A DECISION ACTED UPON
He didn't quite know what he expected. The tapes certainly played in his head though. Of all the multitude of sensations that he ran into, expected or unexpected, on returning home, maybe, Will thought, the sensations of going back to Fontino's for a pizza were the richest.
Moving back had always been a hope, a desire of his, ever since he and Evan, his brother moved away and began to claw their way into the entrepreneurial world that they'd chosen for themselves.
Will didn't always admit it at first but this idea of 'returning home' was a strong one for him. It had such great memories to begin with! There was just the feel of the place, of the town and the lovely, slow and friendly ambience of it. Those were things to live by and live for.
Nor were they ever far from his mind, as they made their way, he and Evan and slowly but surely, plowing everything that they made or could get a hold of into the business, watching it build up and grow.
The final plan of a new plant and outlets here in the home town was his idea. Evan wasn't sure if it was right, at first, but he'd been insistent and it had proven to be a good move.
Once that much was accomplished and the business was a super kind of success, he had made his final decision to 'return home', and maybe, just maybe, this night's adventure for a pizza dinner at Fontino's might be, for him, Will Sugar, the final capstone.
It simply felt so nice to fade away and not be thought of again, as he saw it, but come back a success, if not a downright hero--no the days for being a hero for him and Evan were over.
The issue of hero or success or any of those kinds of words and thoughts were firmly lodged, however, in Will's mind and were part of what pleased him.
There was also, to be sure, an element of setting himself right. He knew that if anyplace could help him with that kind of process it was the home town. The pain of Ginny's final decision that his 'money' was new money and didn't really command the respect of 'old money' that she was used to, was still, after more than 19 months, still too raw. Will was hoping, simply hoping that this 'returning home' adventure might be his cure, getting back to the simpler way that he remembered growing up.
All of his feelings from the very first seemed to prove that this much was true. Will settled into the life of the town. Trying, at first, to be sort of incognito, so that he could get a chance to look around and feel the life of this lovely town again but slowly.
And it had worked. He felt more alive, and more relaxed and better able to cope with general living than he had in many years. 'Returning home' was simply working for Will Sugar. He bought a house too large but he loved it and settled into living there.
Evan had wished him the joy of it but had also said that in spirit he'd gone on and didn't feel a need to get back to the old roots, the old town.
But then Will knew that Evan had Gail and the girls and had roots of his own where they'd made their start and had their first successes. Will knew that Evan had built a home there and was content. But they'd both agreed that in branching out with their operations and sales outlets, they would need a major managerial presence back 'in town'. Will said that he was certainly up for that task.
So, here he was, on the verge of going through the time machine door, treating himself to that slow walk back into the past. He expected the ambience of it and really not much more, but the ambience alone would be a treat.
Will entered the door of the pizza parlor, and somewhere his mind was tossing up for his remembrance the old scene: a post football gathering. Every time one of the starting team members went through the door, the crowd, cheer leaders, majorettes, kids from school would break into song:
"Rah, rah, rah, hoorah for Sugar, hoorah for Sugar, someone in the crowd is yelling hoorah for Sugar, hoorah for Sugar, hoorah for Sugar he's our man!"
The remembrance of the song was a tonic for Will's spirit. He realized only being home could do that. He heard, in his mind's far off wandering, the song being sung first for him and then for Evan as they came into Fontino's separately. They were glory days.
He had no illusions about anyone seeing or recognizing him. His hair was prematurely, at 36, white so he wasn't sure he'd be recognized.
The place seemed the same, as he entered the door. There were a few people there, as he glanced around and selected a table for himself. A few tables over a very pretty woman, dark haired was sitting with an also pretty, red haired, little girl. They were giggling about something and seemed to be enjoying themselves.
He wracked his brain to see, discover who she looked like and the name of Alice Longworth flashed through his mind. But he shook his head then, and said to himself:
"No those kinds of coincidences don't exist. This is your mind playing tricks."
He let it go at that, not wanting to call up his own ghosts to spoil his 'return'. The thoughts that crowded his mind about his crush on Alice Longworth, while they were in high school, were, at least at that point, not welcome. He was too much caught up in reliving a part of the past that was almost sacred and, to him, that important.
He ordered a beer and a personal sized pepperoni pizza and settled back with his thoughts.
Two tables over the woman got a phone call. She turned to the little girl, who was busy talking about something and said:
"Honey, I have to take this call; Mommy's sorry but it's important. It's about work."
Then his wandering attention was captured totally, when the woman answered the phone saying:
"Hello, yes, this is Alice Longworth..."
He heard her acknowledge a temp job for the next day but didn't hear any more of the conversation. It was as though he was simply struck almost dumb by this final coincidence. This certainly hadn't been a part of 'returning home' for him. He'd hoped that he'd buried all of those kinds of longings with the bad taste and despicable memory of Ginny. He shook his head as though trying to clear his head.
He came out of his reverie only to find that she was standing next to his table.
"I'm sorry to bother you," she said, "But you look so much like an old friend of mine."
"Yes?" he asked pleasantly.
By then the little girl had joined him.
"Sorry," she said, continuing, "But are you, by any chance Will Sugar?"
"Found me out!" he said, pushing out of his mind those thoughts about not wanting to dwell on Alice and the past or anything like that.
"Yes," he said, "Alice!" and explained that he'd heard her answer the phone.
He stood as he said it and was flabbergasted by her giving him a hug.
"It's been so long!" she said, "Will it's nice to see you!"
"Yes, Alice," he said, "A real treat!"
"Do you mind if I, if we sit here a bit?" she asked.
"Sorry," he said, "My manners are out with the chickens. Please do."
"Honey," she said, addressing the little girl, "This is an old friend of mind, Will Sugar; this is my love Wendy."
"Hey, Wendy," he said, holding out his hand. "You're such a pretty little girl. You look like your Momma did at your age."
Wendy giggled and shook Will's hand.
"I realize this is a bother," Alice said but he said immediately that it was no such bother at all. "But to see you here in Fontina's, after all these years. It seems that no one has heard anything from you or, wasn't it 'Evan'?, since high school."
"Yes," he answered, "Evan. He and I have been busy planning and struggling and building up a business."
"Good for you," she said. "How's it going?"
"Fine," he said, and mentioned the name of their sporting goods business and new retail outlet.
"Of course," she said, "Sweet Equipment! That's you! How marvelous!"
He smiled. "Yes, local people have been very happy with our plans to expand and put some of our manufacturing and retail outlets here in town."
"I guess they have been," she said.
"So, how are you doing?" she said. "I see that business life has made you prematurely white."
"I think he's handsome, Momma," Wendy said in a tone of voice that didn't look for anyone to disagree with her.
"Yes, honey," Alice said, "I agree; I was just talking about his white hair."
Will laughed and said: "See, I have at least one person on my side."
"So, tell me about you!" Alice went on, picking up as the old friend that she was so many years in the past.
"Well, it's been business really!" he said.
"Married? Family?" she asked.
"No," he said softly, "Got kind of left at the altar and wasn't eager to try out the experience again."
"Oh, I'm sorry," Alice said, "I didn't mean to pry, Will."
"No, of course not!" he said, "Old history now, and I've returned home with the business to polish off my recuperation time."
Then Wendy spoke up again: "My daddy left us and then he died," she said.
"Wendy!" Alice said but Wendy gave her a resolute look.
"I'm sorry to hear that!" Will said to Wendy especially, and the little girl nodded her head.
"Also, old history now," Alice said.
"Johnnie?" he asked softly.
"Yes," she said.
There was a silence that was finally interrupted by Wendy:
"Momma, I'm hungry!"
He laughed, "And here we are getting lost in old, painful memories. What a reunion this is! So, let's order. Wendy, what will it be? It's on me!"
"Oh, no," she said, "I didn't mean that."
.... There is more of this story ...