(A/N: This post contains a bigoted uncle character. Nothing is explicitly mentioned, but there’s hints of transphobia and racism and abuse that might be uncomfortable to read.)
Around noon, a steady stream of people arrived at the house. While Jodie played host, Mitch took his station in the kitchen and reheated everything that he helped make the day before. Though he granted Jodie full access to his record collection, she declined it because they were “in the 21st century”. But the soul music theme which he kicked off earlier kept going, albeit via more modern technology and streaming and algorithms.
When a dish was adequately heated up, Mitch deposited the contents into one of the many aluminum pans that were suspended over small chafing burners. He multi-tasked by preparing the appetizers as well, griping, “I need more arms for this.”
While bouncing from task to task, his phone vibrated repeatedly in his pocket, to the extent that he worried there was an emergency. He stopped to check it, and several messages from Basil were waiting in his notifications.
Maybe I should have taken you up on that offer, read one. Doug got here an hour ago and hasn’t stopped with the comments!
If Mitch recalled correctly, Doug was Basil’s uncle with fringe interests. A retired cop whose wife left him a decade ago, and no one in the family ever talked about the reason why, but anyone with two braincells could give an educated guess. Mitch heard stories back when he and Basil were roommates, and hoped to never meet the guy. Given the last few years, he’d probably gone from obnoxious to intolerable.
Need an ear to lend? Mitch asked.
If you can, yeah, Basil responded.
As Mitch looked around the room for someone to tag in and keep an eye on the burners while he stepped out, Avi entered his peripheral. “Want a hand?” he asked for the third or fourth time that day. Up until then, Mitch rebuffed all of his offers and sent him off to hang out with the rest of the group, but now he was a godsend.
“I do, actually.” Mitch enthusiastically waved him over, then gestured to the stove. “Can you watch all of this while I make a call? Just stir the stuff in these pots and make sure the house doesn’t burn down.”
Naturally, Avi agreed, looking elated to finally be of service. Making a quick retreat to Jodie’s bedroom to escape all of the commotion, he pulled up Basil’s contact info and called.
“How goes it?” Mitch asked when the other end picked up.
“Hold on, lemme just…” Basil’s voice sounded distant, and after a few seconds of moving around in the background, a door slammed shut and he answered with, “Sorry. Hi. Thanks for calling, I appreciate it. I’m about to blow my brains out.”
“That good, huh?” Mitch responded dryly, and Basil huffed.
“Is it ever! My mom asked me to shave my face so that he wouldn’t get riled up, but then he showed up with his thin blue line hoodie. Y’know, the one with the Punisher skull?”
“Yup. Then he called me ‘Jenna’ at least a dozen times within a minute, and asked if I still lived in-” he took a deep breath, “-that Hispanic neighborhood. In that fucking voice. Went on to talk about all of the thugs he’s arrested in that area. No one even asked, he volunteered it.”
With a lump in his throat, Mitch struggled to articulate his rage on Basil’s behalf. “You can still come over,” he said. “I’ll pick you up from the station, or I’ll drive out to Medford and grab you from your parents’ house. Whatever you need, man. You shouldn’t have to put up with that.”
“Mitch, I can’t. My nana’s dying, this is probably her last Thanksgiving. I gotta bite this bullet on this one,” Basil sighed. “Thank you, though.”
Acid reflux kicked up and burned Mitch’s inside while he wallowed in helplessness. They wished one another the best of luck with their respective situations before hanging up, and Basil promised to get in touch if he needed a getaway car after maiming Doug. A laugh bubbled out of Mitch, albeit against his will, but then Basil laughed along as well. “It’ll be alright,” Basil assured. “Ain’t nothing I haven’t dealt with before. Maybe I’ll drop by after, if the couch is still an option to crash on.”
“If not, we’ll figure out somewhere to put you. You know what Jodie says-“
“There’s always room at the inn?” He heard a small smile in Basil’s voice.
“There’s always room at the inn.”