WINTER OF DISCONTENT

By Brian Reilly

December 20, 1991
Ghostbusters Omnibus Timeline Year Nine
Winston stood at the altar, his three best friends at his side. He could not have choosen just one of his friends to be his best man, and so they all shared equally in the part. They were an inseparable foursome, and together, they watched Winston’s bride-to-be walk up the aisle.

But it did not happen like that. Instead, Winston stood there alone. And as he watched Kaila walk up the aisle, he felt both sadness and anger, for the absence of his once-best friends.

The wedding itself was nothing special. That is, while it was an extravagant affair, the part Winston would remember would always be the part lacking. Or rather, parts. The break-up of the Ghostbusters had torn the foursome apart. And Winston felt the same loss he had felt almst twenty years earlier when he returned from Vietnam.

The loss of one’s family is the loss of one’s self. And the Ghostbusters were Winston’s family. At first, he had been the odd one out. He was the only one without a doctorate. He was the newcomer to the crowd. He was the oldest. And he was the only African-American, not that that mattered to him, but a few of customers had made specific note of it.

By the time Kaila reached the altar, Winston was a nervous wreck. He looked deep into her eyes, and the wedding seemingly ground to a halt as the memories hit him.
A few months earlier...
Winston’s bags were packed, and the taxi driver was waiting. He took one last look around the empty firehouse, and descended the stairs. He strode past an empty desk; where once papers were strewn about, only dust collected. He almost said goodbye before realizing he was alone.

Janine had been gone almost a week. Never having returned after she discovered the Lotsabucks file. Ray had left an hour earlier with hardly a word. Peter would not be seen in the same room as Egon, and had stormed out when Egon came across him in the kitchen. Egon himself had left the building for unknown reasons, leaving Winston to wallow in the giant emptiness of the seemingly ancient building.

“It’s been real, guys...” whispered Winston as he stepped in the brisk, fall air. He turned, locked the door behind him, and wondered what to do with his key. He finally decided to put it into his wallet, hoping it might come in handy some day.
And with a sigh, Winston Zeddemore took one last, long look at the exterior of Ghostbusters Central, then quickly climbed into the backseat of the taxi.
It was only a 15 minute ride to Kaila’s apartment, but to Winston it seemed like an eternity.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here...”, the priest droned on. Winston wasn’t paying much attention. He glanced quickly behind for a look at the guests. Kaila’s family was in full attendance, practically every relative and friend she had was present. Winston’s side, was practically empty in comparison. Only his immediate family had shown up. The more Winston thought about it, the more angry he got that his so-called friends were too busy to make an appearance at the most important day of his life.
Winston pushed the angry thoughts from his head. No, it was his own fault they hadn’t been able to come. The wedding had come into place in a matter of weeks. Winston had proposed prior to the breakup of Ghostbusters Incorporated, but they had not even begun planning the wedding. Being a Ghostbuster kept him far too busy to get married.

Once the company had disbanded, however, Winston had found himself in the total opposite situation. Days passed as he sat around the house, watching television. After about a week and a half he called his father up and practically begged for a job. Not his proudest moment, but his father seemed glad to have Winston back in the construction field. He was talented, no doubt about that.

And then, well, then came the marriage plans. With Winston working “normal” hours, he had all too much time to spend planning the wedding with Kaila. They had sent out the invitations only a few weeks prior to the wedding.

Venkman claimed he was busy setting up his business in Hollywood, but Winston knew better. With the demise of Ghostbusters, Peter had nearly gone bankrupt. He had no savings, having invested everything into the company. The cost of the plane tickets would be too much for Venkman to bear, although he managed to mail a cheap gift basket as a weding gift.

Ray was working at Stanford, and could not abandon his post so soon after getting the job. Being a Ghostbuster had practically destroyed his reputation in the field of engineering, and he was but one slip-up away from losing his position.

As for Egon, well, Egon seemed to have disappeared from the very face of the earth. He hadn’t replied to the invitation, nor had he answered any of the numerous phone calls Winston had made.

Winston’s thoughts were suddenly interrupted as he realized everyone was waiting for him. He was so flustered it took him a few moments before he realized why. Finally, he took one long deep look into Kaila’s eyes and said, “I do.”

“Then I now prounounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.”

Winston leaned forward and embraced Kaila, forgetting all his worries. Together, they ran down the aisle and into the limo.
Winston got the surprise of his life when he arrived at the reception. A feisty, redheaded woman sprinted up to him and gave him a big hug.

“Ohhh, sorry we missed the wedding! The flight was late!” cried Janine Melnitz.

“I didn’t even know you were coming!” exclaimed Winston. “Waitaminute, who’s ‘we’?”

“Ooops, must’ve forgot to mail out the reply in the rush,” explained Louis.

“Louis?” Winston was confused. Louis and Janine were back together?

Janine held out her hand and showed off a ring. “We’re engaged!”

Winston couldn’t help but think of Egon, and wondered if janine were just marrying Louis out of spite. But, it certainly wasn’t his place to say anything, and he wasn’t going to bring it up at his own wedding reception. And so, he acted casual, glad to have Janine there. And Louis was, well Louis, offering everyone he could find his business card and giving them advice on their taxes.

Before dinner, Winston’s father made a toast. “To new beginnings!”

New beginnings indeed, thought Winston.
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