North High Street Thanksgiving
The Reasons lived in a six bedroom mansion in Dublin, Ohio. The patriarch of the family and sole custodian of how others in the house would behave was Sam Reason, successful lawyer and multimillionaire. His second wife, Elinor, was about the same age as his son, who had passed away in a tragic traffic accident in his final year at Ohio State. His grandson, David, whom Sam had raised since David’s parents’ death, made up the balance of the household.
Because of his exalted position in the Columbus area, Sam often had important guests over for special occasions, and this was certainly one of those. David was in his final year at Virginia Military Academy where Sam and Elinor had shuffled him off to relieve some of the pressure in the house, and he had just been accepted at Michigan into a Political Science degree program. David hated going home for holidays, but this one was a royal summons from his grandfather, who still controlled the purse strings. The special guest was the Dean of Arts at Michigan and his wife.
On the day before Thanksgiving, Sam came home with a large, nasty turkey, which he proudly brought into the kitchen in a cage. “Here, cook,” he announced. “This will be served for dinner tomorrow night to us and our guests.”
“But, sir” the cook complained, “I have no idea how to prepare a live turkey.”
“You’re the cook—the turkey is food—figure it out.” Sam left the cook, who was in tears.
David arrived later in the day. One of the first things he did, after a perfunctory hello to his grandfather and Elinor, was head to the kitchen to see his friend, the cook. He found her staring at the live turkey in its cage, a fowl cookbook in her hands. “Isabel, how are you, and what are you doing with a live turkey? Did they run out of prepped ones at the supermarket?”
Since Gramma Reasons had died five years before, Isabel had been the only person who had been kind to David. They offered each other mutual defense against their tyrannical overlord. David remembered a time a couple of years ago, when Isabel lashed out at him with a knife because a salad had been spoiled. When he realized that the reason for her outburst was fear of what his grandfather would do to her for spoiling the salad, David had tried to comfort her.
When she saw David, Isabel brightened. “Oh, David, it’s wonderful you’re home.” She hugged him. “What in the world am I going to do with this turkey?”
“I’ll bet my grandfather dumped it on you, didn’t he?”
“Well, he did bring it in and ask me to get it ready for the dinner tomorrow.”
“I’ll just bet he wasn’t that kind. Here, let me take it. I’ll let it go down by the river and pick you up another at Kroger’s—if they have any left, that is. Don’t worry; I’ll get you a dead one.”
David went back to the front of the house and found Sam and Elinor having coffee in the living room. “Grandfather, do you mind if I borrow the car for a couple of hours? I’d like to see a few friends before supper.”
“See that you take good care of it. No racing.”
“Are the keys on the hook by the side door?”
“Yes. Be back by six.”
“I will.” David scooped up the keys and the turkey and headed around the back to the garage. Fortunately, the De Ville had a large trunk and David was able to dump the turkey in there and get out of the driveway without anyone noticing.
He drove down to Scioto River—what memories flooded back. As a young boy, he would come to let the flowing water soothe the physical and mental hurts his grandfather had inflicted on him. God, how I wish I could get away from that old tyrant, he thought as he stared at the ripples coming around a tree stump that was stuck in the flow. Just maybe, he’ll die soon, or I’ll get accepted in ROTC and can tell him where to stick his money. He checked to make sure nobody was watching, took the cage out of the trunk of the car and let the turkey wander off into the bushes along the shore. I guess some lucky fox will have a good meal, he thought as he climbed into the Caddy and headed for Kroger’s.
After picking up a 25-pound turkey, David thought he might call on a couple of friends before heading back for dinner. I haven’t seen Julia since the summer, he thought. I wonder if she’s still interested, or has that damn Fred Blackburn taken her? He pulled up in the Caddy and rapped on Julia’s door. It was Wednesday afternoon, and he expected her to be at school, so he was surprised when she answered the door.
“David, why didn’t you call? It’s good to see you, but I’m kind of busy.”
Oh, shit, he thought. She’s probably got Blackburn over. “Sorry, Julia, I was just passing through and thought I’d call in. I missed you.”
“I missed you too, but I gotta go. Mom’s got a whole lot of jobs for me for the big day tomorrow.”
Maybe he’s not there, he thought. “I’ll see ya—probably at Christmas.”
“That’d be great.”
David got home and convinced his grandfather to let him invite one or two friends over for Thanksgiving. He called about four, but got nothing but excuses. Apparently he was not the only one who did not want to be near his grandfather.
David hung around, watched football, and read most of Thanksgiving Day. He got a lot of praise from Isabel about the turkey, but spoke only briefly with Sam and Elinor. Strange how they insisted I come, but don’t even want me around after I get here, he thought. Guess they only wanted the show of having me around when the Dean came.
About four, Sam found David and admonished him, “Be sure to wear a suit and tie to dinner, and shine up your shoes. This man is important to your future.”
Jesus, he hasn’t changed at all, David said to himself. Still the bully. As if they didn’t make me shine my shoes at school. Old prick. “I know how to dress properly, Grandfather. By the way, none of my friends are coming to dinner.”
“Fine—be down in the living room at five sharp.”
Dean Jacobs and his wife Elsie arrived about five thirty. Although David had lots of booze at school, nothing was served him—except soda—for before-dinner drinks. Sam and the dean took their bourbons to the library and left David with the ladies.
After a few words of welcome from David and Elinor and talk about each others’ doings, Elsie asked David, “Well, David, why did you choose Michigan over OSU?”
It sure didn’t take her long to figure this family out, he thought. “Ummm…I don’t know. I think you have the best PolySci program.”
“Yes, we’re very good. But OSU is in your home town.”
Elinor interjected, “Well, David is used to being away at school. He loves the freedom.”
“Yes, at some point it’s important for young men to get out on their own,” Elsie agreed.
At this point the two men returned from the library. “I believe cook has our dinner ready,” Sam announced. “We’ll go into the dining room now.”
As they trooped across the hall, Elsie said to herself, No wonder he wants to come to Michigan. “Elinor, you’ve done a beautiful job decorating the dining room. It seems so intimate.”
“Thank you, Elsie. We just had contractors in last month to redo the walls and floors. It’s quite nice.”
The table was set with a lavish feast—the turkey at the head of the table for Sam to carve. He directed everyone to their appropriate seats and asked Dean Jacobs to say grace. Isabel came out as soon as everyone was settled and poured the wine for the four seniors. Plates and vegetable dishes were passed. David thought, I think I’m going to be sick. How can the old bastard put on such a show?
“What a lovely turkey, Elinor,” Elsie remarked after taking her first bite, “so moist and flavorful. Where did you get it?”
Sam responded, “I got it live at Mosley’s out in Hilliard. Cook prepared it.”
It was all David could do to keep from laughing. Guess we fooled the old bastard, he said to himself. “Yes, and I helped Isabel kill and clean it. It was quite a job,” he lied.
When dinner was over, Sam took the seniors back to the living room and dismissed Isabel and David, who spent a happy hour cleaning up.
When they were comfortably seated and provided with after-dinner drinks, Sam asked the dean, “What do you think of my boy?”
You don’t even realize he’s not your boy, Dean Jacobs thought. “He seems like a fine lad. I’m sure he’ll do well at Michigan. Why isn’t he going to Ohio State?” He knew the answer, but wanted to test Sam—see if he had any clue as to what David felt.
Elinor answered, “Oh, you know, boys. They just have to break the apron strings.”
“Yes, getting away from Dublin to Virginia Military helped him grow more independent. I want an independent grandson—someone who’ll be a success.” He didn’t need to add, “like me,” for the Jacobses to realize how much self-aggrandizement Sam was portraying.
On Friday, an official looking envelope with a Washington return address arrived for David. Isabel got the mail as she usually did and brought it right to his room where he was packing to go back to Virginia.
As she was about to leave, David said, “Stay til I open it Isabel. It might be good news.” It was—his acceptance into ROTC at Michigan. He jumped up, ran over and gave Isabel a hug. “Look, the army wants me and will pay for my college. It really has been a great Thanksgiving.” David thought for a moment. “Isabel, please don’t tell them before I finish my year. I want to be able to tell Grampa where to stuff his money when I leave for school next fall.” Isabel smiled and nodded to David.
Written by John Whitaker, author of Dominance: South Africa. Stop into our online store and pick up a copy to find out more about David Reason and the adventures he embarks on!