(WARNING! Implied sexual situations, and a character is triggered!)
Shark and Dennis were caught off guard by the sound of a loud thump against the door. Dennis quick glanced over at the time on the stove.
“It would be about the time Mister Rotter got off work, wouldn’t it?” The instant Dennis opened the front door, Sinbad flopped into the house. His face connected with the floor, accompanied with a groan and shuddering.
“Rough day today, Sinbad?” Shark received a muffled ‘no’ in response.
Now, Sagebear jumped off the couch. She then approached the prostrated man, her nose hovering a bit too close to his rear end.
“That better be you sniffing my ass, Shark,” Sinbad muttered.
“So what happened earlier?” Rubbing Sinbad’s back later in their room, Shark innocently queried about what exactly had caused him to become so upset.
Sinbad’s expression darkened. “It’s something I probably shouldn’t say directly, so…” He gestured for Dennis to lean in, and whispered the relevant information into his ear.
When the words formed a proper sentence, Dennis’ eyes widened. He jumped back about a foot when he shouted what Sinbad told him:
“You caught Miss Annette and Bill naked?!” Sinbad pulled him back to whisper the rest of it, and the process repeated. “In the back of your truck?!”
The second time, a thudding could be heard through the wall, followed by Lolly’s irate voice:
“Quiet! Some of us actually have important things to do tomorrow!” Hearing his daughter’s voice got Dennis to relax somewhat.
Scratching his head, Dennis continued on, more at ease. “Are you sure you got them right? You sure it was her?”
“Yeah…” Sinbad stuck his tongue out at the unpleasant image. “I am so hosing out the back of my truck! Or getting a new one, I don’t care what I gotta do!”
When Annette came back from the Bistro, she seemed to be in an even better mood than last time. Seeing her dog on the couch again, watching TV, she grinned.
“Anything good on tonight?” Sagebear looked up at her owner now, and wagged her tail. Her tongue lolled out and she began panting.
Taking a seat next to her, Annette was about to say something when the bedroom door opened. A few moments later, Dennis had entered the living room.
“Oh, you are home! I take it you spent some time exploring this miserable little town again? Don’t see why you would.” Annette noticed the way he was wringing his hands, presumably in embarrassment.
“Let me guess: Sinbad told you what he saw?”
“I’m afraid he did.” Dennis now clasped his hands behind his back, as if to try and straighten it out. “In fact, I left the room so that the boy can, and I quote, ‘help erase the image of Uncle Bill’s nasty ass’.”
Annette frowned. “I take it your brother isn’t well-liked in the family?” She began slowly petting Sagebear, who was looking in the same direction she was.
Dennis snorted. “What can you say about a man who rubs colby jack cheese slices on his nipples on a regular basis?” Then he looked off to the side. “I suppose the obvious: He’s got serious problems.”
Here he wandered over and took a seat at the breakfast table. “Now don’t you get me wrong, Miss Annette. If you wish to sleep with someone you barely know in this town, go right ahead. I won’t stop you or judge you for it.”
She waited until he leaned his head on his hand, then spoke up. “You just don’t want it to be with your brother, is that it?”
“Uh-huh.” Dennis switched hands. “And even then, if you think you can handle him at his worst? Well, the decision is entirely yours. I won’t attempt to convince you otherwise.”
Leaning back in the chair now, Dennis pointed towards the bedroom. “Those two might have a harder time with it, though. Just try to be civil to them if at all possible. And if they give you any serious trouble, well, let me know.”
“Excuse me, what is this?” The Builder, having felt well enough to leave the base, decided a drink was in order so as to pass time a bit quicker.
However, their relaxation was cut short by a seemingly poorly made drink. Out of disgust, they thrust their glass back at the maker.
The mixologist glanced at the liquid in the highball glass, then back at them. “It’s…That’s a Bloody Mary cocktail.” Seeing through the glass, The Builder scowled.
“Oh, a Bloody Mary, is it? Because I could’ve sworn I was drinking marinara sauce infused with cat piss!” In one swift motion, The Builder threw the glass onto the counter, and shattered it. “Now make it again before I shank you and drink the blood out of your pathetic corpse!”
They knew they had to be looking for Annette, but they were honestly not worried about doing so. They knew the bar to be a likely hub for anyone in town to come by for a drink.
It didn’t seem like anyone in the bar was worried about them anyway. It may have been a different story had The Builder brought along any of their assistants, though.
A few hours later, Annette was sleeping when she heard grumbling nearby. Despite it being too quiet to understand most of the words, she knew the voice to be Sinbad’s.
“Picked the wrong place to lay on the floor, dog…” When he was done talking, Annette heard the fridge door open, along with some rustling around.
Though she was certainly awake now, Annette kept her eyes closed. She heard the tapping of Sagebear’s paws against the hard floor, along with Sinbad grunting.
“Yeah, hang on. I know we got some leftover grilled chicken in here somewhere…” Cautiously, Annette opened one eye. She caught sight of her dog, standing next to a pajama-clad redhead.
In the crook of his arm, Sinbad held a bag of various breakfast items. It almost seemed that he’d put it together when he had free time. She could see him reaching back into the fridge, pulling out a tupperware container.
“Don’t tell your owner about this, okay? I’d rather not catch hell if you get sick from this. But it has been de-boned and cooked, so…” When Sinbad turned around, Annette quickly closed her eye again.
She could hear the container being opened, and at once the smell of chicken hit her nostrils. There was a bit of silence, besides the sound of Sagebear chowing down on a slice of chicken.
“Now unless you know how to bake apples, get out of the way. I don’t want to risk accidentally kicking you.”
Sinbad managed to shoo away Sagebear, albeit with another, smaller piece of chicken.
While she happily chewed on her treat, he was busy cooking a seemingly elaborate breakfast. From what he saw, Shark had done what he requested.
Neither of them knew whether Annette was fond of tabbouleh, but she hadn’t objected to it. Regardless, now Sinbad knew to hold up his end of the deal.
“Two-thirds cup of granola, a fourth cup of chopped walnuts, that’s a shit-ton of walnuts…” Some more grabbing of utensils, followed by a grunt.
Annette waited until there were footsteps. She was then jolted awake by a kick to the couch.
“Don’t bother pretending. I’m not a fucking idiot. Now get up and help.” Sitting up, Annette squinted to watch him wander back into the kitchen area. She then rubbed whatever sleep was in her eyes, and followed him.
“You’re a perceptive one,” she commented while watching him measure out ingredients.
Sinbad just scoffed. “I’d take that as a compliment if I hadn’t caught you screwing my fiance’s uncle in the back of my truck.”
Annette gave a weary sigh in response to this. “I really don’t understand what incites this hatred towards him. I personally find him to be an impeccable source of enjoyment-”
“We’re talking about the same guy who’s mooned this town on live TV, right?”
To that, Annette didn’t really have anything to say directly. “Well, perhaps I love him! Maybe somehow I can see past the exterior, and know that he’s really a good man to be with.”
His response wasn’t an entirely expected one. “Last I checked, screwing around with a guy you barely know wasn’t love. Trust me, I’d know.”
Annette wanted to just throttle Sinbad right now. She wanted to tell him, “I’ve been married to him! I know him from another universe!” But as much as she wanted to, she didn’t want to blow her cover.
“And how would you know what that’s like?”
Setting the now measured ingredients down on the counter, Sinbad angrily snorted at her question.
“My mother was a prostitute. It kinda comes with the damn territory, along with not knowing who your dad is.” The word ‘prostitute’ sent chills down Annette’s spine. “And as much as I hate to admit it, some of her mannerisms kind of rubbed off on me.”
He stopped, going back to the fridge to get something. “But before you mouth off about it: She did it for business, I did it for pleasure.”
Another burning point of distress was wanting to tell him who his father was. But again, Annette remained silent on the matter.
“That still doesn’t mean you’d be an expert on love,” she retorted while he came back with a carton of orange juice.
“You’re right, I’m not. I just know what I know.” The anger in his voice seemed to have dissipated now. “I know it’s what keeps me from running in the other direction. It’s what drives me to put money away for a future I thought I’d never get.”
He looked down and grimaced, crossing his arms. “Love is…It’s letting them know you’ll be there no matter what. It’s being there at both their worst, and their best. It’s taking the bad with the good.”
Sinbad glanced toward the bedroom door, and Annette followed suit. “I guess I just felt from the beginning what I was getting myself into.”
“Now what would you mean by that?” Annette felt a morbid curiosity overtaking her.
Blowing a puff of air, Sinbad continued. “Bill’s not the only one with issues. Pretty much this whole family has problems. The only reason he hasn’t been committed? His mother’s just as bad, if not worse.”
“Well, the ‘demons’, as the Boss calls them, had to come from someplace. Wherever they came from, all I know is that Shark isn’t exempt from being seriously fucked in the head.”
Raising an eyebrow, Annette leaned on the counter. “And that doesn’t bother you at all?”
“Oh, it bothers me. It’s just mostly from feeling useless with the entire thing. And loving him isn’t going to just make his damn mental illness go away. All I can do is just be there for him when shit hits the fan.”
He turned to look at her. “So if you think that whatever you feel is going to change…” Sinbad waved a hand to the outside to refer to Bill.
“…That, then go right ahead. But don’t start whining when it all blows up in your face.” He now began shooing her off. “Now, if you ain’t gonna help, get out. I got breakfast to make for my fiance.”
Sitting on the partially-chewed bench from last night after she left, Annette kept an eye out for Bill.
Once again Sagebear was left behind, lest she bear witness once more to her owner’s trysts. Annette realized that Shark would be unimaginably delighted to get to ‘pet the adorably precious doggy’.
She waited for what seemed like hours, but no Bill showed up. Then, a loud screeching of tires could be heard nearby.
“Hm?” Jumping to her feet, Annette readied herself in case she was to run. Instead, a golf cart careened into her line of sight. At the wheel was her object of affection.
Driving like he was being chased, Bill ended up making track marks in the ground, and started driving in circles. Annette could hear him screaming about how terrible reality TV was. When he finally stopped, Annette strode over and helped him to his feet.
“You certainly know how to make an entrance, Bill.” He was too distracted by her beauty to really answer her.
Sinbad opened the door to find Shark awake, and sitting up in bed. The pallid skin and dark circles under his eyes indicated that sleep hadn’t come easily for him.
“Bad dream?” Without saying anything, Shark just nodded. He looked up at the tray of hot breakfast items, and reached to take it from Sinbad. Right away, he poked at his bowl of oatmeal.
Thinking he needed companionship, Sinbad took a seat next to him. A moment or two later, Sagebear wandered into the room.
“Mind telling me what the fuck that dream entailed? Because it’s bad enough to get you looking like that.”
Shark took a spoon to his oatmeal and groaned. “I don’t remember a lot of it, but it was terrifying.” He swallowed a spoonful, before speaking again. “How bad do I look?”
“Like you spent your life in Arbiter’s Grounds.” Sinbad watched as Sagebear rested her head on their mattress. Looking up at Shark, she whimpered sadly.
Hearing the heartbreaking cries, Shark reached down to pet her. This at least got Sagebear to wag her tail.
“I’m sorry. I know I need to cheer up. It was probably just a bad dream. Nothing bad’s going to happen, right?”
“For now? No.” Taking a hold of one of Shark’s feet, Sinbad began rubbing the bottom. “Nothing we can’t handle, though, right?”
Later that afternoon, Dennis and Shark had taken a trip to the Consignment Store.
Sinbad had already gone to work (and lamented his truck when he got there, given the distant screams), and Annette had returned from her illicit rendezvous. For whatever reason, she insisted on tagging along.
Neither of them were willing to argue, so along she came.
“See anything good that’s in your size, boy?” Dennis watched as his son dove into the bargain bin of clothes. Annette pretended to be occupied with a ceramic figurine set.
“Not yet,” Shark said when his head popped back up. “But I’ll keep looking.”
Dennis patted the side of the bin. “All right, you do that. But for now, I’m going to find myself a changing room.”
When he left in search of one, Annette turned her attention to Shark. He’d now jumped out of the bin, and instead scratched around the top for other things. Putting her hands on her hips, she grinned.
“You know, your father had a lot of clothing in his arms. He might be a while.” Putting a hand on his shoulder, her grin widened. “What say you and I go off to the bar?”
She could’ve sworn she’d imagined it, but Annette felt Shark stiffen up. His face took on an expression of fear.
“Oh, come on! You look like you could pass for old enough. If they ask for ID, I can vouch. Or are you afraid of your parents finding out?”
Her efforts in calming him seemed to be rapidly failing. Shark’s teeth bared in a strange combination of emotions she couldn’t figure out.
“Look, Shark. I know right now I’m only, ‘that woman sleeping with Uncle Bill’, but that doesn’t mean I can’t spend time with you. Just one glass, that’s all I’m asking. If your father asks, I’ll think up a story for when he speaks with your mother…”
Annette didn’t get much farther than the word ‘mother’. The moment the word came out of her mouth, something in Shark appeared to break.
Before she could properly react, he was on the floor. Grabbing fistfuls of his hair, Shark began to let loose with an unearthly screech.
“What in blue blazes?!” Dennis clearly heard his son in distress. Like magic, he had reappeared next to Annette. “Now what in the hell just happened to him?”
Annette couldn’t find the words to explain what was happening. “He just…I’ve no clue! I just asked him something, and then he went and started acting up like that!”
Trying to calm down his hysterical son, Dennis grit his teeth in wondering exactly what to do. Realizing she’d likely get blamed, Annette turned heel and ran off.
-A few hours later-
It was becoming dusk when Annette returned to the house. To her horror, Sinbad’s black truck was parked in front. Her initial fear lessened when she saw the covered window.
She tiptoed up the stairs to the front door, silently letting herself in. When she did, Sagebear approached her. Not wanting her dog to alert the others that she was home, Annette put a finger to her lips.
A few more careful footsteps, and she was back on the couch. Annette could hear hushed whispers, and the occasional whimper. One sounded calm, the other not so.
Annette tried closing her eyes to go to sleep, but it wasn’t going to come for her tonight it seemed. The unsettling voice suddenly shot up to about a hundred decibels.
“…She did what?!” Following Sinbad’s irate interjection, the bedroom door slammed open.