[dropcap]M[/dropcap]y mother had a pet mule,” said my mother-in-law. “Outside Brewton, when she was a little girl. She named him Henry.”
While my mother-in-law talked, I laid beneath her bathroom sink with a wrench in hand. She watched me struggle, unclogging thirty-seven year’s worth of slimy hair that smelled like trout poop.
Mary droned on. “Mm mother would ride her mule…”
“Miss Mary, would you hand me the pliers?”
“But the mule wouldn’t walk in straight lines…”
“Pliers, if you please?”
“The mule only walked in circles…”
“Never mind.” I stood up holding a handful of fetid hair clumps.
“Then, one day,” Mary ignored me. “My mother decided she didn’t want to ride in circles. So…”
I flushed the foul-smelling bile down the toilet, gagged, then made the sign of the cross.
“Don’t you want to know what happened next?” Mary asked.
“I’m dying to know,” I mumbled.
“Well, you see…”
I crawled underneath the sink to remove another helping of mephitic sludge from the drainpipe.
Mary continued. “Then, Mother and her mule…”
By this time, I was paying no attention to Mary’s story. I shot to my feet, hacking and spitting. My face was covered in what looked like something a well-hydrated two-year-old squeezes into his diaper.
“What’s the matter?” Mary asked.
“The matter,” I shot back. “Is I just got that radioactive diarrhea in my mouth.”
“Oh.” Mary shrugged. “Well, does this mean you aren’t going to put my mule story on Facebook?”
“Miss Mary, it’s just…” I let out a colossal sigh and wiped the filth from my face. “Of course I am.”
Illustration by Brigid Mccabe