Served Cold - Thanksgiving Special
Updated: Nov 23, 2021
It’s Thanksgiving, and I’m standing over the bed of my ninety-year-old boogeyman, Tony, torturing him. The old man is loose flesh, brittle bones, and sunken brown eyes. He looks up and asks me who I am, asks me why I’m doing this. It’s infuriating that he doesn’t recognize me or remember the pain he caused me fifty years ago. I can’t stand his voice, so I snip off his middle finger with a pair of scissors and stuff it in his mouth. He groans and tries to roll away from me as blood soaks the sheets, but he is too weak.
I spent the last week in my truck, dressed in all black sweats, surveilling Tony’s house on the city outskirts. I could have struck earlier, but I’ve been waiting for Thanksgiving. When the cover of darkness fell, I made my move; I’ve run scenarios like this in my mind a million times in case this opportunity ever manifested itself. A lone car was sitting in the driveway, the one that had brought Tony home from prison. One light was shining upstairs. I took the ladder out of my truck, trotted across the lawn, set it against the light blue siding of the house, and climbed into the old man’s unlocked second-story window.
Now I’m in his bedroom and it smells like turkey cooking downstairs, and I realize I’ve barely eaten all week, but the only thing I’m hungry for is revenge. There’s a giant wooden canopy bed, blue carpet, pill bottles everywhere. A light breeze blows from the window. I brush the sweaty, blonde and grey hair out of my eyes as I hear the bedroom door creak open behind me. A much younger woman sees me and drops a tray of sliced turkey, cranberry sauce, and some mushy soup, all slopping onto the carpet. She turns back towards the door but I’m fast and fueled by rage. Digging my nails into her neck, I drag her across the room to the bed. I hold her face in front of the old man—but I don’t think he recognizes her. I do recognize this woman; her name is Annica, her car is parked outside in the driveway. She became infatuated with Tony while he was locked away, even married him which caused lots of media attention. She loves him, which means I hate her. I enjoy taking my bone-handled hunting knife and crisscrossing Annica’s throat until the old man is soaked and dripping with her blood, his own finger still sitting on his lips like a flesh cigarette. Annica’s lifeless body slides to the bedside floor. The old man’s false teeth clatter as tears well in his eyes, and judging by the smell, he shits himself. Now we are alone in the house. I plan on dragging this out all night.
But the old man is whimpering now. This isn’t how I’ve envisioned this for the past fifty years. I always imagined him begging for forgiveness. But this old man doesn’t even remember what he’s done … so I enlighten him. I tell him how he tried to rape me at a Halloween party when I was only sixteen and he was forty and mentally unstable. I tell him how my father found out, drove to his house, cracked his forehead open and put him in the hospital. The old man looks at me in shock when I tell him that a month later, on Thanksgiving, he snapped and showed up at my family’s dinner dressed in a demented turkey costume and dismembered most of my family, even cooked and ate a few of them at our dinner table. I tell him how I was tied to a dining room chair the entire time, watching, but he let me live and untied me because he still hoped we could be together. The old man actually sighs in relief when I tell him how I threw boiling water in his face and escaped. Tears are streaming down my cheeks at this point.
After the slaughter, Tony rotted away in prison but refused to die. In his eighties, he developed Alzheimer’s and throat cancer. His family appealed to the parole board. I showed up to the hearing and, much to his family’s shock, begged them to release the old man. I told the board I had found Jesus and forgiven him. Tony was granted release at age ninety.
Now he looks up at me, horrified at a past he doesn’t remember, and his tears match mine. I take the finger out of his mouth and hold up a mirror and he sees his own face; sees the burn scars from the boiling water; sees the scar across his forehead where my father had busted him open all those years ago. The old man believes me. I don’t think he even has the capacity to question my story.
The bedroom door swings open and someone is on me, has me pinned face down on the carpet. I curse myself; someone else must have shown up for Thanksgiving dinner. I should have planned for this. As we’re struggling, I catch a glimpse of my attacker in a closet mirror—the old man’s son, Jerry. He is a few years older than me, but strong and loyal to his dad. He’s the one that started the campaign for Tony’s release, and now he shows up to Thanksgiving dinner and finds me hovering over his blood-soaked father, and his young stepmother lying dead on the floor. He very publicly dislikes Annica and has constantly trashed her in the media as a psycho looking for fame by marrying his father. I didn’t expect him to show up in the same house as her. Critical error.
Jerry strangles me and my world is spinning. I look up and actually reach towards the old man, begging for help. I’m disgusted with myself for doing so, but I can’t breathe. My sight wanes, and I can’t believe that this is how it ends after all these years. Just when I’m sure I’m taking my last breath, the old man hollers out—demands that Jerry stop assaulting me. Slowly, the vice grip on my neck releases. I’m gagging, desperate for air, but I’m alive. I don’t think Tony even realizes this man is his own son. Tony desperately tries to sit up in bed and asks Jerry if what I say is true. Was he really a crazed murderer in a turkey costume? Did he really kill a family fifty years ago? Eat some of them? But his son just stands there silent, avoiding his father’s gaze. It’s all the answer that Tony needs. He tells Jerry to leave us. Jerry hesitates for a moment, then storms out of the bedroom and slams the door.
The old man studies me, trying to hold onto the memory of our history. His limp and bloody hand reaches up and takes mine. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry,” he whispers and lets his bald head fall back against the bed. “Do what you need to do.”
This isn’t fair. I want this bastard to beg, to remember every awful thing he’s done, to suffer. I feel a wave of rage at how anti-climactic this feels to me. I grab a pillow from the other side of the bed. I stare into the eyes of the man who ruined my life, but they are weak and confused. I press the pillow down onto his face and lean in. It only takes a few moments for the life to escape the old man’s body.
I sigh, drop the pillow, and try to savor the moment, but my revenge is hollow and tasteless. I walk out of the bedroom, down the stairs, and pass the old man’s son at the front door. He stares at me. Knows what I’ve just done.
“Happy Thanksgiving,” I say and walk to my truck. He doesn’t move from the doorway, just stares at me.
I drive home, chain-smoke, and wait for the cops to show up and arrest me, but they never come. The story never appears on the news. It’s like it never happened.
It’s a cool autumn evening and I’m standing alone in the breezy cemetery where my family is buried amongst the colorful fallen leaves. I let them know what I’ve done. That I’ve avenged them. But they don’t say anything back, and their silence makes me wonder if they are proud of me or not.