HOMESICK: A HELLBOY TALE OF THANKSGIVING
Author’s notes and disclaimer: In my story, A Tale of ‘Demon’ Rights, Trevor Broom resigned as director of the Bureau and takes Hellboy away from New Mexico not long after his fifth birthday in order to forestall further invasive testing on Hellboy. By 1951, Trevor Broom was again made director of the Bureau then located in Boston. The story below takes place in that hiatus in 1950 when Trevor Broom and Hellboy, along with Broom’s assistant, Paul Johanssen, lived on their own in a small private house in Washington, D.C.
Main characters are, of course, not mine; but, outside of some backstory information, the rest of this is my own.
Homesick: A Hellboy Tale of Thanksgiving
November 23, 1950 (Thanksgiving Day)
Trevor Broom and his young assistant, Paul Johanssen, were both excellent cooks. In spite of the tightness of their finances since Broom’s resignation from the Bureau, they managed to come up with a delicious turkey dinner complete with all the trimmings.
‘Thank goodness, President Truman let us have this house rent free,’ Broom thought to himself as he and Paul set dishes for three on the small table in the tiny kitchen, ‘If it weren’t for that, I’m not sure how I could manage on my own with Hellboy to raise and me taking in no income.’
Trevor Broom also suspected that Paul, who had opted to stay on as his assistant rather than continuing employment with the BPRD after Broom’s resignation, was channeling a good portion of the pittance that Broom could afford to pay him back into the household expense fund. He hated feeling like he was taking advantage; but, on the other hand, Paul’s assistance, both practical and academic, was invaluable to him. He hoped someday to be able to repay him for his loyalty.
Another thing that had been weighing on his mind recently was an offer from President Truman regarding his possible re-appointment as director of the Bureau. Even though he could use the reinstated income, he was hesitant to accept the position as long as issues dealing with Hellboy’s status and rights as a non-citizen were not resolved to his satisfaction.
‘Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for what one has,’ he reminded himself, as he and Paul put the last platters of food on the table, ‘not worry about what is lacking’.
“Thank you, Paul; I’ll just go find Hellboy and we can start eating.”
The house where they were staying on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. was far away from other houses and also had a large screened-in back yard. Usually, while there was still enough daylight, Hellboy could be found in the yard practicing the various martial arts he had been training in since the move away from New Mexico. Hellboy had, since just after the beginning of the year, entered an enormous growth spurt. This martial arts training was just one of several ways Broom had found to relieve his almost six-foot-tall adopted son of excess energy.
Looking into the back yard, Broom was a little surprised not to see Hellboy there. The house wasn’t a very large one; if Hellboy wasn’t in the yard, kitchen, or living room, the only other place he could be was his bedroom. Giving a quick rap on the closed door to announce his arrival, Broom pushed open the door and saw that Hellboy was seated on the far side of the large, specially reinforced bed.
“Dinner’s ready,” Broom announced to Hellboy’s back, noting that he did not turn as he spoke.
“Not hungry,” came the reply, so softly that Broom hardly heard it.
Having already eaten less pancakes than usual at breakfast, Hellboy, who was seldom ‘not hungry’, was either ailing or upset about something. Since he almost never became ill, Trevor Broom suspected the latter.
Walking into the room, he sat on the bed to Hellboy’s left side. “Want to talk about it, Son?”
Five-year-old Hellboy turned toward the man who had, less than a year before, towered over him and was now almost an inch shorter than he was. He shrugged, “I’m just not hungry.”
“Homesick?” Broom’s simple question got to the true heart of the matter and Hellboy once again wondered how his father always seemed to understand exactly what he was feeling.
“It’s just not the same.” Hellboy’s voice cracked, dropping into a much deeper register, before again settling into a medium range. “We always had Thanksgiving with all of the other guys on the base.”
Broom put his right arm around Hellboy’s now well-developed and muscular shoulders. “I, too, wish we could have stayed in New Mexico; but, unfortunately, it was no longer feasible.”
‘Or safe for you,’ he added, silently; wishing he could have spared Hellboy both the emotional and physical upheavals he had been subject to since his fifth birthday the previous December.
“Yeah, I know,” Hellboy replied, both to Broom’s spoken and unspoken thoughts. As young as he was, Hellboy was more aware than Broom realized of the true reasons for the move to Washington.
Broom gave Hellboy’s shoulder another squeeze. “Paul really outdid himself on the turkey this year. Let’s go have some before it gets too cold.”
Hellboy got up from the bed. “Did Uncle Paul make his super-special homemade cranberry sauce and you that secret-recipe stuffing you got from your grandfather?”
“Certainly, we did,” Broom answered as he stood up as well, “We both know that’s the only way we can get you to eat turkey.”
Hellboy’s stomach growled loudly. “Maybe I’m more hungry than I thought I was,” he laughed as they walked out of his bedroom. Just before they entered the kitchen to join Paul, who had been beginning to wonder where they were, Hellboy stopped Trevor Broom.
“Father, I know I won’t be able to sit on your lap after dinner like we used to, but…”
Broom’s heart ached at the wistful expression he saw in the eyes of a young boy whose physical development was far outstripping his emotional capacity to deal with it.
“I’ll figure something out, Son; don’t you worry about that.”
For some reason Hellboy couldn’t quite figure out, the turkey, secret-recipe stuffing, and super-special homemade cranberry sauce tasted better that year than they ever had before.
Later that evening, after Paul Johanssen had gone for an after-dinner walk, the large armchair in the living room groaned under Broom and Hellboy’s combined weight.
Hellboy, his enormous right hand dangling out of the way, clung to Trevor Broom with his left arm as both of Broom’s arms were tightly wrapped around Hellboy’s waist. Head lying on Broom’s chest, Hellboy had most of his upper body on Broom’s lap while his legs sprawled across the floor.
Looking in on them with a smile after he returned from his walk, Paul retired to the room he shared with Trevor Broom after having a final cup of coffee in the kitchen.
Trevor Broom and Hellboy sat together long into the night; both knowing that Hellboy, still growing taller by the day, would never again be able to sit on his father’s lap after a special dinner.
I was actually planning on writing more for the ‘Liz Sherman’ chapter to Hellboy’s Family, but this little story just demanded to be written. Thanks for reading, Beth Palladino
P.S. I hope all of my American friends had a great Thanksgiving. I had originally planned on posting this much earlier, but submission capacity had other ideas last night.
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