Thanks for reading my very first FridayFlash fiction. I have been working on a novel called, R-Evolutionary nights and my characters are currently in Prague and Budapest. The Russian mafia is playing a role and I wondered to myself, What it might be like to go home for Christmas when your family is in the mafia? Here is one such story…
Frostbite: A Mafia Family Christmas
I never imagined my first Christmas back home in fifteen years would come to this. Every swear word in my vocabulary started swirling through my head as I grabbed my sixty-two year old mama tightly with both arms and pulled her away from my Great Aunt Urola.
Mama waved her arms wildly, “You never should have come here you old bat! I don’t care what promises were made to Rudolf, he’s dead, but my dying wish is…”
“Mama, shut up and stop this, just look at yourself, it’s Christmas!” I took a hold of Mama even harder and almost picked her up before placing her in the nearest chair. Great Aunt Urola slipped a sly smile towards Mama.
The women in the family were trying to prepare Christmas dinner in the kitchen. They looked up occasionally to make sure the food made it through the latest skirmish. Half of the women were from Great Uncle Ermil’s family. His side of the family was joining us for Christmas for the first time in fifty years. Great Uncle Ermil and my grandfather Rudolf split at that time and never got along. The families have been trying to reconcile since my grandfather Rudolf died three years ago.
My papa, Viktor, heard the fighting from the next room and burst into the kitchen in time to witness another blast from Aunt Urola. She picked up a huge dish of potatoes and threw the it into the garbage. “What are you doing?” Mama shouted and tried to grab her again. I stopped her just in time. “Tasha! Stop it! SHE is the one who needs restraining!”
“I’m not eating ANYTHING prepared by THEM!” Aunt Urola pointed to my great Uncle Ermil’s family. “You all know what they did.” She was trembling with rage and stormed into the livingroom. Everyone in the kitchen followed her. The relatives in the livingroom halted their conversation and all eyes turned towards her.
Viktor grabbed her arm. “Urola, calm down! I’ve had enough of your fits! Every Christmas it’s that same thing! But this year you are outta control and it’s gonna stop!” My father hated his Aunt Urola, but promised his father, Rudolf, on his death bed that he would take care of her.
“You are just as bad as THEY are, Viktor! Why don’t you be a man and stand up to them for once. You are a disgrace to your father. One of these days you will be sorry.” Aunt Urola wagged her finger at him.
The veins in my Papa’s neck bulged and his face turned a deep shade of red. “You crazy old woman, you sit down and be quiet or I’ll give you something to complain about!” Aunt Urola spun on her heels and returned to the kitchen. The women quickly followed to make sure the food was safe from her rage. The family members in the livingroom poured more drinks and continued their conversations.
I reluctantly returned to the kitchen and collapsed in a chair as Mama continued preparing Christmas dinner with my aunts. The women ignored Aunt Urola who was standing with her arms crossed in the middle of the kitchen. She was scowling as she watched the women cooking, ready to pounce at the slightest provocation.
Memories of my childhood and the unusual family gatherings flooded my mind. Reality can get a little skewed when the family business is running a territory of the Russian mafia and you live on a family compound surrounded by iron gates deep in the Hungarian countryside. That’s why I eagerly moved to the United States to attend law school and became a criminal trial attorney in Chicago. If my parents wanted to see me, they came to the States. I insisted they keep me out of the family business. I never looked back or visited the family in Budapest until now. I was beginning to think I had made a mistake by returning this year.
Eventually the table was set and Christmas dinner was served. The men were making toasts to the reunion of the two families. Some of the women were shooting icy stares at Aunt Urola. The cousins were diverting their attention by talking amongst themselves and occupying their children. Aunt Urola ate like a pig. Then she began inserting criticisms into every conversation. The tension began growing again. Most of the family got up as dessert was served and dispersed throughout the house for the evening.
Several hours later, we could hear the icy winds blow viciously through the hills making travel impossible. My parent’s huge mansion had to accommodate the entire family for the night. After several arguments about sleeping arrangements, everyone retired. The house trembled and the windows rattled. I could feel the draft of bone chilling cold. Sleep was difficult with the howling wind continually transforming into startlingly gruesome noises.
When morning finally arrived, I groggily went downstairs to find that almost everyone was already awake and eating breakfast by seven o’clock. My cousins were serving breakfast to their children. The mood was lighter and almost “normal.” Mama was in a cheery mood. “What would you like for breakfast?” She smiled at me and touched my arm.
Both sides of the family were getting along splendidly this morning. My aunt’s laughed as they drank their coffee together. Relief entered my body as I watched this heart-warming scene. One of my cousin’s young children looked out the window and said excitedly, “I want to go out and play in the snow with Aunt Urola!” The other children jumped and shouted to join in.
“O.K., but just for a little while.” My mom smiled and helped put on their snow clothes.
I sighed and thought now nice it was that the children were going to play with Aunt Urola. That would certainly melt her heart. The magic of Christmas cheer can turn any grumble bumble around.
As the children opened the door and happily bounded into the newly fallen snow, I couldn’t help but feel their excitement. But my face dropped and my mouth gaped open when I saw Great Aunt Urola’s hat and two shoes poking out of the snow. Her body was laying in a snowbank as stiff and frozen as a Popsicle.
Continue reading with Part 2