As my husband and I walked past the cemetery, our conversation grew spirited. “I thought about you the other day,” he said.
I begged him, “Do go on.” It was a Tuesday and I should have known I was making a mistake.
He said, “I was talking to this guy who sells cemetery plots.”
Our exchange died. I think he remembered that the only ghosts in graveyards belong to people killed there. He admitted that perhaps he’d said too much.
The hairs on my arms prickled. Maybe he’s in cahoots with his mother. To say so out loud would start a fight, so I cut the thought off my tongue and kept it in my heart. It’s a tenuous existence for us daughters-in-law. The bad guy hired to do the hit with a hatchet could lurk on any corner. Monday, the mother-in-law hugs her son’s wife and coos about being best friends. Thursday, she seethes about her son’s circumstances – stuck in the care of a woman who won’t put away his underwear.
I’m jumpy this time of year. A couple of weeks ago, a Florida mother-in-law fed up with sharing her son and grandchildren with an unworthy woman hired a hit man to eliminate the problem wife.
My house is decorated in its best gore for Halloween. North of here, my mother-in-law has begun the red-bow campaign in her home. It’s a source of contention that I lack her eagerness for the holidays and spend so much time toodling around. And I’m not above strumming a raw nerve. I’ve given my husband’s mother reason to snap.
That Florida mother-in-law lulled herself into believing that Jason or Chucky or Freddy Kruger or Michael Myers would take the blame for the horrific and untimely demise of the daughter-in-law. She was disappointed to learn that $5,000 doesn’t buy boogeymen like that. The only two things $5,000 will get for an angry murderer-in-law are either a cop – the kind not dressed in a cop costume – or the beast from the bargain basement. When she dropped her standards and opted for the bargain-basement B-movie beast, the undercover cop popped the handcuffs on her.
My mother-in-law is no thrift-store shopper. And she is not an impulsive consumer. She doesn’t settle. She pores over her choices for weeks or months before making a selection and paying for her purchase. A woman who will devote hours to picking out curtain rod finials will not be hasty when choosing an assassin to save her son. She won’t retain a gimpy guy with a rusty butter knife to do her bidding. She has discerning tastes. She’ll check each killer’s teeth and nails and gums and weapon of choice. Only the best for me, I assure you.
For 21 years she’s kept me in suspense waiting for the hammer to fall. The anticipation is worse than dying by a lame man wielding a rusty butter knife. She must know this. Her maniacal laughter echoes as she hangs red bows on every object in her house.
My husband may be jumping the gun(man) and getting down to the business of my burial a bit too soon. I would warn him. I would confess that I know what his mother is up to, but that would start a fight. Why I care, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. My mother-in-law is really going to kill me after she reads this.