Cold Turkey: A Short Story

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Eddie stands fuming outside in the bitter cold while his son, wife, and in-laws sit at the dinner table surrounding a cold turkey.

How did such woeful events occur on Thanksgiving Day? Read on …

***

As his favorite football team seemed determined to get trounced on national television, Eddie decided he saw enough. He rose from his father-in-law’s recliner, made his way to the front hall, retrieved his coat, then backtracked through the living room and traveled through the kitchen while enjoying its delicious aromas. His six-year-old son colored at the little-used kitchen table and they exchanged wordless smiles before Eddie reached the back door.

As soon as Eddie stepped into the frigid November air, he reached into his left coat pocket.

Nothing.

He tried the right pocket.

Equally barren.

Charging back into the house, Eddie once again noticed the smell of cooking turkey while he rumbled past his son and through the kitchen.

He found his wife and in-laws waiting for him in the living room with the television turned off. They wore expressions of trepidation.

“Susan,” Eddie said to his wife of eleven years, “where are my cigarettes?”

“Eddie,” she began after a quick glance to her parents, “you’ve been promising for years. We talked it over, and we decided to take matters into our own hands.”

“You mean you stole my cigarettes?” Eddie asked in disbelief. “You took them right out of my coat pocket?”

Her eyes pleading, Susan said, “We knew you didn’t have a secret stash here; we figured this was our best chance to prove you don’t need them. If you can get through today, then you can get through the rest of the week, and then the month, and then maybe even the year …”

Eddie, bewildered, looked at his in-laws and questioned, “Donna, Marvin—you two were part of this?”

“We love you like our own flesh and blood, Eddie,” Marvin said with his palms up. “I know it was a dirty thing to do, but we did it because we care so much about you.”

Donna amended, “We want you around for a long time so you can raise that boy of ours. My father died from emphysema. He smoked his entire life, just like you’re doing. Do you want your son to go fatherless?”

Detecting her husband’s rage, Susan confessed, “This seemed like our best option—our only option.”

His eyes narrowed to slits. Eddie said nothing in response to his family. Instead, he spun on his heel and plowed through the house once more. Of course, to make his way to the back door, he had to enter the kitchen anew, and when he did so, the smell of succulent turkey filled his nostrils again and made his mouth water.

A petty, underhanded idea invaded Eddie’s mind. 

He stopped right in front of the oven. He turned his head ever so slightly and saw his son still engrossed with his coloring book, paying Eddie no attention at all. In one deft movement, Eddie did the unthinkable.

It would be hours before anyone noticed.

***

Now that you know why Eddie endures the freezing elements and his family sits staring at a half-cooked turkey, we shall conclude our misadventure. Can any good possibly come of such calamity? We shall see …

“Daddy?” Eddie’s son asks as he pokes his head out the door.

“Yeah?” Eddie replies. His face is flushed and his voice quivers both from anger and the icy temperature. But when he looks into his son’s eyes, his fury subsides. He thinks of the mess he’s made of their Thanksgiving.

“Daddy, aren’t you going to come sit with us? We’re all waiting for you at the table.”

Eddie figures Susan, Donna, and Marvin didn’t disclose Eddie’s transgression to the boy.

“Um, I don’t really think the turkey’s fit to eat this year,” Eddie says.

“Yeah, but aren’t we still supposed to join hands and give thanks?” his son asks. “Isn’t that what today’s all about? I mean, that’s what we’ve been doing since I was a little kid.”

Before taking a deep breath, Eddie’s recognizes that he’s the biggest turkey of all. 

“You’re right—you’re exactly right. Let’s go in and first I’ll give thanks for having the world’s wisest six-year-old, then I’ll apologize to your mom and grandparents, and then I’ll give thanks for their love and—hopefully—forgiveness.”

Eddie sees his son looking at him knowingly.

“You saw me do it, didn’t you?” Eddie asks.

Nodding, the boy returns, “I didn’t tell. I think they figured it out, though. Don’t worry, you and Mommy always tell me if you say you’re sorry, people will forgive you.”

With moist eyes, Eddie takes his son’s outstretched hand and says, “I’m sorry to you, too. Do you forgive me?”

“I forgive you, Daddy,” his son replies. Then, looking up at his father with a bright, semi-toothless smile, he asks, “Can we order a pizza?”

Eddie laughs as they reenter the house and says, “Yep, and I’m buying. Just don’t get used to pizza on Thanksgiving. This is our last year of cold turkey.”


Copyright © 2008/2013/2020 by Scott William Foley

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. This story first appeared in the November 2008 issue of News and Views For the Young at Heart.

All rights reserved. No part of this story may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews or articles.

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