Last Sunday afternoon, I dropped in on my in-laws for a surprise visit.
On the drive over, I said to myself, “Self, you should have called first. No way will they be home.”
The car and truck parked in front of their open garage door told me I had lucked out. I stepped onto the concrete and heard Sharon say, “Genny! It’s Genny.”
Sharon is my evil stepmother-in-law. This is no secret.
She is accustomed to hearing me introduce her as my evil-stepmother-in-law. I just can’t resist using “evil” to describe one of the kindest individuals I’ve been blessed to know.
The surprise—“horror” is a better word—was on me. My in-laws emerged from the garage, their hands concealed by thick rubber gloves. Each held a long-bladed, sharp knife.
I wondered if someone had cast a spell on me. Had I been zapped into one of those old zombie movies that depict dead people dragging toward their victims with outstretched arms. Was this my own personal Night of the Living Dead?
After all, it was the eve of October.
But the people coming for me were very much alive. Sharon’s voice broke my trance.
“Oh, Genny, it’s so good to see you! We can’t hug you. Our hands are all bloody.”
Bloody? Did she say, “bloody”?
Visions of the 1944 Cary Grant film, Arsenic and Old Lace, danced in my head. You know Arsenic and Old Lace. Cary Grant discovers that his sweet and loving spinster aunts are luring poor bachelors to their house to poison them.
I told you my evil stepmother is kind, as in loving and sweet. I shuddered.
“Come on in,” said Big Gary. “Watch your step. We’ve got a mess in here.”
There are three Garys in our family: Big (my father-in-law), Middle (my husband), and (not so) Little (my son, also known as Trey).
Big Gary is someone I want to be when I grow up, well, the female version. For as long as I’ve known him, I’ve admired his discipline toward diet and exercise.
I’m convinced there is nothing he cannot do. Need someone to install a sump pump or build a window seat or an outdoor fireplace? His answer: “Oh, I can do that.”
I dared follow my in-laws into their garage. Why? Good question. I guess, other than their knives and bloody gloves, they appeared happy and normal.
Big Gary is an avid hunter and outdoorsman, which is why, when I entered the garage to find a nine-point buck, everything began to fall into place—sort of.
Around sunset the day before, my father-in-law had been out in the woods on a lone bow-hunting expedition. He had decided to call it day when the buck came strolling by.
My 80-something-going-on-50 father-in-law who can do anything hit his 150 lb. target. He then managed to finagle a way to pull the deer onto a ladder and maneuver the ladder up and onto his truck bed.
But the buck needed to be cleaned and dressed, and the places that do that kind of thing had closed for the remainder of the weekend.
Big Gary’s reaction? “Oh, well, I can do that.”
The real shock was discovering that my evil stepmother-in-law willingly assisted her mate—gloves and knife-ready. Nowhere in my marriage vows was there a section that read, “In sickness and in health and when butchering deer….”
I kept reminding myself that we were standing in a garage in 2018, not on a prairie in the late 1800s. It’s not every day that a girl’s in-laws greet her in the driveway wearing bloody gloves and carrying knives.
Halloween came early this year.