Hey nerds! Guess what, I wrote a fanfiction, and Adina is editing the grammar and stuff so it isn’t so awful. I’m calling it “In the Shadows”, because I made that title up just now, and you can read chapter 1 by clicking on the “Continue Reading” button. I’ll paste the summary below.
(Author’s notes will be at the end of each chapter.) The sequel to Lies is here! Mr. Whittaker’s death leaves behind a will and a mysterious briefcase. Thus the mystery begins, and Richard Maxwell is in the center of it, with Eugene along for the ride. How does it all end? What’s the briefcase got to do with anything? Well that’s why you’re going to read the story so have fun 🙂
Eugene wiped his slick hands on his jeans and gripped his opponent’s hand. How had he gotten himself talked into this?
“You can do this Eugene!” The supporter in his corner, Connie Kendall, cheered him from his left.
“Ready…” Matthew, playing referee, raised his hand.
Eugene locked eyes with Jason, who was sitting across from him. “Please refrain from fracturing my appendages…”
“GO!” Matthew slammed his fist down onto the counter, and the game began. Of the five customers that dined on ice cream by the counter, only one was curious enough to watch.
Eugene tried to form a strategy, but Jason’s strong arm squashed his opposition. The game was over before it began, Eugene found his arm twisted and pinned to the table.
“I win!” Shouted Jason, releasing Eugene and throwing his arms up in the air. He tipped back in his chair, Matthew grabbed the back of it to keep it from falling over, and he held it until Jason leaned forward again.
“Great job, Jason,” Connie grinned slyly, “You just won against a boy, a woman, and now Eugene.”
Looking up at Connie, Eugene rubbed the hand that Jason had practically crushed in his excitement. “Are you insinuating something, Miss Kendall?”
Smiling wider, Connie replied, “Who, me?”
“I take it everyone’s done?” Jason jumped out of his chair without waiting for an answer, “I have to be at the antiques shop anyway. Thanks for the shake!” He swept the chocolate milkshake off the table, saluted with the styrofoam cup, and was out the door.
Matthew slipped his phone out of his pocket as it buzzed. “Gotta go too. Thanks for the game, guys.” He began furiously texting as he briskly thumped out of the building, throwing a wave in their general direction before he closed the front door.
Eugene leaned back in his chair. “I find that what little intellectual stimulation I had is now gone.”
Connie put her hands to her hips, trying to be offended. “Aren’t I ‘intellectually stimulating?”
“Miss Kendall, I find that your stimulation of my intellect has the capacity of something more like… green gelatin. I note that you are wearing your green sweater and leggings again.”
“Ugh. Gee,thanks,” Connie drummed her fingers on the table, “It’s too slow today,” she complained.
Eugene slipped his phone out of his pocket while she griped. No texts. “Customers?”
Connie made a show of looking for them. “None.”
“I find that a gross understatement.” There were five customers in the booths. He’d teach her how to count one day.
“It’s less gross than it was a second ago,” Connie replied, watching a young daughter and her mother leave the building. Nice choice of color, kid, love the green dress. Tempted to stick her tongue out at Eugene, Connie rested her jaw onto her fist.
“Are the dishes in need of cleansing?” Eugene listlessly poked the purple bruise on his arm. It was a very good poking size, the result of yanking on a stuck screwdriver a little too hard.
“Nope,” She reached over and flicked his hand. “Don’t poke your bruise.”
Eugene waved her away and stood up, chair screeching on the clean tile floor. “I think I shall go see what Mr. Whittaker is up to. Perhaps he is doing something mentally stimulating .”
“He’s probably paying the phone bill, Eugene.”
Ignoring her, Eugene began to make for the stairs. Seeing he was actually serious, Connie clicked her tongue and began to walk to the soda counter. She wished that Jules was done with school. It would make things more interesting to have someone relatable to talk to.
Eugene sprinted up the stairs, just touching the railing to help keep his balance, the polished wood smooth as it passed under his three fingers. At the top, he grabbed the round decorative railing cap and swung himself to the left, making the cap a little looser in the process.
Whit’s office sat at the end of the little hall, in the corner room. The hall was in a shadow, for Eugene had forgotten to replace the light bulb when Mr. Whittaker asked him to. Avoid being irresponsible in the future. He stuck out his middle knuckle and tapped on the oak door. Hopefully Whit was in the secret computer room, which would mean stimulation and possibly entertainment.
“Mr. Whittaker?” Eugene knocked loudly this time, even putting an ear to the door in case Whit’s voice was muffled by it’s thickness.
No answer. Hopefully Whit hadn’t fallen asleep on his desk again, as he tended to do more and more frequently. Eugene pushed open the door.
The three picture windows in the office illuminated the room, the sunlight streaming down onto the form of Mr. Whittaker, who had indeed fallen asleep on his desk again. His white hair seemed to glow, a result caused by subsurface scattering of the light. His head was on the desk, and his pen loosely clutched in his right hand.
Eugene switched off the old, dim overhead light as he walked in- a waste of electricity. He crept towards Mr. Whittaker, half tripping on the thick red-tasseled floor rug.
“Mr. Whittaker,” Touching the old desk, Eugene leaned forward, “Mr. Whittaker, you really shouldn’t slumber on your documents.”
He was still unresponsive. Eugene put his hand on Mr Whittaker’s wrist, pressing with two fingers. Subconsciously, Eugene was thinking the unthinkable. There was no pulse. The harsh reality of death was like a slap in the face. It had come- Eugene knew it would. Now, what to do about it? He stood by in stunned silence, as the golden sunbeams illuminated the dust floating through the air. The room suddenly had a different feeling, eerie, almost.
Inform someone, immediately. He couldn’t just stand there. And yet he knew that he would never get a chance alone with Mr. Whittaker again, dead or alive.
Tears sprang to Eugene’s eyes as he stared at the picture-perfect scene, realizing how small-minded he was. Of course he would see Mr. Whittaker again. Heaven welcomed Mr. Whittaker already into the presence of God. This was not the end.
Turning around, Eugene slowly walked out of the office, pushing his emotions away. There was nothing worse than what he privately called ‘The Connie Complex’, a bad case of drama and self-pity. He had it a few times, but generally avoided all such contact with the human tendencies of emotion.
Each step down the stairs made his feet feel more and more like lead weights. He made the resolve to help with all affairs as best as his organized being would allow him- and it started with informing Jason.
Wiping his eyes on his starched white sleeve, Eugene dragged himself to the soda counter. To his relief, Connie was in the kitchen. He picked up the cordless phone, wiped his eyes again, and dialed the antiques shop.
It began to ring. As Eugene glanced around, it suddenly felt like there were a lot of customers, for he knew that he would have to ask them all to leave. Yes, a good plan of action. Jason would come right over, and he would help sort out the immediate details. Pick up the phone, Jason.
“Hello, this is Triple J antiques, Jason speaking.”
“Jason-I-” Suddenly, all the diplomatic words left Eugene’s memory, he didn’t know what to say.
Jason didn’t seem to notice. “Hey, Eugene! Did I leave my pocketknife there again?”
Eugene glanced up at table 6, where they had been arm wrestling. How had he missed the black Benchmade knife sitting on the corner of the table? ” I need you to return post-haste!”
“Did I leave something else?”
Eugene snorted, almost angry at Jason for not understanding his frustration at the difficulty to say simple words. “No, Jason, your father is dead!” There, he had said it in a coherent sentence.
The harsh sound of a breaking plate met Eugene’s ear, making him whirl around. Connie stood halfway through the kitchen door, a dishrag still in her right hand. So much for tact.
“WHAT?” Jason nearly blew Eugene’s other ear out, and promptly hung up the phone. Eugene put his own end down on the marble counter, not bothering to hang it up, and grabbed Connie’s shoulders to keep her from swooning. If she fell, she would end up like that dish.
“Whit’s…dead?” She croaked, looking into Eugene’s eyes, begging for him to say it was a cruel joke. He slowly nodded, a lump rising in his throat.
Connie burst into tears, and all Eugene could do was hug her and let her cry into his chest, just like Whit had done for her when her mother had died.
“…And so I conclude with the following statement. Mr. Whittaker, predestined and chosen by the will of God to come to Christ, like all true Christians are, as it says in the book of Ephesians, found new life through the light of the gospel. He then shared that gospel with everyone that he knew, and has now impacted the lives of all of you here, and many others as well.” Eugene bowed his head, leaning closer to the microphone that was a foot shorter than his height. He was actually going to make it through his speech. “I was one of the many with whom he shared that gospel, and I now have confidence that I shall see Mr. Whittaker again in the presence of God. I believe that his legacy will continue through the lives he has touched here on Earth. Thank you very much for your attendance and support during this difficult time.”
He scooped up his little stack of papers off the pulpit, as the next speaker was already mounting the wooden stage.
So many people had come. Eugene looked out over the crowd sitting in the white folding chairs borrowed from Dreams By Constance.
“Thanks, Eugene, that was great.” Jason whispered, and patted Eugene on the back. Jason looked incredibly tired, the past few days had been a whirlwind for him to plan this funeral.
“You are most welcome.” Eugene moved on, out of the giant tent that served as the funeral building and into the sunlight. The tent had been a last-minute change, for the church wasn’t able to hold all nine-hundred people that came to the funeral.
Nine hundred. Eugene wiped the tears from his eyes with his black tuxedo sleeve. John Whittaker had touched so many lives.
He strolled through the grass over to the back door of the church, noticing the dark clouds on the horizon. Spring rains were coming. The weather forecast had said that next week was supposed to be nothing but showers. Pulling open the door, he walked to the empty auditorium, and sat down in the front row of the church. He contemplated in the silence as he stared at the decoration on Whit’s coffin, there on the steps of the stage. The funeral was taking place outside, but people had been in an out of the auditorium to pay their respects. What will take place, now that Mr. Whittaker is gone?
“Hey, Houston.” Richard poked his head through the side door of the building, giving a small wave.
“Hello, Richard.” Eugene glanced in Richard’s direction. Taking that as a good sign, Richard awkwardly began to tiptoe inside.
“There is no grounded reality in the phrase, ‘waking the dead’, Richard.”
“Aha.” Richard grinned and walked normally, planting himself in the seat next to Eugene. A ferocious silence reigned in the empty building, one that Richard sought to destroy. “Buck was coming but I lost him and your wife to Wooton.”
“What is Wooton doing?”
Richard slapped his knee. “Giving his speech. You wouldn’t believe how morose he is one second and then looking on the bright side the next.”
Eugene sighed loudly. “I suppose they can pay their respects later.” He leaned back in his chair, the metal legs creaking loudly as he moved. “I am unsure about how this will end.”
“The reading of the will is tomorrow, you know.”
“Hm,” Eugene grunted, “Perhaps that will provide some clarity as to what the future holds.” Why would Richard even care, he wondered.
Richard stared at the stage. Nice coffin. He scratched his knee, thinking about everything that had happened to him in the past few years. He had to hope that at least someone would care enough about his own death to throw him- even if not a funeral, a day of sad feelings. He knew that all those people out there, Eugene, Katrina, Wooton, and Jason, they all believed that Mr. Whittaker was in a better place. And they probably all think I’m going to hell, too. “Ha!” he said aloud.
“What?” Eugene turned toward him, startled.
Shoot. “Nothing, man, nothing.” Richard waved him away. This was already a psychological battle, and it was getting worse with Whit’s untimely death. I swear, I’m in for it now.
“Hey, Mr. Eugene?” Buck cautiously opened the side door, “Jason sent me to tell you that the funeral procession starts in a half-hour and he needs your help to keep everything organized.”
Groaning, Eugene got out of the chair. Mathematically speaking, this was going to be a tough job. “Can I avail myself of your help, Richard?”
Aw great, organizational skills? Richard grinned, I can’t even keep my own life straight. “Sure, Houston, you have called upon the perfect man for the job.”
“I am a millionare…” Jason gasped, putting a hand to his forehead. “H-o-o-oly cow.”
He was standing next to Connie and Eugene in the closed-down, empty building of Whit’s End, about an hour after the reading of the will.
“You keep mentioning that, Jason.” Connie swallowed hard, looking around at her new possession, Whit’s End. “I can’t do this!” Tears began to pour down her cheeks for the third time that morning.
“Wait-” Jason put out a hand as if to stop her. “What do you mean, Connie? Please don’t cry again.” His shoulders sagged, seeing her cry weighted him down as well.
“I-” Connie sniffed and blubbered, trying to get herself under control, “I don’t-” She wiped her eyes, “I don’t know the first thing about handling a business.” Her voice shook as she hurriedly tried to pull a tissue from her purse.
“Uh-huh,” Jason put his hands on his hips and glanced around the familiar wooden room, noticing the red diner booths needed some cleaning. “Listen, Connie, you know I would like to help. I’m swallowed in work as it is with the antiques shop, and now I’ve been willed the house, which I’ll have to fix up regardless of whether or not I sell it. This is why you have Eugene, right?”
“Pardon?” Eugene snapped his distant gaze from the floor to Jason. “My name was spoken, correct?”
Jason patted Connie’s shoulder. “Give him a raise, Connie, it’ll be worth it.” He tromped upstairs to his father’s old office.
“Eugene,” Connie said, watching Jason hike up the stairs, “You’re going to help run Whit’s End.”
Eugene took a step back. “Miss Kendall, I-”
“Don’t you know how to order stuff?” Connie folded her arms.
“You know how to fix the inventions, right?”
“Miss Kendall, I cannot-”
Connie threw her hands in the air. “You know how to do all the stuff Whit could do!”
“I cannot take his place!” Realizing he shouted, Eugene turned red in the face. “I’m sorry Miss Kendall- Connie, I-” He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I can’t even begin to consider the possibility at the moment, I’m afraid.”
“You know it’s what Whit would have wanted. That’s why he willed what he did.” At that moment Connie wondered if she was being too callous. Was it too soon? Was her one moment of real initiative inappropriate at the time? She dug out another tissue to wipe her nose with, watching Eugene with conflicted feelings.
Eugene looked away from Connie’s gaze. “If you’ll excuse me, Miss Kendall.” He rose and headed upstairs.
As she dug out yet another tissue to wipe her red eyes, Connie decided that she may have been a lot of things, but callous was not one of them.
I have a note in my notebook with the original story, because Whit dies on the 4th page, it says, “Whit dies and only 4 pages in. Making good time so far!”
LOL we are so Calvinist, for Eugene’s funeral speech that’s all I have as a note to Adina for editing, “Make it more Calvinist”.
You all know it’s still going to end up ridiculous. You’ll have to read the last story if you want to find out why Richard is back and stuff. I’m just waiting for when we put in explosions. And missiles and machine guns and maybe even and an atomic bomb.
And for the next chapter I’m going to put it in the category of “In the Shadows” so you can find them all.