2.12: Dead Zen

Content Warning for: blood, gun use, parental abuse.

Franco should have been cheering up on his own. Valentine’s Day was approaching fast. Before then, it was his favorite holiday to spend with Hannah.

It was Thursday night, the night after the funeral. The next day, Franco and Hannah were off to Bridgeport yet again. And he dreaded it. He might have even used Sinbad’s death as an excuse to have a bottle of wine for himself.

Franco was about to chase down his wine with a cappuccino when he overheard his mum and Amy. All three of them were in the kitchen. Everyone else was out of the house or distracted. And Franco was glad, in some sick way, that Hannah wanted to spend time with her half-brother.

Annette spooned cookie batter onto a sheet, and Amy sat on the counter to moan to her.

“Of course I’m angry at her…if it’s true. And I’m angry at him for getting involved.”

“Maybe I just have more experience with turning people into collateral.”

“Can’t you see he’s having issues with her already?!”

“Can we please not?” he groaned. “I mean…I’ve been handling this.”

“You really haven’t,” said Amy. “Or else…I just had all these dreams of growing old with Sinbad. And now it’s over. I don’t want to blame you though-”

“And I feel bad blaming Hannah!”

Amy took a seat at the barstool next to Franco. “Sweetheart…you know, no matter what I say, I don’t know the full story. But listen to yourself! Something about this relationship has been making you miserable for so long now. I don’t like a miserable Franco.”

“I mean…you know that it’s complicated dating the abused,” he said.

“That why I say this! Because Sinbad could be miserable too, but it never affected-”

“You’re talking about the man that cheated on you,” said Annette. Her cookies were in the oven. She held one arm akimbo and had a cross expression on her face.

“I was miserable for a few weeks, found out I was pregnant, and we reconciled pretty fast,” said Amy. “Honey, you should remember that.”

“Point still stays. Sometimes it takes forever to work through bullshit in relationships,” said Annette.

“Mum…I don’t feel like you’re helping,” said Franco.

“Sorry kiddo,” she said. “But…I know you don’t remember, but your dad and I had nearly three years like this. And we worked it out!” She let out a small sigh, and looked towards one of the windows. “Well…it worked for longer than I thought it would.”

“And then he killed himself!” Franco was ready to sob into his palms, even if Bill’s death was becoming more and more of a distant memory. “What’s ahead if I can’t do anything about this? We don’t have a kid at stake…god forbid I have to save her from an in-law…we fucked up!” He sniffled, maybe shed a tear in horror of that awful word he said. “We really did.”

He put his hands down. “Why do I have to think about this before Valentine’s Day?” he asked, in a whimpering tone.

“I’m just glad you’re thinking,” Amy said. “And maybe we are just angry in the face of death. I can think of worse things to be.”

“Like what?”

“Oh, you just have to look around you more.”

Annette was soon ready to beam them back to Bridgeport. But, contrary to a lot of previous wishes, Franco wanted one certain third wheel.

“Ugh, why are you taking me again?” Seng asked. “I thought you didn’t want to live with me anymore, and Youa’s gonna be pissed if I can’t babysit.”

“I’ll get you back here soon.” Franco grumbled out all his words. “It’s just going to be a rough few days.”

“Okay. Just remember to keep the fridge stocked.”

And for once, Hannah’s sullen face wasn’t doing everything to Franco otherwise.

She proceeded with Valentine’s Day like it was normal, though. Hannah dressed in a cute, girlish dress and wore silk panties under it. He knew only because she did that every Valentine’s Day before that. A pot of spaghetti cooked on the stove, and with all those details, it was shaping up to be a good night.

Franco painted. It helped smooth out his jitters. I can’t believe I’m gonna say something to her. And there was a showing the next week that would get him in the public eye. But did that matter when he had to ask someone he loved did you kill him? Did he die for you?

That spaghetti wasn’t smelling so appetizing.

Hannah plated two meals at the table. Any disguise of happiness she had melted.

“Look, I know something’s been up between us too,” she said. She exhaled deeply. “So we can come clean and just have another great Valentine’s Day like we always do.”

“I…that sounds difficult,” he said.

“How bad could it be, though?”

Franco tapped his fingers together. “It can be very bad,” he said, in a low voice. “What did you do to Sinbad?”

The table shook. Hannah banged her fists on it, something she never was so assertive to do. “Oh, so now you listen to Benji? I know that rumor started with him. It got all the way to Lolly and she gave me enough hell for that yesterday.”

“I’ve known her for my whole life,” he said. “She’s a rational person.”

“So you’d listen to her before me on this?”

“I think she’s less biased here.”

“You used to be the only person who listened to me!” She leapt from her seat. One hand was clenched in a tight fist, and the other hovered an index finger near Franco’s face. “And it’s been bad enough that you’ve been leaving me behind for…pointless answers! And now you’re listening to people who weren’t even there.”

“So you were there?” Franco asked.

“Yes. You know, I guess I can’t hide it now.”

It was Sunday, and Hannah admitted to Sinbad that morning that she felt trapped with her mum. No one was helping. His “not even Franco?” was answered with a slight, bitter nod.

Without fail, every time she was in Twinbrook again, the guilt got to her. Sofia wanted to visit with the kid she was paying the college tuition of. And Hannah would come back home with a wound or a scar or a bruise, sometimes on the outside. Always on the inside too. So how to escape? Sinbad did.

The only problem was that Sinbad’s mum solved the problem herself.

Hannah caught a glimpse of him through the fogged-up window on the front door. It was in the middle of a fight between her and her mum. Earlier, Sofia almost crushed a rib with her cane. She still relied on it to walk, but her strength had come a long way.

And when Sinbad kicked the door down, it did not help.

“You weren’t playing easy, Sofia,” he said. He raised his handgun at her, at chest level.

“This…is not what I talked about.” Hannah breathed it out through clenched teeth.

“So, you try to sic your in-laws on me?” Sofia asked. She had the smuggest grin on her fading old face. “Funny. Very funny.”

Sinbad almost cut her off, but fired a loud blank. His face went pale as he went frantic trying to find his bullets in his wool coat.

“She has weapons!” Hannah whispered out again. “Just leave while you still can.”

But then his arms went limp at his sides, and all he did was watch Sofia.

She must have kept it under her loose tunic top. Sofia pulled out a similar handgun, with a silencer on the muzzle. She unlocked it fast. Her finger was primed on the trigger, and she raised it up, almost pointing it at the ceiling.

“Unlike you, I always keep this loaded,” Sofia said.

He had every way to run and didn’t. Sinbad even lifted his head up and bared his neck for her, creating a clear target. And the gun, with bullets somewhere on hand, had almost no grip on it from him.

Hannah sunk to the ground, choking up.

“What…what are we gonna do now? They’re gonna kill you for that,” she said to her mother.

“That’s when I get out the hunting rifle,” said Sofia.

Sofia started to hobble away with her cane, as Hannah watched dark blood ooze from Sinbad’s body. His corpse was slumped against the door and created a red trail down it. He twitched a bit at first, but that stopped within seconds.

His gun fell from his hand to the floor an inch below, with nothing left holding it.

“Well, that was thrilling,” Sofia said. “I guess I’ll make dinner for the both of us before you clean this up. Salad’s still your thing, right?”

“Y…yeah, it is,” said Hannah. With her mum distracted by the promise of spinach and balsamic vinaigrette, she crawled towards Sinbad’s body.

She knelt down. She couldn’t even look at him up-close at first. She could hardly speak or even cry out. What happened? Whenever Hannah was around Annette, she’d brag about how much of a badass her friend or husband was.

A stream of tears started from her right eye. It hurt even more to see how peaceful his dead face was. Everything about him relaxed in a perfect, dead zen. From his slumping upper body, to that gun hardly touched by a finger.

She reached out to stroke the metal of the gun. It was sticky with blood, but still serviceable if it was loaded. Two bullets peeked out from one of his coat pockets. He could have reloaded and done the job. He could have beat an older Sofia, having to reach under her shirt to get her weapon.

Hannah took the bullets in her hand. As for the gun, she had never held, let alone loaded one before. All she had to go on were movies. The barrel had slots for bullets, and of course, one had to be lined up for firing.

Both were in. It would net her some in-law cred, if none with Franco.

She found her mum, tossing their salad. Hannah cried as she raised her gun to Sofia, and couldn’t bring herself to fire before being discovered.

“That’s charming!” Sofia let out a hearty laugh. “You really think you’re ballsy enough to shoot me.”

Two phrases swarmed through Hannah’s head. Bitch, you deserve it! And I’m sorry. And then a third you’re right. But she couldn’t bring herself to say any of them. Especially as her mum did nothing to disarm her, shoot back, or get away.

Sofia just kept laughing. “It’s just cute, that’s all.”

“So let’s just make this a challenge,” she continued. “You know I’ll shoot you as much as you’ll shoot me. Because if one of us dies? We’re just left helpless and alone in this world.”

“And counting on the Waverlys to keep loving you is pretty damn stupid.”

Hannah put her gun down, just to weigh her options. Even a silenced gun pointed at her heart felt like…not the worst option. And why did her mum always have to have a point? Sofia was the one person who never avoided Hannah. She was always lonely in Bridgeport with Franco, but Twinbrook offered the guarantee of someone.

But what did it take to become a Waverly? Feeling joy and release upon seeing a corpse on the floor? All of the older adults talked about their kills.

Shaking, Hannah raised her gun again.

And before Sofia could fire anything back, she became hard and resolute.

Her mum fell over forwards and bled out onto the ceramic tiles. Her gun fell out of her hand too. And somehow, her salad was still intact, but Hannah didn’t feel like a Waverly enough to eat after that. She still cried and trembled. She even bowed her head before turning away from Sofia’s body.

She knelt down in front of Sinbad again.

“I get it,” she said. “I don’t like it, but I get it.”

And all the crying returned that night in Bridgeport, up in their lovely penthouse flat.

“I didn’t ask him to do any of that!” She sobbed out. “He…he just gave himself.”

“For you,” Franco said. “Making a gruesome sacrifice for you.”


His face bunched up into a scowl. “It was bad enough when I was the only one doing it,” he said, murmuring. “You really can’t help yourself even when others die for you.”

“As if that’s easy?”

“You’re twenty years old! And you still can’t see that you just make everything miserable for everyone?! I could still have a stepfather if you just…if you stopped dragging us down!”

“So…that’s how you see me?” Hannah asked, with a sniffle.

“It’s been very hard dating a burden,” he said. “And not really that worth it.”

“You’re saying it’s over?”

“I wish I did it sooner.”

It hit him like a lorry or a boulder once Hannah got up from her seat. She started to sob and wail and found a place in the corner to cry in.

And all the while, Seng was watching the confrontation with a huge, shit-eating grin on his slack-jawed face.

Franco approached him once he was on the couch with a cold oatmeal stout.

“You listened to all of that, didn’t you?” Franco asked.

“It sure beat defending another pedo. I take any case I can get, but your mum’s giving me some flack for it,” said Seng.

“What…what happened? What did I do?”

Seng gave him a stern look, one as cold as his bottle of beer.

“I think you just gave yourself another prisoner.”

A/N: How many casualties on the Frannah ship, huh? 😛

It’s another casualty of “screenshot in advance”! Well, the scene in the apartment was. Did Seng have to be there? Probably not, but I must have had a better reason in mind when shooting than when I was sorting out events. He’ll be back in Terrebonne soon, with his cookies and gym membership and an Annette on the prowl. 😉

5 thoughts on “2.12: Dead Zen

  1. Man, Hannah’s mum was even more messed up than I thought. And I’m surprised Hannah did have the guts to kill her in the end. That flashback scene was packed with emotion, and the screenshots were again amazing! Franco’s life isn’t being easy right now. I sense awkward times with the roommates ahead.

    Liked by 2 people

    • In a rather stupidly unsymbolic way, I don’t think anyone in the family ever told her where the guns were, so she didn’t have one before then. 😛

      It’s probably my favorite flashback and death scene yet.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Oops. My comment got eaten… I was rambling on about how great Franco is in all the close-ups, what an incredible actor he is and how he’s reminding me of Harvey Keitel, in that he can get so much emotion across with just a few facial muscles. He’s growing into an awesome man.

    Also, I love all the screenshots–This gen is really feeling cinematic to me.

    And he flashback is so effective and well done. Wow! These last four chapters are incredible!

    (I’m thinking, too, about what I learned from reading Racket-Rotter Chronicles about being in an intimate relationship with someone who’s been abused… and that helps me better understand Hannah and what she presents to Franco.)

    The scene with Franco missing Bill was very touching.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And here I was fearing that he’d grow up into having Bill’s perpetual scowl. RIP Bill though. We need a scowler like him. 😛

      While I would have pursued the same path without Chronicles (albeit without Sinbad’s death, or without much Sinbad at all! What a travesty!), interesting how that theme persists. Though I’d argue that Shark and Sinbad in Chronicles both have abuse to unpack, while Franco is a disgruntled rich boy with decent parents, who’s just seen too many things.

      Thanks for being here! Next chapter this Thursday. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome for being here! It’s my pleasure and joy, so it’s me to thank you!

        And… it’s really interesting to have Franco as a boy who hasn’t experienced abuse at home (though he may feel some of those parties and his parents’ ethical variances came close to abuse) in an intimate relationship with someone who has… I come from a pretty solid and relatively healthy family background, and so being in intimate friendships with adults who were abused as children has brought challenges–your portrayal of Franco and his complications with Hannah seems to me to be a realistic portrayal of that.

        Liked by 1 person

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