Beaming she says, "I put that bird in still flapping." -- winking she adds -- "He had it coming."
Another hope dies. I say, "I'm sure he did."
"He told Marianne Heart I've been putting poison in dog treats, and leaving them around town."
Finding a tallboy in the fridge I crack it open, drain it for fifteen seconds as I remember Marianne Heart has been dead for seven years. Still, Mom looks delighted. Rare joy is too much of a sin to crush, and I don't really think I should be taking on more spiritual debt these days. Although, I suppose I could just go full on atheist... maybe next year.
National Christmas Kick-off Day, known to others as Thanksgiving, is here again. The day promises to be long, yet somehow all too short. Dad is already sharpening knives in case anyone decides to rail on about Native Americans. As he puts it, "Anybody wants them to have their land back, should give 'em their house." My brother arrived early this morning to set up a perimeter defense. Machine guns attached to motion sensors, disarmed by remote control -- he wants to be able to eat dinner in peace without worry of a sudden zombie apocalypse. Previous years I've argued with him this may not be a legitimate concern; however this time I've decided to let it slide. Just keep drinking till it sounds reasonable. His kids are here to help, and if nothing else, he's giving them a solid start in electrical engineering.
Aunt Beam won't be coming this year. Seems Cousin Myra got abducted by a white slave ring. According to Aunt Beam: "They've been trying to give her back, all apologies for the inconvenience, but she refuses to leave. You know I'm pretty sure I've told her she wasn't pretty enough to be a sex slave. Who's the fool now?" So Aunt Beam is spending N.C.K.D. trying to berate Myra out of a storage unit in Libertyville, the whole complex some kind of brothel.
When Uncle Jordan arrives I can hear Dad greeting him warmly. The oddity of this demands immediate investigation, and sure enough I find the two petting a bottle of 15 year old Redbreast whiskey. Then the label slips. Dad inspects it closely. Seems Uncle Jordan glued a fake label over a bottle of Hobo Amber, a ten dollar bourbon more commonly used as an oven cleaner than a beverage.
Trying to pass the deception off as a joke Uncle Jordan shrugs, "Ha, ha?"
Dad smiles, shoves the bottle into Uncle Jordan's chest, "You're going to drink this whole bottle of piss. Just you."
As Dad storms off, his disappointment so black it warps the light around him, I whisper to Uncle Jordan, "No worries. Pass me a glass or two, and I'll help kill the bottle."
Grimacing Uncle Jordan remarks, "I've heard some vets use it as a euthanasia agent."
"Then we ought to get plenty twisted. Where's Will?"
Uncle Jordan shakes his head, "Still missing. The police say they found his shoe inside a John Doe floater pulled out of Lake Michigan, but no leads."
Patting him on the shoulder I assure him my cousin, his son, will turn up. Smiling weakly Uncle Jordan changes the subject to his new Realdoll. The topics causes me to start guzzling Hobo Amber until I can concoct a reason to leave. Escaping to the garage, I chug on a cigarette as the bourbon melts the synapses shaping images of gap mouthed silicone sirens with blank expressions shambling along, their gel sac buttocks giggling as their nipples cycle through all the available options like areolas hell bent on inducing epileptic seizures; a legion of sex aids like lobotomized slaves bought by lonely people desperate for a connection but for whatever reason, not to anything human. Before the scene solidifies entirely the booze brings in a gentle calm of broken thoughts, nothing lingering long enough to inspire feelings one way or another.
Back inside Mom is singing parallel with the radio, using the melody in conjunction with her own lyrics as she grinds a private coat of sugar, Clozapine, and Oxycodone for her margarita glass. Waving to the wall she sings:
"Closing up, it's never told
Accept without a question
Shoulder to boulder pushing love
Over a cliff in one shove
Dead end destination
Be good to yourself when
Nobody else will..."
Well put, as usual.
We sit down to the meal, and Dad offers the usual prayer. The words always change, but no matter so long as the sentiment remains the same. Lord... life could be a lot worse... thanks for whatever happiness we think we have... amen.
Mom asks if she can cut the turkey, not necessarily carve just slit the bugger's throat real quick. She isn't entirely certain roasting the bird emphasized her contempt for it enough. Dad agrees, and Mom giggling whispers in a golden brown ear:
"You got what you deserve." -- slice!
Then demurely she hands the knife over to Dad who disassembles the bird in what could only be described as cutlery ballet. Deft turns of the wrist excise steamy portions of dripping wet meat. Dad serves everyone except Uncle Jordan. Stabbing the knife into the table Dad states, "You want some. Get it yourself."
Uncle Jordan, half of his blood now Hobo Amber snatches up the blade, and somehow manages to cut off his thumb. It takes a minute for the fact to register, but when it does he starts screaming.
Dad grabs him by the shirt front, throws him aside growling, "Don't bleed on the goddamn turkey. Idiot."
My brother runs in to assess the situation. He and his family have taken position at the front window, sending the kids for food as he keeps an eye on the perimeter. The machine guns out front keep going off, chasing squirrels, and inspiring dread in my brother who fears even as he hopes each firing is a sign of the undead apocalypse. Seeing that Uncle Jordan is simply in pain, that there are no zombies, my brother sullenly returns to the window.
"Pass the rolls please," Mom says. I do if for no other reason than to take my eyes off the amputated digit now allowing the mashed potatoes to offer a thumbs up. Dad spoons out the finger, tossing it over his shoulder to Uncle Jordan. Mom butters a roll, while I stack a Great Wall using 24 oz. bricks in blue and grey. Sometime into my second plateful Uncle Jordan returns to the table, his thumb in a shirt front pocket and hand wrapped in a towel.
Before Dad can say anything Uncle Jordan says, "I didn't use a good towel."
Dad shrugs. I sneak a shot of Hobo Amber. Uncle Jordan eats, nodding in delight.
"This is good," he says.
Mom smiles, "Revenge always tastes good, especially when you aren't dumb enough to serve it cold. Logic is cold. Revenge is an act of passion. It should come hot."
After dinner Uncle Jordan excuses himself. He claims he'd like to stay for dessert, however, he feels it necessary to hit up the hospital regarding his thumb. Dad lets it slide, though not without first calling Uncle Jordan a pussy. Still, hugs go round, and soon enough it's just the three of us.
Helping Mom clear the table I hear her muttering, "All this work, and it always ends so quick. Too quick."
"There's still dessert," I say.
"I'm not so sure," she says, yet she still brightens at the thought.
The machine guns fire. The sound of Uncle Jordan hollering in terror draws me to the front window. Dad is laughing and shouting: "I don't mind the cheapness, it was the lying." -- bullets hounding Uncle Jordan to his car. A few shots pepper the car door as he peels out of the driveway, and I find myself almost looking forward to Giftmas, or as some might put it, Christmas.