Author’s note: Thanksgiving ended up as a significant day in the narrative to Hellboy’s Family: Chapter Five: Abe Sapien. I can’t resist the idea of posting a Thanksgiving narrative for this current ‘Liz Sherman’ chapter, especially as I have a chance to post it not long after the day itself.

Last year for Thanksgiving I wrote a separate Hellboy story connected to the Hellboy’s Family universe entitled Flowers for Mother: A Hellboy Tale of Thanksgiving. What I write below is, in part, connected to that other story. If you haven’t read it, you might wish to. It was a personal favorite of mine.

Disclaimer: Main characters not mine, but Walter Carlton, his daughter Mindy, and Mindy’s son, Trevor, belong to me. Kate Corrigan, who is not a character in the movie, derives from Mike Mignola’s original Hellboy comics; but how I use her is basically original to me.

Chapter Six: Liz Sherman

Fear of Fire: A Tale of Trust and LovePart Six

(An Intermezzo for Thanksgiving)

Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, Adjunct Facility
Boston, Massachusetts
November 27, 2003 (Evening of Thanksgiving Day)

Trevor Broom watched sadly as Hellboy listlessly pushed his turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes around on his plate. Earlier, his despondent son had tried as much as possible to look like he was enjoying the meal; mainly, Broom knew, for his own sake more than Hellboy’s.

Broom may have been born in England, but had come to enjoy many of the special traditions of his adopted country—Thanksgiving most of all. Every year, Hellboy and Broom had made sure to have a meal like this that they shared with others who were almost as close to them as family; and they had always managed to accomplish this regardless of missions or assignments.

This year, due to ill feelings between them, they almost hadn’t made it; Hellboy having made it more than abundantly clear that as a ‘prisoner’ he didn’t want to eat Thanksgiving dinner with his ‘jailer’. Yet, an unfortunate event that had occurred on this Thanksgiving, though very sad, had managed to break though this emotional barrier that had long been developing between father and son.

That morning, Hellboy had again found a way to escape his locked room. Broom’s anger had been somewhat appeased when he had discovered that Hellboy, with Walter Carlton’s help, had gone to Boston to visit with retired nurse, Martha Wilson, a woman who had been as close to him as a mother and whom he had found out was dying from cancer.

When Trevor Broom had arrived to Martha’s house in search of his wayward son, he had found that she had passed away just minutes before—almost virtually in Hellboy’s arms; and, in spite of Broom’s initial irritation, it had broken his heart to see his son’s immense grief.

While Broom was thinking all of this, Hellboy looked up from his plate and attempted a tiny little smile. Walter Carlton, who was also participating in this dinner, took another bite of the food on his plate and tried to pretend that he hadn’t noticed the increasingly somber mood of the meal.

After stirring his food around for a while, Hellboy took his cold turkey and smushed it together with his stuffing, mashed potatoes, several spoonfuls of gravy, and lots of cranberry sauce; reminding Broom of the Thanksgivings of Hellboy’s childhood when that was the only way he would eat turkey.

He then surprised both Broom and Carlton by not only eating all of his food, but also by making conversation on relatively innocuous subjects. It was the most relaxed that he had been with Broom ever since the replacement, earlier in the year, of the lock on his room door with a special electronic lock keyed to a siren.

Hellboy finally placed his fork down. “Father, if you don’t mind, I won’t wait for the pumpkin pie; never cared for that much, anyway.” Getting up from the table, he walked out of the dining room.

Neither Broom nor Carlton was really hungry for dessert. After having a little tea, both retired to the guest quarters in the Boston BPRD facility where they were to spend the night before returning to Newark on the next day. Broom was informed that Hellboy had also retired to the quarters that he had been assigned, which was just next door to his own.

After putting on a clean nightshirt always left in the closet for him, Broom got into bed; but found that he couldn’t sleep. The walls of these quarters were not very thick. It wasn’t too long before he had heard the door to Hellboy’s room open and footsteps retreating down the outer corridor.

Broom shortly gave up the struggle to fall asleep. Getting up, he pulled on the robe and slippers he kept stored in the closet and went to the chapel in the Medical Wing. Sure enough, he found Hellboy seated cross-legged on the floor in front of the altar. His head was dropped down in his huge right hand and he made no indication that he had heard Broom enter; whether he had noticed it or not.

Sitting down on the floor next to Hellboy, Broom touched his shoulder. With a huge sob, Hellboy blindly turned towards Broom, who wrapped his arms around him and laid his head on his chest. Hellboy wept long and hard, his tears eventually soaking through Broom’s robe and nightshirt.

“Feel better?” Broom asked, when Hellboy had finally seemed to run out of tears.

“Not really,” Hellboy sighed, “You’ve always asked me to think of at least one thing to feel grateful for on Thanksgiving, but I can’t. All I can think of is how much I wish Marty were still here. I could see how much pain she was in, Pop, and I still didn’t want her to die. I feel so damn selfish.”

Trevor Broom handed Hellboy the handkerchief that he kept in the breast pocket of his nightshirt, “Son, I understand what you are going through. I felt the exactly the same when Grandfather died.”

As Hellboy blew his nose, Broom continued speaking, “I spent the greater part of this morning being quite annoyed with you; assuming that you had once again run off to visit Liz. You will never truly appreciate how anxious I became when I came to realize that I had no idea of your whereabouts. Ultimately, I did discover your location; but we could have visited Martha together. Why didn’t you come to me when you had found out about her illness; instead of turning to Walter Carlton?”

Hellboy pulled away from Broom and stood up. “I’m sorry, Father; with the way you’ve kept me locked up recently, I wasn’t sure I could trust you to let me come here. I knew I could trust Walt.”

Broom, still sitting on the floor, also stood up and moved closer to Hellboy, “I never meant to lose your trust, Son; but, looking back on my actions of this year, I don’t blame you for distrusting me.”

Backing away slightly, Hellboy shook his head. “Maybe you don’t blame me; but I do. I know if you trusted me not to run away, you wouldn’t be locking me up like this. I wish I could promise that I will never run away to see Liz again; but I don’t want to make you promises I can’t keep. I just care for her too much to stay away. Go to bed, Pop; it’s going to be a long drive back to Newark tomorrow.”

Hellboy went to leave the chapel; but he abruptly stopped on the very threshold. The feeling had swept over him that he couldn’t just walk away from his father like that; that if he did, it would be an action he would later regret forever.

To Trevor Broom’s surprise, Hellboy turned back and throwing his arms around Broom, hugged him so tightly as to almost squeeze the breath out of his body. They clung to each other for a long time; almost as if they both knew that this Thanksgiving would be the last they would ever spend together.

Broom’s memories drifted back to Hellboy’s earliest years, when any embrace from Hellboy could be inadvertently painful, almost breaking his ribs. “Son, it’s nice to be reminded that there are times when you can love me just a bit too much; but, really, you don’t need to squash me to prove it.”

Heaving a huge sigh, Hellboy released Broom from his bone-crushing embrace, “I wish I could come right out and say that I love you, Father. I know I’ll wait too long and never have a chance to say it; just like what happened when Marty died.”

“Believe me, Son, you don’t need to say it,” Broom laughed, as he stretched and popped some spinal vertebrae back into place. “You were never good hiding your true feelings. I know that you love me; and I’m sure that Martha was also just as certain of your feelings for her.”

“I hope you’re right, Father,” Hellboy went over to the rack of votive candles in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary. Hellboy loved the fact that these were still real candles, rather than the safer electric ones found in most contemporary Catholic churches.

As Broom watched Hellboy light several candles, he knew that there was something very different about him. In his heart he knew that no matter how difficult things became for them in the future, this change was definitely for the better; something truly to be grateful for.

Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense
Newark, New Jersey
November 25, 2004 (Evening of Thanksgiving Day)

It hadn’t started out as a bad day, really. Touch warm for this time of year—a little sun, a little rain. Walt, Mindy, and Treve came this morning, forced the regular Bureau cooks out of the main kitchen, and cooked us the best Thanksgiving dinner the Bureau’s seen in a long time.

Funny, I suppose that I should’ve felt sad during dinner and part of me did. The other part just watched Liz laughing at one of the boy scout’s bad jokes and all I felt was lucky. I still can’t believe Liz loves me instead of him. But she does and that makes life good; even with Pop gone.

Abe still wasn’t able to spend much time out of his medical tank, but he did come for a while and nibble just a little at the food. I swear; all he would talk about was how Katie’s going to move back to New York from Pittsburgh in time for New Year’s. You’d think he was sweet on her or something.

All in all, it was a good Thanksgiving this year. And just like my father taught me, there’s a lot I can find to be grateful for. So, why am I sitting up here on the roof in the drizzle, just kicking my heels?

“Hey, Hellboy; you okay?” Pooh, just the guy I didn’t need.

“Yeah, I’m okay, Manning; just needed some air, that’s all.”

“Well, I just thought that maybe you’d like to talk to someone.”

I stood up and turned to face him, “Well, yeah; there is someone I’d like to talk to, but you’re not it.”

“Oh, you mean like Abe or Liz? Tell me who and I’ll get them.” Jeez, he’s not really such a bad guy; but he can be so dense sometimes.

“Manning, I’m afraid the guy I’d like to talk to isn’t around to talk to anymore.”

As he stood there, long cigar in hand, it took him a few seconds to figure out which ‘guy’ I meant. Then, not sure what to say, he moved on to something else. “They’re going to serve dessert soon.”

“Tell them to go ahead and start without me; don’t much care for pumpkin pie.”

Manning laughed, “Neither does Liz, it seems. So, Mindy and her son Trevor are making Belgian waffles with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge sauce; the works.”

“Really?” My appetite perked up again; there was nothing Liz and I liked better than Mindy’s Belgian waffles with hot fudge and the works. “I’ll be back in soon; just tell them to give me a few minutes.”

After Manning went in, I stood on the roof for a little longer. The drizzle had stopped and the almost full moon peeked through the clouds. As the sky lightened, so did my mood. Sure, I miss my father, but I’ve gained so much since Liz and I came back from Moscow. The kinds of things I’m sure my father would’ve approved of; something truly to be grateful for.

Author’s Afterward: Make sure you’ve read Parts Four and Five of Chapter Six. Email notification of updates hasn’t been working and interested readers may have missed the two parts previous to this one. Sorry, I didn’t get the chance to post this closer to Thanksgiving. The ffnet system hasn’t been so great recently.

More to come for Chapter Six…

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