Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tonight's Episode: Murder-In-Law

By Eric Beetner

Times are tough, friends. As I’m sure you’ve heard, desperate times call for desperate measures. So you know where I’m comin’ from, my father-in-law is an asshole of the highest order. So there you got the lay of the land.

He’s never liked me and I never liked him. Fact that I love his daughter doesn’t mean shit under the shadow that I knocked her up before we got married. He’s looked down on me like shit on the bottom of his shoes ever since.

Needless to say, but I will, holidays at his house are no picnic. We don’t exactly sit around singing carols and roasting chestnuts. More like we grit our teeth while humming murder ballads in our heads and he busts my nuts all weekend long.

This year, though, I arrived with a plan. My wife, Janine, decided five minutes into the damn door to announce I’d lost my job. He looked at me like a Klansman seeing a black man sleeping in his bed. I swear I could hear his sphincter cinching up.

Janine’s Mom is no Miss Manners either. She makes no show of hiding her contempt for me but I rarely feel like she’s going to wallop me like I do with Janine’s Dad. Jesus Christ, one time I had to go chop firewood with him, I swear he was picturing my throat every time he brought that axe down on a chunk of wood. I thought he was gonna throw a disc in his back he was swinging so hard. No, Doris is more of a quiet shake of the head and walk away kind of passive-aggressive type. Something I see a little too much of in Janine, but I’m never allowed to say.

There was that one time carving the turkey when Doris had a slight slip of the knife and I nearly lost three fingers. That came right on the heels of a spirited discussion of Sarah Palin’s qualifications to become president. I’m on the retarded monkey could do a better job side of the fence. They still think she can see Russia from her porch.

Like I said, though, this time I had a plan.

Bob, that’s his name, although I know for a fact he’d prefer if I called him sir. Neither one of us wants me to call him Dad. He’d feel more comfortable if I asked to see his dick. Anyway, Bob has no real money to speak of. Nothing worth stealing anyway. But I figured out a way to have the old Father-in-law help us out in our time of need.

See, Janine told me about his stash in the attic. World War II Nazi memorabilia. Tons of the stuff. Oh, did I not mention he’s a raging anti-semite? Yeah, a real charmer, Bob.

Janine told me about his Dad’s old footlocker full of flags, plates, arm bands, a bayonet, a helmet, some telegrams with codes and stuff on them. The big ticket item is a copy of Mein Kampf signed by Adolf himself. All junk his Dad brought back from Berlin. All junk Bob hasn’t looked at in years. Seems even Doris knows the etiquette of displaying your swastika covered knickknacks for guests to see.

That shit goes for big bucks to collectors. Other sick bastards who probably think Hitler had some good ideas. And if Bob hasn’t seen it since Reagan was president (the best one ever if you ask Bob) then he won’t miss it.

So, fuck it, I’ll take it. Sell it off and keep his daughter with a roof over her head. How could he argue with that?

The plan was simple enough, wait until everyone fell asleep and go up into the attic and get it. I figure I could take a few items down each night and by the end of the torturously long weekend, I’d have a cache worth a few grand at least. I already made space in the back of the SUV so Janine wouldn’t notice we’d taken on extra cargo. And really, wouldn’t you want your Dad to get rid of his Nazi stuff?

Nights one and two went off without a hitch. I grabbed the book, a flag, a Hitler youth knife. I’d barely made a dent in that old foot locker. Night three was Christmas Eve. What’s a little racket in the attic? Fun for the kids, right? “Hear that noise? It’s just Santa. Why does Santa have a Nazi flag and a luger? Ummm . . .”

I loaded my arms with another haul, doing the math in my head of how much this crap would net me, and when I turned – there was Bob.

He must have been watching me climb off the little ladder that pulls down from the ceiling. He stood patiently as I raised it as slowly as I could. No matter what I did those damn springs still groaned like a porn actress.

Bob held a shotgun out in front of him. I knew he owned it and I half expected to see it come out on my wedding day.

We stood in silence. I couldn’t help smiling when I noticed a twig of mistletoe hanging over the doorway in which he stood. I knew he wouldn’t kiss me, unless it was one of those Godfather, “I know it was you, Fredo” kind of kisses.

I tried to come up with a plan but instead I saw his mind whirling twice as fast. We had some sort of weird mind meld and I swear I could read his thoughts. He was thinking how he would explain that he heard a noise, thought it was a prowler looking to steal some gifts on Christmas Eve and he shot first before seeing who it was.

My Father-in-law was running the odds of getting away with my murder.

I swallowed hard, listened to the wind outside and waited for him to decide.


Eric Beetner is the co-author (with JB Kohl) of One Too Many Blows To The Head and the upcoming sequel Borrowed Trouble (available in Feb 2011). His award-winning short stories have been featured in the anthologiesDiscount Noir and Murder in the Wind and in Needle magazine, Crimefactory, A Twist of Noir, Thuglit, Thrillers Killers n' Chillers, Darkest Before Dawn, Pulp Pusher and many others. More info at


Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

Well Eric, you had me at "shit under the shadow" and I listened in at your mindset about ol'Bob the charmer and nodded in agreement at the non-attributes of Sarah Palin. I smiled with glee at how you inside out a phrase and remake it fresh and I smirked with mirth at the metaphor of all metaphors, "groaning like a porn actress". (the metaphor, not me).

But whoa baby, mind and clock to midnight is still tickin' on your ending ... or not-ending ... or ending ... or ... GREAT ONE ERIC!

~ Absolutely*Kate

seana graham said...

That ending sentence is perfect.

Alan Griffiths said...

Great stuff, Eric. I loved the voice running through this one - a top story.

Author said...

Oh, I enjoyed that! Very nicely done, and a great ending, too.

Al Tucher said...

"I could hear his sphincter cinching up." I could go on, but I'll just say, great job.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Great as always, Eric. Fully formed.

Paul D Brazill said...

Brilliant. Proper writing, that is.

Joyce said...

I do agree with 'brilliant', Eric, and the ending was superb. Really enjoyed this!

Sheila Deeth said...

A very dark Christmas tale, perfectly told.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Eric- That was tremendous. I really like this one. There were many great lines in it, but this one cracked me up big time.

"And really, wouldn’t you want your Dad to get rid of his Nazi stuff?"

Anonymous said...

Eric, that was great, but did you have to stop there?