A strange day was when Dr. Warthrop secretly and suspiciously doing something behind Will Henry’s back. And what’s more comical was the fact that the Monstrumologist thought that he’d done it perfectly invisible without the knowledge of his indispensable assistant. But what made Will extremely irritated was the fact that he knew his doctor was doing something secretive, but he couldn’t manage to know exactly what.
So, Will decided to ask him dead in the eyes and straight to the point.
“What do you mean by working something behind your back, Will Henry?” the doctor asked as he sipped his newly brewed cup of tea.
The confidence inside Will Henry was soon to be vanished as the cold and dark eyes met his. The doctor wasn’t trying to be intimidating at any rate, but Will still get the impression that he was.
“I-I noticed lately that you’ve been working on something in the night. I mean, when I was dismissed for the day and went to bed,” Will tried to explain.
The doctor took a good time to process Will’s words by leaning his back against the old dining chair and stretched his bony legs under the table.
“You know I always working on something even though you’re already dismissed for the day, Will Henry. I don’t see why that could be something suspicious for you.”
“But,” Will inhaled deeply, “but you weren’t in the basement, sir.”
Warthrop, at this time, smiling at Will’s statement. The kind of smile that made Will a bit freaked out because the doctor rarely smiled.
“And where was I?”
At this point Will just wanted to say something like Oh never mind Dr. Warthrop. I’m just messing with you! Or Forget about that, doctor. How’s that thing laying dead on our necropsy table? Or anything that could deflect that question the doctor had asked. What if the doctor get mad because he was caught snooping around? And worse, he had the audacity to confront his master about what he’s been doing these days.
“Actually… uh… Never mind, sir. Maybe I’m just being ridiculous. Uh… again,” Will exclaimed, adding the last word so the doctor could be at least pleased at his self-understanding mockery.
When Will wanted to head back to his little attic room, Dr. Warthrop stood from his dining chair and blocked the way Will’s about to take.
“You didn’t answer my question, Will Henry. Where did you think I was every night?”
Oh, how Will Henry wanted someone to just cut his head off his shoulders and be done with his live. He couldn’t stand the sharp look on the doctor’s dark eyes and how demanding his sound was. But Will knew better than lying. After all, lying is the worst kind of buffoonery.
“I think I saw you booking some tickets, sir. And arranging a trip to New York.” Will finally confessed.
“You think? You’re not sure about what you know, Will Henry?”
Will just nodded. He couldn’t bring himself to do anything other than nodding.
The Monstrumologist chuckled and covered half of his face vertically with his lean fingers. Will was dead-panned because he thought laughing was the last response the Monstrumologist would gave him. But here they are.
“Oh well, John had told me that I’m not excellent at hiding something, let alone lying. He’s right, isn’t him?” the doctor spoke, still with an off smile.
“Mr. Chanler, sir?” Will asked, forgetting the fact that he’s supposedly not in the place to talk anyway further.
“Yes. And you’re correct, I’m afraid. I was planning for a trip to New York and there were some tickets that have been booked.”
Will’s worst nightmare proved to be true. The doctor was leaving him. For how many days, he couldn’t care less. Days, weeks, months, he’d still be leaving him. Searching for a new parent possibly. Or searching for an orphanage because the doctor wouldn’t take him under his wing any longer. Will was so devastated that he let out a simple “Oh.”
“What’s the matter? You don’t want to come?” the doctor asked confusedly.
“I don’t think so, sir. I should stay here and pack my stuff before you got back.”
The Monstrumologist’s furrowed forehead grew deeper as he heard Will’s response.
“I don’t think you understand my context here, Will Henry. You ought to come with me because I’ve already booked two tickets. And I can’t really imagine how this trip would go if I don’t have you by my side,” the doctor speak again.
“Why? Why do I need to accompany you if you can do it yourself?”
At this point Will was exactly offended by the doctor’s demand. For whatever reason must he come with the older man? To see if he liked the orphanage? Or to see how he liked his new parents? It’s ridiculous.
“Do it myself? How on earth should I do a vacation myself? While being alone is entirely my area of expertise, I have no desire to spend this vacation, which I’ve been planning for the past weeks, alone. And why are you acting so despicable all of the sudden?” the doctor’s voice climbed one octave higher.
“A-a vacation, sir?” Will replied, mentally realized that they weren’t talking about the same thing this whole time.
“Well, of course it’s a vacation. You’re fully aware that the colloquium isn’t until next month and we don’t have anything in particular to do something outside this house beside for vacation or for my work. And we don’t have any important work at the moment. So what does that leave us, Will Henry?” he asked rhetorically.
“A vacation, sir,” Will replied, his gaze glued to the ground.
“Yes, Will Henry, a vacation. Which will lead to my next question: why on earth you don’t have the desire to come with me? I was contemplating about telling you first but I decided to keep it as a secret. I feel extremely idiotic for choosing the later option now, thanks to you,” the doctor snapped.
“No, sir. I do want to come with you. Only I thought the trip to New York was for other purposes.”
“What other purposes?”
“I thought you want to send me away,” Will stated, as if the words were poison on his tongue.
The next sound Will caught in his ear was bizarre enough to made him cringe in silence. The doctor’s laugh sounded forced but somehow sincere. The muscles on his face throbbed oddly to Will’s eyes, he afraid it might’ve snapped off any minute. Somehow, Warthrop found Will’s response to be extremely hilarious beyond his liking.
“Oh, for whatever reason must you think that way, Will Henry? Good God, I haven’t laughed this hard for years!”
“I-I’m glad for you, sir,” Will responded awkwardly, not knowing what to say beside that.
And Will would be lying if he didn’t witness the doctor laugh some more. Even louder, if he had the guts to admit it.
“I apologize for that Will,” the doctor said as his laugh died down a little, ”I genuinely think that’s the best comedy someone has ever said.”
Will just stared at how the doctor rubbed away his tears from his eyes. He could admit that a good laugh really changed the doctor’s persona entirely. In a good way, of course.
“But seriously, for whatever reason must you think that way?”
“I don’t know…” Will admitted.
“Alright. Now you have known the whole picture, would you consider changing your decision?”
Warthrop’s offer sounded too good to be true in Will’s head. Not only the doctor never cared about his needs, but he’s offering something entirely hedonistic for their own liking. Vacation was always on the last list on every occasion in Warthrop’s agenda. But now a simple yes from his mouth would change that common habit.
“Yes, doctor. I’d like to come with you,” he finally said.
“Excellent. Now pack our things because we’re off to New York first thing tomorrow morning. Snap to Will Henry!”
And snap to Will did. He brought the large duffel bag from Warthrop’s library and stuffed it with the clothing they needed. Will thought about what should he wear on a vacation. Something casual or formal? Something comfortable or fancy? Should he brought sunglasses? Or a hat?
Then he remembered he didn’t have anything beside his normal clothes. The ones that weren't casual, but not too formal either. Than there’s the hat. Some extra pairs of old socks, and one old belt. But the Monstrumologist’s clothing was all a lot different. While dirty shirts and worn trousers were all the doctor wore on his daily basis, he possessed different kind of clothing for numerous occasions.
He asked the doctor about what should he pack inside their duffel bag, but only to caused a small war between them.
“No we don’t need that, Will Henry!”
“I was being perfectly clear when I said the black sock, Will Henry. Not the brown one!”
“Don’t forget my swimming kit... Yes, the blue one. What? You don’t have any swimming equipment? That’s fine, we’ll just buy it when we arrive at New York.”
“We don’t need sunglasses, if that’s what you’re implying, Will Henry.”
“Bring me my shoes, Will Henry. No, not that one. The other one. No-Yes! That one! Where’s yours, Will Henry? Oh for heaven’s sake bring yours first, boy!”
When the night came, Will was extremely exhausted. He plopped right above his bed with a tired groan. He knew packing under the doctor’s supervision was going to be hard because he apparently always saw something’s wrong. Even the littlest thing. He’s so critical to the point of being fussy. But deep down, Will sensed some form of excitement on each and every command his master screamed.
So, Will wasn’t entirely annoyed by the doctor. He’d done the same if he’s in the doctor’s place. He too was as excited as him.
Although he’s tired as a horse, he couldn’t bring himself to fall asleep. He watched the old clock on his nightstand turned later and later in the night, but not a single yawn slipped his lips. He grew impatient under the thin covers, feet jittering unconsciously as he groaned in dissatisfaction.
Maybe a glass of warm milk with honey could calm my nerve down, thought himself. Then he’s off downstairs straight to the kitchen. He made sure to walked softly when he passed the doctor’s room. Waking the doctor up was the last thing he wanted to do.
His heart felt like it fell from its place when he saw a white silhouette minding its own business on the kitchen counter.
“Can’t sleep either, Will Henry?” the doctor asked, without turning his back to Will Henry.
Will had no idea how the doctor could recognize his presence. And if he had, he hadn’t got the audacity to ask about it. He let out a small ‘yes’ and sat on his usual dining chair. The little boy noticed that Warthrop has already prepared for another mug beside his. Will felt a weird butterfly feeling on his stomach.
“I suppose we both can’t contain our own excitement, can we?” the doctor chuckled, as he brought Will a mug filled with steamy milk.
“I think so, sir.”
They sat in silence for a moment. Warthrop watching his brewed dark tea while Will Henry stirring his hot milk, surprised at how a handful of honey was already on the depth of his mug. Will stole a glance toward the doctor and quickly averted his gaze back to his mug right after Warthrop caught it.
In normal times, Warthrop would ask what’s wrong since he hated silence exchange. But that night he let it passed.
“What are we going to do in New York, sir?” Will asked curiously.
“I don’t know. You tell me,” the doctor replied before he sipped his tea.
Will widened his eyes. He’s been to New York once and yet he didn’t know much about it. He didn’t know about tourist sites or other fun places he should be visiting. Was there any amusement park he’s dying to go to? Was there a museum he’s got to see? So many questions spiraling inside his brain that Warthrop could see it clearly on the child’s face.
“I will bring John, if that helps,” Warthrop added.
Warthrop knew the boy has a strong bond with his best friend, and he couldn’t blame Will. John was a kind being and Warthrop trusted him completely. He might act like he didn’t, but he did. And John knew this wholeheartedly.
Will’s face automatically lit up ten times shiner when he heard the man’s name spoken from his master’s mouth. He’d been dying to meet John Chanler again since their first met last year on the colloquium. He found excitement and happiness in John Chanler, it almost felt like having a friend around his age.
“John would come and pick us in the station and drive us to our hotel, which I booked just around two blocks from his resident,” Warthrop continued.
“Thank you, sir,” was Will could ever said after all the excitement that’s been brought to him in such a short amount of time.
The doctor raised one of his firm eyebrow, “whatever for, Will Henry?”
“For arranging this vacation. For letting me be part of it.”
Will’s tone was so genuine and soft it touched Warthrop’s heart. And the best part was, Will hasn’t asked the question of why the doctor would busy himself over a single vacation. Warthrop was so afraid the boy would ask that to him because he didn’t have one logical answer. And he didn’t like not knowing.
“Well, I was thinking, supposedly, we’re in a need for…distraction. And I thought, supposedly, a vacation will do good…for our distraction,” the doctor replied possibly with a stutter. It’s not often the doctor lost something to say, and when he did, Will giggled.
“It’s best if we’re off to bed right now, Will Henry. I will not tolerate it if you wake up late for tomorrow morning,” the doctor spoke quickly, hiding his embarrassment.
“Yes of course, doctor.”
“Good night, Will.”
And with that, Warthrop left the young boy alone on the dining room, not giving Will the chance to say it back to him. Will was still feeling that odd sensation on his stomach right after the doctor wished him a good night. It’s not the first time the Monstrumologist wished him something like that, but it’s the very first time the Monstrumologist wished it like that. Voice as soft as the wind but at the same time as warm as summer time.
Will wondered what had happened to his master’s head when he decided to planned all of this. Did he knock his head off? Did he fell? Did he damaged his head for some reason? Because Will Henry couldn’t think of one single reason of why that man he knew so well planned something as sentimental as a vacation.
Will honestly thought it’s just a sweet dream he’s having in the middle of his short-time sleep. He thought he’d get up any minutes now and realized it wasn’t real at all, and he’s just imagining it in his sleep. When he woke up, he must done his routine like he had done it numerous times and nothing would change it.
But no, it was real. Because he had pinched himself right before he started packing the stuff they needed for the upcoming trip. It was all real when he felt that soothing liquid from his mug down his throat. He couldn’t believe it, but it was all real.
And he thanked the God for all that’s real.
“Good night, sir,” he finally said.