“It’s pretty late notice,” JJ’s brother Brian said.
“It’s three weeks from now,” JJ said.
“These things are planned months ahead. And it’s two weeks from now.”
“You haven’t even been out to see the place. The girls will love it.”
“I’m sure they will but it’s not easy to change plans like this.”
“You just said you didn’t have any real plans.”
“I have to talk to Jane,” Brian said. “She wants to serve the meal at the shelter.”
“Plus, Kari and the boys are coming. I saw them at a soccer game.”
“I thought they were going to the Cape.”
“No Cape. Betty and Barry are going on a cruise,” JJ said. “I actually sent them on the cruise.”
“Over Thanksgiving? How did they agree to that?”
“I said I booked it for myself and a friend but that fell through and they could take it or leave it.”
“Brilliant. But, wait, were you really going with someone?”
JJ paused. “No, it was a whim. But then it seemed perfect for getting Betty and Barry away from us for Thanksgiving.”
“Are you still seeing that girl? Lily? Lori?”
“Lila. No. It looked like we might get back together but then a deer got impaled and that seemed a bad sign.”
“Umm…ok. Well, I’ll talk to Jane but I’m leaning towards coming out.”
“Do you know how to cook a turkey?”
“Turkey? Don’t you have ham on Thanksgiving? Or lasagna? Just like the pilgrims.”
“This oughta be interesting,” Brian said. “I’ll text you later after I confirm with Jane.”
JJ hung up and looked out the window and down the hill toward the road then up to the hills across the valley. The leaves were all down and things were revealed, the bones of the earth picked clean and exposed, cold and gray. William Bradford, a real-life pilgrim, once said of the New England fall, “All things stand in appearance with a weatherbeaten face, and the whole country full of woods and thickets represented a wild and savage hue.” JJ liked those pious badass Pilgrims and their savage new world.
He dialed the phone and asked Carl, “How do you cook a turkey?”
“It’s gotta be dead first.”
“I’m having Thanksgiving.”
“We’ll come over and help you.”
“Both of you?”
“Yup. We’ll be there at 8:00 to start cooking,” Carl said. “That’s 8:00 in the morning.”
“No shit,” said JJ. “But were you invited? I don’t recall…”
“No. But that doesn’t matter. We’ll go shopping next week.”
“Ok,” JJ said and hung up. He stood and looked out the window. He felt like he was on his own pilgrimage, navigating a new world of family and friends who actually wanted to be with him. But he couldn’t shake the feeling of something lurking in the thickets, some savage, some Wampanoag maybe, ready to strike with spear or arrow.
The other shoe, ready to drop.