Family Reunion

Submitted into Contest #114 in response to: Write a story that involves sabotage.... view prompt

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Contemporary Funny

1,515 words

Lesley Frost 

lesleyfrost0@gmail.com

FAMILY REUNION.

I steel myself as I walk into my aunt’s house for another family reunion. As I suspected, there’s no sign of my brother. How dos he always weasel out of these affairs? Everyone else is here in their usual tidy, little groups. Right, here I go. First, a big smile all round and then a quick slide through the hugs and beery kisses from the uncles. Dad is in the middle of them, as usual, probably expounding on the latest soccer match. Oh Lord, he’s wearing a blazer and his regimental tie and the rest of them are in their shirtsleeves. And he’s drinking his beer from a glass.  

“HI, Dad. How is everyone?” A quick shoulder pat and peck on top of my head from Dad followed by, “Your mother is in the kitchen.” 

I rub the beer smears from my face and like a good little woman in training, exit stage right. Here they are, the denizens of the kitchen, purveyors of gossip and food. Unless that is, unless

they are herding their offspring towards matrimony. I am just in time to watch my mother plate a fancy and obviously expensive cake. 

“Lovely, Fay” my Aunt Bee says. “That took some effort.”

My mother laughs. “Now, Bee, you know I would never make such a thing. Far too much work. How are you dear?” she turns to me and kisses the air beside my cheek. “Have you seen Suzanna’s new friend?”

An unsubtle jab at my single status and a cue to depart and check out my “holier-than-thou” cousin and her latest conquest. They are setting the dining room table. Well, he’s presentable, all buttoned up and in a suit and tie.  

“This is Ron,” Suzanna says staring hard at me..”We met at Bible study.”  

Of course you did, I say silently. “And,” she continues. “We only meet there, or with our families.” That’s a warning, that he is a member of the “hands off before marriage club.” If only he knew about party girl Suzanna, the one my aunt swept, with the rest of her brood, into the evangelical fold. Or maybe that’s why she did the sweeping? Now the pair of them are vying for who can praise the Lord more fervently for bringing them together. It’s hard to smile when you want to throw up, so I turn to leave.

“Ron, dear,” I hear behind my back. “Finish here please. I need a word with my cousin.” 

Suzanna slithers next me as I reach her brother Jon, and our cousin Eve, lounging on the living room couch. Looking at the size of Jon’s pupil’s I can see that he has found a way to cope with the evening, and Eve, as fidgety as always, is checking her watch. Before I can open my mouth, Suzanna leans over Eve and quietly says something. Jon starts giggling. Judging by the panic on Eve’s face, Suzanna has delivered a serious blow. Eve shrinks back, and tries to climb inside the couch cushions, as Suzanna tosses her blonde curls aside and glides, triumphant, back to the dining room. I really hate it when she does that.

“Eve,” I say, sitting beside her. “What did she say to you?”

Jon is giggling louder now. “Evie has a secret beau.”

“So?” I ask looking at Evie. 

“He’s,” Jon gasps as Eve, with surprising speed, slaps her hand over his mouth.  

“Shh, no,” Evie whispers, glancing at the uncles on the other side of the room. “Please,” and she really is pleading. “I don’t want anyone to know.”

“Too late,” Jon says, peeling her hand away. “Suzanna knows. I heard what she said to you.”

“What about him?” I ask. Eve shrinks even further into the cushions.  I wait and hold my tongue, having learned, from a short stint as a dog walker, that patience is the only way to get a nervous animal to trust you. Jon manages to lever himself up from the couch and liberates three bottles of beer from the uncles. He hands one to Eve, one to me, and resumes his former couch slouch.

Eve takes quick, tiny sips, coughs, blinks rapidly, sniffs, and rubs her face.  

“Eve,” my stock of patience is done. I lean close and say quietly. “You know I would love to stop Suzanna playing Miss Goody Two Shoes. What does she know?”

Eve takes a deep breath. “He’s getting a divorce.”

“Well, he’s married right now,” Suzanna hisses. Eve drops her beer and I get whiplash, checking for the source of that sneaky voice that crept up on us. “It’s wrong, Eve. You know it is and if you leave early tonight to meet him, I will tell your parents.”  

Suzanna folds her arms, and stares down at Eve who slips onto her knees to stop her beer from pooling on the carpet. Oh, Suzanna I think, prepare for your fall. I stand and face her.

“Really, Suzie,” I say, deliberately using the diminutive that she hates. “You will tell Eve’s parents, will you?” She nods and I sigh loudly. “Then I guess that we should tell Ron about Brighton.” 

“Oh,” Eve sits down abruptly on the wet carpet, her hand over her mouth.

“Ha,” Jon laughs out loud. “And we all know that story, because we were there.”

“No,” Suzanna cries and stamps her foot. “Nothing happened. I don’t remember it all, but I know nothing happened.”

Ron is frowning as he joins us. Suzanna turns to him, all sugar and spice. “Ron, be a dear and help my mother get the food to the dining room.” He hesitates. “I’ll be right there.”

We remain silent until Ron has left.  

“We were all drunk,” Suzanne practically spits at us. “And you were smoking pot. You can’t know that it was me. It’s just a story and saying it was me is a lie.”

“Just a story?” I say sweetly. “I seem to remember that the party host, Benny, was taking pictures.” 

I look at Jon who still has enough operational brain cells to follow my lead. “Yes” he agrees, then, bless his spacey grin, adds. “Benny was showing them around in the pub last week. The face is a bit blurred, but you can see a smashing strip tease in progress.”

“See,” Suzanna cries. “There’s no proof who it was.”

Good boy Ron is back again. “They’re not ready yet.” he says.

“Ron,” Jon, who is now on a role, grins at him. “You know Benny, don’t you? His parents have that run down place in Brighton. He has great parties there doesn’t he?’”

“Well, he is a cousin,” Ron replies, “I don’t hang out with him.” He stands a little straighter and sniffs before adding. “You know, of course, that he’s banned from using the Brighton house. There was some drunken party with a strip tease and the neighbors called the police.”

“Were you there?” I ask, although I know the answer.

“No, no,” he replies. “I would never go to his parties and I don’t want to know about them.” His mouth puckers and he adds. “Benny insisted on telling me because he wants to find the girl who did the strip tease. He thought it might be you.” He is looking at me, as one might look at roadkill.

“Me?” I start laughing. “I was the designated driver for that one. Sober as the proverbial judge.”

“Then you can tell Benny who it was,” Ron huffs.

“I guess I could tell,” I say, sweetly. “Wouldn’t you like to know who it was?”  

“I have no interest in knowing anyone who would behave like that.”  

We all look at a wild eyed Suzanna who breaks the “hands off” rule, and grabs Ron’s arm. “They have to be ready now,” she squeaks and drags him back to the kitchen.

“I think you can leave whenever you like,” I say to Eve as I help her up from the wet carpet.  

“And,” Jon adds. “This calls for liberating one of the larger bottles from the uncles and toasting Benny and designated drivers.”

Several glasses of a nicely chilled Chablis smooth my path through dinner, in spite of one uncle progressively listing to starboard and immobilizing my left arm. Jon, on my other side, is whispering something about making an exit to find another smoke, when my Dad decides to propose a toast. Swinging his arm, to invite us all to stand, he catches Mother as she is putting her cake on the table. Mother, in reflexive self defense, pulls back and releases the cake which proceeds onward, upending the flower arrangement before joining Aunt Bee’s jello mold in a death embrace.

“Perfect cover,” I whisper to Jon, as I push my uncle into a temporary upright position.  We signal to Eve and, as the three of us leave, I blow a kiss my “holier-than-thou” cousin and her latest conquest. The rest of the evening was just as satisfying.

October 03, 2021 14:56

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