“So how did Miss Carlton die, anyway?” Shark looked over the clothes that were far too small for his immense physique. His father did the same, albeit with a look of contemplation.
Dennis looked up with a new expression of concern.
“Well, boy,” he started with a tone of resigned amusement, “let’s just say your Uncle Bill had something to do with her early demise.”
Shark was both frightened and shock. “He supplied her with drugs?!”
“No, he fell down the stairs and crushed her. Poor girl. They don’t even know why he came over.” He held up a fishnet shirt. “Money negotiations, I suppose. It would make sense.”
Neither of them knew why they came to this tag sale. It didn’t seem like she had owned anything they wanted or could afford. Most of the people here seemed more interested in her pool anyway. Some bought a few of the things, but that was really about it.
“I don’t really see anything good on this floor. Can I go see what Sinbad’s doing?”
“Yes, go ahead. Wonder if there’s a fitting room around here…”
Shark found Sinbad ogling a picture that couldn’t be seen from one side. He didn’t know if it was ogling, actually. It was more staring in some kind of amazement.
“What’d you find?” The question caused Sinbad to drop said picture onto the floor. He then frantically tried to pick it up before Shark did.
“Nothing important. Or interesting. Or…What the hell.” Sinbad turned it to show his fiance the lurid contents.
Shark’s eyes bulged at seeing the picture. “Sinbad, I think that was drawn by Touko Laaksonen. It sure looks like something he’d draw, at least.”
Now Sinbad snorted in disbelief. “Why the fuck would this chick have a Tom of Finland drawing?”
“Why wouldn’t she? Look at it! Personally, I’m just glad it isn’t one of those more unpleasant subjects he drew.” Shark then raised an eyebrow. “You weren’t actually going to buy this, were you?”
“Oh, hell no! I got standards, believe it or not.” He dropped it back where he found it, as though it were now on fire. “Besides, why would I want to buy an inanimate drawing, when I’m engaged to one come to life?”
Shark honestly wasn’t sure whether to take that as a compliment or an insult.
“Dad?” When the two men returned to the other part of the mansion, Dennis was nowhere to be found. Most of the other buyers had gotten what they wanted and left. It was clear what most people wanted. “Where’d you go?”
“I’m in here, boy.” His voice could be heard in one of the closed rooms. “But I advise that you do not open the door until I say so.”
They then waited in awkward silence. After he finished talking, there were grunts and the occasional curse.
“There is no way these boots are size 10. Ah, well. I don’t really need to buy them.” Shark and Sinbad exchanged glances as they listened to him grumble. They then stepped aside when the door opened again.
“All right, let’s go find who’s in charge of this.” Both of then noted that he was holding clothes that didn’t look to be his usual attire.
During dinner that night, everyone just consumed reheated leftovers. Sinbad wasn’t particularly in the mood to cook.
Lolly gloomily poked at her plate, wondering why the other three were unusually quiet. She then looked at all of them with a frustrated expression.
“‘How was your day?!’ is what normal families would say to one another.”
“You say that, knowing full well we aren’t normal,” Sinbad muttered.
Now she smirked. “You’re not part of this family.”
“No, but soon I will be.” To emphasize this, Sinbad lifted up his left hand. This sight rendered Lolly speechless.
She tried to retort, but was unable to find the words. Instead, she pushed away from the table and slammed the chair back under it. On her way back to her room, they could hear her mutter:
“I hate being poor.”
When they were in bed, Shark remained sitting up. He looked over to see his father was still awake, but Sinbad was not.
“Hey Dad?” A grunt indicated Dennis was listening. “Do you ever wish you’d be rich again?”
Dennis made an ‘I don’t know’ noise. “I would say that it would make life easier, but…Well, I have my own reasons for defecting.”
“What kind of reasons?”
“My own reasons. Part of it was that I wanted you kids to have a better set of life values. Not happy with where I was in life, I wanted my life to have some meaning, and so on.”
Shark didn’t realize his father was so unhappy while being rich. At the same time, he realized that it made an awful lot of sense. “What would have happened if we’d stayed living in the mansion?”
Then Dennis chuckled. “For all I know, it may have been me that crushed poor Miss Carlton to death. But in all seriousness, I didn’t want to be on my deathbed several decades from now, wondering if my life was worth anything.”
He paused. “I want to die without regrets, is what I think I want to say. Have I been able to do so at this point? I can’t really say. And there are other reasons I’d rather not tell you.”
“Oh…” Shark was a little hurt that Dennis felt the need to keep secrets. “All right, then. I ask because, you know, Lolly…”
“Your sister is in the midst of adolescence. Try not to take everything she says to heart.” At that, Dennis pulled the blanket over himself.
“I suppose we should get some sleep, then,” the older Racket man whispered. “Don’t want Mister Rotter to wonder why we’ve been jabbering all night without him.”
Shark nodded. “One more question though, Dad: Since Uncle Bill killed that woman, what’ll happen to him?”
Then came a frustrated sigh. “Your grandparents are filthy rich, and have certain connections. Do the math.”