This story has also appeared in the online magazine Five:2:One–The Side Show!
I think it was my co-worker, Tillie, who hit the nail on the head with her assessment of my near-supernatural ability to attract idiosyncratic members of the populace. “You’re a freak magnet.”
Of course, she was referring to a stalker-boy I had acquired from the IT department of where we worked. He looked like a unkempt mash-up of Charlie Manson and Rasputin. You know, that strange boy who said to the head of HR, “I bet this is about the argument I had with the ladies in payroll.” To which, the HR fella said, “No, it is not. But I now have some questions about that.”
But, Tillie got me to thinking: She’s right. But, I am not the sole freak magnet.
For, it is damn-dying truth that my whole family falls under this particular designation.
You might be wondering what I could possibly be referring to. This ain’t about that boy, Buzzsaw, that my sister ran with. You know, the one what would steal orange pylons off the highway at 2:00am and take them to Mom and Dad’s house in order to decorate the front yard with them. We do think, however, that alcohol may have played a part in that.
Nor does this take into account the other boy my sister knew. His name was Goat, and his father was the state patrolman in that neck of the woods. Also associated with Goat was his friend, Slug, who accompanied me to my junior high school prom. And, let us not forget the barn-sized, follically-blessed motorcycle enthusiast who followed me home from the Rocky Horror Picture Show to give me his comic book collection. Thankfully, I do not recall his name.
No, this narrative relates to my brother Ray’s own freak magnet proclivities, which manifested themselves into his lovely bride, Pixy. Just in case you’re not aware of it, Pixy’s an awfully sweet gal, but she is not right in the head. As it stands, this alone should eradicate any doubt of Ray’s freak magnetism.
We, as a familial aggregation, were not aware of Ray’s aberrant allure until we met Pixy at my Grammaw Neener’s funeral. Now, just for the record, my grandmother’s name was, in fact, Ophelia Elizabeth Codger, née Hogwallop. We also suspect that alcohol may have played a part in the creation of this moniker of affection.
Yet, there we were: me, Mom, Sis, Ray, and Pixy, situating ourselves in the parlor of the funeral home. My father stood quietly across the hall. He was a lone figure with his back to us, right over where Grammaw Neener lay in state. We figured we ought to give him a little space to cogitate over the passing of the Codger family matron. Seemed like the thing to do.
However, Fate herself decided on a last minute change to the script. As she was wont to do quite often, Pixy spoke. “Oh, y’all, just look at Dad. Doesn’t he look sad? I think I’m going over there to cheer him up.” At that precise moment, she proceeded to flounce over to our mourning father like a mustard-footed Tennessee Walking horse.
Meanwhile, amidst our surprise and consternation, I, Ray, my mother, and my big sister stood in place and watched Pixy approach our pensive paterfamilias. My sister peered over her glasses at Dad and noted, “He don’t look all that sad t’me.”
“’Course not,” my mother sprucely answered. “You’d hafta see his face t’know that.”
I leaned in toward Ray and asked, “You figure we aught ‘a do something?”
“Nope,” Ray said in his usual lackadaisical patois. “It is already too late.”
In the near distance, a tableau of impending foreordination unfolded afore us.
As my grieving father stood in contemplation, Pixy lightly approached him and put a gentle hand on his lower back. Because of her diminutive stature, that was about as far up as she could reach. She appeared to chat to him, to offer him words of comfort. Yet, as it seemed a moment of quiet reflection would fall upon the two, Pixy jumped like an armadillo avoiding an oncoming pickup truck. Her eyes was a-glitter with fear, and she made haste for a different designation unknown by us.
Meanwhile, my steadfast father stayed in place near Grammaw Neener. After a moment, his shoulders began to violently quake in a vertical fashion. Then, his torso followed suit. His head dropped, and his whole body finally gave in to his internal tectonic plate shift.
Again, I turned to Ray and said, “Dear brother, I am in a bit of a quandary. Should we pursue your fleeing spouse, or do we check on Dad?”
With his same Laodicean manner, he replied, “Aw, don’t worry none over Pixy. She won’t get too far. I’m her ride home.” With this irrefutable nugget of wisdom, we got on to render aid to our father.
We found him with tears flowing from his eyes like beer from the fountain my nephew RJ smuggled into my second wedding reception. However, the rest of my beloved father’s face showed no sorrow. As a matter of fact, Dad was laughing so hard, he liked to wet himself. He settled down and took it upon himself to tell us what had transpired.
“Well, folks, Miz Pixy come up, set her little hand upon my back, and she progressed to telling me how lovely the service was, how pretty the flowers smelled, how the casket was all bright and shiny. She doted upon how nice your grandmother’s makeup was done, and how fine she looked, all dolled up in her favorite dress.”
My father commenced to wiping away one last tear. “And then, she told me, ‘Why, if Grammaw Neener could see all this, she’d just die!’”
With this revelation, I turned to my brother Ray and said, “Whelp. I think this one’s a keeper.”
He nodded in agreement. “Yup. I do concur.”
Oh, yes, all of these names have been changed. I’m not protecting anyone. It’s just that their real names are a lot weirder.