Will also largely serves as the narrator of Act IV, relating anecdotes about the Echo River's history and about the characters' progress as they travel along it. This narration is implied to take place long after the events of Act IV take place, as he recounts the story of meeting the passengers and traveling with them, and he remarks that he did not catch or does not remember Conway's name.
Will reveals that he is a classically trained organist who received a minor in French Literature. He used to teach a class called Artaud to Zola at a university; however, his department was removed entirely following state budget cuts. Will was then demoted to janitorial duties, and to operating the soundboard during student performances. Ultimately, he decided to abandon the university, leaving his shoes there in protest and ending up traveling along the Echo River. Will continues to listen to secret recordings of university lectures in his spare time. Mimi and Jenn, two psychological researchers at the Radvansky Center, recognize Will in their video recordings and recall seeing him during their college years, remarking that he was known as "Wise Will" because of his ability to speak about a variety of topics, including architecture, local history, county politics, gossip, and folk remedies. Cate describes Will as a "smart and kind man," despite his "burned-out" appearance.
Act IV Edit
Will is deeply connected with the Echo River and remarks that he seems to be losing his own memories as he absorbs the collective memories of the river itself. He also describes learning how to systematically erase his own memories when necessary, recounting how Ida once taught him a secret recipe under the condition that he pledge to forget it afterwards. Will frequently emphasizes the importance of listening, saying that he knows most all of the river's stories by listening to second-, third-, or fourth-hand accounts, though some key events he has witnessed himself, such as a great owl migration and various ghost sitings.
When the characters stop to use the phone, Will checks his answering machine to find that he has twenty-three new messages from anonymous sources. In many of the messages the speakers complain of persistent insomnia, while in others they recount their earliest memories; still others consist only of muffled noises, or speakers seemingly caught off guard at being recorded. When asked whether any of the messages were important, Will replies, "Every one."
Shannon also finds a video aboard the Mucky Mammoth, in which a much younger Will listens, mostly silently except for the occasional affirmation or encouragement, to people over the phone speak about their encounters with the supernatural, with a sign that reads, "I BELIEVE YOU." When Shannon asks Will about this, he claims to have no knowledge of ever having been part of a show of this nature; however, he remarks that the phrase "I believe you" sounds vaguely familiar, like something heard second-hand, and does not discount the possibility that he had participated in the show and then subsequently forgotten about it.