“Honey, where is Ben?” Andy Dwyer asked his wife of one year. Their internet was down and usually their roommate Ben would fix it within the ten minutes it was down and it had been three days and the internet was still down and the dishes in the sink were as dirty as Andy had left them.
“I don’t know, maybe he is shacking up with his gay lover.” April suggested as she came into the room and sat cross-legged on the sofa next to her husband. “We are out of milk.”
“Honey, he is not gay.” Andy said as he pulled her close to him and placed a peck on her cheek. “And even if he was, which I know he is not because I know things, he would tell us if he was going to disappear for days.”
“If you are so worried about him, go look for him and have his gay babies.” April suggested nonchalantly.
“I shall.” Andy replied, jumping to his feet. “You are a genius, honey. This is just the case for Burt Macklin.” he tried to do a somersault but instead felt face forward and his legs smashed into their cheap coffeetable, breaking it into pieces. “I’m okay.”
“We won’t be able to do this week’s show because of you.” April scoffed. After a break of six months spending Ben’s money, the Dwyer-Ludgate Ludgate-Dwyer unsynchronized swimming duo was back to do a show in the upcoming weekend. She didn’t say it out loud but April wanted Ben to be back because he had promised he would watch the show at the front seat. And also she wanted to get fifty bucks from him to buy a more expensive waterproof hair gel.
“I’ll be there at that show. With my trunks. With or without Ben. But first I need to wash my trunks in bubble bath.” Andy said as he went to Ben’s bedroom. The bed was unmade and his laptop was still on. There was a coffee mug on his desk that was going moldy. He checked the laptop’s screen to see what his roommate was working on before he disappeared and after getting bored with the notes and numbers on the screen, he instead turned on a game of solitaire.
On the other side of Couer de Pawnee, Ben Wyatt walked into the kitchen to find Leslie Knope gone, a waffle already cold waiting for him on the table with a note: Have a nice day. Ron said he’d drop by. DON'T LEAVE THE HOUSE!
Just moments after he was done with his waffle and the dishes, there was a knock on the kitchen door. Ben Wyatt let Ron Swanson in who had confided in him that he loved riddles and solving a murder was almost like solving a riddle for him.
“Son, were you working on something else that would threaten somebody?” Ron Swanson finally asked the one question that had been bugging him for days. He felt like the Dead Boy was hiding something from him.
“Yes.” Ben simply said. He did not want to talk anyone about his side project that was likely what had gotten him killed in the first place.
“Dead Boy, you need to tell me what you were up to. For your own sake. For Leslie’s sake. The people who killed you are still out there. They did it once, I am sure they won’t hesitate again. And this time
it is not just you, but Leslie Knope is in this as well. I do not agree with Leslie most of the time and I might like solving murder mysteries but that does not mean that I would like to solve her murder.”
“You are in this, too.” Ben added but Ron Swanson simply shook his head. “I do not want Leslie to be in any trouble. But I am not sure how to say this. There was a reason why I came to Couer de Pawnee. Do you know my past?”
“I don’t know and I don’t care.” Ron replied. “I do not care about other people’s personal lives. I had a colleague I worked with for three years and never learned his name. Best friend I’ve ever had.”
“Wow, that’s… encouraging.” Ben said. “I came to Couer de Pawnee to solve the corruption. It took me a year and three months to find the source of the corruption. I was in that park that night to meet an anonymous source who was going to give me the concrete evidence I needed. Then the next thing I know, I was looking at Leslie. ”
The facts were these: Unbeknownst to him, while looking into corruption in the government of Coeur de Pawnee, Ben Wyatt had also made some enemies both in the government and outside the government. There were some people who were against the research Ben Wyatt was doing on the government of Coeur de Pawnee’s corruption. And those were some powerful enemies.
The candy maker company of Coeur de Pawnee called Bittersweetums was also the richest family in Coeur de Pawnee, if not the most powerful. They had made their wealth through making candy and providing jobs to the city and also through making sure the government of Coeur de Pawnee supported their wealth. They had friends in high places and their friends at those high places made sure that Newports, the family behind the company, were able to put other friends to other high places.
“So the Newports are responsible for your death?”
“Probably, I think.” Ben agreed. “I had found dirt on then. Nobody would believe me and the dirt without proof because they run this town.”
“We need that proof. Now.” Ron exclaimed, jumping to his feet. “Does Leslie know this?”
“No, I didn’t tell her. Bittersweetums provide the candy she has in her diner.” he answered. “She would be devastated.”
“She needs to know that you and Jerry died because of them, son.” Ron insisted.
Ben ran his hands through his hair, letting out an uneasy laugh. He found himself nodding. “Alright, I will. Tonight.”
“Good.” Ron gave one of those grins that made Ben completely uncomfortable. “Now, if you will excuse me, I’ll go home and eat some bacon and drink some scotch while watching ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’.”
“Why, is it your birthday?” Ben asked.
Ron Swanson eyes grew wider and he groaned. “Who told you that?”
“No, nobody told me that.” Ben mumbled, scared. “I just made a guess.”
“I don’t like people having personal information on me.” Ron Swanson said and pointed his finger at Ben. “Do not tell anyone what you know.”
“I… I won’t.” Ben stuttered. “Happy birthday.” he said under his breath but looking at Ron’s face, he hoped Ron didn’t hear it.
Following Leslie’s instructions and not wanting to cause further trouble, Ben decided to stay at the house until Leslie returned. He decided to watch some TV but watching murders and mayhem on TV did not seem to be a suitable pastime given he was murdered himself only a few days ago.
Sitting alone on a couch eating soup didn’t make time go faster. He didn’t know when Leslie was coming back. He decided go around the house, looking at all the items the Waffle Maker had in her house.
He did not want to make the same mistake and admit Leslie was a hoarder but in truth, she quite was. One corner of her living room was completely filled with stacks of newspapers, the oldest stack dating back to the 70s.
Trying to get one of the stacks with more recent dates, he hit and dropped one box. Ben Wyatt kneeled to pick up the box, only to notice a smaller box next to it. Curiosity got the best of him and he opened it, only to find himself staring into the face of his 18 year old self on the cover of a magazine. He lifted the box and brought it to the couch and started emptying out its contents. Ben Wyatt surprised to find clippings of his short time as the mayor of his hometown. He never knew if anyone actually had these, he was astonished to realize that Leslie Knope actually had them and kept them. Even his parents had gotten rid of the newspapers long befpre his college graduation.
Below the two copies of a major magazine with his face on the cover with a headline saying ‘Young and Reckless – The Story of how Ben Wyatt Became The Youngest and Shortest-Termed Mayor Ever’, Ben Wyatt found a yearbook. It took him only seconds to realize who it belonged to. Under her photo, a black and white photo where she was giving a wide, earnest smile, there was a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt. He looked at the photos, discovering how Leslie was not only a member but also a founder of more than five clubs and was nominated ‘the best likely to become the first female president’ and felt his heart pang. It was amazing to see the woman he liked as a teenager.
He heard keys turning and he instinctively tried to close the box and put it back to its place, but did not account for the box opening at the bottom, all of its contents scattering around on the living room floor. He felt himself caught red-handed when the Waffle Maker entered the living room and looked first at him, then at the floor.
“I thought I was being sneaky by trying to hide that.” she said before moving to collect the scattered magazines.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t want to intrude your privacy, I was bored.” Ben admitted and tried to help.
“It’s fine.” Leslie uttered, looking at Ben. She waited for him to put the magazines back into the box before following suit in order to avoid accidental touching.
“I can’t believe you have these.” Ben told her, looking into her eyes, not breaking contact.
Leslie felt herself getting embarrassed and exposed. It was true that she had followed the Teen Mayor’s short but important political career intently when she was a teenager and had the biggest crush on him. Having the said Teen Mayor in her house, having him look at her the way he was looking at her was undoing her. She felt like she was a teenager for a second. The more she spent time with him, she felt the crush she had on Teen Mayor Benji Wyatt turn into a crush on the now adult Ben Wyatt. To break the tension, she immediately took the box in her arms and carefully put it back to its place.
After dinner, they were sitting opposite to each other in the living room. Ben Wyatt was reading the day’s newspaper for a change to get himself ready to tell Leslie the truth while she was making a shopping list. Ben saw a small ad.
“Good lord.” he exclaimed. “My roommates. I forgot.”
His short sentences did not make any sense to Leslie Knope. “What about your roommates?” she asked.
“The Dwyer-Ludgate Ludgate-Dwyer show is this weekend. I had promised to them that I’d be there.”
“Ben, we can’t. It’s going to be their biggest show, it’s going to be crowded.” Leslie said softly. “We can’t risk it, your murderer might be there.”
“I know the risk, Leslie.” Ben replied. “They are my friends. I didn’t even let them know that I… died. They must be worried about me. And I promised them.”
“Ben…” Leslie pleaded.
“I will wear a wig or a costume, like you suggested to Ron.” he said. “I have front-seat tickets. Well, had. They are in my drawer at my desk at the City Hall.”
Leslie remained silent for a few seconds, thinking. She knew the risk but also tried to put herself in Ben’s shoes. He had simply dropped off from his own life, seeing some old familiar faces would do him good. And to be honest, she was really looking forward to the comeback show of The Dwyer-Ludgate Ludgate-Dwyers. She had always loved a good comeback story.
“Okay.” she said with a smile.
Ben smiled back. “If I could, I would hug you now.” he said.
Leslie looked at him and with a wider smile, she hugged herself, pretending to hug him. At that very moment, Ben was hugging himself, pretending to hug her, too.
Hello lovelies! I am sick at home, spending the night away while it is raining like crazy outside. Leave a comment and make my week!