Now, the sight of a roasted turkey, with no head, getting up and shaking a fist was weird enough. But watching it grab one of the nearby carving knives and taking a dueler’s stance took it to a whole new level of silliness.
Even before Uncle Nathan reached for the other carving knife, the rest of us automatically took several steps backwards, away from the table. We all knew what was coming and didn’t feel like getting caught in the middle of what was undoubtedly going to be a memorable battle. Man and roast bird saluted each other with their weapons, followed by each taking a dueling stance.
“I knew I should’ve left you in the oven for another ten minutes, you over-sized chicken,” Uncle Nathan grunted, while parrying an attack.
The turkey, unable to speak, merely flipped him the bird in return. Then it retreated across the table and waved its backside at him.
Looking properly offended, Uncle Nathan muttered, “Oooo… I’m going cram an onion the size of a bowling ball in you for that.”
Our intended dinner responded by making the ‘Bring it,’ gesture.
Leaping up onto the table Uncle Nathan rushed towards his opponent across the length of the table and their carving knives clashed once again.
For the next minute, man and dinner, battled across the table in a remarkably silly yet athletic duel, while managing to avoid knocking over candelabras or glasses, or even stepping on a plate or utensil.
I glanced over at Dr. Jack and my father who were both shaking there heads and trying to suppress smiles, as their wives gave each other resigned sighs. Meanwhile Joe and Darlene, who hang out with me at school, were both enjoying the spectacle as much as I was.
Finally, my mother steps forward and puts her hands on her hips. Then she yells, “No feet on the dinner table!”
Both bird and man freeze in mid-fight. The two of them stare at her for a moment and then take very guilty stances and point at each other. “He started it,” Uncle Nathan murmured, while his opponent took advantage of the moment to slap the knife out of his hand.
Immediately, our host, did a double-back flip off the table and retreated behind the nearby harp. His opponent beat its breast in triumph and leapt after him, waving its weapon angrily. Now began a game of cat and mouse, with Uncle Nathan using the harp as a shield. At first the roast bird, tried chasing him around the harp, then it tried to stab at him through the strings, which proved to be a mistake.
Uncle Nathan kicked the weapon out of its grip and then pushed the harp down on top of the bird. The strings of the harp sliced through the bird, leaving it carved in pieces on the floor.
Straightening up, Uncle Nathan looked at his handiwork and shook his head. “Wow, the guy at the butcher shop told this bird might be a little tough, and he wasn’t kidding. Okay, who wanted white meat?” he asked turning towards us.
Naturally no one spoke. We all just glared at him.
“Oh come on, how many times do you get to have dinner and a show?” he insisted.
At this point I saw the green mist slipping out from the remains of our ‘dinner’ and into the cuffs of his pants and knew what was really going on. Stepping over to where the harp lay I took a close look at the ‘remains’ and saw the that the bird had actually been made of foam, covered in latex and painted to look like a roast turkey skin.
“You didn’t get a turkey did you?” I said pointedly.
Uncle Nathan bowed his head and said, “They were all sold out by the time I got back this morning.”
“This morning?” I cried in disbelief. “Where were you?”
“I was out of town, sort of…” he began, when a loud boisterous voice, with a thick German accent, rang out from the area of the kitchen saying, “Happy Thanks-Pizza everyone!”
A moment later, a short stocky man with a graying beard and moustache appeared pushing a cart with the biggest pizza I’d ever seen on it. He was wearing a chef’s hat and moving around so quickly, it took me a moment to recognize him. His name was Professor Otto Hofstadter, and he was one of Uncle Nathan’s closest and oldest friends. They’d known each other for years, according to Uncle Nathan, but there was always something about the way he said it that had made me wonder if there was more that he was not telling me. But now was not the time to ask questions. Dinner had arrived and everyone was starving.
My mother shook her head as we all sat down around the table and said, “Well, it might not be a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, but at least we’ll all be eating well.”
“On the contrary, my dear,” the professor corrected as he and Uncle Nathan started serving huge pizza slices. “I made sure that we used turkey sausage as part of the toppings.”
“Oh well, that makes all the difference,” said Dr. Jack as he helped pass the food around to those farthest from the pie.
A part of me wanted to ask where they’d gotten an oven big enough to cook a pizza this size, but I decided not to. I was more interested in knowing where Uncle Nathan had been and what had kept him away all this time. The fact that Professor Hofstadter was with us, told me that an adventure had taken place in one of those strange places Uncle Nathan has always hinted at, but has never fully explained to me.
I decided there and then that I was going to keep a close eye on those two and maybe follow them if possible and see what they got up to when the next opportunity presented itself.