Trevor balanced the casserole dish in his left hand, using the right to ring the doorbell. He heard the chiming from deep in the house, followed by barking and yelling. The door was pulled open by his statuesque sister-in-law. She had her Rottweiler pinched between her calves and smiled.
“Hey, sorry, come on in, he’s a little crazy today for some reason”
“Probably the turkey smells, thanks Kate” Trevor said, stepping inside and handing the dish into Kate’s outstretched, manicured hands.
“Mmm, these potatoes smell delicious Trev. Go on through, Nick is watching the game with your Dad. I’ll just pop this in the kitchen.”
“Can I help you with anything?”
“No no, go ahead,” Kate smiled, heading towards the kitchen with the barrel-chested Rottweiler at her heels.
Trevor wandered into the hunting-lodge style living room to join his brother and father.
“Hey Trev, beer’s in the cooler on the porch. Patriots are up by two. Don’t let Frankie out when you open the door,” Nick greeted his brother, not moving from the plush leather couch.
“Hey, Thanks,” Trevor said, grabbing a chilled beer from the red cooler.
Trevor waved at his Dad, whose eyes were glued to the television. His Dad waved back, that mere acknowledgement and second not watching the game his way of showing affection. Trevor sat down with his cold bottle. The couch seemed to sigh as he settled his weight into it.
“Happy Thanksgiving,” Nick clinked bottles with Trevor and they sat watching the game for a few minutes in silence.
At half time, Nick turned to Trevor, “Where’s Jenna?”
“She’s at home, she’s just not comfortable with Frankie yet,” Trevor said, watching the bikini models advertise the truck on television.
“Ah well, she’ll come around. Kate did. She’ll’ see what a big softie he can be.”
The Rottweiler bounded into the livingroom, his massive paws on Nick’s knees in an effort to lick his face.
“Speaking of softies,” Trevor joked and their Dad gave a dry laugh that turned into a wracking cough.
“Dinner’s ready, folks!” Kate called from the kitchen.
Trevor headed towards the formal dining room, Nick’s teenage boys already seated and munching on warm rolls.
“Hey Uncle Trev, when’d ya get here?” the younger one, Will, asked.
“Hey guys. Not too long ago. How’s school going?”
“Good, I’ve been off this week though. Frankie bit me and it got infected,” Will said, wide eyes darting to the kitchen.
Trevor looked startled, “What? Your Dad never said. Why’d he bite you?”
“Mom’s got him on a new diet or something that makes him grumpy,” Will answered, his brother kicking him under the table.
“I’m sorry that happened bud,” Trevor said. He heard a crash from the kitchen followed by growling and he hurried towards the sounds.
“Frankie, it’s ok. We’re all gonna eat together now,” Kate’s soothing voice reached Trevor as he rounded the corner.
Kate was backed against the butcher block island, her hands out in front of her in a placating gesture.
Trevor moved to where Nick lay, face down on the tile. He had a bruise swelling up on his temple, but his chest was rising and falling rhythmically.
“Good boy, Leo,” Trevor whispered to the rottie, who stood over Nick in a protective stance. Reassurred about Nick, Trevor turned to his youngest brother.
“Frankie, good to see ya buddy. What’s going on?” Trevor smiled, creeping in front of Kate.
“I won’t eat in the basement today,” Frankie said in his soft monotone, cocking his head to the side as his dull gray eyes roved the kitchen. His cargo shorts were ripped and his thumbs stuck through holes in the arms of his sweater.
“You’ll eat right now, with us,” Trevor said, his tone even.
Frankie focused on Trevor, loosening his grip on the baseball bat in his hand.
“That’s it, give me the bat,” Trevor said.
“Eat now? Everyone?” Frankie asked, his eyebrows crooked.
“Sure, bud,” Trevor started forward as his Dad walked in.
“Frankie, what the hell?” He roared, his voice raspy from a lifetime of smoking cigars. Startled, Frankie turned, swinging the bat.
The wood connected with the old man’s skull and he crumpled to the ground.
“No!” Kate screamed and Leo lunged forward, his teeth clamping onto Frankie’s calf.
Frankie kicked out and the dog hit the kitchen wall with a crash and a whimper.
The sounds brought Nick’s sons into the kitchen, their eyes wide as they took in the violent scene.
Frankie lurched to the side, grabbing Kate by the hair and dragging her backward a few feet. Getting out of the way, Will ran towards the front hall.
“Too much trouble. Too much noise. I won’t eat in the basement today,” Frankie kept muttering, his motions jerky and frantic.
Trevor spoke in soothing tones, trying to keep pace as Frankie edged towards the front door, his meaty hand around Kate’s throat as she struggled. Suddenly, Frankie’s eyes widened and he dropped Kate. He looked down in shock at the fire poker sticking out of his stomach.
“Dinner time?” He asked, confused, as he fell forwards. Will stood behind him, his small, bloody hands held out in front of him.