Chapter Twe
Epilogue: Healing

Things moved pretty fast for me after my phone call from Skyler. Before I had a chance to tell anyone, they already knew that he'd called and about his offer. Before I was released from the hospital two days later I'd been visited privately by everyone from Shirley to Wendy. Wendy, Nick and Ben expressed their jealousy, but they were each happy for me that I'd be getting away from Storyville for a while. I told each of them that I was thinking of moving to Orlando permanently, but none of them really believed I would do it.

Tyler and Brian were the only ones who believed it, because they were also planning to move there. Tyler would be moving with me no matter what, and Brian had almost as many painful memories in Storyville as I did. Naturally he wanted to move with us. I didn't mind. I'd just gotten to know my brother and I wanted him with me for a long time.

While we waited for Skyler to call back I started healing from my attack. Jason Cox was never formally charged with killing his brother. They said that he'd acted under extreme duress. He'd visited me once more before I was released from the hospital just to deliver the news. He promised that he wouldn't try to contact me again after that. It was a moot point really. I wasn't planning to return to Storyville for anything more than to pack up everything I wanted to take to Orlando with me and leave again for good. Of course I'd return to visit friends, but that wouldn't happen for a long while. It would take time for me to want to be in Storyville again.

Vince and Maria announced that Maria was pregnant at the huge dinner that Meg and Shirley cooked at my house the day after I was released from the hospital. Everyone was very excited after she told them. Meg didn't seem all that excited but then she'd just lost a son. She and I had a few private talks after that dinner and I learned that she was moving back to Maine.

Skyler called about a month after I was released, and by that time I was more than ready to get out of Storyville. He told me that our airline tickets had been purchased through his company and they would be at the airport when we got there. He also told me to pack my swim trunks. He said that he planned to spend as much time in his pool as possible. With my stiff and sore ribs I thought that was a great idea.

Everyone turned up at the airport to see us off. Of course they still believed that this was a temporary thing and that we'd be back soon. I didn't bother to argue. Tyler and Brian were more excited than I was as boarded the plane. All they talked about as we flew was meeting Skyler Thomas. Brian had met him already when we were backstage in Chicago, but Tyler hadn't been with us on that trip. This was going to be something really special for him.

Skyler and Kevin met us at the airport themselves. Skyler shook our hands and told us that he was amazed at how well we had gotten over the events in Storyville. In truth I don't think any of us had really gotten over it. I know that Brian cried himself to sleep most nights, and he liked to talk about Ian a lot.

Skyler's house was huge. There were so many rooms that I wondered who else lived there. We met his son, PJ, as soon as we got to the house. He was a happy boy and I could see instantly how much Skyler loved him when he picked him up in a huge hug and spun him around.

We were given rooms on the second floor of the house just down the hall from PJ's room. PJ told us that it would be cool to have us up there with him. I got the feeling that he thought of our visit as a huge slumber party. Skyler told us that PJ had a bed time so there was nothing for us to worry about.

We spent a lot of time in the pool that first day only getting out to eat lunch and sit on the deck to let the food settle afterward. When the sun went down and the balmy Orlando day turned to the sultry evening we went to dinner in a very nice restaurant. Skyler scolded each of when we tried to pitch in for the bill. He informed us that this was his treat and we weren't to try to spend a dime while we were there.

Two days after we arrived a steady stream of celebrities filed through the house. We met Madonna and Niki Harris before any of the others. I have to say that Madonna was awesome. Niki acted like she'd known us all our lives and I instantly liked her.

We'd been there two weeks when Skyler came home from a day at Sky High with a problem. He took of his sports jacket and slung it over a chair just seconds before slumping into it with a sigh. Kevin rubbed his shoulders as we listened to Skyler tell us about an assistant that had quit, leaving one of his rising stars high and dry.

"What exactly does an assistant do?" I asked. I knew nothing about show business or the trappings of it at all and I was very curious.

"Well basically the assistant makes phone calls and makes sure that press releases are handled by the publicist," he said. "They do odds and ends things for their celebrity most of the time unless it's movie time, or for singers, tour time. Then things change a bit."

"Well I don't know how much longer we're going to be here," I said. "If you'd like, though, I could fill in until you find someone. I don't know much about show business but I'm eager to learn."

"That sounds like a great idea," he said with a smile.

And that was how I got my first job in Orlando. I met Christian Kane the very next day and he and his lover made me a list of things that Christian expected of me. It wasn't really all that difficult. I was set to making phone calls to various people for most of the morning. There was a phone book so I had all the numbers. After that was done I took a taxi to get lunch and we spent the afternoon going over publicity photos that Christian was signing for an event that was coming up in a week. I had a great first day and after a week Christian said he wanted me to stay on as his assistant.

When I got home that day, Brian and Tyler had news of their own. Brian had been helping one of the agents at Sky High for the past week while Tyler had been hanging out in the art department. Both of them had been offered positions at Sky High. All three of us happily accepted.

We moved into Skyler's guest house the following week, insisting that Skyler let us pay rent. He eagerly declined and declared us friends. He said that he never took money from friends. The utilities to the guest house were on separate meters, so he finally agreed to let us pay for the bills we ran up.

We went back to Storyville two months after we had left for Orlando to pack up our things and say goodbye to everyone. Ben and Wendy were at school in Chicago, so all I could do was call them. Ben called me a lucky dog and promised to visit as often as he could.

A strange event had taken place while we were gone. It seemed that Dustin and Steve had been spending a lot of time together, being each other's shoulder to cry on. That friendship had grown into a relationship for the two of them. They ended up being our first visitors for a week that summer at the guest house. We amazed them with celebrity parties and the sights around Orlando.

I made a deal with Andy and Gage concerning my house. I would still own the house but they were free to live there for as long as they wanted. Gage's sister was now staying with them. Her heart condition had gotten worse for a while and Gage had wanted to care for her. It worked out. She got my mother's room. I told them to rent the garage apartment to someone they felt was suitable and keep the rent each month. When they protested I assured them that we made more than enough money in Orlando to keep us comfortable for years.

Meg had moved to Maine but she and the boys had come to visit around the fourth of July and had a blast. She commented about how much Phillip would have loved to have been there with them and we talked about him for a long while that night. We both cried but it was over happy memories. We didn't talk about the bombing or the shooting.

Shirley and Tom were probably the most sad to see us leave for good. I promised to fly them to Orlando soon and that helped a little bit. They talked about taking a vacation and asked if they could spend it with us. I told them we'd show them the time of their lives.

Even Mike and Sharon wanted to visit. After their near divorce a few years earlier, they'd decided to renew their wedding vows. Nick and Jeremy were their witnesses. They came to Orlando at the end of the summer for their second honeymoon. Nick, Jeremy and Thomas came with them of course.

Tyler, Brian and I took night classes three nights a week to keep ourselves in school. Our majors had all changed, but that didn't really matter. With our jobs being in the field of our majors we each got credits for work experience and in three years we had our degrees.

Tyler and I were going strong after three years. He was now a cover designer for the literary division at Sky High. I'd long since moved to Sky High and taken a position in management. I worked along side Clay Silver for the first year and then I was on my own. I asked Tyler to marry me after we'd been together four years and he happily accepted.

The wedding is another story entirely, but I doubt that I'll record it. The memories are ours. I've told enough of our lives in this tale. I think about that every time I hold Tyler at night. He went through a long period of wearing a shirt to bed so that I wouldn't see the scar on his shoulder from the bullet fired by Abraham Cox four years ago. I just held him until he finally agreed to sleep without his shirt. It was the night that I proposed. When he accepted that night while we were in bed I showed him that I loved every part of him by kissing his scar.

We were happy and that was all that mattered. Brian met a guy that also worked for Sky High. His name was Mitch Simmons. You'll all be hearing a lot about him soon. He's Sky High's newest rising star. Brian moved in with him six months after they began dating. They're just as happy as Tyler and I.

We'd been through a lot together, and it had bound us together in a special way. Through all of the hatred a strong love had been born. I can't say that I would ever go through all of that again, but I don't look back on it with so much sorrow anymore. Sure I still have a pang of pain in my heart when I think of the friends that lost their lives, but mostly I'm just thankful for the life I have and Tyler's love.

A Message from the Author: This is the end of Storyville 3 and the end of The Storyville Chronicles. I hope you all enjoyed the stories as much as I did. It wasn't always a pleasant journey for me when I was writing these stories. So much of my life went into the first instalment and little bits and pieces of it found their way into the second and third instalment. The spin-off's took on lives of their own as I wrote them and I'll miss Storyville very much. There will be no more Storyville Chronicles though. It's time for me to write about other things.

Julien Gregg
Monday, December 17, 2007

Storyville 3