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The Softball Game
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The Softball Game
by Twig

Harmony Funeral Home
Several Hours Later

Julian, still more than slightly drunk, stood outside the funeral home with his head cocked to one side.

"I wonder who died."

Behind him, the blind priest, Father Lonagon, wandered up.

"Excuse me," Julian tapped the old man on the shoulder, "Who died?"

"Someone important," said the priest, "But I don't know who it is."

Julian, ever curious, hurried into the darkened interior of the funeral home and flung open the casket. His eyes bugged out as he saw who was lying in peaceful, eternal rest.

"Oh my," he whispered, taking the first gulp out of his flask since Tabitha had tampered with it.

"Who is it?" the blind priest called from the doorway.

Julian, feeling slightly woozy from the drink, misunderstood the question, "It's Julian Crane," he said, identifying himself and not the corpse.

"Oh dear," said the priest, who hurried back outside into the rain.

Julian chugged down a bit more of his drink, suddenly feeling more than slightly woozy.

"Oh, not again," he muttered, as the world slowly turned black.



Grace stood in the kitchen, talking on the phone, while Sam towel dried his hair. They had dropped Kay, Miguel and Charity off at the hospital and were now relaxing in relative peace and quiet.

"Oh my," she said suddenly, and hung up the phone.

"What's wrong?" Sam asked her.

"That was Father Lonagon. He said somebody important just died."

"Someone died? Let's go find out who it was," Sam said to her, and having no lives of their own to speak of, that's just what they did.

Moments later they stood outside the funeral home, talking to the rather unhappy priest.

"I hear that it's Julian Crane," the priest said sadly.

"Oh no! Sam, Julian died!" Grace sniffled, making her way into the dimly lit parlor. She and Sam stood in front of the coffin and peered in.

Julian lay peacefully inside, flask still clutched in his pale hand.

"Oh Sam, this is horrible," Grace sobbed, "Poor, poor Ivy! She's been such a good friend to us lately, hasn't she Sam? She doesn't deserve this!"

"She's been a wonderful friend," Sam told her tightly.

"I should call her," Grace was bawling now, wiping at her eyes with a handkerchief, "she should get this news from a friend. Oh, poor Ivy!"

She hurried towards a pay phone.


Crane Mansion

The phone jingled sharply, and Pilar picked it up, her voice calm. "Crane Residence."

"Pilar?"

"Grace? Is that you?"

Grace was sobbing into the phone, "Pilar, I need to speak to Ivy."

"What's the matter? Is something wrong?"

"Oh Pilar…Julian's dead!" Grace wailed.

"Dios mio!" Pilar exclaimed in dismay, putting the phone down. She hurried to the foot of the stairs and called up, "Mrs. Crane!"

Ivy stepped down the stairs lightly, "What is it Pilar?"

"Grace Bennett is on the phone. She needs to speak to you."

Ivy rolled her eyes and grabbed the phone, "Hello Grace."

"Ivy…" Grace was almost inaudible past her sobs, "Ivy…oh I'm so sorry…"

"What's wrong?" Ivy asked, alarmed, "Did something happen to Sam? Is he all right?"

Grace sniffled, "No, Sam's fine. It's…It's Julian. He's dead!"

Ivy gasped and hung up the phone, uncertain whether it was horror or elation she was feeling.

"Julian…is dead?" she asked the air around her. And suddenly, inexplicably, she felt sad.



Harmony Funeral Home

The small funeral parlor filled up rapidly. Grace sat bawling in the corner, while Sam did his best to comfort her. Kay, now on crutches, hobbled around next to Simone, who's arm was held in a sling. Charity had a tight bandage wrapped around her head, and was being followed very closely by Miguel. Ethan and Theresa stood talking, matching bruises standing out on their foreheads.

"Gwen was just leaving for a business trip," Ethan said softly, "So she couldn't come to the funeral."

"Ethan, I'm so sorry about your father…" Theresa said earnestly, gazing into his eyes.

"Me too," he said with a sad little smile, sitting down in one of the plush chairs.

TC and Eve entered, TC wincing with each step he took.

"So Julian's dead," he commented, "and I didn't even have the pleasure of killing him."

"This is all my fault," Eve said suddenly, "If I hadn't lied to Grace about why we were moving, she never would have organized this softball game, all of these people never would have gotten hurt, and Julian never would have died!"

"How do you know Julian's death had anything to do with the game?"

"Father Lonagon said the person drowned while walking home. Julian was walking home from the game and fell in the harbor," Ivy said sadly.

"Well, one less Crane to worry about," TC shrugged.

Sheridan and Luis sat towards the back, out of view of most of the people in attendance.

"I can't believe Julian's dead," Sheridan said in a small, sad voice.

"I know," Luis said sympathetically, rubbing her back, "I'm really sorry."

"I never got along with him that well," she was shaking her head, "But I didn't want him to die. He's still my brother."

Luis said nothing, just wrapped his arm around her and pulled her closer to him. She sighed and laid her head on his shoulder.

"It's gonna be all right," he whispered to her.

The doors flung open and an unusual apparition drifted in.

"Is that…Ivy?" Grace had come out of her melancholy stupor long enough to notice the startling sight.

Ivy was decked out, head to toe, in black clothes. She clutched a crumpled handkerchief in one black-gloved hand, and a heavy black veil covered her face.

"Mother," Ethan said, hugging her.

Ivy said nothing, merely approached the casket with a grim slowness.

"She looks like the grim reaper's evil sister," TC chuckled, and Eve whacked him in the leg, causing him to yelp in pain.

The whole room fell silent as Ivy stood regarding her dead husband. After a moment, a loud wail echoed across the room, bouncing off the walls.

"JULIANNNNNNNNNNNNNN!" Ivy sobbed into her handkerchief.

There was an uncomfortable silence following her outburst. Everyone in Harmony knew that Ivy and Julian's marriage was far from perfect, and most thought that Ivy despised her husband and wouldn't care one way or the other whether he lived or died.

With unparalleled curiosity, the residents of Harmony watched as she leaned over the casket and looked at her dead husband's still face.

"Julian," she whispered to him, "there's something I need to tell you. I've always love-"

Julian sat up abruptly, blinking in the light. "Wha? Huh?"

As the spectators gasped in horror, Ivy recovered from the shock gracefully.

"JULIAN!" she snapped, slapping him across the cheek.

Julian, having woken up from the blue-powder-induced stupor he had fallen into, tumbled out of the coffin and staggered back up the isle, past the horrified spectators.

Ivy took a step back, watching him leave with a stunned expression on her face. Ethan came up behind her and touched her arm.

"Then who really died Mother?" he asked, glancing towards the coffin.

All attention turned to the casket in the front of the room once more, everyone holding their breath in anticipation. Ivy made her way back over slowly, peering in with a certain dread.

Her eyes widened briefly and she took a deep breath before wailing, "MILLICENT!"



Harmony Softball Field
1 Hour Later

Grace stood sadly on the field, glancing around at the places that earlier had been filled with people. She felt as though she had failed, herself as well as her friend. And now Eve Russell would still be moving away. She picked up a softball and hurled it at the backstop, reveling in the loud noise it made.

"AAH!" a figure, startled by the noise, leapt from the bushes.

"Julian?" Grace squinted through the rapidly darkening sky towards him.

He realized who he was talking to and backed away, shuddering, "Grace."

"What are you doing here?" she asked him curiously, "I'd think you'd want to be home…recovering…"

Julian scowled, "Ivy locked me out. Can you imagine? The conniving little witch locked me out of my own house. Just wait until Father hears of this…"

Grace, oblivious to his rantings, simply smiled at him, "That's horrible Julian. I'd think that she would be grateful that you're alive."

"She was hoping that I'd died a slow painful death, let me assure you," Julian took a sip from a new, un-tampered-with flask.

"I'm sure that's not the case. We were all very upset when we heard of your demise," Grace continued grinning at him.

Julian squinted into the sunset, realizing that in the dim light, Grace didn't look half bad. Ah, what the hell, he thought, walking towards her.

"Upset, were you?" he tried to smile.

"Oh yes. Devastated," Grace had picked up another softball and was tossing it up in the air.

"Well, then I suppose you're happy I'm still walking around?"

Grace grinned even wider, and he realized that all in all, she would always be a sappy, hopeless romantic of a housewife who had no life. "Of course I'm happy! It's always so sad when someone dies…I don't know what I'd do if Sam ever died…"

"Yes…that would be…a pity," Julian was inching closer.

"I felt so horribly for Ivy when we heard that you were dead, I mean she must have been so sad, because if Sam ever died, I think that I would just have to curl up and die, because I don't think I could live without my little Sam, and Sam always says that-"

Julian shut her up by kissing her. And Grace, to his surprise and slight repulsion, kissed him back.

<<A hell of a day>> he thought with a sigh.



Crane Mansion

Ivy, sitting forlornly in one of her many silk robes, regarded the locket that she always wore. So lost was she in a daydream of her future with Sam, that the sound of the phone nearly scared her to death.

"H-hello?" she stammered, closing the locket as though the person on the other line could somehow see what it contained.

"Ivy?"

She almost passed out at hearing Sam's voice, "Y-yes?"

"Why are you stuttering?"

"I…ah…I was outside when the phone rang. I had to run and get it."

"Is this a bad time?"

"NO!" she almost shouted, "no, it's not a bad time at all, I just-"

"Grace and Julian are having an affair."

Ivy dropped the locket and it slid across the floor, "WHAT?!"

"I saw them kissing down at the softball field," Sam's voice was unreadable.

"Oh…well…ah…" Ivy was at a loss for words. Julian had always despised Grace…

"Can I come over?"

She might have been surprised, but she was no fool, "Of course you can!"

And that was that.



Eve was standing outside of her house, gazing upon everything she had known all of her life, and was startled when Sam sprinted past.

"What's going on?" she asked him.

Sam paused, "I'm…ah…going to see Ivy."

Eve was suspicious, "Why?"

Sam merely grinned, and continued on his way. Eve cocked her head to one side, amazed. "Ivy got her way. Guess we're not going to have to move after all."

Then she hurried inside to tell her family.



Crane Cottage

Sheridan sat on the couch, shaking her head in amazement.

"You keep shaking your head like that, you're gonna hurt yourself," Luis cautioned, but she continued shaking her head from side to side.

"I just don't believe it," she finally said.

"That your brother wasn’t dead, just drunk?"

She shrugged, "That, and the fact that we all went to his wake in the first place. Not to mention all the accidents that happened at the softball game. And Ivy's good friend Millicent died."

"It is pretty amazing," Luis agreed.

"Not to mention the fact that your good friend Hank just won't give up. I mean, I know some people can be thick headed, you especially, but enough is enough!"

"Believe me, I've noticed."

She sighed and stretched out on the couch, "I guess he'll never get it."

"Look at it this way," Luis offered, "If he can't figure it out, it means that we're doing a good job of keeping this a secret."

"I guess we are."

"As long as your nephew doesn't spill the secrets because of all the times you've whacked him on the head. I mean, god knows what he's said since then…"

"Oh shut up," Sheridan said with a laugh, and kissed him.



Epilogue

Ethan stood outside Theresa's window, debating whether or not to pretend to be Romeo and start quoting Shakespeare to her. He wondered if she would be Juliet. Smiling to himself, Ethan tried to picture Theresa saying "Oh Ethano Ethano, wherefore art thou…" Yet somehow the image wouldn't stick in his head. In fact, he was suddenly getting a very frightening mental image of Gwen with a rather large ax looming up behind Theresa. <<Perhaps>> Ethan thought hastily <<We can save the Shakespeare for another night>>

And then, rubbing his head, he made his way back through the darkened streets of Harmony, unaware that Theresa was sitting right next to her window, watching his progress with a huge smile.

"It's fate," she whispered, for no one to hear but herself.

THE END


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