Melee (A Thanksgiving Story)


“They’re mine,” Johanna screamed as Sarah sat for dinner, causing everyone around the table to turn and squirm uncomfortably. “They’re mine, mine, mine,” she continued as she lunged across the table, upsetting the porcelain gravy boat and sending warm buttered peas rolling everywhere. She wrapped her hands tightly about poor Sarah’s throat and shook her most viciously.

Jackson reacted quite unexpectedly to the matter by smiling and scooting his Queen Anne chair back away from the table in order to command a better view of the spectacle. He crossed his arms nonchalantly and those nearby could hear him chuckling while poor Sarah struggled to remove Johanna’s fingers from about her throat. Lawrence, on the other hand, was much more cavalier and stepped in to assist Sarah by taking hold of Johanna’s arms. He was, however, immediately and quite severely bitten for his trouble and when he heard Jackson laughing he turned and punched the lout quite forcefully along side his nose and cheek sending him toppling unconsciously backwards in his chair to the maple floor.

This, of course, sent Mary into a frenzy and she leaped for Lawrence with her claws extended and succeeded in leaving four long bloody scratches along side of his face and neck complimenting the ruptured bite on his arm. Lawrence, in a surprisingly ungentlemanly act, gave Mary a punch in the jaw that rivaled the one he’d just given Jackson. As Mary landed unconsciously atop her husband, her brother Bartholomew responded by dumping the turkey onto the table and then shattered the Spode platter over Lawrence’s head dropping him to the floor of the dining room.

When Lawrence’s wife, Josephina, grabbed the serving fork from where it had fallen off the turkey tray and plunged it deep into Bartholomew’s side, I knew things were getting out of hand – but what could I do. Johanna still had her fingers about Sarah’s throat and the poor girl seemed to have trouble breathing, and was turning a ghastly shade of blue. Jackson was on the floor moaning into consciousness and Bartholomew was choking the breath out of Josephina. That’s when Sherman decided to join in and he pulled Bartholomew away from Josephina and threw him to the floor dislodging the fork from his side and forming the most disagreeable pool of blood. Josephina fainted at the sight of the blood and collapsed to the floor with a most unsatisfactory thud.

Sherman fairly leaped toward Johanna but slipped in Bartholomew’s puddle and hit his head on the table and he fell moaning to the floor more unconscious than not. Sarah quit struggling with Johanna, who let her slump passively into her chair, and then she proceeded to remove the pearl earrings, necklace, and broach that Sarah was wearing.

“How dare you wear my pearls you filthy little thief,” Johanna screamed at the semi-conscious girl. She then turned atop the table to face her husband Richard who, interestingly enough, had managed to stay completely out of the fracas. “How did that little tramp get my pearls?”

“They’re not your pearls, dear.” Richard answered very calmly. “Yours are at the jeweler’s being cleaned. Don’t you remember? You took them in on Monday.”

Johanna studied the jewelry and I watched her eyes grow large. She turned back around to Sarah as the poor girl was just getting her breath back.

“Oh, you poor dear,” Johanna said. “You poor, poor, dear. Let me help you.”

As Johanna returned the jewelry to the gasping girl, and Richard telephoned for a doctor, I continued to remain at my post thankful that I was only the caterer and inwardly enjoying the spectacle of my third Hyatt-Smith Thanksgiving dinner.

This story was previously published in the November 2012 issue of Fresh Ink, the journal of the California Writers Club, Inland Empire Branch.

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