A few weeks later and Gary still hadn't returned home. After all...she was everywhere, she, of course, being Val. It was too much to believe that she was ...she was gone. Every time he thought about it, he wanted nothing more than to drink himself into oblivion. But he couldn't do that. For that would be the easy way out. If he felt nothing by the temporary and escaping deceipt of alcohol, then he would be betraying Val's memory. He deserved so much worse- she should be the one living her life while he should have paid with his life for all of his misdeeds. The least he could do, right or wrong, was to have to face the pain that his actions caused- the ones Val paid for with her life.

Finally, he couldn't take another second of being couped up in that hotel room. Deciding to go for coffee, his eyes had barely adjusted to the sunlight when a very familiar face approached him.

"Gary?" Abby touched his arm, causing him to jerk away in surprise.

"Abby..what are you doing here?"

"I've been worried about you...you haven't been home, you won't return my calls..."

Gary just shook his head. "I can't believe you, Abby. Val..my wife...is gone...and you're worried about me ignoring you?"

"It's not like that. I just...I just heard you haven't been doing too well. I wanted to see if I could..."

Gary, putting his hand over his eyes to avoid the glare of the sun, just scowled. "You want to do something for me? Just leave me alone, will you? Leave me the hell alone."You don't know what you've done to me!"

She just chuckled bitterly. "Still the victim, aren't you, Gary? You wanted me at your convenience when...when things were different. But as I recall, I never forced you to come to me, to join me at my home for a drink and a few other events. Once again, it's you against the world, isn't it? I feel sorry for you, Gary. When you couldn't have me, you sure as hell chased after me. You had Va, but if you really wanted her, nothing in the world I could have ever said would have made you come running to my bed. You're something, Gary. The poor grieving widower role...it suits you. Now it lets you off the hook for any of your own actions. As long as I'll be around to blame, you never have to do any real self-reflection. Good luck, Gary. If you decide to grow up...call me." She shot him a pitiful look, shook her head, and took off in the other direction.
All of a sudden, that first drink didn't sound so bad after all. So he walked back into the hotel, sat at the bar, and began the first of many, many more drinks that were to follow.
tbc