THANKSGIVING QUEST

“Hey, Jeffy! What ya doin’?”

“Gonna get a turkey for Thanksgiving. Now shut up or go away!”

“You can’t get no turkey! You’re wacko!”

Jeffy, lying motionless, rolls his eyes and whispers, “I said shut up or go away, Nuff!”

Nuff, seven years old and full of energy and orneriness, plops down nosily beside twelve year old Jeffy who is trying to prove his true manhood by bringing in Thanksgiving dinner.

“How long ya been here?” Nuff questions.

Through gritted teeth, Jeffy whispers, “Shut up or I’ll kill you for dinner!”

Nuff shrugs, unimpressed but curious enough to be quiet and stay. The two boys didn’t move, even Nuff, trying to spy their prey. Yes, there was motion in front of them, but no turkey. Jeffy was determined and in for the long haul, while Nuff was simply passing time with him because there was nothing better to do. Then, “Hi, guys,” a soft voice says. Jeffy turns slowly to see who is there as Nuff breaks the quiet by saying loudly, “Hi, Tessie! We’re gonna get a turkey for dinner today!” Tessie smiles as Jeffy says, “Not we moron! ME!”

She puts her finger up to her lips, signaling Nuff to be quiet. He nods and turns back to watching as Tessie silently positions herself with the two boys and also starts watching. Jeffy looks over at her, almost smiles, and nods she is welcome. Tessie smiles back and the three of them wait. Pretty soon, another voice is heard. “Whaaaat yyyyou ddddoin’?”

All eyes turn to see four year old Tinker and everyone smiles. Tessie, at seven, “mothers” Tinker, and obviously he had missed her and gone searching. She whispers to him, “Jeffy is going to get us a turkey for today’s Thanksgiving dinner. Isn’t that great? Won’t that make Bonnie happy to have a turkey Jeffy got to cook for all of us?” Tinker nods enthusiastically. Tessie pats the ground beside her and he creeps in to lie quietly with all of them.

Time passes and Nuff sits up, declaring, “This is boring!” in a voice that shatters the silence and concentration of the others. This time, Jeffy turns and reaching up, claps his hand over Nuff’s mouth. “I told you to shut up or go away! Only you are making noise. You’re gonna ruin it! Now what ya gonna do? Stay here and shut your trap or go?” Jeffy demanded in a fierce whisper.

Nuff’s eyes glared at Jeffy over the hand covering his mouth. He started to get up, but Tessie stopped him, pulling him back down. “Just think! You could see Jeffy get a turkey. With your own eyes! Right here! And you could tell everybody all about it! Wouldn’t you be #1 for awhile! Are you willing to miss this?” Nuff thought it over, knowing Tessie was right. He would be the center of attention and he could tell the story over and over and…he quietly got down on his stomach to watch again, throwing Jeffy dirty looks.

Well, time passes and where they had been in sunlight when they started, now it was getting dark. Nuff and Tinker were dozing, Jeffy was looking desperate, and Tessie? She just stayed vigilant and kept watching, showing her belief in Jeffy’s quest and that he would most surely get a turkey. Suddenly a voice boomed behind them. It was Daniel, the patriarch. “What the hell are you guys doing?” he demanded.

Jeffy and Tessie started explaining, both filling in details for the other. Daniel laughed loudly and shook his head. Tinker looked scared and Nuff knew better than to be a pain around Daniel. Daniel walked around their prone bodies and stood in front of them. “Marlin Perkins is not going to deliver a turkey to you through the TV you little numbskulls. The wild animal show is over! You’ve been watching that TV for over 3 hours! What is wrong with you guys? Get up! Put your toy rifle away, Jeff! You guys go help Bonnie with dinner! NOW!”

All got up, Jeffy looking dejected. Nuff commenting about how stupid Jeffy was. Tessie taking Jeffy’s hand to comfort him, Tinker trying to disappear under Daniel’s penetrating gaze. Into the kitchen they traipsed and Bonnie, seeing the sad kiddos coming in, gave each a bear hug and assigned each something to do. She did pull Jeffy and Tessie aside, though, to say quietly, “Maybe next year, okay? And Jeffy? You can always go to the store with me to buy a turkey if we have to. Believe me, it is as hard to fight off the people to get one as it is to shoot one in the wilderness!”

Jeffy and Tessie smiled, Jeffy hugged Bonnie through his tears of shame and disappointment and said, “Next year. Promise.”

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