It was fortunate that today of all days would be the Fourth of July and as per tradition, a parade was being held down the main street with over five hundred people on opposite sides of the walk watching the floats and performers dancing and waving to crowds that passed by. Almost everyone was there, including Officer Lamb who provided a police escort for the floats, imagining his wife, a cheerleader in her youth as one of the twirlers with her baton, a professional who never dropped it at all.
Seeing the parade in progress up ahead, Joe thought of it as the perfect smokescreen for him and the others to hide Will in from the men.
"Take cover behind that float!" he shouted pointing his right index finger to the flat float with a duo of American flags on top of it.
And so they hid behind it, reckoning without the others who were trying to find Will.
It was Mr. Clarke who found Will first, his car was parked at an intersection, busily tapping his fingers on the steering wheel when he saw Will and some other kids hiding behind the flag float. He rolled down the driver seat window and called out.
But it was no use over the cheering of the crowd, the music of the brass band and the pretty girls going "Ooooh" and "Aaaaaah" as they twirled their batons into the air. He backed the car and proceeded down the next street in hopes of cutting him off.
At the same time, Eleven, who had finished explaining to Jonathan, Dustin, Lucas and Mike arrived in the town once the parade had reached it's full measure. With the help of Eleven's sensitivity, it was she and Mike who were the third and second to spot Will.
"There he is!" they both pointed out of the window and Jonathan, seeing for himself thought of a way to cut him off.
The last to arrived before Powel and Callahan on their motorbike were Steve, Nancy, Tommy and Carol. All four were watching the parade with anticipation, just waiting for it to end. But Steve was getting bored out of his mind.
"Jesus, these parades are so long."
Then it was Nancy who spotted Will behind the float…and so did the occupants of a white van.
"Aha!" Brenner muttered under his mouth when he saw Will and the kids. But Joe, still determined to be as far away from the men as possible, ran off with the others in tow as Brenner and Lonnie left the van, trying to make their way through the parade. Once a gap in the parade between a '59 Chevy and a large portrait of Abraham Lincoln had formed, Nancy slammed her right foot on the gas petal and charged after the kids (or at least the direction they took).
Joe and the others dashed into the house just in time to avoid being spotted by the van. Will peeked his eyes out of the window for any sign of the van, until he had spotted Jonathan's Pinto passing. Could it be possible that his brother had been looking for him? And if so, how? The answer to that and many other questions would come later, for his feet were taking him out of the house and onto the road, his arms waving in the air to flag the car to a stop. Jonathan hit the brakes and with shut eyes, he felt the car jerk to a sudden halt. Slowly opening his lids, he noticed Will and blinked three times. It seemed almost unimaginable to think that he was standing right in front of the car, but the others in the car saw him too and before either of them could leave, Jonathan rushed out of the car and ran over to his younger brother, giving him a huge hug.
"Can you believe how worried Mom was when she made that mistake of sending you to that school with Dad?"
"Very," said Will from beneath his brother's shirt.
The brothers released their arms and stared at each other.
"If you want to know where I've been for the past day," he pointed to the house. "It's over there."
Jonathan and the boys introduced himself to Joe and his troupe. After about fourteen minutes, give or take seven, about how Will came to them, it was certain that the time had come to say goodbye.
"I hope we will get to visit you sometime," Joe said as his hug from Will left his body.
"Me too," Will replied.
Dustin broke the silence.
"Shouldn't we get going before those guys come?"
"Be patient," Mike reminded him. "We'll be back home soon enough."
Will gave his final goodbyes to the group and left the house.
"Tell your father I said goodbye," were the last words Will said to Joe before his entire body left the house.
The ride back was long but not in terms of time, for at a gas station outside of town, Jonathan made a phone call to Hawkins, informing his mother and Hopper that they had found Will. He could not imagine Joyce's overjoyed expressions, but her excited voice was just enough to tell Jonathan that she was happy. She and Hopper then informed the others once Powell and Callahan phoned for home and word had soon spread back to Hawkins where the staff of the elementary school greeted Will with a warm welcome (Troy was home-sick with a cold and James was on vacation) and a bit of a small party that took place at the police station. Steve nearly had car trouble from an overheated engine and it took some five hours for Callahan and Powell to retrieve the crop-duster and return home in it. Mr. Clarke was the second to arrive back in Hawkins and his girlfriend was anxious to hear the news about how he had "rescued" Will Byers from a government conspiracy.
But faux tales and rumors aside, everyone was just glad to see that Will had returned. Distracted at first by the lack of cars and plane on the map, one male officer in a grey uniform asked him.
"So what did you do after you broke out?"
"Well, I met these kids who were like part of a indie film group and while they were doing their own movie about me, that was when I saw-Dad?"
His own father was standing before just three seconds before he mentioned his name. His arms were crossed and he was looking like a hunter who come back to reclaim an escaped prize. It was apparent to the crowd parting out of his way that somehow, he got the news.
"Hello, Will," he said in a tone that seemed alien to his ex-wife. "Perhaps I was wrong to trust Brenner, but I assure you that I can find another way to spend more time with you…as a way of making up for everything I have done."
Joyce stepped up, face to face with her husband with the mug of a wild animal contrasting with his smug smile.
"I was wrong to trust you in the beginning. Will is happy here, and if you cannot see it that way, I suggest you fuck off."
The crowd seemed to gasp as Will held back his laughter and quietly left the building through the front door. It might have seemed unlikely to discover that Joe and the kids were standing on the right side of the door, surprising him.
"What are you doing here?"
"In case you forgot," Charles said. "We have a movie to finish."
"When I noticed that," Joe added. "I asked Dad if we could come over and meet the new celebrity, you, to be the main star. So he was happy to book us a train ticket to this town and we started looking for you. We figured you would be here since a lot of people were."
Will could have laughed at that, but chose not to in order to respect the presence of his new friends maturely.
"I'll go ask, Dustin, Lucas, Mike and Eleven if they would be interested too."
And as he ran off happily to tell his friends the news, Will Byers could think of nothing else, but fame, courage and the fact that for the first time in a year, he was home.
Sorry if I made this potential story such a novella, but I wanted to get this over with to focus on other things.