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Not a Dog Person: Knives Out, Ransom (M)


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Since I'm on social lock down, I wanted to do a little writing. @aggedy_ann and I decided to do a Knives Out trade and my story features Ransom with a cold. 


Marta leaned against the doorframe doing her best not to be drawn into the Thrombey family drama of the day. It was three days after Thanksgiving and Harlan had ordered everyone to the mansion so they could celebrate as a family since they’d all gone their own way on the actual holiday. Marta had been invited of course because she was “like family” to them. She heard raised voices coming from the hallway—Richard and Linda.

“I don’t know,” Richard said. “He said he’s too sick to come.”

“You call him back and tell him to get his butt over here,” Linda sniped. “I don’t care if he’s on his deathbed; if he’s not sitting at the table when dinner is served, I’m cutting up his Amex.”

“He actually sounded—”

“Oh, wake up, Richard. He’s playing you like he always does. His grandfather asked for one thing: to have a Thanksgiving dinner with his family sometime in the vicinity of the actual holiday. Just because it’s inconvenient for our son, that doesn’t mean he’s allowed to call in sick like it’s high school gym,” she said.

“Yeah, if that was an option, I would have done it,” Richard mumbled.


“I’m sorry, but if Walt launches into that story about the Netflix people one more time, I’m going to punch him in the face.”

“You may have to beat dad to it,” Linda said. She sighed and patted her husband on the shoulder. “Get Ransom’s lazy butt over here. I have to go try and keep Joni from starting in on her second bottle of wine before dinner even starts.” As she turned the corner, Linda put a hand on Marta’s arm. “Hey, kiddo. How you doing?”

“Fine,” Marta said, but Linda was already on her way to intercept her sister-in-law. Thirty seconds later, Richard came through and gave her the same “Hey, kiddo. How you doing?” to which she gave the same honest (if well-rehearsed) answer.

As usual, the dogs announced Ransom’s arrival at the house. Marta had never seen them react to anyone else that way—he was still trying to get them to leave him alone as he came through the front door. He made his mother’s deadline with a few minutes to spare, but Marta took one look at him and knew he wasn’t faking being sick.

“Hey, Marta,” he said, taking off his coat and hanging it up in the hall closet. His voice was deep and raspy, and his eyes were uncharacteristically dull. He was wearing a thick, maroon cable knit turtleneck sweater, but he still shivered once his coat was off.

“Hi, Ransom,” she said.

“Staying out of the fray?” he asked. She smiled and nodded once. “Smart girl.” He sniffled and cleared his throat.

“You feeling okay?” she asked.

“Got a cold. I really wanted to stay home, but my mother pitched a fit.”

“Even though it’s important to Harlan, I’m sure he would understand—”

“He might, but the rest of them won’t,” Ransom said. “I’d rather suffer through dinner and forced family time than let them hold my absence over my head for the next five years.” While she understood the sentiment, the nurse in her still thought he should be in bed. Ransom was a far cry from her favorite person, but when he turned away from her and pulled out a handkerchief to catch a painfully nasal sneeze, Marta actually felt bad for him.


“Bless you,” she said.

“Thags.” He was still blowing his nose when Linda came up to them, a disapproving frown on her face.

“Do not make a scene, Ransom,” she said. “You were fine at Thanksgiving on Thursday, so you can drop this whole act, put a smile on your face, and make polite conversation with the family. Now let’s go—dinner’s ready.” She turned on her heels and left.

“Overflowing with maternal warmth,” Ransom said.

From the outside it probably looked like a traditional, happy family scene—exquisitely set table, well-dressed people, expensive wine and food. Sadly, they’d barely filled their plates when the sniping and arguing started. Marta was glad to be sitting next to Meg; she was an expert at rescuing Marta from conversations she didn’t want to participate in. Between the clinking of glasses, and knives and forks on plates, the arguments over politics, business, even movies began to blur together in one unpleasant symphony of angry voices.

huh Uhh huhNGMFSHHeew!

Ransom sneezed into his napkin. Several family members rolled their eyes and Walt mumbled something about “laying it on pretty thick.” When he finished rubbing his nose in the linen napkin, Ransom went back to picking at his food. Marta glanced across the table every now and then; he’d eaten soup, mashed potatoes, and not much else. Sore throat, she noted to herself. If anyone was paying attention (and she’s pretty sure they weren’t) they’d have also noticed that Ransom was passing on opportunities to wind his family members up more and that was as clear a symptom as anything else. Ransom never turned down a chance to needle the other Thrombeys.

A flash of his red sweater caught her attention, and when she looked up she saw Ransom had quickly pinched his napkin around his nostrils, head bobbing forward three times in quick succession as he stifled a small fit of sneezes.

“Bless you,” she said. He glared at her overtop of the napkin and she realized he was trying to not attract the attention of his family. Marta blushed and focused her attention back on her dinner plate. Ransom excused himself and pushed his chair back from the table. As much as she wanted to go after him and see how he was feeling, maybe get him to take some medicine, there was no way she could discreetly get away from the table.

Once the door to the hall bathroom closed, Ransom pulled a handful of tissues from the box on the counter and blew his nose. He felt like his sinuses were full of cement and he couldn’t hold the sneezes back any longer.

huh uh…huhIHH…he glanced up at the overhead light to try and push his nose over the edge. A sudden deep gasp and Ransom doubled over into the waiting handful of Kleenex.


He swore under his breath and blew his nose repeatedly. After washing his hands, Ransom looked at himself in the mirror. At this rate, his nose was going to be the same shade as his sweater by the end of the night. He opened the medicine cabinet to see if there was anything that could help him limp through the rest of the evening—nothing but Band-Aids and cotton balls.

“Of course,” he sighed.

When he came back to the dining room, the dishes were being cleared. Thankfully, this meant he only had to suffer through coffee, dessert, and some family small talk before he could (hopefully) make his exit. With a damp sniffle, he sat back down at the table and did his best to avoid having to speak to anyone. No doubt his mother will later criticize him for being antisocial, but he didn’t have the energy to care…and it’s not as though anything he did would make her happy.

Marta was helping Meg and Linda get dessert ready. She’d never seen so many pies for such a small number of people in her life. She paused in front of the coffee make and decided to put on water for tea as well. She’d prefer Harlan not drink coffee this late in the day and, with any luck, she might be able to get Ransom to drink some as well. After fixing a few cups of herbal tea, she put them on the tray she was taking into the dining room. Marta placed cups of coffee in front of most of the Thrombeys and put cups of tea in front of her place, Harlan’s, and Ransom’s, before sitting down.

“Ugh! You gave me that blasted herbal stuff, didn’t you?” Harlan asked.

“You shouldn’t be drinking caffeine this late at night,” she said with a smile. Their struggles over his after dinner drinks a longstanding tradition.

“Elder abuse,” he said. “And with all these people here to witness it.”

“They’re on my side,” she replied.

“Honestly, Dad, I don’t see what all the fuss is about,” Linda said, oblivious to the fact that this was a game between the two of them.

“That’s because you’re still having coffee,” Harlan said. As he went on to lecture his daughter about the beverage-related injustices she would have to face as she aged, Marta ventured to glance across the table at Ransom. His eyes were trained on her like he’d just been waiting for her to look up—it was unnerving. His lips curved ever so slightly into a smile, and he nodded his head once towards his cup. Marta smiled and went back to her pie.

Arguably, the next part of the night was her least favorite: when the family left the table and went to sit in the living room. There was something about the formality of the dining room that resulted in more civility. Once they left the table, all bets were off. Marta had developed a winning strategy for these times though; she’d settle in a chair on the very perimeter of the room and do her best to blend in with the furniture. Things would play out in a predictable way with Joni trying to impress people with whatever new product she was pushing, Richard trying to drag people into political debates, Walt and Linda competing for their father’s attention, and Ransom—where was Ransom exactly? She scanned the room but didn’t see him anywhere. Maybe he’d taken advantage of the noise and made a dash for the exit. Harlan’s voice interrupted her train of thought.

“Uh, Marta?”

She stood and came over to his chair. The way it was positioned in the room made it look like he was a king holding court. He crooked a finger towards her, and she leaned down so he could speak quietly in her ear.

“Would you be good enough to go check on Ransom and tell him to go home and rest?”

Marta wasn’t surprised that he’d seen the situation for what it was. Harlan was still sharp as ever, and he had particularly soft spot for his wayward grandson. She smiled.

“Of course.”

Marta took a deep breath after closing the door to the living room, happy to escape before the discussion inevitably turned to healthcare, or immigration, or any one of another half dozen topics she really wanted to avoid. She knew Ransom would be in Harlan’s study, so she cut down the hallway and rapped on the door.


“Go away,” he snapped.

She slipped in anyway and closed the door. He was slumped onto the sofa, a box of tissues on his left and several folded up in his hands. His nose was red and twitchy, and he looked genuinely miserable.

“How are you feeling?” she asked.

“How do thihh uhIHGNSHHeew! think?”

“Bless you. Harlan said you should go home. He knows you’re not feeling well.”


Ransom scrubbed his nose and sniffled thickly. Marta frowned and came to sit next to him, placing a hand on his forehead. He did his best to glare, but he simply didn’t have the energy.

“You don’t have a fever—that’s good.” She slipped her fingers down his turtleneck and checked to see if his glands were swollen.

“Easy, that’s cashmere, don’t stretch it out.”

“Asshole,” she mumbled. Ransom smirked and she just rolled her eyes. “Glands are swollen—your throat must be killing you.” He nodded, but suddenly jerked away from her.


“Bless you. Go home, Ransom. You need rest and lots of fluids.”

“My family will—”

“Since when have you cared what they think?”

Ransom sighed and scrubbed a hand over his face. He knew she was right, and he couldn’t think of anything he wanted more in that moment than to be in his bed.

“Can you drive, or do you want me to call you a car?” she asked.

“Of course I can drive.”

“Sorry.” She stood up. “I’ll get your coat so you don’t have to talk to anyone. Stay here.”

She was back a minute later with his jacket. Ransom put it on and then stuffed the pockets with fresh tissues.

“If you get a fever, you should call your doctor,” she said when they reached the front door.

“Hey…thanks, Marta,” he said.

“You’re welcome. Feel better.”

It was almost like the dogs were waiting for him on the porch.

“Get down, you mangy—huhIHHngtschh! HuhIHGNSHHeew!

She watched the dogs nip at his heels and herd him away from the house, Ransom sneezing and cursing all the way to his car.

“Those dogs really hate him.”

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I have honestly no idea who these characters are but I absolutely loved it! Nicely written as well :D

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Loved it!!! This is on my watchlist - excited to come back and read again after I see it.

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This is lovely.   I keep wanting to say more than that, but it leaves me with incoherent babbling.    I’ll be back when I have words

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  • 3 years later...

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