I Think Your Husband Is Cheating On Us by Renee Ryan

Some people swore that the house was haunted. Men mostly. They’d hurry past with their heads down while women leaned against the fencepost and exchanged recipes. Men said Aunt Myrna was crazy as a loon while women agreed it could have been that post-partum depression that they’d seen on Oprah. Or maybe she was just plain fed up. Six kids and a sorry-assed husband who drank his wages each week was enough to make a woman want to give up the ghost and head on to glory. No one faulted her that. It was just the manner in which things happened that upset the men in town.

It began the day Susie Staples knocked on Myrna’s door and said, “I think your husband is cheating on us.” Aunt Myrna had nodded in a calm acceptance. Too calm, considering she had twins suckling at both breasts, a four-year-old hell-bent on getting kicked out of every nursery school in town, a ten-year-old who wet the bed on a nightly basis, and two teenage-girls intent on whoring their way through high school.

Aunt Myrna had wanted to stop having children after the first two were born but Jimmy Joe proclaimed it a man’s God-given right to procreate and went on doing just that. Mama said Aunt Myrna’s meekness was a definite weak link in an otherwise strong family gene pool.

But back to the why of all that happened. Susie Staples proceeded to list names of Jimmy Joe’s women, dates of his sexual indiscretions, and even sexual positions favored. One of which Myrna had never even heard of and Susie claimed was still illegal the last time she checked.

Myrna asked Susie if she’d like something to remember Jimmy by and Susie had nodded, hoping for his gold pocket watch. Instead, Myrna thrust the twins into Susie’s arms and herded her out the door. Susie remained in a state of silent bewilderment until she found herself standing on the sidewalk with two babies and the smell of something foul leaking out of a soiled diaper.

Jimmy Joe arrived home from work at four, completely unaware even as a crowd began forming out front. From this point on it’s all speculation, but blood splatters tell quite a story. His manhood was found in a different room from his body, and his happy sack lay in a fruit bowl on the kitchen table.

Aunt Myrna’s body lay stretched out in her best dress on the sofa in the living room. She’d swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills and died with a Ladies Home Journal magazine spread open on her lap. The whole episode strongly curtailed men’s wanderings. Meek-minded women all over town cut their hair in the same slick bob that Aunt Myrna wore and purchased fruit bowls down at the Piggly Wiggly.

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