Dark Meat for the Family Ch. 01
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Dark Meat for the Family: A Thanksgiving Story
Sarah Barnett heard her son before she saw him. The staircase creaked and groaned as Tony lurched down from his room. Sarah smiled. Tony had only been away at college for 3 months but already the house had begun to feel empty and lonely. The familiar sounds of Tony descending the staircase made the house feel lived-in again.
As Tony entered the kitchen–disheveled and bleary-eyed–Sarah’s crystal blue eyes peered above her steaming mug of coffee and over her black, thick-rimmed glasses.
“Yeah, leave me alone.” Tony said with a chuckle.
“Wasn’t teasing or anything. Genuinely asking.”
“No you weren’t.”
An amicable silence overtook the kitchen for a few minutes as Tony shuffled around, pouring himself some coffee and then rummaging through the fridge.
“Well, I know you weren’t doing any underage drinking. But in case you didn’t sleep well, there is some gatorade in the back of the fridge. I also made a few extra eggs and left some toast out. I figured you and your friend Hunter would want to eat.”
“Thanks mom,” Tony said, grinning at her with a mix of appreciation and sheepishness.
He grabbed a gatorade in addition to his mug of coffee. Sitting down across the breakfast table from Sarah, he began alternating sips between the two drinks until a little bit of his humanity was restored.
“So, what’d you guys get up to last night?”
“Oh nothing much. A house party that a friend of a friend was hosting. Mostly went with the old crew from Highland Park. A few people brought their college friends. Typical stuff mostly.”
“Did Hunter have fun? Is he up yet?” Sarah asked distractedly, glancing at her wrist-watch.
Tony ran his hand through his messy brown hair and sighed.
“Hunter always has fun at these things,” he said with a cryptic laugh. “He didn’t come back last night if that explains anything.”
“Is he ok?” Sarah immediately blurted.
Tony just stared at her with half-dead eyes.
“Oh…I see. Well, do you know when he’ll be back?”
“That’s a very polite thing to do when you’re staying at someone’s house as a guest.” Sarah said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Yeah I mean, I guess it’s better than getting locked out of your dorm all the time because there’s a sock on the knob.”
“Does that happen a lot?”
“Have you said anything to him about it?”
“No,” Tony admitted sheepishly.
The two stared at each other in silence for a moment, Tony withering under the disapproving glare of his mother, Sarah trying to mask her disappointment.
“I guess it’s just like, if it happens to me, I’d want the same courtesy, you know?”
Sarah smiled sadly. Her heart broke a little bit for her son. It couldn’t be easy being a college freshman with a roommate who had sex all the time while you had none. It also wasn’t an easy thing to admit to one’s mother.
“Well, how has it been with him otherwise? You guys get along?”
“Yeah we get along great. We play video games together all the time and when he doesn’t have practice we play some pick-up together at the gym. I wouldn’t have brought him home if I didn’t like him. He got recruited to play basketball from out of state and didn’t want to go all the way back home and then back to campus in a few days, especially with the season starting soon. Too much of a hassle.”
“Alright well as long as you’re happy that’s what’s important.”
There was another silence at the table as the two went back to their activities. Sarah finished her toast and was scrolling through the New York Times on her ipad. Tony scrolled through TikTok on his phone while continuing to alternate sips between his gatorade and his coffee.
“Oh by the way,” Sarah interjected, forcing Tony to take his headphones out and listen to her, “your father got called away early this morning. A bridge went out on a mid-sized branch route about 2 hours north of town. It’s relatively small so he was hopeful he’ll be back by Thanksgiving dinner, but he’ll be gone for the next 24 hours at least. And I’m about to head into work. So you and Hunter are on your own today, understand?”
“Uh, so about that.”
“I ran into one of the old servers from Cafe Romano last night. Caitlin Talbot? Anyways, she was saying how they were super short staffed. So I talked to my manager and picked up a shift for tonight. Figured I could make a little spare cash for the rest of the semester. Didn’t realize dad wouldn’t be here.”
“How’s Caitlin Talbott?” Sarah asked with a smirk.
“She’s fine.” Tony responded defensively.
With a wry smile on her face, Sarah paused for a moment before responding.
“That’s fine, I suppose. You’re not really missing anything. Your sister has a red-eye back from California tonight and won’t be home till tomorrow morning. I guess I can just order almanbahis some pizza or take-out for me and Hunter? You think that’ll work ok for him?”
“For sure. He’s chill.”
“Alright. Well, give him my number just in case anything comes up, and we can coordinate dinner. I suppose you’ll be gone by the time I get home if you’re working a dinner shift?”
“Yeah, I start at 4. The old folks love their early-bird specials and Italian food, remember?”
Sarah laughed as she got up, tussling Tony’s hair in the process. After depositing her coffee mug and plate in the sink, she walked to the front hallway and examined herself in the full length mirror. At 48 she still looked good and she knew it. Sarah ran religiously and did weight training with some regularity to keep her muscles sculpted. She was the most proud of her legs and her butt, which she worked hard to keep firm and toned. And then there were her 36c breasts which added to her curvaceous figure without any intentional work on her part.
Unfortunately, all the men at Sarah’s law firm also thought she looked good. Both the junior associates, fresh out of law school, and the 70 year old partners who had been at the firm since before time, were not exactly subtle about the way they looked at her. Sarah’s response was to dress conservatively. Covering up the assets she worked so hard to maintain disappointed her but there was no other way to deal with the problem.
Sarah sighed as she straightened her knee-length black pencil skirt and tucked her beige, cashmere sweater into the waistband. The one thing Sarah refused to do was wear badly fitting clothes. So, the extent of her curves–both her tits and ass–were on display underneath her tight skirt and sweater, but that was it. There was not a hint of cleavage or nor any skin on her upper legs that was available for the men at the firm to ogle.
Donning her chic, black overcoat, and tossing her long, dark brown hair over her shoulder, Sarah called out to Tony from the hallway.
“Alright champ, I’m leaving! Enjoy having the day to yourself. Or at the very least, enjoy recovering without having your mom around to pester you. And I’ll see you tomorrow morning I guess?”
“Sounds good mom. Love you,” Tony said, getting up and coming to the hallway to kiss her on the cheek.
Sarah smiled. Despite going to college, the sweet boy she’d raised was still there.
“Make sure you give Hunter my number so we can coordinate on dinner,” Sarah said, as she walked out the door to her car.
“Will do!” Tony called.
Sarah’s head was bent over her desk. Papers were spread out everywhere and she was intensely working with her highlighter. All of her associates had left for the holiday, and there was no one left to do document review. If no one started review until after the holiday, Sarah wasn’t sure they’d have everything done in time for the filing deadline. So here she was, a partner, doing the work of a junior associate.
Reaching the end of her current page, she flipped it over and placed it facedown in the “done” pile and immediately began diving into the next page. Before she got very far, her phone buzzed underneath another pile of papers somewhere else on her desk, disrupting her intense focus.
Sarah lifted her head up, took off her glasses, and rubbed her eyes. The office was dark all around her. There was no light except her small desk lamp. Outside of her office, it was pitch black in the maze of cubicles that took up the majority of the floor. Everyone had left. The only light she noticed was her secretary’s. Sarah checked her watch–a rose gold Tiffany her husband had purchased for her on their 20th anniversary.
“Christ, it’s already 6:30?” she said to herself.
In the dark, Sarah began scrounging around on her desk to find her phone. She found it under a pile of files she’d marked with a sticky note “Send Out.” She had 12 unread emails, mostly just updates on cases and nothing urgent and 1 unread text from an unknown number.
“Hey Mrs. B. This is Hunter, Tony’s roommate. Just wanted to let you know I went out for a run, if you get home and I’m not here. Didn’t want you to think I was being rude again and not coming back to your house. I’m sorry about last night. I really appreciate you all hosting me for Thanksgiving and didn’t mean to cause any trouble.”
Sarah smiled. It was a polite text.
“No worries at all, Hunter. It wasn’t an inconvenience! I’m just finishing up at work now so will probably be home in half an hour. When we’re both back, we can figure out what to order for dinner. Sound good? P.S. Have a good run. There is a nice trail through the park at the bottom of the hill, near the entrance to our neighborhood. I run it myself when I have time.”
Sarah collapsed back in her chair and sighed. It had been a long day. With everyone leaving early for the holidays, a larger almanbahis giriş backlog of work than usual had made its way to her desk. The firm had a number of big cases coming up. She was the lead on some, and co-counsel on the others, but it increasingly felt like she was doing the lion’s share of everything. Instead of work getting easier after she’d made partner, it seemed like all of the other senior partners were content to let her do all their work for them.
Her phone buzzed again.
“Sounds good! And thanks for the tip 🙂 see you soon.”
Finally getting out of her chair for the first time in what felt like hours, Sarah stretched. She arched her back and thrust her chest out, feeling her busty tits push up against her tight fitting sweater. Then she rolled her neck and hips, finally bending over to touch her toes.
If she didn’t have to get back and see Tony’s roommate, she might have just stayed in her office and done some yoga. She had a gym bag with some spare clothes. For a second Sarah contemplated it. With everyone gone, the company gym would be deserted. And, for once, she wouldn’t have to deal with the ogling from either the senior partners or the junior associates. But the thought quickly passed. It would be rude to abandon Tony’s roommate.
Slightly more limber than before, Sarah exited her office and plunked the bundle of files down on her secretary’s desk.
Her secretary’s head jerked up, startled by Sarah’s emergence and the impact of the files.
“Oh Mrs. Barnett! I didn’t realize you were done!”
Sarah smiled warmly. She liked Diana. While most of the senior partners had hired secretaries based on their looks, Sarah had hired based on competence. Diana’s red hair, freckles, flat chest, and thick, wire rimmed glasses hardly endeared her to the men of the office. But she was more organized and competent than anyone except Sarah herself.
“Sorry to startle you Diana. I didn’t mean to make you work so late. Vince got called out on an emergency job this morning. Katie doesn’t come back till tomorrow. And Tony, even though he’s back in town, is working a shift at his old job. I didn’t have much of a reason to get home early and wasn’t really thinking about the holiday. And all this shit the partners are asking me to do…well, you know. It comes through your desk too. Anyways. You really don’t have to stay late when I do. I’m sorry I kept you so long.”
“It’s only an hour later than usual, Mrs. Barnett. Not a big deal. You’re always so thoughtful and kind to me, so I’m happy to help.”
“Oh, come on. I don’t deserve you,” Sarah said with kindness. “Don’t do any of this now. I want you to go home and enjoy the holidays. But we need to make sure we are on time with the filing deadlines in both the Atwood case and the Brentwood Properties case on Monday. All the material is here. If you post it first thing, we’ll be fine. Just make sure it gets out on time.”
“Of course, Mrs. Barnett!” Diana said with a smile.
Sarah gave her a tired smile in return, donned her coat, and headed for the door.
The holiday traffic on the way home gave her time to think. Cars honked. The street in front of her was red with brake lights shining in the dark of the early evening. Her black Mercedes S-class inched forward.
Sarah was strangely grateful for the delay. It was the first time she’d had to think in a while. Her morning commute had been spent recording voice memos, and her day had been nothing but meetings, dictation, and doc review. There were few better opportunities to give your mind a break than in a traffic jam.
After Tony had left for college, she thought life would be quieter and calmer with more time to think and relax. But it hadn’t been. Her work at the law firm had only accelerated and there was no end in sight. Maybe she should start looking for a new job. Maybe she could leverage being a partner into a better gig elsewhere. Maybe once she got this slate of cases off her desk the load would ease up. Maybe, maybe, maybe…
The light changed, but no cars moved. The cars ahead of her tried to change lanes and gain even a fractional advance amid the congested traffic. More honking ensued.
And then there was Vince. After spending years as a railway engineer, he’d gotten a promotion recently too. Deputy District Supervisor. Sarah smiled recalling the celebratory dinner they’d had after the announcement. Tony was still at home and Katie had even come back from Stanford for the occasion. All four of them had gone to Wiley’s downtown and splurged. It was the last fun night she could remember.
The money at Vince’s new job was a lot better–not that they needed it. The hours, however, were much worse. He was constantly being called away on crisis-management teams to deal with accidents or technical screw-ups in every remote corner of the region he helped manage. Off the top of her head, Sarah couldn’t remember the last full weekend he’d been home. She supposed it was fine, given the extra almanbahis yeni giriş work she had on her plate. More often than not she spent weekends in the office while Vince was off fixing a railway bridge or re-laying track lines. Both Sarah and Vince had seemed to have fallen into the same trap. By being the most competent people at their firms, they kept getting more and more work assigned to them. How much more was worth it?
The light changed to green and Sarah finally made it through the bottlenecked intersection she’d been stuck at for 10 minutes. Traffic eased and the route home looked smooth. Her Mercedes accelerated with a comfortable hum.
Sarah’s thoughts turned to her kids. She was a little worried about Tony. Even aside from his awkward admission that he wasn’t getting laid, Sarah had deeper concerns. Tony had always been the less motivated and more aimless of her two kids. He was at the state college an hour away, his grades were middling, and he seemed to drink a lot. That described plenty of college students, Sarah reassured herself. There was no reason Tony wouldn’t figure things out eventually. He had 4 years and this was just the first semester. But deep down there was a pit of motherly worry and anxiety that she couldn’t calm.
Finally Sarah’s thoughts turned to her oldest child, Katie. Katie’s return–her first visit since that celebratory dinner–was the thing that brought Sarah the most unalloyed joy. While Tony had always been aloof, Katie was made in her mother’s image. They both had the same dark-brown hair, though Katie’s had auburn hues rather than her mother’s dark walnut brown. Both of them had the same heart-shaped face and small nose. Katie had also inherited her mother’s work ethic and intelligence. She’d gotten an academic merit scholarship to attend Stanford and had excelled, making the Dean’s List every semester and becoming president of her sorority.The only two things Katie hadn’t gotten from her mother were her eyes, (she’d gotten Vince’s hazel eyes rather than Sarah’s blue eyes) and her breasts. Katie only had 34b’s compared to her mother’s busty 36c’s. But they still looked phenomenal on her frame since Katie was smaller and more petite than Sarah (Sarah was 5’6, Katie was only 5’2).
Katie’s only real problem was to decide on what she wanted to do after college. She’d gotten a job offer from JP Morgan, a Marshall Scholarship to Oxford, and an offer from the Peace Corps to work in Africa. Sarah, ever the careerist, was hoping she’d just take the offer from JP Morgan and stay comparatively close to home. But the job at JP Morgan would always be there, and it sounded like Katie was leaning towards the Peace Corps. This kind of decision was a good problem to have. At any rate, Sarah was just excited to see her daughter again.
By the time all these thoughts filtered in and out through Sarah’s half-attentive consciousness, she realized she was almost home. As she turned her Mercedes into the neighborhood entrance, her lights flashed by the neighborhood sign and then on to a fairly large jogger, who was running at a determined pace despite the chill of the dark November evening. Sarah recognized the jogger immediately thanks to his hair: a high fade that was coupled with a distinctive shock of medium length-dreadlocks, most of which were tied up in a vertical bun. She slowed the car and rolled down her window.
“Hunter is that you?”
“Hey Mrs. B! Nice to see you!”
“You’re braver than me for running in this weather! I usually stick to the treadmill this time of year.”
“It helps build fortitude for the season!” he said back with a smile, his breath visible in the chilly air.
“You want a ride up the hill? This is the worst part of the jog. You still have twenty minutes to go from here.”
“This is the part I live for!” he said back between breaths. “I’ll see you up there. I bet I can beat twenty minutes!”
“Alright good luck!”
Sarah rolled up her window, grateful for the warmth of the car, and grateful that she wasn’t the one jogging up the mountainous hill in their neighborhood tonight. She’d done it plenty of times. Sarah was a runner after and had completed 6 half-marathons. Even so, the distance between the entrance of their neighborhood and her house, coupled with the slope of the hill, always left her completely exhausted. After the day of work she’d had, she was thankful all she had to do was drive.
When Sarah got back to the Barnett’s large colonial house at the top of the hill, she began her usual weeknight ritual. First, she turned on the lights of the front facing downstairs rooms to make the empty house look more alive. Then she retreated to the dimly lit and cavernous living room at the back of the house. Rather than turn on any additional lights, she lit a fire. Then came her favorite portion of the ritual: pouring herself a scotch. Tonight she went with a Balvenie 25 to celebrate the holidays and almost all of her family being home. She kicked off her heels and curled up in the big leather armchair next to the fire. Sarah let out a deep, relaxed sigh as the peaty flavor of the scotch hit her tongue for the first time.
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