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DJ Kenney

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Member Since: Mar, 2007

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The Table Setting
By DJ Kenney
Saturday, November 24, 2007

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Believing the ghost of his dead father lives in the barn, young Jake is trying to come to terms with the new man in his mom's life.

The front door slammed shut, more by a sucking gust of wind than by the surprised hand the knob escaped from.

“Sorry!” Tom Holt called sheepishly to the houseful of people who included both sets of Jake’s grandparents, Jake’s mother and Jake himself.

Not that anyone except Jake heard anything considering all the bustling to and from the kitchen in preparation of the impending Christmas dinner and the grandpas bickering through the din of a music video channel over who was more the icon: John Lennon or Jerry Garcia.

Jake would have picked Paul McCartney for one reason alone. The ex-Beatle, ex-Wing, knight of England was his dad’s favorite. But no one asked him.

From the safety of his wilderness fortress, which to everyone else resembled a blanket tent set up in a corner of the living room opposite the beautifully decorated tree, Jake lifted back the corner flap and watched his mother’s boyfriend stamp uninvited snow from his construction boots and shrug out of his denim Carhartt jacket that weighed—Jake was sure—at least a hundred pounds. Not that the extra weight would slow down a man who nearly had to turn sideways and duck to go through the doorways in the house.

Everybody liked Tom. Grandpa Stone called him a man’s man, whatever that meant. Both grandmas doted over him, but not like some of the other kids’ gray-haired grandmas. Jake’s two grandmas were once hippies and never lost their rock-n-roll groove. The way they acted around Tom sometimes made him blush and Jake’s mom had to scold her own mother and former mother-in-law to behave themselves. But she did it with lots of smiles and laughter. She hadn’t done much of that in the last three years. Tom made her smile.

Jake liked him for that. Liked him for the cool stuff they did together. Like fishing and going to sprint car races and camping out and watching scary movies without hiding behind their fingers like his mom. Tom was going to teach Jake how to sky dive as soon as he reached the height requirement even though his mom was not too keen about it. Yeah, Jake liked him a lot.

Then last night happened. Christmas Eve. It’s a holiday for children, Jake heard so many people say. And his grandparents proved that point with tons of stuff he didn’t even know he wanted until there it was, unwrapped in front of him. The way coolest was the bike. That was from Mom. And Tom.

It was exactly, and only, what he wanted and the grownups were overly delighted watching his joyous reaction.

Then Tom did it. He knelt on one knee in front of Jake’s mom and opened a small black velvet box.

For a brief moment in time, Jake felt as if he ceased existing to everyone in the room. His bicycle was nothing compared to that sparkling thing in the box.

His short-lived joy came to a grinding halt.
 

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