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My Mother-In-Law's Cushion: Flash Fiction by cam
A Cactus Known as Echinocactus grusonii, aka, Mother-in-law's Cushion
My Mother-in-law's Cushion
“What the hell is it,” said my boss, Leroy, when he arrived a few minutes after I did at the used car dealership which he owned. He was standing there, holding a brown paper bag with his lunch in it, staring as if the thing might reach out and bite him if he were to venture too close.
“You’re not going to believe this, but I’ll tell you anyway,” I said.
“If I don’t believe you, Roger, it’s because half of what comes out of that gob of yours is BS.”
“Not true, not true. It’s seventy five percent or it’s nothing,” I said. “That’s why I became a used car salesman, and it’s why you hired me in the first place.”
“Keep talking like that in this fine establishment and you’ll be looking for work someplace else. You still haven’t told me what that….that….thing, is.”
The houseplant was rooted in a pot the size of a washtub. Dozens of raised ribs, like tiny mountain ranges, ran from top to bottom with stiff needles pointing out in every direction.
“It’s my Mother-in-law’s Cushion.”
“HeHeHe. Wouldn’t we all like to assist that particular woman in our lives onto that particular cushion?” If he were really contemplating his mother-in-law and the cactus, which actually is known as a Mother-in-law’s Cushion, the mental scene must have involved said woman plucking one inch, yellow spines out of her unfortunate behind.
“Where should I put it?” I said.
“How about...., oh, never mind, just put it in your car and take it wherever the hell you want to, but it’s not defiling these sacred halls.”
“Come on Leroy. Look, we can put it right over here by the front door where everyone can admire it when they walk in.”
“And the first little cookie cruncher that comes running in will think it’s a big, bouncy ball, and we’ll be tossing a lawsuit back and forth with his parents for the next year. No thanks pal, get it out of here, pronto.”
“This cactus is a big deal among garden designers, Leroy, especially here in southern California where the climate is perfect for them. It will grow little white flowers all around the crown, and people will stop by just to see this awesome specimen of the Echinocactus genus. It may be relatively small now, but picture a three foot tall, barrel cactus right outside those doors with people milling around, oohing and awing and then coming inside, happy to buy a car from a local, highly respected businessman who is so cultured as to have this…”—I shut my gob long enough to dramatically point at the ugly thing just like Vanna White might do it—“piece of fine, organic art on display.”
“You actually rehearsed that bull shit, didn’t you?”
“Maybe a little bit after dinner last night. And some more on the way to work, but what do you say, Leroy. Can I plant it outside?”
“If it’s such a wonderful piece of….fine, organic art, why don’t you plant it at your house?”
“Because I, um, I’m allergic to it. If I at least have it here at work, my mother-in-law will know I appreciate it.”
“Garden designers, huh?”
“Yes, the kind that design gardens….”
“You don’t say.”
“I was going to say the kind that design gardens for the rich and famous. You know, people with lots and lots of money to spend on things like….cars, trucks and vans.”
“And these rich, famous folks are going to come to a used car lot to look at your Mother-in-law’s Cushion, then, after becoming completely awestruck, will walk in and purchase a 1999 Subaru?”
“Stranger things have happened.”
“Yeah, in a Stephen King novel.”
“You’re thinking about it, aren’t you?”
“You’ll have to put a fence up around it to keep the cookie crunchers away.”
“No problem boss,” I said, as he walked to his office.
A few minutes later, Leroy came into my cubicle holding something behind his back.
“Here,” he said. “Hang this on your wall.”
“What is it?” I said.
“It’s the salesman of the month award. Comes with a prime parking space out front. After the sales pitch you just gave me, you deserve it.”