(Warning! Words implying slut-shaming and vilification of a dead woman!)
Looking behind her, Annette readjusted the things that she’d managed to shoplift in her arms.
A part of her didn’t want to risk a higher chance of capture, but she went and took a few other things anyway.
Now she snuck into the darkened Consignment Store after leaving the grocery store. Setting her current finds down on a table, Annette began rummaging around the discount clothes.
“I don’t know what size he is…And I doubt he’d let me check.” Picturing the rather thin Ox-Head in her mind, Annette decided on whatever would look the least baggy on him.
While she was picking her belongings back up, Annette turned to see a picture of Bill up on the wall. Her expression faltered, remembering the last time she saw him alive.
“Oh, Bill…” She hardly noticed the sign saying he wasn’t allowed on the premises. She walked over, pulling the picture down from the wall.
“It’s not like they’re going to need it anymore,” she said as she tucked the picture into the now folded shirt.
No sooner than she’d done so, did Annette hear footsteps behind her. Clutching everything to her chest, she swiveled around expecting the worst.
She breathed an internal sigh of relief when she saw two of the assistants instead of The Builder themself.
Moony held onto his partner’s arm as he kept an eye on Annette. He then turned his attention to what she was holding in her arms.
“Resortin’ to stealin’, lassie? Ye haven’t been here that long.” He stepped closer to Sunny, trying to figure out what else she’d stuck in there.
Annette put on an irritated face. “Well, it’s not like they’re going to let me pay for it up front! Apparently, I’m some kind of pariah in this town now.”
“Yeah, sounds about right.” Moony then looked over to the portal they’d come out of. “Anyway, we’re s’posed to bring ye back to the base.”
He and Sunny turned back to the portal, with Sunny gesturing towards Annette to be at his other side.
Annette held everything tighter to her chest, taking great care not to smash the pears she’d hidden in the folded shirt. Making sure everything was in place, she joined the other two, and entered the portal.
Grunting with effort, The Builder heaved a new piece of furniture into their room. On their bed, Horse-Face was overcome with pain from their recent ‘stinging’ session.
“Aw, quit your blubbering!” They shouted to him as they dropped their unusual coffee table in a random location on the floor. They didn’t even bother to center it.
Uncurling himself, Horse-Face forced himself to look at them. He then pulled himself off the bed, trying to figure out just how much blood he’d lost at that point. He took great heaving breaths, trying to steady himself.
The Builder only scoffed at watching him stumble towards the nearest wall.
“You know, you wouldn’t be having that problem if you hadn’t chopped your own dick off,” they sneered, before gesturing to the ever present corpse in their room. “‘Course, you’re faring better than Headless Harry over there.”
Horse-Face didn’t answer them. He just pulled himself out of the room, only taking a brief glance at his deceased predecessor.
The first thing Annette did after getting back was seek out Ox-Head.
She found him in his room, staring intently at his own hand. As soon as Sunny and Moony left her side, she approached him.
“I’m back,” she said to snap him out of his concentration, “and I brought presents.”
When Ox-Head reacted to the sound of her voice, his response was to squeal with joy. Jumping off his bed, he sat in front of her as she bent down to his eye level.
Setting everything down in between them, Annette smiled as Ox-Head marveled at what she’d gotten him. Picking up one of the pears, he sniffed it out of curiosity.
“Yeah, you’re supposed to eat that. I know a lot of recipes you can use with pears, and they’re good on their own…”
Annette trailed off as she watched Ox-Head shove the entire fruit into his mouth. He chewed the pear a few times, before swallowing it. When he finished, he licked his lips.
“You, uh…You’re not supposed to eat it whole,” she said to him with a dumbfounded look on her face.
Ox-Head frowned, and poked at his stomach. “Oh…Am I gonna die now?”
“No, I think you’ll be fine. Just don’t eat the seeds or the core of the next one.” Annette saw him reach for the other pear, before he caught sight of the picture of Bill.
Picking the photo up instead of the fruit, Ox-Head held it up to see it better. Annette tried reaching for it before he just handed it back to her.
“Who’s that?” He quietly asked with a hint of reverence.
Annette took the picture, looking at Bill devouring his club sandwich. “That was…He was my-”
Ox-Head clapped his hands together, as if he’d just had an epiphany. “Oh! Was he your Perseus, Andromeda? Did he save you from the monster?”
His question made her think back to one of the more terrifying times in her life. She then remembered her Bill, who stopped the man about to assault her back then.
“Yeah, he did,” she said with a little smile. Ox-Head then clapped his hands to his face, and squealed again.
“I want to hear about him! I want to hear your story!” He then sat up straighter. “You promised you would!”
“I did, didn’t I?” Annette then remembered why she told him that. “But first things first: Were you able to find my ring?”
Sticking a finger into his mouth, he nodded. “Couldn’t get to it though!” He hoped she wouldn’t ask why he couldn’t, lest he be caught in a lie. “But I found it.”
Annette decided that was good enough. She sat back and nodded, figuring she could just ask him where it was later.
“At least you found it for me.” She briefly smiled, before becoming serious again. “Now then, to start at the beginning…”
A few days after Annette left, Harwood was surprised to find an important envelope in his mailbox.
He looked it over as he went back into the house, already taking guesses as to what it contained.
Marc and Sinbad had left earlier, claiming they needed to ‘say goodbye to someone’. Now having the house to himself, Harwood opened the envelope and scanned the results.
Reading it confirmed what he’d been suspecting all along. Taking a deep breath, Harwood held the papers to his chest.
Then, he made his way over to his dresser, and stuck them into the first drawer under his socks.
As he did so, he caught sight of his wedding photo sitting on his dresser. He looked directly at his late wife, positively beaming in her wedding dress.
“You know I did what I did because I was grieving, right?” He didn’t expect an answer, but he wouldn’t have blamed Macy for holding his past actions against him.
Closing the drawer, Harwood then went back out into the other room to make himself a cup of tea.
Marc stared down at the bouquet of flowers he held in his hands. He remained silent the entire truck ride to the cemetery.
Sinbad didn’t even bother trying to initiate conversation. He just shut the truck off, and let Marc out by opening the door for him.
Nobody else was around the graveyard. This left the two men alone to find the grave they were looking for.
“Any idea where she is?” Marc’s question broke the silence, but he wasn’t answered verbally.
Looking for the freshest burial mound, Sinbad led Marc to nearby the mausoleum. A relatively new grave had popped up there.
Reaching it confirmed it was who they were looking for. Bending down, Sinbad ran his finger over the words engraved on the front:
“‘Amy Bull-Goode‘.” He stood back up and grimaced at Marc. “She seriously went the hyphenating route. And it looks like people around town knew what happened with her.”
Surrounding the grave were papers with vile insults written on them, calling Amy a whore, a homewrecker, a skank, and other terrible things. One even had the sentence, ‘A family is ruined because of you!’
On the gravestone itself, someone had messily chiseled through the epitaph, crudely replacing it with the words, ‘nasty bitch‘.
Marc and Sinbad were disgusted by the blatant vandalism. Sinbad picked up the papers, ripping them all apart until they were nothing but shreds. He then stared at the defaced epitaph, wishing he could do something to fix that.
Instead, he let Marc kneel in front of the gravestone. Marc himself tried not to look at the vicious slander that was now under her name.
Placing the flowers in a vase in front of the grave, Marc shakily began talking.
“I don’t understand,” he choked out. “Was I not good enough for you? I mean, I really thought we had something special. But you cheated on me. I don’t…I don’t get it.”
He now wished he thought of what to say before he got here. The words caught in Marc’s throat as he tried to think of something that didn’t sound insulting.
“You didn’t have to die. You did a lot of bad things, but you didn’t need to die for them. I guess…I don’t know. I just hope wherever you are, you’re doing all right.”
He then got up, letting Sinbad say his piece. Sinbad glared down at the grave, clearly not about to mince any words.
“Were you a lying, manipulative, betraying witch?” He said while clenching his fists. “Yeah, you kind of were.”
His expression then softened, letting a tear slide down his cheek. “Did you deserve to be demonized by the whole damn town because of it? No, you probably didn’t. And did you deserve to be thrown into the swamp with your legs hacked off? Hell, no.”
Sinbad went on. “I won’t say I want to take back the last thing I said to you, because I can’t at this point. Trying to take it back would be kind of futile now.
“But hey, you were my first friend when I came to Twinbrook a few years ago. I guess that counts for something. So…Rest in Peace, Amy. I mean it. Just don’t come back as a zombie and eat our brains as revenge, all right?”
He then turned to look at Marc, who nodded. Both men then turned away from the gravestone, and headed back towards the truck.