Suegro was my father-in-law
and he didn’t die gracefully.
He made a big damn show of it,
squalling at his wife from his deathbed in the house
calling her a crazy old lady,
a fucking bitch,
getting even for all the things that pissed him off his whole life
telling her to come in there and help him go to the bathroom.
He would fall on purpose
and wipe shit all over the walls.
He would go into the kitchen and yell from the window:
THEY’RE KEEPING ME PRISONER!
SOMEBODY HELP ME!
The neighbors would come.
Once the police came too.
Suegra had to explain.
Poor old Suegro.
He was a sweet man when he was healthy
but dying, no.
During his last years he always talked about taking a tour of Mexico.
He hadn’t been anywhere in his whole life,
just that same dirty town
but he had seen they had tour buses that would take old people
around Mexico to visit the towns and sites,
the “magical pueblos.”
He wanted that tour so bad but it cost too much.
He finally died in midsummer
when it was hot as fuck.
The funeral was in a church so he could go to heaven.
That funeral probably cost more than the tour but somehow
they always find money for funerals,
funerals and beer.
After the ceremony
we all got in the procession to head to the cemetery.
The hearse was in front and kept making odd turns.
I said to Natalia,
Isn’t the cemetery on Progresso?
She just shushed me and we followed.
The hearse ended up going all over the place,
through neighborhoods I didn’t even know existed.
The kid driving the hearse
didn’t know where he was going
and was drunk
so we all just drove around the city for an hour.
Finally some fed-up uncle got out of his car at a red light
and set the punk straight.
We pulled into the cemetery as the sun was setting.
I guess old Suegro finally got his tour.
Now he’s seeing places we can only imagine
and he can’t even send us a postcard.
Natalia and I get in a fight on Christmas morning.
She’s sick, in fact she’s dying
and just wants me
to get away from her.
I stay out in the shed all day and night.
When I go to sleep on the floor
I dream I am driving my green car to a lake
to go trout fishing.
A kid pops out of the pines and hitches a ride.
It’s my old classmate Ian
who never had any friends
and killed himself one summer.
At the lake we don’t catch any trout.
Some cool boys wander over
and begin to make fun of Ian.
I don’t stick up for him though I should.
I walk to my car,
get in and drive it
straight into the lake.
Later I see Ian and my dead Uncle Harry
outside the Stop-n-Go
where I am buying two frozen trout.
Uncle Harry says,
We know you and your friends purposely stopped Ian
from catching any trout
and you also tried to kill him
and we’re going to take you to court.
He looks at me with a terrifying hatred.
Nobody caught any trout that day, Uncle Harry.
So you admit you were there? he says.
I’m sorry, Ian, I say.
I roll my wheelchair away from them
because my spine was crushed
when I drove my car into the lake.
They fished me out
but the car is still down there.
I feel sad for Ian.
I feel sad for Natalia
and Uncle Harry.
I feel sad for damn near everybody
and that’s the truth so help me God.
Bio: Mather Schneider was born in 1970 in Peoria, Illinois. He attended several colleges but never attained a degree. After living in Washington State for eight years, he moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1997 where he married a Mexican woman and began travelling to Mexico. He has had several hundred poems and stories published since 1994 in places such as River Styx, Rattle, Nimrod, Hanging Loose, Rosebud, Pank and New York Quarterly.