RHODE ISLAND – As the Dover family sat down to a great Thanksgiving meal, they had much to be thankful for. They hadn’t met as a group the year before and much had happened. Their daughter had gotten married, and their oldest son and his wife were new parents. And even the baby of the family, Tim, was making progress at his job as a fraud investigator.
As Mrs. Dover set the table, she had immense joy. Everything was perfect and everyone was now older and well behaved. The turkey was hot, the cornbread pudding was cooling. There were rolls, stuffing, green beans, and sweet potato casserole just to name a few things. And who could forget the mashed potatoes and gravy…they were always Tim’s favorite.
They said Grace and, with a fire in the background, table candles lit, and a happy family in their seats, started to eat. Things were going fine until Rita passed her brother Tim the mashed potatoes. He used the serving spoon to scoop a massive amount on his plate. Excessive gravy was then added, and he took a bite. Had his family been paying attention to his face, they would have noticed a grimace, but he recovered before anyone could pick up on it.
"Mom, tell me about the potatoes." Mrs. Dover, who was cutting up her turkey, looked up.
"They're potatoes hon, just like I always make." She went back to her turkey.
"What store did you get them at?"
"Um...the supermarket I usually go to." She looked at her husband with puzzlement.
"Were they always this smooth growing up?" Tim used his fork to move the mashed potatoes and gravy around on the plate, almost as if he was inspecting the consistency.
"I don't see why that matters. Eat up!"
"Are these the same potatoes?" He asked the question politely enough, but she paused.
"...Yes," she muttered without confidence. Her son picked up on this.
“Did you do anything different with the gravy?” Mr. Dover could see his wife nervously shifting in her seat.
“Son, stop interrogating your mother about the mashed potatoes and gravy.”
"It isn't interrogating, it is an interview. I'm just trying to understand what happened. Mom, you are free to leave at any time." He made eye contact with his mother, who made a frown.
"This is my house. The same house we raised you in!"
"And the same potatoes...and the same gravy? Have you been busy, under any extra stress at home, anything like that?"
"These are intrusive questions!" Shouted Tim's dad.
"I'm just trying to understand," said Tim as he got out a notepad and jotted something down. His older brother caught a glimpse of it.
"You think mom is colluding with dad?!" Their mother had had enough. It was time to come clean. She broke down crying.
"They're instant mashed potatoes...I'm sorry, I didn't think anyone would notice. Your father found a coupon and said it would be easier."
"These potatoes are synthetic...like a synthetic identity. What about the gravy?"
“It’s jarred…I admit it. I shouldn’t be expected to make the full Thanksgiving dinner from scratch!”
“So would you say it was pressure then?” Mr. Dover stood up, scooped Tim's potatoes and gravy off his plate back into the potato serving bowl. He picked up the gravy boat as well and walked to the kitchen. The family heard the 'synthetic identity' potatoes and jarred gravy go in the trash. The patriarch returned and sat back down. Tim appeared shocked.
“You just destroyed the evidence,” he stated, jotting into his notebook. “Definite collusion.” Tim appeared to drop the investigation at this point, but Mr. and Mrs. Dover looked at each other with uncertainty…they hadn’t made it to the store-bought pumpkin pie yet.
Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving!