It’s Thanksgiving. The birds are roasting. Football is playing on televisions across America. I thought that some of you might enjoy a little story to read as you wait for dinner to find its way to the table.
Georgie went left and Joey went right. They ran hard. They dove and slid across the dirt almost coming nose to nose. Neither of them captured the target.
Mud smeared across their faces like warpaint. They huddled together and discussed a new plan.
“I wanna help,” little Jimmy tugged on Georgie’s pant leg.
Georgie paid him no mind. He was little and young and wouldn’t be no help.
“Now, you sneak up around that way,” he told Joey, “and Greg can… Where’s Greg? Greg?!?!” he shouted his brother’s name as he turned circles searching the yard for the missing boy.
Greg came out of the house, book in hand and glasses sliding down his nose.
“What?” he asked disinterestedly.
“Thought you was gonna help?” Georgie reminded.
“Were,” Greg corrected.
“Were what?” Georgie asked in confusion.
“Were gonna help.”
“Whatchya mean ya were gonna help? Now ya ain’t? That what yer sayin?”
Greg rolled his eyes.
“Nevermind. What do you need me to do?”
“Go put yer book n glasses in the house. N grab one of Ma’s big flour sacks would ya?”
“What ’bout me?” little Jimmy asked. “What can I do?”
Georgie thought for a minute. Sometimes being the oldest and in charge of everybody was a real drag. What could little Jimmy do that would keep him out of the way?
“Go on around n make sure the gate’s closed, why don’t ya?”
“OK,” little Jimmy’s face lit up as he took off around to the front of the house.
“Where’s he going?” Greg asked when he arrived with the requested sack.
“Fool’s errand,” Joey supplied.
Georgie and Joey burst into fits of laughter. Greg waited for their outburst to subside. He wanted nothing more than to return his nose back to his book.
His brothers were always scheming and planning out in the yard. Always dirty and grimy with crud built up under their broken fingernails. Always laughing and playing and having the best of times.
He wasn’t jealous. He didn’t understand their ways. They always tried to include him, and he always tried to play along, but he was always happiest when his nose was buried in one of his books.
The laughter subsided, and Georgie pulled himself together. He had a job to do. He straightened his overalls. They were dusty and dirty, and he lost one of the buttons long ago, so the strap hung loosely down his back.
Joey wore a pair of equally dirty overalls, but his were secured properly with both straps. He took his position in the yard and stood feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent, ready to give chase.
“You stand over there with Ma’s sack, n you catch him when we chase him right to you,” Georgie told Greg what to do before taking a position across from Joey and mirroring his stance.
When they’d been waiting a few minutes Greg asked, “How we gonna convince him to come running through here?”
“Jimmy?!?!” Georgie shouted.
“Where is he?” Greg asked.
“Checking the gate,” Joey supplied.
“Been gone a while now, ain’t he?” Georgie thought.
“Jimmy!” the three yelled in unison.
Little Jimmy came around the corner. He was wearing nothing but an overfull diaper. He was covered from head to toe in mud and dirt. He was laughing hysterically. That mean old turkey was hot on his tail.
“Alright, get ready, here he comes!” Georgie shouted as he readied himself for the chase.
Because little Jimmy hadn’t been filled in on the plan, he ran the wrong way. He took a sharp turn just before he got to Joey. Jimmy was laughing uncontrollably when Joey took off running behind the turkey.
Greg tried to catch the turkey in Ma’s sack, but he misjudged and tackled Joey to the ground instead. Little Jimmy turned around and ran back past the heap that was his brothers. Georgie snatched up the sack and gave chase.
Greg and Joey detangled themselves from each other and got back to their feet. Chuckling a little, they assessed the situation and joined in on the chase. They ran a winding path through the yard with little Jimmy leading the procession laughing almost maniacally.
They tripped and dove and stumbled after the giant turkey that was chasing after their baby brother who thought it all a game. They somersaulted and rolled and leapt to their feet with shocking agility. They took turns trying to catch the bird in Ma’s sack.
They were panting and muddy and exhausted. Little Jimmy and the turkey seemed to have boundless energy. One by one they collapsed to the ground.
“Forget it,” said Georgie.
“Who needs turkey for Thanksgiving, anyways?” pouted Joey.
“How could we eat the turkey when little Jimmy’s obviously smitten?” Greg mused.
“We gotta get him in the bath before Ma gets home from work,” Georgie decided.
“We all better take a bath before Ma gets home from work,” suggested Greg.
“And get that cas’roll in the oven fer dinner,” Georgie remembered.
“Jimmy! Bath time,” Greg shouted.
Dusk was approaching and the yard was darkening quickly. Soon, they wouldn’t be able to see much beyond the front of their faces until the moon rose enough to light up the night.
The turkey was no longer chasing Jimmy. It had probably returned to its roost. They had only ever half-heartedly chased the thing, but they’d had a day full of laughter and fun as they’d tried to catch their Thanksgiving dinner.
They took their baths two at a time to be clean before Ma got home. They had the casserole baking in the oven and the table set when she pulled into the driveway. They ran out to greet her, shouting and pushing and shoving the whole way.
She popped the tailgate of her Jeep and stepped aside. The boys made quick work of unloading the groceries. In the kitchen, they used team work to put them away.
Ma pulled the casserole from the oven when the timer went off and set it on the table. It would do it good to rest for a few minutes before they cut into it.
“Woohoo! Look at that! A turkey!” Georgie held the twenty pound bird over his head.
“Of course there’s a turkey. Thanksgiving is just a few days away. What else were we gonna eat?” Ma questioned.
“Tom?” they answered in unison.
Ma laughed at that.
“And who was going to catch him, kill him, and pluck out all his feathers?” she asked.
“We tried to catch him for you today,” Joey confessed.
“But he was too fast,” added Georgie.
“And way too smart for us,” admitted Greg.
They all burst into laughter and promised to tell her all about it over dinner.
Love Sick: Stories is out now
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