Hope Is the Thing with Feathers(4)

By: Brandon Witt


Home. I needed to get home.

Get out of this house, which was more stifling hot every second. Away from this man who was causing such a disruption.

Why had I even come here?

Raymond looked disappointed. “You sure? It’d be nice to have Thanksgiving with someone. Especially someone that looks like you.”

Again with the pounding heart and the overheating and the goddamned erection. What was I, sixteen again?

Raymond continued, looking more confident, as if he could read my mind. “And really, Sam. Er… Samuel, I think it was destiny for you to show up here tonight.”

What a stupid line. Like he was sixteen as well. And fuck me if it didn’t make my heart speed up even more. “You do?”

“Yeah.” His voice, which was already low, dropped a bit further, the heat rising. “It’s like the universe was preparing for us to be together tonight. Funny how it does things like that. Us living so close, but not meeting yet. Not till Thanksgiving, of all days. A Thanksgiving turkey literally showing up on my doorstep this morning. And now, you’re here. Just in time to share the feast with me. I’d say we don’t have much of a choice, Samuel. Obviously Mother Earth wants us to be together this evening.”

The heat vanished as a bucket of ice water seemed to be poured over my head. My breath caught in my throat and then came out in a groan.

It couldn’t be. I had to have heard wrong.

“What did you say?”

Raymond’s expression faltered at the tenor of my voice. “Uhm, which part?”

My fingers clenched into fists inside my gloves. “The turkey.”

Raymond smiled again, though it seemed hesitant for the first time. “Oh. Right. That we’ve been provided a celebratory meal tonight. A turkey arrived on my doorstep this morning. Literally. I opened the door and there she was. Just looked up at me and said, ‘Here I am. Happy Thanksgiving.’”

My eyes began to burn. “What did you do with her?”

He looked at me like I’d lost my mind. He gestured over his shoulder. “Well… she’s in the oven right now. Should be ready within the hour.”

The smell reached me then. I wasn’t sure how I’d missed it. So familiar. A warm scent of home that should’ve brought memories of my mother back in a pleasant way. But didn’t.

Raymond stepped closer, and I flinched away. He paused. “Are you okay? I think you’re crying.”

Goddammit. I was. I could feel the tears making their way down my cheeks. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt… oh, yes, I did. And it only served to let the anger in. Thank God. I took a step toward him, fists clenching tighter. “A tame turkey shows up at your house, and your first thought is to kill it? What the fuck is wrong with you? How often do wild turkeys arrive on your fucking doorstep?”

Raymond’s eyes grew wide, and he took several steps backward. “Man, calm down. What the fuck?”

His words didn’t register. “Faloola. You fucking bitch. You kill Faloola and then try to get me to eat her? What the fuck is wrong with you?” I could feel myself start to lose control. Any moment either my fists were going to be in the asshole’s face or the tears were going to break free once more.

“Faloola. Who the hell is…?” Raymond sucked in a breath and glanced behind him toward the kitchen. “Oh shit.”

Without realizing what I was doing, my gloved hands reached out and took Raymond by either side of his fucking kimono.

He raised both his hands in the air, not trying to defend himself. “Dude. Samuel. I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. I had no idea. I….” He just shook his head.

I wasn’t sure how we’d gotten there, but I suddenly realized I had Raymond shoved up against the wall. For a split second, I envisioned pulling him toward me and then slamming him against it. The vision was enough to cut the rage coursing through me.

Abruptly I released him.

The robe fell open.

I didn’t look down at his body. Didn’t care. I just needed to get away from him.

Once more, I saw him being slammed into the wall.

I turned and rushed back through the living room and out the front door.

Raymond yelled my name.

I ignored him, increasing my stride to a jog.

Barely halfway home, the tears began again, and I ran.





TWO





IF GLARING could turn into a weapon, Old Man Webber’s house would’ve been blown up ten thousand times over the next few days.

I mean, seriously, who does that? Faloola was the sweetest turkey in the world. True, she didn’t cuddle or anything, but she’d stand there and let you pet her. I’d even held her on several occasions.

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