Application for repose Character Info; Employment: None Housing: Abandoned house near the lake Character Journal name: author | author Character Name: Liam Roberts Character Age: 36 Character Played By: Cillian Murphy
Character Personality & History:
The Before: Liam’s story starts back during Jennifer Roberts’ junior year of high school in a small town in southern Mississippi. Jenny (as she preferred to go by, because Jennifer sounded snotty) was one of those girls who hung out on the fringe of the popular crowd, not quite fitting in, but not excluded either. She dreamt of romances and princes riding in on white horses, and she thought her dreams answered when the star quarterback of the football team took notice of the somewhat awkward cheerleader who constantly watched him from the sidelines. Their romance was more heavy petting and fogged windows in the backseat of Jake’s beat-up car, and as Jenny lost her virginity to him with a spring digging into her rear, she had the thought that this wasn’t all it was cut out to be.
As these stories tend to go, Jenny ended up pregnant, and Jake had no inclination of stepping up to help take care of the mother of his child, preferring instead to spread the rumours around the town that Jenny was one of those girls, and how could she be sure that he was the father anyways? Ashamed and embarrassed, Jenny dropped out of school soon later, staying at home with her own mother during those summer months of pregnancy. Her mom owned a local hair salon, and Jenny was given the job of doing the nails, keeping the counter, things she can do even as her stomach swelled. School was just over a month into session when Jenny went into labour, giving birth to a bouncing baby boy that she named Liam, after the hero in one of her favourite romance novels.
After he was born, Jenny continued to work in the salon alongside her mother, picking up her mother’s trade and skill with scissors, making the money needed to support a baby at her age. With both her and her mother working, Liam spent a lot of time in the salon alongside the two women in all the women in town that came to have their hair set, done, permed, frizzed, washed, cut, dyed, and floofed. It was an environment that definitely had its impact on the boy who grew up having his chair rocked by whomever had a free hand, cooed at by women with curlers, and taught some of his first words by the high school girl with the frizzy hair who chewed too much bubble gum. The scent of perm solution was home, the sound of the dryers running in the background his lullaby, and no matter how little he and Jenny had, they were happy.
As Liam grew older, he grew no less attached to his mother than he had been as a baby. Home was boring, that two-bedroom trailer that sat on a patch of land barely big enough to hold it, and the salon was much more interesting, full of conversation, gossip, and candy snuck to him by the women who liked to compliment him on his big blue eyes, were those his daddy’s eyes? A burst of cold always went through the salon when Jenny heard comments like that, quick to swoop in and place a kiss atop her boy’s head. No, she’d tell him. Those’re his own eyes, thank you. Don’t presume you know a thing about his daddy, sugar.
Liam knew from a young age that it was best not to ask his mama about his daddy and why he was the only one in his class who didn’t have one. He didn’t need a daddy, she’d explain with a ruffle of his hair, “not when you have your mama and grandma to take care of you.” And that was enough of an explanation for little Liam. Eventually, Liam stopped asking, learned how to sidestep the awkward questions when they were posed, focusing instead on everything he did have instead of those few things he didn’t have.
Even when he was little, Liam never wanted for much. He just didn’t seem to have that need to have more and more, better and better, easily pleased by the small things and whatever he was given, full of thanks and pleases, forever polite to anyone who crossed his path. This continued on through school, and while he was never the best at anything, never the top in anything, he was known throughout the school as one of the nicest boys you could meet. The girls loved talking to him, the boys were never threatened by him, and the teachers always had a kind word for him. Liam was good around other people, just had this way about him that made people comfortable and willing to talk, probably something to do with his mom and grandma and that natural sort of psychology that came to those who did hair. They were the secret keepers of the town, hearing all the bits and pieces of gossip from those who came to have their hair down, and between them and the waitresses at the diner, there wasn’t a thing in town that went on without them knowing about it. That was how Liam was in school. He was kind and non-threatening with those big blue eyes and slight build, and people just had a tendency to talk around him, say things they wouldn’t say around other people, and Liam? He was a good secret keeper. Just like his mama.
Unfortunately, being a nice guy only got a person so far in life. So when graduation rolled around, Liam watched as his classmates went off to bigger and better things while he stayed behind in town with his mother. There wasn’t money to send him off to school, and his grades had never been good enough for scholarships, and when it came down to it, Liam just didn’t want to leave. This town was home, comfortable and broken in, and even though it wasn’t classy and glamorous, it was the only home he had ever known. So Liam settled in to small town life, helping out in the salon, delivering pizzas for the local pizzeria, and helping out at the high school library in his spare time. It kept him busy enough, connected with the town, and as happy as someone like him could imagine.
Another year came and went, and the summer before Liam’s twentieth birthday was spent holed up at the circulation desk at the local library, a desk fan circulating the air, feet kicked up on the desk as he read through yet another one of his mother’s dime store romance novels. They were trashy things, and even his mom could admit that, but Liam could see the charm they held. Mini-escapes in paperback format from the weariness and monotony of every-day life. An idle interest born out of boredom blossomed into long conversations with the stay-at-home moms that came in to check out another pile of books by their favourite author, and it was during one conversation about the heavy use of the ‘heaving bosom’ cliche that one of his mama’s friends, Christy Lewis, said the thing that would change Liam’s life.
“You got enough opinions on these things, Liam. Why don’t you write some? Hell, you write ‘em, I’ll guarantee you at least one copy sold.”
It was said on a whim, and Liam knew it, but those handful of words snowballed into something he couldn’t have predicted. First came short stories, proof-read by his high school English teacher (who turned an interesting shade of pink when he came back for his first draft, a sign Liam took that he was doing something right) and given to Christy for a read-through before he sent them off to any magazines he thought might be interested. It was mostly out of curiosity that he did any of this, hardly expecting anything to come out of it, because those sort of things just didn’t happen to him. He was used to being average, nothing special, and if that was all that he amounted to, Liam wouldn’t be disappointed.
So when the first check came along with the letter of acceptance, Liam could hardly believe his eyes. There was much celebrating done at the Roberts’ home that night, two bottles of cheap wine and a box cake baked by his mama, and that first check was framed, sat up on the counter like it was something important, some sign that he’d be something important. Liam could see the pride shining in his mother’s eyes, and that was all the push he needed to move on forward.
More short stories were published as Liam found his niche, a combination of romance and mystery that he both got a kick out of writing and people got a kick out of reading, and before long, Liam found himself talking with agents, discussions about book deals and contracts whirling around his head. It was a strange place to be, all these people interested in him, in his writing, a lot for the small-town boy to take in. But it was there on the cracked linoleum counter that Liam signed his first contract, the same counter he had sat on to have scraped knees bandaged and notes from school signed.
Nearly a year later, Liam’s first book hit the stands, published under the pen name “Penelope Reynolds”, something recommended to him by his agent because ‘women like to read romance books written by women. They connect with them. Written by a guy... well, that’s just creepy’. And his agent seemed to know what she was talking about because the books were flying off the shelves like hotcakes. Within a month, he had hit the bestseller list, the literary world abuzz about this new voice in romance.
Liam took it all in stride, and though he had been tempted more than once to move to one of the cities where it would be more convenient to work, Liam stayed home, living with his mother, helping out in the salon, and writing. It was just how things worked out, and only a few precious souls in town had any inkling that one of the most popular authors in the states was from their little town. Roots were important to Liam, and there was no way he was going to let his new-found success do a thing to change him. Money wasn’t tight anymore, and his mama’s shop got a face-lift, but otherwise, Liam let the money settle in his bank account, nice and safe and ready for when it was needed.
Life continued on like this for some time, an easy sort of pace that Liam enjoyed. Every couple of weeks, he’d fly up to Chicago to meet with his agent, get a taste of the city life with dinners and parties, and then he’d go back home where he belonged and settle back in for several weeks of writing before repeating it all over again, just like clockwork. It was simple, just the way Liam liked it.
Every so often, Jenny would comment on her son’s lack of a real social life, wondering if her son was happy keeping on as he did, and just like he always did, Liam brushed his mother’s worries away. He was happy, he’d tell her. And if that ever changed, he’d be sure to tell her before anyone else found out about it, because that’s just how Liam was. He wore his heart on his sleeve, honest and open, never saw any reason to lie to people or try and get them to believe something other than the truth. That was just the way life was, he believed. You either took it for what it was, or you found what you needed elsewhere. No sense in trying to make yourself happy with something that wasn’t working.
But as simple as his outlook on life was, it had its downsides as well. His agent called it ‘writers’ block’. Liam called them ruts, black days, storms, but no matter what he called them, they came, just like clockwork, every few months, settling over him like a dark cloud. There was always some sliver of sunshine to peek through eventually, and he was patient enough to realise that, though it didn’t make the days any easier to get through. It was during one of these storms that life took a strange little turn that Liam had no explanation for.
He was in New York City when it happened. A free afternoon and a prompting to ‘get out, go see a show, Liam. Get some fucking culture while you’re here, please,’ from his agent, and Liam found himself in the balcony for a showing of The Phantom of the Opera. He had never considered himself a fan of musicals, of music in general, really, but something about the entire feel of the show wound itself firmly around his heart. He left humming the music, the haunting melody of Masquerade infiltrating his dreams, and it came down to a rather embarrassing encounter with a lovely young woman with cascades of brown curls for Liam to admit that there was something going on.
The journal arrived shortly after that, and as Liam fingered both it and the key he had received, his world took a turn in a new direction. Surprising both himself and his mother, Liam announced his plans to move Las Vegas, stating a need for a new environment, promising his mother that it wasn’t going to be permanent (even though he knew he couldn’t guarantee that, not with the things he was feeling, experiencing). A new wardrobe (because the new voice in his head said that there was no room in this world for thrift store clothing and shoes with holes in them) and a plane ride later, Liam took his first breath of the hot, desert air, and wondered what he was getting himself into. His agent helped him find an apartment, a cramped little one-bedroom thing that he inwardly balked at, at odds with this new need for comfort, luxury, finery and fashion. Too many times, Liam found himself having long arguments, with himself, while staring into the warped mirror that hung over the porcelain sink, and after a frightening moment where he believed himself to be going crazy, he turned to writing to deal with it all.
The internet became a safe-haven of places, somewhere he could write these sort of things out, and with the help of wordpress, Liam started a blog to put down all those things he refused to verbalize for fear of sounding insane. But for all of his struggles, at his desire for catharsis and release through writing, at night, he still dreamed.
Soft curls and warm eyes. Red cloth against the rolling sea. Whispered promises and flights of fear.
It was just a story. Songs. Something from the depths of a man’s imagination. But it felt so real.
The Inbetween: It's been a long time since Las Vegas and everyone else that followed. A lifetime since Tristan, since Tryst, since Seven. A lifetime ago and too far back for the memories to be anything other than something he runs from.
And Liam knows better than anyone how much running he's done. He hasn't stopped since he found relief in a needle and the rush that came with it. There have been dirty hotel rooms, favors exchanged for a few hours of relief, but none of it helped, not really. The nightmares kept coming, and nothing got better, no matter how many times he picked up and moved and found a new hole to hide himself in.
It was always the same story, over and over again, and didn't they say that was a sign of insanity? Though if Liam was being honest with himself, he had long since passed that line and kept running without a backward glance. He knew he was avoiding the source, that eventually he would have to face it, but honestly, it was easier just to run and to shut up all the memories with a needle in his arm.
But a person can't run forever, and it was the sign welcoming him to Repose that stopped him in his tracks.
"...a state of rest, sleep, or tranquility."
And wasn't that what he needed? Maybe this was a sign and maybe it was time that he stopped running, at least for a short time. He knew he could use a break from everything. And even if it wasn't forever, everyone could use a bit of rest from everything else, right?
So he stopped. No hotels to speak of, so he got a room at the B&B. Money was still alright, royalties from all those romance novels still being deposited in his account, even if he hadn't written a book in years. But it wasn't going to last forever, not with his habit.
Funny enough, a phone call came as he was trying to figure this puzzle out. A job offering. Curator at a library/museum. Fitting, no?
The Now: Repose wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Turned out that running from your problems didn't really work all that well. The drugs followed, the nightmares followed, and nothing was better. That wasn't to say that he didn't try. Oh, Liam tried. Maybe not hard enough, but he tried to find some happiness, some light in the tunnel that he could grab onto. But none of it was enough.
The pain, however, was more than enough, more than he could reasonably handle. And that's what led to him drinking a little too much before taking a cold dip in the local lake. It was late at night, not even the moon out to accompany him as he took those last gasping breaths.
And that was how the author's story came to an end.
Turns out that Liam Roberts couldn't even succeed at dying correctly. Maybe something was keeping him tied to the earthly plane, or maybe he had unfinished business, or maybe he was just plain cursed to an existence he was forbidden from running from. Whatever the case, it was one week later that Liam pulled himself from the water at the shore of the lake, neither here nor there, but somewhere in between.
His memories were foggy, full of holes that he could have put his entire fist through. But the basic details were there. Name. Age. A few people that came to the surface of his thoughts. Whatever this existence was, it was his life now.
Regrets: There's a lot of things, and people, that Liam has regrets around. Hauntees: Someone to haunt. To come say hi to during those periods where he's completely disconnected from himself. The Past: Connections. Friends. A hefty dose of reality.