Annette held her bloody nose as she tried crawling away from the man before her.
“Maybe I should have brought Ox-Head with me after all,” she muttered to herself as she tried to escape. In order to buy herself time, she tried to reason with him.
“Look, Shark. I know you’re probably mad at me. But come on, that was hundreds of years ago. Don’t you think it’s high time you got over it?”
He didn’t respond the way she’d hoped. Rather, he grabbed a bottle of single malt whiskey and threw it at her head. To her short-lived relief, he missed.
Then he began whispering again. The words came out as more of a furious hiss than a whisper.
“Give him back…” He moaned out as his rotting arms reached toward her again. “Give him back…!” Annette was about to ask who ‘him’ was. Then it dawned on her as she wiped the blood off her face.
“Shark? Please, I had nothing to do with his death! You know that.”
All he said to this was a quiet and solemn “Liar.” He then let loose with a wave of black sludge from his mouth, drenching her.
“Calm down on that, puppy! If you squeeze all the noise out of it now, there won’t be any left in it for later!” Sagebear was now sitting between Dennis and Dudley on a park bench, happily chewing on her squeaky toy.
Dudley couldn’t help but smile at the way Dennis spoke to her. “I can see that she’s well-loved in this family.”
“That she is. She may be a dog, but she’s still my granddaughter.” He scratched her on the head. “Aren’t you, puppy?”
He went quiet for a few moments, then changed the subject to something else. “So…There was no last will or testament for the folks? Nothing at all?”
Dudley shook his head. “There’s no mentioning it to me, at least. For all anyone knows, it was destroyed in the fire. Any kind of inheritance there may have been…”
He trailed off, finishing it with a shrug. “And even if there were, would either of us really want it? It was likely ill-gotten money, or illegally-acquired property.”
Dudley readjusted his hat before continuing. “It’d be nothing but an unpleasant remnant of the past. That’s what I believe, anyway.” He then turned to look at Dennis. “I don’t know what you’d do.”
“I’d probably think the same way, and try to get rid of it. Maybe send it back to the rightful owners.” Again, there was silence after that, except for Sagebear still chewing on her toy.
When she abruptly stopped and looked in another direction, Dennis and Dudley couldn’t help but follow suit. They all watched as Shark now approached them.
Shark was holding the manila envelope he’d been given. The look on his face displayed a bizarre mix of confusion and realization.
“There you are, boy!” Dennis said with a slightly raised voice as he and the others stood up. “So, how was your information binge?”
He didn’t receive a response, or at least not a verbal one. When Shark was close enough, Dennis internally noted that he had to have been crying.
Shark handed the envelope back to Dudley, and then faced Dennis. Before Dennis could ask again how it went, Shark then wrapped his arms tightly around him.
Returning the sudden hug, Dennis could clearly feel his son trembling.
Annette didn’t have time to wipe the mess from her face, when she suddenly felt her ankle being grabbed. Yelping, she could hear him growling as he lifted her up, dangling her off the ground.
“Shark, please! Come on, isn’t this a little extreme? I get it, you’re mad! You’re still mourning his death, but I doubt this is going to change things for the better-”
He didn’t let her finish. Annette quickly found herself being flung into a rack full of gin. She tried to dodge each bottle as it crashed around her, before the shelf itself almost came down on her.
Looking up, she saw him looming over her. The black substance he’d thrown up on her dripped from the side of his mouth. He held the rack up with one hand, before taking a better hold of it and throwing it aside effortlessly.
“Hate you…Give him back…Hate you…Give him back…” He repeated these words, raising his volume when he punched the wall above her.
Once again, Annette tried to reason with him. “Shark! Listen to me, please!” This only seemed to intensify his ire.
“Give him back! Give him back, I hate you! You let him die! It’s all your fault!” Each word felt like a knife in Annette’s chest. It kept hurting as he stepped back, grabbing a hold of his hair and bellowing like a demon.
The bellowing then abruptly stopped, and his head parted company with the rest of his body.
Annette froze in place as she watched his headless corpse topple to the floor. When she looked up again, she saw who had delivered the blow that severed the cadaver’s head.
Remind me again what the point of that all was?” Sinbad inquired before he took a bite of a vegetable-loaded sandwich.
Harwood looked under his arm as he was picking up the guitar he had in his room. “Well, I had Marc do the same thing when he moved in. He’s got a lot of health problems, you know. I needed to know which ones, and I suppose I did the same for you just in case.”
In his mind, Harwood berated himself for telling Sinbad what was essentially a lie. He didn’t want to say the real reason, though.
The reason given seemed to be good enough for Sinbad, at least. He swallowed his sandwich bite before changing the subject.
“You play guitar? What, you ever play with professionals, or something?”
This question now seemed quite funny to Harwood. “One time I was punched in the face by Carlos Santana, Does that count?” His smile faded as quickly as it had appeared.
“I suppose I’m self-taught. I know a few songs, but it’s been a while since I played.” He lifted it up for Sinbad to get a better look. “I guess I never really had a reason to do so.”
“Oh,” was all Sinbad could say as he took another bite.
Harwood just shrugged half-heartedly, and then walked past. “Well, come on. Marc’s waiting outside on the patio.” He left the room, leaving the door open for Sinbad to follow him.
Sinbad took a quick look around the room, trying to find anything noteworthy for later. Deciding nothing currently piqued his interest, he shoved the rest of his sandwich into his mouth and went out to the patio with the other two.
(Where the first half of the title came from: )