(Shorter chapter because of twofer submission)
The next morning, Sinbad took the day off to spend time with Shark. Still waiting for word on Shark’s application, both of them decided to browse the bookstore for anything good.
“October 1985.” Shark read the publication date of a child’s cookbook. “This book must be pretty old.”
Sinbad just scoffed. “I’ll say. That damn thing is older than me!” He then realized Shark was flipping through the pages of the fairly thin paperback. “Wait, you don’t actually want me to get you that, do you?”
Shark just shrugged. “It could help. I mean, who knows. You might get sick and not be able to cook. It might help to know a few things to be safe.”
Looking at the price tag, Sinbad nearly stumbled back in shock. “That damn thing’s 11 bucks? Shit…”
Shark now looked crestfallen. “Does that mean I can’t have it?”
“Didn’t say that, now did I?”
A few minutes after leaving the bookstore, Shark and Sinbad made their way to the park.
Shark was studying how to make ‘Oatmeal with Fresh Pear Sauce.’ It didn’t seem too difficult, as it only spanned one page with its instructions.
Next to him, Sinbad was silently people watching. He checked his phone for any messages, but had none. Then he pulled out his wallet, counting the remaining cash he had.
Shark stated time and again that Sinbad didn’t need to spoil him. But of course, Sinbad insisted.
“The bills are paid, and I got more money saved towards our own crappy house. I think I can do something nice for the guy I’m gonna marry.”
At the rate they were going, it would be years if not decades before they got their own place to live. Even then, they’d have to settle for a low-quality house unless their financial situation drastically improved.
Some time after arriving, Sinbad got up to get them both ice cream.
Setting his new cookbook down, Shark patiently waited for him to get back. He briefly watched some of the kids in town playing on the nearby jungle gym set.
Then he pulled his legs up to his chest, and held himself close.
He still couldn’t understand what Sinbad could see in him. All he saw in himself was a mess. There was nothing but twisted emotions, and intense self-loathing.
Amazingly, Sinbad didn’t seem to be terrified of any of it. Instead, he took it all in stride.
Or at least he did before the biting incident. Even then, Shark didn’t hold that against him. He’d known he was being difficult himself.
Whatever it was Sinbad liked about him, he wasn’t able to comprehend how it was good enough. How this thing about him was enough for Sinbad to put the ring on Shark’s finger.
Sinbad grimaced at the pathetic selection they had left. He certainly hoped Shark didn’t mind plain vanilla. Paying the ice cream vendor, he wandered back to where his fiance was.
In the time it took him to run his errand, Shark had flopped onto his belly. His legs were bent up in the air.
“Cute.” Hearing Sinbad’s voice, Shark looked back up to see him smirking. He reached up to take his ice cream cone.
“Was this all they had left?”
Sinbad made a displeased face. “‘Fraid so. They were out of all the other shit you liked. You cool with that?”
Watching Shark begin to lick at his cone gave Sinbad his answer. He sat back down, taking care not to sit on Shark’s new book.
“What do you want for dinner tonight?”
Due to Shark eating his ice cream, he didn’t give a verbal answer. He simply uttered, “Hmmm…” and put a finger up as a way to tell him to wait. Now it was Sinbad’s turn to wait.
“What’s that one food with the funny name?” Shark asked when he took a break from consuming his frozen treat. “It’s Japanese, it’s got beef in it?”
Now Sinbad knew what he was referring to:
“Shabu-shabu?” With that answer, Shark nodded excitedly.
-later that night-
It seemed like forever since the last time they used chopsticks. Sinbad was just glad they were complimentary at the bistro.
What actually bothered him was how indifferent Shark seemed now.
“All right, now what’s eating you? You changed your mind about this?”
“No…” Shark dipped the meat into the sauce, before continuing to speak. “I’m just thinking about what’s been happening lately. I just…” He set his chopsticks down.
“Am I a bad person?”
The question caused Sinbad to drop his own set. “Why the fuck would you ask me that?”
Shark looked to seem as though he needed to find the right words. “Because I keep doing bad things. And I’ve done bad things before. I’ll probably keep doing them in the future.”
The reasons got Sinbad to pinch the bridge of his nose. He really didn’t want to go down this road now. He looked up and achieved eye contact with Shark again.
“I’ve done bad things. Does that make me a bad person?” Sinbad was aware of the irony in asking that.