“Come on, Sagebear!” Shark said as he tried to keep her still for a brushing. “Don’t you want to look nice for Great-Uncle Dudley?”
Dennis and Blaise had left the house after breakfast, to pick up Alma after deciding on plans for the day. Shark himself decided to get Sagebear ready in his own way, to little success.
Sagebear only seemed to be trying to roll onto her back. It was being made clear what she wanted him to do.
Giving up, Shark just carefully ran the grooming brush over her belly. Sagebear was now duly pleased.
As he brushed her, the front door opened.
“I tell you, Miss Alma. The man’s eaten enough hot dogs to put Matlock to shame!” Dennis could be heard saying as he and the women came into the house. “That’s why I figured we had to stop by the store on the way here.”
Alma chuckled. “Sounds like he’s an impressive man, from what you’ve said. Hope he doesn’t mind me asking him questions for book research.” She then looked over at Shark, and gave a little wave.
“Hi, Aunt Alma,” Shark said to her. Sagebear got upright, and trotted over to Alma to sniff her feet.
Seeing Sagebear led Alma to pull out a dog treat from the bag she was carrying. Right away, Sagebear perked up and began dancing excitedly for it.
“Do we have to go home right after this?” Sinbad was staring down his last two waffle sticks at the diner. Marc was eating up his plate of toast covered in marmalade.
Marc wasn’t even finished chewing when he answered him. “No. Why?”
Sinbad snorted, astounded that Marc had forgotten so quickly. “What, you want to go home and see the junk that made us again? It was terrifying the first time.”
“Oh yeah,” Marc said as if he’d just now remembered. Sinbad couldn’t help but facepalm. He then decided to address something else on his mind.
“Look, after this, how about you go home by yourself? Even if you have to see old man ding-dong. Hopefully by now he’s put clothes on, though…”
Sinbad pinched the bridge of his nose, still trying to erase the terrifying mental image.
“Huh? Why do I gotta go alone?” This question was just waved off rather passively, before it was answered.
“Figured I needed to explore this city. We’ve been here how long? That, and…I don’t know. I guess I need alone time.”
Marc decided not to argue with him, and just nodded.
No sooner than Annette had left the hidden passageways, that she’d heard agonized screaming coming from Ox-Head and Horse-Face’s room. Clutching the paper she’d gotten earlier, she sidled up against the wall, and listened.
She could hear The Builder cackling now, along with Horse-Face’s weak pleas to stop. Then came the gunshots, turning his pleas into outright screaming.
“Stop shooting yourself!” They could now be heard saying. “Stop shooting yourself! Stop shooting yourself!”
This went on until Annette could hear the gun clicking, followed by The Builder uttering a dejected, “Awww…”
Then came the footsteps, leading her to try and skitter away. She didn’t want to be accused of eavesdropping, along with the nasty fallout of that.
She only had to hear The Builder fling their gun at Horse-Face, right before they left the room grumbling about ammunition.
Hazarding a peek, Annette saw Horse-Face sitting on the floor. His legs were splayed out on either side of him, showcasing the damage that The Builder had done to him.
Annette was disturbed at just how calm he was, as he dragged himself over to a cabinet to grab something to stop the bleeding. It was at this point she decided to come in.
“Looks like you can take a lot before you’ll die,” she said to him with a good amount of malice. “How or why are you not dead from blood loss?”
“If I knew, I’d tell you. I swear,” Horse-Face rasped out to her as he grabbed a giant roll of gauze.
Quietly, a hidden door opened nearby. His companion and The Twin stepped out, seemingly assuming the coast was clear.
Annette tried to protest them coming out of hiding, but both of them ignored her.
“The Twin said The Builder won’t be back down here for a few hours,” he said quietly to Horse-Face. “That gives us plenty of time to fix you up.”
Attempting to refuse, Horse-Face crawled. “No. Don’t bother with me-”
“If you don’t clean up properly, your wounds could get infected,” his companion said. “Then what use would you be to anyone, then?”
The Twin merely walked toward the cabinet, fishing out the rest of the medical supplies. Then they knelt down to administer proper first aid.
Annette quietly stepped out of the room, leaving them to perform what she felt was undeserved first aid.
Shark was amazed all of them could fit in the car. Sagebear didn’t seem to mind the least bit, happily wagging her tail as she sat on his lap.
The car itself was somewhat beat up. It was all the family could really afford with their current financial situation, though.
None of them seemed to mind, anyway. It worked well enough. Now everyone was packed into it, on their way to Dudley’s house.
Sagebear was enjoying the ride thus far, wiggling about and looking out the window. Next to her and Shark, Alma was quietly writing down what Shark believed to be questions for Dudley.
“There’s gonna be relish there to put on the hot dogs, right Denny?” Blaise asked in the passenger seat upfront.
Dennis made a sound in the affirmative. “I’m sure he’s got an entire drawer full of hot dog fixings. Dudley is a man who knows his hot dogs.”
He then shook his head. “Wish he’d offer more beverages than Brisk, though.”
At that point, the car pulled up to Dudley’s house.
The moment Shark opened the car door, Sagebear leapt out and waddled over to where Dudley was. The others followed right behind her.
Harwood was busy doing something when Marc came home. By this point, he had mercifully put on some kind of clothing.
“Hey, I’m back,” Marc said to a seemingly empty apartment. “They were out of your favorite flavor of bubble tea, so I got you strawberry green tea flavor. That cool?”
“It’s fine,” Harwood said from the bathroom. “Just put it in the fridge, I’ll drink it when I get back tonight.”
He stepped out from the living room. When Marc turned to see him, he was jolted at the getup his father was wearing.
“What is it? What, did I get the tube top switched with the miniskirt again? I’ve been told I do that a lot down at the place.”
Marc was still speechless. “Uh…What place, do I ask?”
Walking by him, Harwood just waved him off. “Trust me. The less you know, the better.” He then left the apartment, trying to keep himself balanced in high heels.
Poking his head out the door, Marc listened to a gradually fading list of Cantonese profanities.
A siren blared in the distance, along with the sound of a gunshot. Sinbad tried to ignore it as he walked past downtown.
Surrounding him were various people, all trying to get to their own destinations. Above him, a huge display screen was broadcasting the latest news. Later it would be replaced at night with a DDR game being played in the street.
A food truck whizzed by, emanating the smells of fried delights. Sinbad made a little note to visit it on his way home.
Finally, he visited the part of town he wanted to find. As he expected, it was still an empty house. Peeking inside, it looked nothing like he remembered it.
Going around to the other side, Sinbad looked through the bedroom window. Though it looked drastically different, he still knew it to be the same place.
“Funny,” he said to himself, “they thought new wallpaper and flooring was gonna help erase the fact a prostitute OD’ed here?”
Deciding against breaking into the house, Sinbad instead went back to the front of the place. He took a seat on the front step, and watched the clouds go by.
“Well…” He spoke again. “I guess in some way, I’m home.”