Well, today our journey ends. I've been following Roy and Dustin, and before them Marshall and Lee, for the past few years. But all good things come to an end, and so it is with them. I hope you have enjoyed the journey. Next week I'll start something completely different. In the meantime, stop by and say howdy to the boys, as we watch the end of their Fourth of July. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!
The Sheriff #59 (Epilogue 2)
Once darkness fell, Lee began to shoot off fireworks. Being the careful type, he’d taken all precautions and had safety equipment on hand, just in case. Marshall acted as his assistant. Dustin would have volunteered, but Roy said this was a ritual the two men had had for a long time, and he’d learned to let them do their own thing. So Roy and Dustin sat back and enjoyed the show, content just to be together. Technically, they were both on duty, and would respond to a call, if they received one. Hopefully, that wouldn’t happen.
Lee had gotten quite an impressive array, from fountains and ground spinners to bottle rockets. Dustin thought the fountains were pretty, and he liked the way the spinners spun. He’d seen fireworks before, of course, but this time felt more special. Probably because he was sharing it with people he really cared about. And a man he loved.
“Here.” Roy lit a sparkler and handed it to Dustin before lighting another one for himself.
“I haven’t seen one of them since I was a kid.” Dustin gave Roy an inquisitive look. “Aren’t we a little old for these?”
“Maybe. But it gives me an excuse to see your face,” Roy said with a wink.
Dustin felt his cheeks grow warm, but in a good way. He took Roy’s free hand in his own and twined their fingers. “I like the way you think,” he said.
A short yip came from behind him. The sound startled Dustin so much he almost fell out of his chair, right onto Roy. Roy laughed and anchored Dustin’s chair before it collapsed.
“Don’t be scared, she won’t hurt you.”
“Her bark is definitely worse than her bite,” a female voice added from the darkness. Dustin saw two shadowy figures approach. As they stepped close enough to see, he realized they were neighbors of Marshall and Lee—Sarah and Craig Ferguson, who lived just across the road. The bark came from their Chow Chow, Ritsu. He liked the dog and had played with her before when he and Roy ran into the couple around town.
Ritsu ran up to them, sniffing at each of them in turn before barking at Roy, who laughed.
“Guess I know what that means,” he said. Removing his hand from Dustin’s, he reached down and gathered up the excited dog, who barked even louder. “Well hello, princess,” he greeted her. He held her close enough that she could lavish wet kisses on his cheek. Dustin had to laugh.
“Looks like your girlfriend’s here now.” He turned toward the dog’s owners. “Hey Sarah, Craig.”
“Hey Dustin,” Sarah replied, echoed by her husband.
“Hey guys,” Marshall greeted them as he approached. “You’re just in time for the grand finale. I can grab a couple of chairs real quick, and some beer…”
“Naw, we’re good standing,” Sarah and Craig both said.
“I won’t say no to the beer, though,” Sarah added. A moment later, they each had a cold bottle in hand, and Lee was standing with them too.
“Just in time for the grand finale,” he said.
“Told you we’d make it.” Sarah stuck her tongue out at her husband, who held up his hands in surrender.
“I know, you’re always right,” he conceded without argument.
Dustin couldn’t help but smile. He liked them, and thought they made a cute couple. Lee opened a box and drew out something that resembled a number of tubes bundled together. It looked fascinating. And potentially dangerous. When everyone else moved back to a respectful distance, Dustin did too, holding fast to Roy’s hand. Lee carefully lit the fuse and backed up himself.
The sky lit up in a multitude of colors, one after another—red, blue, purple, white—each color its own display, timed so when one ended, the next began. For a few minutes, everyone standing in the backyard was illuminated clearly in the glow of the fireworks.
Roy squeezed Dustin’s hand and Dustin squeezed back. Nothing was said between them, but everything was understood.
This would go down in Dustin’s memory as the best Fourth of July ever, and the best year ever. The year he found love and began his new life. He moved closer to Roy and leaned against him comfortably, watching the fireworks until the last beautiful color faded away into the night.
Now to visit the other Briefers and see what they're up to!