Eat Your Family's Food
It was sometime after 1 a.m. Outside of the veterans’ hall, red party cups and roman candle shells littered the parking lot, still full of cars and trucks. A plastic banner, reading “Happy 3rd Birthday Missy!” dangled over the doorway.
Boots crunched on the gravel parking lot. The autumn moon hung heavy over the woods alongside the interstate, the children already put to sleep, either driven home by aunts and grandmothers, or put down in the backseats of cars.
People were screaming over the music, shouting at each other inside the hall. A dog barked in the distance. The sound of a glass shattering was close. Wayne spat on the ground and unlocked the Ford pickup.
In the glove compartment was a Walter P22 and clip, amidst other bric-a-brac. He went to close the door, remembering the passenger-side door never caught the latch.
The quarter keg that had been purchased was nowhere enough beer for both families and friends of Frank and Donna, celebrating their daughter’s birthday. By 9 p.m. the beer had run out, along with the extras people had brought with them. The music had changed, as had the overall mood.
When Donna’s father Frank scratched the side of his truck against the disc jockey’s Charger backing out, even he admitted it was clear someone else would have to drive. He was shorter than most of the men present, mustachioed with wide shoulders and a left eye that wandered on its own, more so after heavy drinking. His wife Donna, a taller, slender blonde, saw it moving before most people.
The couple had married relatively young by a Baptist minister, with everyone but Donna’s older brother and parents present. Donna, barely 20 at the time, had recently lost her father to Miners’ Lung, while her mother abandoned the family years before, leaving her to be raised primarily by her brother and aunt. Frank was only a few years older and came with a fully extended family, many of them cousins whose actual genealogy was now a blur. With her settlement from the mining company and his job at the tile wholesaler, the couple was relatively comfortable compared to some. Neither had many relatives who lived past their sixties.