My grandma shot a man in the ass. He was completely naked at the time to boot. It was one of the first things I learned about that old hag, the story being the crown jewel of my maternal relatives. I didn’t know much of them growing up, I thought because we’d lived in different states, but as I’ve grown older I think it had more to do with my father trying to protect me from them, their being bat-shit crazy and all. Nevertheless, eventually a time would come where I was forced to stay with my mom’s parents for a while. The move was hard enough for the outdoorsy kid I used to be who would be outdoors from sunup until sundown, catching frogs and snakes, climbing everything in sight. The heavy rains of Portland prevented all that, so instead I had plenty of time in my new house to get to know my estranged grandparents. I’d always longed for grandparents of my own, my father’s parents having both passed before I could meet them. I assumed all grand folk were the cookie-baking, spoil-you-to-death types, but I’d soon learn about a very different kind of old person.
My grandpa Harold wasn’t so bad, I suppose. He didn’t speak to me much, or at all really, he mostly just grunted at me to hand him things, the remote control or TV Guide usually. Just before bedtime each night, he would use toenail clippers to clip off the top right corner of his TV Guide so he could easily turn to the right page the next day. Occasionally he’d let me do the clipping, but almost always he’d just snatch it from my hands if I tried. Besides the grumpy grandpa I was now forced to spend my all my time indoors, watching Matlock, with a grandma with the mouth of a sailor who blew cigarette smoke in my face to amuse herself—she was really the worst. I think very little of her these days, but this one story about her comes up often enough on social media whenever one of my gun nut relatives posts some inane bullshit in protest to new gun control laws. The story goes:
My uncle Al, his wife Raquel and their two kids, Baby Al and Nicky, were all living in the basement of my grandparents’ decrepit home. Raquel and my grandmother never hit it off, probably something to do with Raquel being a Latina and my grandmother being a racist. So I think my grandmother was actually thrilled when my uncle caught her in bed with another man in the home he grew up in. My uncle Al, being a tough military man, didn’t take too kindly to finding a man in his bed with his wife and attacked him, but despite getting the jump on him and the other guy being most indecently exposed, my uncle ultimately found himself pinned to the floor by a nude man with his thumbs knuckle deep in his eye sockets. My grandma must’ve heard the scuffle from above and ran down, pistol drawn, and without a moment’s hesitation, shot the man right in the ass.
Whether she was trying to kill the man or just harm him is still debated by the family, but rumors of her shouting “Die, cockroach, die” as she shot him is enough to convince me of her intentions. Raquel would later be referred to as “The Cockroach” and just mentioning her name was enough for anyone in the family to start singing or humming La Cucaracha. My grandmother even referred to her darling grandsons as “baby cockroaches” from time to time, which somehow was understood by everyone but me to be a strange term of endearment. She was a real racist granny, and not in the quirky, doesn’t-know-any-better kind of way. When I told her I didn’t like her beloved Good & Plenty candies (the oldest candy branded in the USA) because I didn’t like black licorice she asked if I was “some kind of nigger”. I stared at her, aghast and she continued, “You can’t give little niggers black licorice, you know, or they’ll bite their fingers off”. I still don’t know if it was her idea of a joke or something she really believed.