Uncle Bill arrived . . .
By Michael Merline
Uncle Bill arrived drunk that Sunday, which was unremarkable. What was remarkable was his relative quietude. Grammy was in the kitchen, trying to help out, but the other women ignored her except to avoid running her over as they scrambled to get the turkey feast ready. She stood in the middle of the kitchen giving out helpful hints, instructions, and random recollections of Thanksgiving meals past.
She would occasionally forget where she was, and then awaken from her journey of forgetting to further regale her imaginary army of prep chefs. Most of the kids were out in the yard plotting some sort of mischief and settling old scores from the last family get together. Allen and Frank were arguing again, this time about football. It wasn't a party until they got into a physical fight and had to be pushed outside, where they drank beer and felt good about themselves again.
At the table, the older women kept the conversation light, occasionally asking for input via terse interrogations of the younger set. Under the groaning table of mountains of calories, the dog lay forlorn, hoping for a food related accident. At length, during a lull in the conversation as the dishes were being cleared, Uncle Bill suddenly stood, raised his fifth tumbler of Scotch, and addressed the crowd with a toast. Women came out from the kitchen wiping their hands on aprons and towels, and he began.
“I've been in this family my whole life, and I've seen a lot. I never said anything about any of it, but today I will. You are all the biggest bunch of liars and thieves I've ever seen. And I've seen plenty. You talk a good story but not one of you ever says what you really mean. All of this unspoken cap just festers and then you die, perhaps not soon enough.”
At this point Amy dropped her wine glass and the sound of breaking glass put a rather pointed punctuation to the moment.
“Now what I want you all to do is look each other in the eyes and tell the truth for once in your miserable lives. I'm leaving, because I've said my piece, and I'm tired. Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for the meal.” He staggered out to his car, where his wife had already had it running. From the house, the dead silence he left began to melt into twittering and giggling. Allen and Frank were rolling around in the grass, yelling sonofabitch at each other. Bill sighed and a slight smile crossed his lips.
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