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Grandma Bixby's Teeth
Everyone loved Grandma Bixby. You could tell by the big crowd at her funeral. There must have been a hundred mourners passing by her coffin. My Mom knew her and dragged me there and I have to say, the old bat never looked better. The funeral home did a swell job with the clothes and the makeup. I hardly recognized her as the line of mourners shuffled closer to the coffin. Her hair was neat and her teeth were polished. You never saw the old lady actually wearing her dentures. She always kept them soaking in a glass of water next to her bed.
The reason I know about the glass with the teeth in it is because I saw them first hand. She wasn't wearing them the last time I saw her, at least not so I noticed. She was walking down the street looking just as feisty and messy and old as always. She walked pretty good for an old lady. Sure she used a cane but she moved right along. I was standing on the corner drinking 40's with my man Shooter. We were just passing the bag back and forth when Shooter stopped her.
"Hey Grandma, where you goin'?" said Shooter. "You like a hit?" offering her the bag.
Grandma stopped and fixed us in a steely gaze and pointed her cane at me and said, "Norman Jefferson and Marcus James, why ain't you boys in school? Standin' on this corner, drinkin' and wastin' your life away. I knew both your daddy’s and they was hard workin', god fearin' men. You boys get yourselves to school now, hear? Don't you want to amount to something?"
Me 'n Shooter just laughed and Grandma cast us an evil eye and walked off muttering to herself. I don't think she had her teeth in then, she hardly ever wore them but I really don't remember. But I do remember Shooter takin 'a good pull off the 40 and sayin', "I bet she's goin' to the bank to cash her social security check. I hear she takes that money home an hides it away. I bet she's got a shit load of money sittin' in a drawer somewhere."
Well, maybe it was the beer, but before we knew it we was climbin' the fire escape to Grandma's apartment not fifteen minutes later. I swear, it was a piece of cake. Shooter knew just where she lived on account of her being his momma's aunt and all. Her window wasn't open but it didn't take all that much to get inside. The place looked like it was a hundred years old which was probably not too far from the truth. Old black and white photographs in old fashioned frames hung on the walls. The furniture was old, the linoleum was old, even the refrigerator looked like it came from an antique store. Anyway, Shooter got right to work lookin' for the money. He was dumpin' stuff out of drawers and closets and makin' a tremendous mess. All he found was old lady hats and old lady underpants and funny shit that nobody wears anymore. But there was no damn money. Shooter was gettin' angrier by the minute.
I was lookin' under Grandma's bed and checking out the mattress when I noticed the glass with Grandma's teeth in it. It gave me the creeps because those teeth were following Shooter around the room like they were watchin' him. I tore off Grandma's bedding while old Shooter began dumping out the kitchen out of pure meanness.
Just then, the door opened and Grandma walked in. She looked from Shooter to me and just shook her head from side to side. She never got to say a word before Shooter grabbed her cane and began beating her over the head with it. It was a good solid cane and it didn't take too many blows to drive the life right out of the old lady.
The whole time, the teeth in the glass fixed their gaze on Shooter and when he delivered the fifth or sixth blow, the teeth began to chatter. That's when I ran from the room and down the fire escape all the way home. I never saw what happened to Shooter. I heard they found his body in the alley. They say he must have been attacked by a pack of dogs, he was so chewed up. I don't know. I never saw any dogs when I was running home.
The line moves so slow. Lots of people from the neighborhood crying and saying goodbye. The funeral people did a good job on her. You can't see her bloody head. She looks peaceful. A lot of people are putting flowers on the coffin. My mother is just ahead of me. She lays a rose on the wooden box. Now it's my turn. I put my rose on the coffin. I don't want to look at her face. I'm sorry for what I done. I try to say I'm sorry to Grandma but before I can open my mouth I see that grandma has opened hers. Her teeth look at me and chatter.
That was creepy. And I mean that in a good way...
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