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Frederick Needlemeyer reeked of mint jelly and pickled herring. Of all the Jewish schoolboys, he was the most chillingly awkward. His presence was so unwanted that even his dog adamantly refused to play fetch with the boy. His outwardly protruding nose lead to the conclusion from some people that he possessed a “big, dumb face.” In a twist of ironic fate, he was born with two right feet, which despite the stereotype that left feet are the most clumsy, having two right feet is just as difficult. His, gawky stare and klutzy demeanor compelled everyone that ever met him to avoid, insult, physically assault, or laugh at him every single encounter.
One night at the synagogue, after being berated by a group of adolescent peers, Frederick hung his head in shame and shuffled off into the woods. As he wandered aimlessly through the brush and weaved around the trees, he pondered ending it all. Suicide being the “hip” and “it” and “now” thing to perform, Frederick wanted some attention and perhaps some pity. But first he was going to consume one last meal. He exited the woods and went to “Harvey and Murray’s Delicatessen” to have his last bagel with whitefish, butter and red onions. Staring at his glorious sandwich, he decided to keep on living. Smiling wide, Frederick bit into his sandwich and swallowed the bite whole. Unfortunately, for the boy, there was a goy working in the kitchen that day that had forgotten to debone the whitefish. Frederick choked, turned a pale shade of purple, and died.
Fermenting in the cobwebs, Miranda’s last bottle of chardonnay was never drank. Busy with preparing her wedding and working two jobs, she did not have time to drink. Being that the marriage was nothing but the result of a shotgun wedding as she was pregnant, she did not have time to drink. Taking care of her baby when it was born, she did not have time to drink. Her child being autistic and requiring a great deal of attention and intense home-schooling, she did not have time to drink. Dealing with her abusive, infantile husband, her over-bearing mother, her mentally-handicapped child and her two jobs, Miranda did not have time to drink but she did not care anymore.
After a long day of work, coming home to be with her son, and being verbally knocked down by her husband, Miranda waited until everyone was asleep. She slipped into the basement and ripped the chardonnay bottle from it’s gossamer. She cracked her head back and chugged. She chugged for her job and her other job and her husband and her mother and her son but most of all, she chugged for herself. A loud noise came from her stomach and Miranda was not well. She crumbled to the ground and smacked her head hard on the concrete floor. Miranda had died.
The plants smelled like hot breath heaving inside of a rubber halloween mask. As Gill passed by, he thought back to halloween when he was ten years old. With spray-painted blue hair, a peace sign necklace, sandals minus socks, and a tie-dyed t-shirt, he dressed as a hippie. Trick-or-treating with a group of other youngsters they came to a house that was especially halloweeny. Dead skulls, pumpkins, and spiders were covering the lawn and there was a mannequin hanging by the neck from a tree.
Trick or treat!
Hey there kids, don’t you look scary?!
An obese man with a ponytail stood in his doorway and handed the ten year-olds clark bars. The kids all got there candy and left but Gill got his last and his friends had already started for the next house when the man asked,
Hey! Do you like video games?
I’ve got every kind of game you could imagine
in the basement.
Gill got past the plants and their smell and snapped out of his memories. As he crossed the street a car was coming too fast and smashed into him. The driver jumped out of his car and ran to Gill’s aid. It was the man from Gill’s childhood halloween memory. Gill screamed in anguish before perishing.
Celibate and quivering with longing, Sheena stood behind the counter at a flower shop and felt herself withering away with the flowers. Long greasy, stringy, hair, large hips, discount shoes, patchy blue vest, she stood emotionless behind the counter of this god-forsaken store. Her boss walked up and told her that this would be her last day. At 37 years old, she assumed she would be married with kids in a big house, but instead she was alone in her crappy little apartment and now she was unemployed. She jumped off of the roof of a skyscraper and is now deceased.
Fern Lowenthal was crushed by an air conditioner that fell out of the window of an apartment.
Amush was a young indian boy whose mother smothered him with a pillow while he slept because she couldn’t afford to feed him and herself.
Derek was a charity worker who was murdered by a schizophrenic man he attempted to help.
Shane drank turpentine after finding out that he had married his sister who had been separated from him at birth.
Lorraine was a battered child and later a battered wife. She died suddenly and painfully for reasons unknown to modern medicine.
Frederick, Miranda, Gill, Sheena, Fern, Amush, Derek, Shane, and Lorraine all sit around a dinner table in the afterlife with a celebratory turkey on Thanksgiving day, toasting to life’s wondrous hidden surprises.
The turkey’s name was Thurgood and he suffered to his last breath.