Grandmother Lena
by Matthew Magee

My grandmother Lena? She smelled like old people. I remember her perfume was in a clear bottle and she used to dab it on her neck.

I met her when I was five. My mom, Crystal, took me over to the house. It was a big old house. I'd visit Grandma every Hallowe'en and every year she'd just TAKE my candy. She liked it so I just let her have it. I didn't do anything.

Grandma was self-confident and independent. She could drive. She worked but I don't remember where. She kept her house neat, bla bla bla bla bla...

Oh yeah, her husband's name was George. That's my grandfather. I worked at his market when I was fourteen. I bagged groceries and I helped folks out to their cars. It was an easy job.

My grandma could COOK! Just as good as Miss Velma.

I remember one time she was cooking chicken for the family reunion. When she was out of the kitchen, I snuck something into the pot. Ynez was a friend who lived with Grandma for a little while. We just called her "Nezz". Anyway...

I told Nezz what I did. And at first she was cool with it. She must've changed her mind because she told. Dang! Grandma was pissed! She came into the house and when Ynez told her, she grabbed some chicken pieces in a plastic bag. She started chasing me around the living room. I was ducking and dodging but she kept swinging that chicken. She hit me on my leg but that's all she could catch. Man! I was trying to get away, into the hallway, and I had almost made it when...CLINK!!! She threw her keys and hit me dead in the back of my head. My head hit the wall. I hit the ground!

Check it out: I was gonna laugh at everybody for eating the chicken with that "stuff" I put in it. But I wasn't laughing then. I had to pay $25 for that chicken I ruined. Well, my mom had to.

Whew! Grandma went to church every Sunday. Sometimes I'd go. On my own, too. I don't know why. The preacher was boring. He would just ... talk ... just run his mouth about church and God. Made me sleepy.

Grandma died when I was around twelve or thirteen. I wore black. I understood what was going on but I didn't know how to feel. But when I walked up and viewed her body inside the casket...

I cried.

Oh yeah. It was SHIT I put on that chicken!