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In-laws can fall into many different camps.  Three, however, stand out.  You love them.  You hate them.  They scare you.  Please enjoy Part 3 of The Perfect Community.  Thanks.




“WHY ARE YOU SITTING in the dark?” Carla whispered to Jay.  “Hands down your pants?  Nothing bad happens in the dark.”


Jay ignored Carla’ s comments.  His hand was over his heart.  He was still trying to catch his breath.  He swallowed hard.  His throat was so dry it hurt when he did.  He should have known the noise was from Crystal’s mother.


“You scared the living hell out of me,” Jay said.  Carla laughed and hit him on the shoulder.  “I’m not kidding.”  He made himself laugh a little.  But he was angry with her.


“You must be awful at having affairs,” Carla said.


“That’s where you’re taking this conversation, after sneaking in at two in the morning?” Jay asked.  “You’re going to talk about affairs?  Maybe I should get some pointers from you.  Apparently, you’re a trained professional.  I can’t believe you’re just getting in from a night out?”


“You’re so funny,” she said.  “What does my daughter see in you?  I’m still trying to figure it out.”  Jay was about to be sarcastic and say respectability.  “Before we continue to trade barbs, what are you drinking?”  He told her tea.  “You don’t want anything stronger?  Who knows?  If you drink something with a kick to it, you may surprise yourself at who you really are.  Or, we can see where the night takes us.”


“You’re aware you’re my mother-in-law?” he asked, sarcastically.  “And, that your daughter and husband are in the house?  Because your inappropriate statement could be construed as sick.  It’s not even in the realms of normalcy.”


“See why I say you’re so uptight?” Carla asked.  “Who uses construed and realms of normalcy in everyday language?  I know.  You.  Only you.”  Jay was about to respond.  “Oh, forget what I said.  Just sit down and drink your tame…whatever it is.”  Jay told her it was her tea.  “I think I’ll have some too.  You still haven’t told me why you’re sitting in the dark?”


“I would’ve told you,” Jay said.  “But your crude remarks prevented me from doing so.”  She told him to stop being ridiculous.  Have a little fun sometimes.  She asked him again about sitting in the dark.  “I was just sitting and thinking.  Too tired to sleep.  Too wired to rest.”  He went to turn on the lights.


“Leave them off,” she said.  “I’ll use the light from the stove.  I like sitting in the dark too.”


Jay sat down at the table and watched her at the stove.  She glanced over her shoulder at him and smiled.  There was always an underlying reason for her smile.  Anyone could see it if they looked hard enough.  That was one of many reasons he did not trust her.  She always flirted with him.  He did not think she was really after him.  It was as if she was testing him.  She was an attractive and a fit woman at sixty-nine, or any age.  Men and women often thought she was in her late fifties.  She turned heads.  She could appear elegant and refined.  But she was strange too.  Too strange at times.


“You know what your problem is?” she asked.  He asked what.  “You don’t know how to relax.”  He asked how so.  “Stay there.  Don’t move.”  She went and stood behind him.  “I learned this in one of my inner touch classes.”


“You mean…” he said.


“Just be quiet,” she said.  “I’ll show you.  All I ask is for you to not be a big baby.”


He cut his eyes from left to right.  He did not trust her standing behind him.  For all he knew she was setting him up for a joke.  She did that a lot.  He wondered if she joked that way with all men.  Knowing her, she probably did.  Then he wondered how Crystal’s father put up with it.


She put her hands on his shoulders and began to massage his shoulders and neck.  First, it was a light massage.  It soon turned into a deep tissue massage.  Her fingers dug into his shoulder muscles.  Her thumbs slid up and down the sides of his neck.  He moaned because it felt good.  Within minutes he was grunting, gritting his teeth, and moving in the chair.


As she massaged him harder he figured out her game.  She wanted him to cry uncle.  He was not going to.  Her thumbs dug deeper into his neck.  He tried not to hunch his shoulders.  He was not going to give her the satisfaction that she was getting the best of him.


Amidst the pain, and before he noticed it, her hands were around his neck.  Her hands were too small to go all the way around it.  But, she was squeezing and sliding her hands up and down his neck.  He felt her lean her breasts on his back.  She was using leverage.


Boy, were her hands strong as hell, Jay thought.  He was sweating.  He felt nauseous.  He was going to take it, though.  If anyone quit, it would be her.  Her hands were going to give out before he would.  Then he heard her grunt.  She squeezed harder.


How could she have more strength left in her? Jay thought.


“Ow,” Jay said.  He shrugged his shoulders and moved forward to make her let go.  Her body followed him.  They were breasts to back.  Her hands were clamped on his neck.  Her fingers were dug in.


“Let go,” Jay said through clenched teeth.  She held tight.  “Damn it.”  He reached up and grabbed her by her small wrists.  He could not snatch her hands off.  He thought it had to be someone else choking him.


“Damn it,” he whispered.  He heard her laughing as he pried her fingers loose.  He jumped up and faced her.  She had leaned in and was inches from his face and laughing.


They were facing each other in the dark, except for the light coming through the window.  He swore he saw the face of a demented woman.  Her hair stuck out in all directions.  Sweat glistened on her face.  She was smiling and breathing hard in his face, as if they just had sex.  But, her smile was to let him know what she could do to him, if she wanted.


“You stepped way over the line this time,” he said.  “What the hell is wrong with you?”


She laughed and said, “Don’t say you didn’t enjoy wrestling with your mother-in-law.  I’m strong for my size.  Aren’t I?”


“What the fu…”


“There’s no reason to swear,” she said.  “It was all in fun.  You’ll have a few marks on your neck.  Tell Crystal I did it.  She’ll believe you.”  Then she leaned closer and whispered, “Just don’t tell her you enjoyed it.”


“You’re sick,” he said, rubbing his neck.  “You have a problem.  I’m serious.”


“I’m going to bed while you diagnose me,” she said and sighed.  Then she kissed him on the cheek.  “You have to learn to loosen up.  People are going to think you’re a real ninny.”  She laughed.  “Sleep well.  Dream about me.”


Jay rubbed his neck.  He was shocked at what she had done.  He watched her walk down the hall to her bedroom.    “You’re nuts,” he whispered after her.


She stopped and turned around and blew him a kiss.


You’re nuts, he thought, and swallowed.


Jay and his mother-in-law do not appear to be close.  Did she make a mistake with him this time?  How angry is he with her?  What steps may he take to get even?  We’ll find out.

See you tomorrow.  Thank you for stopping by.  I enjoyed having you.


Stephen Wallace