Monster parent: Sara Amundson
Sam always looked forward to the holidays as much as he dreaded them. His family drove him crazy, but he loved them — and understood that time would relentlessly thin their ranks. In theory, someday he’d be grateful he spent these moments with them.
Sam’s mom kept a little TV on the kitchen counter, and it was pumping Fox News into the air at an incredible volume. He tried his hardest to ignore the cable station’s endless parade of white people angrily bleating about the President, gay marriage, the war on Christmas, Benghazi, and other subjects designed to raise the ire of an aging audience. It was much harder to ignore the ugly things Grandpa and racist Uncle Bill said during the commercial breaks.
Sam had come out to everyone in the family except Grandpa, who despised “those disgusting people ruining America” with an unsettling ferocity. There was no way the homophobic old codger would change his mind during his short time left on earth. No one, including Sam, wanted to deal with the drama of telling Grandpa about Sam’s boyfriend.
Uncle Bill, on the other hand, was fully aware of Sam’s orientation, and he still ranted along with Gramps, decrying the way “the gays and the blacks” were taking over the country. There was a hateful, piggy light in Bill’s eyes as he spoke.
Sam felt like his head was about to explode. He exchanged a glance with his brother, Tom, and realized his sibling was approaching a similar state of rage.
Their father slouched at the head of the dining table, staring morosely at the turkey he was supposed to be carving. Sometimes, Dad would drink too much during these family gatherings, and get a bit bleary and maudlin. Usually, it was kind of funny (if somewhat pitiful), and Tom and Sam would laugh about it later when they went for a drive together to escape from the house for a while. Today, tears were already leaking down Dad’s face, which was uncharacteristically red. Bitter regret squinched his eyes into slits. He looked like someone staring into a too bright, too hot fire.
Sam’s mom always insisted upon preparing Thanksgiving dinner entirely by herself. “I love feeding my boys!” she’d trill every year when rejecting offers of help from her husband and sons. Today, however, resentment and indignation burned her cheeks pink as she clattered pots and pans with an unnecessary amount of force.
The clash of kitchen equipment and the blaring of the TV were beginning to overwhelm Sam. White-hot anger swelled inside of him.
When Fox News cut to another commercial, and Grandpa and Uncle Bill began ranting about “the homo agenda” again, Sam snapped. He plucked a fork off the table, and plunged it into Grandpa’s thigh.
The old man let out a wheezy squeal of pain and shock. “What the hell–”
“I’m gay, Gramps. I’M GAY!” Sam shouted at him. His fingers waggled in mocking, maniacal jazz hands. “That’s right! I’m part of the biiiig homo agenda!” He yanked the fork out of his grandfather’s leg and jabbed it at Uncle Bill’s jowly red face. “And you! You are the most ignorant, insufferable bigot prick on the planet. I hope gay black men fuck on top of your grave!”
Tom’s fist silenced Sam, smacking into his jaw so hard it knocked him to the ground. Sam thought his brother was defending their grandfather, but he was mistaken.
“You never paid me back the fifteen dollars I loaned you last year!” Tom shrieked, ropes of saliva flying from his mouth.
Their father snatched the carving knife from the turkey on the table, waving it at his wife. “I know you poked holes in that condom, you cunt! Thirty years of my life, thirty goddamn years, that’s what you’ve stolen from me! I should have run away with my receptionist when I had the chance. You make me sick!”
She paid no attention to her husband’s harsh words. She was too busy bashing her brother over the head with a pot full of mashed potatoes and screaming, “DADDY ALWAYS LOVED YOU BEST, YOU WORTHLESS PIECE OF SHIT!”
Sam leaped to his feet, ignoring the pain in his jaw, and wrapped his hands around his grandfather’s scrawny throat, squeezing with every ounce of strength in him. “SELFISH OLD WHITE MEN LIKE YOU ARE RUINING THIS COUNTRY!”
Within seconds, sounds of violence filled the room: the smack of flesh striking flesh, howls of fury and pain, the crash of Mom’s fine china as wrestling bodies knocked it to the ground, the meaty thunk of Dad’s carving knife. Fox News only stopped contributing to the din when Sam smashed his grandfather’s head through the television screen. The sizzling and popping of Grandpa’s electrocution were the last things Sam heard before Tom broke his neck.
When it was finally over, and the last of the bodies had ceased twitching, a faint gobbling sound came from the pantry. The pantry door, already ajar, creaked open a few inches as a small creature stepped into the kitchen.
It was a turkey, completely plucked clean of feathers. The bird’s bare, bumpy pink skin gave it a vulnerable quality that was equal parts comical and pitiful. Its gobbling grew in volume as it surveyed the damage its magic had done to its victims.
The turkey carefully picked its way over the shattered plates and glasses on the floor, and settled down to its holiday feast.
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