A Taboo Words Words Contest Entry
|It was another backyard meeting of the family, no question, but it wasn’t like the parties of the past. Not for me, anyway. The uninformed had already knocked back a few, but I kept my wits. Most of them weren’t part of the equation, but I knew who was, and some hadn’t arrived. The woody smoke of the fire made me remember the past. It was being worked by one of the other family chefs. He’d put a pig on the spit, but it only interested me because the sweet smokey smell usually had my mouth watering. Not today... It would be hours until it was done, and the majority of the remainder of the menu hadn’t even been started. I was early on purpose. I needed answers and it was better to catch people individually. Someone in my family had done the unthinkable, and I was determined to find the truth.
My extended family didn’t just get together on holidays to feast, it went on from late spring until fall. It wasn’t just the usual backyard fare, either. It could be beef to oysters to spaghetti and meatballs. With all the trimming, of course. On this afternoon, the crabs boiling with potatoes and corn didn’t have quite the same effect on me. It was all tainted with the foul stench of betrayal. I didn’t intend to let it stand. Everyone who worked a spatula or spoon knew I wasn’t making anything that day. I made some lame excuse and said I’d brink drinks instead. Booze, of course, to loosen their lips. The questions I asked would seem mundane. There was no reason for anyone to care who had been at my place when I wasn’t home, or who had talked to my family. Why? We were just shooting the breeze! By the time everyone started filling plates and sitting to eat, I knew for certain.
“Well, this looks tasty!” I said as I added tangy coleslaw atop pulled pork.
“You know how good my slaw is…” My mother replied with a wink.
“Who made the pork?” I asked.
“I’m pretty sure I saw Jimmy bring it in,” She answered as we looked for seats.
The crowded yard had been raucous with laughter and loud voices, but was now much more subdued as bellies were filled with delightful edible creations. Most of them were the same fare we usually had, but now and then there was a surprise dish. Today, my surprise might be the biggest of all. I grabbed a seat on a bench across from Jimmy but quickly realized I’d forgotten to take my drink with me.
“Want a cold one, Uncle Mike?” Jimmy asked and held a bottle toward me that had already started to sweat.
“Not today,” I replied with a smile.
I retrieved my cup and bottle and grabbed a can of Coke from the ice chest. Sitting back down, I set the cup down and poured sour mash over ice, then added a splash of the cola.
“No, today is a good day for whiskey,” I said to Jimmy. “Want some?”
“Nah. I like a cold brew when I eat.”
I took a bite of the sandwich and exclaimed, “Whoa! This is good stuff!”
“You like?” Jimmy beamed. “I brought it!”
“Impressive. It damn near tastes like mine,” I said flatly.
The smile dropped from his face. “Well, that… that’s quite a compliment.”
“Is it?” I said and stared, “Didn’t you think I wouldn’t catch you?”
His face blanched. “I… I don’t know what you mean, Uncle Mike!”
“The hell you don’t!” I yelled.
I slammed the can of Coke down on the table spraying it all over. I stood up while everyone stopped eating and went silent. A couple of the bigger men stood as well. It wasn’t unheard of for our family to fight now and again.
“But you screwed up. When you snuck into my study to steal the recipe, you got the one handed down to me, not mine. See that Coke all over you? It’s the last ingredient. Just a splash makes the glaze sticky and sweet. A thief like you wouldn’t know about experimenting to make something better… or your own.” I paused and looked around at gawking faces. “Anyone who wants to learn how to make this right can come by my place next weekend and I’ll show you. It isn’t something you can learn from a piece of paper.”