(Warning! Talk of domestic abuse!)
The stench still hung in the air, even after Sinbad and Marc opened all the windows. Marc was pinching his nose shut as he scooped up the remains into a bowl.
“If you wanted to try this thing, all you had to do was ask!” He said while he was still coughing. “Oh, I really hope Mister Clay doesn’t get upset about this! He was looking forward to this!”
Sinbad raised an eyebrow. “Uhhh…’Mister Clay’?” He watched as Marc put the splattered fruit mess back into the fridge. “You keep saying his name. So…”
Pulling his head out, Marc looked confused. “What? What about him?”
“What is he, like your imaginary friend or something?” If this were the case, Sinbad was disturbed to see how devoted Marc would be with the inner workings of his mind.
Thankfully, Marc shook his head. “No, he’s…He owns this place. I watch it while he’s gone.”
Now he was really confused. “So, what? He lets you bring in random people into his house without permission?” The noises Marc made indicated he didn’t know how to answer that. Instead, he changed the subject.
“We can just make smoothies out of that, maybe. I can get a new one, but…Mister Clay, he notices those things, so…” He clicked his tongue once. “I should think of how to tell him.”
Ox-Head, for the most part, was surprisingly placid when escorted to his room. Annette did smile a little when she saw him curled up on his messy bed fast asleep.
The smile quickly faded when she left his room, and saw The Builder appear right in front of her.
“Hello, wifey,” they crooned out in a slimy tone. “Why are you so nice to that useless douche lately?”
“What?” Annette looked back in, to see if he was still sleeping. “Why are you so mean to him?”
Their grin dropped almost instantly. “I just don’t see why you’d want to be friends with a guy who can’t keep his head on straight. After all, what if he’s lying to you?”
Annette just glowered as they did a handstand and snapped their legs into unnatural angles. “Oh, and you’re the paragon of honesty?”
This remark just led them to smirk and scoff. “Hey, either me or that wife-beating methhead you were friends with.”
Now this baseless accusation got Annette even more upset. “Sinbad would never hit Amy! They were happy together!”
“Oh really now? Were they happy, or were they just putting up appearances when you were around? How do you know that behind closed doors, he wasn’t beating her until her face was one big bruise?”
They pointed at her, while proceeding to swing their still akimbo limbs in the air. “You’d be amazed at how well concealer works! Face it, Netty. Abusers don’t change. The only part about them that can change is who they take it out on.”
Annette put her hands on her hips, in an effort to intimidate them. “If he was so mean to her, then why’d she have a baby with him and marry him?”
Another scoff. “Isn’t it obvious? She was a fucking idiot. And he was happy his favorite target couldn’t get away.” They moved to pick at their teeth. “And the only thing their son’s good for is consumption.”
They then jumped to stand on their kinked out feet. “I mean, think about it, honey. His first punching bag hung himself like smoked venison. So he switched to an easier target. Like I told you! Abusers. Don’t. Change.”
Cracking to their full height, The Builder looked directly at Annette. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta throw a bucket of entrails on Moony.”
Before she could stop them, Annette watched The Builder suddenly disappear, as if in thin air. Now she was left to think about the vile words they’d said, about two people she knew long ago.
Early the next morning, Shark woke up to the sensation of his leg being shaken.
“Hm…?” Looking behind him, he watched as Sagebear pulled at his pant leg. When she noticed he was awake, she stopped and wagged her tail. “Oh, good morning, Sagebear.”
Sagebear began leaping towards the kitchenette, as a way to show what she wanted. Groggily, Shark sat up and dragged himself off the couch.
“Okay, hang on…” As he moved to join her, he took a glance at the bedroom. His expression soured when he knew that his father was home now. Part of him made sure to work as quickly as possible.
Pulling out a small pan and an egg, he turned on the oven and got to work. Behind him, Sagebear waited patiently for her meal.
“I’m not good at cooking, so you’ll have to forgive me if this is a little burnt,” he whispered to her as he cracked the egg into the pan. Then he made to pull it in various intervals.
When enough time passed, he then set the resulting scrambled eggs onto a small plate for her. Sagebear began devouring it the second he put the plate on the floor.
“Not so fast. I don’t want you to choke. But when you’re done…” He got back up, and took hold of her nearby leash. “Go for a morning walk?”
Hearing the word ‘walk’ got Sagebear to enthusiastically stand up, and lick her plate clean. She then patiently sat down again as he hooked the least onto her collar.
As they set out that morning, Shark didn’t notice his father watching from the bedroom window.