feeling like he was being a bit harsh on me for no real reason.

"Well, he is just along for the ride. He's my younger brother. I promise you right now that I will make sure that nothing f*cking happens to him, and that he does nothing." Josiah said, in a solemn matter as if feeling like his word was really the only thing that people like Ross really f*cking cared about.

"Okay, if you promise to make sure that nothing happens with him, then I guess that I can't really do much to f*cking change it. I mean, he's already here. But since you guys are here, Rhett, I was hoping that I could be able to talk to you about something that was already on my mind. So why don't we walk for a bit?" He asked, and then with that, Rhett slowly nodded. As if he had known that this man already made up his mind, so there was no point in fighting it anyways.

"Yeah sure. Since I'm already here, I might as well see what you got to say. So throw it at me." Rhett said, and I was hearing him sounding like he was just taking things easy. The look on his face was seeming as if he had already had gone down this rabbit hole a bit.

"Well, to be honest, I was starting to think that maybe the private detective business might not really be for you anymore. And to be honest, I have been thinking that you should probably move up in the world. So I was thinking that over the next few months, I was wanting you to maybe have a spot in the company as my right hand man. You have shown a lot of growth and responsibility over the last few years since your mother died, and I feel like you are probably ready for this." He said to Rhett, and I was seeing Rhett looking like he clearly had no idea what to say to this.

"Are you sure that you are not just saying this as a way to f*cking make sure that I don't continue to look into this anymore? I think we both know that you have never approved of my decisions to work with Todd Sr. And I think we both know that this is probably the last thing that you really want me to do." Rhett said, sounding like he was clearly trying to just tell this whole thing was really skating on his nerves. Ross then took a deep breath as he heard this.

"Look, I will admit that I don't really think that Todd Sr. is the best option for you. And I definitely feel like you got into working with him way too young in life. But I am being honest with you when I tell you that is not the only reason I am asking this. I feel like you have come a long way in life, and I am really proud of you. And I just feel like soon enough, you will need to think of your financial future. And I'm not going to be the one running the company forever." Ross said, and then he looked at the painting of the wall that was him.

Rhett looked over at it, as if he was trying to decide what to f*cking say. "Do you still have the one with mom in it? I know that she was very happy to have that f*cking painting of her. I really hope that you haven't given up on that yet." As Rhett Told Ross this, I was seeing that Ross looked like that was one conversation he clearly was not wanting to go down quite yet.

"Oh you mean the large version of the one that was found on the crime scene?" He asked, referring to the photo where she wore the black dress with the golden necklace, Rhett had the blue and white hoodie, and Ross's part of the picture had a suit on him but his face had been shot off in the picture with blood covering him.

"To be honest, I haven't had that one in a while. I believe that it is in a storage unit, and I will have to try and find it. If I were to bring it out, and you actually wanted to have it, then I will not blame you for what happened." As he told Rhett this, I was seeing Rhett looking like he was trying to not get too upset. As if this was something that he had expected to be the case deep down inside. But was still just sort of in denial over the whole thing. I was wondering why in the world he was so shocked to even hear this, when I had felt like this was probably what made the most amount of sense.

"Damn it. Did you not even think for a f*cking second that I might have wanted to have it instead? You just decided that you were going to get rid of it, and not even come to me about it? God damn it dad. That is so f*cking messed up dude." After he said that to his dad, I could tell that he was just trying to make it sound like he wasn't too upset, when he really was.

"Well, I thought that you were starting to move forward. I thought that you were doing well, and I just figured that you didn't need my guidance anymore. I genuinely did not try and start anything out of bad intent." After Ross said that, I was seeing that there was a small twinge of actual remorse in his voice. Almost like now that he saw it, he could be able to understand why Rhett was a bit pissed off here.

"Still. I mean, I get that you might not have meant anything about it. But I still feel like you should have tried and offer me, and maybe I could have told you what I f*cking felt here." Rhett told Ross, and then he sat down, and looked at the older man, as if thinking of something to say to him to get his interest going on the matter.

"Richard, are you planning to retire soon? I mean, I know that you must have at least considered it by now." As he said that, I was seeing him smile, and hoping that he would be able to get the guy along in the discussion. Richard looked like he wasn't really too thrilled at the question. Almost as if he was feeling like Rhett was lacking the tact that he needed to go at this properly.

"Have you ever thought that you might need to just keep your head down low, and focus on the job that you have ahead of you? To be honest, I feel like you are on the right track right now, and should be focused on that for the time being." Richard said, and then with that, I could see him starting to ease up a little bit.

"That being said, yeah, probably in the next year or two. I have wanted to see what it would be like if my oldest son did return home. I have felt like after over thirty years, it is time to try and make peace with him. But I feel like he is probably too far gone to do that now. And I hope that I can just talk to him about the fact that everything that happened was not meant to be the way that it did. It just all got out of hand, and things just really went down hill." Richard finished, and then Josiah looked up, as if he had felt like he would take this clue.

"Are you talking about what happened with your younger two children and Nicole?" Josiah asked, and I didn't know the full lore of this at the time. But I would later learn that in the early 1990's, Richard had three kids: Gumball, Darwin, and Anais, and a wife. In 1991, Anais died at the age of thirteen. Darwin died in 1993 at the age of seventeen. And less than two weeks after that, his wife Nicole was also found dead. Gumball, while still alive, had been suspected to be the man behind the deaths, and ran left Wayside a couple of days after Nicole had died.

"Yeah, precisely that. I still check up on him online every year or two, just to make sure that he is even alive. And he is doing alright. But I know that he is fifty now, and hasn't seen me since his late teen years. I just have grown to accept that maybe we will never see each other again. But I want to try and f*cking change that." Richard said, and I was hearing the man who had genuine remorse for his decisions, and I was seeing that he was just trying his best to adapt from what had gone down.

"And while I am not your guys grandparents, I just worry that you guys will follow under that same path. And I never want that to happen to you guys." Richard said, and I was seeing him sounding like he was finally over everything. I could see that for once, he was genuinely feeling like he was trying to do the right thing. That he was genuinely trying to make sure that the two men would never go down the wrong path. I was feeling like this whole thing was f*cking messy.

I was feeling like at this least time, he was having the right intentions, and he was genuinely trying to do what he thought was for the best. But I was also feeling like he was too deep into the sh*t hole, and that he was too scared to admit that he was not the man that he wanted to be. And because he was not the man that he wanted to be, he could not be able to genuinely help.

But despite everything that happened, I was able to respect the fact that the man was trying his best. Maybe that was something that most people in Wayside needed to see. That a man had been broken by something, and people had thought that his son had done it. But Richard knew that Gumball was innocent. But nobody else f*cking did, and that was something that he had felt like he could never be able to get over.

I had wondered if he had needed help proving to people that Gumball was innocent. I was wondering if he had any way to prove it at all, or that maybe Gumball was too far gone. Hell, with the event being over thirty years ago, he might have just assumed that this was an event that the general popular hardly gave a single sh*t about anymore.

"Do you want to prove that Gumball had nothing to do with this?" Josiah asked, taking the words out of my mouth. As Josiah asked that, I was seeing him looking as if he had hoped that whatever the answer was, it would be honest, and there would be no f*cking bullsh*t here. I saw that Richard had looked as if this was not really the question that he wanted to hear asked. Then he looked down, as if thinking about what he had heard. Like he was trying to decide if this really was what he had wanted to do after all.

"I mean, I would like to do so. But I know that the chances of working this out are f*cking slim to none, and I know that there is really no point in trying to make it f*cking work. I do appreciate the offer though. Your father asked me the same question one time, a while back. And I was honestly considering it at one point in time." Richard said, and I knew that he was just trying to accept the reality that he said. And I was feeling like he was trying to hide his depression the entire time he told me this.

"I love my son, and I would love nothing more than for him to have his name cleared. But I feel like doing that would require so many things to f*cking change in this town, that I am not really sure if it will be worth the time or the hassle to pull it off. But maybe if I had some people who were able to actually make it work for me." He said, and then he looked at me, as if he was thinking about this.

"Maybe when Ridge grows older, and he is able to actually understand everything that goes on here, then I can be able to use him to help me out. That would be nice." He told me, and I was seeing Josiah looking like he was shocked at that statement for two reasons there.

"How did you know my youngest brothers name?" Josiah asked, trying to hold back his fear there. He had seemed like he wanted to pretend like this was something that he was ready for. Something that he knew to expect. But once he actually heard it, the whole thing f*cking changed. And I had no idea if that was something he was really ready to expect.

"Rhett has told me all about you guys. He thinks a lot of you all, and to be honest, if I get to know you guys a bit more, then I feel like I can see it. I just feel like you need to me actually have the chance to really get to know you." He said, and then with that, I could tell that he had been hoping that we would take the bait there. I saw Rhett shrugging, as if he wasn't regretting what he had done. He had just simply had a talk with his dad, and he saw nothing wrong with that.

"Rhett, why would you go around saying sh*t like this? You know how sensitive sh*t like that actually really is? Did you even f*cking think for a second that maybe you shouldn't be saying this?" Josiah asked Rhett, and Rhett shrugged at this, as if he was feeling like Josiah was being way too dramatic over this. Then with that, Josiah just sighed, as if he couldn't f*cking believe what was going on here.

"I just thought that he would want to know, and to be honest, I was kind of thinking that he would want to know at some point anyways. I didn't think it would be that big of a f*cking deal." He said, and sighed, as if he had felt like that was the last thing that he had felt like he needed to f*cking say. I had no clue what else to f*cking do here. I just felt like I was now getting dangerously intrusive on a really big discussion that was way beyond my reach.

"Look, both of you. I get that you both want to think that you got this all sorted out. But the reality is that you guys need a man like me to be able to handle your problems. So I am going to do all of that for you guys. You guys just need to give me a f*cking chance to pull it off." Rhett's dad said, as if he was bringing the conversation back to a level of decorum that I was sure we were all desperately wanting at this point. Rhett then slowly nodded, as if he was glad to have this as well.

"Dad, can I please have the f*cking storage key so I can get that painting. I want my kid to be able to know what his grandmother looked like. I know that he will never be able to get to know what a wonderful woman she was, but if he can at least see her, then I feel that will be enough." Rhett said, finally gaining the confidence to basically put his foot down a bit.

"Fine, I will let you have the storage key, and you can take whatever you want in it. But in return, you have to do say three months work at the casino, see if you enjoy it. If you feel like you can be able to handle this, then we can continue a contract where you finish out say the first year and go from there. Does that sound like a fair deal?" He asked, holding out his hand after he lit up a cigar. He clearly had hoped that he had enticed Rhett enough with that offer, since it gave them both a degree of sentiment. As he did this, Rhett looked down at the ground, then back up, and then back down again. Then he slowly nodded, as if feeling like he could take the deal.

"Fine, just let me have a couple of days to talk with Todd Sr. and we can work out him giving me say a certain set of hours that won't conflict with this. And we can talk more about this in ninety days." Rhett said, and I could not believe that he had been so desperate for the idea of seeing a f*cking painting of his mom that has been dead for several years that he was willing to basically sell his soul to the f*cking devil to make this work. The whole thing was making less than no sense to me.

"Thank you Rhett. I knew that you would be one to see reason soon enough. You have never really seen eye to eye with me more. But I know that we were able to talk it out in a way that we can both agree." He said, and I wasn't sure if his way of talking scared me, or was something that I didn't mind. Either way, I felt like this was what I was going to expect if I ever met somebody who was in business again.

"And what will your f*cking friend do here? Is he going to try and tattle on you guys, and tell everybody that what you are doing is f*cking wrong? Because if that is the case, then I feel like you might need to find some other people who will actually support your beliefs." As he said that, I had no idea what the hell I was supposed to f*cking feel there.

"Oh, he does share a lot of my same beliefs. We just don't always agree on the way that we are going to accomplish said beliefs. I feel like that is something that you will need to f*cking get used to before too long. And besides, you are making blanket judgements on the guy when you barely even f*cking know him at all." Rhett said, feeling like he absolutely needed to defend this guy.

"What beliefs does Josiah have? I am not saying that I doubt you, but I feel like I have not heard enough to confidently believe in the things that you tell me." He said, and then he shrugged, as if he had felt like what he had said was fair enough. Then he looked around, as if hoping that before too long, we were all going to snap out of this and not make it too much worse.

"He believes in the idea that people shouldn't be allowed to get away with all the lies and deception that have been building up in Wayside for the last multiple decades. He, like me, believes that everybody in this town has been blinded by lost faith, and bullsh*t that doesn't really get anybody any closer to the truth than we already are." Rhett said, taking out a cigarette of his own. He looked like despite everything else, he was more than ready to take on his father.

"Rhett, did you know that when I was a young man myself, I used to also view Todd Sr. as a great hero of this town. I was nineteen years old when he was elected to become mayor. I still remember that day, November 4, 1986, as if it was last weekend." Ross said, and Josiah's jaw dropped when he heard that.

Ross looked at Josiah, and then laughed. "You never f*cking heard?" He asked, and Josiah was standing up, trying to decide what he was feeling here. As if he was feeling a bit of anger and shame over the fact that he was clearly blinded by this.

"Dad told me that he lost the election but that there was a support from the youth." Josiah said, and then Ross laughed as he heard that, as if he thought that what Josiah said was both cute and arrogant.

"No, that is the furthest thing from the truth that there is. He became the only Republican in the history of Wayside to get elected mayor. Served three terms, was also the only one to serve more than a single term. Only stepped down because your mommy was pregnant with her third son, and he wanted to become a f*cking family man. He won with over seventy percent of the vote in all three elections, and he had actually managed to make the city a better place. The minute he stepped down, and that f*cking successor took over, the entire town went to sh*t again. It is your fathers fault for the way things are today. When his successor got murdered in April 2009, most people in Wayside actually viewed it as a good thing." Ross said, and Josiah looked down, as if unable to believe that.

"Your father was the great hero that Wayside had ever seen, and he ruined it. Have you ever thought that maybe that was part of the reason that your brothers and Lydia were so stigmatized for the last nearly two decades. Because people feel like you were inadvertently responsible for peace being ruined. And your mother, being a twenty one year old f*cking cow when she had Todd, encouraged him to continue because she wanted him all to herself." When he finished, I was seeing Josiah looking more and more like he felt like everything that happened was his f*cking fault.

"I have no idea why he thought it was a great idea to marry a woman nearly thirty years younger than him. But I guess that if that never happened, then none of you eleven would have ever been born. So maybe in a way, what happened was for the best. After all, deep down inside, I don't feel any resentment to any of you guys. I just feel some resentment to your father for the fact that he stepped down after he had something going." Ross said, and then with that, I really had seen that he was finally glad to just say what had been on his mind.

"And I'm especially mad at your father for lying to you guys about his election, and for thinking that the lie was worth it. He should have just been honest about it, and maybe things would have been much better for you all. But that lie just had to make things twenty times worse than they were, for no f*cking reason." He said, and I was feeling like maybe he had a good reason to lie.

"He probably just thought that he was doing this to help us out. I am sure that he meant nothing by it. I feel like I need to at least give him a f*cking chance to explain himself." He said, sounding like he had needed to try and take control of the situation once more. Josiah seemed like he was definitely pissed off at what happened, but that he was willing to accept it for what it was. Which made me feel like he wasn't looking at this the way that he really should be. But I was feeling like as long as he was trying to be positive to dad, then that was what really mattered.

"Go ahead an f*cking see for yourself. I don't feel like there is much confidence that I have in that bastard. He lied to people, and he felt good about it. That is the way that I f*cking feel about it. If you do not agree with that, then that is fine. But you are not going to change my mind on the matter." Ross said, and then with that, I wondered what else I could say to make the subject feel at least a bit different.

"Wait, if he was so popular, and he was so good at the job, then why was he the only Republican ever elected? If he was so good at the job, wouldn't people want to elect more like him? I mean, I am not saying that you are lying. I just feel like there is more to this story than you are saying." He said, as if he was just trying to make sense of this all. I could see that Ross was looking like he was interested in that part of the question. Although I was unsure why he was so stumped on the matter to begin with.

"Because nobody had the natural ability that he did. People thought that when he spoke, and when he was getting people to listen to them, that he could entice them to do everything that he wanted. He was a smart man that was able to get people to hear him. If you were actually there, then you would be able to understand what it was like. But sadly, you were not, and you will never be able to get it." Ross said, as if a part of him was thinking about the past once again. And he was finding himself wishing that he could go back to those days when everything was pure, was true, and was down to the way that it was meant to actually f*cking be.

"But I feel like you would not be able to understand if you were not there. And I feel like that is the true shame of this all. You were never f*cking there, and because of that, you are not able to see what you truly could have had. Now that you guys got what you f*cking want, I hope that you are able to accept my opinion if I do not really want to talk about this too much longer. If I think about it any longer, I will find myself pissed." Ross said, and then he was looking at Richard, and I could see that he was thinking of what he had wanted to say to Richard. Like he wanted to just convey a million emotions, but didn't really know how he was able to really f*cking do that quite yet.

"Richard, I hope that in due time, we will be able to talk again soon. I feel like the two of us have a lot of stuff that we need to f*cking discuss, and I feel like every time we get distracted by something, we lose focus on what really matters." He said, and I was wondering if he was secretly blaming Rhett for this, or if he was just talking about a general whole with the matter.

"And Rhett, I am glad that you are finally seeing to some f*cking reason here. I thought that you were going to just try and pretend like you were the white knight of justice forever, and I was feeling like there was only so much time before I would have to tell you that something like that is not going to work out." He said, and I was seeing that he was trying to find anything that he could say to make things any better at all.

With that, when Ross was gone, Richard was slowly getting up as well. He felt like he had some closing words for Josiah, since this whole thing was going down hill, and even if he didn't want to admit it, he did feel kind of bad for Josiah because of the fact that he had been deceived by a lie his entire life.

"I hope that you do know that I would never have done that to you if you were my son. I would have never become mayor, served eighteen f*cking years, and lied about it to you and everybody. And I certainly don't blame the fact that your father fell in love with a skan*. I hope that you know that I feel like you and your family deserved so much better than what you guys ended up getting." Richard said, and this was the first time that I had realized that more than just some of my siblings, but literally like several people in this town, did not approve of our mother. And to be honest, when I knew that, to be honest, I had no real clue how the hell I was supposed to f*cking feel to this.

When Richard was gone, I was seeing Josiah looking like he was trying to decide how the hell he was supposed to f*cking feel here. I was seeing that despite the fact that he was trying to remain cool, deep down inside he really wasn't. And I was feeling like he had every right in the f*cking world to feel that way. "Wow, my dad raised me and everybody else in the family in a f*cking lie. And I am supposed to somehow be okay with this? It just feels so f*cking wrong to know this, and I am supposed to be f*cking fine with this? Why did this have to go the way that it f*cking did?" He asked, and I was feeling very lost there.

"Well, if it makes you feel any better, barely anybody told me that as well. I would have completely forgotten about it if it weren't for this. So it is not your fault that this happened. Does that mean that some of the other stories that we heard might be true?" He asked, and I was seeing Josiah looking like he wasn't exactly sure what stories he was being asked about.

"What do you f*cking mean?" Josiah asked, trying to just keep his relatively neutral presentation together. But deep down inside, I knew that this was not really how he f*cking felt. I was seeing that deep down inside, he was really on the verge of snapping, and showing people that he really did not have any degree of cool over what happened here.

"To be honest, you know about the stuff with you having an uncle named Brad and everything. The fact that your dad and that one Sheldon Lee guy were really good friends. That your uncle is the dad of several bastard children with younger women." Rhett said, and while I knew he wanted to keep going, I could tell that he wanted to respect Josiah just enough to leave it at that for the time being. Knowing that Josiah was already dealing with a lot, and did not want to make it worse.

"Yeah, Todd has told us about Brad Carbunkle. That is the one thing that he has never hid from us. From what dad said, after they first met when he was thirteen years old, he became a very close ally with Brad, and they worked together a lot. I have only met the guy a few times in my life. So I am not one hundred percent sure if that feeling is still there, or if anything has changed over time." Josiah told Rhett, feeling that was one thing he was able to clarify on. Rhett slowly nodded, as if he had felt that was fair enough. But still wasn't too sure how to f*cking feel about what he was hearing there.

"I feel like I know a bit about that guy. Isn't he like one of the biggest names who was helping out Rob when he first became president that first ten years or so? I heard that after a while, he started to go into more private life. But that was never very much elaborated on. I feel like my dad was still trying to hide the truth from me at the time. For some strange reason. But I guess that maybe I could be able to respect the fact that he wasn't going around and exposing me to a bunch of stupid sh*t." After he said that to Josiah, I was seeing that Josiah was still looking like he was not fully decided on what he was feeling here.

"I think that maybe I would like to talk to him next. See what he knows and thinks about what is going on here. Maybe I can get him to open up a bit, and tell me some things straight for once." As he said that, I was feeling like Rhett was trying really hard to make it seem like he was in control of what was happening. But I felt like we both knew that there was no way in hell that any of that was really going to work out the way that he wanted.

"If you want to do that, I want to come with you. Maybe I can learn a bit more about why my dad thought that he should lie to me about the f*cking sh*t that he was dealing with. I don't know. I don't really feel like he was doing anything on malicious intent. I just feel like he just hasn't seen what the bigger picture is yet." After he said that, I was unsure if Josiah was saying that because he genuinely believed it, or if he was just saying that as a way to cope with himself, and make himself feel like this wasn't nearly as bad as he was thinking it really was.

"Okay, yeah I can f*cking do that. I don't f*cking like it though. I just feel like there is something strange here. I feel like none of these lies are really needed. I mean, I just want to feel like there is some good f*cking reason for them to keep these charades up a bit longer. But now that I know what is going on here, I don't really know if I should be too upset here or not." When he said that to me, I was seeing that he was considering what else to say. But had seemed to be a little bit f*cking lost here.

"I mean, I just feel like if they wanted to hold from this information, sooner or later it would have come out. But the fact that the lies were able to be hid for so long, makes me feel like there is so many ulterior motives to what was going on. And that is the thing that really f*cking bothers me. I just wish that I knew what the ulterior motives really were here." With that, there seemed to be nothing else to say. As if the points had been made, and that nothing else could have been lost there.

"It just seems like everybody just collectively came around, and decided that we were all too weak of will for this. And in all honesty, if everybody had felt that way, maybe he really was right. Maybe this is not really something that I should have expected. But who knows, maybe I am over thinking things a bit." When he finished, I had no clue what the hell to say to him. I felt like he was just trying to make peace with this all, but didn't know how he could.

"Well, sorry that I ended up dragging you into all of this Josiah. You truly do deserve so much f*cking better. To be honest, I guess that I just keep feeling like I need somebody at my side, to help me out. When in all honesty, I don't really need that. I can be able to f*cking handle things in my own, without anybody in the way of that." When Rhett was starting to walk off, I was feeling like I would try and talk to him, to make him feel better.

"We do need you." I said, and I saw that he had looked like he didn't really believe that for a second. Which was making me feel like I was a bit sad. I felt like if he didn't see that people did respect him, and did trust him, then I felt like that was going to be something of a massive f*cking problem later. I respected him enough to feel like he needed to find that drive that he hadn't quite seen yet. And I was feeling like I needed to just get Josiah to help me out here.

"I don't doubt that you need me. I am just not so sure if I feel like I am needed. And if I don't really feel like I am needed here, then what in the world can I really be able to do to make things different? Am I able to actually make things different, or am I just fooling myself into thinking that what I am doing is helping anybody?" He asked me, and I was sighing. I got to a degree where he was coming from. But that didn't mean that I had to f*cking like it at all. In all honesty, I was feeling like what I was doing was still rather hard to really enjoy.

"Maybe I will go to moms grave again. I go there on the anniversary of her death every year. Maybe I can try and talk to her again, and see what she f*cking knows. If she is able to hear me at all. You know, with the fact that she is dead, and I am still not one hundred percent convinced that ghost are actually f*cking real. I mean, the whole thing just seems f*cking hard to follow, if I am being honest. These great beings that have been able to live forever without a physical being." He said, and he shrugged at that. As if he was feeling like just saying it out loud was enough for him to see how ridiculous the whole thing must have sounded.

"I mean, I guess that maybe I am just too f*cking scared to take on the big things in the world. After all, people often tell me that I lack responsibility. That I lack conviction and sh*t. And it is things like this that make me feel like they might f*cking be right." He said, and smiled at this. As if he had felt like the honesty was starting to become the best thing that he could have done.

"How many people really tell you that, or are you just telling yourself that as an excuse to hide the fact that you are not confident in yourself? I feel like you need to look at yourself before you start to get too upset with everything." Josiah asked, and I wasn't sure if he was saying that because he was annoyed at the negative comments, or if he was genuinely just not sure what the hell he was feeling here.

"Chelsea has told me that a couple of times. She has told me that I need to broaden up, and admit that there is much that I still need to learn. And to be honest, I feel like she might f*cking be right. I might not like to admit it, but I feel like she understands me better than anybody else. And I feel like I am kind of letting her down when I don't do things the way that I should be." Rhett told Josiah, and I saw that Josiah did not look to happy about what he had just heard. And I was over here, wondering why this was such a problem to him. After all, nothing was done wrong. She was just stating an opinion about her boyfriend. A harsh one, sure, but still just an opinion nonetheless.

"She is calling you out, and talking down upon you, and you are willing to just let her f*cking do that? I feel like you deserve so much f*cking better here. And I feel like you shouldn't be bogged down by what people are saying about you." After Josiah told him this, I had seen that Rhett had also not really known why this was such a problem for Josiah. It was just simply his girlfriend having an opinion on him, that he felt like she had the right to have. It might have been harsh, but it wasn't like unfounded or anything.

"She might be calling me out. But I feel like we both know that she has a reason to f*cking call me out here. I have been over and over again calling away from commitments. She wants me to just tell her as it is, and I feel that is a more than fair enough goal. And I feel like maybe I am a bit wrong to deny her that luxury." Rhett said, and he was starting to find himself standing his ground. Not really caring if people were ready to tell him off, or tell him that he was not doing the right thing here.

"After all, the biggest thing to improve in life is to admit when you are wrong, and when you could be doing things different. I feel like that is the main thing that I have learned in life, and I hope that one of these days, I can be able to get to show people that this is how I really feel." As Rhett said that, I was seeing that he had seemed confident enough in that to not really be too bothered over this.

"There is a difference between calling people out, and just being rough with them for no f*cking reason. You I feel like you are just unwilling to admit that your girlfriend is not the woman that you need, and for some reason, that whole thing is just too scary for you to fess up to. I don't f*cking get it, but if you need some f*cking help here, then I suppose that I might just come in and do what I can." Josiah said, and with that, there seemed to be a understanding that things were not going to go the way that either of them were really hoping.

"What does it even matter to you anyways? She isn't your girlfriend, soon to be wife? She's not the one that you promised that you were going to change your life for. So as far as I am aware, you are not really one to speak because you do not really get it at all. And I am ready to tell people that they have no business getting involved like that when they really do not need to." He said, and with that, I was feeling like the tension between the two of them was becoming very clear, and I was feeling like I was becoming a trespasser with each passing minute on the discussion here.

"It matters to me because I feel like you deserve better than to constantly think that you are not enough. To constantly think that you are making mistake after mistake, and that you are doing things wrong. I get that you might not be a f*cking hero or anything like that. But you are still a decent enough guy. And I feel like you need to just give yourself a bit more credit here." When he said that, Josiah said, and with that, the silence in the room was growing to be a causer of tension.

"To be honest, we shouldn't even be having this discussion around Ridge in the first place. He is too young to get this all, and I feel like we need to just let it go for the time being." Rhett said, and he looked right at me, I was seeing him looking like he was wanting to do what was best for me. Or what he thought was best for me. And that was just simply keeping me out of a lot of things that in all honesty, were way out of my league. And to a small degree, I was able to respect where he was coming from.

"I want to know." I said, feeling like I needed to show him that I still had my voice in the matter. As I said that, I was seeing that Rhett looked like he wasn't sure what to tell me. Almost as if he was feeling like I was trying to be a better man for people than I really had been. And for some reason, that was really bothering him.

"Well, if you want to know, then I can respect that. But I feel like I need to also respect the fact that I don't want to tell you. I want to just keep this to myself. And I feel like that is perfectly fair for me. I got to lay down my boundaries, and if you can't respect that, then I feel like you are not really the friend that I need right now.

"I feel so f*cking stupid for everything that I have been doing here. And I guess that maybe to a small degree, that is my f*cking fault. Trying to act like I know what I am f*cking do. When in all honesty, I feel like I have been f*cking lost on my own. And I feel like whenever I get a step closer, I find something else out, and I fall back. I mean, I had no idea that I do, I just don't have it in me to learn the truth, I f*cking guess. I mean, your father being the f*cking mayor of Wayside. I work with that guy on a constant f*cking basis, and I somehow had no idea that was true. If I had known about that, then I would have said and done something. But I guess that maybe I was just joking myself when I said that I knew what I was f*cking doing." When he said that, I could tell that Josiah was looking like he was wondering when he was going to stop beating himself up.

"You're not f*cking stupid dude. Just try and look at things rationally, and I feel like you will see that you are not a bad f*cking guy. You are just a guy who has made various mistakes. But that is no different from a lot of people." Josiah said, and then at that, he ended up shrugging.

"And to be honest, dad is more to blame then either of us are for his f*cking lying about the god damn mayor sh*t. Now that I know that, I want to talk to him right now, and force him to tell me what he f*cking knows. But I feel like in order to do that, I need your help." He said, looking at Rhett. "So we both have stakes in this issue, and I feel like we both need to get to the bottom of that as fast as f*cking possible." Josiah said, and then with that, he stood up, and since I had been laying on his lap for so long, it had felt strange to feel the sudden boost of energy coming in.

"We got a lot of stuff that we can work on. And I feel like we both have the clues that we need to make it happen. So what do you say partner? We just go through with it, and f*cking see what we can find?" Josiah asked, and with that, I saw that Rhett was smiling. He had felt like he was ready to rock and role here. That this was something that he had been ready to do for a long time, and that he had just needed to be f*cking asked.

"Yeah, we can f*cking do this. You know, I trust you enough to not do anything too f*cking stupid. And I trust myself to keep you in line if you try to act like none of this even f*cking remotely matters." Josiah said, and he was smiling at the fact that he had known that Rhett now had a friend at his side. A real friend who was going to give him all the help that he needed, when he had f*cking needed it the most. And I was seeing that Rhett himself looked like this was something that he was going to be down with as well, once he was getting a bit more comfortable with it.

"I just need to make sure that Ridge over there gives me his word that he will not do anything too reckless. I love the kid, but I feel like you need to keep a eye on him." He said, and I was feeling a bit offended that this was the way that things were going. But I was feeling like maybe he was just keeping an eye on me. And if that was the case, then I guess that I needed to just let this happen for what it was.

"I won't. My lips are sealed." I said, and I was smiling at that. I could tell that when I said that, he was starting to calm down a bit more. As if he was feeling like that was what he needed to f*cking hear. After all, he was being nice enough to where I felt like I got to just be a part of the f*cking plan.

I was seeing Josiah looking like this was the one thing he did not want me to f*cking say. As if he had known that because I had said that now, I was able to do whatever I wanted, and he knew that I was going to f*cking get away with it. It was literally the last f*cking thing that he had needed to hear.

"Well, I guess that if you really want to do this, I might as well just let it happen. I still do not enjoy this at all. But you already made your mind up, and I am not going to f*cking change it for no reason." Josiah said, and I was able to respect the fact that he was seeing how I was doing things real quick. It was making me feel like he was starting to acknowledge that I was slowly becoming my own kid.

Slowly admitting that despite how much he did not like it, he had known that I was not a baby. And that was something that I felt like I could take with me. Him just finally admitting that deep down inside, he had known that I was going to do whatever the hell I wanted, and that I had nothing to f*cking lose here.

"Thanks." I said, feeling like this was my way of showing him that I was not going to a bitter man at him. I loved my brother, and I loved him finally seeing that I was becoming my own person. These had both felt so f*cking right, and these had both felt like I was doing something right. But to be honest, I was still not exactly sure where this would take the two of us.

"I think that if I am starting to view you this way, then I need to start looking at my other siblings this way. Just letting them do what they feel like they want to do, and not get in the way. As long as it does not interfere with their safety, that is. I don't know why I have to be the most stubborn bastard in the planet and not just admit what I know." After Josiah said that to me, I was wondering if he was doing his way of admitting that he needed to f*cking change as well.

If he had been, while I was not sure how I was supposed to react to this, part of me felt like I needed to appreciate the honesty and the effort. And that was what I was going to f*cking do for now.

"You know, I think the more that time passes, the more that I understand what Todd is saying when he says that he has a hard time really letting go of the things that he thinks about all of us. Maybe there is some sense to this after all. And maybe there is a degree of humility that I can f*cking learn if I just listen to him even a bit more than I normally do." As Josiah said that, I was feeling like I could take this for what it is, and not make fun of him over it.

"You need to stop letting him hold you down then. That is not f*cking fair to you, and not f*cking fair to any of your siblings. I mean, yes, a lot of them are still kids, who haven't even hit middle school yet. But you have seen Ridge. He has been able to handle himself decently well, despite the fact that you have been f*cking obsessed with babying him this whole f*cking time. In a way, I am amazed that he hasn't f*cking snapped yet, and said that enough is enough." As he said that, I was unsure of what else I was even going to tell him there. It was just feeling wrong to hear all of this in the first place.

"I am not holding him down. I am just simply doing what I feel like is the best course of action for my f*cking youngest sibling. But I know that he's turning four in a few months. I know that sooner or later, he will do his own thing. And to be honest, I want to be there for him when he does." As he said that, I was feeling like the two of us were going to be opposed forever.

But with that, we left the casino, having gotten all that we had needed. And to be honest, it felt great being a hero for once, especially so early in my life.

Rank 2: March 31, 2024

Roughly a week after the last time that I had seen Rhett, we had met up again, and I had seen that Rhett had looked like he was a bit unsure of what to tell me here. I was seeing that compared to last time, he was holding up much better. And to be honest, I was proud of him to see him looking like he was having his sh*t much more figured out than before. But this made me feel like maybe there was a chance that we would be able to continue our adventures and see what we could find.

He looked very happy to see me, and I was unsure what to say. "Hey, I just wanted to talk to you for a bit. You know, about the current case that I was working. I figured that I would take you out for a day, and show you around on what my work really looks like." He said, and I was smiling, since I had wanted to do this so much. And to see that he was giving me the chance to do it, without even needing to ask, made me feel like the two of us were really see each other eye to eye after all.

He picked me up, and there was one thing that was on my mind. "What about Josiah?" I asked, and Rhett shrugged, as if feeling like that was something that he would not want to talk about for now. Which made me feel a bit unsure what to f*cking feel here. But I chose to simply not say much.

"I told him that I would be watching you for the day, and that I wanted to show you around. He didn't really seem to oppose of it too much. So I think that we are in the clear." He said, and I knew that this was going to either go really down hill, or it was going to be great.

"I will just try to do a easy case though. Nothing too crazy though. Don't want to make people think that I am some f*cking lunatic." He said, and I was finding his paranoia about the whole situation to be kind of funny. But I was feeling like I needed to respect what he was feeling, and not press him on the matter any harder than I had been.

He went to the car, and put me in the baby seat. He started up the car, and I felt like I needed to ask him what we were doing that day. "What's going on?"

"Well, Todd Sr. told me that there was a building being demolished for a new factory to build up. When the demolition was happening, he told me that a body was found there. And I am here to try and f*cking see what happened." He said, and he simply seemed like this was the last thing that he wanted to worry too much about right now.

"And I am just simply taking you along for the ride, and observing the whole thing. You do not need to do anything besides just sort of see what we can fine. I trust that you will be able to handle this." He told me, and I nodded. I was so excited to do this. This was the best thing that somebody could offer me. I was feeling like he was giving me the chance of a life time to do something like this.

"That's fine." I told him, feeling like I was not going to waste this chance. I mean, if I was able to eventually tell Josiah about what I was accomplishing, then I felt that would be the most awesome thing in the entire f*cking world.

Eventually, we pulled up at the building that Rhett was talking about. He went to his briefcase at the back of his car, and pulled out a gun and holstered it. "Thankfully I have not had to kill anybody with it yet. And after working here for three f*cking years, that is really f*cking saying something." Rhett told me, and he shook his head, as if he was hiding the shame of what he was telling me. And I wondered what the hell the problem was on his mind.

"Have you come close?" I asked, and Rhett shook his head, as if this was something that he was also willing to be proud of.

"I have had to raise it once or twice. But mainly as a way to make the point to somebody that I was willing to fire, and I was willing to take matters into my own hands if needed. But I never actually had to do it. But I still go down to the practice grounds every Wednesday and Saturday, and I will always be ready when I need to eventually do it." Rhett said, in a rather dark and serious tone, and I was shocked to hear him admit that to me. I was feeling like this was the first time I had to admit that Rhett was not kidding around, and he would do what he needed to get what he f*cking wanted, if he had to.

"And Ridge, that is why I think that I was having a hard time coming around to letting you along. I do not want you to get killed here, and you are a nice enough kid. I feel like if you want to know what is going on, that is more than fair. But actually firing the gun, and actually doing something… I feel like is way out of your f*cking comfort zone, and I never want that to be what you have to deal with." Rhett told me, and eventually we were in front of Todd Sr. and a man with a fire fighter suit.

"Hey, I see that you brought Ridge here today. Just as long as you don't let him out of your sight, then I am not going to f*cking stop it." He told Rhett, and then he looked right at me. "I was considering on bringing you during the summer anyways. Just saves me having to do it, and I think that we can both be able to f*cking respect that."

"Look, I have no idea what the hell happened. I just was bringing the building down, and this skeleton that has clearly been around for a long time was found." The man said, and then with that, another officer showed up, and he was looking at Todd and Rhett, the former with begrudging respect, and the latter with a level of sympathy.

"The man who was found in the building belongs to Jeremy Pascashal. If you remember, since you were probably old enough at the time, that was the eighteen year old who went missing in the summer of 1963. The reports further indicate, that he had been decapitated, which goes with the story about the head of that boy who had been found a few weeks after he went missing. Do you know anything about that?" He asked, and then Todd slowly nodded.

"That was one of Sheldon's friends. I talked with the guy a few times the later part of that school year, and early summer. Gothic kid who was also just as interested in learning the truth of Wayside as both Sheldon and I were." Dad said, and he rubbed his eyes. "I had completely f*cking forgotten about him by now. To know that he has been dead for over sixty years… His parents died like ten years after that, so I can't even give his family closure. But still, might as well learn who f*cking did it." Dad said, finally gaining a level of confidence that I had known that my dad usually did not have.

"God damn it, I have no idea what to say here. Rhett, are you sure that this is something that you feel like you can ever be ready for?" Todd asked, and I was seeing him looking like he was genuinely really down for the first time as he was saying this. "Look Ridge, please do not tell anybody about what you are f*cking seeing here. This is too much for anybody to f*cking handle." He said, and I was shocked to see him looking like he was just so clearly broken here.

"Did anybody else get found here? I mean, I feel like this might lead to more answers. I just really hope that Sheldon doesn't have to know more about this. After all, when he found Jeremy's head all those years ago, he was basically claiming that it was the friendship not meant to be. He blamed himself for what happened to his friend, and I feel like that is something that he has never been able to get over." Todd said, as if thinking sort of to himself, but feeling like he just needed to get all those thoughts out loud. Rhett then looked like he needed to say more.

"Wait, is he even f*cking alive?" Rhett asked, and then he was taking a deep breath. "With all due respect Todd, I thought back then, I heard a story about how he hung himself like thirty five years ago. And that this was something that Cody had to live with for the rest of his life." As Rhett said that, Todd looked right at Rhett, as shocked that Rhett even knew about that in the first place.

"That is just the story that is told, to get people to get off the path here. I can't tell you right now what really happened, or if he is alive or not. I am not sure if you are ready to talk about all of this stuff quite yet." After dad said that, I was seeing Rhett looking like he had enough of this. After all, he was being just tossed to the side, and treated without any respect at all.

"No, I am not going to be playing this game right now. I need to know the truth of what the f*cking hell happened with him. After all, if Sheldon is alive, or his death could be the clues that I need, then I need to f*cking get to know what happened." He said, and then with that, he was looking directly at me. As if he had hoped that I was not going to be saying much, and that I would not argue with his logic here.

"Meet me at that quiet run down Mexican restaurant at the edge of town in half an hour. I want to talk to you about this." Rhett said, as if he was finally putting his foot down for once. "I am going to be nineteen in a couple of months. I am well more than old enough to know the truth of Wayside, and know what you are f*cking hiding from me."

With that, I was seeing that dad had looked like he was in between respecting Rhett's firm putting his foot down, and also kind of angry that he wasn't going to take no for an answer. And that this was very clear from the way that he was talking here.

"Fine. I will f*cking tell you everything. Doesn't mean that I have to f*cking like it. And I'm going to be honest, I don't know if I can trust you to just not go around and tell people what I f*cking know already." As he said that, I was seeing that Dad had looked like he was kind of hoping that both men being firm, and right to the point, would be the best thing that could f*cking happen here.

"I just wish that Ridge was a lot older than he is right now when he was hearing all this. I am just going to have to hope that one day he grows old enough to just forget this all even happened, and we can just laugh all about this. But I feel like that would be disrespectful to the boy." Dad said, and he was looking like he was just trying to hold back his scream as he said this.

With that, dad started to head off, and then Rhett looked at me. He then looked at the officer who had been watching very uncomfortably at what had happened. "Sir, do you know anything else about the case? Was there like maybe old security cameras that just got found or something?" He asked, and I could tell that this was just his clear hope that there would be some f*cking answer.

"Well, now that you did speak about that, I think there was something similar to that found before the fires burned down. Something in a couple of boxes. I was probably never going to watch them. Since I think your dad's office might be one of the only places in town left that even have VHS players anymore." He said, and then he pulled out a box and handed them to Rhett.

"You can watch them, and let us know if you find anything." As he said that, Rhett slowly nodded, and then with that, I could tell that he wasn't exactly too sure what to say. "Well, I do know of one other place that might have it. Your brother Gabe has a friend named Dan. I think he still works at that gas station that Sheldon used to work at. I recall him having a interest in VHS a couple of years ago due to somebody else's case." Rhett said, and then he placed the box at the back of his car.

When he was looking at the box, he was shocked to see how many tapes had been in there. There were probably a good fifty or sixty tapes, and they all held the maximum six hours of footage each. They were not all ordered in order, but they still gave roughly two weeks of footage. "Damn dude. I guess that is what I am going to be working on for a while. At least until I find out what happened to Jeremy. You know this is why sh*t takes so long to figure out. I have to go through mountains of information on a god damn daily basis." He said, and then with that, he simply shrugged.

With that, he put me back in the baby seat, and then he was starting to drive to that old Mexican restaurant that had been run down. On his way over there, he ended up dropping by the gas station, and then he was looking over at Dan, who was still actually working there. Well beyond what Rhett was expecting. "Hey Dan, I was hoping that I could be able to bother you with something. And if you can't, then I can understand, but I feel like I need to know something real quick." When he said that, I was seeing that Dan looked right at me, and I could tell that he had been a bit uncertain what to say.

"You know when you were looking for that Maggie girl a few years ago? And you had all those tapes that she made because she got that strange interest in it." As he said that, I was seeing that Rhett had looked like he was hoping that Dan would actually listen to him.

"Oh yeah, I almost forgot about all that. You know, once it became clear that I was never going to learn the f*cking truth, and I was just wasting my time even looking into this. Because some people are just sneaky bastards who don't actually give a sh*t. Anyways, yeah, I think I still have them in the back room, and that old twenty seven inch television that I placed to watch them." He said, and then with that, he was starting to head off.

"Rhett, are you working on a case or something? I mean, I thought the whole Maggie thing was basically a thing of the past now." He said, and I was seeing him looking like he was kind of hoping that this subject would just finally finish up.

"Yeah, I am. And some potential evidence literally has things related to VHS tapes. So I figured that I might as well just gather these up. See if I can finish up looking at two cases at once. Not the smartest use of my time, but I hope that it will work." Rhett said, shrugging as he said this, hoping that he would get this man to be at least mildly interested in hearing more.

"Cool. I am glad to see that somebody in this town is still at least trying to do what is right now. I thought that Mr. Robinson was the man who would make a change. But he hasn't delivered on that yet, and I feel like that is something that I will have to just accept, and live with." As he said that, he looked right at me, and I was seeing that he was looking like he had hoped that I would accept that.

After a couple of minutes, Dan was coming up with a large box of them. "Honestly, here are all the ones that I found that were still at least somewhat viewable. I don't know how many of them will actually be able to help you out. But hopefully that will be enough." Dan said, and I was seeing him looking like he was just glad to finally have a level of contribution to this.

"If you can find out the man who took Maggie down earlier, than you will be forever in my gratitude. You might be the one person who helps me see that there is hope in this town still." As he said that to Rhett, he then looked right at me, as if he was hoping that I would see that Rhett might be the man that I need to look up to more than dad himself.

"I will find him. I will do whatever I can to make sure that these things all get taken down, and exposed soon enough. You have my word that I am not going to be leaving any of this behind." Rhett said, and then with that, there was a level of understanding that the two had.

"Look Rhett, I have been feeling down about all of the things that I should have done instead. The things that I let people down over. All because I never f*cking learned the truth of what happened to Maggie. And I know that I never made a promise that I would or anything. But to be honest, I wanted to just do something that I felt like was right here." As Dan said that, I then felt like there was a calm and quiet between the two of them.

"Well, when mom dad, I felt the same way, and I am honest. I wanted to bring the man who killed her to justice. But the truth is that I feel like she will never have that justice. And now that the justice will never be found, I am just simply trying to do what is right for Wayside. I mean, not like there is much justice that can be had here." As he said that, there was a silent understanding between the two of them.

With that, Rhett and I ended up leaving the gas station. And this was the first time, or many f*cking times, that I went to this place that would basically be known as the sh*t hole of Wayside. And I don't even feel bad for saying that, when the people who worked there, and in some ways, basically f*cking lived there, basically agreed with me, when I was saying that it was a sh*t hole that really had nothing to f*cking offer here.

Eventually, we were at the restaurant, and I was still feeling bad about all the people that were calling dad out for things that were not even that big of a deal. I sat down in the child seat, and Rhett sat down, looking right across the table from my dad, who had looked like he had been rather tired.

"No more bullsh*t, what are the things you are hiding from me? And don't f*cking lie dude… Just tell me what you f*cking know, and I will try to make as much sense of it as I f*cking can." He said, sounding like he was finally ready to just stay straight to the point.

"Well, I guess that some of the things that I will tell you is that you know of the incident in 1963, where Liam Needlemeyer was killed in the Needlemeyer family casino?" Dad asked, and Rhett thought about it, and then slowly nodded.

"Well, I was the one that killed him. He was going to kill one of my friends, and I had no real choice on the matter. It was him or us. And I took the gun that Sheldon gave me, since he wanted me to use it in case if I needed to during the heist, and I shot him in the chest three times. My friend Sheldon was there when Needlemeyer tumbled out the window and fell down to the ground and splattered all across the pavement. He decided to take the fall for me." Dad said, and then he took a deep breath.

"I know that when Yolei's body was found, you were very clearly broken over this revelation. Did you know anything about Yolei, and if you did, is there anything that you were trying to do to fix it?" He asked, and I was seeing Todd looking like he wasn't exactly sure what to say to this.

"Yes, I was tasked with finding her. I was close with T.K. Shioda when he was very young, and I was trying to help him out with finding out what happened to her. He was friends with Yolei, and she had been the main reason that he even wanted to look into labyrinth in the first place. I didn't need to know much about him to know that she had given him a lot of heart and soul." He said, and then with that, he was shrugging a bit.

"I promised her that I would eventually try and find her. To help give him a degree of closure for what happened. But I never ended up finding her until well after he moved out. And now I have to wonder if he even knows that her body was found." Todd said, and then with that, he shrugged.

"Truth be told, with the time stamp that was on the video, she had died nearly twelve hours before the report was even made. And I guess that maybe all that finding her early would have done would just simply given T.K. and his friends a degree of closure much earlier than they had been given earlier. But I feel like maybe this is something that is beyond my control here." Todd said, and with that, there was barely anything else to say here.

"Was there ever any other cases that you had that left you feeling as empty as Yolei's? I mean, you looked absolutely destroyed over that, and I never seen that from you." He said, and then with that, dad looked like he had been a bit lost on what to say here.

"Victoria. My brothers twenty two, maybe twenty three, year old girlfriend. Good god, I was never f*cking ready for that one. I know that there was a point in time where Brad wanted to kill himself because Victoria was missing. And I told him that her case was the one that I would put the most amount of effort into finding." After dad said that, he was shrugging, as if there had been nothing else for him to f*cking say here.

"Did you ever find out what happened to Victoria?" Rhett asked, and then with that, Todd looked right at him, as if this was a question that he was never really going to be ready to answer. I was seeing that Todd had looked like there were plenty of things that he wanted to talk about, but that this was one of the worst things to ask.

"A video recording from several years after she had gone missing. In August 1991, T.K. was trying to look into something. He found this grinding machine, and there were four girls lined up on the conveyor belt, and all four of them were tied down by a bunch of rope and a mouth gag. Aside from that, all four of them were completely naked. There was one other man in there, Richard Watterson. With that, Richard had explained that part of the business model was that when a girl had no more use, she would be ground up, and the meat would be buried in the towns gardening center for fertilizer. Before T.K. was even able to muster up the reaction to do anything, Richard turned the belt on, and within just a few minutes, all four girls were sent through the grinder and were grounded up into nothing. The third of these four girls were Victoria, who had clearly been mentally begging him to get a move on and try to change it. But he just stood there, and he let her and three other girls get brutally murdered that day." Todd said, and then he shrugged at this.

"Ever since that tape was shown to Brad, I have known that Brad hates T.K. The young man, who was around eighteen years old at the time, could have done something to change it. But he just stood there, and he just let her f*cking die, and nothing was changed. He viewed him as more responsible for what happened than he viewed Richard to be." As he said that, I saw that dad had looked like he had accepted this.

"How in the world is Richard able to get away with the things that he has done, when that happened? I mean, for the f*cking love of god, he murdered four girls, and there was proof of it on camera." Rhett said, and then with that, Todd had looked like he hadn't been exactly sure what to tell Rhett.

"He is just a part of the towns establishment for a very long time. Everything that he has done, that might seem messed up and wrong to you doesn't change that this is the normal course of action for people here. It is just all a part of business." Dad said, and with that, I was seeing Rhett looking like he was trying to figure out what dad had just said to him.

"Are you trying to tell me that this is somehow okay? I mean, with all due respect, there is no way in hell that you can act like something like this is totally f*cking cool, and not try and see where I am coming from here. I mean, this man slaughtered a bunch of girls like livestock, and nothing f*cking happened? How is that something that is even allowed?" When he asked, I was seeing that dad had hoped that he would get over the f*cking hysteria that he was having here.

"I never said that it was okay. I am just saying that it is business. And when business comes around here, then that is simply what needs to be done. I thought that you of all the people would be able to find the value in what I am saying. Not that you have to like it, but that you could be able to see where he is coming from. At least, that is what I have to say to myself at times." When dad said that, I was seeing that the second part was really having a had time settling in.

"I don't f*cking get it at all. Are you telling me that there is a chance that my mom might have just been lumped into this whole thing? And that this is something that I will just have to f*cking accept and not say a god damn word to?" Rhett asked, and I was feeling like he was sort of jumping to conclusions there. But he had seemed willing to not say too much here.

"No, I don't think that your mom has anything to do with this business at all. I think that maybe your father might have. And maybe she was trying to find something related to your father to prove that this was the case. But as far as I know, there is nothing that your mother could really do to f*cking change it. So yeah, I think that your mothers death is at most only partly related to what is going on in this business. I feel like what really happened is she was just simply caught up in the cross guard of a couple of things that happened, and that as a result, she just ended up being the victim here." Dad said, as I saw him looking slightly let down.

"Well, when you are finally willing to tell me the f*cking cross road that she was caught in, and why she had to f*cking die as a result, then let me know. I mean, that is half the reason I even got involved in this sh*t in the first place." He said, and then with that, Rhett looked like he was trying to be as calm about this as possible, but was having a really hard time doing so.

Eventually, both Rhett and dad had decided that they needed to go their own ways with the investigation. "Let's meet back in a bit, and we can discuss what we f*cking find. Then we can head on and try to find something else. But I hoped that I gave you some f*cking answers that will make you feel a bit better." He said, and hoped that Rhett would be fine with what he heard.

With that, Rhett carried me out, and Todd was heading off to do his next part of the job. It almost seemed as if there was a degree of shame in everything that he was saying. As he was feeling like everything that could have gone bad in this family, and everybody in the family, was all his f*cking fault. I did not know exactly what had been on his mind, but that was the thing that I was assuming had been passing through his mind.

Later, we were sitting down in a random hotel room, which Rhett decided to rent out for the night so he could be able to watch the VHS's. I was wondering why he chose to do this in a random hotel rather than his own house. But at the same time, I was also feeling like he was just trying to find a way for him to be able to watch this stuff without having to expose Chelsea to anything. Which I supposed was fair enough, given everything that was happening here.

When the first tape was put in, I was seeing that the tape was showing a man who looked to be in his late teenage years, or early twenties, walking around the room. He was checking the room around, to make sure that nobody was in there with him. I was wondering what the hell was even going on here. And to be honest, I was very scared of what he would find.

When he had seemed relatively sure that nobody as around seeing what he was doing, he then walked to a file cabinet, and he pulled some files out from there. He was staring at the papers that he had pulled out. Despite the fact that I would later learn that audio recordings were supposed to be illegal, I was hearing what this man was saying.

"I always knew that there was something going on here. Why was this hidden from us?" He asked, and then I was wondering what exactly he had been talking about. Then with that, he placed the file on top of the cabinet, to see if he could maybe be able to find anything else that could be able to give him any clues on what he was supposed to f*cking do now.

When he was about to read more, that was when there was a man who walked into the room, and he looked far older than the one who had been reading these files. When he looked over, and saw the older guy, I could tell that he was really upset at this man, and looked like there was some business that he was planning to discuss with this guy.

"I was aware that you were probably going to find this place soon enough. I was just hoping that you would have been more careful about it. You know that you have caused quite the stir in this town after the stunt that you pulled recently." He said, and the younger man was shaking his head.

"You know that Larry Needlemeyer and his dad were hiding all that sh*t for years, and you were just willing to look the other way? Where in the world did you think that any of this was justified at all? You know that Larry was just going around, and knocking up teenage girls, and you didn't do anything about it?" He asked, as if he was just trying to hide his annoyance at this.

"Well, it is all a matter of business, I am sure that you understand. Your father is a smart man, and I am sure that even if you are not quite following in his footsteps, you know what it is like to put a job before emotions." He said, and then he was pulling out a gun. And then he pointed it at the young man, as if he was ready to finally take the shot, which had been something he must have been waiting a lot time for.

"You know that if you kill me, then dad will be going after you? You know that there are several things going on here, and that is one of the very few things that you are not supposed to do?" The guy said, and I was still having no clue what in the world I was even doing in the first place.

"Well, your daddy is a man that understands business needs more than you give him credit for. I am sure that once I explain that I felt like I had no real choice but to do what I did, then I am sure that he will be more than understanding of what is going on here. And besides, I feel like you have been pushing that immunity a bit too far. I mean, you killed a man, and you expect that nothing will change." He said, and then he fired the gun, and the younger man jumped down and the bullet broke the window.

"Jimmy, what do you want? I can just simply get out of here, and we can pretend like this isn't f*cking happening. We do not need to have a f*cking fight here. I don't want anything bad to happen to us here." The young man said, while he was pulling out what looked like a sword. Which I was finding to be rather interesting that he was trying to use that in a gun fight.

"I want you to simply back away from this. Just leave Wayside, and never come back. If you just simply put this place behind us, most people will be willing to forget it, and move on. You are the one that is making it worse for yourself." He said, hoping that this would be enough get Sheldon to back off.

"You think I had much of a choice? The man was going to f*cking kill Todd, and besides he was already older than sh*t. Larry didn't even like his father all that much, so let's not act like we are really losing out on a lot with what is going on here." The younger man said, and Jimmy White was tightening his bow tie.

"Todd is only a thirteen year old guy. The world would not miss him too much if he were to pass away. You are thinking that somebody who just started middle school is more important to save than a man who has had a very established career in this town? If this town starts to lose a lot of business because you killed Liam Needlemeyer, then everything here will be your f*cking fault." Jimmy White said, and then with that, there seemed to be a bit of a lost matter.

"You know Sheldon, I really did like you a lot. You were a smart kid, and you had a great future ahead of you. All you needed to do was just remain down low, and let the businessmen take care of everything. But you had to f*cking come along, and ruin it. I wanted to work with you so badly ever since I saw you asking me all those questions during the assembly." As he said that, there seemed to be a level of understanding between the two of them. Almost as if there was something that both of them knew was true about what was being said.

"You really were the very best of us all. But you had to ruin it by putting tar in your system, and by putting your friends before logical business. Maybe if Riley had never gone missing, things would be different. But that is not what happened, and I think we both know that the chances of that never happening were very much slim to f*cking none." As he said that, I was seeing him looking like he was mildly let down by what he had told him.

"Do you know what happened to Riely? You have been lying to me about this for over seven f*cking years. Can you please just tell me for once, and be honest about it, if you actually know what really happened? Sheldon said, gripping the weapon as tightly as he could. I was seeing him looking like he was trying really hard to remain composed, but the truth was that he was actually on the verge of crying and just letting it all out.

"Well, I guess that since you are on your way out of the door anyways, I might as well let you finally have the answer one last time." As he said that to Sheldon, I could see that Jimmy White had been waiting for this moment for a very long time. As if this was actually something that he had wanted to do this whole time, and had been waiting for the right moment.

"Your father was the one that sold her off. He needed to find a way to show the business that he was actually wanting to be a part of the equation. We told him that he needed to find somebody that he can sell off to finally get in with the ranks. Especially since he was trying to finally build a career for himself, and later on, when he was actually looking into politics." He said, and with that Sheldon had to take a second to consider what he was hearing.

"Couldn't he have just found some other girl that he would have put to the market? I mean, I hate the idea that this even happened, but I still don't get why he would go with his own daughter before anything else." Sheldon said, trying to just make sense of this all.

"Your father always had a morbid sense of love. He said that he always loved Riley more than anything he could imagine, and everything that he did was just a way of him showing his love. To be honest, when I talked with him, there was also something else to it. Something that made me realize that he actually had a lot of intelligence when looking at the bigger picture." He said, and then with that, Sheldon looked right at him, unsure what to say.

"Look, what else did dad f*cking see? What was he trying to accomplish with me, that you are f*cking hiding?" He asked, and then with that, Jimmy White had looked like this part of the answer was going to be especially delicious, and something that he would be waiting so f*cking long for.

"He told me that he knew from the minute you moved here, and immediately adapted to Wayside, that you were somebody extremely f*cking special. Your father loved Riley probably more than anybody in the world, but he was able to put that love aside and realize that you truly were the best. He, like me, saw that you were the one person who could handle everything. So he wanted to test and see how much the best person in the world could be able to handle before they completely f*cking break. Every year, he started to test you more and more, and see how long it would take before you lost everything, and how much he could overcome." Jimmy said, and then Sheldon shook his head.

"After all, if the best man who had ever lived couldn't be able to handle the things that are thrown at him, and eventually would fall under the pressure, then that would show that nobody else could be able to handle the pressure." Jimmy said, and then with that, Sheldon was taking a second to consider what he was hearing.

Before too long, Sheldon stabbed the man right in the heart, before Jimmy was able to fire another bullet, and when Jimmy fell down to the ground, he looked at the wall and could tell something was up with it. But he couldn't exactly say what the issue was, so he just had to move on, and let it go. So he left the room, and then chose to try and make sure that nobody knew what he had done.

Sheldon didn't even take the time to make sure that Jimmy was dead or not before he left. And since the wall already had a issue with it, and had already been mildly altered in a degree, that meant that what happened with Jeremy had already been done, and that mean that this kind of closed down when this was even more.

Before we were able to watch anymore of the tape, that was when Rhett ended up getting a call from somebody. "Hey Chelsea, what the f*ck is up girl?" Rhett asked, and seemed to just try and pretend like he was in charge of what was going on. But deep down inside, I could tell that whatever Chelsea would want to tell him would not be what he would want to hear.

"I was wanting to make sure that you weren't doing anything too dangerous. You said you were going to be heading home soon, to help me out here." Chelsea said, and then Rhett looked at me, and then started to speak to the phone again, as if to make this situation go by in the least bad situation possible, and that way everybody could be able to walk off from this at least relatively intact.

"Look, I was meaning that at the time I said that. But to be honest, I have to do something real quick. I am working on a case, and I feel like I might actually have something going here. I know that this is not what you want to f*cking hear. But I have no god damn choice here." Rhett said, and I was seeing him looking like he was very much regretting telling her this.

"Chelsea, I know that you might not like it, but I really need to start putting some focus on my detective work. Todd is relying a lot on me, and as a man who is going to retire soon, I feel like there will only be enough time before he will give everything to me. And I am just simply trying to get myself a bit of a head start here. I am very sorry that this is not what you want to hear." He said, hoping that this would be enough to get her to leave him alone for now.

"Are you staying safe at least?" She asked, as if that was a f*cking joke to suggest. Rhett knew that this was the last thing that he would be able to properly answer. And I was wondering if he was going to be honest about everything that is going on here, or if he was going to choose to just simply leave her in the dark, and try to make sure that she doesn't follow down the path of hating him or anything like that.

"Well, I am trying to f*cking stay safe to be honest. You know, that is a bit hard when I have no idea if people are planning on doing anything with me. Thanks for asking though. I know that I keep brushing off everything that I promised you earlier. But for the love of god, I feel like there is no other choice here. This might be the biggest case yet. We finally have a name, and I found a lot of these old VHS tapes that I have to watch to help me through." Rhett said, wishing that he would keep her feeling slightly less bogged down by what he was saying.

"I promise that this weekend, I will do what I promised. And I will give you my full undivided attention." As Rhett said, that Chelsea was taking a second to think of what she was wanting to say. I was sitting down, and I was sort of scared of where this was going to go.

"Don't bother. You already made it clear where your priorities lie, and you made it very clear how seriously you are actually taking this whole thing. Just go ahead and keep doing what you're doing, and I will find somebody else to help me. You know, somebody who will actually take what I am saying a bit more seriously." Chelsea said, and then I felt like there was no need to take it, and I needed to ask what exactly this was meaning.

"What the f*ck does she mean?" I asked, feeling like if this was meaning what I was dreading what I was thinking it was meaning, then I knew that I was going to be a really sh*tty friend for not being able to actually really do anything to change it at all.

"Tell your colleague that I mean that I'm your Ex-Girlfriend, you asshole." She hung up the phone, and then Rhett looked right at me, and I was seeing that he had hoped that he didn't really have to say those words, and that he could just focus on the job that is ahead of him.

"Look, I kind of knew that was coming anyways. I mean, the two of us had been at odds for a while, and I feel like it was only a matter of time before she eventually had enough. I guess that I just wish that I worked at a job that could have made this work out better than it has." Rhett said, and then he was sighing for a second.

"Can't believe how f*cked up it is to say this, but to be honest, at least I don't have to worry about raising the kid she doesn't want anymore. Because if she doesn't want me in her life, then I am fine not giving her a f*cking penny to raise that kid she was obsessed with having." Rhett said, and then he sat down, and I felt like I needed to ask.

"How many months is she?" I asked, feeling like maybe this was something that I could be able to show more interest in. He looked at me, and shook his head. As if he had wanted to just drop it for a second, and that even he didn't even really know why he had to mention it in the first place.

"Six or so. I think the kid is going to be born in like July or August. To be honest, I barely have been able to f*cking talk with her about it much ever since I have been doing all of these jobs lately. To be honest, my heart wasn't really in it. And I feel like we were probably going to break it off eventually anyways. Just because something might be messed up for to admit doesn't mean that it's not true." He said, and then with that, there was a degree of silence between the two of us here.

"Did she know that your heart wasn't in it?" I asked, feeling like I just needed to be honest with him there. Rhett looked like that was a barrier he still wasn't ready to cross yet. As if he was going to really be saying something that was kind of f*cked up if he was admitting that. But I needed him to tell the truth if he was wanting to be friends with me.

"I think she f*cking did. She and I argued a few times about it, and I think she even told me once that I just needed to be a surrogate father, give her the baby, and she would basically do all the work herself. I don't even know why she was so focused on having a kid. Well, I do know, I just think it is stupid." Rhett said, and I felt like I just needed to cross this path now.

"Why did she want that kid?" I asked, and he shrugged, to show that everything about this whole thing was still really dumb. I wondered why in the world he was so mad about just simply having a regular old conversation with me about this in the first place.

"I think she was just simply wanting to make sure that she had something like that before she would go missing. She seems relatively convinced that she will go missing one day, and to be honest, I kind of believe that she might be as well. I think that her having this kid, is just sort of her way of giving her literally anything to hold onto in light before that is taken away." As he said that, I felt like there was nothing else to really say here.

"I mean, I guess that I kind of get it. She knows that people go missing all the time here, and I feel like she is just simply trying to avoid that as long as possible. I mean, I might not like it, but I guess that I kind of get it." Rhett said, and then with that, I was feeling like there was something else that I needed to ask him. Something that I hoped he would be willing to take even just a smidge more seriously than he had been taking all the other questions that I had asked him before.

"Do you think it is only a matter of time before she goes missing too?" I asked, feeling like the question was all that I could f*cking ask him. He took a deep breath, as if feeling like that was still a question that he wasn't really wanting to discuss.

"To be honest, I can't say for certain. I mean, I feel like there is a chance that this will happen. But to be honest, I am just focused on my own job damn job right now, and making sure that it actually works out for the best. I don't care if what I am saying sounds like I am just deflecting here. I just feel like I need to be as honest as possible here." Rhett told me, and then with that, I was feeling like that was going to have to be good enough to take for the time being. And to be honest, I was sort of thinking that maybe it was good enough. It was a bit rough, but I would take it for what it was.

"Oh, does dad have any plans to fix that?" I asked, hoping that he would give me this much. I mean, I felt like dad needed to step the f*cking hell up, and show us that he was truly a man of his job. And if he was not going to do that, then what in the world was I supposed to really say here.

"Will dad keep her safe?" I asked, feeling like the best thing to do was just get that off the table. I could see that Rhett was looking like he was trying to decide when to tell me that I was giving my dad way too much credit here. And to be honest, I think deep down inside, I had kind of known that this was even a it of a stretch. But it was something that I needed to still have hope for if I was going to have a chance to get through this with my happiness again.

"I don't think anything will f*cking keep her safe. You might not like that response. But to be honest, there is so much sh*t going on here, that I feel like making any type of promise here is only going to make matters twenty times worse." He said, and I was feeling like to some degree, I could respect the fact that he had been honest with me.

"I just wish that I had been better for her than I have been. She deserves better than me, and I am tired of pretending like I didn't really f*ck everything up here." Rhett said, and with that, I had no idea what the hell I was supposed to f*cking say here.

"Do you think you can get her back?" I asked, and Rhett looked like that was a funny joke. As if he had felt like that was almost not even going to be worth it at all. Which to be honest, I honestly did not even really blame him. If the stories that he was saying was true, then I felt like it was making sense that he was still kind of feeling that way.

"To be honest, I think that I could, if I was really trying to. But I don't really know if it will be worth the effort to, if I am being honest, I just feel like I want to be happier on my own." Rhett told me, and then with that, I was seeing him looking like he was ready to end the topic, and move on to something else.

"Honestly, I just don't want to really think about it too much longer. I got everything that I f*cking needed, and I mean, she was a great woman, but I need to move on. I need to have somebody who can accept the fact that my job is extremely important to me." He said, and I really had no clue what the hell happened.

"Ridge, I am going to watch another one of these, and see what else I can find. I know that the man who killed Jeremy can be found there, and I need to f*cking just get a clue on the case." As he said that, there was a moment where he was trying to decide what he was actually planning to do.

As I was watching Rhett watching another one of these tapes, I genuinely had no real clue what the hell I was feeling here. I mean, I was feeling like if Rhett was truly wanting to do this, then perhaps I would just find some other way that I could be useful to Rhett later on. Some other way to get him to see that I actually knew how to help him out. But for now, I was just sort of going to be on my own, and not really having anybody help me out here.

The next tape was rather boring, and for a large part of it, Rhett was putting it at double speed, so that way he would only have to spend three hours going through it instead of just six. And I had even fallen asleep for a bit of it, which Rhett didn't seem to really mind, given the fact that he hadn't woken me up to give me any updates on what was going on. I felt like if there was something important, he would have woken me up and told me. So with that, I chose to just doze off, and not spend a moment of attention on it.

When I woke up after the third tape was finished, Rhett was then getting another call, and this one was from one of the police officers who worked at the police station. He put it on speaker phone to have me be allowed to hear it as well. I was shocked that he was willing to do this for me. But I was choosing to accept it, since to be honest, I wanted to know too.

"Hey, we were able to find a possible suspect that you might be able to talk to regarding the case with the fire at the downtown building. If you were wanting to come and interview him, we have him ready to talk to you." The person talking said, and then Rhett looked right at me, and I was seeing him looking like he was mildly bothered at this.

Almost as if he was regretting this mere suggestion in the first place, he was then feeling like since I was now aware of what was going on, I would just take this for what it was. "Okay, I will be there in twenty minutes. Most of the sh*t that I have been watching with the case hasn't been helping me out at all. And to be honest, I feel like I am wasting my time watching it right now." He said, and then with that, he hung up, and seemed like he was ready to just get this moving along as fast as possible.

"Ridge, I am sorry that I even brought this whole thing up to you in the first place. To be honest, you deserve so much better than what I have done with you. But I guess that what is done is done, and I guess that nothing that I can say will change that. I just wish that I knew how to look you in the face better, and tell you that I am sorry better." Rhett said, and I could tell that he had looked like he was wanting to just cry as he said that.

"I feel like I should have just listened to Josiah this whole time. At least if I had done that, then maybe I could have been able to walk away with even a mild amount of dignity left. But no, I just had to go on and f*ck this whole thing up. And to be honest, I am a f*cking monster." Rhett said, and picked me up, as if he had felt like he needed to just consider this for what it was.

Once we were actually at the police station, Rhett was looking at a guy who was probably in his mid to late seventies, which made since if he was a teenager or early twenties during the 1963 incident where Jeremy had died. But to be honest, I was wondering what the point of this was going to be. He looked at Rhett, and I was seeing him looking like he was actually scared to see him here. Almost as if he was feeling like Rhett was the one person who he felt would actually do something to him.

"This man was a rookie fire fighter at the time Jeremy had passed away. He told us that he had also gone to school with Jeremy and Sheldon during the time that this incident happened. His name is Jack Devins." The officer said, and then he was hoping that Jack would take that further, and tell us what we had needed to f*cking know.

"Hello Mr. Devins, since you're here, what would you be willing to tell us about Jeremy Pascashal when he was alive." Rhett said, and sat down, with a notebook, and Jack looked at Rhett, then at Josiah, and then at me, as if trying to decide what he was wanting to say.

"If I am honest, I feel like you are all much too young to be dealing with this investigation. I was around your age when Jeremy died, and I feel like we should have waited until we were much older before we did anything." He said, and Rhett tilted his head sideways, trying to find something to say.

"What do you mean, before we did anything? Was Jeremy up to something at the time that he died?" Rhett asked, hoping that there was no f*cking waiting at all. Mr. Devins shrugged, as if thinking that there wasn't anything to hide.

"He was helping Sheldon Lee look for the truth about some of the missing girls. Sheldon and him had been friends for a while, and he was supporting him when his sister went missing. I always had felt like Sheldon was not the best influence towards Jeremy, but Jeremy was dead set on helping him out anyways. And I was feeling like there was no way that I could be able to get him to change his mind." Jack said, sounding a little uneasy there.

"Did you and Mr. Lee get into any fights when you guys were younger? Or was it just mild disputes that you had with each other? I need to know everything that I f*cking can here." Josiah said, sounding like his patience was getting a little thinner.

"No, not really. We just had some very big disagreements. But we never really fought over them. I know that he was making his own choices, and I did respect his choices, even if I did not really like them very much. I think the main thing that I opposed was how much he was bringing those seventh grade students into the investigation, and the fact that Jeremy had actually agreed that this was a good idea. That was the sh*t that pissed me off greatly." He said, and then with that, Rhett looked right at him, as if thinking of what to say in response to that.

"What do you mean, he was trying to bring middle school students into the investigation? Do you know what Sheldon was really doing, or are you just saying that?" Rhett asked, and then Devins looked at us, as if he had thought that Rhett needed to learn his history a bit better.

"Not surprising that these things are kept from the general public. I should have f*cking seen that history was being repressed by people who don't want to have these things leaked. Regardless, he was talking to this small group of friends who were in seventh grade at the time. One of them was the younger brother of his friend Sam. Sam died just a few years after this all happened, brutally murdered in a soccer field as if nothing f*cking happened. One of them looks a lot like you. Similar facial features. His name was Todd." Devins said pointing at Josiah as he said that.

"Yeah, that is my father. Let's just say that my father has been lying to me a lot lately, and I have grown to accept that for what it is. He must think that I am incapable of being able to handle the truth here." He said, sounding a bit annoyed at what he was even saying in the first place.

"Did Jeremy end up finding anything, that might have led to cause of his death?" Rhett asked, and Devins looked like this was exactly the type of question that he did want to talk about. He smiled for a bit, hoping that this conversation would have led up to this, so the truth could eventually be leaked.

"Yes, he did learn something there. He had learned that one of his classmates who we went to school with had also been involved in a business related to Lazarus. He had learned that this man was responsible for the sale of one of his girlfriends, and he was trying to basically incriminate the man. But that was around the f*cking time that he went missing. Then next thing you know, a couple of weeks later, we hear about the news story of a severed head being found." Devins said, and he was sounding like he was very close to breaking down there.

"Who was this classmate? I mean, I can't f*cking be able to help you out if you do not give us the information that we need." Rhett said, sounding like he was kind of losing his patience at this response. Which I was feeling like might have been fair, given how serious this discussion was.

"His name was Don Prima. A man who had been held back due to his lack of effort in school. His girlfriend Pteresa was sleeping with Sheldon at the time, and he ended up finding out about the affair. In retaliation, he ended up talking with some people, and selling Pteresa to some f*cking sex traffickers. Sheldon and him got into a fight over it once Sheldon found out what he did. Honestly, both sides of this argument are awful, and I feel like both of them were showing their true sides with their actions there." Devins stated, and then with that, Rhett looked straight at him, as if feeling like he needed to ask this next question, and really had no other choice on the matter at all.

"Why in the world was Jeremy able to learn about this in the first place? I mean, not the affair thing, that must have been pretty easy to learn. But how in the world did he learn about the whole thing with Don selling her? Was Sheldon helping him out there?" He asked, sounding like he was just trying so hard to really piece this all together.

"Well, Sheldon had always been getting his information in less than ethical ways. And through his sleuthing, they ended up finding the whole thing out. Jeremy was coming very close to finding out the whole truth, and that was where he ended up getting caught up in the whole Lazarus Corporation empire that would end up doing everything they could to make sure that nothing he could have learned would ever f*cking leak." Devins said, as if this whole thing was rather f*cking obvious from the start.

"Do you know where any other places that Sheldon or Jeremy might have checked out were? Even if they do not seem to be that important or helpful, any extra pieces of information will be very important." Rhett said, sounding like he was just mainly at least trying to ease Devins into a sense of security, and not making him feel like he was being targeted over everything that was happening here.

"A warehouse that is a third of the way from Waysides exit to where Cagliostro used to be. You might be able to find something there, if you really wanted to find more." He said, hoping that this information would be good enough for Rhett to take, and just leave him alone for now.

"I also remember Sheldon mentioning one time that he, Jeremy, Sam, and Todd went to the Wutai Village for like three or four days, which is roughly three quarters of the way between Wayside and Wisconsin, if you needed to go there. But I feel like that was only for a bit anyways, and might not be all that helpful, and should only be worth checking out if you can't f*cking find anything.

"Wutai. Thanks. I also remember something about another case and people looking there to investigate. Something about that young guy who turned out to be a famous writer going there to look for his friend Yolei Inoue. From what I understand, there are at least a few people who still go missing there, and I feel like that is a good as any place to look if I need any extra details." Rhett said, and then he was smoking a cigarette, and seemed like he was finally ready to take this a step further, and see what he might be able to find here.

Eventually, Rhett stood up, and he looked like he was ready to call it good. "Thank you. I will come back, and check that building that you recommended. See if there is anything that I can find there. I really appreciate all the work you have put into this. You are a valuable asset to this investigation." Rhett said, mainly just as a way to make it look like he was having any respect for this man at all. But deep down, he was mainly just saying what he had felt like he needed to say.

With that, we ended up leaving him alone, and we felt like that Mr. Devins was probably nearly dead anyways, due to old age, so there was no point in hiding the truth from us at this rate. You know, might as well just help at least one piece of the puzzle get solved. Even one case was still better than nothing at all.

Once in the car, Rhett looked at Josiah, and looked like he was happy to finally feel like there was something going forward. "I am going to check out that warehouse, and then after that, if there is nothing, I will call it a night, and I will head towards Wutai maybe during the weekend or something. I feel like you should come along, just in case something comes up." He said, and I was seeing Josiah looking like he hadn't been too sure if he wanted to actually do anything like this yet.

But Josiah nodded, as if feeling like he was going to do what he felt like his friends needed. After all, he was still wanting to be there for Rhett, no matter how hard this whole thing was. And no matter how much he was feeling like this would get his own youngest brother either killed, or at least in risk of being killed. But I was willing to take that risk, and I hoped that he would be willing to take it for what it is.

"Okay. Well, if you are going to do that, then I think we need to be smart about how we do this. We do not know what we are going to f*cking find, and if we are not careful, then we could actually make this twenty times worse than it already is." He said, and I was seeing that Josiah was looking like he was hoping that Rhett would seem to tone it down by a lot, and not make things any worse.

"Don't worry, I don't plan on doing anything stupid here. I feel like that would only be getting so much accomplished if I did that. That being said, I feel like Don Prima is easily the best f*cking clue that we have, and that it would be f*cking stupid to try and turn it down." Rhett said, as if feeling like this was suddenly the main thing he was thinking.

Then with that, there was another call that he was getting from Lars. Rhett looked like he wanted to scream at this, and tell Lars to go f*ck himself. Then with that, he took a deep breath, as if feeling like he would just respond to the call, and just see what he could f*cking find, and be done with it.

"Lars, what the f*cking hell do you want? There is a lot of sh*t that I still need to do, and you are getting in the f*cking way." Rhett said, no even pretending to hide his pure annoyance at this. With that, Lars could be heard laughing a bit. As if he respected the fact that Rhett was so close to just f*cking snapping at this point, and not even hiding what he was feeling anymore.

"I heard from your friends daddy that you were doing some dangerous stuff on the street. And I was wondering if there was any help you needed with figuring this whole thing out. And I was also planning on suggesting that maybe you need to rest more. No good can come from stressing yourself out too much." Lars said, sounding like he was on the verge of just laughing his entire voicebox out.

"Why in the world do you have to make everything a f*cking joke dude? Not everything is f*cking funny. And not everything is this amusing sh*t. People are dying on a weekly basis here, and it seems like nobody gives a f*cking sh*t about it." Rhett said, sounding like he was actually mildly annoyed at the fact that he was even having to say this.

"I don't make things a joke. I just simply make observations, and I am your colleague. Deep down inside, even if I have a hard time showing it, I do actually worry a lot about you, and I do want to make sure that you stay safe." He said, finally calming down, and hoping that Rhett would be willing to accept the answer that he had been given here.

"If you were worried about me then maybe you should actually tell me why the f*cking hell nobody seemed to give a sh*t about the fact that Don Prima sold his f*cking girlfriend, and made a ton of money off of doing so." Rhett said, hoping that he would be able to get Lars to actually respond to that with a relative amount of humility and respect.

"Dude, you seem to forget that I'm turning thirty eight in like two months. I wasn't around during the sh*t that Sheldon Lee did. And to be honest, I don't know if I really want to have been. It seems like that person was a pain in the f*cking ass after all." Lars said, and Josiah shrugged, as if feeling like they both needed to let Lars have that one.

"But your father was a man who worked with Lars, and knew what Lars was like. So surely he would have mentioned something about him now. So you do not need to act like this is all a f*cking shock." Rhett said, as if hoping that maybe Lars would be able to show a degree of respect there.

"Larry was a very reserved man. No doubts there. I wish that he hadn't been. Like would have been twenty times easier if he had been more open. But I feel like he probably just thought that I was too stupid to handle the truth on my own. Now I just try and focus on my own thing, and show people that I do know what I am doing." Lars said, hoping that would be enough to make Rhett calm the f*cking hell down for now, and not press the subject harder.

"Have you ever thought of asking Larry why he was doing why he was always this reserved man, that you claim him to be? I mean, I know that you do actually really respect your father, so I assume that you must have talked with him a lot about this." After Rhett said that, he had hoped that Lars would just say anything about it.

"Larry told me that he was worried that I would become like him if he told me what he was like, and what he did. To be honest, I felt like that was a fair enough answer, and I felt like he must have had the right idea there. So I just simply listened to him, and decided to not press the matter too much." Lars said, and I wondered what the f*cking hell we were going to accomplish there.

"Lars, I know that you are trying to be more open, and be more honest, but I think we both know that your holding back a lot of sh*t. And I think we both know that I have justifiable reason to be angry at you for doing this, and I wish that you cut it out." Rhett said, sounding like he was finally at the end of his f*cking wits, and was hardly haring to hide it.

"Rhett, this emotional side of you that shows your vulnerabilities is the main reason why I am not so sure if you are ready to hear the truth yet. I respect the tenacity that you have, and I respect the fact that you never let down. But you and I both know that there is only so much you can get out of having that drive." He said, hoping that this was the one thing that Rhett would actually f*cking listen to him on. That this was when Rhett would finally grow up.

"Okay. Sure. I guess that I see what you mean there. Sorry if I bothered you with some of the things that I have done. I am trying to see what you are saying. And I guess that I just want to finally do what I can." Rhett said, as if feeling like he needed to be a team player, and accept what he was hearing.

"I am not one hundred percent sure if I exactly agree with everything you say, but I get what you are saying. And I guess that maybe understanding ones perspective is just as important as agreeing." Rhett said, hoping that this relatively mature response would be enough to get Lars to shut the hell up, and give him a bit of space.

"Well, at least you are willing to give it some thought here. Come back to me when you feel like you are able to discuss this much more freely. I am willing to give you much more patience than a lot of people do. Just, be careful Rhett. Nobody wants to hear about you dying or anything." After Lars said that, I was feeling like Rhett was just being told that he was being a stupid kid in a rather harsh term.

"I will. And when I do, I hope that you will actually give me what I need to f*cking hear. I can only take so much of this, before I feel like you are just hiding more sh*t from me than I f*cking deserve." Rhett said, sounding like he was giving up.

"Talk to you tomorrow. I am working on a f*cking case. So please let me focus on that for now. I know that I am sounding like a dick with the way that I f*cking talk, but honestly I do not give a sh*t at all." He said, as if feeling like putting his foot down there, in this way, was the only impact he could really make given the situation here.

There was a moment of silence before Rhett hung up the phone. Then he looked right at us, and I Was seeing him looking like he was sort of giving up here. I was seeing that deep down, given everything, Rhett was just simply looking like he was tired, and looking like he wasn't really in the mood to do any of this anymore. I was almost feeling bad for everything that he was putting himself through.

"God, Lars knows that he has everybody by their balls in this town, and he knows that we are forced to do everything he f*cking wants us to do. It's like he uses that to his advantage, and knows that there is nothing we can f*cking do to change it. The whole thing genuinely pisses me off here." Rhett said, sounding like he was trying to hide his disgust at this whole thing, and was wishing that people could have understood where he was coming from here.

"If he is able to do basically everything he wants them to do though, then I feel like we don't really have anybody to blame but ourselves though. He is basically able to get away with everything because we allow him to get away with everything. And I feel like we need to take responsibility for that." Josiah said, hoping that he would get Rhett to calm down with this a bit.

"I know that you're right. But I just feel like there is so many things that could be done to make this work out differently. After all, I feel like one of these days, I am going to separate myself from Lars, and I will force him to just basically get the hell away from me. And I feel like in a way, that might be the best thing for me." He said, and I was seeing him looking like he was able to just try and make a degree of peace at what he gone down.

"And who knows, maybe Lars really is doing the right thing here, and I am just simply not seeing it yet. After all, your dad still seems to respect him, and work with him well enough. I just wish that your dad was much more open about what he really did think of Lars though. Just giving us some of his honest thoughts on him would really be something I appreciated. But I always feel like your dad is too scared to accidentally step on toes." Rhett said, and I was seeing that this was not exactly the response that Josiah was expecting to really hear though.

"I guess that I just wish that I could just sort of understand why Lars just feels like he needs to lie about the fact that Lydia is his daughter. I mean, everybody has picked up on it. Even Lydia is starting to pick up on it, and I feel like if she is starting to get it, then what the hell is the point of trying to hide it so badly? Not like anybody really f*cking cares who her father really is." Rhett said, and I was shocked to hear him try and say it that way.

"I don't care who her father is. I just care that he lies about it, and pretends like this isn't something super f*cking obvious. That is the sh*t that pisses me off. Because of the fact that with him lying about it, he is making it harder for us to just drop it and move on." When Rhett finished, Josiah looked like he hardly cared that much.

"I feel like honestly, him saying it would only make things worse than it already is. I think that maybe him lying about it might be best. At least there must be a reason, in his mind, to justify the lying. And I feel like both him and dad do enough to help with impacting Lydia's personality that it really should not f*cking matter all that much." Josiah said, hoping to just drop the issue for now.

"But at least if he was finally honest for once, then I might be able to believe him when he says that he wants to move forward, and create a real and better future for the town. But until he finally just opens up, and shows even a single shred of honesty there, then there is no reason. He only admitted to being her father when I made it very clear to him that I literally will not work with him at all anymore if he didn't at least let me have that." He said, and then with that, he just shrugged as if there was nothing to say to make his point any further.

"I just wish that the honesty wasn't something that was so hard to get out of him. And I feel like when I finally become head detective, then there is no world where I am going to go around, and keep lying the way that other people have. I am going to just be as upfront about my findings as I can here. I want people to see that this is not how everyone else handles things." Rhett said, and I felt like that was not what would happen.

"Thanks for letting me vent there. But now I really do feel like we need to be heading out, and not be stalling off any more. No reason to keep stalling when there is no nothing else to say about that piece of sh*t." Rhett said, and I was wondering if he really felt that way about Lars, or was trying to sound like he could exert control there.

Warehouse

We eventually made it to the warehouse that we were told about, and I was seeing that Rhett was looking like he was feeling much better about the whole thing. To be honest, I was feeling like he was finally willing to come to his own senses, and not have anybody tell him what he was really supposed to be feeling. And I was proud to see him looking like he was finally gaining a degree of beliefs on his own half. I was hoping that Josiah would not be angry enough at us that he would force me to never hang out with Rhett again.

Once we were actually inside, I was seeing that there was somebody there who had been waiting for us. He had looked like he was really scared, and looked like he was on the verge of crying. I wondered why he was feeling this way, and I felt like I just needed to try and find something to tell him, to make him feel even a little bit better.

"Who are you?" Rhett asked, trying to be as careful at this as possible. He was looking like he was actually expecting this person to be a danger. He looked down at me, seeing that I was still walking, and still on my own. Then he looked right at the guy again, hoping to gain a mild degree of confidence in what he doing.

"I am going to bring this place down, and just put the past behind me forever. I want to pretend like this never happened." The man said, and then with that, Rhett looked right at him, as if wondering what else to f*cking even say.

"Are you Don Prima? One of your former classmates told me a lot about you." Rhett said, feeling like he needed to be as careful here as possible. Don looked down, and I was seeing him looking like he was trying to find something else to say to make the subject less disturbing.

"We are wanting to talk to you about the death of Jeremy. Things that Jack Devins told us has made us believe that you might have been involved in what happened. We know of the affair that your girlfriend had, and that you ended up reacting in a rather negative light." Rhett said, trying to be as careful as he possibly could about this whole thing.

"It is Sheldon's fault that it happened. He had to come in, and ruin everything. I am f*cking free of all the blame in the issue. You need to look at him. I just made sure that nobody else could have her." He said, and then with that, Rhett looked right at him, trying to decide what in the world he was wanting to say to this comment.

"What did you do to Jeremy? Was it a accident, or did you do it on purpose?" Rhett asked, holding up his hands, after he put the gun back in his holster. "I will not force you to f*cking fight. I don't want to do anything like that. I just want to simply know. You're getting older anyways, so even if you did go to prison, you wouldn't be in there for that long anyways."

"I didn't mean to do it. I thought that it would be f*cking Sheldon. He was the one that was supposed to be there instead. But instead, Sheldon had to be going off and doing that f*cking heist at the Wilson casino, and everything was f*cking ruined. If Sheldon had died that day, then we all know that things would have been much better off anyways. We all know what he really was like, and the things that he did. If you were there when it all happened, you would know that he was not a man of regret at all, and that he did what he wanted." He said, sounding like he was mainly just trying to convince himself.

I looked down at the ground, and I was seeing that a large portion of the surface of the warehouse had a shiny look to it. As if it had been covered with gasoline. I was feeling like I needed to try and tell Rhett this. But to be honest, I was scared of what he would say if I tried to tell him something. "Did you f*cking kill Jeremy Pascashal?"

"Not on f*cking purpose. But before I knew what I did, when I was able to see what I did, I saw that his severed head was on the f*cking ground. I was in the middle of arguing with him, and the machete was bloody after I went into a mode of rage. When I realized what I did, I was hearing the news on the television that Larry Needlemeyer's father died, and that a p*rn film relating to Nora Wakeman had been taken." He said, and then Don Prima looked at us. I had realized that Rhett had been recording the entire thing with a phone that he had in his back pocket.

"I didn't want Sheldon learning that I put Pteresa there, and that I would proceed to have her babies down there for nine years. She was the mother of ten of my children, and nobody f*cking knows. Nobody needs to f*cking know." Don said, and then with that, Rhett was having a look of genuine disgust and anger as he said that.

"Where did you f*cking put Pteresa? While you were raping your own girlfriend, as a sense of false love, and forcing you to have her children, her family was mourning the loss of their child. How in the world are you able to f*cking justify what f*cking happened. If you want to make it right, then tell me where the f*ck she went? Why did you stop?" Rhett asked, and the fear the fact that he was ready to murder Don Prima right then and there if he could. But he was needing to get a confession out of the man, and therefore he had no choice but to just keep hearing what he needed to hear.

"She was fed to the shiny gentlemen. Should have happened three years before it did, but I was stubborn and refused to let go. Where she went doesn't even f*cking matter anymore. She is dead, and that is all that f*cking matters." He said, sounding like he was ready to just put the subject down, and leave it alone for now.

"It does matter. If you f*cking tell me, then I can be able to put some peace and measure behind us all. You are refusing to give us closure, and I feel that what you are doing is massively mistaken." He said, sounding ready to just put his foot down, and move the subject forward if it meant finally making some peace with what happened.

"Why are you even telling us any of this in the first place? You are putting your entire life away to tell us something you did sixty years ago." Rhett asked, since despite the fact that he was glad that this happened, it was strange to see this happen the way that it did.

"I am telling you these things because it won't matter anymore. Once news of Jeremy's body being found was leaked, I knew that it was only a matter of time before they found me. And I decided to come here, and end this all." He said, and with that, before Rhett could say anything else, that was when he was holding up a match.

"Jimmy White helped me bury the body in the wall. It was a building that was going to be shut down anyways, so we could hide the body there, and I was going to dispose of the head, but before I could, that was when it had been taken, placed in a box, and taken away." Don said, as if still amazed that he was able to get away with that for six decades due to that information.

"Go ahead. Have your confession, and your glory. But I will not spend a day locked up in that f*cking prison." Don said, and threw the match on the gas after he struck it. With that, he started to dance around, as he became engulfed in a blazing inferno.

"NO!" Rhett yelled as loud as he could when he saw the match get close to hitting the ground. Knowing what was going to happen. And I was seeing him looking like he had actually thought he was on the verge of actually dying. Before he would even find out the truth of what happened to his mother, he would find out the truth of what happened to a case that he only barely cared about that happened sixty f*cking years ago, and could die over it.

Rhett picked me up, and started to run me out of the gas station as fast as possible. I was seeing that given what had happened, there was almost nothing worth it anymore. Yes, he did get his confession. But the man ended up just killing himself anyways. So at the end of the day, it hardly even f*cking mattered anymore, and what was done was done.

It took about four minutes to get out of the warehouse, and the entire time that this was going down, I was both worried that I would f*cking die, while also so excited at the thrill of what f*cking happened. It was strange to feel both feelings of being both utterly riveted and utterly terrified at what happened.

After the two of us got out of the building, it finished burning down to the ground, and I was seeing as Don Prima had finally lost all his life, and then I turned to Rhett, wondering what the hell he was going to say here. I was seeing Rhett looking like he was actually kind of scared of what he had just seen.

Rhett would submit the audio file that next day to the police, and with that, the truth behind Jeremy's death, and why Pteresa went missing was finally cleared up. And at just slightly less than four years old, I had managed to solve my first ever crime case. And to be honest, I had no real idea what the hell to f*cking feel about this at all. And with that, due to the stuff about the Wilson casino being mentioned, I was starting to sort of understand what was actually happening here a bit more than I had been able to understand it earlier.

And despite the fact that initially, I was horrified at the fact that I had nearly f*cking died doing this all, I did feel a sense of great relief when I was thinking about the fact that I was already finding a purpose in life. To be honest, it was great to finally feel like I was no longer the small one in the crowd. People now knew that I had done something important in my life. And that feeling like I did something that mattered, was something that I felt could be able to drive me forward.

April 12, 2024

Rhett and I were sitting down a bit, and I was seeing him looking like he was actually really proud of me. As if he was trying to find some way to express how much he was really happy for the man that I had become. "I'm very proud of how you handled your first case a few weeks ago. I could tell that you knew what you were doing, and I could tell that even though you're still just a little kid, that you are probably much better off than I ever could have imagine you being. I think that maybe going forward, I will want to bring you into more cases here, and we can see if you can handle it." Rhett said, and I was shocked to see that he was genuinely seeming to be proud of me. And I was feeling like this was something that I would get for myself. After all, I felt like once he told me this, there was no reason to be holding back at all. I was finally given his blessing to do something special.

"Josiah himself said that he was proud of how you were able to handle yourself here. He said that he thought that you weren't able to, but you were doing great." Rhett finished, and then with that, the person bringing down our food looked at us, I could tell that he was piecing together the fact that we were new here.

"What do you think of your first time in Wutai? Do you think that you will ever come back here?" He asked, and Rhett shrugged, as if seeming unsure what to say. Like he was still deciding if he was trusting this place or not. Then with that, he shrugged, as if there was no reason to be so worried what people were thinking about him.

"Well, I am working on a few cases, and I was planning on just taking my time and exploring the area first before I started to work on them. I know that this might not be the exact answer that you want…" Rhett said, and then the guy looked like he was already losing all his interest in the subject here.

"Well, whatever you do, just stay safe about it. We don't need anybody else getting into trouble here." He said, and then with that, he was heading off, and I was seeing Rhett looking like he was wanting to ask something else. Then with that, he just simply shrugging, as if there wasn't much else to f*cking say here. And that was sort of just going to waste our time.

Then with that, when the guy was gone, Rhett was pulling out a piece of paper. He placed it down, and then he looked right at me. "Your dad gave me permission to pick up the same business model that he used when he was thirteen with Sheldon."

There was the logo plastered on the bottom 'The Nice Guys' and I smiled at this. Then he was rubbing his hair, as if he was proud of what he was doing. "He and Sheldon used to get a lot done when they were both younger, and both were actually able to work on the case together. But you now, with how Sheldon basically became a fugitive that was hated by all in this town, Todd had to stop doing that for his own sake. Now I feel like this is my way of making sure that a good legacy carries on."

I was looking, and I was seeing his look with the board, and his mildly fatigued look, and I was then looking at the design he gave me. One which was a little bit older, more so of an actual child rather than just a four year old. Probably as a way to not completely turn people off of wanting to work with us given my youth.

"To be honest, I was a bit worried about how people would react to a basically baby being on the advertising, so I had to sort of add a bit of age to you. But given the fact that it takes a while for cases to be solved anyways, it won't be incredibly misleading, if we are honest." He said, and he shrugged at that, as if hoping that I would take it for what it was.

Feeling like there was no reason to say no to any of this, I just figured that this wasn't all that big of a f*cking deal. "Does Josiah know?" I asked, and I could see that he was thinking about that question. As if he was thinking that there was a good point here. I was just glad to see that despite my youth, he was willing to communicate with me like a real adult here.

"Yes, he does. I told him about it three days after the case was finished. Told him that you were probably already going to start getting too deep into everything that happens. You know, sooner or later, you are going to remember everything that I do here, and when you do, lying about it is only going to get so much accomplished. And to be honest, none of this is worth it." He said, shrugging at this, and hoping I would listen to him here.

"And besides, you literally have already had a nearly life or death situation, and I feel like you are much more ready for this than I want to f*cking admit. So yeah, I feel like the whole lying to you, and making you feel like you have no real clue what is going on here, is not going to f*cking fly with me at all anymore." When he said that, I was wondering what else he was planning on telling me. I mean, I was glad to hear him consider me a part of the team. But at the same time, I was still not sure if being a part of the team was something that I was ready for.

"Was dad mad at you?" I asked, referring to the fact that I almost died in that warehouse a couple of weeks ago. As I asked that, and I saw the look on Rhett's face, I could tell that he had looked like he wasn't exactly sure what the hell to tell me.

"To be honest, he took it much better than I thought. I think he was just happy to see you still be alive at all. And I agree. You simply surviving was something that I feel like is worth celebrating, and I hope that more people can be able to see the value in that." He said, and I really had no idea how I felt there.

"Thanks." I said, feeling like the fact that he was giving me this, and he was giving me a sense of comfort, and knowing that I was being treated with equal value, was something that I could take with me going forward, and I had no reason to f*cking hide anymore. I just needed to make sure that people like Josiah could see that too.

"Ridge, I just want you to know that this is going to be extremely dangerous. There is no guaranteeing in any way shape or form that you will survive this. And if you do, then I can't promise you that I will be able to keep you safe forever. So promise me that no matter what happens, you will just stay safe." He said, and I was slowly nodding, feeling like I needed to follow my promise there.

"And to be honest, I feel like if something happens to you, and you f*cking die, then I will never be able to f*cking forgive myself here. I feel like everything that will happen will be my f*cking fault." He said, and he was sounding like he was slightly ashamed of what he was hearing as well.

"Look, I have a lot of respect for you, and that is the main reason why I am laying it out the way that I am. I have no desire to give you any bullsh*t, and I have no desire to pretend like nothing could happen. And I hope that you will be able to appreciate my warning." He said, and I slowly nodded.

I just had wished that I had known what exactly I could have done to make Rhett see that I was not going to be upset at him over this at all. He was giving me a fair warning, and I felt like I needed to get him to not think that I resented him or anything.

"The Nice Guys." Was all that I had said. For some f*cking reason, that I couldn't understand, I had felt like saying the name of the agency was going to be enough to get Rhett to see that I was ready to do what was needed.

"The Nice Guys." Rhett said, smiling back, and with that, I had known that the two of us had finally gotten a piece of understanding and respect with each other. "You know, I feel like we can make this whole thing work out. We just need to f*cking put our mind to it… And I know that Josiah will help us both. He's a good man."

For some reason, when I was looking at Rhett, I was feeling like one of the things that I can do was make sure that I could help him find the truth of who killed his mother. Maybe that was the other way that trust could be able to be built, and moved forward.

"I just need you to promise me that no matter what happens, until you get older at least, you will always do exactly as I say. Nothing more, nothing less. You do not need to play the hero yet. You will get your chance to play hero soon enough. And when you do, I will be there for you. But there is no reason to endanger yourself until then." He said, hoping that this was going to be enough to get me to understand that I knew exactly what we were getting into.

"I will." I said, feeling that keeping my promise was the only way that I could be able to get him to f*cking see that I was a team player. He took a slowly nod, as if feeling like this was finally what he needed to hear. The smile was something that I was actually genuinely happy to f*cking see. And to be honest, I felt like this was something I could be down with.

"Thank you Ridge. You have no idea how much it makes me feel better to know that you are actually doing something right here. If something happened to you, then I truly would never be able to sleep at night. I would actually be sick to my stomach thinking about what I could have done to save you. What I should have f*cking done, to save you.

"I appreciate the understanding my dude. I understand how hard this might have to f*cking be for all of us. I mean, I know that Robbie Dan is scared out of his f*cking mind with what is happening to Lydia, and the mere chance that something could happen to her. I feel like if I tried to explain to him that what is done is done, then I feel like he could hate me. He would consider me a f*cking monster. And I would not even be able to f*cking blame him at all.

"And Ridge, I do hope that you know that I cleared things up with your father, and I explained to him that I feel like the two of us really got a good thing going here. When I told him this, I knew that your father was always a very understanding man. He just had a hard time showing all that earlier. And I think that maybe we should take your brothers and Lydia here to Wutai again." He said, and I was seeing him looking like he was finally starting to be happier here.

"Thanks." I said, feeling glad to see that he was willing to do that for me. I was feeling like if the two of us were going to be working together, the two of us needed to be at each others backs. There was no reason to think that we were in any way close to the clear yet. And I was not going to f*cking mess around with something that to be honest, was kind of out of my business to begin with. It was sounding a bit ridiculous. But it was what was feeling right at the moment. "I will do what I can." I said, and I was seeing Rhett looking like he was well aware of this fact. Almost to a degree that it made him kind of scared of what would come next.

I was looking outside, as I was watching the sun set, and I was thinking about how pretty the place was. I was thinking about how pretty Wutai had been, and the fact that this place was so close to where I lived. The way that this was so close to Wayside, and it was all natural, and it was something that still embraced the past, with it's Japanese culture, was something that was very interesting to me. Something that made me want to come back here. Something that made me feel like in a strange way, I was actually living my own life. I was having experiences that were my own, and not anybody elses. And I was feeling like nobody could take that away from me.

"There was something else that I wanted to talk to you about. Robbie Dan. He ended up telling me something that I do feel like you deserve to f*cking know. He told me that Todd are Bebe are working on having some kids. He also told me something that Todd told both Bebe and Robbie." Rhett said, and I slowly nodded, wanting to know more.

"The secret that he told them was that due to a genetic experiment that your grandparents, or great grandparents had, can't remember which, is that regardless of who the father or who the mother is, or any other various factors, all children born from your DNA automatically have a locked in Y chromosome. Meaning, no matter what happens, all children born with your families DNA in any fashion will automatically be a male. Not only that, but he will look exactly the same as his father. Effectively, creating a increasingly branching set of clones. At least visually." Rhett said, and then he was sighing, as if having nothing else to say.

"So in short, that is why I know Lydia is adopted. Because she literally would be impossible to be born under Todd Sr's. DNA, and Todd needed Lars to help him out with having an adopted daughter. Or I guess that I should say that he was the first volunteer that Todd took. Regardless, the truth goes further… despite the revelation that Todd gave Bebe, of not only being able to only have one gender with Todd, but the baby will just end up being a relatively spitting image of the guy, she is still willing to have the kid. Saying that she doesn't care about something as unimportant as the childs gender or facial looks. She said that she will still raise him as well as she could." As he said that, I was slowly nodding, and I was appreciating the insight he was giving.

"I just want you to know that in due time, you might become a uncle soon, and when you do, I really hope you take care of him as much as possible. He needs that help, and I hope that no matter what happens, you will be able to give it to him." He said, and I was slowly nodding, as if feeling like that was all that I could hear. It was a bit messed up to hear this in the first place.

But deep down, I was glad that I knew this before hand. In a strange way, it was kind of nice to know something like this as early and as resoundingly at this point in my life. And I was feeling like when my brothers would eventually try and have kids of their own, I would just hope that they would have as much acceptance of this as I did, and their mothers would be as accepting of their sons as possible.

When that was done, I was feeling like for the first time that I would ever be in the Wutai village, this was not a bad first impression, and I was feeling like with every passing month in my life, I was slowly learning a lot more than I could have imagined. I had just hoped that maybe at the end of the day, I would not be having a completely distorted sense of hope in this world. That the sense of hope that I had was well founded, and something actually earned.

Rank 5: August 9, 2024

It was the day that Rhett's kids were being delivered, and I was going to try and see if Rhett needed any help with that. After all, he was still my mentor, and he was still somebody who I trusted in, and respected a lot, and I had hoped that he would be willing to just open up, and show me what I could be able to do in order to help him out here.

Despite the fact that Chelsea and Rhett had been broken up for over four months, I could tell that there was still a sense of respect that they had for each other. Chelsea respected Rhett's pure determination to constantly do his job, no matter how hard it was going to be. While Rhett respected Chelsea for the fact that she was always convinced that what she was doing with having a family was the best solution to her problems. Even though they did not always agree on everything, the two of them were always still friends, and Rhett had told me they would still meet up every week or two, just to simply see how they were doing, and that strangely enough, when they weren't dating and just friends now, they were actually getting along better than they had been before.

"Chelsea, how are you?" Rhett asked, and I could tell that he had been rather happy for a second there when he was seeing Chelsea. Despite everything that had been going on, and the fact that he had admitted to me, at least the last time when we talked about it in late March or early April, that he was still kind of lost here, he was wanting to at least be there for the birth of the f*cking kid.

"Well, could be a lot better, clearly." She said, trying to pretend like she was happy with this. Almost as if now that she was actually giving birth and she was in the moment, there was a mild amount of regret over the fact that she was so deadest on this.

When the birth was finished, I was seeing the set of twins that were born that day. Russell and Randy. I hadn't realized at the time, but people having twins in Wayside was really an extremely common thing, given the fact that only like three percent of births were twins. There was Dexter and Sherman Peabody. Then there was Brad and Todd Carbunkle. Then there was both my brothers Dylan and Drake. Dipper and Mabel Pines. Then there were Matt's friends, from that book that was made a while ago, Max and Misty. Then there was Russell and Randy, and in a while from now my oldest brother would have another set of twin boys of his own with Tristin and Trevor.

That was seven sets that I knew of the top of my mind, and not including all the others that were around that I didn't even know about right away. As Rhett was holding onto one of them, I was seeing him looking like he was rather overwhelmed by everything that was going on here.

"Maybe we can each raise one?" Rhett asked, suggesting this as a way to sort of take a bit of the stress away from Chelsea. As she was looking at him, I could tell that she was trying to decide what she was going to actually want to tell him.

"Rhett, I have been thinking about things a bit, and when you told me at first that you didn't really want to raise them full time, I thought that you were just being selfish. Now that I know you a bit better, and now that I see the world for what it is, you need to continue your job. You are a great detective, and you are somebody who I feel like needs to focus on his f*cking future now. I want you to focus on that. Besides, if you help raise them, then I feel like you run the risk of maybe putting them in danger." Chelsea said, and Rhett was looking at her, as if feeling like she was just basically telling him what he had wanted to hear.

"Look, I was being selfish here. I should have just told you more. I should have been more open about the uncertainty that I was feeling here. But maybe you're right. Maybe I should just focus on that for the time being instead." He said, and I was glad to see that at least he was trying to be fair and open about this right now.

"Maybe I can still check up on them during the weekends. See how they are doing every week." Rhett said, hoping that this was a fair suggestion for Chelsea. She was looking at both of them, and then she slowly nodded. As if feeling like that was something that she could go with.

"Okay. I can do weekends. That is fair enough. Sorry for just sounding so unsure of everything. I just want to make sure that this is actually a good idea." She said, and Rhett was looking like he was finding what she said to be fair, given what was really going on here.

"And besides, I feel like it would be a good idea for my friends brother Ridge to maybe help with these kids, and get to know people who are a few years younger than him. Being the youngest of eleven siblings must make him feel a bit bogged down by feeling like he is a f*cking baby." Rhett said, and looked at me, and smiled. As if he was genuinely feeling like he was doing me a favor. To be honest, I was glad to see him at least be happy for once.

He was then getting a call, and this was bothering him way more than he was bothered by the idea of Chelsea telling him that he was barely allowed to visit his kids at all. Because at least in the case of the latter, he was able to sort of understand to some extent where she was coming from. At least with that, he had felt like she was having a real reason to be acting the way that she had been. "Hey Todd." He said, referring to my dad, and I was seeing him looking like this was the last thing that he wanted to hear my dad say, whatever he was told. Probably just related to the f*cking job.

"Look, can this wait for a bit? Chelsea is literally giving birth right now. Can this please hold off to like tomorrow or something?" Rhett asked, and then he was putting on the speaking phone as if he was ready for hm to just say some sh*t that he wasn't really all that thrilled to hear in the first place.

"Look, I think you are going to find this one rather interesting. You know that Gloria girl who you were asking me to look into who went missing in November 2019. Well, I was looking around for a bit, and I managed to find her today. Or what was left of her today. And I assume that you would be interested in looking into that right now?" He asked, and then Rhett looked right at me, and I was seeing that he had looked like he wanted to tell dad off. But that this was something that was way too big to turn down.

"Okay… f*ck okay… I guess that I can look into this right now. This better be worth it though. I am not going to be happy if you brought me away from my new family just so I can check into this." He said, and then with that, I was shaking my head. He knew how dad was, and I felt like he needed to try and take this whole thing much more seriously than he had been.

"I really am not sure if this is something I want to do. But I would rather know what happened to her." Rhett said, as he looked at Chelsea, then down at the two new borns. I was seeing Josiah in the waiting room, as if waiting for the news on what Rhett was having. Then he picked me up, and started to head off. When he was already heading off, that was when Josiah was standing up, hoping he could actually learn what was going down here.

"Hey, how did it go?" Josiah asked, and then when he was seeing the look on Rhett's face, he was instantly toning it down, and he had looked like he was actually kind of sad at what he was seeing. Almost as if he had known that Rhett was about to give some bad news. "Did they not f*cking make it?"

Rhett shook his head, thinking that by comparison to that, then it wasn't so f*cking bad at all. But that this was still not really something that he enjoyed all that much. "Honestly dude, your father needs to learn when to leave matters alone. I am now having to step away from my kids birth, and helping him with a case. At least it's over the Gloria case." He said, and then with that, Josiah looked like he instantly knew how big this update would be now.

"Oh sh*t, Gloria? I thought that there wasn't anything related to that case anymore. Didn't you say that several of those girls that Calem told you about are f*cking dead anyways?" Josiah asked, and then with that, Rhett f*cking nodded, as if this was the last thing that he wanted to f*cking talk about.

"Yeah. Gloria was the only one that had any chance of being alive still. And I guess that now, even that is f*cking gone. I thought that maybe I could have done something right here. But I guess that I am looking way too deeply into this." Rhett said, and he was balling his fist at this moment.

"Well, I hope that you know that no matter what happens, I believe you when you say that you will bring her back. I have always felt like you were the one person who f*cking always was trying to actually be honest with me about the chances. I know that Ridge is going to want to join along. So if that is the case, then I will come along here." As Josiah said that, he took me from Rhett's hands, and then I was sighing, feeling like I needed to let him know that there was no reason to for this anymore.

"I can walk." I said, trying to hide my annoyance at this whole thing. To be honest, I get that they were trying to be all helpful, and supportive, but it was feeling like they were treating me like I was a f*cking baby, and I was not really in the mood to hear this. Then with that, Josiah was taking a deep breath, and he seemed to believe that maybe I was right.

"Okay. If you say so. But if you change your mind, let me know." He said, placing me down on the ground, and he smiled. "Okay, where does dad want to meet us?" He asked, and then Rhett was thinking about what to say there. Almost as if he wasn't sure where that was after all. Then he was having a snap and get it moment with his eyes.

"I think probably just at his office. He usually starts his days there…" He said, and then with that, Josiah nodded, as if thinking that this would work out. So with that, we started to head away, and Josiah was looking like he was glad to finally be in the real moment. Since he was a nineteen year old man, he knew that dad wouldn't be able to tell him off here.

With that, we were starting to drive off, and Rhett was shaking his head, as if unable to believe that he was leaving his kids behind here. I was aware that he wanted to say more about this. But that deep down inside, he had known that there was no reason to believe that anybody would actually take him seriously here. And I felt really bad for him. Knowing that he wouldn't be able to make any real difference there.

"Rhett, have you ever thought that maybe you should make your own detective agency. You know, away from dad? I mean, I know that you respect my dad a lot, and I do too. But I feel like maybe the best thing would be to just move on, and do your own thing." He said, sounding a bit annoyed at this. I was wondering what Rhett would say in response to this. Or if he was going to even try and f*cking fight this at all. But I felt like there was no reason to at all.

Once we were at dad's office about fifteen minutes later, Rhett looked right at Josiah, and I was seeing him looking like he was ready to answer that question. "I think it would be a okay idea. But to be honest, I was sort of thinking about I would do here. But I guess that there is no real reason to yet. I think I just want to wait until your dad is much older, when he is planning on retiring anyways." Rhett said, and then Josiah nodded at that comment.

"I think we both know that this is never going to f*cking happen here. Every year dad says this is his last f*cking year, and then he keeps going because he keeps saying that he wants to do one more case. I think the only way he will f*cking stop is when he f*cking dies." Josiah said, and then Rhett looked at him, as if thinking of that response.

"Well, he did tell me once that he was thinking of retiring once Ridge turns ten. That would make him eighty, and if he is lucky enough, he will still have a good ten to fifteen years left for retirement." Rhett said, and I could tell that Josiah was looking like he was hoping he could be able to actually believe that a little bit more than he had been.

"I guess that would work out. But I don't know if dad wants to do this for another six years. I feel like there comes a point in time where he must throw in the town, and admit that he needs to let this go for now." He said, and I really had no idea what the hell to say here. I was feeling like it was so clear that Josiah had no belief in dad anymore, and I really had no idea what to think of this.

"Well, I think that I sadly know him way too well to confirm that when he says that this is something that he feels like he is planning to do for his own sake, that he will f*cking do it. Todd Sr. is a smart man. I mean, he was literally mayor for eighteen years of Wayside. Something that he has told me he feels like was the worst part of his career. He said to me that while the numbers did seem to indicate that he had turned it around, he didn't really feel like he had." Rhett said, and Josiah looked at him, as if he was upset that even got brought up.

"I still feel a mild amount of hatred for the fact that dad hid that from us. Nobody would have judged him if he was just simply honest about what he did. But the fact that he lied to us makes me believe that the shame he is hiding is way too much to bear. And I guess that maybe he wasn't all that good of a mayor, if that is the case." When Josiah said that, I had no idea what to even say there.

"I mean, I guess at the end of the day, everybody lies to their own gain. But I feel like after a certain point in time, lying just for the sake of lying, isn't really going to do anybody any favors at all." He said, and then with that, we were all getting out of the car, and Josiah looked like he was ready to just put this behind us, and focus on what was really actually important here.

Once we were out of the car, and actually in the office, that was when I was seeing that Dad was looking at a box that had what Rhett was probably all too used to at this point in time. Dad saw that I was there, and I was seeing that he was actually kind of pissed at that whole thing.

"Is it her head?" Rhett asked, and Todd was slowly nodding. As if he had felt like there was no reason to dart around the point, considering the fact that Rhett had to deal with this several times at this point, and there was really no reason to hide it.

"You know how it is. How when a lot of these girls f*cking die here, they get their heads severed, and sent in a box. I was doing another patrol of that giant grove that I was told to check out. You know, since people have made it clear that I should check it out. And I found the box wedged between two rocks. Lo and behold, her severed head was f*cking found in here. From what the autopsy guy said, it had seemed like she died three days ago. Which goes in line to the grinding noise that had gone on recently." He said, and then with that, he was pointing to the 32 inch mounted television that had been placed to the right wall for the last multiple years.

"Seventeen year old Lucinda Barry, born July 7, 2006, has been reported missing or the last 2 days. No clues of her whereabouts are hinted at, but given the recent confirmation of death of nineteen year old Elaine Goldwater, who had gone missing in 2018, just two weeks ago, there isn't much hope to be had that she will ever be found. Senior detective Todd Robinson Sr. will be giving a interview on the case on Sunday night." He said, and then dad turned the television off. As if he had hoped that there would be no reason to talk about this too much longer.

"Yeah, I was told about this last night in the call. I was going to talk with her parents about this as soon as I f*cking could. But I wanted to come to you guys, and talk to you about the Gloria case. I know that you were looking into a stretch of cases that your friend told you about. Sorry that they are all dead though." He said, and then Rhett was shrugging, as if this made sense.

"To be honest, I was totally expecting it to happen. Things would have been too perfect for this to not be the case. Like the idea of one of them making it out alive would have been too perfect to f*cking be the truth. I just wish that I would have been able to actually do something about this sooner. But I guess that no matter what I think, I am still a bit of a piece of sh*t here." He said, and then with that, there was a bit of silence there. As if both of them were regretting where this was going.

"Do you need my help with the Lucinda Barry case?" Rhett asked, hoping that the reason this call over even f*cking happened in the first place was going to be picked up going forward. Dad was smiling at this, as if he was glad to see that Rhett was looking at the bigger picture now.

"Nice to see that you are actually want to help out here. Well, since you did offer, yes, I do want your help. First thing that I want for you is to f*cking tell me how much you knew about her when she was in school with you. I think she would be a grade younger than you, or something." He said, and then Rhett looked down, as if finding the question to not really be worth it at all.

"Yes, she was. Well, normally I would never bring something like this up, because to be honest, until it actually would matter to a case or something, it was never my f*cking business. But she was having an affair with one of the teachers in our school. She had been sleeping with him for about three months. Didn't even f*cking hide it very well. He is the criminal justice teacher, Devon Roscoe." Rhett said, shrugging at the fact that he lied about this. Almost as if feeling like he couldn't believe it himself, that he didn't bother with such a useful piece of trivia here.

"Okay, thank you for letting me know. I am going to try and talk to that asshole then. He should know better than to have sex with students. But regardless, I guess that I should not be surprised that he would do something like that." He said, and then with that, I felt like there was no reason to press this matter, and I was seeing Rhett looking like he was wanting to just say a bit more.

"Dad, what else did you need to talk to Rhett about with the Gloria case? He literally had to be pulled away from his kids birth. I feel like the least you can do is just confirm if you need any extra help or not." Josiah said, and for once, I was seeing that his patience for dad was wearing down a lot. And I was seeing that dad looked like he was tired of being seen as the bad guy here.

"I am not the enemy here. I was just simply doing what I think is best for my job. No reason to get so hostile over this with me. Trust me when I say that I do not want to do this." Todd said, and he looked like he was kind of just simply giving up on everything he heard.

"Look, I want you to be the one that breaks the news to her mother. You know, since you were the one that was pursuing the case the most, I feel like she deserves to know the truth." He asked, and Rhett had looked like he couldn't believe that he had heard dad ask him this.

He had looked like he thought that dad was really scraping the bottom of the barrel when he asked that, and that this was something that could have either waited, or should have simply just never f*cking been asked. But then he was thinking about how much dad was trusting Rhett in general, and he had felt like he was needing to just take the offer for what it was. After all, he was wanting to prove to dad that he was still on his side throughout the majority of this case.

"Fine. I will tell her what happened. I do not think this is going to go very well at all, and I feel like this might be the worst idea that you f*cking suggest. But I guess that her mother does deserve to know the truth. After all, I gave the news to the other eleven girl's parents when I found out the truth of them. And I guess, as f*cked up as it is, I am glad that I do have the answers for all of them. Now I just need to finally f*cking find out the truth of who killed them all." Rhett said, sounding like he was finally coming together, and respecting what was happening here.

"I know that you do not want to do this. I get that you want to just focus on the cases, and nothing else. But part of the process of healing is letting people f*cking know the truth. I trust you to be able to f*cking understand that." Dad said that to Rhett, and I was seeing Rhett looking like he was a bit annoyed at what he was hearing there.

"No, you're right here. You make some very good points. Just so you know, Chelsea is willing to let me have the kids on the weekend, so going forward, unless if there is literally no other choice, I am probably going to want to have weekends off." Rhett said, hoping that he would leave this subject there, and that dad would respect what Rhett was saying there.

"That is fair enough. I will try and respect your spaces on weekends going forward." He said, and then with that, Rhett started to leave the office, and when Josiah and I were out with him, Josiah was then thinking of what he was wanting to f*cking tell Rhett there. As if he was feeling like there was no reason to hide behind it, and dance around the subject.

"Rhett, do you think that dad will really be willing to just leave it alone?" Josiah asked, referring to the whole weekend thing. Rhett was shaking his head, sounding like he was mildly annoyed at this whole thing." Josiah asked, and I was hearing him sounding like he was actually having a little bit of pity for the whole thing. As if he was starting to respect the fact that Rhett was just simply wanting some space, and did not really know how the hell that would ever happen here.

"I will be very clear that this is something that I am not negotiating anymore. I am tired of walking around, and always being danced around when it comes to things like this. I will make it quite clear to him that there are a lot of things that I am willing to negotiate here, and that this is no longer going to be f*cking one of them." When he said that, he shrugged, as if hoping that this would be enough to make the subject kind of die off for a bit.

"Okay. I will trust you enough to know what you want to do. I mean, I can't tell you how to run the show with your life. I am just trying to give you some f*cking help here." He said, and then there was a degree of silence at what was being said here. It was almost as if both parties were starting to feel like there had been no need to press it on any further.

"So do you remember where Gloria's mom lives?" With that, Rhett slowly nodded. As if there was no way that he could forget about that. I was choosing to just try and be in the ride, and see where this could f*cking go. After all, I was feeling like at the end of the day, Rhett knew what he was doing, and I felt like I needed to just respect the fact that Rhett was smart enough to know where his boundaries needed to be placed. And I was just simply hoping that where he placed them would still be flexible enough where we could still mess around and wiggle through this if we needed to.

As we were driving along, Josiah was shaking his head. "Why were you so worried of telling Gloria's mother of her daughters death? I mean, if something happened to Lydia, you sure as f*ck bet that I would want somebody to tell me what happened to her. There would be no way in hell I would be cool if people just simply refused to tell me what happened.

"Because I have a feeling that telling her would be a massive mistake. I can tell that she views her daughter as the highest importance in the world. And I don't really want to take that way from her here." Rhett said simply, and to be honest, I would later learn that he was completely justified in everything he was saying, given what she would later do.

Once we were at Gloria's house, Rhett knocked on her door, not dancing around the point at all. She opened up the door, and Rhett was taking a second to think about how much he was going to hate telling her what he was about to say.

"I would want to report to you the results of what happened to your daughter. I regret to inform you that your daughter was murdered a few days ago, and I have only just found out about it today." Rhett said, and I was seeing Gloria's mother looking like she was already losing her marbles there.

"Come on in." She said, and we walked inside the house. Once we sat down, she looked at us. "Thanks for telling me what happened. I guess it's better than spending the rest of my life wondering what happened to her…" As she said that, I could tell that she was completely unconvinced of what she said.

"Look, I understand that this is something that must be really hard for you to handle. I mean, I have dealt with these cases for f*cking four years now. My mother died when I was fifteen. I understand what it is like to have a murdered family member." Rhett said, and I was feeling like he needed to stop waving around what happened to his mother. It was getting nothing done, and I felt like people could only go so long before getting annoyed at Rhett always bringing it up.

"Look, I understand that you're trying to make me feel better. But a mother passing away is not the same as a f*cking daughter passing away. What you dealt with is nowhere near as awful as your daughter, who you raised for fourteen years, going missing, and then being murdered five years later. What happened in those five years?" She told Rhett, and I was seeing him looking like he was trying to be more humble about this.

"Look, I am trying to f*cking help you out here. I know that you have had a hard time here. But I am just doing my f*cking best here. Is there anything that you remember about your daughter when she was alive? Did she have any friends that might know the truth?" He asked, hoping that once again, the mother would be willing to just give him literally anything at all. Even if it was a morsel, it was going to be better than what he had earlier.

"Well, she had one friend of hers, who to be honest, is kind of a f*cking idiot, named Hop. He always seemed way too f*cking eager to do anything. And to be honest, I always felt like he kind of had a thing for her." She said, and Rhett slowly nodded at this.

"I do remember something about that. I did talk with him about a month ago, and his alibi about hanging out with his older brother Leon does check out. Was there anybody else that you might be able to send me to?" He asked, hoping that she would just give him literally anything at all.

"Well, there was her boyfriend Victor. I never really trusted him at all. On top of the fact that he was a couple of years older than her to begin with, he always seemed to be off doing his own thing. He hardly seemed like he was really in this for Gloria, and I always had a feeling that he was kind of just taking advantage of her good will." Gloria's mother said, and Rhett slowly nodded.

"Do you know where Victor might be? Do you even know if he still lives in Wayside to begin with?" Josiah asked, taking over for a bit, and then she looked at him, as if still feeling unsure of how to react to the fact that Rhett's friend was here, and not just doing this all alone. I was wondering why the hell this would be such a big deal with her.

"Yeah, he lives in a hotel near Motostoke. About thirt miles away from the town. He has been living there ever since his eighteenth birthday. I tried to talk to him about the case once or twice, but he has given me jack sh*t." She said, shaking her head, as if feeling like there was no way she would be able to trust him at all.

"Do you know why he has been living in that hotel for so long?" Rhett asked, seeming slightly interested in hearing what she had to say about it. She shrugged, as if feeling like here wasn't much to gain from this. She had already clearly given up on everything, and I was feeling like she wasn't even thinking that there would be any resolution. As if she felt like the people in this town were already moving on to their own thing.

"Probably trying to pretend like he had nothing to do with it. Or trying to get away from his demons. I feel like he will try to make whatever excuse he can to justify what he did. But I feel like deep down inside, we both know that he doesn't really give a single sh*t about the case anymore. He probably forgot all about what he did." She said, and Rhett took a deep breath, as if he felt like he would just be honest with her when he said this next part.

"You can't just make blanket accusations of these people, and not have anything to back it up with. You need to actually have proof that they did what they did." Rhett said, and he was hoping that she would actually be willing to f*cking provide that to him. He looked at her, as if he was ready to see if she was going to break at all.

"I don't have proof. But I f*cking know that what is happening is true. I know that I am not imagining things, and that is what is pissing me off. Nobody is f*cking taking what I say seriously." She said, looking like she was wanting to just wanting to just scream at the fact that nobody was taking her seriously at all. Rhett looked at her, as if hoping that she was going to cut the crap.

"Look, I just had a couple of kids born like literally an hour or two ago, and I am stopping what I am doing, being there for them, so I could be able to do this f*cking case. I am not in the f*cking mood to pretend like I am down with any of this at all. Give me what I f*cking want to know, or stop wasting my time here." He said, and he looked at Gloria's mother, as if hoping that she would step up, and stop giving any bullsh*t here at all.

"Well, I hope that you take better care of your kids than I took care of my daughter. If I had known that I wouldn't be able to do this, then I would have never had her." She said, and I was shocked to hear her straight up say that.

It felt so f*cking wrong to hear her say that, and I felt so f*cking wrong to actually hear her telling me that in the first place. I could have seen that she was hating the fact that she had admitted this to begin with. As if admitting that the fourteen years that she had with Gloria was now suddenly a waste of time, and not even really worth it at all.

"Surely you don't feel that way. You still got to raise her for several years." Rhett said, hoping that he could be able to get to have her see what she was able to still get with her. I was seeing that Gloria's mother was trying to process what she was hearing. As if she felt like Rhett was just going to not really see the bigger picture of what he had been trying to accomplish here.

"I don't know how I f*cking feel right now. I feel so f*cking let down, and I feel like nobody really f*cking gets it. Nobody gets that I am so f*cking lost here." She said, and I was feeling like nothing Rhett would say would get her to even remotely open up here. I had felt like there was no real point in even pressing the matter at all.

"I am going to check out what Victor knows. See if he has literally anything that I can use to help me out with the f*cking case. Maybe he is actually going to be honest with me here, and not leave me wondering." Rhett said, looking right at Gloria's mother, as if hoping that she would get the point he was making to her here.

"I am no longer going to be nice to people about what I am feeling here. I feel like I have wasted a lot of my time here, and I am tired of just constantly running around here." He said, and then he left Gloria's mother to sit there, and then she was looking at the lamp, and seemed to accept what she felt like she needed to do. I didn't know what that was yet, but in even just a couple of minutes, I knew exactly what was going on there.

As Josiah, Rhett, and I were out of the house, and we got in the car, which took a couple of minutes to set up, we Rhett was about to turn on the car, and say something. But he chose to simply let what happened go down, because deep down he had known that there was no other choice here.

Gloria's mother a roped tied to the fan. She wrapped it around her neck, got up on the chair, and then kicked it away. After a minute, she stopped moving, and Rhett simply nodded, and started to drive off. Choosing to let people who were walking by and noticed her report her suicide instead. "It was her choice. She wanted to do it, and I respected her wishes." Rhett said, feeling like he would just clarify before Josiah was to ask anything at all.

"Well, time to see what Victor has to say. Hopefully he will actually f*cking talk to us, and give us literally anything at all. Sorry you have to deal with this." Rhett said, starting up the engine as he was starting to head off towards the motel thirty miles away from Wayside, where Gloria's now deceased mother had said that he was living at.

The entire time that we were driving to Victor's hotel, Josiah was thinking of what to say. "Do you want to talk to dad about that? I mean, we literally just saw somebody kill themselves." He trying to sound cool and collected, but I would tell from his reaction that he was freaking the f*cking hell out. Rhett looked right at him, as if unable to believe he was saying this.

"Let's face it, she was troubled anyways, and I think we both know that she was planning on doing that soon anyways. Hearing Gloria died was just her excuse to finally do it." He said, sounding completely f*cking cold to the facts. I was seeing Josiah looking like he was mildly pissed off at the fact that Rhett was acting like this over something so f*cking big.

"How can you brush something off this f*cking big? I mean, what if you had a family member do that eventually?" Josiah asked, hoping that he was going to get him to see the difference. Rhett was balling his fist real hard as he was steering the wheel.

I felt like he was trying really hard to pretend like he wasn't super mad at the way that Josiah was trying to spin him as this bad guy here, when he was just simply following his feelings on the matter. Which I guess was all fair enough, given everything that was going on here.

"Josiah, are you on my side, or against it? If you are against me, then just try and be honest with me about this here. I am not very happy with the way you are acting here." He said, and then I felt like he was trying to not sound too upset about what was going on here.

"I am not against your side, or whatever you want to f*cking call it. I am just telling you that you are beyond over thinking this sh*t, and I will gladly call you out on that, if I f*cking have to." He said, and I was seeing him looking like he was really annoyed at the very black and white way that Rhett had been looking at this whole thing. As if he had felt that Rhett was just being a bit over dramatic here.

"I can't be over thinking this when I have a f*cking case that I need to f*cking solve. And I am just simply trying to forget about the fact that my Ex-Girlfriend just had two kids, and I am having to f*cking stay away from them all because nobody is willing to let me have one f*cking day of happiness." Rhett said, sounding like he had hoped that I would just drop the subject for now. And I was wondering what else I could have said, to make things any different here.

"You said you didn't really want to drag yourself into those kids lives, and now suddenly you are acting like it is a f*cking crime that you are not needing to? This is so f*cking ridiculous, if I am being honest." He said, hoping that Rhett would cut his crap out. Rhett looked right at him, as if feeling like Josiah was not looking at this in the proper way at all.

When we were getting close to Motostoke, Rhett was taking a deep breath, as if he was thinking about what to say. "I have only been here like twice in my entire f*cking life. Both times were with my dad when he was trying to do business. The first one was a bit over six months before mom died. He was thinking that I could use the time away from the town, and people constantly talking about Trump or Biden, and see something new and cool. The second time was when he was bringing me to a meeting with that one President Rose guy." Rhett said, and then Josiah was remembering President Rose.

"Isn't he the guy who is trying to successfully bring the Digimon to earth, and has been using some of them to work on things like rail roads and tunnels?" Josiah said, and I was just now hearing about these Digimon for the first time myself.

"Yeah, something like that. He says that he thinks that Digimon are the future of America, and that people shouldn't be so scared of what happened in the 1980's and early 1990's." He said, and I wondered what happened there.

"Well, you can't really blame people for being scared over that sh*t when Digimon literally almost destroyed this entire section of the country. In fact, I am just more surprised that people are pretending like Digimon just simply don't exist anymore." Josiah said, and I was wondering what the hell he was hiding from he here.

"What are Digimon?" I asked, feeling like I just needed to hear more about this. It was actually something both really interesting, and really scary to hear about. I was feeling like this was the first time that I was actually learning about sensitive information, and I felt like I wanted to learn more about this.

"Around thirty to forty years ago, in Wayside, I want to say 1986, a group of seven teenagers found this meteor near the summer camp. Their names are T.K., Tai, Matt, Sora, Izzy, Mimi, and Joe. All seven of them spent a large part of the next five to seven years fighting them to make sure that these monsters wouldn't destroy Wayside. These monsters came rather close a couple times, and it took a few months to prove that they were real. In 1993, or 1994, I believe that they managed to close this hell mouth gate that the Digimon were coming out from. And now they barely ever come through here anymore, although there have been sightings of them in various parts of the country and even here still." Josiah gave me the very short version.

"A man named Ken, who was known as the Digimon Emperor, was controlling a lot of these Digimon during this seven to eight year period. When you get older, and go to school, one of the lessons taught in early high school is about the Digital Wars. Sadly, today, only one of these digidestined are even alive anymore, that being T.K., who is the famous author." Josiah said, hoping that response could be good enough to satisfy me for now.

"I tried to talk to some people about these group of people once, but didn't really get much out of the discussion. For instance, Lars Needlemeyer, he had a lot of respect for these people, and he had felt like these digidestined were some of the best people that were ever living in Wayside. He claimed that since these people learned about Digimon when he was just born, and he was still just a kid when the hell mouth closed, that he was able to not fully get it, but that some of them were close with him. And he knew these people who for they f*cking were." He said, and I was seeing him looking like he had been unsure of what to say.

"Oh f*ck, Lars. I was supposed to see him tomorrow. That man is so f*cking uptight about everything that he does, it kind of shocks me that people even tolerate him as much as they f*cking do. Maybe I should try and talk to him again, and see what he f*cking knows." Rhett said, sounding slightly annoyed at the memory of Lars coming back. He then looked at Josiah, as if feeling mildly bad for everything that he had to deal with now.

"I need to tell him as soon as we get out of the car that I am going to be busy working on another case. And hopefully he will not be too upset at me that I am not telling him about the fact that Gloria's mom f*cking hanged herself, and the fact that several people were hardly making any f*cking impression on such a thing." Rhett said, sounding slightly annoyed that he was even having to say all of this in the first place. I was sort of feeling like his perspective was just one of defeat, and feeling like maybe he had been trapped into something for so long, that he wasn't able to ever f*cking leave.

"What else has Lars told you?" I asked, feeling like I might as well see what I could be able to learn with what I could. He looked at me, and I was seeing him looking like he was mildly annoyed at the fact that he was even having to say any of this in the first place.

"Not much really. At least with the Digimon and everything. At first I was finding the whole lesson to be a bit of a myth or something. You know, just a legend that was made to make sure that we didn't do anything too stupid or else a bunch of crazy monsters would come along and attack us and kill us. But to be honest, when he was showing me some pictures of it, and that strange channel that I told you about earlier, that was when I was finally forced to accept that these things were actually f*cking real." He said, sounding mildly annoyed at what he was saying. As if he had felt like there was no reason to even be going down this path at all.

Once we were eventually at Motostoke, Rhett got out of the drivers seat. Partially to stretch his legs, and partially to get ready for the call. Josiah and I got out of the cars as well, and it was strange actually leaving Wayside for the first time. I was feeling like I was still way too young for something like this. But at the same time, I was hardly giving a single sh*t at all. In a strange way, this was the first step of my true legacy, and that was something that I could appreciate.

"Just give me a chance to make the f*cking call, and we can get to work. I wish that we didn't actually have to do that right now. But I guess that I really don't have much choice after all, Rhett was saying, and I could tell that he was barely keeping things together here. Almost like this was his biggest regret going forward.

"You guys stay safe, and don't do anything stupid while I make the call." Then with that, Josiah was looking like he was wanting to say something else. As if he was maybe just wanting to show Rhett that he didn't need to f*cking hide, or do anything away from him at all.

"You can just put in on speaker phone, and we can hear what he has to f*cking say. I think we would both rather have that than anything else." After he said that to Rhett, I could tell that Rhett had looked like he was a bit shocked that he was even f*cking hearing this in the first place. He just simply looked down on the ground, and looked like he was just kinda lost on what to f*cking feel here.

Rhett did just that though at the end of the day. He knew deep down inside that there was no choice on the matter. He had to just listen to what people were telling him, and he was hoping that at the end of the day, people were not going to be too annoyed with what he was doing. I could tell that deep down inside, though, he was kind of broken over everything that was going on here.

"Hey Lars, I was just trying to get ahold of you. And see what you were up to. I was wondering if that meet up tomorrow was still going to happen. You know, since I have been kind of stalling things for a while. And to be honest, I just kind of feel bad for that." Rhett said, making it seem like he was kind of regretting what happened. But deep down, I think we both knew that he was just mainly saying that as a way to make the subject at least slightly less uncomfortable for everybody who was involved in what was even going on here.

"Rhett, glad to see that you actually f*cking answered the phone this time. I was wondering how many times you were going to just keep making the excuses that you weren't able to do." As he said that to Rhett, I was already seeing Rhett looking like he was kind of annoyed at everything that was going on here.

"Well, I was hoping that since you were willing to actually meet up with me this time, that the negotiations can actually happen this time. You know, since that has been held off for a very long time. Your father was wondering if you were really committed to the idea of the business with how much you had been putting it off." Lars said, with the cigarette clearly being smoked, and I could actually hear the puffs coming.

"Well, I was hoping that you would be willing to further explain what your plans were here. You know, since I still feel very f*cking left out of the loop here. And I just feel like there is something missing here." As Rhett said this, I was wondering where in the world he was planning on actually taking this response. It was sort of a bit strange to see Rhett finally get serious about this.

"I do not want to be rude or anything, but the truth is that I am currently working on a case right now. It is going to take a while to finish, since I had to leave town for it." Rhett said, and he was sounding a bit unsure what the hell Lars was going to say to this.

"Look Rhett, I have no idea why you are so busy pursuing that Gloria case. There is no reason to look into something that is already in the f*cking past, and will probably never have any real answers. I understand that you have a lot of hope left in this town. But are you seriously thinking that you are the one who can solve this all?" He said, and I could tell that he wasn't even caring if he was sounding a bit disrespectful this time anymore.

"I am busy pursuing that Gloria case because I feel like we both know that it is full of f*cking sh*t, and we both know that just leaving it hanging isn't going to accomplish anything. Even if she is dead, even if all the girls who go missing in this town end up dead, don't you think it is my duty, as a junior private detective, to figure out why they died?" Rhett asked, hoping that Lars would just shut up about this for the time being.

"Look Rhett, I don't want to get in your grove of things, but your dad was telling me that he was worried about you. Worried about you potentially dying as a result of this case. He is worried that your death would be a big blow to the business." He said, and then with that, Rhett laughed so hard at this. As if thinking that it was a f*cking joke.

"Tell dad that while I appreciate his concern, and his care for me, that I need to do what I f*cking can to pass the time as much as I f*cking can. My death would mean far more to this town than a f*cking big hit on his casino company. And if he can't f*cking see that there is more to me than that, then I feel like that is still a sign that deep down inside, he is not really ready to be a true father." After he said that, I could tell that Rhett looked like he was a bit hurt by having to say that in the first place.

"Rhett, at least just make it to tomorrow before you do anything too f*cking stupid. At least just give me a chance to make the business proposal that I had wanted to make you. Once I am done, then you can do whatever you want. Just let me have that." He said, and Rhett looked like he was still not sure if he was really buying this fully.

"Okay, fine I will be a good young man and wait until tomorrow before I do anything too f*cking stupid here. I just feel like you are taking this whole thing way too seriously here. I mean, you and I both know that our personalities have never really meshed together, and I feel like that is something that both of us are aware is going to bite both of us in the f*cking ass." Rhett said, hoping that this conversation would zoom along a bit faster.

"I am not sure if I fully believe you or not, but I guess that I can respect the fact that you are at least trying to make it seem like you are willing to hear me out here." Lars said, and he was sounding like he was having some more respect here.

"You know, I just always liked you. You were always a good kid when I saw you at first. I just feel so sorry for everything that f*cking happened to you. You deserved so much better than what happened to you, and I feel like everything that happened was completely my f*cking fault. Maybe I should have been more careful and considerate to what happened to you before I started to ask you so many f*cking things." He said, and I had no real clue what else I was going to tell him here. After all, I was seeing that Rhett was seeming to just be a bit distant here.

"Okay, I do want to believe in you. I really f*cking do. Look, Lars, if you really felt that way, you should have told me this when my mom died. Maybe you should have tried to actually help me f*cking investigate her murder. But you f*cking didn't, and I feel like that is something that I will never really be able to f*cking fully get over. You told me all these things, that I wanted to hear, but you never really took the leap of faith." He said, and I was seeing Rhett looking like he wanted to say more. Like he wanted to tell Lars off, but just couldn't get himself to do it yet.

"Rhett, I know that I have a hard time showing a side of myself that is appealing to people, and I know that I have been lying to you about what my business model is. And I am tired of lying to you. I want to finally tell you everything that I have been f*cking doing. And maybe the two of us can finally work together here." When he said that to Rhett, I was seeing Rhett looking like he was wanting to believe what he heard. But deep down, he wasn't really sure if he f*cking could.

"I am tired of lying to you, and I am tired of holding things back that I feel like you deserve to f*cking know. And that is why I am no longer going to be lying about what I feel like you are ready for. I am no longer going to be lying to you about what you actually really need to know about the labyrinth." He said, and then with that, Rhett was taking a deep breath.

"Labyrinth is just a f*cking myth. A myth that covers the sh*t that is really going on here. We both f*cking know this. And I think the fact that you are trying to f*cking make this a big story for me to follow is kind of annoying. Sorry if I am just sounding a bit like an asshole, but I think that it is time that we stop pursuing fables and stories and start looking at how reality actually f*cking is." Rhett said, hoping that his response would finally be enough to get Lars to tone it down a touch.

There seemed to be a bit of a silence, and a bit of uncertain air between the two of them. As if for once, Lars was the one that was in disbelief over everything that he heard. It had seemed like he was thinking that Rhett wasn't really looking at things the way that he f*cking should. But I had no reason to think otherwise, with everything that had been going on here.

"Rhett, I think we both know that deep down inside, you do not believe what you are saying for a second. You are simply saying something, to make yourself feel slightly less bothered by what happened. And that is okay dude, but you can't lecture people about reality, and ignoring it or not, when you are doing exactly this right now." Lars said, and I was feeling like this was just totally a bizarro situation. I never thought that I would hear things this way at all.

"Then why were you always rejecting my advances in conversations that tried to bring up labyrinth? Every time I was the one trying to bring it up to you, that was when you were basically telling me off constantly. Now suddenly you are going around, and telling me that you want to do this? I'm sorry, I feel like this is too much to handle." He said, sounding a bit annoyed at what he had to hear.

"That was because before hand, I was feeling like you were simply just not ready for the truth. Now I do feel like you are ready, and I feel like in due time, I do need to talk to you about this. You're a young man now, and I feel like I need to respect this." He said, sounding mildly more convinced of what he was saying now that he had said it.

"Wow. I never thought that you would be putting it this way. Just let me think about it for now. I am trying to understand, and to get it. I really do want to get it. And I thank you for the fact that you are choosing to be more honest with me now. But right now, I am not sure if I am fully ready for this yet." As he said that, I could tell that he had no real clue what the hell to f*cking even say there.

"Thanks for giving me a chance Rhett. I need you to see that I really do respect you a lot. You might not see that yet, but I do. And when I talk to you, I f*cking get it. I get that you feel some resentment over how everything that has happened. But I don't f*cking care. I don't care if you hate me, I am just simply doing what I feel like is for the best." He said, and I could tell that he had been a bit bothered as he kept talking, feeling a bit down here.

"Okay. Talk to you tomorrow. See you then. And don't hold out on me at all. You set this up, and I am going to make sure that you follow through." Rhett said, sounding like he was finally putting his foot at this. Then he hung up the phone, not even caring if any of this was rude or not.

When their call was done, that was when Rhett looked right at us, and I was seeing him looking like he was a bit annoyed at the fact that this went to the level that it f*cking did here. "Okay, now we need to talk to Victor, and see what he f*cking says. I really am tired of just staying around, and not doing much with it." With that, Rhett was starting to show a bit more of his composure than he had been before.

Once we were in the room that Victor was staying at, I could tell from the look on his face that he was extremely bothered by the fact that we were here. Almost as if he was worried that we were going to try and do something to him. He was holding up his hand, as if hoping that we would at least try and go easy on him.

"Look, I don't know what you f*cking want. All that I know is that I am not really ready for any of this at all. Would you guys please just take it easy on me?" He asked, sounding like he was genuinely desperate over what is happening here. Rhett was then taking a deep breath, and sounded a bit annoyed at the fact that it was clear that this man was not working with us.

"To be honest, we need your help with looking for details relating to Gloria's missing case. We know that you were close with her. And we regret to inform you that she died." Rhett told Victor, who was turning off the television, finally seeming to be interested in the discussion since this was something that he had wanted to actually f*cking talk about.

"Okay, you got me interested in what you had to say now. All you had to f*cking do was just say so earlier." He said, sounding like he was mildly annoyed at the fact that we were taking so long to get to the point. So he sighed, as if feeling ready to hear what we had to f*cking say on the matter.

"Well, we were wondering when the last time you spoke with Gloria was. What was the last thing that she mentioned to you?" Rhett asked, as if his patience was limited. He was then looking at the rabbit like creature that was sitting down on the table.

"How in the world id you have a Digimon with you in this hotel? I thought that people would have been way more careful with that sh*t, and not taking any risks." He said, and then Victor looked like he was rather annoyed with the fact that this was even being brought up.

"Well, if you must know, the last time I saw Gloria was three days before she went missing. I had just found this over here, a baby Digimon named Scorbunnymon, and I chose to take care of it out of the goodness of my f*cking heart. I was teaching it how to live in normal areas comfortably when she went missing. She was babysitting a young boy who has always been into spooky things named Allister. I don't blame the kid for what happened, although I would be lying if I said that I wasn't slightly annoyed at the fact that he never told me what he was even doing with Gloria the night that she went missing in the first place. I always felt like he was lying to me about something. But it is what it f*cking is, and I can't do anything to change what happened." Victor said, all the memories coming together, and him sounding like he was actually kind of having a good time remembering the smaller details.

"Do you know where this Allister is?" Josiah asked, hoping that he could get Victor to talk a bit more here. With that, Victor just looked at him, as if feeling like none of this even mattered anymore. After all, we had literally just told him that Gloria was dead, and we finally got the answer.

"I recalled something about him and his parents moving out soon after the whole incident occurred. Something about not wanting their son to deal with this mess. So I feel like maybe their parents might know something about it, even if Allister himself did not. And if I am honest, his father always gave me the strange vibes, and I always felt like his father was up to something." Victor said, sort of having everything come together. He clearly seemed like he was getting it all.

"Do you know, where we can potentially be able to find Allister's parents, or at least his father, if you feel like his father might be doing something?" Rhett asked, suddenly feeling like this was something that he could be able to work with. I was seeing Victor looking like he was trying to piece it all together. As if he wasn't quite sure yet. But that he was getting a little piece of it together.

"I think that his father comes by Wayside every month or so to do a business trip for like three days or so. Maybe you can talk to his dad. I recall something about him coming by this weekend. He usually stays at the Mariott or something. If you really care that much on finding out the truth, then I feel like you can try talking to him there." After Victor said that, he sounded a bit annoyed at this.

"Okay, thank you for helping us out. I know that I might be a bit rough on the edges, but I really do appreciate it when you tell us what we need to know. I know that my colleagues might not always feel that way, but I always understand how hard it is to deal with people who don't seem to trust, or respect you when you are just simply trying to make your way in life." After Rhett told him that, I was seeing him looking like he was mildly surprised to see that he was even trying to show respect to him in the first place. Especially after everything he had been told, he had thought that he was going to be considered in the worst position possible.

"Hey, I do want to know who killed Gloria, and I guess that maybe I do want to come with you. I never wanted any of this to happen, and I feel like this is the worst thing that has ever happened to some of us. I just want some peace." Victor said, sounding like he was finally gaining a degree of his personal confidence back. I had no clue if that was something that I wanted to actually hear, or if this was going to be the worst thing we could be able to deal with here.

"Alright, so I guess that we got a three man and one child squad with us today." Rhett said, and looked right at me, hoping that I wouldn't be too offended at still being called a child, since at the end of the day, I was still only four years old, and still way too young to actually understand everything that was happening here.

Victor picked up the Scorbunnymon, and we all left the hotel room. I had no idea why in the world he was bringing along a Digimon that could be able to potentially put us all in danger. I was still having some trouble even wrapping my head around the concept of Digimon in the first place. But at the same time, I was feeling like maybe that was just because I didn't really get it yet. And I was feeling like I just needed to try and just go along for the ride for the time being here.

When we were all crammed into the car, Rhett started to drive towards the Wayside Mariott. I was seeing that from the look on his face, that he was well familiar with that place. And I could tell that he was not super thrilled with the idea of doing business there yet. But I was also seeing that despite that, he was willing to f*cking do it, if it meant that he was going to finally get to the bottom of what was going on here. Which was something that I had felt like did make a decent amount of sense.

"Have you been there recently?" Victor asked, being able to read the emotions that was on Rhett's face. He was slowly nodding, as if he was feeling like that was a fair way of putting it. Then after a few seconds, he was taking a deep breath, feeling like he would just open up now, and tell us what exactly he had known about what was going on here.

"Yeah, I had to work on a case when I was there. That was where I had found out about the official death report of Elaine." Rhett said, and Victor looked like he had no idea what any of that was meaning, and that Rhett was basically telling him a nothing story. Which did slightly bother Rhett, but at the same time, he was kind of feeling like he was ready to expect that. Which was a sign that he was willing to look at the bigger picture of what was going on here.

"So yeah, I don't really know if I already want to go back there so soon. I would rather that I just don't have to deal with this at all. But whatever, I guess that things are what they are for a reason. People die all the time here, and I have no idea why in the world I keep getting shocked, and grossed out at the fact that people have been proving to be terrible human beings." Rhett said, as if this was sounding super obvious in his head. I could tell that despite everything else, he was seeming to truly be a bit defeated at the fact that he was even saying all of that to start with.

"Sorry that you feel that way. Maybe we can f*cking find something else for you to have on your mind, and to do. After all, you seem like you have been kind of running out of patience on dealing with all of this in the first place." Victor said, and I was seeing him sounding like he had genuinely been trying to have a more civil talk, and sound like he was genuinely trying to suggest something helpful. But that did not look like it was going to actually work out for any of us at all.

"Look, I barely even f*cking know you. We're not like f*cking friends at all, and we need to just focus on the job. So please, can we just focus on the case, and nothing else?" Rhett asked, sounding like he was holding a bare level of patience back. "I want to get this case solved as fast as I can, so I can be able to f*cking go back to the hospital, and have a day or two with Chelsea and our new born children."

Rhett was sounding like his level of even pretending like he was taking this well was at its wits end. He was furious at the fact that he was away from his two newborn children, and at this point in time, there was no reason to even attempt to hide it anymore. He was actually growing a degree of hatred for the fact that there was nobody who was taking this case over for him at all.

Once we were parked at the Mariott, Rhett took a deep breath. "I hope Allister's father is there. And that if he is, then we can finally get what we need. I am really needing to sleep, and I don't want to sleep until this case is done and over with." He said, and then with that, Josiah picked me up as we were leaving the f*cking car.

"Sorry Josiah that I dragged you into this. Well, more so dragged Ridge into this. You should know by now that I am not the man that is good at keeping people safe, and I feel like this is going to get your brother killed one of these days." Rhett said, as Josiah looked like he wasn't really too worried about it.

"To be honest, I am happy that he is having some adventures that he enjoys already. Already having more of a life at four years old than most of us have by the time we're twelve." He said, and this time, for some reason, I did not mind him carrying me. It was fine to still be a baby every once in a while. Even if it was just for a brief moment to get us to a room in a hotel that I had hoped that I never had to be in again. It was strange being in this position, not understanding any of it, but pretending like I did for the sake of not being a burden on them.

When Rhett was at the lobby, he went up to the guy at the counter. "I was wondering if you are currently holding a man who frequently comes here. I need to speak with him about a case I am working on. I heard he usually comes here once a month or so." Rhett said, hoping that these details would be enough for the clerk to give us the access that he wanted, and then we could just be through with this.

"Oh yeah, I think I know who you are talking about. He was saying he was expecting somebody today anyways. Wasn't expecting it to be somebody who much younger though." The counter lady said, as if trying to find a better way to describe her uncertainty. But Rhett was looking like he wasn't really caring all that much, and just wanted this done with as fast as possible.

With that, Josiah, Victor, Rhett and I started to head up to the floor that we were supposed to meet him at. I was hoping that this would go by at least decently easy enough. But to be honest, the whole thing was still kind of scaring me, and I had hoped that whatever Rhett needed, he was going to be done with it as fast as possible. I didn't want him to do anything too stupid, if I was honest.

He answered the door for us, and I could tell from the way that he was looking at Rhett, that he was actually was rather scared for a moment. As if he was scared of what Rhett was going to tell him. Then with that, he nodded, as if he had known that there was really no choice but to just hear what Rhett had wanted to hear.

"We were wanting to discuss with you about the case of Gloria." Rhett said, and then he was looking at some of the files that were on one of his tables. We were all let in without too much issue, and I was just sitting down on a table, remaining as silent as I could, feeling like there was no need to press the matter any further than I had been.

"Yeah, I remember hearing about that case. To be honest, I don't really know what else you want me to tell you. I just simply thought that she would have been back by now. I didn't realize that things were going to escalate the way that they did."

"Is it true that she was babysitting your son at the time she went missing, and that you out doing some contract work at the time? If you would be so willing, would you please tell us what contract work you were up to at the time?" Rhett said, not really in the mood to hear any of the bullsh*t at all.

"Yeah, I was working on a contract. I was assigned to watch over a girl in this town that people had felt like might have been in some danger of becoming one of those labyrinth victims. Her name was Wren, if I recalled correctly." He said, sounding like he was trying to be as careful as he could with the story as to not make people wonder too much what he was saying. But I was seeing Rhett looking like he was already having a hard time buying it.

"If I recalled correctly, Wren went missing in February 2020. Around the 17th or 18th, if I recall. So if that is the case, then with all due respect, you did a f*cking sh*tty job keeping her safe, and I feel like you should probably be ashamed of yourself for what you did." Victor said, lacking any of the tact that Rhett was at least pretending to have on the issue here.

"She did. But she was doing it after she went out and watched that Sonic movie that recently came out with her friends. I was respecting her space as a young woman, and I felt like she deserved something better." As the man said this, I was seeing Josiah looking at one of the files. As if he would see what he could find there. I was mentally begging him to not do something like this. But at the same time, I was feeling like he wasn't doing anything too bad, so I should have just let it happen for now.

As I was watching Josiah read the file, and seeing his face grow increasingly horrified and disgusted, I was then looking at Victor and Rhett still talking with him, and I was wondering which one I felt like was going to get to their breaking point first. And to be honest, I was kind of scared of what I was getting myself into here.

"So, what did Allister think of Gloria going missing? Was he upset, or did you manage to force him to not give a single sh*t?" Victor asked, and Rhett was looking like he was hoping that he could get Victor to stop this bullsh*t, and making things twenty times worse than they already were.

"I had nothing to do with that. He cried about it. A lot. Those first few weeks, but then in due time, he eventually moved on stopped caring about it as much as he used to. I had nothing to do with that choice of his. He just decided that he stopped caring about those awful things as much. He especially hasn't put as much time and focus on it as he f*cking used to, given the fact that he is going around and dating a bunch of girls his age already. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up having a kid before he even leaves for college at the rate he is going." He said, sounding like he was wanting to have a mild laugh about it. Rhett sighed, as if this was something he literally couldn't care less about if he f*cking tried, and wanted this subject to end.

"Guys, don't listen to anything he f*cking says." Josiah said, putting his phone back in his pocket, after he took a few pictures of the files to prove what he had seen. "That guy sold Gloria off to a f*cking businessman. I don't know if he did it for sexual favors or for drugs, but she is literally gone because of him." Josiah said, sounding like he was on the verge of melting down here.

Victor stood up, as if this was what he was wanting to hear. As if he had known that this was the case, and he was just waiting for any sort of confirmation. He was pointing his finger, so his Scorbunnymon could be able to attack him if Victor desired.

"I didn't have much of a choice. I have a job that I need to f*cking do, and I was just simply doing what I f*cking could. If I didn't, then Allister wouldn't be able to have a comfortable living. I did it for my f*cking family, and I do not regret what I did." He said, hoping that this would at least get some respect, if he was honest about what he had done.

Rhett then clapped, as if feeling like there was no point in hiding this anymore. "Well, I'm going to have to call the police to bring you in, and hopefully you can decide if losing out on any company with your son forever was going to be worth it or not."

"I thought that you guys would be able to f*cking understand what it is like to what was needed for the sake of the bigger picture. I thought that this town could understand what that is like." He said, and I was seeing him looking like he was trying to decide what to say. "And you brought a literal little kid with you to the scene. I feel like you are probably the ones who are needing to look at yourselves in the mirror before you go around and judge me for simply just doing my job." As he said that, I was seeing him looking like he had hoped that this response would set off a reaction from Rhett or something.

He brought out a gun, and then he was pointing it around, as if trying to make it clear to people that he wasn't afraid it to use. I was scared for a second, but I was hoping that I could be able to get him to calm down a bit, and not make too much of an issue out of it.

"Step back. I will use this if I need to." He said, and then Rhett brought out his own gun, as if he was ready to use it as well. I was seeing Allister's father looking like he was genuinely panicking, and had seemed to have lost all of his patience.

Without a single second of thought, he ended up firing the gun. Before even a second passed, there was a loud scream. I looked over, and I saw Josiah on the ground, holding his hand over his left eye. He shot Josiah through the eye, and if we didn't get him immediate medical help, then one of my brothers was going to die at only nineteen or so years old, when I was just a four year old kid, and one of the last things that I told him was that I didn't need him to constantly carry me around anymore.

And I didn't know it at the time, but this was nearly exactly like what Rob Reichenbach went through thirty eight years ago, when he had that skating accident that was so bad that it made him lose his right eye, and for the last forty years has been leading the biggest company in town with only his left eye.

Before we even had a moment to really react, Scorbunnymon fired a fireball at Allister's father, and as he was set on fire, Rhett fired three bullets in Allister's fathers chest, and he ended up walking backwards, tripping over the bed, and walking backwards even further until he fell through the hotel window, falling twelve stories down to his death, where he splattered, and the flames starting to die off. I was looking at the files that Josiah looked at, and Rhett picked them up, before he picked me up, and Victor carried the dying Josiah out of the hotel.

August 22, 2024

On my fourth birthday, I was sitting down with Lydia, and I was able to tell how much happier she had been ever since she started to date Robbie Dan earlier that summer. She finally looked like she was in her right mindset, and I was so happy to see that she was finally doing well. She was sitting down with Robbie Dan, and he kissed her on the cheek, and I was seeing the two of them looking like they were really trying hard not to let their affection show too deep here.

"Josiah woke up for the first time since the gunshot today. He is expected to make a full recovery, and Lars is thinking of finding some work with Josiah that he could realistically be able to do with only one eye. The doctor said that they were actually surprised at how much he will be able to recover from a bullet that close to the brain." Lydia told me, and she was sounding like she was just simply glad that this was actually having a chance of working out at all.

"What in the world were you two even doing at the hotel anyways? I mean, Rhett said you guys were working on a case. If you ask me, I still feel like you are way too f*cking young to work on that sh*t. But that is not really for me to f*cking decide, I suppose." Robbie Dan said, sounding like he was trying to make it sound like he wasn't too bothered by what happened.

"Shame because he was always the brother that treated me with the most respect when I was first getting to know you guys. I guess that I respect what Rhett is always trying to do, but I feel like he has nobody to blame but himself if sooner or later, people eventually just want nothing to do with him. After all, he essentially just got his best friend almost killed." Rhett said, sounding like he was trying to sound a bit more neutral here. But deep down inside, he was actually furious at what was happening.

"He wanted to help." I said, feeling like I would confirm that. After all, I was there. I was the one who was there, and truly saw what was going on there. I knew that Rhett had done nothing wrong, and I was getting kind of tired of pretending like he was doing something utterly horrible here. Just because it went downhill real f*cking quick didn't mean that it wasn't Josiah's idea to come along with the idea in the first place.

"Anyways, Ridge, this is your birthday. We should be talking to you instead. You were telling me that you have been watching TV more, and Bebe bought this for you." He said, placing it down on the table. It was a wrapped present, and I opened it up after Lydia took out her phone to capture my reaction.

It was the DVD copies of all three seasons of Avatar The Last Airbender. She took the photo, and I thanked Robbie for the gift. "I enjoyed the show a lot when I saw it about six years ago. So I figured that maybe you would as well. Just try to not watch all of it at once, because if you do, then the fun will be over before you got to really absorb it."

He was talking to a four year old. After all, at that age, half the battle was just making sure that you didn't break the DVDs to begin with. But I was feeling like I would just keep to myself, and not say much. After all, he just bought me what was at the time, the best present of my life. My first actual collection piece. "I know that people have been getting into streaming a lot more lately. But to be honest, I never really got into that. Something special about the first time you open a DVD or Blu Ray case always gets to me more than clicking a video."

"I chipped in for half of it, and if you like it, we can get you something for Christmas." Lydia said, and while I didn't realize it at the time, and I was glad that none of the other people at Joyful Burger were seeing it either, but she had been rubbing Robbie Dan's lower areas over his pants. And I could tell that Robbie Dan was trying hard not to show it, although his mild moans were rather clear.

Lars brought the food down, and he looked right at me. "Hey birthday kid. I know that you have been getting into a lot of reckless danger. Rhett told me some of the things you were doing. He speaks very highly of you, and he told me that minus Josiah, you were his favorite of the eleven kids." He said, and then looked right at Lydia. "Sorry about that. But I guess when you don't go through as much life and death experiences as he has with Ridge, I guess that it makes sense."

"Well, I'm glad that you are still doing well. Strange to think that this is all happening in your life before you were even starting school yet. Hope that your studies don't get in the way of your positive attitude, and your new outlook in life. I really enjoy seeing you happy for once." He said, and I was seeing him sounding like he was sincere enough. And to be honest, I was respecting what he said.

"You guys don't do anything too stupid." Lars said, and he looked at Lydia, and I could see from the look on his face, and seeing her just beam with happiness, was something that he really loved. "Just please make sure that when school starts up again, that you remember the things that keep you running." As he said that, I was wondering where the plan was going now.

"Thanks." Lydia said, and despite the fact that she never wanted to admit it, I would tell that she had was still viewing her father as one of her biggest role models, and the one that she wanted to be the most like when she was growing up. But she was seeming to just not really show it too much. Which was either a good thing or a bad thing.

As Lars was leaving, Robbie took a long moan, and panted a little bit at that. I was looking right at him, and I was wondering what the hell he was going over that for. Lydia had the biggest sh*t eating grin on his face, as if she had known that this was something that she couldn't believe she had actually f*cking gotten away with.

"Aren't you too old for Lydia?" I asked, looking straight at Lars. I felt like I needed to bring up the point that I was feeling like most people here were probably wonder. To be honest, I was feeling like if I didn't ask him this, then this could have become a f*cking issue sooner or later.

She had just turned eleven years old a month ago. And Robbie was only a few months away from being fourteen years old. He was only a grade higher than her, so academically it was no big deal, but when he hit sixteen, she was only going to be thirteen years old. And when he was eighteen, then she would be fifteen. I just felt like sooner or later, people would eventually say something.

The other thing that I was thinking about, but did not want to admit, was that this was the case, if Lydia was even still going to be around by then. I mean, right now she wouldn't be what people would want from labyrinth. But I knew that in due time, sooner or later, she would reach that age where she would be old enough to potentially become a victim of that conspiracy.

"We've known each other for over four years. I doubt anybody really f*cking cares all that much anymore. It's not like we just met a week ago." Robbie said, hoping that this response would please me. I shook my head, as if feeling like there wasn't much reason to press this any further than I had been.

"I mean, I guess that is fair. Doesn't man that it's safe." I said, feeling like I just needed to be honest as I was telling him this. I could tell that Robbie looked like he was mildly annoyed with the way that I was talking, and I could tell that he had wanted to end this subject as fast as possible, and not make the subject worse than what it was.

"Look Ridge, when you fall in love with somebody, you will understand what it is like to just want to be with that person forever." Robbie Dan told me, and I didn't realize at the time how misguided our perceptions on love and sh*t would be when we were still so young. But I could see that given how they had been the last four years, how they would be able to have the misguided perception that they were in love with each other.

"Okay." I said, feeling like at the moment at least, I could be able to buy it, and I was feeling like I needed to f*cking give him what he deserved. After all, he was still a good man, and he was somebody who I felt like was trying to do his best in the sh*tty world he was in. But was having a hard time really going through and showing it when it mattered.

"And Ridge, Josiah was saying that later today he did want to see you, and then the two of you can talk a bit. He was worried about you and everything. I think that he was worried you would do something dangerous." Lydia said, sounding like she was hoping to sort of get me to have a more open set of eyes there. And I was feeling like I could be able to role with that for now.

"Let me eat." I said, feeling like I needed to try and have some control over the subject, and with that, Lydia was slowly nodding, as if she was feeling that was all fair enough. She just ended up taking it for what it was, and I had felt like we were aware of what needed to f*cking be done there.

"Ridge, do you think you still want to do this whole detective thing now that this all happened? I feel like it might not be worth it anymore." Lydia said, and I was seeing her looking like she was trying to hide her fear in this. But I was feeling like she was just sort of setting herself up for this.

"I do." I said, feeling like there was still no real choice on the matter. I needed to do what I needed to do, and I was feeling like as long as Rhett was there with me, to help me out with everything that happened, then I felt like this all was going to be f*cking worth it.

"Well, if you are going to do that, then I guess that I might as well just go with this." Lydia said, and I was wondering if this was her saying that she was going to actually help with the case. I had no idea if this was something that I had really wanted her to do. In all honesty, I was feeling like this was a f*cking terrible idea, and not one that I was going to be down with at all.

I ended up eating my burger, and I was so happy to finally be happy to have a chance to go out and do something actually fun again. Not relating to investigations on missing girls, or anything like that. I felt like there was no reason to be dragging myself down over this whole thing, and I was feeling like I had lost almost all of my calm happiness that I used to have. All in turn for this sh*t just becoming twenty times worse than it was.

"How is Stanley?" I asked, referring to the fact that I knew that Lydia still had some feelings for him, but Stanley just merely looked at her as nothing more than a friend. I know how much that whole thing killed Lydia, and I knew how much it broke Lydia's heart to see that he truly was not going to be looking at this in any different way at all. But I had felt like this was something she needed to kind of get used to, and not make a huge deal out of it.

"He's doing okay. He and his dad are still fighting, but I think they understand each other more than they used to. I think that he is just really not wanting to leave behind the parts of Wayside that he did like, and that is why he is still living here. I knew that he couldn't leave this place behind." Lydia said, and I could see that she was trying really hard to get me to see that there was still more to this town than I saw. But I was feeling really down, and I was feeling like there was nothing left here,

"Does he want to be with you?" I asked, feeling like this might be a sign that his attitude on the whole thing changed. She looked down, and she had looked like this wasn't really a question that she wanted to f*cking answer. I was seeing that no matter what else was happening, she was still respecting the fact that Stanley had already made his choice on the matter.

"There is no reason to try and change it. And besides, I have Robbie Dan with me." She said, and she sounded like she was happy about the way that this whole thing changed. I was feeling like there was no reason to push her any further on the subject, since I was feeling like she was just too happy with what she had to make it any worse.

"Does Bebe approve?" I asked, feeling like I needed to know. I know that Bebe wasn't his real mother, but with how much more present she was in his life than his parents were, who had always been off in the world, I felt like I needed to just go along with this.

"She does." Robbie said, as if they had this conversation before, and I was seeing that Robbie felt very much the same way that he did with the whole thing. And I was feeling like this level of understanding was what we really needed. I just had hoped that Bebe was going to feel the same way when I talked with her about it.

With that, I did eventually meet up at the hospital, where Robbie Dan and Lydia were with me. I could tell from the looks on both of their faces, that they were clearly both scared of how Josiah was going to react to both of them. I was having a feeling that maybe they did not approve of their relationship as much as I was willing to be cool with it. And this was a realization that I was feeling like could be a bit of a issue for us going down. But I was choosing to not say much on it.

When he saw me there, I was seeing Josiah looking like he was ready to say some things to me. As if he was feeling like there was no more needing to f*cking hold back at all. To be honest, I was seeing him looking like he was actually almost scared of what the two of them would say. And I was feeling like he needed to chill the hell out before he let his misjudgment get too far in the way. But I was choosing to not say much on the matter at all.

"Ridge, happy birthday dude. Guess me just simply being alive is your birthday present from me this year." He said, with the eyepatch covering up the wound, and that was something that I was glad to see. I did not want to see what he had looked like without his left eye at all. In fact, I was feeling like if he was going to have to spend the rest of his life like this, I wanted to just try and pretend like I never knew what he was like with both of his eyes. Just pretend like I did not have to see that growing pain in his soul that grew from the fact that he had nothing left there.

It hurt to see a man who was broken like that. "Look, I know that you are going to continue looking into this case, and that you already made up your mind. To be honest, I am not going to stop you. I just want you to know that if you are going to do this, then you need to just be a lot more careful. I can't save you anymore like this." He said, as if he was trying to be annoyed and angry. But deep down, he was just worried, and more so just kind of sad than anything else. This was a side of Josiah that I was never going to really be ready for, no matter how hard he was trying to make it seem like he had been.

"That is the main thing that I just wanted to talk to you about. The fact that I am not going to stop you from doing this anymore. But that doesn't mean that I approve of it. I very much do not approve of it. But I also know that there is no reason to try and force you to not do something that you are already so f*cking dead set on doing." Josiah said, and then he looked at Robbie and Lydia.

"Please promise me that no matter what happens now, you will keep her safe. Do not do anything that will put her at risk. I see that you're a good guy, and I do not want to force you into doing anything else. I just want to make sure that you are going to stay safe while you are going at it at least. That is all that I f*cking want." He said, and then with that, the two of us kind of unsure what the point of this even was to begin with.

"Don't worry, I will make sure that she stays safe. You do not need to worry about me nearly as much as you think you do." Robbie said, hoping that by saying that, and making it seem like he had at least some control over the subject at that moment. As he was saying this, hoping to show at least mild control, he was seeing that Josiah looked like he was still not fully buying what he was hearing at all.

But at the same time, I think he was also trying his best to understand this as best as possible, and he was seeming like he was wanting to believe that Robbie Dan really did want what was for the best. "Thanks. You have no idea how much better that makes me feel." He said, and then with that, I was feeling like there was virtually nothing else to say at all. We had both made our points, and I felt like that would have to f*cking do here.

"Josiah, do you not like me very much?" Robbie asked, feeling like he just needed to be upfront with that question. I was seeing Josiah looking like he was shocked to hear Robbie Dan actually asking this in the first place. As if he was feeling like he really had nothing to lose by just being honest over what he was hearing. He looked like he was ready to kind of cry over this.

"Look, I wasn't sure what to think of you at first. Not going to f*cking lie. But the truth is that I do feel like you are a lot better for Lydia than I am. And to be honest, I feel like I would be lying to you if I tried to pretend like I didn't feel like you could be able to handle this more. So yeah, I guess that I was unfair to you. I guess that maybe I was just letting what my oldest brother says about you kind of get to me. But that was a while ago already." After Josiah said that to Rhett, finally feeling like being honest was the best thing to do here.

Robbie Dan looked down, and I could tell that he was clearly slightly sad at what he was hearing. As if he was feeling like the statement was really bothering him, and making him genuinely feel less for what was going on. "Okay, I guess that I appreciate the honesty. It hurts, but I guess that I can appreciate you not giving me any bullsh*t anymore." He said, sounding like he was finally just ready to give up on everything now.

"I am sure that you will be over it in due time. You can't be focusing on the negative forever." Josiah said, and then with that, there wasn't much else to be said. It had seemed like both of us were kind of feeling like there hadn't been anything to say anymore.

Then before long, as we were all trying to simply understand what the hell was going on here, there was a loud grinding noise. The noise went through my brain, and to be honest, I really had no idea how in the world I could even f*cking feel here. This was the second time, the first time being the day that I was literally f*cking born, that the grinding noise went off on my birthday.

As I was looking at all three of them, I was seeing that Lydia was getting utterly horrified at what she was hearing. As if she was probably more afraid than anybody else that the grinding noise was going to be leading to her death. Even if it did not lead to it this time, I was feeling like she was utterly convinced that one of these days, it f*cking would, and I felt like in due time, I could be able to see where she had been coming from. But for now, I was wanting her to not think too deeply about what was going on. I wanted her to just try and remain calm, patient, and not get too bogged down by this.

"Lydia, you do not need to worry. I will never let anything happen to you. You are going to stay safe." Robbie Dan said, and the level of conviction that he was giving here was something that he was genuinely believing. And if he was genuinely believing in it, then how in the world was I going to say anything against it? In fact, I was feeling like if he was genuinely feeling this way, then I was going to have to do his best to make it work this way.

"Robbie, do you know anybody else that you go to school with, that cares as much about this as you do?" Josiah asked, and I was seeing Robbie looking like this wasn't really something that he could be able to truly respond to. In fact, I was seeing that Robbie looked like he was really tired of what he was hearing. It seemed like in a strange way, he had almost hoped that the gunshot really did kill him, because at least with killing him, then he would never have to hear it again. He would never have to deal with what the pain here really was.

"Not really. I mean, I have some classmates who had sisters or cousins who went missing. But there is nothing that I can f*cking do about it. They also seem like they are accepting the fact that this is what it is. And to be honest, I kind of get it. I think it is very f*cked up, an beyond wrong… But I sort of see what they are feeling. It's not how I feel at all. But when you deal with this a million times it feels like, you have to accept the fact that there is only so much you can say or do before you just accept that people are broken." Robbie said, and I was seeing that he was trying to look like he was much more willing to accept it than before, but still not enjoy t.

"To be honest, I guess that I can kinda see where they are coming from. I don't agree with this. But I feel like there is only so much you can f*cking do before you just kind of lose touch of what is really in front of you." Josiah said, and he had seemed like he was kind of making his peace as he was hearing this.

"I guess that maybe I just don't get it with the fact that I have a younger sister, and I would never imagine just sort of letting something go like that. I feel like if I even tried to do something like that, I would be sick to my stomach." Josiah said, feeling the need to be honest there.

As we were all looking at each other, I was just feeling like how much I was already dealing with so much sh*t in my life at just four years old. I already had to deal with several murder cases, I barely am even alive in a matter of speaking, and to be honest, the fact that my older brother almost f*cking died was something that really f*cking killed me.

The whole thing really bothered me, and I had no idea how the hell else I could describe the whole situation. I just wish that I could be able to understand how I had already dealt with all this sh*t when I was not even in grade school yet. The whole thing just felt f*cking hard to really understand.

I was just sitting down on my chair, and I was just taking a moment to just look at Josiah, and I was just simply glad to see that my older brother was alive in the first place. Everything else from there would come in time. But for now, I would just look at him, and just love the fact that my brother was here still, and the fact that I could just have a good time with him.

And I was hoping that before too long, Rhett would be able to help me with either more cases, or help me with having a sense of fulfillment once again. To be honest, I was feeling like if Rhett knew what I was really feeling here, he probably wouldn't really care all that much.

He would probably just find my feelings on the matter to be too elementary. He would be telling me that I just needed to f*cking get over it, and not make it any worse. And to be honest, I was sort of seeing where he was coming from. In a way, it was things like this that was making me angry over the fact that I was still a little kid. Still a kid who was having no idea what the hell I could so to get people to see the world different than how they are.

I was also feeling like Rhett was going to get himself killed because he was the only one here who was actually doing the f*cking work to even try and pretend to make Wayside a better place. And there was something that I felt like needed to be acknowledged with that.

But until anybody else was making any effort to do the right thing, and make people see that there was going to be hope here, then I supposed that I was going to have to just ride it out with Rhett. After all, he was a nice guy, and a smart guy, who was literally giving up everything he had. And I felt like as a result of this, he was going to kind of in a way, be my main hero. Although the idea of heroes in Wayside was kind of a funny joke. Like we might try and act like it was possible, but we all knew it wasn't.

Extended Scene 1: 2037, August 22

On my seventeenth birthday, I was sitting down with my friend, feeling like I just needed to try and explain to him what had really been going on in my life. What I had been hiding from him for the last thirteen years. Since I was feeling like they had deserved to know the truth, and that I was being really f*cking awful to him for not telling him what I was doing straight up.

We were at the skating park, and Jesse was smoking a cigarette, and news of President Donald Trump's death had been still going around. He had died three days earlier, at ninety one years of age. I didn't really have much opinion of him, except for the fact that he was the only two term president of my lifetime, and that I was kind of wishing that we would start electing leaders for eight years more often. I had also mentally noted that he was the first president to pass away since Jimmy Carter, ten years ago in 2027, on January 16.

I turned the radio off, not really in the mood to hear it too much longer. I then looked right at Jesse, and I was feeling like I just needed to stop hiding from the bullsh*t, and give him what he had needed to f*cking hear. "Hey Jesse, you know how I told you that I wasn't being exactly forthright with the things that I have been doing on my Saturdays, and that I was feeling kind of bad for lying to you?" I asked Jesse, and I was seeing him looking like he was kind of confused, but also interested, in what I was planning on saying here.

"Oh sh*t… Now you're finally f*cking telling me? Well, okay, hit me up with it." He said, sounding like he was trying to sound like he was ready for this. But deep down, he was kind of scared of what I was going to tell him. After all, I had been holding off on this for a while, and he had every reason to assume that this could bee going down hill very quickly.

"Well, I figured that I'm seventeen now, and I kind of don't want to keep living a bunch of lies for no reason with you anymore. So what I have been doing is that every week, I have been helping Rhett out with looking into all those cases. I also, as a result, meet up with Lars Needlemeyer pretty f*cking often as there is no real other choice here." I said, and I was seeing Jesse looking like this wasn't nearly as shocking as I was making it out to be.

"Yeah, to be honest, I kind of expected that. I had no idea why you were always so f*cking scared to just f*cking say it. But I didn't know about the Lars stuff. What in the world are you thinking when you talk to him? Do you not realize that you are kind of being a bit of a hypocrite in that sense? Talking to me about how much I should not be hanging around him, or whatever, and then you go around, and then you tell me what you have actually been talking to him this whole time." He said, and I was seeing him looking like he was really hoping that I could f*cking get it.

"Look, I am not saying that I am proud of what I am doing. But you do not know Lars like I f*cking do. You do not know the stuff he is willing to f*cking do, and to be honest, I feel like when you do know what he is planning on doing, then you will never be able to f*cking get over it." I said, and I was feeling like I just needed to be honest with him here.

"So I feel like you just need to accept the fact that I am just in general doing what I feel like is the best here." I said, and I was feeling like there wasn't much that I could accomplish here. I knew that I was probably going to push my luck with Jesse by not giving him more info. But for now, I was hardly giving a sh*t at all.

In one living case of Speak of the Devil, and when it came to Lars, I really did think that maybe he really was the devil, I was getting a f*cking call from that asshole. On the burner phone that I only used for calls related to him and Rhett, just in case things ever got to be much worse.

I accepted the call, feeling that maybe Jesse would be slightly less mad if he was seeing me actually f*cking answering his sh*t, and that maybe this was going to be what I would need to do to show him that I was more willing to talk with him about the important things now.

"Hey Lars, how are you today? Yeah, can we maybe hold off on any serious discussions until later, since it is my birthday after all." I said, having speaker phone on, hoping that this was going to be all that he needed. Jesse was remaining silent for now, as if respecting the fact that I needed to be very careful.

"Don't worry, I was mainly calling to tell you happy birthday, and I was planning on letting you know that I understand and accept the fact that you might not want to be too open about what is going on here. You know, since you have some friends and what not. But I was feeling like maybe before the end of summer, I could show you what my next project is going to be." He said, and I had been wondering how exactly he had been planning on accomplishing this.

"What the f*ck do you mean, new project? You just f*cking finished helping Rob finish what his f*cking grandfather was trying to finish. Now you are going around and telling me that you want to do even more?" I asked, referring to the monorail system. Which was promptly named the Magnet Train.

It was a project that had seen three incarnations. Once in 1956, where it had come very close to finishing in 1963, but was destroyed by Sheldon Oswald Lee. After that the project lay dormant for over twenty years, until 1987, when fresh president of Lazarus Corporation Rob Reichenbach decided to renew the project. The murder of Nicole Watterson in early 1993 changed that, and in 2026, the Magnet train project came back, with a complete reconstruction of the monorails as well.

After eleven years, he just finished it last f*cking month. He and Rob poured like a quarter of a billion dollars onto it, and while it was great, I wondered if it'll be worth it. "Well, there was a another project that Rob told me he was having in his blue prints. Something that he set up when I was literally just an infant, but felt like would have been impossible." Lars said, and Jesse whispered to that wondering what it was, which Lars did catch onto that, despite Jesse speaking relatively quietly.

"Okay, I don't know who you're talking with, but you need to come with me alone. This is a very secret project, and should not be brushed off." He said, sounding like he was actually kind of upset at the fact that I was even talking to somebody at the same time this call went in. You know, as if I wouldn't have a f*cking life on my birthday. But whatever, I guess he was going to do his own thing.

"Okay. Fine, I guess I will see what your project is. I don't know if this will actually work out very well." I said, and I was feeling like this was going to go south very f*cking quickly, and I had no idea how the hell I was supposed to f*cking feel about this.

With that, I then hung up the phone, and I was actually kind of genuinely angry at what was going on here. I balled my fist, and I had no clue what the hell I was supposed to even do here. I then felt like I just needed to be straight up with Jesse about what my motives were, and what I was hoping I could be able to accomplish with this meet up.

"Okay Jesse, I will be talking with him for a bit, and I will see what he is wanting me to see so f*cking badly. Then I will tell you what comes up, and you can see if you want to have any part of this project at all." I said, feeling like I just needed to take this for what it was. I could tell that Jesse did not look like he was buying what he was hearing for now. But at the moment, knowing it was the best that he had, he decided that he would go along with it.

"I hope that you are not f*cking lying to me here. I am not really in the mood to deal with bullsh*t right now. In all honesty, I feel like the fact that you are so focused on trying to save face with this guy is only going to make things worse for you." He said, and I was feeling like this was living proof that he had no idea what he was talking about, and what I was having to f*cking deal with. I was feeling like he was just being a bit of a poor sport about it.

"This is a f*cking job that I have to f*cking do, and I am feel like if I let my emotions get in the way, then I am only going to be making things twenty times worse than they already f*cking are. So yeah, I need to do things his way for the time being, and not really press him too much harder." I said, and I really had no f*cking clue what the hell I was going to expect here.

"Fine, do it. Just please actually remember to follow through with your promise. Tell me tomorrow what you f*cking hear, and I might start to trust you a bit more." He said, sounding like he was hoping that I would get the message. I slowly nodded, as if feeling like there was no point in fighting him over this at all. And I had hoped that this wouldn't be too big of a issue.

When Jesse was out of the car, I waited for a moment to make sure he wasn't in the area at all anymore, and then after that, I grabbed one of the cigarettes that he left behind, lit it up, and then started to drive on my way towards where Lars said he wanted to meet me.

I had just hoped hat whatever the hell he was going to f*cking show me, it would be relatively small in the grand scheme of things, and that to be honest, he was not going to be making too much of a deal over it. I honestly had no real clue what else I was even supposed to be feeling here.

It took me nearly fifteen minutes of driving there, and the entire time that I was heading towards the place, I was just choosing to not listen to the radio, as I did not want to hear anymore bullsh*t about what was going on here. To be honest, I was feeling like what whatever those guys wanted to say, I was going to pick up on it later, and that was going to be fine enough for me. And to be honest, I hated the fact that this was even happening in the first place.

Once I was near the destination of where he was waiting for me, I was feeling like the fact that Lars was working on so many different things was going to become a massive f*cking problem with Wayside. The fact that he was trying to basically turn this city into the f*cking next great Cyberpunk city when he was making no f*cking effort to tell me what he had actually been doing.

When he was making no effort to tell me what the hell was going on with labyrinth, even when I was already starting to have a sinking feeling on what the hell this whole thing really was. I was feeling like I wasn't being given the respect that I deserved. The respect that I f*cking earned.

I just felt like if he was really trying to play the high ground game, he needed to be more straight up with me on everything that he was doing. He needed to stop giving me so much f*cking bullsh*t, and stop pretending like he couldn't tell me what he was doing, when I was literally the person that he was working the most with. It felt f*cking disrespectful to have him treat me that way.

Once I was out of the car, I stomped the remaining bit of the cigarette out, and then I was walking towards Lars. I was seeing from the look on his face that he was genuinely really happy to f*cking see me here. I could tell that Lars was genuinely really f*cking proud of the sh*t that he was going to do, and I had to remain at least relatively calm here.

"What the f*ck are you f*cking wanting asshole?" I asked, and I was seeing him looking like he was actually kind of shocked to hear me talk to him that way. I didn't care though, and I was hoping that he would just stick to the point here.

"Well, I thought that you would be more interested in the stuff that I was going to offer you. Since you know, you have always been a great business partner, and I feel like the two of us have hit off rather well. I just need you to give me a f*cking chance here." He said, and then he was pulling out a phone, and I took a deep breath. In all honesty, I had no real desire to see what he was planning on offering me here. But if it would make him shut up, I would do it.

"But yeah, I really did mean it when I said happy birthday. I have known you ever since you were literally a baby, and I was always wondering what type of person you would turn out to be. And to be honest, I have a better connection with you than like half your siblings." He said, and then I was feeling like I just needed to be straight up with him.

"Can you tell me what is f*cking going on with Lydia lately? You said that you would update me on that more often than you have. And you haven't had a conversation with me about her in nearly a f*cking year. Can you please just cut the crap, and tell me what I want to know?" I asked, hoping that he was going to take it for what it was.

I saw that Lars had looked like he was mildly considering what he was hearing. But then he just took a deep breath, and decided that he was going to f*cking take it for what it was. "Okay, if you want to f*cking know more, I will tell you more. But until then, please f*cking listen to me, and hear my idea. Stop bullsh*tting around that, and just take a f*cking moment to hear it." As Lars said that, I was then feeling like there was nothing else to do.

He turned the phone on, and pulled out a picture. When he was showing me the picture, it took a second to really process what he was showing me. I mean, I got what it f*cking was, but I could not wrap my mind around the fact that he was actually trying to f*cking work on this in the first place. I looked right at him, feeling like I just needed to be straight up with him. There was virtually nothing else to lose by telling it to him straight up.

"Why the f*ck are you trying to f*cking recreate a real life version of Cloud City?" I asked, feeling like I just needed to be straight up with that. He looked at me, and I was seeing him looking like he was actually really f*cking pissed off at the fact that this was something that I was talking down upon him over. As if I didn't get it.

"If we do this, then there will be so much industrial progress that is made in our town, that people will have no choice but to put us on the f*cking map even more. People are already seeing that this town is something special. If they see this get made, they will believe that we are going to become the most advanced city in the entire country. Then any business that is being done here will get f*cking doubled." Lars said, and I was kind of seeing the vision of what he was saying, even if I was feeling like there was virtually no chance that something like this was ever going to actually come on through.

"Lars, I kind of respect what you are trying to do. But to be honest, I feel like this whole thing is going to be a f*cking mess. I feel like there is no way in hell that Rob is going to approve of this idea." I said, feeling like there was nothing else to accomplish here. I could see that Lars was having a smile on his face, as if he was proud to prove me wrong.

"We have been talking about it ever since 2023. He and I have just been waiting for the technology to advance enough to where we could work it out. Plus, we wanted to finally finish the magnet train project. You know, since that sh*t has been worked on for nearly seventy years, and we wanted to make sure that this never stopped being recognized." Lars said, and then he was looking up at the tracks, as the Magnet Train drove past us, doing its nightly routine of dropping people off to Motostoke.

"You know, Rob was so proud of see that project get finished. We are still planning on where we are going to put it. But I think that we would want your help with it. We're both getting old, and we both want to make sure that some young people take the project over." He said, and then I laughed as he was telling me that.

"To be honest, I think that Cloud City, if it becomes a real creation, will be what this world will finally need to start to move forward." As he said that to me, I was really having no f*cking clue how the hell I was supposed to feel about this.

To be honest, it was feeling so f*cking off, and I was feeling like I needed to tell him that this idea was going to be beyond dangerous. But sadly, I was feeling like he was not going to listen.

"Okay Lars, how in the world do you think that this is going to work? I mean, how are you even going to be able to get it in the sky. We have nothing like that working just yet. And what if it falls to the ground?" I asked, feeling like this was something that I needed to ask.

"Well, if it breaks apart, not much will be lost. You know where all those various places used to be, you know before the f*cking fire? I think that we might try and bring something there." He said, and I knew exactly what he was referring to. Or at least one of the two options that could be referred to.

"Are you talking about the one that happened in Highton View Terrace in 1981? The one that destroyed that entire section of Wayside, and ever since then it has basically been an empty lot?" I asked, feeling like I just needed to just take that for what it was. He smiled, as if feeling glad that I was picking up on it.

"That place hasn't been used in f*cking fifty six god damn years. There is no reason to be so scared of letting ourselves progress with it. I feel like when we finally move this forward, we can finally let that section of Wayside start to thrive again." He said, and then I had no f*cking clue what in the world I was going to ask next. So I decided to just ask one that was for some reason quite on my mind. Something that for some f*cking reason, I could not get out of my f*cking mind.

"Why in the world did we not start something out there in the last half century? I mean, I feel like sooner or later, we might as well do it, and just move forward with this." I said, feeling like I would just be honest with what I was feeling. He looked down, as if feeling like he could respect what I was saying.

"To be honest Ridge, I am not exactly sure. I feel like Shaun Reichenbach, when he was still alive, was trying to maybe respect the families of those who died. But Rob said that with each passing year, we needed to start to move forward, and start to focus on progress. And I completely f*cking agree with him. Rob has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to these things." He said, feeling like he just needed to be honest with me there.

"And I feel like I agree with that motto. Can't really be heartbroken over a tragedy that has been holding us down for too long. I mean, Cagliostro got completely destroyed a century ago, and barely anybody even mentions it anymore. Nobody f*cking cares about the tragedy that came of that." Lars said, and I will admit, even after all these years, I still did not know much about Cagliostro.

"I need you to try and keep Rhett out of this. You know, I feel like after all of these years, he still suspects that my projects are half the reason that girls go missing so often in this town. I can accept the fact that he has no respect for me at all. But I am tired of his bullsh*t claims that just leave a hole in my stomach every time he makes them." He told me, and I could tell that I needed to finally ask something else to him.

"How is Dylan handling this? I mean, he has been working with you on the Magnet Train and all that car sh*t ever since he was just nine years old. I feel like after this point, he might have something to say." I said, and then Lars smiled, as if picking up on the fact that he would have told Dylan this.

Despite the fact that he was only three years older than me, Dylan was somebody who had a lot on his resume already. Being a f*cking construction worker, and having been doing it since he was less than a f*cking decade old, was really something that had battle hardened him into having a much more serious presentation than anybody else his age ever needed to f*cking do.

"Yeah, I have been talking to him about the project, and he was reacting very much the same way to you. But when I let him talk with Rob for a while, I was able to start to get him to see the bigger picture of what we are trying to accomplish here, and now he understands what I am trying to f*cking do. And I do feel like soon enough, at seventeen years old, you are old enough to be able to f*cking meet Rob Reichenbach himself. After all, you are the only one of your siblings to not meet him at least once." He said, and he was sounding proud of the fact that he was suddenly throwing this sh*t at me. I looked down, and I was feeling like this was not the stuff I wanted to hear. But it was something to keep me going, and I felt like that was enough to keep this going.

"Have you managed to corrupt them all into thinking that what Rob has been doing is the best idea in the world? Or are you just simply showing them to Rob?" I asked, since I was feeling like after nearly two decades of hearing about him non stop, I was going to have to be very careful with what I was feeling.

"Look, Rob has known your father for a long time, and respects your father like he was his own dad. He respects the work and the risk, and the pains that your father has had to endure the last seventy four years. In fact, I would say that maybe he respects the things that your father has done more than you do. But I feel like you are going to have a way to try and act like I am wrong for making that assumption." As I told him this, I could tell that Rob seemed to not be sure.

"I would respect the stuff that my dad does a hell of a lot more if he stopped lying to me about the things that have happened. That is all that I want him to do. I just want him to show a modicum of honesty, and if he f*cking did, then I would be able to respect him, and trust him, so much more than I f*cking have." I said, feeling like I just needed to tell this to him, in that matter, straight up, and not make the matter worse than it already was.

"Have you ever thought that the reason he doesn't tell you more is the fact that you might not have earned it? Maybe he feels like you need to work harder to actually get the information that you want. You know, you might not like to hear that. But I feel like you need to f*cking just accept that there is a good chance that this is true." He said, hoping that the tough love was something that I would be able to f*cking respect more.

"I mean, I guess that is something that has crossed my mind from time to time. But how in the world can one claim that I have not earned it when he is not giving me the chance to f*cking earn it? I feel like the entire sentiment is utter f*cking bullsh*t." I said, feeling like as long as I said this, and showed my point in a concise matter, than I would still be going at this in a way that at least would seem to show respect.

"Now you see it. You see what you need to f*cking do. You need to work on his trust, and then he will tell you more. I will do what I can to help you out here. But until you find that combination that he needs, then I feel like you are kind of f*cking on your own." He said, and then with that, I felt like I needed to ask him a fair question.

"Has dad told you anything that he has done in the past? You know, that you feel like I might deserve to f*cking know." I said, feeling like if I asked him that fair enough, then he might take what I asked, and give me a sincere answer. After all, I was feeling like he might know enough that he could be able to actually give me what I wanted.

"He has. He told me about the time when Sheldon locked him in his car when he was heading towards the mines, and Todd was screaming at him to just let him out. He was saying that he was feeling like he was f*cking useless staying there, not being able to f*cking help out. When Sheldon came back into the car, Sheldon was already a man broken beyond repair, and nothing was going to f*cking be done about this." After Lars told me this, I was then clicking it together.

"Wait a second, how could that be possible? I thought that the mines were destroyed roughly a century ago. Now you are telling me that Sheldon was able to go in the mines even though they should have been destroyed for roughly twenty to twenty five years before that happened?" I asked, feeling like I just needed to kind of put him in that corner.

He looked down, as if he was realizing the corner that I had placed him in. He sighed, as if feeling like I had kind of won that argument. Then with that, he just simply shrugged, as if feeling like he might as well tell me what was going on.

"Look Ridge, there was one that didn't close down. There was something that was being run there for a very f*cking long time, and it was a business that had no right of being here. But that last mine did get emptied out at one point. What are you so worried about this over?" Lars asked, and then I was shaking my head. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

"I just realized that I need to make a call with my friend. I was going to their house later tonight to watch some movies. So just give me a second, and I will be right back." I said, and then I was taking a few steps away so that Lars would not see me.

I texted Rhett, feeling like maybe I would give him some f*cking updates on what I had f*cking know. "Hey dude, one of the mines did not get shut down after all. I heard that it was emptied eventually. Please check it out, and let me know what you see." I sent the text, hoping that this was something that he was willing to do. Then with that, I went back to Lars, and sent a quick one before I had lost my focus.

"Try following the mile markers." I said, and then with that, I was back with Lars, and I felt like I just needed to be honest with him. "Lars, do you know how hard it is to follow all this stuff? You know, you keep telling me various things, and you somehow act like I am not supposed to f*cking notice the fact that the stories are bullsh*t, and then you get upset when I confront you on them? I feel like you are the one who needs to look at yourself in the mirror before you try and judge me here.

"Ridge, I have given you all the answers. You are just not seeing them yet. You are refusing to f*cking see them. And I have no f*cking reason to take any blame in that yet. You need to look at yourself, and see why you are not seeing the picture yet before you judge me." He said, and I was feeling like what Lars was telling me was just a load of bullsh*t to make me feel less about myself here. After all, he was basically telling me that I was stupid, and that I wasn't f*cking getting it. And to be honest, I was hating the fact that he was constantly telling me that, in various ways, over time, and expecting me to be chill with this stuff.

"Okay, I guess that maybe I just don't see or want to see the f*cking picture yet. I mean, maybe it is because of the fact that my brother has been involved in this the whole time, and I really do not want my brother to f*cking be involved in anything that might be dangerous." I said, feeling like I was needing to try and preserve a bit of Todd's good image for myself. I really did not want to think that he was a bad guy, since doing so would kind of break my heart.

"The picture is that you are refusing to f*cking see what is ahead of you, because you are too scared to acknowledge things. I have nothing to do with that, and I feel like the more that you try and brush things off, the more that your siblings might be the ones who suffer as a result of your sh*tty choices." As he said that to me, I was kind of pissed.

I then decided to just take it, and not be making a big f*cking deal out of it. "Maybe you're right. Maybe I want to actually think that my siblings are the good people that I want to envision them as. I mean, what is so bad about actually f*cking thinking that." As I said that, I was then seeing that Lars had looked like he was actually kind of feeling bad here.

"Ridge, maybe you just need to find somebody who will talk to you. Who will f*cking hear your issues, and see if they will f*cking help you. I do not know how I will be able to help you much. I know that what I am saying sounds a bit unproductive. But it is what it f*cking is." Lars was telling me, and he was sounding like he was trying for once to be helpful.

"Look, I am not here for your sympathy. And to be honest, I still feel like the fact that Lydia is such a f*cking fan of you, when you barely seem like the man with the bright future that she claims you to be, is something that I am having a hard f*cking time looking past." I told him, and I was feeling like I was pressing the grounds really rough here.

"You might not be here for my sympathy, but I think you probably need it much more than you are making it out to be. I think I have maybe had one conversation with you that wasn't at least some kind of confrontational. At least lately that is. Even when you were a little kid, you were always having some f*cking issues with me, and the whole thing is a god damn mess." He said, and I was seeing him looking like he had hoped that I would drop it.

"Yeah, I will admit that I am sort of sorry about that. You know, because of the fact that I have been kind of ruining the chances of us ever really getting along all because I have a degree of pride that I can never f*cking hide." He said to me, and I could tell that he had hoped that we would get the bigger picture here. I then just looked up, feeling no need to rush things.

"No, I would say that your brothers putting their sh*tty influence on you is the thing that is making you have a hard time getting along with me. And I guess that is something that I do accept. But have you ever thought that maybe you need to f*cking look out for yourself? That you need to make your own choices, and not have anybody else tell you the way that you are supposed to f*cking feel? You're a seventeen year old young man, you do not need to let what your ten siblings tell you change what you think of me." Lars said, and I was feeling like we all needed to f*cking back off with the comments. But despite what I was telling myself, for some reason, I was feeling the need to just say something.

"Fine, but you are forgetting that I am only letting nine of my siblings affect my opinion. Lydia was always a real fan of you, and with what happened, I feel like that is something that I can't really make much of a scene out of it." I said, and I was seeing Lars looking down, as if he had wanted to say something about what he always said was his favorite child, and how to get me to change my mind on the matter.

"Look, why is it that you always bring Lydia up when you are trying to make me feel worse about what I am dealing with? It feels like Lydia is you go to option every f*cking time." Lars said, sounding like his patience was at its limit.

"Because me bringing Lydia up is the only f*cking way I can get you to actually respect me when it comes to talking. I know that the only way that you will actually take me seriously is when you talk about Lydia, and everything she went through." I said, thinking also of her three main friends.

"I mean, I still feel awful about the fact that within a year, all three of her best friends, Claire, Ruby, and Lily, all went missing. I mean, they were only fourteen years old, and they were taken off in three consecutive cases. The whole thing is so f*cked up." I said, and I still had a feeling that Lars might have actually known what was going on there.

"Well, I think you and I both know that this sh*t is all just a part of life and the way that things are here. You just kind of accept these things for the way that they were, and you stop being so f*cking upset at how life had been." As he said that to me, I was feeling like this was all just a load of bullsh*t. He was just saying that to make me feel like there was a way out of this tunnel that didn't make me feel any level of hatred at all.

"Are you saying this from experience? Did something happen that made you just stop being angry at how this was all going?" I asked, and I was feeling like this was a question that I had needed to get him to finally be open with me on.

"Yes, I am saying this from experience. My first girlfriend when I was in high school as somebody that was very f*cking special to me. When she went missing when she was your age, I was so f*cking angry at the world. I was so f*cking angry at my dad for not telling me what I wanted to hear. But in due time, I just kind of grew to accept the fact that this was all a part of the bigger puzzle that I needed to follow.

"Once you have something like that happen, you stop having any feeling of caring at all. You just kind of f*cking let this happen, and you stop thinking about how much people f*cking hate you. With each passing year, you just let your own pathos take over, and you stop caring if people hate you or not." Lars said, and I felt like that was true enough.

"I care if people hate me or not because I feel like when people do, a lot of the time, it is honestly f*cking unjustified, and just there to support a agenda. Simple as that. A agenda that I feel like is only there to make people in this town think that I am not putting in the effort or the time to make things right." He said, sounding like he had hoped that I would take what he was saying, and run with it.

"Well, Ridge, you know how I feel now, and you know what the city plan is. I am going to leave you alone about it for the rest of the day. Enjoy the rest of your birthday off." Lars said, leaving me there, and making me wonder what the hell I was even supposed to f*cking think here.

When Lars was leaving with his car, I was wondering how much I needed to tone down my judgement, and stop being so hard on the man. After all, I was feeling like whatever the hell Lars was thinking about me was going to be a bridge we would cross when we f*cking got there.

I then called Rhett again, hoping that he would take my f*cking clue about the f*cking mine. When he answered, he seemed like he was annoyed at the fact that I was still trying to talk to him about the f*cking mines when he was probably already in the middle of a case.

"Look Ridge, why are you trying to talk to me about the f*cking mines lately? You and I both know that there is nothing left in there. I told you about that myself." Rhett said, sounding like he was really bothered by what I was doing.

"You said you looked in the ones that were still very close to the entrance of the forest. I feel like maybe if you just looked at what I am telling you, then you might find something that you are missing out on. Just give it a f*cking chance, and you might find something else." I said, feeling like telling him this was the best thing that I could do to get him to shut up.

"Just look at the ones that are deeper in the forest, see if there is any amount of truth to what I am saying, and I promise after a certain amount of time, you will see that I am f*cking right here." I told him, and I had hoped that he was going to take it and not make it any worse.

"Ridge, what if you are wrong, and there is literally nothing that can be f*cking found thee. Will you still try and create this narrative here? Or are you going to accept the fact that the answer is f*cking no?" He asked, and I was feeling like he was really just trying to piss me off here.

"Yes, I will. But there are still other things that I want to talk to you about, that maybe you need to f*cking hear? Lars is literally planning on building a f*cking like Cloud City above this town. As a way to create a new base of operations for the sh*t that he is doing. I feel like there is a really good chance that he might actually pull through with this." I said, feeling like this was all that I needed to say to get him to see the bigger picture here.

"Oh sh*t. Okay, that's very interesting to f*cking hear. I might try and f*cking see if I can look into this. Will you promise me that if I do this, you will not press it? Just let me look into this, and see what I might f*cking find, without you making a issue out of this." Rhett told me, and I was feeling like I had no real choice but to do with this.

"Fine, you f*cking win. Just please try and look into it. It doesn't have to be tonight, but soon. You know, before the project becomes too public knowledge." I said, and I was feeling like I was a useless piece of sh*t as I was saying this.

"Thank you. Ridge, you have no idea how much it makes me feel so much better about what is going on. I don't want you following the same bullsh*t antics that your brothers do, and I feel like you are kind of only making this worse for yourself." He said, sounding like the sense of relief was something he was willing to just show. I was glad to see that at the end of the day, the two of us were finally coming together, and putting aside any strain on the matter.

When I was about to head home that night, I was getting out of my car when I heard something happening in my house garage. I decided to check out what the hell was even f*cking happening, and when I opened the door, with the gun that Lars gave me a while ago, I was finding myself utterly shocked at what I saw.

I was seeing a blue hedgehog create with white gloves on each of their hand, and a air of shoes. They had been looking like a otherwise normal person, if it weren't for the fact that they were literally a f*cking animal who was able to f*cking walk around. I was pointing my gun at them, wondering what I was going to have to say or do if this escalated any further than it had.

"What the f*ck are you?" I asked, feeling like I just needed to be straight up about what was happening here. The hedgehog creature, with green eyes and a white chest holding up their hands, and looking like they were hoping that I would tone it down.

"Look, I don't want to make things harder for you guys here, but my name is Sonic. I accidentally came to this world, and I am just simply trying to get out of it. I promise that do not plan on staying for too long, and I am sorry that I landed here in the first place." He said, hoping that we would accept the apology. I was shaking my head, feeling like this was a really f*cking dumb idea.

"Well Sonic where did you f*cking come from? Are you from the Digital World?" I asked, hoping that by showing him that I knew what this was, he would be able to f*cking tell me what he was doing, and why he was trying so f*cking hard to hide what was going on here.

"You know of the Digital World? I thought that people in this world were relatively unaware of it. That is what I heard from the legends." Sonic said, picking up a older 2028 trophy that Jack got from basketball when he was around my age. I was placing my gun down, as if to try and get him to f*cking stop what he was doing since he was not allowed to touch my families sh*t without any permission.

"Well, most people don't. But a situation over fifty years ago in our town caused Wayside to have to know more about it. Look, if you need to get out of here, then just tell me why you haven't done it yet." After I said that, I had hoped that by telling him this, he was going to give me a bit of a straight forward answer for once. I was looking behind me to make sure that dad didn't notice.

"Well, I lost my f*cking rings, and I need to find them before I can go back to my original home. I remember hearing something on the news in that building over there…" Sonic said, pointing to my f*cking dads house. I then looked at him, as if thinking that this was absolutely insane that he was watching my parents television.

"I saw that one of them was located in Green Hills Montana. And I need to get there and find it if I am going to have any chance of returning home." Sonic said, and I was feeling like what he was suggesting to me was rather f*cking random. I was then shaking my head.

"No way in hell can I f*cking go to Montana. This is a f*cking terrible idea. Look, I can maybe be able to f*cking help you find somebody who can help you. But aside from that, you will have to be on your own." I said, and then Sonic was shaking his head.

"Look, when I was in the other world, I used to have this power of being able to run really fast. Now when I was sent here, I lost some of my powers, and I can't just run there. And the only person that saw me here thought I was a monster. You at least have been talking to me, and that is enough for me to want to have you help me out." Sonic told me, and then I was rubbing my eyes, feeling like I was having no real choice on the matter on what to f*cking do here.

"Look, I have no promise that I will be able to f*cking help you out here. I mean, I guess that I can find somebody who is willing to f*cking drive you down. But that might be the most that I can f*cking do. Sorry about that." I said, feeling like I just needed to be honest with him as I said this.

"I mean, I go to school again in a little over two weeks. So I guess I have nothing going on here. But to be honest, I feel like if I tell my parents that I am going to be f*cking driving to Montana, then they would be f*cking livid at me, and they would be thinking that I was a f*cking idiot or leaving them behind here. But honestly, I am not sure how much that matters." I said, and I was seeing Sonic looking like he was glad to finally see that I was at least talking to him here.

"Is there something here that is holding you back?" He asked, and I had no idea how the hell I was supposed to explain to him that being seventeen years old was just barely below legal age to get a hotel in most of this country, and if I had to miss school, then I feel like my mom and dad would be furious with me. Like I could believe that they would understand that Sonic was real, but I didn't know if they would be fine with me helping them out.

"Well, my dad is really old, and I know that he might be passing away soon, and I want to f*cking be there for him when he does." I said, feeling like this was fair enough to Sonic, if he would understand the concept of age and life expectancy.

But even beyond that, I had no idea how much age really mattered in this town. Lars was fifty one years old and hasn't aged a f*cking day since I was born. Dad was eighty seven and looked like the same age he used to be when he was starting his time as mayor of Wayside. It was shocking how many men in Wayside were in their eighties, nineties, or even in their early hundreds, and looked like they were barely a minute past forty. Dad's twin brother Brad, the one time I saw him, was also like dad with being eighty seven and looking thirty seven.

"It'll only be for a couple of days. Just take me to Green Hills, and then I will leave you alone, and you will never have to see me again." Sonic said, and then with that, I was thinking that maybe Rhett would be willing to f*cking help us out. After all, Rhett did mention something about a case that he needed to do in Montana, so I was feeling that I could get him to maybe drive Sonic there as well.

I pulled out my phone, and I called Rhett up. "Hey Rhett, I was wondering if you would be able to do me a favor. After all, you were saying that you were planning on going to Montana anyways. And something came up that might make me have to f*cking go there." I said, hoping he would take the hint, and not try and tell me off despite how silly this whole thing was.

"What the f*ck are you needing to be in Montana for?" Rhett asked, feeling slightly confused at where this was going to go. "Have you talked with Todd Sr. about this? I mean, if he hears that you are going to be leaving Wayside for an extended period of time like this, then he might be a bit concerned for you." Rhett said, and I was hardly f*cking caring at all.

"Well, you remember the Digimon and everything? Well, one of them might be at my house, and I am going to see if I can help it come back home. I know that it sounds a bit strange. But I feel like this is something that I need to f*cking do." I said, feeling the need to be honest with him as I said that.

"Okay, I guess that I can see what I can f*cking do. Doesn't mean that I think this is a smart or good idea." Rhett said, and I could tell from the tone of his voice that he was very on edge this entire time. But I was hardly giving a single sh*t. I was feeling like I just needed to take it one step at a time, and make him see that this was something that was extremely important.

"Okay, how about next weekend we can do this? I mean, you are celebrating your birthday right now, and we will need some time to set up for this trip. It's two days to get there, two days to get back, and then that's not even f*cking including how much time it will take for you to actually find what you need to do to get the Digimon home. And that is not even including how long it will take me to finish my f*cking case." He said, and I was feeling like we could be able to accomplish both.

"Cool. See you next Saturday, and we can f*cking start our trip over there. I will tell my siblings and my friends and family that I will be gone for a while." I said, feeling like I just needed to take this for what it was. And before I hung up, Rhett called me out again.

"Please don't let this get in the way of your studies or your cases. The only reason I agreed to this in the first place is because you reminded me of the case I was working on in Montana, and the fact that I might as well knock both birds out with one stone." He said, sounding like he was mildly annoyed with what was happening. I accepted what he said, and then I f*cking hung up, ready to just move this along.

"Okay, all you need to do is just hold up and don't do anything that will get you in trouble for one week, and you will be fine. We will take you over there, and we will find your f*cking ring or rings. Just give us some f*cking time, and that is all we f*cking need." I said, hoping that by telling him this, I was going to be able to get him to see that this was a good idea.

Sonic looked like he was mildly pissed off at the fact that I was even suggesting him to wait a week. But at the same time, I was seeing him looking like he was willing to accept this and not press it any further. "Fine, go ahead and take your time. But I want to get home as fast as I can. I don't want to wait around any longer." He said, and I could tell that my relationship with Sonic was going to be an extremely strained one. And I had no clue how the hell this would work out.

"We just need you to be patient for a bit, and we will make it work." I said, feeling like by telling him this, and getting him to see that I wasn't trying to brush him off, he would be able to f*cking see that I was actually listening to him here. "Sonic, I barely know you, but I do know what it is like to feel like you are in a bad area, and I guess that I can do my best to make sure that it doesn't get any worse." With that, I was feeling like my seventeenth year was already going to be an extremely interesting one, and I had no real clue how the hell I was supposed to feel about this.

There was one other thing that I felt like I needed to talk to somebody about. One other thing that had been bothering me a lot, and I genuinely felt like I had no f*cking choice but to just f*cking talk about, and see what the hell this person would be able to tell me. I called Dylan up, feeling like I needed to know a couple of things. One being if he was actually working on the Cloud City project, or knew that it even f*cking existed in the first place. And then the second thing would be to f*cking try and get him to stop going through with this idea, since the idea was having a very good chance of going to put him in the grave eventually.

When Dylan answered the call, I would tell that he was very positive and happy. Mainly because he was unaware of the f*cking sh*t that I was going to tell him. Unaware of the fact that I was going to be making it very clear to him that I was not happy with what he was doing, and that I was going to basically make him f*cking open up and own up to everything that was happening.

"Hey Dylan, I was wanting to talk to you about the f*cking job you had with Lars. I feel like after all this time, I have been putting this off for way too f*cking long, and I can't f*cking hide it anymore." I said, feeling like there was no point in hiding what I was feeling. When I said this, I could hear Rhett suddenly get dead silent. As if he was feeling like the way that I was talking to him was really hard to accept.

"Look Ridge, why the f*ck do you care what I am doing? I have a f*cking job, and I feel like that is the best thing that I can f*cking do here. Can you please just try and take it easy on me?" After he asked me that, I was shaking my head. To be honest, I was unable to f*cking do that, and I hoped that he would see that I was not going to be taking no for an answer.

"I care because your my brother, and Lars was telling me of a f*cking project that he was working on, and I feel like it might be too much of a danger for you to work with it." I said, feeling like I just needed to be honest with him here. I needed him to f*cking calm down, and see that I did want to help him.

"I thought that you would be happy with me having a f*cking job here. I have people who support me, and who think that the work I am doing is good. Why is what Lars planning on asking me to do something of a f*cking issue to you?" He asked, as if he was thinking that I was just not taking this seriously at all, or that I might have been jealous of him here.

"I am f*cking happy that you are working. I am f*cking happy that you are doing your best to get a source of income. I just feel like maybe you should find something else to do. Something that can get the same point across, but do it in a way that doesn't put you in any more danger." I said, feeling like I needed to just try and get him to see that this was a sign of love, and not hate.

"Look Ridge, you have seen how much he has brought this city forward in his life. He has made this a great place to live again. Everything that he has done has been done for the better of the people who live here. Surely you have to f*cking see that." He said, sounding like he had hoped that I would hear what he was saying.

"But Lars has been mainly doing it because he has been able to get funding from Rob. You know, the leader of the most dangerous company in the entire town. Or could be the most dangerous company in the entire town. And yet nobody seems to f*cking think that maybe because of that, the stuff that Lars has been doing is rather immoral. I feel like that is something that needs to be looked at." I told him, hoping that he would be bale to f*cking get it.

He looked as if he was still slightly unsure of how the hell he even wanted to f*cking react to this. "Look, I met Rob once or twice, and even if he is somebody that can easily stump you, and put you down, he is still a man who has actually made a f*cking difference here. Rob has been doing this for fifty years. I feel like if what he was doing was wrong, sooner or later, somebody would make him leave the company." Dylan told me, and I was seeing him looking like he was done with it.

"But with fifty years of doing this, he will be able to eventually force people to do his own bidding, and not actually f*cking even remotely suspect him of doing something wrong. He has had half a century to put people in his pocket. Look, I just feel like Cloud City is a terrible idea, and that you should think before you push further with it." As I finished this, I was wondering if I was letting my bias through, or if I was being sincere here. Or maybe a little bit of both.

"Dad has said that Rob is a decent and upstanding man who hasn't done anything wrong lately. Look, can we just not have this discussion right now? I have a project that I am working on right now that required my upmost attention here." Dylan told me, and I was very upset at the fact that he was acting this way right now.

"Of course he would say that about dad when he basically works for the f*cking man. Of course he would put the man who agrees to turn the other way with his sh*t to a higher standard. I mean, I like dad a lot, but I feel like you need to find somebody else to endorse him to actually make me believe that he is a good man." I said, since while I personally liked dad, I was feeling like from a work level, he was absolutely not the man we needed him to be.

"Ridge, happy birthday. Sorry I forgot to say that earlier. Just try and stay safe while you do the things you are doing. I mean, I feel like you are old enough to make your own choices. But that doesn't mean that I feel like the choices are f*cking smart." Dylan said, and I was looking at the shack, and I was wondering how I was going to keep this secret up for an entire week without having everybody figure out that I was hiding sh*t.

"I guess that I need to extend the same feeling to you. You know, since you are twenty years old, and have been out of high school for a couple of years." I said, feeling like I just needed to be fair to him. I really did not want to make things too much worse for everybody else.

"Look Ridge, I feel like at this point in time you just need to accept what happened. It was so many years ago now that I feel like you are just making it worse by trying to make a deal out of it. I feel like you need to maybe find something else to take your frustration out on." He said, and I was feeling like this was the last thing that I really wanted to f*cking hear at all.

"Would Todd want that? Would Robbie Dan want?" I asked, feeling like maybe by saying that, I would get him to see where I was f*cking coming from. Dylan just sighed in annoyance as I was saying this, as if feeling pressured. Then he just simply told me good night, and told me that I needed to f*cking be safe, and barely gave me anything else. I was so annoyed with the fact that he was just ignoring me, but at the same time, I was feeling the need to respect where he was coming from.

When I hung up with Dylan, I went to my bed, and crashed for the night. I was tired, and annoyed, and ready for sleep, and feeling like I was done with being treated like I was a f*cking idiot who did not understand what he was dealing with. I felt like I was just sort of on a trek to having everybody telling me something, and then something else happening.

As messed up as it was, because he was literally a f*cking blue living hedgehog, I was trusting Sonic the most out of everybody and everything here. At least with Sonic, I was feeling like to a certain degree, he was at least trying to be genuine with me here. And I was feeling like there was no reason for him to be lying to me when he was trying to find their way back home.

Longest Novel Fall of the Republic Remaster - Chapter 2 - MorganKingsley (2024)
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