Monday, December 1, 2014
Both Sides Now
“And that wraps up Thanksgiving,” Han Ewing said. He stacked the last of the clean dinner dishes into the kitchen cabinet and slammed the door with finality. “On to Christmas!”
“Oh yeah.” His brother Bo groaned. “Car accidents, drunks out partying, stampedes at the stores, fistfights over bargains. The most wonderful time of the year.”
“Good to see you’ve caught the Christmas spirit, bro.”
“Sure. You don’t have to deal with the dark underbelly of the holidays. You’ll be out tramping around in the woods, keeping all the forest creatures safe.”
“And getting shot at by hunters who’ll swear on the Bible they didn’t see the ‘No Hunting’ signs. The Goslin clan’s already in a panic. Not to mention the Turkles have been stockpiling ammo for two months already. Maybe I should just deputize them.”
“You’re still safer than in town. Do we have a tree yet?”
“If not, then we should in the next couple days. Beaver Brothers Construction always comes through. Are they planning on having the living nativity again?”
“Far as I know.” Both bighorns turned to smirk at their sister Mary, who was straightening the dining room. She caught the movement and looked at them, their moving mouths in particular. “Wonder who’ll be playing the Virgin Mary this year?” Bo went on.
“Yeah,” Han chimed in, “seeing as how their regular choice doesn’t qualify any more.” Mary scowled at her brothers and flashed a gesture not part of international sign language, but understood nevertheless.
“So, will Porker be joining us for Christmas dinner again?” Bo asked. “He finally going to stick an apple in his mouth?”
“His name’s Brian,” Han corrected, with an evil grin at his sister. “He’ll be served on a platter if Daddy Vern has his way. Mary’s not the only one in the family with a taste for pork.” Mary raised her other hand and added a second finger.
“Excuse me.” Elly came in from the porch. “Did I just hear my beloved husband’s name being taken in vain?”
“No, Ma,” Han said quickly. “We’re just trying to get into Christmas mode. Bo and I’ll be helping to set up the decorations in town, like always. We were just wondering if the paper’s going to help sponsor the celebration again.”
Mary came in from the dining room and signed frantically. “And teasing your poor sister,” Elly said.
“Well, yeah,” Bo admitted. “You can’t blame us for taking advantage of an easy target.”
Mary’s quick eye caught the end of his statement. She whapped Bo upside the head. Hannibal backed out of reach.
“I’d revise that assessment, if I were you,” Elly said dryly. She touched Mary’s hand to get her daughter’s attention. “Are you still seeing Brian, hon? Will he be joining us again for dinner this year?”
Mary nodded. Bo snorted. Elly didn’t need to turn around to know Han’s expression mirrored his brother’s. “Nobody’s putting any meat on my table, not even for Christmas dinner,” Elly announced. “Certainly not pork. What Vernon and his boys eat at the Grease ‘N’ Grill for their Christmas lunch is their own affair.”
Mary continued to shoot significant glares at her brothers. “Brian's welcome at our table, and not as an entrée. You should all know that,” Elly said. Her eyes took on a wicked sparkle. “He’s a boar, so that makes him an omnivore. I’ll bet he’s fun in the sack.”
All three stared at their mother, Mary in particular. “Uh, Ma … ” Bo hazarded.
“No, really. I think it’s the meat in their diet. Predators are just more … exciting. It’s that whole stalk and attack mindset that you don’t get with an herbivore. Vern, for instance … ”
Han came around her to stand with Bo and Mary. “Really, Ma, you don’t need to—”
“I never would have said this or even thought it while your father was alive, but now that I’ve experienced both sides, I have to say carnivores are so much better in bed. I’d try eating meat myself if it didn’t make me throw up.”
The boys bleated, “Maaa-aaaa!”
“Not that that’s ever stopped me from eating—”
All three younger Ewings bolted. They didn’t stop until they were well into the back yard, out of earshot. Or, in Mary’s case, out of lipshot.
“I’m gonna be sick,” Bo groaned. “I swear.”
“We should have stomped that damn wolf the second she announced her engagement,” Han said. “You’re lucky you couldn’t hear that,” he added to Mary.
I read her lips, Mary signed. Now I wish I was blind. Her face twisted into a definite ewwwwwww.
Back in the kitchen, Elly’s laughter drew Vern downstairs. He spotted his bighorn stepchildren milling miserably in the back yard. “Elly, what have you done to your young’uns this time?”
“Just making their lives a living hell. It’s a mother’s duty. Don’t you ever drive your cubs up the wall?”
“Hell yes. Gotta keep the whelps in line. Especially Nick, the little asshat. What was this one about?”
Elly told him. “I’m not concerned. My little lamb hasn’t been so little for a good long while, but you know older brothers. I’m just happy she picked a good one.”
“Are we still talking about the biker?”
“Dante’s a biker too. There’s more to Brian than that. If there wasn’t, I would have butted his ham hocks out the door long before now.”
“What happened to Mary being a grownup?”
“She’ll always be my little lamb.” Elly moved into his arms. “And you’re my big bad wolf.”
“What big eyes you have,” Vernon said with a leer. “And a fleece as white as snow.”
“My fleece was never white as snow and you know it.”
“Damn straight. It’s why I married you.”
Hannibal peered in through the kitchen window, recoiled, and reported the developing situation to his siblings. Elly’s kids opted to spend the rest of the evening elsewhere.