“You can talk,” Ross said in shock, stating the obvious.
“I“—Otis went quiet, staring down at the journal. “I think“—he tapped the page in Charles's journal that had caught his eye even as they had been figuring out who murdered him.
My father dragged me away from the theater almost immediately after the final curtain had descended. He told me in no uncertain terms that I was coming with him to the opening night party and he would brook no argument. Given no choice, I went with him, leaving behind a devastated and wan-looking Otis. That was the last I ever saw of the one man that I would ever truly love.
He did not, quite obviously, come to the party. Of the few people who actually noticed that he was not there, only one seemed concerned. She told me that she had seen him going into his dressing room and he looked quite ill. “Nerves,” she said in explanation. My feeling was that he was in shock because I had deserted him in favor of my father. I had tried to tell him all that evening, before the curtain rose and then during the intermissions, but always there was someone with him.
Early the next morning I went looking for him, even daring to go to his family home. The maid who opened the door told me to wait while she inquired if he was available for a visitor. She returned shortly to tell me that he had not returned home last evening. I asked if this was normal, knowing in fact that it was because often he spent the whole night with me. I was hoping, I suppose, that she would tell me that he would spend nights out with friends and then I could ask for their names. However she just nodded before closing the door, leaving me standing on the porch like some transient beggar looking for a handout.
For the next month, I spent as much time as I possibly could searching for him. It was to no avail. He had vanished as if he had never existed. If his family was also looking for him, I saw no sign of that.
In the end, I gave up. I knew I would never find him, but every night I prayed that he would return. Hope died, eventually, but not my love for him. That will always be with me until the day I die. And beyond.
“I think,” Otis said, his voice scratchy from disuse. “I think I had to know who slew me. But more, I had to know that Charles's love for me never died. Now, my dear friends,” he smiled at Ross and Kirk, “I believe I can finally move on and, as Hamlet says, ‘Shuffle off this mortal coil’.” He threw back his head, laughing joyfully, and vanished.
“The rest is silence,” Kirk said softly. “Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
“One can only hope that somewhere out there,” Ross waved his hand to encompass the world and beyond, “the two of them are reunited.”
Kirk smiled, wrapping his arm around Ross’ shoulders. “I’m sure they are, if there is any justice at all. They deserve that much.”