by James D. Witmer
I submitted this short story to Kazka Press for their 2012 science fiction anthology, At Year’s End. They were completely professional and extremely kind, but in the end they rejected it because they felt the ending was unsatisfying. I think I can see their point. My problem is that writing the ending made me laugh, so I’m reluctant to let it go.
I’ll probably just move on to another project, but tell me what you think: Disappointing ending, or hilarious twist?
Real Thanksgiving Turkeys
“I’m getting some eggs,” he said. “Real eggs, in the shell. Fertilized ones.”
It wasn’t worth answering, but I couldn’t help myself: “Where do you think you’re going to get them?”
“Across the border. Ten-hour drive, round trip. Easy.” He grinned, cocky.
“Don’t you miss meat? First they’re growing steaks in a dish, and everyone’s happy because real cows poop global warming. Then chickens, because they said it was too cruel, the way they were kept. Now we’re living like goddam vegans, because nobody can buy meat that didn’t congeal out of hormone soup!”
“Look, “ I told him, “Go to a restaurant, have a steak. Or chicken breasts. No one is going to kick you out of the community. Just get it out of your system.”
“I don’t want that garbage,” he scowled back. “ I want real meat, meat that used to be alive, and ate good food, like we do. I want turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.” He pointed at me. “And so do you, if you’re honest!”
I walked away. It wasn’t worth arguing with him.
But he did it. He drove away, and came back with ten turkey eggs in a warm lunch box. Eight hatched. We made him pen them away from the houses and gardens. When a skunk got in and killed two, we showed no sympathy. He was the one who wanted to do “real” farming.
He used his own money to buy their feed. He spent his own time moving the pen around so they could eat bugs and god-knows-what. They were his project, his problem, and his insanity.
But as the turkeys got bigger, and fatter, we kind of got used to the idea. I started to think maybe he was onto something. We already grew so much of our own food. Maybe we should consider husbandry.
When he decided to butcher two of the turkeys for Thanksgiving and proposed a big pot-luck dinner, nobody objected. I helped him butcher them. Ruined my shirt. He found directions for roasting in a cookbook somebody had from their grandmother, and we cheered him like a hero at Thanksgiving dinner.
It turns out that we had all missed eating meat. We decided we would re-learn the old ways. We would raise turkeys, and chickens, and maybe geese. We would eat well, and we would live well.
It’s 3:30 am, the night after, and I’m still awake, still thinking about it.
Man, food poisoning sucks.