(This month’s short story theme was a bit of a challenge (I’m used to doing the timeskip chapters from Shark’s side, not Sinbad’s). I had to try to be creative with it, but also keep the characters in-character. Anywho, the theme is “Late.”)
It wasn’t like Harwood to be late to morning tea. In fact, it wasn’t like him to be absent at all. And yet, his chair sat vacant at the tea table on the balcony.
Sinbad hadn’t seen him in bed, either. It were as if he’d just up and vanished. But Sinbad decided not to worry, as Harwood was probably just spending the night somewhere else.
He at least got to try his hand at brewing tea. Not that he really wanted to.
Sinbad closed his eyes at the eye-searing tablecloth before him, as he had many times before. His father made it apparent that he wanted him to join in the family teatimes, but his taste in decoration themes needed a bit of work.
“Better three days without food than one day without tea.” It seemed that was one of the old man’s favorite phrases. Sinbad certainly had to hear it quite often.
Thankfully, Sinbad wasn’t alone for very long. He was alerted by the door to the balcony opening, along with footsteps.
“Hey, what’s in the ol’ teapot this morning, if I may ask?”
Marc sounded far too cheery on this foggy morning in Bridgeport. He also seemed far too energetic for someone who ostensibly just woke up. Until Sinbad finished taking a sip of his tea, he just shrugged. Then he spoke.
“Fuck if I know,“, Sinbad answered while lowering his teacup. “I ain’t the tea expert in this family. I just grabbed something at random.”
Marc seemed to have interpreted this as a sign to try the tea himself. He hummed a little tune as he fixed up his own cup.
Before he picked up the teacup to have himself a cup of the hot liquid, he hesitated and pulled back. This didn’t go unnoticed in Sinbad’s eyes.
“Something on your mind, bro?”
“Eh. Sorta.” Marc hesitated again, just staring at his full teacup sitting next to the creamer. “Before I tell you what’s wrong, um…You ever have dreams about dead people?”
Sinbad looked to predict what his half-brother was going to say, or at least made an incredibly accurate wild guess.
“You dreamed about her last night?” Marc just nodded to this. He didn’t need to elaborate on who he was talking about. Just thinking about Amy now seemed to put a bitter taste in both their mouths.
Marc went on. “I know it’s bad to keep dwelling on the past, but she did try to pull the same stunt on the two of us.” To this, Sinbad grunted.
“Not much we can do about it now,” he said while he lowered his teacup again. “She’s been dead for what, a few months now? And we said what we needed to say to her when we visited her grave, remember?”
“Yeah. It’s kind of interesting to think about, though. If I had caved in and claimed I was her baby’s dad, I don’t think I would’ve met you and our old man.”
Sinbad nodded. “Ditto, bro.”
It was then that Marc finally seemed to notice Harwood’s absence. “Speaking of old man, where is he? He’s usually the first one out here in the mornings.”
Sinbad was about to tell him that he didn’t know where he went, when his phone rang. With a grimace, he set his teacup down and answered it, standing up as he did so.
The identity of the caller wasn’t obvious at first. Sinbad didn’t even recognize the number. It wasn’t Harwood, or any of Sinbad’s co-workers.
“Yeah, I know a Harwood Clay. I’m his son. Why, what’s up?”
In an attempt to make it seem like he wasn’t eavesdropping, Marc finally picked up his cup and began casually sipping. He listened in as Sinbad’s voice took on a slight tone of agitation.
“No, no. That won’t be necessary, sir. I’ll come and get him in a few minutes.”
Somehow, in the short time Sinbad was on the phone, Marc had already finished his tea and waited for him to hang up.
The hanging-up was accompanied by an exasperated sigh.
“So…” Sinbad tried to figure out the best way to describe what he learned. “That was the police station calling. Guess who they found streaking through the park while high on peyote last night.”
Marc knew the answer, but decided to humor his half-brother. “Was it that old guy that stuck it in two different women and made us?”
“Bingo.” Sinbad then approached Marc to ask him another question. “Alright, how do we decide who goes to get him, arm wrestling or ro sham bo?”
Having to decide which of them was going to bring Harwood back to the apartment didn’t seem like something either of them wanted to do.
Standing up, Marc gave him a better idea.
“Why don’t we go together? That way, if the old man’s still goofy from using half moon, neither of us have to deal with his weird shit alone.”
“Yeah, that probably sounds like the best thing to do,” Sinbad told him. “The last thing I need is a naked old dude slobbering on my dashboard. Be great if I had you there wiping his face to be safe.”
With that, the two of them were in the building’s elevator in no time at all.
As the elevator clunked its way to the bottom, Marc had another suggestion:
“While we’re going there, wanna stop by this new pizza place first? They got this make your own pizza bar and unlimited refills on soda for like, five bucks.”
Sinbad was intrigued at this. He also grinned at his apparent luck in life, and wanted to make it clear.
“How the hell did you not come into my life until a few months back, bro?”
Marc just shrugged and returned Sinbad’s facial expression. “Better late than never, bro.”
(Word Count: 969, apparently)