“Coming With Forks”
“The in-laws are coming. The in-laws are coming.”
“Okay everyone, calm down.” General Turkey looked over his troops. “We knew this hour would come. It will do us no good if we panic.”
Once everyone had settled down, Colonel Ham asked, “What’s your battle plan, Sir?”
“We’ll hit them in waves. The first in will be the Cookie Unit.”
Lieutenant Chocolate Chip stepped forward and saluted. “Sir, on behalf of my unit, I wish to thank you for giving us the honor of being first into battle.”
The General returned the salute. Looking to the rest of his troops, he continued, “Once the Cookies have broken through, the rest of us will follow. The spearhead of our attack will consist of myself, Colonel Ham, and Major Mashed, with Majors Gravy and Stuffing in support.”
“Hear, hear,” Colonel Ham piped in, while Majors Mashed and Stuffing said only, “Very well.”
After a moment Colonel Ham asked, “Major Gravy, your thoughts?”
For a few seconds there was silence, then Major Gravy blurbled a reply.
“Um, yes. Well said. While we make our advance,” General Turkey hurried on, “Lieutenants Casserole, Sweet Potato, and Peas and Carrots will protect our flanks.”
“What about my unit?” Lieutenant Roll asked.
“Deploy your men to fill any gaps.”
Taking a look around at the assembled troops, General Turkey asked, “Do you all know your missions?”
He was treated to a chorus of “Yes, Sir.”
“Good. Now, I won’t lie to you. All of us will take heavy casualties today, but some will be lucky enough to live on as leftovers for a few days. But know this, every bite they take of us will be one less bite they’ll be able to take of our precious pies. Earlier, I spoke with Apple and Cherry and His Eminence the Pumpkin, and they wanted you to know that they thank you – from the bottom of their crusts – for your courage today.”
The General let that soak in, then cried, “Lieutenant Chocolate Chip.”
“Take your men in.”
“Yes, Sir. Cookies, front.”
Once the Cookies were lined up in ranks of Oatmeal Raisin, Chocolate Chip with Walnuts, Chocolate Chip without Walnuts, Peanut Butter, and Sugar, Lieutenant Chocolate Chip cried out, “For the Pies!”
Watching the Cookies charge, General Turkey put a wing to his breast and whispered, “Such giblets.”
Some years ago before Halloween, some friends and I went to a Poe event where these actors acted out some of his stories. Before one of these, an actresses was talking with the audience and somehow the subject of pumpkin pies came up. Specifically how they “sweat.” Her explanation as to the reason they sweat is that they know “the in-laws are coming … coming with forks.” I thought that was a great line, so I jotted it down and wrote a story to go with it.
Some people who critiqued this story took issue with the cookies going in first. In their families, the cookies stayed back with the pies. But in my family, my mom bakes cookies a day or two before and they immediately begin taking casualties. I guess I just grew up with cookies being the skirmishers.
Anyway, this story was published in my collection A Man of Few Words.