It wasn't the norm for them to meet, or for the occasion to last very long, but after traveling to Italy via their taste buds and crossing the Sahara of tar and asphalt they now lounged in Mark’s living room with the smell of melted mozzarella, spinach, and pepperoni permeating their skin.
Mark's home had become a hub for holidays, birthdays, and brunches. It was the unofficial den for ideas, bullshit, fun, and food: an oasis for the wandering mind.
Mark, Sam, and Dustin weren't always the Three Musketeers; they had a fourth. And after waiting, chatting, eating, and repeating, two hours had passed and the fourth, known better as Will, was nowhere to be found.
As they lounged, a fifth pottered around. The new edition to the clan was Jasmine, Mark’s best friend and co-owner of the den, who never missed a beat.
This lazy Sunday afternoon, they embarked on tirades from gentrification to higher education, career expectations, and, of course, Will.
Sam and Dustin had accepted Will's non-committal behavior, his ability to be there one minute and gone the next, his mastery of flaking—but they couldn't understand why Mark wouldn’t accept it.
Mark refused to accept Will's behavior because he thought by accepting it he was condoning it, and he refused to be treated like a second-class citizen. (Mark had his own issues of abandonment.)
On this particular day, after Will's third no-show in a row, Dustin suggested a game, mostly to quell Mark’s annoyance. The game was simple: what happened to Will?
The glee in Dustin’s voice as he posed the question was slightly unnerving, bordering on maniacal, as if he knew the answer already but kept it to himself.
For a moment Mark thought the game was silly, but as he looked at Dustin and then Sam he said, "Fuck it, I'll go first.”
"Last night Will was at a bar." They all looked at each other with the same expression of no surprise.
"What started as a routine night at his local turned into a night of road drinking…”
Will, Mob-Tony, Black Jimmy, Mickey Bones, and Butch all stumbled into Mob-Tony’s Sentinel.
The road drinking took them upstate, and without their knowledge, Mob-Tony gave them a tour of where the bodies were buried.
When Tony reached for another beer, taking his eyes off the road, he heard the familiar thud and crunch of the bumper hitting fabric and flesh at 60mph, sending his thoughts to bury the evidence.
Tony knew all of his passengers heard the smack, thud, and roll of the body hitting the ground behind the Sentinel, but he also knew they all shared his questionable moral code.
When Will heard the wet smack he knew his weekend was shot, so he fired off his last text saying he wouldn’t be around—Looks like weather will be disgusting tomorrow. As he hit send, Mob-Tony turned to his passengers and requested their phones. Now doomed to be sober, he handed Mob-Tony his phone and reached in the cooler for his last beer.
Will, Mob-Tony and the others stood in the shade of the forest as the moon illuminated the fresh plot of dirt in front of them. Mob-Tony spoke in an unwavering tone, “This day never happened. Tomorrow we talk to no one, and Monday is just another day.” With those words weighing the air down, Will looked at his friends—now accomplices—and knew he was tied to them forever.
As Mark finished his story of Will’s misadventure in the woods, Sam seemed eager to go, almost as if he was only listening to know when to take his turn.
Sam’s sense of humor wasn’t much different from any of the members of the group, except he tended to apologize for things he thought weren’t PC.
“So I think Will’s been gone for weeks now. After a long day of drinking, blow, hookers, and Netflix...”
In a haze Will watched Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a reminder to him that he loved road trips. While he enjoyed the euphoric afterglow from The Mouth of an Angel, he looked up to see Desperado was now playing. From that moment, he decided his life would be better anywhere but here.
After convincing The Mouth of an Angel to join him on his journey, he was on the road—in her car—creating his very own Hunter S. Thompson adventure.
One night, after traveling closer to the border, Will and his Angel stopped for free HBO and a place to sleep. And while she retired to the shower, he retired to the bed and ingested The Hangover Part III. As the hangover marinated in his mind, the excitement of a solo adventure gripped him, sending him out the door, car keys in hand, leaving Mr. Chow cackling on TV and his Angel washing the grit away.
“As we speak, Will’s ruling a small Columbian town, selling contraband, loving life, and hating the heat, while his pet spider monkey wreaks havoc on the villagers.”
A small smile and apology followed Sam’s story. “Sorry I had to make it a little racist.”
Sam seem satisfied by his story, it ticked all the boxes for an extraordinarily cinematic reason why Will was MIA.
Read on >> Missing Will (Part 2)
Written by Jamal A. Bilal
Illustration by Fabian Lelay