ANOTHER SUNDAY DINNER

or
Are These Potatoes Undercooked?

Ham

by Joe Buonfiglio

Potpourri of the Damned is going on an extremely brief hiatus next week, as I feel the need to play catch-up on a book manuscript running woefully behind schedule. My original plan was to simply launch right into the bit of fictional weirdness that follows without offering you any explanation whatsoever, but I decided to momentarily break The Fourth Wall here to … well … frankly … let you know what I just let you know.

Having clearly succeeded in this with my customary style and grace — Shut up! — I’ll hang my “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” banner outside of this literary vessel’s bridge, and we may now move toward turning this battleship around, so to speak, to its intended direction.

So until I return to next write upon these virtual pages, let me leave you with this digital ditty that popped into my head over cold Pop-Tarts and lukewarm coffee this morning. I hope you enjoy this not patented (but DEFINITELY copyrighted) Super-Micro-Short Story…

ANOTHER SUNDAY DINNER

The smell of hot maple-glazed ham happily fills the house as the oven door is opened one last time. The doorbell announces that my high-school senior is back from his track practice.

“Buddy’s here!” joyfully proclaims my little one who immediately runs to the door to let her brother in.

“Dad,” Buddy says casually acknowledging my presence on planet Earth before dropping his gym bag to the floor.

“How’d it go today?”

“Personal best in discus,” he calmly states. “Well over a hundred.”

“Well done.”

“Thanks.”

“Mom made ham,” my little one tells her brother as if the delightful aroma overtaking the whole house didn’t broadcast this fact from the moment he stepped in.

“I know,” he says. “Smells great.”

“Dinner’s ready. Go wash up,” my wife’s order dictates and her dutiful son immediately carries out.

“About damn time,” grandpa grumbles. “I’m stavin’ here.”

“Honey, isn’t it unusual to have track practice on a Sunday?” mother queried as if she didn’t already know the fucking answer.

“It’s just because we have the big statewide meet tomorrow, mom,” the stupid bastard replies.

Jesus, this premeal banter makes me want to poke my own eyes out with the nearest sharpened stick!  For the love of God, can’t we just get down to slamming back some pig flesh while we’re all still young?!

Well, except for grandpa, of course.

“I’ll bet you’re the best thrower in the whole state this year, Buddy,” said the little bundle of cuteness that is his sister.

I stare at her approvingly, all the while wishing I had gotten a shotgun as I really wanted for Christmas last year, as opposed to one more useless piece-of-shit self-actualization book.

One by one, they go past on the way to the dining room. Each one offers me a reassuring, if but glancing smile. I’m not fooled; not for one stinking minute. I know what they’re really thinking: “Evil…. Horror…. Monster.”

Maybe they’re right.

I’ve tried to be a good father, good husband, good son, a good man my whole life, but that creature within always waits just beneath the surface as if lava pushing upward, pressuring, demanding to break through the skin of the Earth.

Not tonight. Tonight is Sunday dinner. Tonight is sacrosanct.

Suck it up.

Take one for the team (even though it’s Team Dumbass).

We sit down to dinner. The inane banter masks the gorging we do upon the amalgam of meat and carbohydrate and plant matter enveloped in an unnatural swirling of preservatives and hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup.

Thank Heaven for the wine; the nectar of the grape is the only thing getting me through this nightmare of a—

HOLY FUCK!  DID GRANDPA JUST FART AT THE DINNER TABLE?!  ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!

I should have put a pillow over that old bastard’s face years ago. He’s been an increasing burden on our quality of life and resources for the past deca—

SERIOUSLY!  DOES NO ONE SMELL THAT INCENSE OF SATAN BUT ME?!

“We’ve all been chatting up like a bunch of giggly schoolgirls on a sleepover, but you haven’t said a word, dear.”  My wife’s announcement silences the room.  “You have the floor. Is there anything you’d like to say, or are you just going to remain silently dumb the whole meal?”

Dumb?

Silently DUMB?!

No.

NO!

Don’t be a monster. Don’t be a monster. Don’t be a monster.

“Come on, honey,” she relentlessly prods. “Don’t let it be yet another Sunday dinner without you contributing to the discussion. Join in. We’re your family. Tell us what’s on your mind.”

“Yeah, dipshit. It’s Sunday,” grandpa’s unfiltered mouth flings my way. “Confess.”

You know what? That’s a great idea.

“Well, honey, I thought the potatoes we’re slightly undercooked.”

“Oh,” she kneejerk utters with a meld of both surprise and hurt.

“And then … well … there’s this….”

“Oh sweet God, I’ve never seen anything like—” The patrolman hurls volumes of oatmealesque goo that spews forth across his lips in a seemingly never-ending geyser before he can finish his sentence.

“I know. It’s insane. It looks as if a wild animal ate them right there at Sunday dinner,” the homicide detective replies with a grimace as the officer tries to regain his composure.

“Animal?!” the cop retorts. “Something consumed them like they were on the menu. Bit their heads off one-by-one before any of them could even react. That was no goddamn animal. That was a… MONSTER!

The detective goes back inside the house. It’s his fourth or fifth time inside, but the crime scene still leaves him stunned. He emerges rubbing his forehead. “Hey,” he says, “The father’s remains aren’t in there….

“Where’s the dad?”

 

© 2016 Joseph P. Buonfiglio     All Rights Reserved.

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