~ A GUEST HOLIDAY STORY ~
“WHEW!” gasped Terrence. “I made it!” Another Thanksgiving has moved on.
He gazed around Strongbow’s Turkey Farm. “There’s Mack, and Lou . . . Carl . . . Robert.” Near the back fence, he saw “Larry . . . Scott . . .Paul. And, there’s Brian and Harold.”
Terrence asked, “GOBBLE? How are you doing, guys?”
Under a clump of low-flung trees, “Buck. . .Jim. . .Nathan. GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE. Good to see you.”
Terrence peered in the direction of a long row of feeders. That’s where he could always find Stan, Sam and Steve. The three Turks!
“GOBBLE GOBBLE, GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE. No use to really look,” he muttered to himself.
“GOBBLE. They’re all gone.” A tear crept from his eye, onto his bright red comb.
After living five years on the famous Valparaiso, Indiana, farm, he knew how fortunate he was. To still be there. Alive.
Not fully dressed (de-feathered). Wrapped tightly in that special plastic cover, and laid inside one of the huge freezer rooms in the “processing” building.
Waiting to be carried across the road to Strongbow’s award-winning restaurant. Then, placed in Chef Louis’s hands for roasting. Or, sold to a private customer. For home cooking!
GOBBLE! GOBBLE! A shiver ran through his body. All the way down to his knobby knees.
He stared across U. S. Highway 30. He could see the lit windows of Strongbow Turkey Inn.1
He saw Chef Louis and his assistant, Alphonso, moving around. “What are they doing? Thanksgiving has passed.”
Truthfully? Terrence knew. After Thanksgiving, much work had to be done.
The dining rooms in the restaurant and Inn would still fill with people (diners). Traveling families stopping for a fine meal. Local people, celebrating late because of working on the holiday. Regular patrons and small groups, that ate a fine meal there every chance they got.
Terrence knew Chef Louis, by sight and voice. Often, the popular chef visited the fields where the Broad-breasted Bronze Turkeys grazed. Where they huddled closely together.
Sometimes, he brought Alphonso or Marie with him. Much of the time, he came alone. Talking with the turkeys as he wandered among them.
Whenever Chef Louis came by, Milan, the keeper, came out and walked along with him. Chef Louis did a lot of pointing. And, Milan said, “Yes! Perfect.”
“Good,” said the Chef, nodding his head up and down.
Weekends were always quiet on the farm. Especially, after a holiday.
Milan was gone with his family. Chef Louis, Alphonso, and Marie kept busy in the Inn across the road.
“GOBBLE! GOBBLE! GOBBLE! We can relax.” The turkeys reassured each other.
Unlike the other turkeys that came and went at the farm, Terrence never had to worry about such things. For that, he had become most grateful.
You see, he was no longer a young turkey. The turkey had passed his “prime.” A long time ago.
In fact, Terrence had become what some folks – what Chef Louis and Mr. Adams, a co-owner – called a “mascot.”
That meant he would never have to worry about losing all of his feathers, and staying in a freezer room. Until you know who – his Holy maker – came along, and did you know what!
He never had to worry about being roasted in a hot oven. Cut apart and sliced up. And served on a huge platter, or on beautiful China dinner plates. To complete strangers.
Terrence gazed in wonder at the night sky. It had turned a plush, velvet deep blue. Luminous and mystifying. Filled with stars that shone brightly. Winking and blinking.
And, the moon: the color of white corn. Lighting up the field in glorious splendor.
He crouched down by a peony bush and lowered his head.
“Thank you, God,” he prayed, “for sparing me all these years. For giving me this fine home, and corn and grain to eat. And so many fine friends and neighbors.
“Thank you for Chef Louis and Alphonso, and Marie. Milan, too.” He paused.
“Please bless my old friends that have moved on. And bless others with their robust meat and savory flavor.
“May we all give thanks, Heavenly Father. For your love and care. Amen.”
Terrence slept. Thankful as any old turkey could be!
1. Terrence” is a fictional turkey. Strongbow Turkey Inn and its farm were very real. Sadly, the restaurant, bakery and Bow Bar were closed on March 29 of 2015. Catering, holiday buffets and special events continue to be available. Since 2013, Strongbow’s owner has been Luke Oil Company, Hobart, Indiana.
2. Copyright © 2017. Sandra Stepler Hajtovik. All rights reserved. From: Table of Thanks and The Thankful Turkey, Copyright © 2016. SSH Communications. All rights reserved.