hetsmut serial ag ryan oreily cyril oreily

Before the Yellow Brick Road - part 3

by AG

NOTE: Go to Part 1
and Part 2
for the start of this series

Ryan sat with his eyes closed listening to the incessant buzz. His arm had become unaffected by the intense pricking. The continuous stabbing of the needle actually made the soft skin of his inner arm itch. Ryan thought he must be inhuman, because something that would normally hurt a man instead made him itch. Could he possibly be that immune to his own physical pain? He imagined that after so many years of enduring cigarette burns, punches to the abdomen, hair pulling, face slapping, arm twisting, shoving, pushing, and hitting, he could just about take any kind of physical punishment that was tossed his way. It was the mental punishment however, that invaded his dreams and lured him into so many nightmares like a stranger with a pocket full of candy

Frankie Culver, the man with the ink and the needle, interrupted Ryan's esoteric thoughts.

"Yo man, you get nuttin but trouble when you tattoo a woman's name anywhere on your person."

"Hey Frankie, are you givin me this tat for free man?"

"Hell no!"

"Then shut the fuck up and finish my wife's name. I ain't payin you for your goddamn wisdom." Ryan scowled at the skinny tattoo artist. All was silent, except for the continuous whirring of the needle.

Frankie finished his work half an hour later. Ryan inspected the newly inked Shannon on his arm. It looked so damn permanent, maybe Frankie was right. Somehow Ryan knew Shannon the tattoo would be around a lot longer than Shannon the wife. Ryan waited patiently as Frankie wrapped his tat.

Ryan drove up 16th headed for Shaughnessy's. It was dark out and no one was on the street He drove slowly, hoping to find what he was looking for. He turned the corner and parked across the street from the Korean market. He walked quickly back to Shaughnessy's, past the black Cadillac that he'd known would be parked in front.

Shaughnessy's was dim and smoky. The jukebox in the corner subtly illuminated the room with an orange hue. Mismatched tables were scattered around in precise disarray. There were few customers, as Ryan had expected. He walked over to the bar, cautiously scanning the room for the owner of the black Cadillac.

"What can I get ya Ryan?" Nick Shaughnessy asked when Ryan approached.

"A shot."

"Of what?" Nick asked with a sigh.

"Whatever." Ryan answered, not looking as the bartender poured him a shot of Cuervo Gold. Ryan downed the tequila and placed the shot glass upside down on the bar. He walked to the back of Shaughnessy's, to the poolroom.

"Let's do this." Ryan whispered to himself and smiled, as he'd found who he'd been looking for.

"Six ball, corner pocket." Seamus Kelly called his shot and executed it perfectly. "Four ball, side pocket." The lanky Irishman bent down to take his second shot just as he felt someone walk up behind him. He turned to see Ryan O'Reily grinning at him.

"Hey Seamus, where ya been since you got out?"

"Been around. Anyway I don't recall that being any of your business." Seamus dragged on the Newport that was dangling from his lips and turned back towards the table to continue his streak. Ryan quietly moved to the opposite side of the table.

"What d'ya want O'Reily?" Seamus asked, casting an uninterested glance in Ryan's direction

"It's a private matter, I was hoping to talk to you alone."

"I'm busy right now." Seamus answered and bent down again to take his second shot.

"I can see that but, I recently discovered some information that you might find very interesting. " Ryan smiled deviously.

Seamus studied Ryan's face then nodded towards the door, his opponent got the message and left the room.

"Okay O'Reily what have you heard? I don't have all night to fuck around with you." Seamus asked, taking another drag off his cigarette.

"I know who fingered you for that Montrose Warehouse heist." Ryan claimed as he pulled the cigarette out of Seamus' mouth and took a drag himself.

"That wasn't me, I didn't have nothin to do with it." Seamus spat and grabbed his Newport back from Ryan before it landed between his lips.

"I believe you Seamus. Since we both know you're innocent," Ryan paused for effect, "that means you did 10 months on a bogus charge, am I right?" They both knew that Seamus had been the one to unload Montrose of its goodies, but neither would admit it. Ryan could tell the gears were turning in Seamus' head.

Finally Seamus answered, "Yeah what of it?"

"So that doesn't piss you off just a tiny bit?"

"Get to the point O'Reily!"

"The point is, I know who collared you." Ryan whispered as he walked behind Seamus to the other side of the pool table." He gave it a minute to sink in. "Do you wanna know who?" Ryan finally asked. Seamus eyed him suspiciously.

"What the fuck is this about O'Reily? Are you settin me up?"

"Seamus, that hurts, really man it does. I'm trying to help you, I've been looking for you since you got out so I could lay this on you, give you a chance to even the score. Let's face it, someone collared you for that job and you spent precious time inside. That sucks, especially because you're innocent."

"I've been on the down low because I need to stay out of trouble, I got a wife and baby to think about, I can't go back inside." Seamus growled. Ryan was pensive for a moment, deciding which card to lay next.

"Well that's probably for the best, hell I've been in the joint I know how it is. It's too bad though, cause this motherfucker has been talking about it, and I mean talking loud."

Seamus stood up straight, his left eye twitched. "Who is it?" He breathed through his teeth, and rolled his eyes.

"You really wanna know? What about the wife, the kid…" Ryan's diatribe was interrupted.

"Who?!" Seamus yelled.

"Dino Ortolani." Ryan answered without missing a beat.

"Ortolani? How would he know about the Montrose job? And why would he rat me out for it, we have no beef?"

Ryan had to think fast, he didn't expect Seamus would be smart enough to question Dino's involvement.

"He found out from Erin."

"Erin who? Not my sister Erin?"

"I'm afraid so."

"Bullshit O'Reily, Erin wouldn't cross the street to spit on that dago." Seamus relaxed and chuckled to himself. Ryan was scrambling, he knew was losing Seamus.

"She did go near him and I can tell you she definitely did more than spit on him." Ryan gave Seamus a knowing look.

"What are you saying? He fucked my sister?"

"Well that's what he's been telling people. I tend to believe him."

"Oh really?" Seamus backed Ryan into the corner, his breath was infiltrating Ryan's nostrils. "Why's that? And remember you're talking about my baby sister."

"How else would he know about Montrose?"

"How would you know about it O'Reily?" Seamus questioned suspiciously.

"Hey I'm only telling you what I heard. Dino's tellin anyone who'll listen." Ryan was counting on Seamus' temper to get the better of him eventually. "Don't you see? Dino was at the very beginning of a three-year parole sentence. He knew the Montrose heist was big news with the cops, so as soon as Erin dropped the dirt on you, Dino cut a deal and his parole went from three years to sixteen months."

Seamus had heard that Ortolani's parole had been cut, and it had happened right after the Montrose job. He also knew that Erin had contact with Dino because he'd heard her talking about him. Momentary silence permeated the room. The silence was broken when Seamus picked up the four ball and hurled it towards the wall where the cues were lined up.

It was true that Erin had told someone she was there the night of the Montrose job, that she had waited on the corner watching for cops and anyone else who happened by but, that someone wasn't Dino Ortolani, it was Ryan. It was also Ryan who had been fucking her in the choir loft of St. Pat's for two weeks until he'd gotten the information out of her. And it was Ryan who went to the cops and fingered Seamus as the perp to get him out of the neighborhood. Seamus was bad for Ryan's business therefore he had to be leveled. It was just dumb luck and a dumb girl named Erin Kelly that sealed Seamus' fate. If he ever found out who the real narc was, Ryan's skinny Irish ass would be a worm buffet and he knew it.

"I'm going to kill that fucking….motherfucking….piece of shit…..cocksucker!" Seamus left before Ryan could tell him that Dino was at Carmine's, enjoying a slice of pizza.

The next morning at the hospital, Ryan and Shannon sat clutching their sweaty hands in Dr. Scott's office. They were both nervous, yet Shannon wore her nervousness on her pinched face. Ryan's face was like marble, cold and hard. He always made sure his facial expressions would never reveal his true feelings. Shannon on the other hand was an open book. Her eyes were red and puffy, her legs shook, her head pounded. Ryan looked around at the pictures on the walls, artist renditions of the female reproductive system. A uterus and fallopian tubes were suspended in mid air against a white background. "The Inner and Outer Anatomy of the Female Breast" is what the picture by the door said. The artist had executed a perfectly round set of tits Ryan thought to himself. They almost reminded him of Heather Winston's tits. He decided he'd give Heather a call when he got some time.

The door opened, Dr. Scott was talking to his receptionist Olivia in the hall. "Oh Olivia, one more thing, please call Dan, tell him I can't fill in for him on the 23rd because of the conference in Miami. Tell him that I've talked to Joe Morgan and he'll be happy to fill in." Dr. Scott came into his office, closing the door behind him.

"Ryan, Shannon, how are you? They both stood up to shake hands with the doctor. "Sit, please. Can I get you any coffee or water or anything?" They shook their heads. Dr. Scott sat down behind his desk and picked up a file with "O'Reily, Shannon M." written on the tab.

"Well folks, it's not good. The blockage is being caused by Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. P.I.D. is diagnosed in millions of women each year, and tends to be one of the top causes of female infertility."

"How did it, I mean, why? Why me?" Shannon asked as fat tears formed in her eyes.

"It transpires in many different instances. It may have come from an infection that occurred in the peritoneal cavity. Or it could have come from sickness and fever early in childhood. Sometimes it comes from the mother if she was irresponsible during her pregnancy. It even comes from untreated STD's, though I've ruled that out as the cause. As you can see there's not really one specific culprit."

"What does it do?" Shannon was asking questions that Dr. Scott probably had to answer a hundred times a day. Ryan sat quietly looking past the doctor, out the window.

"The inflammation affects the fallopian tubes, severely scarring them beyond repair. Sadly, most women don't know they have the disease until they try to conceive."

"There's nothing that can be done? No medication, surgery, nothing?!" Shannon cried desperately.

"Yes, there are medications that can be administered to reverse the affects of the disease, but they have to be administered immediately after the person has become infected. I'm afraid the medication would be useless for you at this point. The technology for reversing the effects as long gone and severe as yours is not even fully procedural. Which means I would lose my license if I tried to operate on you Shannon. The only cases I've ever seen of surgery for reversal of P.I.D. have been experimental at best, and the results were not favorable. The patients' fallopian tubes were completely obliterated, thereby causing the need for hysterectomies. I'm not saying the technology will never be there Shannon, it may be one day." Dr. Scott gulped hard, Ryan and Shannon both heard it. "I'm sorry." He offered quietly.

As Shannon fixed herself up in the bathroom, Ryan took a stroll to the ICU. He'd heard that Dino Ortolani had been rushed to the emergency room last night after being attacked by an unknown assailant.

"Excuse me sir, can I help you?" The charge nurse asked when she saw Ryan.

"Yeah, I'm here to see my cousin Dino Ortolani."

"He's sleeping, would you like to come back later?"

"No, I'd rather see him now, later might be too late." Ryan gulped hard, and gave the nurse his most pathetic look. He even tried to muster up some tears for his "cousin" Dino.

"I understand. You'll have to sign in and visiting hours will be over in 45 minutes."

"No problem, I won't be long." Ryan answered and signed Tony Ortolani's name on the sign in sheet.

The nurse looked at his signature, gave Ryan the once over and said "Thank you Tony, he's in room seven, just up the hall. Oh and Tony, your cousin is going to get through this, it's going to take time, but he's going to make it."

"Well I hope he takes all the time he needs, a person just doesn't bounce right back from something like this ya know?" Ryan sniffled and headed up the hall.

He found Dino's room, but didn't go in. Instead he stayed in the hall, looking through the window at the lifeless shell that inhabited room seven. He saw that Dino was hooked up to machines, tubes and hoses. His entire face was the color of an eggplant. He had a bandage on his head; his blood had seeped through the bindings and dried an ugly shade of brown. His left arm was in a cast, his right leg hung suspended from a hoist, enveloped in steel rods and bandages. From his chest to his hips was a sea of white plaster, a partial body cast. Dino could have been in a world of hurt, but he had God and all the angels in Heaven to thank for the Morphine that kept him in his incognizant slumber. Ryan almost felt sorry for him as he watched a drop of blood roll out of Dino's swollen nose.

"Some people just shouldn't fuck with the Irish." He said to himself with a smile. On his way out of the ICU, Ryan saw E. Kelly written on the admit board under D. Ortolani. He knew that Erin had gotten hers too.

That night, Ryan and Shannon lay silently in bed. Shannon rested her head on his chest, while rubbing her fingertips over the image of her name on his arm. She was past crying, it didn't do any good, and it wasn't going to change anything. Ryan dragged on his cigarette and thought about what he could say to make her feel better.

"I can't believe this is happening to me." Shannon said to herself, finally ending the silence between them.

"This isn't just happening to you, we're in this together. We can't have kids, end of story." Ryan answered.

She lifted her head up to look him in the eye. "This isn't a "we" thing, this is a "me" thing. This isn't your problem, you can have kids."

"Hey I don't wanna hear any more of that shit! It's our problem to deal with together alright?" Shannon didn't answer him "Shan…alright?" He asked again.

"But, you're giving up your chance to have kids because of me." She lay her head back down on his chest as her body shook with sobs that she thought were long gone. Ryan's eyes were unblinking. He stared up, watching the shapes on the ceiling shifting and blending into one another like a kaleidoscope.

"Shan, what would we have named our son?" Ryan asked, taking another drag.

"Ryan Patrick O'Reily the Second." She answered quietly.

"The Second?" Ryan asked giggling. "Why not junior?"

"The Second is classier. Junior sounds like a kid who should be under the hood of a rusted out car, with grease up to his armpits and his ass crack hanging out of his jeans." She said and Ryan felt her tears on his bare chest.

Ryan thought about what kind of parents he and Shannon would have been. He wanted to prove wrong all the psychologists who ever told him that child abuse was a perpetual cycle that could never be broken. Fuck them, he thought. Ryan knew he could have been a good father, not a total fuck up like his father was. And he knew Shannon could have been a good mother, not a total fuck up like her mother was. Somehow Ryan knew he was lying to himself, he knew this was for the best. Everything happens for a reason he told himself and erased the image of one-day holding his son.

"Yeah, I like the Second too." Ryan said as a single tear rolled down his temple and into his hair.

Three days later, Jamie was getting dressed at Cyril's apartment hoping that she wouldn't be too late for work.

"James, why not?"

"Because Gran needs me with her, and I think it's better that I have a place to go when I need some time on my own." Jamie told him as she brushed her hair.

"You practically live here anyway, so what's the big fuckin deal?"

"The big deal is that I need my space sometimes and so do you."

"Oh we're on that again? You need your space? " Cyril frowned as he crumpled up an empty cigarette pack. Jamie spun around, temple pounding as she watched him search for an unopened pack.

"Yes I need my space Goddammit! And thank you so much for invalidating my feelings like that. It's so easy for you to dismiss how I feel, and not think twice about it, I hate that Cyril, I really do." Jamie buttoned up her shirt and headed for the front door. Cyril followed, hoping to calm her down.

"I'm sorry baby, I know I do that and I'm sorry. Of course I care about your feelings…"

Jamie interrupted "Yeah, whatever. I have to go, I'm gonna be late for work." She left him standing in the doorway, and pounded down the stairs.

Ryan nearly ran into Jaime head on as she was coming out of Cyril's building.

"Hey James, where's the fire?" He asked, grabbing her wrist.

"Ryan let go, I'm late for work."

"So some funeral is going to have to be without its bouquet of Orchids. James, I'm telling you, being a florist isn't all it's cracked up to be." Ryan snickered.

"Ryan what in hell would you know about making a honest day's living? Don't tell me about being a florist! You don't know shit about having a real job, one that won't necessarily land you in prison, now get the hell out of my way!" Jaime left muttering about irresponsibility and childish behavior, Ryan just figured she was on the rag. He knew Shannon was that's why he'd come to Cyril's.

Ryan walked into Cyril's apartment without knocking and found his little brother looking out the window. Cyril was bare chested and his hair was messed up.

"Cyr?" Ryan asked as he flopped down on the couch, hanging one leg lazily over the arm.

Ryan whistled. "Cyril?" He stared at his brother, who was still staring intently out the window.

"CYRIL!" Ryan shouted.

"Jesus Christ what?!" Cyril yelled back and finally turned to face his brother.

"What's up man? You in some kind of fog?" Ryan lit a cigarette and put the match out on his tongue. Cyril listened to the sizzle of the dying flame and pondered whether or not to tell Ryan about the problems he was having with Jamie. He decided against it when Ryan told him to get dressed so they could go out and celebrate.

"What are we celebrating?"

"Oh just the fact that Dino Ortolani is gonna be shitting in diapers for the rest of his miserable life."

"What happened to him?" Cyril asked as his stomach tightened up. He knew that the deed had been done.

"Ya know, it's the strangest thing, Seamus Kelly found out that Dino fingered him for the Montrose job and well Seamus didn't like that too much so he decided it was time for Dino to pay the fiddler. He's in intensive care at Mercy, has been for three days, and hopefully that motherfucker will never see the light of day again." Ryan smiled.

"But Dino didn't finger Seamus, you did." Cyril's temple was pounding; every last one of his nerves was pulsating with raw energy.

Ryan's smile faded. "I know that, and you know that but, Seamus doesn't know that. The stupid fuck! I was going to tell you before it went down but I thought you might go pussy on me again so I made the hook up myself."

"Jesus Christ Ryan, why did you fucking do that?"

"I didn't do anything, Seamus did." Ryan was smiling again.

"You are a sorry motherfucker, do you know that? It was my problem to deal with!"

"Yeah but you wouldn't deal with it, you just let it go. "And what the hell is this attitude Cyril? I told you'd I'd take care of it because you couldn't be a man and step up for yourself. He had to pay Cyril, he had to."

"I dealt with it Ryan, my way!"

"Like a fuckin coward! Do you want people to call you out as a pussy? Spill all your business on front street? That's where you're headed Cyril, and it's a shame man, it's a damn shame. You used to be hard, but now, I don't know about you anymore." Ryan shook his head at his brother. Ryan was half a foot away from Cyril; silence hung between them, their faces bore the same expression.

"Come on, let's go do something." Ryan said as Cyril walked to his room to get dressed.

Shannon O'Reily sat quietly in her dark living room. She loved the serenity of silence and darkness. Nothing moved, the curtains hung in place, the air seemed to stick to the walls, even her own breath felt like it had permanently halted in her lungs. She raised the half-full glass of Glenlivet to her lips and drank it in, swirling it around her mouth with her tongue. The scotch no longer burned going down her throat, and she knew she'd finish the bottle with her next glass. In all the quiet solitude, even her tears rolled down her cheeks almost without motion. Cigarette smoke was thick in the air and hung like fog over her head.

Shannon looked back over so many years of sadness, all that she'd endured everything she had to take. She'd started off life in a volatile frenzy with her drunken mother. Yelling, screaming, fighting, Shannon had desperately needed the quiet calm her Gran had offered when she went to live with her. She needed to be able to sleep without hearing the chaos, even when she was the only one who could hear it. Shannon had found peace and quiet with Gran, she started to believe maybe life wouldn't be terrifying forever, maybe it wasn't going to be a big fat joke after all. Then Ryan happened.

She thought about all the years she chased after him, trying to get him to commit to her. He'd told her one time and one time only that he was "that" kind of man, he could never be with just one woman, and she either needed to accept it or she needed to move on. She had tried to move on, she really did, but no one else was like Ryan. He brought her to life, killed the scared little girl and gave birth to the person she was now. Shannon always thought she should thank him for that, but thank him for what exactly? For bringing out of her a person void of real happiness, someone who's harsh, bitter, skeptical, someone who long ago forgot what goodness was. "Thank you Ryan my darling, thank you so very much for that." Shannon giggled when she heard the slurred words trip over her tongue. The sound of her voice pierced the silence like a knife and it made her shiver. It sounded like someone else's voice, like she was not alone, in her apartment or her head. Shannon knew her penalty had been handed down the day she met Ryan O'Reily, and she was now serving a life sentence.

She told people that she didn't care what Ryan did during the day, because she knew he was coming home to her at night. After awhile even that became a lie, he would disappear for days at a time, then show up unexpectedly with flowers or jewelry or money. Shannon knew that her husband had his demons, but dammit she had demons of her own! So many years of being strong and unbending had taken its toll, Shannon was very definitely coming apart at the seams and it showed. She thought if they had a baby, things would change, he would change, and she would change. But she knew that fate was a cruel mistress and the mistress was intent on keeping Shannon down. No baby to speak of, no husband to speak of, no life to speak of and no happiness to speak of. The tears fell out of her eyes, like water being squeezed from a sponge over the face of a mannequin. It hurt too much to think, and Shannon knew nothing really ever made the chaos stop, not Gran, not quiteness, not even liquor. She gulped down the last of the Glenlivet and lit another cigarette.

In room seven of the ICU ward at Mercy Medical Center Dino Ortolani was awake but groggy. The never-ending parade of family members who visited made Dino feel self-conscious. He didn't want them to think he was an invalid, yet they continued to come and treat him like one. When they thought he was asleep Dino could hear the whispering.

"Do you think he's gonna die?" His grandmother had asked through her hushed tears.

"Do the police have any idea who's responsible?" His Uncle Angelo whispered to no one in particular.

"Dino never hurt anybody. Why would someone do this to him?" His Sister Renata asked, then blew her nose.

He just wanted to sleep, but he had visitors.

"Nurse Andrews, this is my aunt Regina, my cousin Tony and my uncle Fazio." Dino introduced his family when his favorite nurse entered the room to check on him at the beginning of her shift.

"Hello, nice to meet you." She greeted the Ortolanis with a smile. "You have two cousins named Tony?"

"No just one."

"Well this isn't the cousin Tony I remember." Nurse Andrews said, looking in Tony's direction.

"What do you mean?" Dino sighed, paying only partial attention.

"Someone came and visited you a few days ago while you were sleeping. He said he was your cousin and signed his name Tony Ortolani on the sign in sheet." Her wrinkled brow couldn't hide her confusion.

"And it wasn't him?" Dino opened his eyes and looked at the nurse.

"No. This gentleman was tall with brown hair and he was thin." She answered. Dino was perplexed, and the fact that the impersonator signed his cousin's name meant something was up. He knew the fake cousin Tony had something to do with his attack.

"And he had a tattoo on his inner arm," Nurse Andrews continued, "it was a name, I can't remember…" She had made a mental note of the tattoo because of its strange location. "Oh I remember now, the name was Shannon." She offered, hoping it might strike a chord with Dino.


Ryan took Cyril to a new club uptown called The Church. It was dark, loud and crowded, just the kind of place that Cyril hated. He'd never been the social butterfly in the O'Reily family, that was Ryan's title, and Ryan held firmly to that title with both hands.

They walked to the bar through the hoard of Churchgoers, as the people who frequented the Church had been dubbed. Ryan ordered a shot of Jagermeister and Cyril got a Miller. Before he even took his first swig Cyril could tell that Ryan was casing the joint looking for some company for the evening. Cyril felt very out of place, this was Ryan's thing, he was the one who scoured the clubs for women, without any accountability whatsoever. This was not Cyril's thing; he wanted to be with Jamie, he just didn't know why she didn't want to be with him. Cyril's head spun at the thought of losing Jamie, the thought was so foul to him that it brought vomit up from the depths of his stomach to the back of his throat. He drank from the Miller bottle and tasted the bile and the beer as it mixed together for its long ride down his esophagus.

"Ryan!" Cyril yelled over the music "Ryan!" When he realized that his brother couldn't hear him he tapped Ryan's shoulder to get his attention.

"What?" Ryan yelled back.

"I'm gonna take off!" Ryan either couldn't hear him or wasn't paying attention. Cyril knew that unless he sprouted a pair of tits at that very moment, Ryan could care less that Cyril was trying to tell him something. He tried again.

"I'm leaving!" Cyril yelled. Ryan motioned to his ears and shrugged, he still couldn't hear what Cyril was saying. Finally Cyril pointed to his chest, then pointed to the door, Ryan got the picture.

"Come on, don't leave! We're supposed to be celebrating remember?" Ryan yelled. Cyril shook his head solemnly. "Fine! Go!" With that Ryan turned his back on his brother and walked away.

Cyril took the subway home, it was nice, he hadn't been on the subway in years, not since he got his car. He thought about Jamie and he tried not to think about her. He sat stone-faced, looking out the window as the tunnel raced past him. Cyril knew when things started to change between them. It was right after he'd taken her to see the graves; she'd never seen them before. What he suspected was going to be a very tough circumstance for the two of them ended up being a very tough circumstance for Jamie only. Cyril didn't want it to be that way, he ached for her and her loss but she wanted to be alone with her family, she didn't want Cyril to interfere, so he didn't.

He left Jamie in front of the McFadden family plot. She was already on her knees as he turned away. He'd walked to an oak tree that he hoped was far enough away for her to feel alone with her family. Cemeteries always made Cyril nervous, being surrounded by so much death seemed like a bad omen to him. He looked around at the gardens of stone. Flowers, balloons and American flags dotted the landscape. Cyril sighed just as he'd noticed something he hadn't noticed before. Under the enormous branches of the live oak was a single headstone, he read the inscription:

Theresa Ann

3 / 9 / 46 - 3 / 17 / 46

~She blossomed on Earth to bloom in Heaven~

The inscription made him think of his mother. Though she died at 39, she had never really lived the life she deserved, not in 39 years. Cyril knew her only true happiness was he and Ryan, and he remembered a time when they both tried to be better sons, better people, just for her. When they finally discovered the cancer that was plaguing her breasts, it was too late to stop it. The end came quickly and they were all thankful for that, even his father who usually reveled in the pain and agony of others.

Seeing his mother suffer was more than Cyril could ever handle, he just wanted her suffering to end, even if it meant saying goodbye to her. He imagined his mother like a rosebud, so tightly held within her own petals; she blossomed on earth to bloom in heaven. Cyril brushed away a tear and said a prayer for his mother and Theresa Ann.

The clank of the subway propelled Cyril back from the memory of that day at Cherish Hills Cemetery. After that day, Jamie ceased to exist, she was a different person altogether, and there was no trace of her former self to speak of. Cyril gulped and played back the transformation in his mind. He was helpless to it, had no control over it, he lost her long ago, and that loss was like a death to him. She was increasingly distant and secretive towards him. She said she was holding back, that life was too short, too precious to not fulfill your dreams. What she meant was that he was holding her back and they both knew it. Cyril wasn't losing Jamie, he'd already lost her, and he didn't know how to get her back or if he even deserved to have her back. He closed his eyes and listened to the clank of the subway, casting his thoughts to a happier place. Even in his search for happiness, Cyril thought about Jamie, she was his happiness and everything he lived for. Like an invisible tattoo, she was an eternal a part of him. No matter what happened between them Jamie would always be imprinted on his soul, his mind and his heart.

continued in Part 4

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