“Happy Thanksgiving.” The TV is in a commercial. “What are you watching?”
“Oh, it’s that Glenn Beck on Headline News. Your grandmother says, ‘I don’t know why you watch that asshole, you know he just winds up pissing you off,’ but I guess I can’t help myself.” He takes a drink from a little bottle of water. “It’s a good thing I don’t get out much anymore, because if I ever saw the son of a bitch I’d slit his throat ear to ear and string him up in the garage by his ankles and bleed him out like a deer.” I laugh at how he seems to mean every word of it. He smiles. “Your grandmother loves to hear me talk like that.”
“How have you been getting along?”
“I’ve felt all right the last few days. How’s school goin’?”
“Good. Very good. I’m taking a film class in the spring. I don’t need it for anything, but it sounds interesting and it’ll give me something to do on Friday morning.”
“What movies are you gonna watch in the class?”
“I have no idea. Maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll show The Outlaw Josey Wales.”
He chuckles. “I must’a seen that movie a hundred times, and I never tire of it.” He parts the curtains and looks outside. “Who’s this comin’ up the driveway?”
I get up and look out the window. “Pap, it’s your lucky day.” I clap my hand against his shoulder. “That’s Glenn Beck walking up on your porch.”
“No shit, I believe it is!” He pulls a .44 from underneath the newspaper folded on the table next to him and swivels his chair to face the front door. “When he knocks on that door, open up and stand back.”
“Why do you have a pistol right next to your chair?”
“I’ve got ‘em hid all over the house. Never know when you’ll have to do some killin’.”
Glenn Beck knocks on the door and I open it. Glenn Beck steps inside. “Happy Thanksgiving! Can I interest you in a subscription to Fusion Magazine?”
“You’d be Glenn Beck.”
He looks at Pap. “Yes sir.”
“You like going on TV in front of the whole country every night and actin’ like a total shithead?”
Glenn Beck shrugs. “It’s a living.”
“Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’, boy.” Pap shoots him through the throat.
Pap puts the .44 back under the newspaper and stands up. He looks down at the crying, wheezing, bleeding body of Glenn Beck. “Not ear to ear, exactly, but close enough for government work.” He leans down and grabs Glenn Beck’s feet. “Get his arms there, Stevie. Watch you don’t mess up your clothes.” I start toward the dining room. “No, no, no, don’t take him out that way. We’ll take him out on the porch and around front into the garage. Otherwise he’ll bleed all over the carpet and your Granny’ll have a fit.”
We carry him into the garage. Pap pushes a meat hook through both ankles behind the Achilles tendon and hangs him from the ceiling. Pap digs a pair of scissors out of a drawer in his workbench and hands them to me. “Here, cut his clothes off while I hunt for my dressing knife.” I pull the bloody jacket and shirt off of Glenn Beck’s torso, then snip off his pants and underwear so that he dangles naked from the hook. Pap slides an oil pan under him to catch the rest of the blood.
Pap finds his knife. He grabs Glenn Beck’s penis and testicles in his fist and hacks them off with one swipe, tosses them in the oil pan. “Ooooooh! Fun’s over, Glenn.” Pap slits Glenn Beck’s belly open from the bottom of his rib cage up to his anus and pulls the entrails out into the oil pan. “Smell that?” Pap looks at me and sniffs the air. “He’s fulla shit, like I always said he was.” Pap reaches behind the workbench and comes back with a hatchet. “Hold his arm up on the workbench, Stevie.” I take Glenn Beck’s right hand and hold his arm across the top of the workbench. “Watch your fingers.” Pap severs the hand with a swing of the hatchet. “Now the other one.” I do the same with the left hand, and Pap chops it off, as well. Pap takes both hands and tosses them in the overfull oil pan. He leans over and shouts to Glenn Beck’s bloodless face. “There you go, boy, use your stubs! Go on TV and make stupid, unfunny jokes with your stubs!”
The kitchen door opens and Granny peeks out. “Come in and get washed up now, fellas. We’re eatin’ before too long.”
Pap wipes his hands off on a rag and tosses the rag on the workbench. “Come on, we can clean this up after we eat.” I follow him into the house. I go into the bathroom first and wash my hands. I come out and Pap walks in. He starts to kick the door closed with his foot.
“Hey Pap? Hang on a second.”
“What is it, buddy?”
“I know this is all just a dream, and I feel like I’m going to wake up soon. So, while this is all still real I just wanted to tell you . . . I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad I got to see you today, and even if we hadn’t just murdered and gutted and mutilated Glenn Beck in your garage, it would have been one of the best days of my life.”
“And I’m glad you didn’t die. And that you’re here to see me go to school. And have Thanksgiving with us.”
“Me, too.” He withdraws into the bathroom and closes the door. I feel all the blood in my body drop into my feet. I step forward and open the bathroom door. He’s gone.
--- --- ---
Tomorrow afternoon around two or three I’ll drive to Granny’s house to pick her up. We’ll go back to Clear Spring to have dinner with the rest of our little corner of the family. Dad, Mom, Danny will be there. Ashley will be, too. We’re having Cornish hens this year, along with all the old standards – mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, spiced apples, dried corn, and stuffing, which Pap called “filling.” It’ll be the third year we’ve had Thanksgiving at Mom and Dad’s. The first year Granny said she was sorry, but she just couldn’t stand the thought of that empty chair at the head of the table.