Late Christmas Eve. A warped Mozart album warbles on the record player as the party guests begin to leave. I notice grandpa slumped under the mistletoe, shitfaced and disheveled, eyeing everyone with cynical amusement. He knocks back another shot of vodka and eggnog, calmly shucks off his sweat wilted t-shirt, then snatches grandma by the hair.
“Hey everybody, listen to this,” he says, pounding his knuckles into grandma’s newly constructed titanium hip, “my Brenda sounds like a kettle drum!”
Someone bumps the record player and Mozart screeches to a halt.
An eerie stillness fills the room.
All eyes are fixed on Grandpa.
He continues pummeling grandma’s artificial hip; the voracity of his punches intensifies with every blow.
The guests begin nudging each other and whispering. One of them says, “Sounds more like a hollow cantaloupe than a kettle drum.”
“I disagree,” someone else says, “I think she sounds like a soggy head of cabbage.”
A thin sheen of sweat glistens on grandpa’s chest, shoulders, and arms as he thumps at an ever-maddening pace.
Everyone continues to watch and listen.
A steady anticipation seems to build in the air.
“I think I can name that tune in five bruises or less,” Mrs. Weaver shouts from the back of the room. And there is a gentle round of applause as grandma slowly slumps to the floor.
–Brian W. Fugett