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They eDone Him Wrong: A Thanksgiving Mystery Short Story

IN THE November 21 ISSUE

FROM THE 2016 Articles,
andMysteryrat's Maze,
andTerrific Tales
SECTIONS

by Gail Farrelly

This story is one of 17 in the 2012 anthology, The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping, published by Untreed Reads. The book is also available from other places where ebooks are sold. There are three more KILLER anthologies, all published by Untreed Reads and all featuring fun stories about Thanksgiving crime.

74-year-old Uncle Jack would have survived Thanksgiving if only he had kept his big mouth shut. Why didn’t he just use it for eating instead of opening it wide and inserting his foot right into it?

It should have been a nice little family gathering for Thanksgiving. But Uncle Jack didn’t have a kind word to offer and annoyed just about everyone in the small party. In short, he yakked himself to death. food

This is a cautionary tale for anyone who is obnoxious and talks a lot. Read it and learn. I’ll give you all the details.

But first, let me introduce myself. My name is Kenny. I’m an electronic reader and I come from good stock. Royalty,

I would say. You see, my family is tops in the world of electronic readers.

Folks who think that electronic readers can’t talk, walk, or move objects are just plain wrong. Unbeknownst to our owners, we can do all of the above, but not when humans are around. Only when we are with “our own,” that is, fellow electronic readers, do our special powers work.

My home base of operations is a local library. But right now I’m on loan to one of the teenagers in the host house here. I’m glad to be at a home for Thanksgiving. The library can be lonely on a holiday.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program, Uncle Jack’s story. He had been in the house less than an hour when he had already insulted quite a few of the guests. He cautioned the hostess, Aunt Martha, to go easy on the pumpkin pie as she had “packed on a few pounds since the last holiday.” When forty-something cousin Elise (never married but eternally hopeful that she would be one day) arrived with date in tow, Uncle Jack had her squirming when he loudly whispered her good luck in “not letting this one off the hook.” And if that weren’t bad enough he added another whispered comment, “You’re not getting any younger, y’know.” pie

Uncle Jack, with a barely suppressed grin, complimented Uncle Gene on his new full toupee of voluminous jet-black
hair. “Quite natural looking, worth every penny you paid for it,” he said.

He even had the nerve to inquire of a young newlywed couple if there was a “bun in the oven yet.” Yikes!

But that was nothing in comparison to how he treated me. You’d think he would have a little respect for a machine, for Pete’s sake. I cringed when he picked me up from the coffee table and proceeded to play around with my various mechanisms. I hated the feel of his fat fingers. And his hands were sweaty. Talk about the client from hell!

“That’s the most famous, best-selling ereader in the world, Uncle Jack,” said one of the teenagers. Jack peered at me more closely.

His eyesight must have been pretty bad because he lifted me right up to his face – boy, his breath was bad – and proceeded to give his evaluation. “A piece of crap,” he boomed, nearly scaring poor 88-year-old Grandpa (who was trying out a new hearing aid) to death.

Then Jack added, “Maybe spell crap with a K in this instance, y’know, considering the subject.” He laughed uproariously, as if this were the funniest joke ever. Then he went on, “I’ll take a plain old print book anytime over this electronic thingy.” I wished I could answer back, “And I’ll take a civil and gracious reader over a pig like you anytime.” But my lips were sealed, because in front of humans I can’t utter a word. In the interest of peace, probably a blessing.

But soon, thank goodness, he lost interest in me and placed me back on the coffee table. The guests wandered out to the balcony to get some fresh air and I was left alone with another electronic reader that somebody had left next to me on the coffee table. I was glad to have the opportunity to rant to a fellow electronic reader. Her name was Nora, a real cutie, clothed in a beautiful orange leather case, perfect for Thanksgiving. She’s a different brand than me, but she’s in my league. Definitely royalty. I was trying to calm down, but I could barely control my rage as I talked to Nora. “That Uncle Jack is the Thanksgiving guest from hell,” I ranted. “Someone should rid the earth of that guy permanently,” I added. “A pox on his house.”

Nora just laughed. “Why? Because he doesn’t like you?”

“Well not only that,” I sputtered. “He’s mean to just about everyone.”

“Oh, calm down, he’s not worth getting upset over,” Nora advised. But mark my words. Her tune changed a few minutes later when it was she who was under attack by obnoxious Uncle Jack.

Here’s what went down when the group returned from the terrace. Cousin Elise was foolish enough to ask Uncle Jack if he’d like to try out her new electronic reader that she had bought at a big-chain bookstore. Jack grabbed up poor little Nora, examined her closely, and then pawed her, just like he did me, with his big fat hands. He then put her down and told Elise, “No thanks.” Pointing an accusing finger first at Nora, then at me, he delivered his verdict. “Both of these electronic gizmos are junk,” he said.

Then he had the nerve to point again at Nora and add with a laugh, “But hey, if you want to find me some real-life nookie, I wouldn’t say no to THAT. Hey, I’ve always been a big fan of a little nookie.”

Several insults later, the group adjourned to the study, a huge room on the second floor of the house to watch an episode of the old Hawaii Five-0 show on the computer. Maybe it was just to find something that they could all focus on, while ignoring Uncle Jack and his boorish ways. I dunno.fireplace

Thank goodness the study was on the second floor of the house, which meant that Nora and me were left to our own devices. Literally. Whew!

Amway, now it was my turn to calm Nora down, as she complained, “Did you hear what that idiot said about me? About us actually. You were right. He doesn’t deserve to live.”

“Well,” I said with a smile, “let’s just join forces to get rid of him then. We can do it, I know we can. It’s men vs. machines, and I know the machines will triumph.”

“Think, think,” Nora said. “We only have about 45 minutes before they all come back down. How can we get rid of this guy?”

I had an idea. “We might be able to maneuver ourselves into his way and then trip him. Maybe he’d take a really bad spill and crack his head open or something.”

Nora was unimpressed.
“But that’s not certain enough. And besides, he might fall on top of one of us. We could get hurt. Not worth the risk.”

“Well, we can’t stab him or shoot him, because we have no power when humans are around.”

Nora answered, “There’s always poisoning. We can handle that. It’ll just take some planning.”

My memory went into overdrive. I said, “Hey, remember someone, I forget who, saying just a little while ago that Uncle Jack was allergic to peanuts. Violently allergic, they said. Even the tiniest peanut crumb could be fatal.”

Now we’re in business, I figured. Checking the inside of my black leather cover, I told Nora, “And it just so happens that I have a few very minute peanut crumbs stuck to the inside of my cover. Bless those sloppy library patrons. I knew they’d come in handy some day.”peanuts

Nora got the picture. “A few of those crumbs in Aunt Martha’s candied sweet potatoes should do the trick.” Eureka! Jack, after all, had already mentioned he was a big fan of those potatoes and would be grabbing up a huge portion.
Nora volunteered to do the deed. She said, “I’m younger than you and I can run faster.”

I watched her as she unfolded a pair of tiny little legs (shapely ones, I have to say) from her keyboard. I couldn’t help but think If only customers could see us now! Who said electronic readers are dull?

My daydreaming was cut short by Nora’s completing a flying leap down from the coffee table. She was as graceful as a ballerina.

Nora said, “Gimme a few peanut crumbs and I’ll dash to the kitchen right now. I’ll stick them in the candied sweet potatoes heating up in the oven.”

That’s exactly what she did. The plan worked like a charm. Who says electronic readers can’t work together?
Here’s what happened.

The family members came back downstairs and noticed nothing amiss. About twenty minutes later Aunt Martha called them all to the dining room table. They were ready. And so were we! pie

Thank goodness for those modern, open floor plans. From our perch on the coffee table in the living room area, Nora and I had a great vantage point as the action enfolded.

We watched as Uncle Jack and one of the teenaged girls reached for the dish of candied sweet potatoes at the same moment. A brief tug of war ensued. Uncle Jack rudely snatched the dish from the kid’s hands, saying. “Sorry little lady, me first.”

Then he said what turned out to be his last words, “You see, these potatoes are to die for.”

And you know what? He was right.

You can purchase a copy of the anthology this story is from either on Untreed Reads, or use the link below to purchase it from Amazon (if you have ad blocker on you may not see the link to Amazon):

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories (including more Thanksgiving ones) in our mystery section.

Gail Farrelly (Twitter: @gailfarrelly) writes mystery novels and short stories. She publishes satire at The Spoof. Her short stories are sold at Untreed Reads, on the Kindle, at iBooks, etc. Gail is working on more mysteries and a book of spoofs.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Elaine Faber November 22, 2016 at 8:03am

Great story. Love it when inanimate objects walk, talk and plot murder! Whaaaahhhaaa!!!!
A recent post from Elaine Faber: Christ the Redeemer Statue- Rio de JaneiroMy Profile

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2 Gail Farrelly
Twitter: @gailfarrelly
November 22, 2016 at 10:15am

Elaine,

Thanks for reading and commenting. Glad you enjoyed the story. Happy Thanksgiving!

Reply

3 Amy M. Reade
Twitter: @readeandwrite
November 22, 2016 at 1:23pm

I loved it! The thought that our electronics come to life while we’re not looking is irresistible. Great story. Have a happy Thanksgiving and be careful of marauding gadgets!

Reply

4 Doward Wilson November 22, 2016 at 1:38pm

Thanks for an entertaining & funny mystery!

Reply

5 Earl Staggs November 25, 2016 at 6:44am

What a fun and inventive story, Gail. All the same, I’m going to be careful what I say around my Kindle.

Reply

6 Gail Farrelly
Twitter: @gailfarrelly
November 25, 2016 at 1:31pm

Amy, Doward, and Earl,

Thx for commenting. Hope your Thanksgiving was happy.

Reply

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