This is a complicated story.
You know how everybody around here keeps a hatchet in the attic in case the Big One comes and we are – God forbid – trapped up there? Well, my brother-in-law Lurch decides to take it down temporarily, since hurricane season is over and he got some chopping to do. He is fed up with backing his truck out through the mess of branches that have been in the driveway since Ida.
Lurch and my other brother-in-law, Leech, live in half a double and my mother-in-law, Ms. Larda, lives on the other side.
The attic opening is on the boys’ side, in the ceiling between the living room and the front door, and it got a handy little pull-down ladder. But the ceiling is high, so Lurch has to stand on something to get to the pull cord. He pushes over the closest armchair, stands on that, pulls the cord to lower the ladder and climbs up. The attic light is burnt out, so he has to crawl around with the flashlight in his teeth, trying to remember where he, or maybe his brother, put the hatchet.
Meanwhile, Ms. Larda is boxing up Christmas stuff, and decides to check if the boys left anything Christmasy laying out on their side. She goes through the connecting laundry room in back, and picks up their lady’s leg lamp with the fringed lampshade – like in “A Christmas Story” – and their disgusting figurine of the Grinch relieving himself, and their Santa toilet seat cover. She notices the attic door open and yells, “Is anybody up there?” Leech got the flashlight in his mouth, so he can only say “Arrgh!” She don’t have her hearing aids on and don’t hear him, so she sighs, and climbs on the chair, and jerks on the cord to make the trap door slam shut.
Then she goes outside to take down the door wreath, and her friend Margo yells from her front porch for her to come have a cup of coffee (code for good gossip) so she sets everything down and hustles over there.
The gossip involves Larry Manicotti, Gilda Manicotti’s son. He has declared for political office – I forget which, something better than dogcatcher. Seems Gilda got tired of him yelling at the teevee news, and told him to get into politics himself. So he did. He said he couldn’t do a worse job than them lamebrains running the show now. He filed for office and even designed himself some fancy fliers.
Then he asked his mama to get them printed. She asked what color and he says, “Anything – well not pink,” he says, thinking pink is too girly. She, being hard of hearing like Larda, thinks he said “HOT pink,” so that’s what his campaign fliers are printed on. And he is stuck with that.
Back in the attic, Leech is is furious. He found the hatchet, and he is tempted to chop a hole right in the (bad word) ceiling, but instead he crawls over to the trap door, and he hears some idiot outside knocking on the front door.
That chair better be where he left it. (It is.) And he stomps the trap door with both feet.
Well, it so happens to be Larry Manicotti at the door. After the hot pink setback, he finally got up his nerve to go house-to-house, and pass out these fliers, and discuss issues. With his people. His future constituents. Maybe they’ll like hot pink.
This is his first house. He had walked aroun the pile on the porch – was that a leg lamp? – and rung the bell. It don’t work. So he knocks hard, and the door swings open.
He leans in and calls “Hellooo?” Then, like he tells his mama later, a maniac, obviously from The Other Party, in his undershirt drops out of the ceiling, yelling godawful words and SWINGING A HATCHET.
Larry, being no fool, runs for his life, leaving a trail of hot pink fliers behind him.
Last I heard, he pulled out of the election. Probably best. You need thick skin to be in politics these days.