It was a humbling sight that greeted the couple later that morning. Many of the trees had been felled, some in the roads and pathways. The water was taking its sweet time receding. Because of this, Shark and Sinbad had a hard time making their way back without a raft.
“Now where in the hell have you two been?” Dennis looked mildly peeved at the two of them being outside. “You could’ve been killed out there!”
“Sorry, boss. It’s uh…Long story.” Sinbad had told Shark to keep his left hand in his pocket, just in case it wasn’t the best time to tell the news.
Dennis pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head. He then looked toward the train center entrance, seeing his girlfriend and daughter. “Will that long story of yours explain where the raft went?”
“Yeah it will, Dad,” Shark said as he scratched his arm. “Might take a while, though.”
The other three were dumbstruck at the sight near the dam. Blaise and Lolly stared at the dead lake monster, while Dennis tried in vain to pick up the remnants of their raft.
“Lookit this thing! Makes me hope this was the only one.” Blaise slowly poked at one of the eyes that remained open. “If not, then I’m getting the hell out of this place!”
“What do you think it is?” Lolly was frightened by its immense size alone.
The redheaded woman stared into the lifeless eye. “Don’t know, don’t wanna know.” She then glanced out over the waters that held the rest of the creature. “Though I doubt I’ll go swimming in that lake anymore, if this is what’ll happen.”
“How long do you think it lived here?”
“Probably decades, if not centuries. Hell, maybe it might’ve been millenia. However long it took, it might’ve been helped with whatever got in the water.”
“You need any help, boss?” Sinbad and Shark looked on as Dennis climbed a tree to retrieve a large piece of raft.
The patriarch shook his head. “No, no. I am going to have to pay for this getting wrecked, however. I trust you’re able to handle the bills until this is properly taken care of?”
Sinbad looked over at Shark, then back to Dennis. “I can try. Might be a lot of cutbacks, though.”
“Oh, do what you will. Now, which is the quickest way to the theater, so I may return what’s left of this?”
None of them really knew the answer to that. Instead, they had to think of the best way to even navigate town at this point.
Twinbrook, to give it a compliment, knew how to keep going after a disaster. The stores were still open, as was the consignment shop.
The remainder of the group ended up going there, while Dennis went to sort out the trouble with the raft.
“Why are we looking at Christmas ornaments? That’s not going to be for another few months!” Lolly was, to say the least, bamboozled at Blaise’s choice in admiration subjects.
“It’s never too early to look at ornaments! Besides, last year, I broke some of mine while trying to put them away. I’d like to get some new ones.”
She picked up an ornament in the shape of a penguin, and displayed it to the still-confused teenager.
“Look, these are on sale! Just say the word, and I’ll get you some if you want.”
Lolly just waved her hands. “No, no, that’s okay. Maybe another time.” She instead patiently waited as the older woman grabbed a box and made her selections.
“Find anything good?” Sinbad kept watch as Shark dug through the bargain bin. In response, a few shirts were dug out, along with what were best described as ‘unmentionable’ items.
The brunet then poked his head back out. “It’s hard to choose what would make good everyday wear.”
Seeing what he already chose so far, Sinbad couldn’t help but wonder. “Try choosing something you’d be wearing if you were caught doing something illegal.”
“Well, that’s an odd criteria.”
“I know. It’s the best I could come up with, though.”
-some time later-
Shortly after they returned home, the group scoped out any damage. Miraculously, nothing was destroyed or otherwise ruined by water.
“How…?” Shark was dumbfounded by this good fortune. Something had to at least have been altered, but somehow everything was perfectly fine.
“I’ll be damned. I’d have assumed this was someone else’s house if I didn’t know better.” Dennis continued looking for any signs, like water-stained wallpaper.
Sinbad tugged the bottom of his fiance’s shirt to get his attention. He motioned towards the older Racket man, silently asking if they should tell him now.
The answer he received was no, not yet.
“So does yer room look all right?” Blaise had come to check on Lolly after she was done inspecting the other bedroom.
“Yeah. Everything looks fine.” The teenager stared at the box full of decorations, and figured to satisfy curiosity.
She had to think of the best way to approach the subject: “So how’d you break your original set of ornaments?”
Blaise cringed. “I did so in the worst, most painful way possible; I sat on ‘em.” She then set the box down and motioned toward her shorts. “Wanna see the marks I got left with on my ass?”
“No!” Lolly exclaimed, putting her hands up in protest. “I’ll just take your word for it.”
“All right, then.” The older woman picked her box back up and shifted through the contents. “Sure you don’t want a penguin ornament?”
Lolly shook her head. “I have time to get my own before December.”
From then until the evening, the group watched on TV as the remaining townspeople scrambled to deal with the tragedy.
“So nobody died? Huh. Now that’s even more of a miracle.”
Lolly worriedly stared at the television set. “What about our other relatives? Are they okay?” There was no answer at first.
“Besides your Uncle Dudley, who I’m certain is fine, I don’t give a flying rat’s ass.” Dennis was unusually blunt with giving this answer. “But if you’re worried about them, perhaps go check on them?”
As though it heard them, the news then showed a scene of Bill stuck in a tree. In his typical fashion, he was waving his arms and demanding a woman named Annette save him.
Everyone at home just stared at the screen. Then all of them turned to look at Lolly. Realizing she now had to actually go find him, Lolly’s shoulders drooped.
The two younger men sat cross-legged on the bed that night. Lolly hadn’t yet returned from rescuing Uncle Bill, and Dennis ended up spending the night at Blaise’s.
Blaise seemed to sense what Shark and Sinbad were planning. She had but to look at which of their hands was being hidden while Dennis was still there.
Shark couldn’t stop admiring the gold ring that now adorned his finger. The lone candle that was lit in the room gave off a distinctive flickering effect.
His focus was broken when Sinbad pressed a kiss to his cheek. Then he felt the familiar pair of tattooed arms embrace him, and pull him in for a hug.
Neither of them said anything the whole time. And just as well. They didn’t think words were necessary right now…
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