Episode 24: "Moments Of Truth"
Part One

Palm Terrace Plaza

"Is that him?"

"Yeah, the clerk at Retro Vinyl. You see him in the window?"

"There are too many people in the store, I can't see him."

"Wait for those customers to leave. There, you see him? The long brown hair, the white shirt."

"I see him now. So this punk took you out in the parking lot last Tuesday?"

"Right. He's the one. Called the cops on me, too. He thought he was such a bad ass. More like it was bad timing for that punk. That woman was loaded, I would have made my weekly quota for the next two months, yo."

"Rocco wasn't too happy when you came back empty-handed."

"No, he wasn't. He made that perfectly clear when he had Drooler and Knuckles beat the shit out of me."

"Ouch, yeah, I see that they did."

"Pisses me off how close I got to that money. I have never gone three weeks without a heist, NEVER! But I'll meet that quota this week, you'll see. Just as soon as I take care of unfinished business with the music man."

"What's the plan?"

"Plan? Who needs a plan? It's so simple. Me, you, Paulo, Skids, and Iron Ike are gonna repay some of the gratitude we owe this music man."

"Me? Thanks for including me, man. I love this kind of action! I don't see it nearly enough! When are we going to take care of business?"


Part Two

In Field Fly Sports Pub

"Where's your better half?" Bryce asked Simon when he sat down at the high table.

"Better half? What the hell are you talking about?" Simon replied with utter confusion.

"Hello, I'm talking about Mae."

"Oh, her. Yeah, uh, I don't know."

"How is that possible? You guys have practically been joined at the hip for a while now, at least ever since I moved here."

"You have no idea," Simon muttered under his breath. He cleared his throat and raised his voice. "Yeah, I don't think things are going to work out between us."

"What do you mean? You two seem to be pretty hot and heavy when you're together."

"Ehh...it's just a physical attraction, that's all. I never thought the long term with Mae."

"Wow, you could have fooled me. But it looks like you got your dream relationship though, Simon. All the perks of a committed relationship with the stressful burden of obligation."

"It might seem that way, Bryce, but I know that Mae wants something more."

"That isn't a good thing, is it?"

"Hell no! Don't get me wrong, Mae's a nice person. She's beautiful and every once in a while she cracks a decent joke. But we don't belong together, Bryce. There's no real chemistry. I have no desire to be with her."

"Are you sure that she does want something more? Are you sure you aren't jumping to conclusions?"

"I'm pretty sure she's thinking long term. The other night, you know the one at the office that I told you about? Well, after we finished, she gave me this desperate, needy look and said my name, but only once. It was then that I felt repulsed by her. It was like I wished we'd never touched each other in the first place. I wished she were never there. I wished she were someone else..."

"You wished she were Kendra?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I guess I did. And I know that sounds crazy, especially since Kendra is just a such a conceited, self-absorbed bitch. But even so, I just wished that it wasn't Mae at all."

"Simon, that's pretty cold."

"I know, I feel terrible! This is not me at all. I've been so de-sensitized, especially since I've been having a hard time landing a date these days. But I'm not going to settle for someone I don't want."

"So this whole time that you've been thinking about yourself, have you once even considered Mae's feelings? How she's going to react when she learns that you were using her the whole time?"

Simon sighed, frustrated at the complication of all circumstances regarding Mae. But he had made his decision and wouldn't budge from his stance. Sensitive or not, Simon knew what he must do. "If anything, she should be relieved that I'm going to come clean with her."

Part Three

In Field Fly Sports Pub

"I'm feeling inspired, my friend," Jake declared to Adam the next night at the In Field Fly. "Kendra and I have been growing closer and closer since the accident. I hate to say this, but getting smashed by that van may have been the best thing that's ever happened to me!" Gleefully, he took a long swig to finish his bottle of beer and slammed it down triumphantly. "WOO HOO!"

Adam gave him the most bewildered look. "You are kidding, right? Have you already forgotten that you nearly died the night after your accident?" He shook his head in disbelief. "You are one damn crazy brother, I'll tell you that."

"I'm in love, Adam. You know what's like to be that crazy," Jake put Adam in a headlock and gave him a hard rub on his scalpe. Adam instinctively yanked himself out of Jake's grip and scowled back at him while patting his own head. "She's inspired me so much that I have decided to do some more 'saving' of my own."

"What are you talking about?" Adam raised a suspicious eyebrow.

Jake took a deep breath, then dramatically announced "I'm going to buy the In Field Fly!" His eyes were the widest Adam had seen them. "I know I sound insane, but think about it! I need a job, the Pub needs a new owner, everyone else needs a great hangout...it's absolutely perfect!"

"Jake, how are you going to pay for the Pub? The insurance to run the place? Don't take this the wrong way, but do you know the logistics of running a business?"

"Relax, Adam! I actually started this morning with all the so-called logistics. My brother Randall, he's a major league baseball pitcher, he's going to be a majority owner and investing in the Pub with me. I got the idea of using sponsors when Kendra and I talked about the Tempests. I can have local businesses advertise in here, sponsor some parties with the Tempests. It'll all fall into place. All I need to do is make a few renovations and the Pub is all set. I even discussed the ownership change with Paula, and she thinks it can happen."

Jake's interest in the Pub made sense to Adam and while he had every reason to believe in his best friend's ability to run the business, the reasoning behind Jake's enthusiasm left Adam unsettled. "That's great, man. Who am I to doubt your ability to keep the Pub open? I hope you can make it happen, there are too many memories here. Shoot, I met Stacia right here in the Pub, over near that pool table."

Jake's eyes flickered with recognition of the memory. "You two really hit it off that night, and she creamed you in that game of pool."

"Lana didn't tell me that Stacia won her college's billiard tournament three times. Those two colluded to spite me, I know it! I knew it when Lana laughed harder than anyone after I lost, that little sneak."
Adam noticed the shadow that settled in Jake's eyes after he said Lana's name. "Hey man, don't get overly sentimental now. We're only reminiscing."

Jake shook his head. "Nah, just your mentioning Lana's name helped me relive that awful fight we had last night."

"Ah, yes. Trouble in paradise. Stacia told me about the argument. But what do you have to say about it?"

"How could she change so suddenly? One minute, we're the best of friends and the next the only thing that matters in her life is Bryce, the hero. She can't even be happy for the fact that Kendra is finally getting to know me."

"Whoa, slow down, man. What makes you think that Bryce is all that matters? Did she say that?"

"No, but he's all she talks about now. And you know that she came to visit me in the hospital but didn't come in my room because Kendra was there? What the hell is that? Jealousy? She's so quick to judge Kendra when she doesn't even know Bryce McKeon for one minute."

"It sounds like you might be as well off in the jealousy department as Lana is, Jake."

"What? Me? I'm not jealous."

"Oh, come on now! Before the fire, you never really needed Lana's attention. But that's because it was always there, even when you didn't need it. Now that she's depriving you of it, you're finally realizing how important Lana's attention is to you, and you're putting up this front to defend it. But you're doing it for the wrong reasons, you're doing it to hold on to some security blanket. You don't even see all that this woman has gone through for you."

Jake blinked his eyes in confusion. "What are you talking about, Adam?"

"The night of your accident? When you needed her the most? She was there, Jake. She was there for you in the most selfless way possible."

"What way? I don't understand. Tell me, dammit!"

"The night you took that hit, Lana raced from work to the hospital. The doctor didn't give you a very hopeful prognosis and Lana wanted to do whatever possible to pull you through the night. She donated her blood for your transfusion, despite the health risks involved since she wasn't in the donor weight class. And even though she was weak, she stayed up by your bedside to talk you through the night." Adam watched as Jake's brow drooped with skepticism. "Believe it, Jake. Lana was there just as she's always been."

Jake couldn't fathom a sufficient response to Adam's claims. All he could ask aloud was "Why didn't she tell me?"

"Because of Kendra, Jake. She knew Kendra's attention to you was more instrumental in your recovery than her own. So she stood back. She held back."

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