Guest Fiction Post: Turkey Day Story
A fictional account of gobbler foolery by D.S. Davis and Charlotte Dune
Turkey Day Story is a collaborative work of fiction by author D.S. Davis and me, Charlotte Dune.
D.S. and I met in my weekly Writer’s Support Group, and he came up with the idea to do a Thanksgiving tale together and opened the page with his creative words. Then we took turns writing a few paragraphs and passing them back and forth.
I hope you enjoy it!
Comment and tell us about your family’s whacky holiday traditions. Mine does group lottery scratch-off tickets and parties in a barn.
Without further ado…
Read the story below, or watch the video version with my audio narration and more ai art by Agah Bahari.
Turkey Day Story
The turkey hit the ground at 2 pm sharp and, being oblong with the propensity to roll downhill, did so and settled at the bottom of the driveway while the entire family, most of us drunk, watched in horror. The first one to make a sound was the usually docile Aunt Jo, who only loved one thing in the world more than silence, and that one thing was perfectly executing holidays. When she completed her shriek and collapsed into the arms of nearby Uncle Lou, it was up to the rest of us to spring into action and try to salvage the day.
Cousin Craig, the non-veteran survivalist of the family, was the first to do so, suggesting heroically that “someone ought to do something.” It wasn’t until we’d all followed Uncle Lou to the living room to lay Aunt Jo to rest that we all decided to heed Craig’s advice. Instantly, the family assembled, compartmentalizing, electing leaders, and drawing up plans.
Only you can’t engage in effective organization when people are shouting.
“I told you to aim up!” Dwayne yelled at Cousin Craig. “Now, look at this mess. It’s running away!”
Craig puffed out his chest as if he was stuffed with a gelatinous breadcrumb and margarine mixture. “It’s not my fault! Your mom lit the fuse too soon.”
You see, shooting a live turkey out of a modified civil war cannon and chasing down Thanksgiving dinner, à la the Hunger Games, was a longstanding Kitzler family tradition. Only the bird usually landed on its feet, flapping its wings, but not this year, noooo; this year was the dreaded face plant, followed by an ominous, echoing crack, followed by Aunt Jo’s chaotic collapse.
The wind kicked up like a football punt and the injured fowl’s feathers rustled as it limped toward the woods.
“Clarence!” Baby Dell, the only vegan in the family, screamed, “You’re free! You’re free! Run, Clarence, run!”
And Clarence ran alright, but the Kitzlers, though not natural hunters, are not losers. I followed Craig into the woods, crashing through thickets and thorns, tearing at my fresh-pressed flannel, until we reached the Christmas tree farm, rows, and rows of tall pines with price tags. The turkey was no more than a hundred yards ahead of us, stopping either for a break, for its injuries, or because it had forgotten about the chase, and as Craig and I settled in behind parallel balsam firs, he looked to me and began to flash military-style hand motions about what we ought to do next.
“What, what?” I asked him in a whisper, “I don’t know what that means, Craig. The turkey doesn’t speak English, you know.”
But the turkey heard us, apparently, and took off again, with Craig and me hot on its heels. Had Clarence somehow recovered from his thwack on the driveway? Or was this tryptophan on the amphetamine of panic?
Focusing on the bird, I failed to see an even bigger problem—the skinny speed-vegan.
Baby Dell leapt from behind a blue spruce and scooped up Clarence, like she was stealing a parlor stove. As she ran with it, the young girl screamed, probably from fear of the bird itself, not from Craig and me; no one was fond of gobbler toenails. Meanwhile, the poultry ding-dong struggled, flapping and squawking, unaware it was being saved.
“No!” Craig yelled and lumbered toward our jegging-clad pixie cousin, but the limber animal rescuer, the only one of us who did gymnastics as a child, sprinted off with the bird in her arms, zigzagging through the trees, escaping the clutches of Craig’s camouflaged biceps.
I ran behind them, huffing and puffing like a fat pig. This holiday was not about to end in Tofurkey. Whatever Dell had planned, we’d stop her.
Before I could catch up, she reached the river, rushing swiftly through frost-bitten rocks and cold mud banks. She dropped to her knees, no doubt planning to release the shrilling Clarence, like baby Moses into the flow, knowing we wouldn’t be able to follow, and perhaps, the wild cock would survive.
But cousin Craig had other plans. Like a hungry mountain lion, he sprang from his combat boot-covered feet, flew through the air, and snatched the bird from her opening fingers like a stolen football. As Baby Dell shrieked and toppled herself into the rapid-strewn river, floundering away, no stronger than an autumn leaf, Craig, a barbarian in heat, released a deep man-roar and broke the terrified turkey’s neck like a twig.
“We eat!” he bellowed, hoisting his kill high in one fist like the torch of the Statue of Liberty.
The turkey’s demise held a heavy presence over the rest of the festivities. Oddly, on a night when a turkey was to be ritualistically slaughtered, cooked, carved, and plated, it was indeed the turkey’s death that brought a great sadness to everyone. The sadness, not stemming from anyone’s personal empathy towards the bird, but from the lengths of competition their own family members were willing to go to to see the bird done with, in whatever way that best complimented their personal consciousness. It was, by all regards, a very American night.
Sometime after the meal, after much to do was made about dishes, the whole of the family nested into the living room high on their own blood sugars and still mildly hot about the day's events. Aunt Jo, who’d since seen the other side of a nap and had taken to silence at a seat in the kitchen, watched her family and what they’d made of a fine holiday. Come tomorrow, she knew, all of it would be a joke, something brought up and laughed at during holidays in the future. The thought made her sad for a moment, knowing that although humor made a moment valuable, value was all her family had let time reduce them to. Value, valuable things, and moments. Time with her family had become something to pixelize, with traditions looking more like the photo taken of them, and meals made more like statements.
When she finished being sad; she stopped. She was able to do so because she’d lived a life, and what living a life teaches a person is that it’s all just a turkey chase, and so it should be treated.
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