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american gothic redux: sunday dinner
by robert a. melos
7.13.03
writing

Scott Crawford hated Sunday dinner, because it was the one dinner during the week he had to eat at home with his family. He glanced nervously at the wall clock and then around the dining room table at his grandparents, with whom he lived, Jean and Floyd, his Aunt Jo and cousins Tiffany and Heather, the sometimes bane of his teenage existence, and his cousin Trace, who rarely showed up for dinner. Trace’s mother and father always had other things to do on Sunday, so occasionally Trace would show up in hopes his grandfather would give him a few dollars for being a good grandson and showing up for dinner.

“So Scotty” Trace said. “How’s the team doing since Coach Redmond kicked?”

“Okay, I guess.” Scott replied. He hated being called Scotty by Trace. He didn’t mind when his grandparents did it, or his father or the rest of the family. It was just something that ticked him off about the oh-so-perfect Trace Williams.

“Scott dear, is everything all right?” Jean asked her grandson.

“Sure grandma. Why?”

“You seem as jumpy as a cat,” she said.

“Got a hot date?” Floyd asked.

“No granddad. But there is something I have to tell you. Well, tell everyone,” Scott began. “I spoke to my father, and he’s coming home.”

Jo smiled broadly as her father dropped his fork, and her mother gently rested her fork on the edge of the plate prongs down. Oh this is gonna be good, she thought. “Scott, that’s wonderful. I miss Chuck so much. I wish he would call me more often.”

“When did you speak with him?” Floyd asked. His tone was colder than he meant it to be, and he saw Scott pick up on it. “I just mean this is so sudden. We haven’t heard from your dad in years.”

“Well actually,” Scott said, hesitating for a moment, “dad and I have been talking regularly for the past couple of years.”

“Damn cell phones.” Floyd growled. “I knew no good would come from getting you one.”

“Dad,” Jo cautioned.

“Don’t "dad" me. New technology comes along, and then Chuck decides to come home.” Floyd threw his napkin on the table as if to emphasize his disgust with either technological advances or news of his son. “He’s not coming home here to mooch off of me, if he hasn’t changed his ways.

“No, he’s gonna stay at Uncle Toby’s for a while until he gets a place,” Scott reported. “Uncle Toby offered him a job and Dad’s going to take it.”

Floyd’s eyes flashed with anger. “That Wilmont family is interfering with us again.”

“Dad, they are Scott’s family too,” Jo reminded her father.

“You don’t have to remind me of that, Missy.” Floyd snapped. “My son was perfectly normal until he got mixed up with that Toby Wilmont, and that Wilmont girl.”

“Granddad, that girl was my mother,” Scott said, fighting back tears. “May I be excused?”

“No!” Floyd barked.

“Grandma?” Scott asked.

“Of course dear, but you haven’t eaten you dinner,” Jean said.

“I’m not hungry.”

“Good going dad,” Jo said after Scott left the room. “You had to go and take shots at Toby and Diane.”

“They were no damn good,” Floyd huffed. “If Chuck hadn’t fallen in with them he’d be a normal man, instead of a sissy.”

“Dad, Chuck is anything but a sissy,” Jo said. “Girls why don’t you go get in the car. We’ve got to leave now.”

Tiffany and Heather stood up. “It’s just getting good,” Heather said.

Tiffany hit her younger sister on the back of the head. “This is typical adult stuff,” she said. “They don’t want us to know about Uncle Chuck being gay.”

“Girls! Go!” Jo ordered. “I’ll be right out. I just want to say goodbye to Scott.”

“So granddad,” Trace said, placing his fork in the middle of his empty plate. “I was wondering if you had a few extra dollars you could spare?” He turned to his grandmother. “Great dinner, grandma. What’s for dessert?”

Jean was visibly fluster, but ever the consummate grandparent. “Come to the kitchen with me, Trace. I’ve got two kinds of pie for you. And bring some of those plates with you.”

Jo joined Scott on the back steps. “Don’t let your granddad get you down, kid.” She said, “He’s been like this for almost 20 years.”

“I know, but he’s talking about my parents,” Scott said. He rubbed his arm across his eyes and looked out toward the field behind the house.

“So when is your dad getting here?” Jo asked.

“Well, his flight landed about an hour ago, so he should be on his way.”

Jo’s eyes widened. “Really? Go get your cousin’s out of the car. We’re staying for dessert.”


ABOUT ROBERT A. MELOS

Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

more about robert a. melos

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