Thursday, November 22, 2012

Rusty Pails #50: The Big Thanksgiving Blowout!

by Rocky Macy


Thanksgiving is a time for being with family, and for me and my motley assortment of friends, family generally means each other.    We play together (usually dominoes), camp as a group several times a year, drink lots of root beer together, and have even served time together in the county jail – after accidentally burning Gladys Clench’s hen house to the ground – again, as a group.

Yup, but almost any measure, we are a family.

Esther Pearl has been the matriarch of our merry band of misfits for longer than she probably cares to remember.  Even though she rarely plays dominoes, doesn’t believe in sleeping in the great outdoors, doesn’t care for the taste of root beer, and has never served time in jail, at least that we know of, she is often close by to put the brakes on our wild plans, or failing that, to help clean up our messes.

So since we are a family, it was kind of a foregone conclusion that we would do Thanksgiving as a group.  Esther Pearl, our mother figure, agreed to organize the affair, but as her living quarters are tight (a small apartment over her junk store, “Esther’s Pearls and Swine”) she thought it would be best to have her swine assemble and cook at my place.

Lucky me!

My contribution to the affair, excluding my cabin and hospitality, of course, was the drinks.  I had two ice chests heaped with root beer and ice by the time the varmints, I mean “guests,” began arriving. 

Esther showed up first, just about the time that I was putting the second pot of coffee on the stove.    She brought a pair of pies, pumpkin and pecan, a large bowl of dressing,, and a box of metal camp plates and utensils.  Esther said that she liked us and all, but she wasn’t about to trust the safety of her grandmother’s good china to the likes of me and my friends.   

Heck Frye came in before Esther had finished her first cup of coffee.  He was toting a good-sized, thawed turkey in an aluminum pan.  Heck and Esther set to work preparing the big bird for a proper baking, one that would take the better part of the day.

Shadetree Mike ambled in not long after with a pan of baked sweet potatoes.   We all suspected (and hoped) Ermine had prepared Mike’s contribution to the feast.

Judge Redbone brought a dish of cranberries and a platter of corn-on-the-cob that would need to be boiled  about the time the turkey was ready to come out of the oven. 

The Judge also brought Truman Treetopper.   Truman, who can’t drive or do much of anything else for that matter, sometimes has trouble adjusting to the normal demands of society, even Sprung Hinge society – and he doesn’t cook – so we were all eager to see what he was going to pull out of the crumpled grocery bag  that he was clutching to his chest.    What he eventually produced, after his old, arthritic hands started cooperating, was a large, dark green can that he proudly placed on the kitchen cabinet among all of the other contributions.

“What in the Sam Hill?”  Heck asked as he picked the can up to read the label.  “Military Rations:  Turkey Dressing with Oysters”  He read on, “Why, it’s twenty-three-years-old!”

“Thank you, Truman.”  Esther said, deftly snatching the can away from Heck and setting it out of the way.  “It was sweet of you to bring it.”

Being a beautiful day, we opted to set up the domino table outside – smack dab between the two ice chests - where we played our never-ending game and told stories while the sun rose and then began its descent.    Late in the afternoon, when the smells of baking turkey were beginning to waft out through the kitchen screen door and remind us of how truly hungry we were becoming, Esther excused herself to go put the dressing (hers) in the oven to warm and start the corn on a slow boil. 

Truman left for a nature call when Esther returned.  He was gone quite awhile, but it takes Truman extra time to do just about everything.  When he finally rejoined us at the card table, the rich aromas of turkey that followed him outside were well nigh irresistible.

We were within minutes of adjourning to the kitchen when the kitchen blew up!

By the time the dust began to settle, every window in the house was blown out, me and my friends were lying in twisted heaps around the yard, and poor Baker was halfway to town yelping – and covered in pecan pie!  Thankfully (and it was Thanksgiving, after all) no one was seriously hurt – not even my loyal dog, Baker, who was probably going door-to-door in Sprung Hinge looking for someplace safer (and saner) to live.

Fire Chief Gladys Clench of the infamous Sprung Hinge Bucket Brigade and Sewing Circle, announced that her “investigation” had determined that “some idiot” had put a twenty-three-year-old can of oyster dressing in the oven.  The idiot, who chose to remain silent, had seen his dressing sitting on the counter after hearing Esther say that it needed to be put in the oven and warmed.

It was an honest mistake – one that could have only happened in Sprung Hinge or the immediate vicinity!

The fire chief, with a well-worn battle axe resting on her shoulder, told me rather discretely that since my house was wrecked and smelled like rotten oysters, I could bunk at her place for awhile.  I quickly shot back that I couldn’t afford it.

“But Rusty,”  she cooed, “There’s no charge.”

“Then I really couldn’t afford it!” I declared, quickly backing out of axe range.

Ermine made ham sandwiches for out supper, and I moved some fishy-smelling things into Shadetree Mike’s spare room for what I hoped would be a very short visit.  The cleanup would commence in the morning on our own unique version of Black Friday.

We were thankful to be safe, well-fed, and together for another holiday season.  And I was especially thankful to know that Gladys Clench was home cuddling her axe – and not yours truly!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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