Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫
 George Winston Peace
 George Frideric Händel Water Music
 George Frideric Händel Saul (Dead March)
 George Frideric Händel Messiah (Hallelujah Chorus)
The Talbert family were all assembled around their six-berth dining table for thanksgiving dinner. It was a rarity to get them all in the same place, ordinarily they would never dream of congregating in the same room as they invariably ended up squabbling and World War III was only ever a step away from breaking out at any given moment when they were within a hundred yards of one another. Today was different, Maggie had expressed her desire to get the whole brood together for this very special day and, for once, act like a fully functioning family unit rather than the argumentative troupe which made up the numbers the other 364 days of the calendar year. There were six of them in total and the family cat Tibbs who generally gave the rest of the household a wide berth wherever possible, not because he was exercising his right to be independent, but because he just wanted a quiet life.
A quiet life was not something normally associated with taking up residency in the Talbert house. There were mom and dad Cliff, whose love for one another had dissolved nearly twenty years ago but whom stayed together purely for the sake of their children; oldest son Randall who, at twenty-one, was something of a class warrior and believed everyone else to be beneath him; seventeen year-old daughter Tess who was outspoken, brash and never exercised her right to be polite and respectful, instead spending most of her days bickering with her parents and generally hating on the twins. The twins, Mary Jane and Erin, were eight and potentially the most obnoxious pair in the entire neighborhood. Traditionally, identical twins share an unfathomable connection and this pair were no different; although nobody else in the free world was in on their joke. They were known for playing cruel tricks on everyone around them and had never once cleaned their quarters or assisted their mother with the laundry. The Talberts were dysfunctional in the extreme and despised by neighbors and all other community members alike.
Maggie had made a special effort for today. Thanksgiving was historically a day for spending with your loved ones, forgetting all of your problems and differences, and uniting as a family and she was desperate, just once, that this would be the case. To her amazement she had achieved the unthinkable although they were all present reluctantly. Cliff was missing his beloved Superbowl, Randall was absent from band practice and only towing the line as he had been threatened with being cut off financially should he miss the gathering, Tess had also needed blackmailing as she had 1001 pursuits she would rather be partaking in than sitting around a table with her five least favorite people, and the twins simply weren’t old enough to get out of it yet. By fair means or foul, mom had somehow managed to unite her kindred and had an extra special thanksgiving planned to commemorate the occasion.
As she retrieved the 14 lb turkey from the kitchen and placed it down at the head of the table, ready to be carved, the whole family were in usual fine form. Mary-Jane and Erin were enjoying a round of hide the booger and generally being the hellcats they invariably were, Tess was too busy texting her boyfriend Blane naked pictures of herself to notice the lovingly prepared spread, Randall was consumed in a round of Fruit Ninja with his feet up on the table even though he was fully aware that it drove his mother crazy, and Cliff was barking at the lot of them even though none of them paid the slightest attention to his grievances. It was, by all accounts, a normal day in the Talbert household. Only Tibbs appeared at ease, curled up on the mantle above the log burner, possibly wondering what crime he had committed in a previous life to wind up with such a horrendous group of individuals as owners.
“Thank you all for granting me my one wish of having all of you together for family holidays” said Maggie as she laid out her finest crockery for the occasion.
“Whatever” bemoaned Randall, while his younger sister didn’t so much as bat an eyelid alongside him.
“Let’s just get this over with shall we? And where’s that dumbass moggy? I always did hate that stupid cat” dad remarked.
“Mommy” the twins bleated in unison “can we go and play? We’re bored”
“No you cannot” she snapped in annoyance “Just this once we’re going to sit here and be a family. I’m sick and tired of being the only one in this household to make an effort.”
“Here we go” Tess commented flippantly as she hit send on another shot of her with her legs wide open, still without looking up from her cell.
“I don’t see what’s so important about us playing happy families. It’s all a crock of shit anyway” Randall barked up.
“Remain calm. Calm and serene, calm and serene” Maggie muttered under her breath, before pouring the wine and fruit punch for the twins.
“You know I’m missing the game for this” Cliff griped and this presented the final straw at an early stage in their banquet.
“Yes Cliff!” she growled “I know full well that you’re missing your precious game. I’m sick to bloody death of that pointless shit”
This stunned everyone into a rare state of silence. Maggie exhaled to sooth herself before carrying on.
“Now then” she said calmly “shall we raise a toast?”
Customarily, not a single one of them paid a blind bit of notice to a single word she said but somewhat astonishingly her unprecedented outburst had stunned them all into submission.
“To family” Maggie toasted and they all raised a glass, mumbling likewise with little to no conviction whatsoever.
“It’s not my fault you’ve got menstrual cramps” Tess grumbled but her mother let this slide for once and instead gestured for them all to take a sip of their refreshments.
Table manners were not a primary concern in the Talbert house, thus all five of them guzzled back their drinks with no etiquette to speak of. Meanwhile, Maggie watched on as each of them in turn placed their empty glasses back on the tablecloth. She sipped her own stem of Merlot which she had poured from her own supply. She wasn’t about to waste such a fruity and full-bodied vino on such an unruly and unappreciative bunch of heathens.
“Now, you all make pleasant conversation together while I go and finish preparing the vegetables. Play nice” She left her crosses to bear bickering, bitching and reconvening their current round of where’s that booger, and returned to the kitchen.
The rabble continued for around three more minutes while Maggie bided her time and listened to Händel on her transistor radio. Eventually, it all fell silent. She took a deep breath and marveled momentarily in the uncommon quietude, before removing the last few broccoli stems and retrieving the serving tray.
“So peaceful. So utterly…blissfully peaceful” she remarked to herself.
As she re-entered the dining room, all five of her fellow family members had been rendered immobile. The scene looked akin to a fund-raiser for stroke victims, none of them able to voice their dissatisfaction or leave the table early. Maggie smiled to herself, fully aware that the first stage of her plan had gone swimmingly. Seemingly, the only conceivable way of enjoying a nice family dinner was to drug the whole rowdy bunch and it appeared she had used just the correct amount of arsenic when tampering the wine and punch.
“Isn’t this delightful?” she observed. There was no reply, other than a few labored groans and twitches.
“All of us together for once. No arguments, no childish games. Just a nice relaxing Thanksgiving dinner without incident” she continued.
Her audience was captive. The dose had been enough to wipe out their central nervous systems and, in five minutes or so, every last one of them would be dead but, right now, they would listen to mother…and listen well.
“I decided this year to do something a little off the cuff, shall we say, as last year none of my hard work was appreciated and it ended in a big fight remember?”
“Of course you do. I’m sorry, I’m not used to being granted this much airtime. Normally I can’t get a word in edgeways for all your incessant whining.”
She placed down the vegetables and began to relay to each in turn the reason for preparing this special meal.
“In case anyone is confused, I should let you know that the poison coursing through your veins right now is far from benign. You’re all going to die basically and I’m dismayed to report that it will be rather uncomfortable from hereon in as each of your organs begins to shut down. I guess I owe you all some kind of an explanation right?”
“How silly of me. None of you can speak can you? What’s wrong Cliff, cat got your tongue?”
She leaned in and gave her husband a gentle kiss on his forehead before grabbing a napkin and dabbing his downturned mouth to prevent any of his saliva dripping into the gravy boat.
“Let’s start with you honey shall we?” she said sardonically “Second thoughts…Mary-Jane and Erin. You two have the shortest attention spans so I guess I should begin with my gorgeous girls.”
The pair were slumped together, propped up against one another and would likely be the first to croak given their still-developing immune systems.
“My beautiful twins” Maggie doted, even though neither of them looked a particularly pretty picture at this juncture “I remember the exact day you were both born. You really didn’t make it easy for mommy girls. My extensive tearing required seventeen stitches and I was as sick as a dog for a good month afterwards but I remember thinking it was all worth it to be gifted these two miraculous angels. Imagine my frustration then when you wound up to be the spawn of Satan himself. They’re bang on the money when they say that you can’t choose your family. You two hellspawn are the most petulant, mean-spirited, potty-mouthed little fuckwits a mother could ever have inherited. Sometimes I lay awake at night pondering what I did to deserve you and it always throws back a blank. I have been asking you to clean up your rooms for six weeks…SIX FUCKING WEEKS. Have you listened to a word I’ve said? Of course you haven’t. You’re too busy wiping snot on each other’s blouses.”
“Look at your fingers” Maggie grabbed both twins’ hands and, true to form, they were practically webbed with mucus “LOOK AT THEM!” She pressed them up against their faces and there was sufficient snot to hold them there for a few seconds, before sliding off and landing on their respective dinner plates.
“You both disgust me, you know that? I used to be known for my legs in school you know. That’s right, mommy was actually offered a job modelling Pretty Polly stockings at one point but I gracefully declined after your father got jealous of all the attention. Don’t worry Cliff, we’ll get to you soon enough sweetheart. Anyway now I’m riddled in varicose veins”
She returned her attention to the twins who were beginning to look decidedly ropy and destined for a coronary at any moment “Do you have any idea how sick to the back teeth mommy is of clearing up your constant trail of destruction? I worked it out you know, I probably spend around four hours every single day of my miserable life tidying up your shit. Happy Thanksgiving my precious babies.”
Next up was her older daughter.
“Oh Tess. You were a real cherub, you know that? Right up until puberty, you were the apple of my eye. Such a placid creature, I sat and watched you for hours on end just utterly content at playing with your dolls and never causing the slightest problem. So what happened dear? The moment you turned thirteen and had your first bleed it all turned to shit. You metamorphosed from a wondrous fragrant butterfly to a crusty little caterpillar overnight and now you’re absolutely insufferable. I know what you get up to in your room you know. Taking slutty pictures for your equally horrendous boyfriend Blane. Who calls their kid Blane anyway? He’s rather fortunate today you know. I almost allowed you to invite him over but there wasn’t quite enough to go round. Feel free to thank mom for sparing your sniveling insignificant other. Oh! that’s right…you can’t. For once you have nothing to say. How insensitive of me. You were supposed to give up your virginity much later than fourteen you know. It’s most unladylike and not how we raised you at all is it Cliff?”
Maggie made her way over to Randall who, to his credit, had removed his boots from the dinner table at long last.
“So we come to you my first-born son. I actually never cared much for you. Did you know that you were six years old before I got so much as one uninterrupted night’s sleep? Colic, chronic diarrhea…you name it, Randall suffered from it. I thought it would get easier as you grew older but you always were daddy’s little boy weren’t you? Didn’t care much for mom, I was just the workhorse tasked with ironing your clothes every day and washing your bed sheets every time you pissed them in the night. It’s lucky then that your father taught you how to become a man. He really did a stand-up job son. You seem to think that the world owes you a great debt of gratitude. You’re bad-tempered, unkind to those around you who aren’t as lucky, and still haven’t perfected the art of washing your armpits each morning. What a horrid cunt you have become. I wish I had known about contraception before allowing your father to take my innocence. Eighteen was far too young to be saddled with a cretin like you.”
She looked over at her husband of nineteen years and wiped a little more drool from his chin before entering the final leg of her speech.
“Cliff. What happened? We were happy right? I know we were at one point. It seems like such a long time since you made me feel even remotely special. Everything changed dramatically the very moment I placed that wedding band on my finger hopeful and full of anticipation. You have forgotten my birthday and our anniversary for…and I have been counting…the last sixteen years. That’s borderline abuse you know? I have counted six individual affairs, one of which was in our marital bed with my own sister I hasten to add. Didn’t think I knew about that did you? Sisters tell each other everything or weren’t you aware? Angie fessed up last Christmas after one too many Sambucas and I’ve been grinding my teeth ever since. That’s the whole reason why I have to sleep with a mouth guard. You are out of shape, you fart for your own sick amusement and even find the time to hold my head under the covers just to clear my sinuses. It’s not amusing you know? I know I laughed the first few times but it was either that or drive a blunt blade between your eyebrows. Speaking of which, what happened to them? There used to be two whereas now there is but one. My mother told me never to trust a man whose eyebrows meet in the middle and, God rest her soul, I make her right. Speaking of which, when she died of ovarian cancer you offered me virtually no support whatsoever even though you knew I doted on her”
She wasn’t finished with Cliff just yet.
“Anyway, enough about me. Let’s talk a little more about you shall we? Pubic hair is not attractive when left strewn across the bathroom willy nilly. Also, when one urinates and misses the target, it is customary to run a piece of tissue around the area rather than leaving it to encrust the latrine. Your toenails…God don’t get me started on your hideous talons. I found one of them discarded in the fruit bowl last week. What a pleasant surprise as I sat down to enjoy the first of my five-a-day. You stink, even worse than your unsanitary son. Didn’t your father teach you the art of wiping your ass front to back? Come to think of it, did he teach you how to wipe it at all? All this wouldn’t be such a bugbear had it not been for the fact that you have let yourself go a tad recently. That is correct, you are now officially a sloth and your chafing buttocks aren’t aided by the fact that in the last three weeks I haven’t once seen a pair of your jockeys in the wash basket. You’re a sad excuse for a human. It is largely because of your lack of attentiveness that I have ended up with the Munster children for my troubles. I despise you, every time I look at your pathetic face I feel compelled to punch it soundly. Actually that gives me an idea you know.”
Maggie strolled nonchalantly into the kitchen and grabbed her husband’s knuckle-duster from the top drawer. He hadn’t worn it for the past few years as his fingers had grown too chubby to accommodate it but it fit her delightfully. He was already screwed but she couldn’t resist causing him a little more discomfort before the reaper came to snatch his sorry ass away.
“Pucker up honey bunny” she joked, cracking her knuckles and commencing to return to the dinner table to give him the bunch of fives he had had coming for years now.
Unfortunately for Maggie, she hadn’t noticed a pile of the twins’ crayons strewn across the floorboards which she had requested an hour ago that they clear away. She skated on them for a second or two whilst attempting to regain her balance but it was to no avail. Falling headlong toward the pine table, she landed awkwardly on the surface, breaking her neck upon impact and was killed instantly. Alas, her demise was about to become even less dignified as her face slid along the table-cloth and came to a halt inside the roast turkey’s prised open rectal passage. Her entire family was all but spent by this point and mere moments from terminal shutdown and, while none of them had the amenities to voice their amusement, their eyes told their own story. As one last droplet of slobber fell from Cliff’s chin into his soup bowl, the very edge of his downturned mouth propped up in the faintest smile. With that, Tibbs sensed that the painstakingly prepared banquet on display was fair game and opportunistically grabbed itself a drumstick, stopping briefly to urinate on Cliff’s lap before fleeing back to the mantle piece to consume its unexpected Thanksgiving treat.
Truly, Clearly, Really, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2014