Arlo’s Last Day
A young Arlo stands beside his father, complaining that he’s tired as Roscoe teaches him how to properly nail together a door frame. Roscoe, patient as ever, doesn’t abscond him for complaining. He stops working, kneeling down by his son, reminding him why he worked hard, even when he was tired.
“Son, there’ll always be days when you’re tired. When you’ve had enough. When you want to just lounge around and keep people at a distance. When I feel that way, I remember all the folks I’m working hard for. And just like that, I have the energy to keep going.”
Arlo looks at him wondrously. To him, his father is almost godlike.
“Remember, son,” Roscoe says, hammering another nail into place, “You can tell a lot about a man by how he spends his days.”
10 years later
Arlo woke up to a day like any other. He hadn’t a clue it’d be the last day of his life. The young man arose, had himself a single egg for breakfast, adhering strictly to Monroe’s rationing to ensure there’d be enough for everybody to survive the winter. He dresses himself, layering appropriately for a day working construction out in the cold. He leaves early, stopping by his father’s grave on the way to work.
He looks around to make sure nobody is watching. Arlo doesn’t like people to know he does this. Confident as he may appear in his role, the man is secretly self-conscious.
“Dad, I uh.. I’ve been waiting to tell you but I met a girl.” He gets a shy smile on his face, blushing having even said the words. “I’ve been shut down since you died, you know? Struggling to connect with people. Even the people here I love, I’ve been pulling away. I think Job can tell but… he’s not quitting looking out for me, no matter how distant I make myself. You’d be proud of him, I think.”
Arlo smiles, “But she makes me want to open myself up again. The last few days, I’ve been talking with folks more. Reaching out to Aaron, to Job. Letting myself feel. It’s hard, I don’t want to lose them the way I lost you, but she makes me want to be brave and face that fear.”
Arlo sighs, “I admit, I’m probably getting ahead of myself. I don’t even know if she really likes me like that. But uh, she agreed to drinks tonight. Might be I’ll stop by Consti’s shop, pick up some meat. See if I can’t make it dinner too.”
Arlo purses his lips in thought, “I’m trying to do you proud, dad. You got big boots to fill, but I really am trying.”
Arlo walks off to work. It’s another extraordinarily long shift, trying to repair the mill on top of all his other duties. Arlo puts himself on the back-breaking work, dragging debris from the mill. His dad always told him it’s important for a leader to show he’s willing to do the shit tasks himself and to demonstrate the work ethic he wants in his people. Taking his advice, Arlo spent the next 10 hours breaking down and dragging out debris from the mill, preparing the husk of a structure to be rebuilt.
At the day’s end, he went to the Whiskey Rose to work more, on his own time. He unfurled the blueprint for the mill, making edits to the design. His friend Aaron Kamden approached and he put work away, talking with his friend, reminiscing about their time together. He even told her about his interest in Bonnie! He looked to his watch, getting excited that their date neared.
The thought brought a smile to his face that was just as soon scraped off as the noise of an enormous explosion rocked The Whiskey Rose. Arlo strapped on his toolbelt and immediately ran towards the danger.
Finding the communal kitchen up in flames and the wall destroyed, Arlo began giving orders, directing people to prepare for a fight.
Together with the town he’d come to love, they fought off the Reds with expert skill, operating like a well-oiled machine. Clearly, this wasn’t their first rodeo.
Exhausted from a long day’s work, Arlo wasted no time getting the construction crew to work, with Job helping him organize the men and delegate tasks appropriately. The young man’s muscles screamed in dissent everytime he swung his sledgehammer, absolutely exhausted from the long day’s work and the harrowing fight.
The man worked through most of the night. His crew, inspired by his tenacity, stayed alongside him.
Nearing daybreak, he was informed that Julian was attacked. Arlo immediately stopped his work, sprinting to the clinic with renewed energy. He found his fearless leader and his father’s friend to be dying, wounded pursuing somebody expected to have some role in the terrorist attack. He stood beside the man as he passed, promising him that he’d rebuild Monroe, ensuring its strength in the hard winter to come. Connie, another friend of his fathers, stayed as well. He had a bite that had to be amputated.
Arlo looked to Julian’s corpse with great sadness. The young man even shed a tear. He took a breath, and he hardened his heart once more. The progress he made in the last few days went out the window, as the man’s overly stoic, reserved nature came rising back to the service. He felt disconnected from himself as he plunged his knife into Julian’s skull, preventing his leader from turning.
As he went to leave, the nurses informed him that Connie was in a comatose state. Arlo could hardly even register the news, simply nodding.
At this time, a woman from CPF named Natania offered her condolences, assuring him the Coalition would do everything in their power to help Monroe.
Arlo thanked her and headed on his way. Approaching the gate, he found Charles had detained a woman. Arlo asked if she was responsible for the attack. Head Scout Avery answered unequivocally that she was. Arlo asked Charles to put her on her knees, his absolute rage from Julian’s murder making him lose himself for a moment. Charles refused, and Arlo followed them to the cell, calming himself down.
He learned that she was a high ranking member of CPF and bomb-making materials were found in her house! Arlo recalled Julian’s talk of the CPF wanting to increase a security presence within Monroe. He suggested that as a motive, a possible reason for trying to make Monroe feel less safe.
Charles asked for time alone with the suspect, and Arlo concurred, going to work on the walls. However, the sound of screaming brought him back. He found Charles blocking the door, and Arlo demanded to know what he had done. Charles adamantly refused to move, and Arlo aggressively reprimanded him for doing so, trying to get to the woman inside.
Eventually, Charles stopped blocking the door and went inside. Arlo followed. Seeing the prisoner unharmed, Arlo turned around to see Natania, the CPF woman from before, had followed him inside. He asked her to leave the space, and she refused, demanding the prisoner’s release. Arlo patiently explained why the woman was detained and the evidence against her. He then personally assured her no harm would come her way without a trial and again asked her to leave the space. Natania still refused. Arlo told her if she did not leave, they would have no choice but to detain her. Still, she refused. Arlo called for Charles’ assistance in detaining her until the situation could be resolved. Natania drew her gun, pointing it towards Arlo.
Arlo drew his own weapon, familiar adrenaline starting to build in his chest. He called for Charles’ assistance, but none came, the Chief of Security refusing to draw a weapon and calling for Arlo to lower his. Natania demanded the prisoner be released, but Arlo reiterated she was rightfully detained and that would not happen.
Natania shot Arlo through the head.
“Remember Son. You can tell a lot about a man by how he spends his days.”
This was how Arlo spent his last one. It was not particularly more significant than any other day of his life, except it ended in his death. An untimely death. Arlo had a lot of potential to grow into a great leader of Monroe. Can they survive without his expertise? Without his leadership? Without his caring, compassionate nature?
That remains to be seen. One thing is certain, however. Arlo made an impact in Monroe that won’t soon be forgotten.