Author Note: The chapter includes adult content (sexual references) and content that may be disturbing and upsetting to some readers, including suicide. If these are triggers for you, please exercise discretion while reading. Also know if you are contemplating suicide, please seek immediate help. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 in the U.S. 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website and chat with a professional support specialist online http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.
“I have something for you.”
Lolly had just opened the door for her boyfriend, Sinbad. They were planning to celebrate her early acceptance to Simvard and her graduation from high school tonight. Her father had said she needed a night of normalcy after everything that had happened.
Nearly three weeks ago now, Shark had been held for questioning for seventeen hours after Lucy Fern had been assassinated. He had been released, but the police said they would be keeping an eye on him. Lolly’s mother had only been killed a mere few days before, and her grandfather shortly before that. The Rackets hadn’t really celebrated Christmas. It just didn’t seem right this year. With Silver, Max, and Lucy gone, even if they were disliked, the shock was a little too much to bear.
Her father had been spending long hours in his office and going on long drives, staying out at all sorts of odd hours. Lolly could hear her aunt Rachel and uncle Bill whispering concerns long after their daughter, Hope was asleep. Shark had been like a zombie, wandering around the house, wearing the same clothes, not showering, eating ice cream right out of the container. Her grandmother was still in jail, despite the lawyer appeals for bail for the old woman. Lolly didn’t understand all that was going on, but she was worried about her family.
“Flowers!” Lolly gasped, pleased.
“You like ’em?” Sinbad asked, handing her the bouquet of pink roses. “The girl at the flower shop said girls like these and since I don’t know a daisy from a rose…”
“I love them!” Lolly exclaimed. “Thank you, Sinbad.”
“Yeah, well,” he shoved his hands in his pockets awkwardly. “I just…thought… you know… don’t expect these all the time now and shit. I don’t have deep pockets like your family.”
“I think I’d be happy if my boyfriend brought me anything, even dandelions from the park,” Lolly said softly.
She couldn’t get over saying the word ‘boyfriend.’ It felt so good after waiting for so long.
“But those are weeds!” Sinbad protested, lifting his hands and tucking a stray hair behind her ear. “You deserve way better than weeds.”
Lolly caught her breath as Sinbad’s lips met her own, and she melted into his embrace like butter into a hot pan. She loved him so much she thought her heart would burst.
“I don’t care if they’re weeds. I care that they are from you,” she whispered, her eyes brimming with moisture.
“Tears!” he grunted. “Gawd… Lolly… what did I do wrong?”
“Nothing,” she shook her head and smiled, swiping at her eye corners. “Nothing at all. In fact, you’re doing everything right. I love you.”
“Yeah, you know I’m in love with you,” Sinbad replied, and then stepped back suddenly as someone else entered the room.
Lolly turned to see her brother, shuffling his feet, empty beer bottle in hand. “Shark, are you coming to dinner with us?”
“I said I’d be here,” he mumbled.
“Oh yay!” Lolly clapped her hands happily. “I’m glad the family will be here.”
“Gawd! Lolls… get your freakin’ head outta the clouds… what are you like a rainbow unicorn or something? Always sappy and happy and gawd! It makes me sick. Mom’s gone… and Grandma’s in jail… and I was nearly blown up,” Shark exploded.
“But you weren’t,” Lolly said bewildered. “It’s all the more reason to celebrate.”
“Yeah, man, this is for Lolly,” Sinbad added.
“You get your special day… your special… stupid… special day,” Shark wiped his nose on his sleeve. “And what do I get? I should be dead.”
“Hey Shark, please I didn’t mean to make you upset. You’re not dead. We’re happy you’re not dead. Dad just wanted us to all be together…” Lolly took a step back as she spoke as her brother wildly waved his arms and continued ranting.
“Dad’s a llama-sucking idiot! Don’t you see Lolly? This is just to make you feel better. No one else. Just you. Gawd! It has to be all about you, doesn’t it? Lolly… the perfect child. The best child. The perfect everything. You should’ve been Mom and Dad’s only child.”
“Shark, calm down,” Sinbad said.
“Don’t you tell me to calm down. I will do whatever I damn…well… please. Don’t you tell me to calm down, you bastard!”
Sinbad lunged for Shark, and Lolly grabbed his arm worriedly.
“Shark, that’s enough,” Dennis entered the room and said, firmly. “Don’t insult Lolly’s boyfriend.” He nodded in the direction of a tall east Asimian woman with pretty purple streaks in her black hair. “And you have a guest.”
“I don’t care… about my guest… she’s just a dancer I picked up at some club… she’s just here to numb my pain, Dad. Can’t you see I’m in pain?” Shark was practically shrieking. “My life is a disaster. Everything’s falling apart. Everything’s a disaster. I can’t keep anything… I can’t hold onto anything. I can’t keep a job or a woman or a life together or a career or nothing or something or anything…I can’t get the upwardly mobile job and do something with my life.”
Lolly looked over at Shark’s “paid escort” for the evening, and couldn’t believe how calmly the woman was standing there in her orange-and-yellow striped tank, and teal and orange mini skirt, and high-heeled boots. She found herself wondering about the woman’s Freezer Bunny tattoo on her exposed back. She looked oddly out of sync with the rest of the Racket family as she examined her glittery orange manicured nails.
“Shark, we know you’re in pain… why don’t we take this into the office?” Dennis suggested.
“NO! I can’t. I won’t. I won’t do this stupid freak-a-llama side show for my do-gooder sister… The woman I love is dead,” Shark yelled, and turned to face Sinbad. “And you! You’re so far beneath us…” he sneered. “Lolly will get tired of you and throw you back to the pond, you damn good-for-nothing swamp scum.”
Before anyone could stop him, Sinbad reached his fist back and punched Shark squarely in the jaw. Dennis scrambled to separate the boys as Shark attempted to break his bottle over Sinbad’s head, and Lolly shrieked in horror. Shark continued screaming and ranting and cursing as Dennis literally carried his son out of the room.
“Sinbad, are you okay?” Lolly asked, her lower lip quivering.
He shook out his hand. “Yeah. That punk bastard was insulting you.”
“And you,” she wailed. “I’m so sorry. I don’t think that about you. You know I don’t, right?” she sounded almost nervous. “And Dad doesn’t either. No one does.”
“It’s okay, Lolls, I’m used to it,” he replied, grimacing, as he massaged his hand. He looked at the tall woman with them and added, “I bet you didn’t expect that tonight.”
“I’ve seen worse,” she blew on her nails. “I’ve been out on worse dates too.”
“Are you really? I mean do you really get paid to…” Lolly asked, wide-eyed.
“Lolly, don’t ask that,” Sinbad scowled.
“No, it’s okay,” the lady responded. “Shark is just…another client.”
“So Shark is a client?” Lolly asked, fascinated, if a little naive. “What’s your name?”
“Cho…Cho Sonwhun,” the woman responded.
“That’s a pretty name,” Lolly said sweetly.
“Look, if you don’t mind, I’ll probably get outta here,” Cho said. “I was paid up front for the whole night and this seems like a private family thing,” she twisted her high heel into the carpet. “Unless you want me to stay and spice things up for you two a bit…seeing as it is your special night? I mean, your brother’s treat and all.
Sinbad coughed loudly. Lolly flushed a deeper red than her usual attire.
“Um… no… thanks,” Sinbad handed her a twenty. “We’re good.”
“Suit yourself,” Cho took the Simoleons and walked out of the house, her heels clicking behind her.
“Can she do that?” Lolly turned to her boyfriend in surprise. “I mean…” she dropped her voice. “Legally?”
“Lolly, you are so naive,” Sinbad chuckled.
“Well,” she blushed again. “I… guess… I’m just curious.”
“Should I go and get her back?” he grinned teasingly.
“No,” she shook her head. “I mean, I just I’ve never met one.”
“What? A hooker?”
“Sinbad! Don’t call her that.”
“What she is, isn’t she? Sorry…er…an escort.”
“Sinbad… she has a name. Cho…” Lolly looked out the window almost wistfully. “Cho Sonwhun. That really is a pretty name. What do you suppose she’s Simpanese?”
“No, probably Seoulan,” Sinbad replied. “Sonwhun is a Seoulan name.”
“Oh,” Lolly twisted a hair around her finger.
“Do I have some competition here?” he inquired.
“No,” Lolly made a horrified face. “She just… uh… seemed nice.”
“Right,” Sinbad laughed sarcastically. “She’s paid to be…uh… nice.”
“Sinbad, Cho is a human being just like we are,” Lolly said defensively. “We should treat her nicely and all. It’s only the decent thing to do.”
“And that honey, is why I love you,” Sinbad smiled, wrapping his arms around Lolly’s neck. “You see the best in people. You believe in ’em. And you’re kind to everyone.”
“Thank you,” Lolly said shyly. “I think.”
“Oh it’s a compliment,” Sinbad smiled. “You’re the only one I compliment and such.”
“So I’m damn lucky?” she smirked.
“Oh Loyola Racket swearing,” he said, bemused.
“Um… I can be bad…” she giggled.
“Oh this I’d like to see,” he moved in for a kiss.
Shark perched on the edge of his bed, drinking his fifth beer of the night. His dad, Lolly, and Sinbad had left over an hour ago for the restaurant to exchange late Christmas gifts and celebrate his sister’s acceptance into Simvard. It was a huge accomplishment. He knew it. He just didn’t feel like partying. His whole world was coming apart.
He was half tempted to call Cho back. He did pay for the whole night. She had left in a hurry, and he didn’t blame her, but he didn’t want to be alone. If he was alone, he would think too much, and thinking would be a disaster. Cho might offer him some nice company, a way to numb the pain. He really wasn’t sure though his dad would approve of mixing business with pleasure. He wasn’t sure what his dad thought about him bringing home a prostitute in the first place.
Shark had been managing the girls a little here and there at Shady’s. Russ had given him a little taste of that responsibility, but since his cousin tried to blow him up, Shark hadn’t been back. He still had plenty of allowance. He didn’t really need the job. He mostly wandered the streets of Twinbrook, kicking empty beer cans, snorting in alleys, and scaring old ladies. He finally came home and collapsed in his room a few days ago, much to his father’s relief. His old man was worried about him.
He hadn’t been able to put into words what he was feeling. He hadn’t been able to tell anyone his suspicions. As far as the world knew, Russell Racket was an upstanding businessman, owner of the local nightclub, and not mastermind extraordinaire. Not constructor of his demise. Not devil in disguise. Even the police hadn’t been able to get much out of him since he had been so distraught, and Dennis had, of course, hired good lawyers.
Shark flopped back on the bed and tried to get some sleep, still clutching his beer bottle. At almost five-thirty in the morning, he sat up and wandered downstairs, bleary-eyed and hung-over. Dennis had paid for a hotel for the night in New Simoleans. Shark knew he had a room there too. His dad had paid through the new year. He could call up Cho and pay her some more, catch a cab up to the capitol. Or maybe he could call a limo. A lap dance and a hand job in the back of a limousine sounded nice about now. Gawd! If only he could numb out… sex, booze, and crystals. The perfect combination of numbing-inducing activities.
Shark felt a bit bad for the way he screeched at Lolly. She was a good kid. She hadn’t been abused or neglected or affected by the nightmare of this house and this sick twisted family like he had, and nearly everyone else. Well, maybe his cousin, Hope. He grimaced. His uncle and aunt had a wacky marriage. Some nights he recalled seeing Bill at the club with that Robert Castor dude groping and necking on each other in the dark, smoky VIP corner booth. He wondered if his aunt was getting it on with someone too, though she was nearly three months Preggo, so he doubted anyone would want to tap that.
Sinbad wandered into the kitchen. Rachel was pouring herself coffee-to-go at the sink. She smiled politely and said good morning. He grunted some kind of response and slumped at the table. She told him his dad called, and if he wanted, Dennis would send the limo back for his son, if he had changed his mind. Rachel said she was off to work.
“Where’s the sleaze?” he asked, referencing his uncle.
Rachel flushed, and replied coldly, “Bill is upstairs sleeping in. He is watching your cousin today.”
“Doesn’t he every day?” Shark mumbled. “I mean, the man is a fat, pathetic couch potato.”
Rachel narrowed her eyes, and looked like she was about to say something, when her carpool’s horn honked outside. She wrapped her coat around.
“Shark, you really should work on that attitude of yours,” she said, walking out of the kitchen.
“And you should work on not being a bitch,” he called, and after he heard the door slam, he added, “A naive, stupid bitch who doesn’t realize her husband is screwing a man.”
Shark dropped his head on the table, resting his cheeks on his arm. So Bill and Hope were upstairs, huh, he thought in annoyance. He didn’t have the place to himself. Popping up, he decided he should get out of the house, and probably out of town. It wouldn’t hurt. He would need to shower first. Maybe bring Lolly a gift to make up for screaming at her, and railing on her boyfriend. He still couldn’t believe Sinbad was dating his sister. The guy had worked for the family at one point, but quit long before he got in over his head.
Smart guy, that one. Such a smarty-pants, Shark thought sarcastically, making a face. A smarty leather pants-ed man. Oh man! I am still toasted. Pants-ed man? He pinched the bridge of his nose and squeezed his eyes shut. Such a smarty pants that he managed to land in my sister’s pants. He wondered how his dad felt about that. But Lolly was eighteen now. It was only a short time ago that Shark had gone to the man for advice on loving a woman. Chase Bayless. My cousin, he thought bitterly. If only he could be as naive as Lolly was…
Shark decided he would bake a cake for his sister. Lolly liked cakes. Shark worked a little in the kitchen at the club before Lucy and Russ took notice of him, back when he was seventeen. He might remember how to make that cake they made… back then… way back then… He reached in the refrigerator and pulled out ingredients. He turned the dial and preheated the oven. The recipe… damnit. He didn’t know if he could recall the recipe. Maybe if I look it up on my phone.
Shark fumbled through his pockets and realized his phone was upstairs. He ran up the steps two at a time, running into his bedroom just as the device rang. He looked at the screen. Fifteen new messages and about twice as many texts. Most were from his dad and Lolly. One included a sexy text of Cho draped over a chair, her legs spread so he could see straight up her skirt. The words read, “I’ll help your hands get more upwardly mobile.”
Damn! She’s good. He smirked to himself.
He picked up the phone to call her. After three rings, he heard a man’s voice on the other end.
“Um, I’m calling for Cho,” he said awkwardly.
“Ho Cho is busy right now,” the man laughed raucously. “I’m covering her in marshmallow creme. She’s one big giant hocho!” he hooted, sounding so proud of himself.
Shark angrily pushed end and threw the phone onto his bed. He knew “Ho Cho” was her nickname, and she was known as the “hot chocolate” girl. Russ liked all the girls at Shady’s to have cutesy nicknames. Like Muffin Top… for the guys that like their women a little thicker, and Way Laid for the cheeky bastards who liked it rough… and Ho Cho for the guys that liked to lay on the sweets. He shook his head, disgusted. He would need to pick his own girls now. Maybe in New Simoleans. The capitol was bound to be crawling with good-looking women.
Who am I kidding? Shark slumped to the floor. I’m a mess. A llama-freaking mess. Who’d want me? He reached over grabbing his can of breath mints where he kept his stash hidden. He flipped open the lid and sniffed, taking in the deep aroma of the ether. He reached into the powder with two fingers, retrieving a pill or two, popping them in his mouth and flushing down the ammonia taste with his half-empty Miller genuine draft beer. He leaned his head back against the bed, closing his eyes and wishing everything was different. But things aren’t different… and they won’t be… he thought miserably. Nothing is right here… not anymore… not ever. The loud shriek of an alarm jolted his senses. He climbed to his feet, bewildered, wandering downstairs and into the kitchen.
The oven was fully ablaze. Shark gasped in horror and stood watching the flames, dumbstruck. He couldn’t move. He didn’t know what to do. Call the cops… no the fire people… no…what? Oh hell, Dad is gonna kill me! A thick fog settled in over his head, and he felt hazy among the smoke. The pills were serving their purpose, but he knew this was the worst time. A…uh…oh gawd! I’m a llama-freakin’ idiot. I… what… Shark threw up his hands to shield himself from the small inferno in the Racket family kitchen.
He ran through the dining room and tripped up the stairs a few times, and one time, completely fell. Bile pooled in his throat, sweat pouring down his face. I’m dead. I’m dead. I’m dead. He felt along the wall, stumbling as he tried to make his way to his room at the end of the hall. If only he could get to his phone…
He dialed the emergency number, and wondered what he would say. He was high. He set his oven on fire. He was probably going to burn down his own house. And he blew up Lucy Ferne. And his mother was shot to death over pills… just like the ones he just took. Just like his mom. Just like my mom. I can’t do this anymore.
“Zero, zero, zero, what’s your emergency?”
“Uh…” he stuttered. “Um…”
“What’s your emergency? Can you tell me your name?”
Shark rubbed his elbow where the heat from the flames had singed his skin. He looked around his room in a total panic, his mind shutting down and fluids flowing from his eyes. He walked to the window and looked out at the world of Simcember snow. It looked so peaceful. Before he could think, he kicked out the glass with his boot.
“Sir, are you there? Can you tell me what’s happening? What is your location? What is your name, sir? Are you there?”
Shark pushed himself up onto the small window ledge, feeling the full blast of the icy winter wind hit his face. His fingers dripped with blood from the cut on his hand from where he braced himself. He winced, hearing the sirens in the distance. Someone must have called the firefighters or figured out his location from a phone trace.
“My name is Tiburon Racket, and it is time for this to be over.”
His phone slipped from his fingers, landing silently in the snow bank. With that, he jumped.
Author Note: No, Shark! Sadness! Yes, I know. This chapter took a turn for the worst. I had such fun writing Sinbad and Lolly’s interactions, and then Shark was just depressing as hell to write. As I previously stated above, please seek help if you’re feeling like Shark and struggling with suicidal thoughts.
My apologies to the lovely Cho Sonwhun for utilizing her as a professional escort. It was for convenience sake. I didn’t really want to have to create her character in game, and this isn’t the first time CFT has mentioned prostitution. The names for the various escorts were meant to be a little silly, and Ho Cho was a terrible, terrible, terrible pun, I know. Seoul is more Simworld version of Korea, and Seoulan is a Korean individual. Son and Whun are Korean surnames. I definitely want to bring her character back in the future, though not sure how and when.