Hunting up a Feast
The twin barrels of the gun tapped against the side of his head as Gerald swivelled to shut the door behind him. Sighing a grateful sigh he effectively cut off the screeching of his wife and the cackle of the other women that had descended upon their house earlier that day. Women folk gathering to get the rooms in order before the weekend of festivities.
Shrugging he settles the gun into a more comfortable place. Gerald stomps his feet onto the frost hardened grass. Head down against the chill of winters wind, he mutters and grumbles with each thump of his footsteps, "Every damn year its the same thing. Fluster then panic." Dotty would plan a nice quite dinner. Just the two of us, oh, and the kids doing their own thing in the other room, and then later we will have a small meal."
Then the calls start, "Can we come this year to your place. It wont be the same if we don't. Love these holiday traditions... Every year the same thing," Gerald groans out loud to the moaning sky. "and if we invite them. Then, we have to invite them also, and of course them too, or it will upset them and them. The list of people grows longer and longer as time grows shorter. Until the small quiet day turns into a feeding of the five thousand.
This year Dotty had explained to the congregation of family, its lasagne, just for something different. A moment of pause and then nods of ascent. I had held my breath as the idea had sunk in on them. So easy for world war three to break out over something so simple as menu. Last year it had started over seating arrangements from just a single word a massive argument had erupted. Amazingly for once no disputes have ensued and the days pass by with only a few hitches and commotion over trivial things that were soon smoothed over.
Then out of the blue, two days before the feast, Dotty flies into the room, flapping around in such distress. I tried to calm her ruffled feathers and in a soothing voice she started to relax. I promise to help with the cooking, lasagne is an easy dish to make after all, when suddenly she flies into hysterics again shouting and squawking about tradition. All I could think of was Tevia in Fiddler on the roof, "Tradition" argghhh …
Scrunching through the long wet grass of the field, "Tradition" Gerald still mutters under his breath while heading towards the track that runs along the edge of the woods. "Tradition, or same old, same old." Jumping down from the bank of the field onto the muddy track. The cracking of ice so loud in the quiet evening air. It echoes like a shot from his new turkey gun, that Dotty had bought him for his birthday. She wanted to make sure I would like it so she just asked for top of the line, and she paid the premium price for the best the company made.
Relaxing as the night grew on, happy to be out in the woods than stuck inside with a gaggle of chatty relatives that were staying over. Bundled warm enjoying the night air on this evening of peaceful hunting. The best hunting ground was in the valley on the other side of the woods near that hill that they seemed to flock around. Should be able to pick out a decent sized one. Dotty will be pleased and a Dotty pleased was always a good thing, she can have a real fiery temper.
The track ahead split leading into the woods, up a steep hill, and the last kept on meandering around the woods. Gerald rummaged around and found the nutty cornbread cracker he had grabbed from the kitchen. It was still slightly warm having just been cooked by the women. Crunching happily on the cracker a shadowy figure appeared on the valley track ahead. The figure was rather portly and swayed rather alarmingly with each slow step.
Recognising the familiar motion before he actually saw who it was I call out, "Evening Harry" I lower the gun from my shoulder and resting its weight against my leg. Harry comes up to me dragging his kill behind, and copies my stance with a grin.
"Good Evening Gerald. Hunting are you?"
A bit obvious a question Gerald thought shoving in the last bit of corn cracker as Harry eyed it hungrily, but I suppose I could be about to commit mass family celebratory murder. Swallowing so I could reply, "Yep, Mrs wants a big one, were feeding the whole gang again this year."
Harry paused looking around in the nervous way he always did, "yea me too." he looked down at his feet shuffling and tap dancing to keep them warm. "We were going to have a quiet meal Just Claudia, and I and the kids of course but," Harry shrugged shuffled his feet then gave me a broad smile "Well you know." We both grinned conspiratorially at each other.
Gerald sighed, slung the strap of the turkey gun over his shoulder, looking left and right then back at Harry he smiled. "Oh well Harry, I better get going or the Mrs will have me guts for garters."
Harry nodded in that understanding way married men can sympathise with each other. "Have a great Thanksgiving and I hope you catch a big fat juicy one." With a nod to each other Harry grabs his kill and they waddle away in different directions.
Gerald pauses before going to far and calls back to his friend "Happy Human Day to you and yours Harry." His friend giggles in that gobble gobble way as he waves a thanks back, then he watched as Harry plucks up the human by its ankle and slowly drags his Thanksgiving dinner down the track towards his home.
Gerald creeps into the wood with a silent song puffing out from between his turkey lips, a hunting we will go … a hunting we will go, a hi, ho a merry oh, a hunting we will go. A little gobbling cackle follows to float on the frosty breeze.
By Tracey Owen & Brian Rueby
copyright November 2011