Copyright 2017 EM Benton and CJ Benton
Title: The Banquet
Author: EM Benton
Publisher: Shakespir, Inc.
Private Editor: Lori Michaels
All rights reserved. No part of this novel may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This book is a complete work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons – living or dead, or to actual events is entirely coincidental.
Authored by EM Benton and CJ Benton
First Edition Print 2017
Cover created and designed by CJ Benton. Copyright 2017 CJ Benton. All rights reserved.
Stories by EM Benton and CJ Benton
Campy Horror Tales
EM Benton and CJ Benton are two authors who have formed a writing partnership. Together they bring you the best of their imagination. From campy horror to screaming horror and all that lies between: romance, thriller, supernatural, paranormal, and mystery.
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“I invited you all. I would never think of leaving any of you out. After all, it is our tenth anniversary together.
Now, let me see,” I said, as I pecked my finger quickly against my chin. It’s a nervous habit and one that I tend to do quite often.
I am standing at the table looking everything over: the plates, the silverware, the glasses, and the napkins. Everything sat in its proper place the way it should be. Nothing was out of place… nothing.
And the family.
They were seated perfectly, I thought.
Debra and Faye was sitting on one side, and of course, Ross and Ben were seated on the other side.
I put mom at the head of the table, as always, she has the chair of honor. I am, after all, a most gracious and thoughtful host. I believe that I give proper credit to where credit is due, and in mom’s case, she deserves all the credit and so much more.
My seat is at the far end of the table. I have set things to allow space between the family and I. It is the way it has always been… the space between us. There is nothing wrong with the space; it is perfect this way. I don’t like it when the space gets mucked with. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth… like rusted metal.
I raise my glass in the air and stand to my feet to toast such a wonderful occasion. “You all look so wonderful tonight. Just glowing,” I said with a big smile. “Here’s to each and every one of you and here’s to ten years.” I take a sip and allow the wine to slowly run down the back of my throat. It tickles, so I clear my throat and put the glass on the table. Then, I sit.
Dinner is on the table. Well almost everything but the main course. It is sitting to the side on the cart. But what a spread we have set before us. I almost feel like the richest dad in the world staring at this gorgeous banquet, yet as luck would have it, I am not. In fact, I never claimed to have money. The family just always assumed I had more money than I knew what to do with. That was another one of their grand lies drummed up by mom of course.
I keep the grin up on my face because you never want to let family know what you’re up too. But in this case, I think they have finally figured it out.
“What’s that mom, did you say something?” I asked. “Here, allow me to help you.” I get up and walk around the table. I bend down… just a little, and rip off the duct tape across her mouth.
The top layer of skin peels back and rips away from her face.
There is no blood – just flakes and gouges of skin.
“Would you like to say something to the family, mom?”
Her eyes are wide as quarters and the expression on her face… a priceless mishmash of fear and sheer panic.
No doubt from the pulling of the duct tape, I do have to admit that it looked like it hurt. Of course, I said those very words to her. “That looks like it hurt.”
Mom just looks at me and I get the distinct feeling that if she could, she would take the steak knife lying in front of her, and she would use it on me. But the truth is, it’s a little impossible. Being as how her hands have been confined to the table by seven inch nails. Each carefully, and yet, so strategically placed in a perfect center into her hand and through the table.
“We wouldn’t want any of us grabbing for our steak knives, and making a mess, now would we,” I said, looking around at all my lovely step-children, and of course, mom.
Maybe I am being rude. It was never my intention to do so. “Here allow me,” I said. I go around the table yanking the duct tape off each of them. The reaction was all the same to peeling back and ripping away the skin – wide eyed and the same priceless expression.
My family. “It’s so wonderful that we’re all together,” I said as I glanced around the table at everyone. “Well, mom, this is what you wanted… your family with you.” I walk over the banquet table and roll the cart over to the table. A fine covered silver platter sitting on the cart. I lift it up and put it in the center of the table. It’s the main course we have all patiently been waiting for.
Suddenly, Debra and Faye begin to crying. “There’s no crying at the table,” I yell. I leave the main dish to sit and get cold while I have to do my fatherly duty and wipe their eyes with the napkins. “Now, now,” I say to them. “Don’t cry. It’s not good manners.”
I scan around at the hands nailed to the table and I realize that I have neglected cleaning them up. “I take a napkin and double dip it into a glass of water. I wipe around the nail where the blood is seeping from.
I finish and go back to the main course. I lean over and remove the cover top. I hear gasps and moans from the family.
“I know isn’t it gorgeous… isn’t it. It’s quite the delicacy… steamed Tongue!”
Five tongues in a bed of cooked yellow rice.
“I believe they are the most tender I have ever cooked. One has to wonder, if perhaps by chance, I missed my profession.”
I took a tongue, a scoop of rice, and put it on Debra’s plate. Then a tongue and a scoop of rice on Faye’s plate. Ross and Ben are next, and then, finally I serve mom. “If I am not mistaken, you will be eating the tongue you brought with you. You must know that’s an extra delicacy… your own tongue! Who would know that it is a fine piece of meat better than yourselves.
Ross kicks his feet against the table and makes everything wobble. “Have you any respect!” I yell. I take a deep breath. I need to make sure that my delicate balance is not disturbed by such rude children.
“You should be ashamed of yourself. Acting this way at this beautiful banquet. What is your mom, your brother, and your sisters to think?”
He mumbles something inaudible.
“I can’t think. Shut the fuck up!” I yell again.
I see mom looking at him shaking her head.
“Pay attention to your mom, Ross. She’s trying to help you out.”
Suddenly, the moaning and the cries bellow out from everyone.
I think I am losing it. I bang my fist hard against the table to silence them. “Now, that you have angered the banquet party. What am I to do with you, Ross?” I look around the room and spot the plastic bags. I go over, grab one, and the duct tape. I put the bag over his head and duct tape around his neck. He kicks and moans for a few minutes, and then, he falls silent.
Ross tilts his head forward.
“Lights out,” I laugh as the entire family is giving me glaring looks to kill.
I shrug it off. Family gets angry sometimes, but they will calm down. They always do.
Being the gracious host I am. I single handily fed everyone their tongue, bite by bite. I will admit it took a while and a bit of persuasion, but we got there. I never watched someone eat without their tongue. It’s not easy.
“I so enjoyed our little banquet here today, and yet, I’m afraid I must be bidding you all a farewell.”
Faye glance at Debra and over at Ben, then the three of them looked at their mom as if they were waiting on some sort of sign from her.
I don’t see any sign given. The eyes say a lot and there were a lot of looks back and forth between them, but no sign.
I get up and take three bags. I start with Ben and place the bag over his head. I tape it and watch as he struggles the same way his brother did. It must be a natural reaction trying to breathe through plastic and fighting with every last bit of strength in you for just one more breath… just one. I put the bags over the girls and tape them. Believe it or not, it was less of a fight. I am a little disappointed. I thought my girls would have a better fight in them than that.
I decided not to let mom get a bag. Something just didn’t feel right about that. I prefer her to watch. After all, parents should watch their children. Shouldn’t they?
Oh, well, I sit back down in my chair.
Mom is not looking to good. That scares me. Maybe candlelight will make her feel at peace. I reach over and light the two candles. “Gee, it sure is quite around here,” I say with a big smile.
I get up and walk over to mom. I kiss her on the top of the head and bid her goodnight. She doesn’t say a word. Then again how could she… right?
As always, it’s up to the man to do everything or so I presume. I go to the shed and grab the two large containers of gasoline. I pour it over everything.
Mom is still silent. No moans, no groans, no nothing.
I light the match and walk quickly out the door. I slide into my blue 2016 PT Cruiser and drive away while everything burns to the ground.
Three years later
I am standing beside the most beautiful woman in the world. She looks like a goddess, with her long red flowing hair, and her flowing lace gown.
The preacher tells me to put the ring on her finger.
And she puts a ring on my finger.
We both say “I do,” and he pronounces us as husband and wife.
I give her a gentle but classy kiss and she kisses me back. It is nice to be in the company of family again.
I look over at two precious little girls and their brother standing together at the altar. I smile as big as I can as a step-dad should.
Now mom has the family she’s always wanted.
Just thinking ahead about the future. It will be such a great tenth anniversary. We will have a grand banquet.