Authors: J.J. Brass
Tags: #murder mystery, #comedy, #amateur sleuth, #mystery short story, #funny mystery, #lgbt mystery, #cozy mystery story, #drag queen competition, #thanksgiving murder mystery, #upper class family comedy
The Turkey Wore Satin
© 2015 by J.J. Brass
All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters
and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or
are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons,
living or dead, organizations, events or locales is entirely
Cover design © 2015
First Edition 2015
Warning: the unauthorized reproduction or
distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal
copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary
gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years
in prison and a fine of $250,000.
The Turkey Wore
A Thanksgiving Tale of
and Men in Women’s
The first year Marty joined Kristin’s family
for Thanksgiving dinner, he thought they were all a bunch of
Not much had changed since that day four
years ago, except that Marty was no longer Kristin’s puppy-love
boyfriend. After a big summer wedding, he was now officially her
faithful husband. And, as an official member of the Mayfair family,
this year Marty would take part in one of the illustrious family’s
long-standing traditions: The Amazing Annual Mayfair Family Drag
Kristin’s elegantly coifed grandmother Iris,
who had buried no fewer than four husbands, explained the family
drag show with great fanfare the first time Marty dined at her
impressive mansion. It started in the 1940s, not long before Iris’s
brothers were killed storming the beaches of Normandy.
One Thanksgiving, after a lean wartime
dinner, young Iris played her favourite song for the family:
Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree
. The boys were not great fans
of the Andrews Sisters—not that they would admit, at any rate—but
in lieu of their normal teases, Iris’s brothers put on a show. They
all got up and sang along, and Mayfair Family History was made.
The impromptu lip-synch marked the beginning
of an annual tradition to honour three fallen soldiers. Iris could
imagine no better way to show gratitude for their sacrifice than to
insist all men in the Mayfair family get gussied up in women’s
clothing every year on Thanksgiving Day. Her late brothers had a
fine sense of humour, she told Marty. They’d have loved it every
bit as much as she did.
From humble beginnings, the tradition grew
year by year. Nowadays, every man chose a female celebrity to
impersonate. It cost a pretty penny, too. In the weeks leading up
to the great event, every man went out to buy flash and glam
costumes, wigs, and the glitziest makeup on the shelf.
Kristin wore makeup, sure, but barely more
than a touch of rosy lipstick and a subdued shade of eye shadow. No
use raiding her makeup cache. Tyrone was kind enough to take Marty
under his wing, since this was his first performance. They went out
together, to a theatrical supplies store, to pick up golden eye
shadow and fake lashes with sparkles built right in! The price of
it all blew Marty away—not that anyone in the Mayfair family seemed
concerned about money.
In fact, even when Grandma Iris had told him
the story of the first wartime drag show, he couldn’t help
wondering if the austerity measures she spoke of amounted to little
more than enjoying five courses instead of seven. Maybe only three
kinds of pie instead of eight.
Are you ready for this?”
Tyrone asked as he strapped Marty into a vintage Madonna cone bra.
“Competition can get pretty intense. The Mayfair men are cut-throat
when it comes to winning Best in Show.”
Tyrone was another Mayfair in-law, married
to Grandma Iris’s son Jonnie. Every year, he performed as Tina
Turner. He had the perfect complexion for it, not to mention the
perfect legs. Marty didn’t usually notice other men’s legs, but by
the time Tyrone suited up in a shimmering magenta dress, tossed on
a wig, and perfected his make-up, you’d have thought he was Tina
herself. Rumour had it he’d performed professionally in his younger
days, which he absolutely denied, since it would have barred him
from the family competition.
And Marty was getting a real sense of how
fierce this competition could be!
As far as Marty was concerned, Tyrone could
be called the best of the bunch. At first, he’d attributed the
guy’s killer performance to the whole being gay thing. But if that
were the case, Jonnie would have been a shoe-in for drag, too—and
it turned out Jonnie was the biggest flop of them all. Anyway,
according to Kristin, Tyrone had never won Best in Show. Imagine
that! He was obviously cream of the crop.
Maybe the game was fixed?
Nah, couldn’t be. First off, who would go to
all the trouble of rigging a family drag competition? And,
secondly, it was the Mayfair women who voted on the best
performance. They always picked the most bumbling, fumbling, silly
performer: Uncle George, a Mayfair by marriage who always snagged
the role of Bette Midler. They probably just picked him so he
wouldn’t feel too humiliated.
Marty wasn’t exactly in it to win it, but
surely he could count on one woman’s vote.
My wife will definitely
pick me,” Marty said as Tyrone helped him with his headpiece: a
platinum blonde wig he and Kristen had braided and then wrapped
around a Styrofoam cone. “That still sounds weird, to me: my wife.
is going to vote for me in the Amazing Annual
Mayfair Family Drag Show.”
Tyrone chuckled, but he was swiftly
interrupted by gravelly laughter from Marty’s father-in-law.
Don’t count on it,” said
Jack, who’d already slipped into on a slinky black dress. “Kristin
always votes for her good old dad. Just because she’s got herself a
husband doesn’t mean she’s going to change her
Uhhh okay,” Marty
replied, trying desperately not to stare at the man’s shiny bald
head, not to mention the bulge down south. “I only figured, you
know, since we just got married a couple months ago, Kristin might
vote for me this year.”
Jack laughed crassly. “Wait and see,
Leave the kid alone,”
said Uncle George, who looked more like a walrus than Bette Midler.
“It’s Marty’s first time in drag. Don’t you think he’s nervous
enough without you being a total ass?”
It’s okay,” Marty said,
because he didn’t want to instigate a battle to the death between
the two brothers-in-law.
Kristin’s father and uncle were already at
each other’s throats about some business deal gone bad. Jack was
some kind of corporate big-wig. Marty never had been exactly clear
on what the people in this family did for a living. Even Kristin’s
job mystified him. They all had corner offices and more vacation
time than workdays. That’s all Marty knew.
Tension weighed nearly as heavily on the air
as the eyeliner Tyrone meticulously painted on his husband. Jonnie
hadn’t found his niche yet. He was trying out Liza this year. Some
guys, like Tyrone and Jack, were showmen—dressed as women, dressed
as men, didn’t matter. Other guys were quiet, observant. That was
Marty. He listened, he looked, and he could usually pull out the
undercurrent of any situation. He and Jonnie had that much in
Can I borrow your
blusher?” George asked Jack.
Jack snapped, “No way. Get your own.”
All at once, the tension burst and George
hollered, “You think you know it all? Well, you don’t know squat.
You lost half a million in that—”
It wasn’t half a
million,” Jack cut in. “Nowhere near! And, hey, if you were a true
drag queen instead of just a drama queen, maybe Tyrone wouldn’t be
so jealous every time you win this goddamn thing.”
Jonnie stepped up and said, “My husband has
every right to be jealous. He’s got the looks, he’s got the moves,
and he’s got legs. Why he hasn’t won yet, I’ll never
George totally ignored Jonnie’s plea, and
turned back to Jack. “I’m taking you to court over that deal. It
wasn’t legit and you know it. You’ve pissed off a lot of investors,
you self-righteous son of a bitch. First thing after the holiday,
I’m getting the ball rolling on a class action.”
Jack flipped on his long black Cher wig,
then tossed his hair over both shoulders. Sucking in his cheeks, he
said, “Go on and try, Georgie-Boy. You got nothing on me.”
Marty couldn’t stand the aggression. In his
outfit, he snuck away from the guest suite
they were using as a dressing room. He couldn’t see anyone in the
hallway, thank goodness. All the women—Grandma Iris, Kristin and
her mother Angela, George’s wife Cynthia, plus Kristin’s cousins
Beth and Georgette—were downstairs munching on appetizers, waiting
for the big show to begin.
A streak of nerves shot through Marty’s
belly, making his legs quiver. He thought about performing for
Kristin’s family. Oh God! Performing was not his thing. He was the
kind of guy who felt nervous just placing an order at a restaurant.
All eyes on him? It was too much pressure!
And dressed like this? Cone bra, cone hair,
even a little cone codpiece to put over his white sequined bathing
suit The cross-dressing didn’t bother him, not with every Mayfair
man taking part, but he didn’t want Kristin’s entire family staring
at his winky-dink.
As Marty wandered down the hallowed halls of
Mayfair Manor, he caught a whiff of something delicious. Turkey
dinner was in the works, and Marty salivated as he imagined the
delicious pies that would follow. Maybe they could skip the drag
show and go straight to dessert?
Mmm… he could smell apples and cranberries
among the hearty aromas of potatoes and stuffing, and he followed
his nose toward the epicentre of aroma: the kitchen. Grandma Iris’s
cook, Brykia, went all out for the holidays. Marty couldn’t resist
grabbing a bite.
As he made his way toward the kitchen,
Marty’s thick nylons rubbed together. The soft shushing made him
self-conscious, not just because of the sound but because that
sheer fabric felt surprisingly good against his thighs. Sure he’d
thought this family was kind of nutty when he’d first met them, but
maybe the men were on to something. The drag show was truly
carnivalesque, especially for an upper class bunch like the
Marty slowed as he approached the kitchen.
He felt a little weirded out by the prospect of Brykia seeing him
dressed like Madonna, circa 1989.
He listened at the swinging saloon doors,
too nervous to step inside.
He expected to hear pots clanging, but
instead he heard the tippity-tap of high-heeled shoes. That was
strange. Brykia always wore canvas runners. Must be someone else in
Suddenly Marty’s fear of being seen and
judged outweighed his hunger, and he rushed down the hall—well, as
much as he could in heels. The guys had all put on pumps first
thing, to get a feel for walking in them.
Some of the men were old hands with heels.
Marty, not so much.
By the time Marty returned the dressing
room, the argument between Jack and George had died down. The
atmosphere was still seething, though. The clouds of tension didn’t
break until Brykia knocked on the door a few minutes later.
Madame Iris says the men
must be fed,” Brykia said as she wheeled a serving cart into the
room. She laid out a cheese and fruit tray—standard fare at Mayfair
family gatherings—and then handed George his own bowl of fruit,
primarily red grapes. “Because of your lactose intolerance,” she
explained. “These ones never touched any cheese.”
George grunted something that might have
been a thank you, then tore the plastic wrap from his dish. Marty
couldn’t resist the brie with fig paste, and scarfed it down with
enough bread to absorb the nerves boiling like acid in his
For a while, everyone ate quietly. It made
for a nice change. The room stayed pretty much silent until George
let out a loud hissing noise. Marty turned just in time to see him
brushing his arm against his flowing satin dress.
You okay, Uncle
George stared at his wrist, saying nothing.
Whatever happened, he’d reacted with enough vigour to attract
What’s wrong?” Jonnie
Nothing,” George snapped,
still staring at his arm. “Bug bite, maybe.”