Epilogue - One year later.
"And now we return you to coverage of the breaking blackmail scandal involving some of the world's most important people.." blared the TV in the guesthouse.
"Thomas! Would you turn that thing off and come on?" Maggie called down from the doorway in the guesthouse. "Awwww.." I said hanging my head in dejection "I wanted to see if they gave us any credit! I mean we practically handed the whole case right over to them in the first place! Who would have thought they would have used laser beams to transmit secret orders and messages across the world to a whole network of spies disguised as top level body guards and we're probably not even going to get any credit!" "Of course you will. Now please get off the couch and stop slouching! You're going to wrinkle your uniform!" Maggie protested.
"You know you're not even supposed to be in here! Isn't it bad luck or something?" I replied. "I'll take the risk" Maggie said dryly "now turn off the TV and get up here!" "Yes dear" I relented, turning off the TV. "Custom would dictate that is it inappropriate" Higgins began to say to Maggie from behind her. "I already covered that Higgins" I said as I was beginning to get annoyed. "Yes, well then Maggie, if you'll excuse us" Higgins said to Maggie. "Oh, yes of course" she said as she closed the door behind her.
"I was hoping to speak with you before things begin" Higgins started to say as he descended the stairs "marriage is a solemn affair and should not be entered into lightly. I hope you will forgive me for saying this if you view it as an intrusion into your personal affairs, but if you harbor any doubts about this or simply because you feel you need a mother for Lily..."
"Its OK Higgins" I said as I stared at my feet, not sure what to say. "You know, there's a point in your life when you feel like a big shot. You're young and determined and you feel like you want, no, you feel like you deserve the best of everything. Scoring the final touch down just as the clock stops, driving the fastest car or taking the most popular girl in school to the prom." I paused while trying to put together the feelings I had been thinking about over the last few years. "I still love Michelle" I continued "but it's a young, idealistic sort of love. It wouldn't have worked out anyway, Michelle knew that too." I paused again thinking about what to say next. "I just want a family Higgins. I never knew I did love or even could love Maggie. I mean, sure I had a thing for her, but I never slowed down enough to realize it before."
"I, I understand. You needn't say anymore" Higgins said thoughtfully "I also wanted to tell you that I have sold the property in England." "Really?" I said looking up. "Yes, I never quite got over wanting to be a" he paused "big shot myself, either. I've taken the proceeds from the sale and placed it into a trust fund for you and your new family as my gift to you." My mouth dropped open in astonishment "you can't be serious!" "Actually I am quite serious" he replied. "Higgins" I protested "that's too much!"
"No, it's not Thomas. You may have taken your vagabond's route and I mine of discipline and rigor, but we have arrived at the same conclusion: that it is the quality of life and not the quantity that matters. I've come to realize that I have everything I need here at hand and I've decided to dispense with such frivolities" he paused "one final piece of advice, which I believe is customary at this time, is to take a lesson from the old guard and that is to try and keep the romance alive and to cherish the mystery of life."
"Oh Thomas!" Agatha said as she clutched me in her arms "it was such a beautiful ceremony!" "Hello Agatha" I said, surprised. "Agatha, please" Higgins said taking her by the arm "there are people waiting to greet the new bride and groom." "Everything is so beautiful, I can't seem to help myself" she said clutching a tissue.
"Yea come on, don't hog all the action" Rick said as he stepped in to hug me "aw buddy you really bagged a catch this time! I tell ya Chloe when I get to be somebody we're going to have a big place just like this!" Francis, who was behind Rick, smacked him smartly on the back of the head "Ow, hey come on what'd I do?" Rick said holding his hand to his head. "The only thing that anybody ever got from that kind of talk is a pine box" Francis said pointing a finger at Rick. "Yea, well you turned out all right" Rick said chagrined. "I got lucky! And that's why I got out. Look around you, you are somebody! If I only had less than half the family that was here today.." he trailed off as he paused to linger on the thought. "Now get out of here" he said as he shoved Rick to the side "youth is wasted on the young! I'm very happy for you both!" "Thank you, Francis!" I laughed. "And Maggie you look beautiful!" he said as he hugged Maggie.
"Hey, it's little Francis!" I said as I leaned over to kiss Chloe on the cheek. "Me and Ricky and little Francis here are so happy for you guys" Chloe said "and if you ever wanted a good recipe for pasta fagioli you know who to call, alright Maggie?" '"I'll keep it in mind!" Maggie laughed as she leaned over to hug Chloe.
"I just wanted to congratulate you guys and let you know, like if you ever thought about adopting, I would be ok with that really" TC joked "and it'd just be me and none of the kids, I promise!" TC laughed as he leaned in to hug me and Maggie.
"Thomas! Congratulations!" Chuck said as he stuck out his hand. "Thanks Chuck!" I said accepting his hearty handshake. "Congratulations Thomas!" Besty said as she gave me a huge hug "I just new there was something special between you two!" "Nana!" Lily yelped out of excitement from somewhere behind me. "Whoo! Goodness gracious!" Besty said surprised "there's my precious!" "Nana! I have two doggies and come see the horses!" she said leading Betsy away by the hand. "It's ok, I'll keep an eye on her! You two go on and enjoy your party!" she called out behind her.
"So, they had a party because the horse didn't have any legs?" asked Francis. "Now, I thought it was the horse's birthday" wondered Chuck. "No, that isn't quite right. At any rate it was funnier when Thomas told it" Higgins said lost in thought. "So what are you going to do with the Ferrari? You know what you could get for that at auction?" asked Francis changing the subject. "You know I hadn't really put any thought into the matter" said Higgins "I suppose if Thomas wants it, then he may have it. I always felt ridiculous driving it." "So then what are you driving these days?" asked Chuck. "A Bentley that perhaps is getting a bit long in the tooth" Higgins said woefully. "But you know, after all of this I may just end up buying another Ferrari!" he said with a big belly laugh.
"Oh no you didn't! Please tell me you did not bring that thing here!" TC yelled at Rick, who had changed clothes and was now holding a garden hose in one hand and a Water Wiggle in the other. "I was just gonna, you know, test it out. And make sure it was safe, you know for the kids and all" Rick said surprised. "Hey if you want to go and give yourself a black eye, that's all your own business, but if you think I'm going to stand here and.." TC argued. "Oh no TC, I bet this'll be real good" I said with a sly smile "go ahead and turn it on Rick." "Thanks Thomas. It's fun TC, you watch" said Rick as he bent down to connect the Water Wiggle to the garden hose. Rick walked back over to the spigot and turned the handle. The Water Wiggle quickly sputtered to life and eerily rose off the ground on a stream of water. "See? There's nothing to it! It moves around a bit and you get wet, it's fun!" Rick said as he chased the Water Wiggle as it bobbed and weaved around on the lawn. "Yea that's until somebody gets hurt" TC said. "Aw come on TC nobody is going to get hurt!" Rick said as he turned around to face me and TC. In doing so, he tripped over the garden hose which sent the Water Wiggle into a dive where it bounced off the ground and caught Rick soundly between the legs. TC and I doubled over with laughter at the irony of the situation and the sight of Rick lying, curled up in pain on the ground. "Sorry" I said between gasps of breath and laughter "we're really sorry Rick." "Yea real funny guys!" Rick groaned.
"I hope you haven't decided to get rid of the Queen Anne couch from the upstairs suite, you know it's always been one of my favorites" Agatha said to Higgins. "It has been laid to rest in it's current position in the hallway due to the unfortunate adolescent nature of two of Thomas' close associates. However it was supposed to have been placed in storage some time ago to allow Thomas and Maggie to take up residence in the upstairs suite" Higgins replied. "So I assume you'll be wanting to put your own personal touches onto the main house then?" Agatha asked Maggie. "Oh we're not staying that long, it's just temporary until we can have an addition built onto the guest house. And even then still, it's Thomas' old bachelor pad and I'd be lucky then if I could even manage to get him give up half his junk" Maggie said with a laugh.
"Oh, I see" Agatha said dejectedly. "Well" Maggie said, noticing her change in tone "would you like to help out Agatha? There's going to be so much to do." "Oh if you think I could be useful" Agatha said hopefully. "Of course!" Maggie said "I could always use another woman's opinion and it would be fun to have somebody to talk to!" 'You know, when I was a little girl my mother worked within The Royal Household and there were very few children in the palace at the time and hardly any of them were ever little girls. And so one day I was invited to visit with Elizabeth for the day and we got on so well we ended up spending hours trying on her dresses. And ever since then she's always told me that I have very good taste."
"Elizabeth" Higgins said dumbfounded "Her Majesty, Elizabeth?" "Yes Johnathan, I've told you I'm friends with Elizabeth" Agatha said. "When" Higgins stammered "when, did you tell me?" "Many times Johnathan" Agatha said. "I would have recalled" Higgins said shocked. "Well where do you think I got my hat from then?" Agatha asked. "That's the Queen's hat?" Higgins said astonished. "I wore it on my birthday and you mentioned that you liked my hat. And then I said that I saw Elizabeth wear it during her Christmas message last year and I had told her I thought it was a lovely message and how much I liked her hat and she sent it to me this year for my birthday." Agatha responded. "I surely would have recalled" Higgins said in disbelief. "No, it's because you simply don't listen Johnathan" Agatha said. "Yea Johnathan, how come you never told me Agatha was so interesting?" Maggie asked. "I simply had no idea" Higgins said with his mouth agape.
"Oh come on Rick, it is funny!" I said as I leaned over to give Rick a hand up. "Yea never mind all that, whose the big shot pulling into the estate? Check out that getup!" Rick said looking at something behind me. I turned around to see a long white stretch limo parked halfway up the driveway in front of which a short figure wearing a white suit was putting on a ridiculously over sized ten gallon hat. "Hey" I said "it's Robin!" In the distance I could see Higgins and several other people walking over to greet him. I left Rick and TC as I lightly jogged across the lawn to the limo.
"And Thomas!" he said in that Orson Welles voice of his as he turned to greet me. "Congratulations!" he said hugging me around the midsection. "Hello Robin" I said surprised. "I'm sorry I couldn't have been here sooner. Bad weather you know, torrential rain! I told the stewardess we must quickly get out of it and into a dry martini!" "I'm glad you could make it!" I said laughing. "Actually, in all seriousness I was detained at a press conference at which I declared my intent to dispense with this charade between Johnathan and myself and that I was returning here to settle the matter, post haste!" Robin said.
"You what?" Higgins demanded "Once again you've forced my hand! Ever since The Adventure of the Lost Idol you've been doing this to me!" "Done what?" asked Rick as he and TC finally caught up with the group. "Manipulated me! That is exactly how I got to be stuck with him!" Higgins said as he gestured at me. "It was simply for your own good Johnathan! You refuse to be honest with yourself" Robin explained "the era of pulp fiction has long past us by and in the meantime with which you've walled yourself up in this tomb you've made out of the estate and you've barely written all but a scant few of the thinnest novellas in the past fifteen years while working on your memoirs! Why do you think I've been sending all those writers and artists to the estate over the years?"
"I can only assume to drive me mad" Higgins glowered. "It was to get you to loosen up, Johnathan and have a little fun!" Robin laughed "you've always had such a stick up your back side, even at all those parties you claimed were my idea!" Robin's tone changed drastically "nevertheless, you've had the papers drawn up for well over a year now. I think it's time that we give our final bow and enjoy the rest of the party with our little cast of players."
Higgins sighed and then said glumly "You're quite right of course. You'll have to forgive me, this moment is not something I have been looking forward to." "It's just change Johnathan and not the end of the world" Agatha said as she put her arm around Higgins' shoulders.
It was approaching twilight and the sound of the wedding band tuning up could be heard drifting over the lawn, when suddenly the trees and bushes sprang to life with the glow of a thousand tiny lights.
"My Johnathan, it's beautiful!" Agatha said. "Indeed it is" Higgins replied. "Wouldn't it be wonderful to dance in the moonlight under all the lights?" Agatha wondered aloud. Higgins considered her notion "Yes, it would. I haven't danced in ages."
"That is some crazy getup you got yourself there" Chuck said walking up to Robin with Betsy and Lily. "Do you like it?" Robing asked "I have three more in the limo!"
"The Adventure of the Lost Idol?" TC asked me surprised. "What, I never told you guys about that?" I said as I leaned over to pick Lily up. "No!" said Rick. "Well, I'd love to tell you about it guys" I said as I put my arm around Maggie and started walking towards the dance floor "but right now I'm going to go dance with my Wife and daughter."
"That's really the Queen's hat?" wondered Higgins as he walked arm in arm with Agatha. "Yes, Johnathan!" Agatha laughed.
* Author's Note:
Finally it's finished! I'm sorry it took so long.. This is the first large scale thing I have written and I apologize if the editing seems rough or inconsistent. But you made it to the end and I thank you! Please let me know what you think.
Thank you again for reading.