All in the Family
Eleven days of anonymous gifts never prepared me for the twelfth day. I still don’t know if I believe it or not. It seems too fabricated to be true. It was uncharacteristic of my mom, although I would definitely believe it of my mother-in-law, Cynthia.
The pictures clipped to a note demanding $25,000 showed two women kicking a homeless man. The second photo was of them running away with the man’s shopping cart of belongings. It wasn’t unbelievable simply because it was my mother, but also because both women are in their sixties. Two older women shouldn’t be able to overpower a young man––even if he was malnourished from years of living in the streets.
My mother was a minister’s wife since before I was born. Growing up, I watched her sing and pray in church every Wednesday and twice on Sunday. She’s worn out more Bibles than most people wear out shoes. If she was truly involved in something nefarious, it must be the influence of Cynthia.
My father died five years ago, and my mom has been living with my husband and me since then. She immediately became best friends with Cynthia, and they’ve been inseparable ever since. Cynthia and I have never gotten along. She babies my husband as though he was five years old. Our relationship is a stereotypical power struggle between two women for the heart of a man.
I’m sitting at the table, staring in silence when my husband, Billy, walks in. Billy takes one look at me and knows that I need his attention. Always the one to shirk responsibility, he chooses to pretend he doesn’t notice.
“Billy. Seriously. I’m sitting right here, and I know you noticed me.” I try not to sound too angry.
“Long day. Wasn’t ready for whatever this is.” He pops open a soda and begins taking off his police gear.
I shove the photos in his face and watch confusion flit across his porcelain skin. That man is just as beautiful as the day I first saw him. His beauty enables me to forgive his otherwise Neanderthal ways.
“What the hell?” He mumbles in his thick Southern accent.
I explain the situation, and Billy slams his fist into the wall. “This is the fifth time I’ve had to pay for my mother’s obsession! This time, she’s on her own!”
This is the first time I’ve heard him mention anything like this. Talk about family secrets!
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