Story Time: Mrs. Stephens 4

I decided to stop by a little hole in the wall Pizza Parlor on the way home.  I came home with a box of master crafted cheese, pepperoni and mushrooms.  Just the smell of it was intoxicating.  I had a hard time just driving home without snaking a hand in the box for a slice.  I walked in the door and stopped for a second.   Something just seemed to be a bit out of place.  Like an echo you only hear a part of.  It wafted about and then faded before you were really convinced it was even there.  It wasn’t until I felt the burn of the pizza bottom on my hand that I came out of the spell I’d been put in.  I set the pizza down on the kitchen table.  It was super fresh, and the cheese would run all over if I tried to eat it now.  I figured I had about 10 minutes before it would be truly ready.

Despite the fact that my ex-wife was a knife wielding psychopath, my mother-in-law was rather awesome.  She’d always called me “son,” and even after the divorce and restraining order, maintained a good relationship with her granddaughter and I.  Jane came from money, and we lived a comfortable life for a while before things went south.  Some people thought I’d stayed with her for the money.  But Jane knew it had more to do with the fact that I had no family more than anything else.  My mom and dad were long gone before we even met, and our wedding was basically one large “bride” section with how popular and loved Jane was.  I think if it hadn’t been for the injuries and bruises I took over the years Martha would have probably just written me off as a gold digger.  Sometimes I felt like we shared that secret.  She always did have criptic ways of hinting that Jane’s late father had always had a temper.   “Well you sort of had to in the world of cooperate sales darling.   No one got anywhere being a pushover, and Barty was no ones door mat.”  Her voice was raspy as she told it.  Cigarette smoke wafting in the air from the end of a slim.  Martha still smoked to this day.  Even after being diagnosed with lung cancer, the woman said she earned the puffs she took.  Nelly was the only reason she ever put them out.  It was fair to say I loved Martha.

Martha gave us a place to live after everything exploded.  Jane was in jail.  I was working but my job couldn’t afford to keep the house we were in.  The mortgage fell behind in short order and I was 2 weeks away from being foreclosed on before Martha showed up at my doorstep demanding to know why I had not called her to ask for help.   “Well damn Dick if you wanted to be stupid why couldn’t you have done it before you gave me a granddaughter.  I may be Jane’s mother but I’m not about to kill you for not calling son.”  I was simply dumbfounded to find out she had already made arrangements.  “I have a condo just outside of LODO, you’re going to live there until you can get back on your own feet and even longer if you wish.”  Without her help I hate to think of where Nelly and I would be forced to live on my income alone.

So here we were, living on her grace until I was able to buy the place, or find another.   Hopefully by the time Jane made parole, or convinced people she wasn’t crazy, Nelly and I would be long gone.  Luckily I didn’t have to think about that for a long time.  I put a tea pot on to boil, and made sure I had enough whiskey to sleep good and well tonight.  I couldn’t remember the last time I got to partake of the Jim Beam, but the dust on the bottle didn’t seem to be as thick as it should.   No matter, I dusted it off and set it on the counter.  I slipped out of my shirt before I even got up the stairs.  I was going to take a shower.  I looked at the clock.  I had at least 10 minutes before the Rockies pre-game.   I ignored the pain in my forearm and headed on upstairs.

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