(A moment of peace, the calm in the eye of the storm.)
Just a few short hours ago, there‘d been a clatter of metal against glass, the whine of motors rotating through a thick sludge, the wet thunk of an awkward body, a snip and rustle of evisceration, the rasp of metal on metal, and a clang of slamming doors.
“I think we’ve done all we can for now.” Karen wipes her brow and surveys the damage. “When are the troops supposed to arrive?”
“Last I heard, not until 2 pm,” offers Rodney. “Can we have lunch now?”
“I need a lie-down before the grandkids arrive.” She pulls off her apron and tosses it next to the pumpkin pie cooling on the counter. “You’ll have to find something on your own, Dear.”
Rodney’s eyes gleam. ”Okay. I’ll make do.”
“And stay out of that pie!”
(Rodney, half-reclined in a barcalounger, an empty plate resting on his belly. A floor lamp casts a spotlight over him, in the dark room off the kitchen.)
Rodney frowns at the crumbly plate sitting on his lap. Normally, a couple of slices of fontina cheese on pumpernickel would have satisfy him. He’d even slipped a slab of ham from last night’s leftovers into his sandwich. Because he was a good husband, he’d also prepared and wrapped a sandwich for his wife, no ham. But the house is redolent with the scents of turkey, and his absolute favorite, freshly-baked pumpkin pie.
“I’ll just put my plate in the dishwasher,” he tips up the chair and shambles out to the kitchen.
Although the pie has been pushed back into a corner of the kitchen counter, it is still visible, almost beckoning to him to taste.
“Karen would kill me,” he shakes his finger sternly at the pie.
The pie seems to mock him.
Rodney’s stomach rumbles, and a sudden wave of faintness and indecision dims his vision. “But would she kill me more if I ate the sandwich I made for her, or if I just had one tiny sliver?”
The pie seems to shimmy and twinkle.
“After all, once the pie is sliced and put on plates, no one will be able to tell the difference.”
The pie rests, serene and approving on the counter.
“One tiny slice, then. Just to make sure it’s all right.”
He grabs a knife from the rack on the wall. He notes how easily it cuts through the pumpkin custard, the satisfying snap as it breaks through crust and snicks against the pie tin. He sighs and slices again, and raises the not so tiny wedge to his lips. The pie, still warm, melts on his tongue as he closes his eyes.
“I knew there was a good reason I married that woman.”
He gazes down at the pie. “Oh no!”
The cut was uneven. “I’d better just straighten the edges a little.”
(Scene fades to black as he once again leans over the pie.)
(Chiming doorbell, a rush of cold air, adults calling, the patter and whoosh of small feet crossing the mudroom floor and kicking off winter boots. A dog barks and whimpers, and a cat meows in panic as it heads for the dark safety of the master bedroom closet.)
“Gramma! Where’s Grampa Rodney?”
“I don’t know, Dears. Maybe you should look in the kitchen?” Karen laughs and gives a knowing smile to her daughter-in-law.
Rodney turns away from the kitchen counter and faces his grandkids, wiping crumbs off his mouth. “Uh, I’m here. Listen, tell your Gramma that there was a really big mouse in the kitchen and I was just chasing him off. He got most of the pie, I’m afraid.”
“Grampa, you’re telling a really big whopper!!”
“Did you bring it, Elise?” Karen whispers to her daughter-in-law.
“Ralph is bringing it in now, along with the apple pie. How did you know?”
“I’ve been married to that man for over 50 years,” she replied. “And he has yet to rid us of that mouse!”
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Liz Husebye Hartmann (11/18/2016)