Thanksgiving - Maxine Phoenix


            (n) An annual national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal including turkey. The holiday commemorates a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims and usually depicts their alliance” with the Native Americans.


            It was not often that Kevin Kravitz found himself lying, let alone lying to his family. Let alone telling them the Thanksgiving turkey was indeed that, a turkey, when it was really his sister’s dog. It was quite a shame; Khan had been a good boy. Terrible name, mediocre villain—though Kate, his sister the diehard Trekkie,” would’ve hit him had Kevin expressed that fact—but a good boy, like most labs. Obedient. Roasted terrifically at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

            Kevin had planned to cook an actual, real live turkey for Thanksgiving. Actual actual, not chemicalized, processed, shelved, stocked, canned actual” like his mother’s cranberry sauce. Kevin killed and cooked the turkey, Kelly assembled the appetizer, Karl bought the dessert, and Kim made” the garnishes. Things would have gone according to plan and would not have ended with Kevin impaling Khan with the only pair of scissors he could find—and they were not lefty, typical—had his sister been home when she was supposed to. Sister home equaled car (Kevin’s inability to drive was apparently insignificant) equaled a way to get to the store and get the damn turkey. Getting the damn turkey equaled a pleased, pleasant, proud mother. Sadly, inability to get the damn turkey because there was not a car home because there was no sister home equaled blind, savage rage, only a little clouded by anxiety. Kevin knew it ended in a dead dog, bleeding on the basement linoleum. That is all he knew. His sister should have brought the car home early—then they would have had a thanksgiving feast and Khan, instead a feast of Khan. But there is always something.

            Kim, Kevin and Kelly’s mother, had always told her children never to give up. She once, in a period of extreme boredom, embroidered this on a throw pillow: If you make a mistake or simply have no idea what you’re doing, don’t give up. Improvise! Clearly this motto carried strongly in the morals of the Kravitz family.

            Nobody noticed the lack of Khan, who usually could be found snorting around the fringes of the table for crumbs, until the second course. Of course, most of the second course was Khan, so the piqued Kravitz interest in—appetite towards, one might say—the yellow lab would have happened either way.

            For the first course, they ate Kelly’s prepared vegan” salad. Karl, the father—but not necessarily the patriarchal figure of the Kravitz household—knew there was milk in that homemade dressing the instant he smelled it. Nobody fools Karl. The general blood pressure spiked only once, at the mention of Kelly’s girlfriend, Samantha. A reassuring anecdote from Kevin concerning his girlfriend of approximately eleven days, Lisa, lowered all blood pressures back to normal.

            Great salad. You wouldn’t have even known it was vegan!”

            Most are—it’s just the dressing. You know, dairy and all. Egg. Honey.”


            Mm.” Kelly raised an eyebrow at her father. Well. This is homemade. It’s vegan.”

            The second course was simple: mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus and artichokes, stuffing, and the golden, perfectly cooked turkey” with gravy on the side.

            Where’s Fido? I haven’t seen him crumb-hunting lately.”

            Kelly frowned. It’s Khan, dad. Fido was our fourth dog, and she got hit by a car. Remember?”

            Gulping down his wine, Karl did not answer. They had had one brief, dogless month thanks to him and the late night accident.” Once the kids finally left, there would be years and years of bliss—until Kim would decide she needed something else to raise, mother, ruin.

            Khan is downstairs in his playpen. I locked him up,” Kim chimed in.


            Yes, darling. Surprising?”

            “We’d have usually heard him scratching away by now. Ruining the door, as usual.

            We sent him to the correctional facility to fix that. You sent him, remember?”

            Two more eyebrows raised, one from each Kravitz woman, and Karl’s wine glass soon emptied. This lack of Khan was nice, though, he thought. Silent, dry; nothing to feel guilty about. The Lack of Khan. That would’ve saved Spock.

            Almost time for the turkey!”

            Kevin, forgotten in the corner-window-seat, straightened up. Ah,” he started, grinning at the plump bird” in the centre of the table. Ah, yes. What would Thanksgiving be without turkey?”

            Who wants to cut it?”

            Kelly made a face, turning away, and passed the knife down to her father.

            Did they have turkeys back in the day?” Kim asked eagerly.

            Yes, Kim,” Karl said, failing at a passive-aggressive tone and coming across too forgiving.

            Well, I didn’t mean—I meant, did they eat them this same way?”

            Yes, Kim, with Costco-brand cranberry sauce, cheap wine, acorn-patterned napkins, and proper silver cutlery, all by an incredibly unstable family in matching sweaters.

            Yes, Kim.”

            Sure, mom.”

            You guys make me feel stupid.” Kim’s turn to deplete her wine glass; she was more adept than her husband at it. Years of practice.

            I imagine,” Kevin drawled, tugging his sweater sleeves down a little (there were still some blood spatters on his wrists and forearms), that they didn’t always eat turkeys, per se.”

            You mean they celebrated with chickens or pigs?”

            Pork was big back then.”

            I’m glad we’re not serving—”

            Or other animals.”

            Like what? Horses?”

            No, no.”


            No. Imagine—imagine if they ate their domesticated animals.”

            That’s ridiculous, Kevin. You mean cats and dogs? Pets? Were there such things as pets back in the old days?”

            Giving his parents a charming smile, Kevin paused before responding.

            What if they ate their dogs? That is, if they had dogs. You’re right. There probably weren’t pets, and I suppose they didn’t get a new dog each year like we do.”

            Dogs! Dogs and cats for Thanksgiving. Those pilgrims, oh.” Karl and Kim laughed together, shaking their heads.

            They did not eat their dogs, Kevin,” Kelly snapped, looking up from her phone. Kevin, in his little corner window seat, raised his eyebrows in the typical Kravitz fashion. Oh, but no. Of course they didn’t. Americans are more civilized than that. We’ve always been more civilized. Look at us.”

            Model of American Societal Perfection: Karl picked his teeth with the seafood fork—the little one” as he liked to call it; Kim de-watered her water with the flask hidden in her sleeve, still laughing; Kelly, not laughing in the slightest, broke up with her girlfriend via text under the table. Kevin, grinning, hands folded under his chin, watched his family with curiosity.

            The Kravitzes carved their turkey” and ate every last bit of it, Kelly finally verbalizing her renunciation from veganism after sneaking a bite when nobody looked. Kevin Kravitz, fourteen-year-old psychopath, learned that he could now lie to his family and get away with it. So it began.