Chapter 10: Thanksgiving

Copyright© 2009 by Jujubees

Thanksgiving had arrived. Callie was fretting and stewing because she had never cooked a turkey before. "I can't do this Cade," she admitted nervously and he could see the tears forming in her eyes.

"What's the big deal?" Cade asked, as if all women should know how to cook a turkey.

"I've never cooked a turkey," She had been frantically poring over the old cook books she had found in one of the bottom drawers in Walt's old kitchen. She studied the cook books in the hopes she would feel inspired.

Cade often had to remind himself how young she was. He was thirty-two-years old, and she was twenty-six. Callie had only been twenty-one years old when he had gone away to prison. They had been together three years before that. "What did you do about cooking a turkey on other Thanksgivings?"

"Your mom cooked the turkey; when she had a turkey. Most of the time she and Seth managed to get a turkey from the food bank or if Seth happened to be working, he bought one." Callie said. "I never helped her cook it though; and some years I went to someone else's house." She looked down.

Cade was at a loss. If there was one thing he didn't know about, it was cooking. He breathed a heavy sigh.

Ashley sensed the dilemma. "I helped Grandma make the turkey a couple of times," she offered. "You clean it out and put the stuffing inside and then you put it in a pan with a little bit of broth and baste it every half hour or so until it is done cooking." That sounded simple enough.

Cade smiled at Ashley, "Maybe you can help your mom," and then he walked over and gave Callie a squeeze, "Just do the best you can Cal. We'll eat it no matter how it turns out."

Callie clung to him when he hugged her. It was more affection than he usually showed her. "But it was so expensive," she lamented, "What if I ruin it?"

"You're not going to ruin it," Cade assured her, and he stopped hugging her and left the kitchen. He was finding it difficult to sit around and do nothing on his days off. He had to keep busy all the time. So he left Callie to her own devices and headed outside and down the old rickety staircase that led into the small damp basement where he could begin sorting through the junk that was down there. The basement was filthy and filled with cobwebs and dirt and was basically nothing more than a crawl space. Cade flinched as a huge spider dropped down in front of his eyes and he quickly brushed it away and stepped on it before it could crawl away. He wasn't sure anyone had been down in the basement for years. Between the clutter in the garage and the boxes in the basement, he had months of sorting ahead.

The basement was dark, except for a 60 watt bulb that dangled from the ceiling. Cade wasn't about to sit in the creepy basement and sort through the boxes, so he carried a couple of boxes out to the garage where he had more light. He noticed that there was a light dusting of snow on the ground as he walked across the dirt driveway carrying the boxes to the garage. After he was inside the garage, he sat down and looked at the boxes. He had no idea what was in store for him when he opened them.

Whenever Cade was around, Harley and Jessica follow him. Wherever he went, they went. They were interested in everything he did, no matter how trivial. Ashley stayed inside to help Callie prepare the turkey, but she would rather have been tagging along with her dad like her brother and sister. Their father fascinated them.

"What's in them boxes?" Jessica wanted to know.

"We're going to find out," Cade informed her. He opened up the first box and was surprised to find it stuffed full of old photographs. He lifted the first one out of the box and looked at it. It was a black and white photo of a man in overalls, smiling broadly. It was Walt. All the photos had labels on the back and he turned it over. Sure enough it was labeled, "Walt, November, 1966."

"Who's that?" Harley asked.

"That's your Great Grandpa Walt," Cade said and handed the photo to Harley so he could see it.

"Who's this?" Jessica asked as she took out another of the photos.

"Don't touch them," Cade warned. "Let me look at them first and then you can look at them." When he saw her pouty expression, he felt a bit sorry for scolding her, but he wanted to see the photos himself before they got mixed up or lost. He took the photo she was holding and looked at it. He didn't know who it was until he turned it over. "Dusty, May, 1974". He had never seen a picture of his father, at least one that he could remember. He was stunned to see how tall and slender his father had been. Cade could also see a resemblance between his father and Ashley. His hand shook as he looked at the photo and then he managed to lay it down and take out a cigarette and light it.

Harley was young, but he could tell it shook his dad up a little to see his dead Grandpa Dusty's picture. "Who is it?" Jessica wanted an answer as she picked the photo back up.

"I guess that's my dad," Cade said as he took a drag on his cigarette.

"Oh," Jessica said as she looked at it. She wasn't sure what that meant because there was so much she didn't understand about her dad and her dead grandparents.

"Grandpa Walt had a big belly," Harley laughed as he looked at another picture of his Great Grandfather. Cade snatched the picture from his son's hand and looked at it. "I thought I was going to look them first, and then you two," but Cade had a smile on his face and they knew it was OK for them to look at the photos before he did, as long as they were careful.

There was a part of Cade that wanted to look at the pictures and another part of him that didn't. They represented a life he knew nothing about. He was shivering from how cold it was. He grabbed the pictures out of the kid's hands and put them back in the box. Then he lifted up the box. "Let's go inside the house and look at these, it's cold out here."

Both children happily skipped along behind him as he carried the box of pictures into the living room and placed it on the floor. The kids were eager to see more pictures and by this time Callie and Ashley had put the turkey in the oven to bake, so they joined them in the living room to look at the old photos.

"Where did you find these?" Callie asked after awhile. She was amazed by how many there were.

"They were packed away down in the basement," Cade informed her. "I'm surprised at how well preserved they are. It's pretty damp down there." He had no idea who had packed the pictures away so neatly and he couldn't help wondering what other treasures he would find down there.

"This must be your grandma," Callie said as she looked at the picture of a fairly robust and jovial woman.

Cade took the photo and looked at his grandmother. He had never seen her before. Picture after picture was pulled from the box and by the time they had looked at all of them, Cade knew what his father Dusty looked like as well as most of his other relatives on his father's side. They even found some old pictures of his father Dusty and Cade's mother Annie together. "Grandma Annie looks so young there," Ashley marveled.

"She was young," Cade said. "I'll bet she was about seventeen when she got married to my dad."

"About like you and Stephanie," Callie scoffed.

Ashley's ears perked up at the mention of her mother Stephanie. "Nah, Steph was only sixteen," Cade chuckled.

Ashley had loved her mother, but the memories of her mother were beginning to fade. Her mother had died of a drug overdose nearly four years earlier, and Ashley's life with her mother had been rather turbulent. Ashley suddenly wanted to go hunt for the picture of her mother that she kept hidden in her room, but instead she sat quietly and continued looking at the photographs with the others. She would go find her mother's picture later.

Ashley's mother had loved her and tried her best despite her drug use, and it hurt inside whenever Ashley thought of her. After her mother died, the only relatives the state could find to stick her with had been Seth and Annie, and living with them had been a horrible experience for her, making her miss her mother all the more.

Cade had first married Ashley's mother Stephanie when he was twenty-one-years old. They were married for two years before they got divorced. Cade hadn't wanted a divorce, but Stephanie had thrown him out because of how violent he was. He had been immature and had only married Stephanie because she was pregnant. She was young and still in high school. No one had ever taught him how to treat a woman properly; his role model had been Seth, so he was ill prepared to be a husband or father and he used drugs on a regular basis. He beat Stephanie up constantly until she finally refused to put up with him anymore. When Ashley was born, Cade barely noticed her and thought of the bawling baby as an annoyance more than anything.

Before Cade divorced Stephanie, Callie had already come along. She had been one of Stephanie's good friends and she was young, fun, and daring. From the very beginning Cade had been very attracted to Callie. They had a lot of fun together and partied constantly until Callie became pregnant with Harley. Cade had married Callie for the same reason he had married Stephanie; because she was pregnant. But Cade had doubts about Harley being his child because of how promiscuous Callie was, so he had insisted there be a paternity test when Harley was born. The test had come back indicating clearly that Cade was Harley's father.

In hindsight, Cade realized that he had never cared one iota about Harley or Ashley as babies. He didn't even bother to give Harley a decent name. Callie had left Harley's name up to him to decide and he had always been a huge fan of Harley Davidson Motorcycles when Harley was born, so he insisted they name him Harley David because of that, but that was pretty much the extent of his involvement in his son's life. He cringed a little now because his son had to live with the name Harley David Harrison. Harley Harrison. Cade didn't like the name all that much, but the damage was already done and he didn't feel it was feasible to change his son's name at this point.

Cade had gone away to prison when Harley had been a mere toddler, and prior to that time, Cade had continued to see Stephanie while he was married to Callie and also fool around with a lot of other women. But despite that, he and Callie had enjoyed a very intense physical relationship. They could barely keep their hands off of each other. Cade usually had sex with Callie every day, at least once per day, and often more than that. But he had come to feel while he was locked up in prison that he had never really loved Callie, and he regretted marrying her.

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