What I Have To Put Up With!

This month I’m going to get rid of my dearly departed husband’s mother if it’s the last thing I do!

Grandma Johnson is ninety-two and her tongue is poisonous, like a rattlesnake. She’s also my mother-in-law. I’ve never forgiven Barney for dying and leaving me to deal with her. The two of us get along like milk and orange juice. Mix us together and we curdle for sure.

Yesterday, I opened the screen door and walked into the living room. The door snapped shut behind me with a bang like my twelve-gauge shotgun going off, but Grandma didn’t hear it. She was watching the local news on television and had the volume cranked up as high as it would go.

Think I cook just for fun?” Grandma crabbed. “Where have you been?”

I could have told her the truth, that I was out chasing bad guys, but that would just set her off, so I said, “I’ve been around.”

You…” Grandma shook a crooked finger in my direction. “You will be the death of me just like you were the death of my boy.”

Grandma’s comments are outrageous, figments of a warped imagination. I’ve learned to ignore them.

All the while she was complaining, she gave me the evil eye. I helped her get up from the sofa after watching her rock back and forth trying to get momentum on her own. She gripped my offered hand with her own, cold and bony like the remains of a scaled fish.

Grandma Johnson is shriveled up like an old apple you’d find in the back of your refrigerator when you finally decide to clean it out. One that’s so old and moldy it takes a few seconds to identify it. And she smells like a nursing home, which is where I keep suggesting we put her. No one else agrees with me. Yet. That’s because they aren’t the ones having to deal with her all the time.

I don’t know why Grandma showed up on my doorstep with her suitcase. Unless she planned to drive me crazy.

The only thing that looks new on Grandma Johnson is her dentures, which really are brand-spanking new. She wore an old faded housedress with an apron tied around her waist and she snapped her new teeth.

“I better go check my bird,” she said, “before I go burning it up. Almost forgot.”

She sent one last glare my way and headed for the kitchen. I shut off the television, then followed her and watched as she opened the oven door. Holding hot pads in both hands, she carefully pulled the roasting pan out of the oven. My mother-in-law set it on top of the stove and removed the cover.

“See there,” she said. “I did almost burn it.”

I looked over her shoulder and couldn’t help noticing the chicken was so rare it could almost fly away. I also noticed that she had forgotten to turn on the oven.

Maybe after the family digs into this chicken, they’ll agree with me about that nursing home.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

~excerpt from Murder Grins and Bears It

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