Wednesday, November 21, 2012


The prompt was to write a story that takes place on Thanksgiving Day, but EXCLUDE the following words:  Turkey, stuffing, football, parade, family.  The genre was open and the word limit was 1,000 words.

I thought it would be simple to leave out those particular words, but after doing a search, I found that I had used several of them more than once.  So, a few drafts later, I offer you my holiday tale.


I can’t believe they all showed up.  I sent each one the same letter notifying them of my release from prison, and extending an invitation to join me at my home on Thanksgiving Day for a meal and some conversation.  Considering our history, I never would have believed it was possible for us all to be in the same room together, much less sitting around the same table.

There was one time, however, when we were all together:  the courtroom during my trial.  The District Attorney spoke of the brutality of my crimes, and the fact that I had never shown any remorse.  What did he expect?  Was I supposed to weep openly while I was in the holding cell, or wait until the trial and burst into tears every time I was escorted in or out?  It’s true that I’ve never said I was sorry to any of the involved parties, but my attorney advised me to keep my mouth shut, so that’s what I did.  Then, they complain when I don’t approach my victims’ relatives to give them a hug.  Makes no sense.

I killed four people that week, and their relatives had some to court each and every day to listen as each nail was driven into my coffin.  They sat and listened while the Medical Examiner testified as to the intense suffering each victim endured prior to their death.  I was never sure how he expected to get people to believe that since I’d shot them all.  For your information, I didn’t shoot them in the eye, then the hand, and that type of thing to drag it out.  I shot them all in the head straightaway and they dropped like a block of cement.  Not one of them thrashed around or struggled.  They were there; they went down.  What intense suffering was he talking about?  I will tell you though, when he was done, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.  He was good.  Really.

The prosecution had sought the death penalty since all of them had been killed for something as petty as a few dollars.  First, I inflict intense suffering, then killing them had become a petty affair.  The jury looked confused, and I was glad my attorney was one of the best at refocusing juries and directing a bit of sympathy toward the convicted.  He let me testify, even though most say that’s a big mistake, but I had been prepared very well.  I want you to know that I didn’t lie about anything while I was up there.

I told the court I had lost my job, and how my wife had taken every cent of our small savings and sold all our stuff to a junk dealer to get enough cash so she could hop a train with her boyfriend.  On top of all that, she had been holding back the rent money to give herself a bigger stake, so after she left, I ended up getting evicted.  There I was, on the street, with nothing but the clothes on my back.  Was I bitter?  You’d better believe it.  Was I desperate?  Incredibly.  I had no one I could turn to for help and nowhere to sleep.  There was no light at the end of my tunnel.  The only way that I could see to get myself back on my feet was to jack up a few people who looked like they wouldn’t miss a few bucks, get my hands on some cash, get a roof over my head, find any kind of job for the time being, and begin again.  It seemed reasonable at the time.

Those I chose were all well-dressed, clean and sober.  Ideal vics, right?  Who knew the four people in this world that I pick to rob were willing to die for the couple of bucks in their wallets?  Tom Gerrod had $12 in his pocket.  Marcy McLaughlin had $19.84 in her handbag, Gillian Pensomme had $9.15 in her change purse and William Envoroy, the daring wild man of the bunch had a whole $25 stuck in his shoe.  Envoroy had walked from his apartment to the corner news stand to pick up a paper and some gum.  Who puts their money in their shoe to get a paper and some gum?  He fought like Hell for it too, kicking me and all.  The fella who owned the stand ran away to get a cop while this idiot was yelling and fighting a guy with a gun in his face for a lousy $25.  What’s wrong with people these days?

The verdict was guilty, but with the tear-jerking impact statements from the Widow Gerrod, the Widower McLaughlin, Gillian P.’s older brother and Envoroy’s elderly mom, begging the court to show me mercy, I got sentenced to 15 to life.  With time served and overcrowding, I was out in six and a half, ready to dig in and try to make another go at life.  So, here I am, with the four of them, great food on the table, and the note cards for my speech.

Envoroy’s mom inflicted the first wound.  Hard to believe a lady in her 90s could drive a knife in all the way to the handle.  Gillian’s brother threw the bowl of hot gravy in my face and hit me over the head with the poker from my own fireplace.  It looked like the Widow and Widower were working as a tag team, the way they alternated punching and twisting.  I tried to explain I had invited them all to give thanks for being given a second chance and to offer them my apology for taking the lives of their loved ones, but the world got darker with each wound until it all went black.

“Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends,” Mrs. Tom Gerrod said.  “Now, that real justice has been done, let’s eat.”


  1. Nicely done! I have found that the best intentions of a person are often ignored.

  2. Thanks, Beach. Unfortunately, that's true, but in this case particularly, it might have been advisable to reveal at least part of the reason for the get-together within the invitation. But, I have to wonder if that would have made any difference to the attendees in the end. Probably not.

  3. Glad they all found they could have something to be thankful about. Always nice to establish new traditions.

    1. Heartwarming, isn't it, Mike? Nothing beats a group activity, especially around the holidays. Traditions are a wonderful legacy too. Some hand down favorite recipes, some stay up all night playing Monopoly before a holiday, and some deliver good old-fashioned street justice. I guess we all do march to a different drummer...

  4. Nice twist (no pun intended) at the end. I assumed the released killer had gathered the family of his victims to serve them poisoned turkey as payback for testifying against him. Reading about how a few of them begged the court to be merciful in sentencing him scrapped that idea. Interesting that those same family members would then choose to be un-merciful later, but I'm guessing that's because he didn't actually serve the full 15 years he was given.

    I always love reading your stories because they're so intricately woven. The little details about the trial proceedings and the criminal's testimony were amazing. The character sounded a bit too rough around the edges and cynical for me to believe he wanted to gather the families to finally give them the apology he had been advised against giving, especially since he didn't sound terribly remorseful. But I thoroughly enjoyed the tale anyway. Bravo!