My mother in law kept a speedy pace behind me, screeching my name as I raced toward the hot dog stand. "THEO!" "THEO, YOU COME BACK HERE NOW!"I was full of adrenaline as I ran away from her at full speed now. I swiftly missed her grasp for my tee shirt as she made the attempt to grab hold of me.
Theo had had ENOUGH. Ever since he had married Julia, it had been vegan this and free range that. If he had to choke down one more organic graham cracker, he would slit his wrists. It wasn't Julia's fault; it was her mother's. That old witch had insisted on a completely organic, 60s hippie diet, and had dragged the whole family on board. Her husband, his father-in-law, had started sneaking bacon sandwiches when she went to play bingo., Theo, however, had no such break from the Diet from the Black Lagoon.Julia would feel so guilty if they snuck around behind...
There was a knock at the door. It was Theo, the kid from next door. He was only seven. Wearing nothing but blue jean shorts. Scabs on his knees. Feet filthy. Skinny as a broom. Darn kid probably hadn't eaten since Tuesday.
"You busy?" he asks.
"Kinda," I say, and hold up my crocheting.
Theo looks at the ground then back up at me. "Thing is, I'm hungry and I don't know where mom is."
I sigh. This happens all the time. I back up and let Theo march past me into the kitchen. I thought he was going to...
The picnic table was empty still, except for a few crumbs from the previous diners. A trail of ants crawled over the splintered boards in to reach the bits of old bun. Theo watched them, beer in hand, as he waited for his father-in-law to finish grilling the food.
It was the first warm, sunny day of the year and Theo was joining his wife's family for barbecue. The smell of charring meat on the grill was enticing. The food almost done.
His wife, Sarah, played croquet on the lawn with her older brother and his wife and son.
This wasn't supposed to happen. You weren't supposed to feel this way; about your mother-in-law. But didn't the saying go, if you wanted to know what your wife would look like in 30 years...and that was another thing. She only had another few years in her. Her husband wasn't giving it to her. I'm a goddamn octo-phile, he thought. Was that the word? But she was perfect -- an insurance commercial, the cover of Mature Living, hell, the centerfold.
"Theo, is everything all right, dear?" Theo had begun mumbling to himself.
"Yes, mom. I'll have another hot dog, if you...
I'm Theo. You might remember me. I had a guest role in several 80's sitcoms. Thigns jus didn't work out for me, I guess.
I got married at one point in my career, but that didn't work out either. I still keep in touch with my Mother-In-Law, though.
Last week, she invited me over to dinner. She doesn't seem to be doing so well herself. Turns out, she'd only invited me over in a vindictive mood about my divorce from her daughter. She came at me with a knife at one point.
Well, I wrestled the knife away from her...