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The Devil Went Down to Georgia

A husband's quest to vanquish his mother-in-law from his life.

Ask most people what I do for a living and they’ll say I chase ambulances. That is simply false. I married a nurse precisely because I am not a good runner and did not want to have to chase them. In truth, my actual job title is “Attorney and Counselor at Law.” It sounds fancier than it really is. I do, however, take the counselor part very seriously. When my good friend Josh informed me that his mother-in-law had recently moved to the small Georgia town where he lives, I felt immediately compelled to give him some unsolicited advice on the subject. I was compelled to counsel him on the dangers that awaited. That’s what we lawyers do after all, supply advice and counsel. Usually, I advise and counsel at $150.00 or more an hour, but since it was Josh this advice was free.

Josh has been married longer than I, but it was apparent that he had gained absolutely no wisdom during the course of his marriage. Surely, had he been paying attention to life at all during his three years of marriage, he would have never allowed his mother-in-law to move so close to his home. Drawing from my own experiences, I explained to Josh that nothing good can come in having your mother-in-law live so close. Boundaries must be set. The Berlin Wall or The Great Wall of China would make good prototypes, I explained. However, anything that would keep the creature that spawned his wife off his property would do.

Josh at this point suggested that I was joshing him. Thus, as is my job, I undertook to make my case and set out to prove to him that without a boundary between himself and the Evil One, he and his wife would experience an erosion of their marital harmony and a complete obliteration of their privacy. I began to tell him but just a few of my horror stories to impress upon him the seriousness of his seemingly benign predicament.


Long ago, in a city far, far away, I used to live within very close proximity to my wife’s mother. To protect her privacy and to avoid a defamation lawsuit, I shall simply refer to her by her given name: Beelzebub. At first, I did not think that having her so close would necessarily be a bad thing. I, however, am now quite sure that is also what people who dabble in the occult must think right before the demon makes them slit their own throat. I quickly learned that boundaries would need to be set to avoid one of us from killing the other and to keep my wife happy.

Boundaries were first set after Beelzebub ambushed me home alone shortly before my nuptials one evening. I was sitting on my couch minding my own business when suddenly the dog started going crazy and the pungent smell of sulfur filled the house. That’s odd, I thought. But, yes, sure enough my mother-in-law had just let herself in the front door.

“Please, come in,” I told her as she walked into my living room. I hoped secretly to God that she didn’t leave singed hoof prints on the carpet in the entryway hall.

“How,” she immediately began to inquire, “do you intend to make my daughter happy in life?”

Well, shit. I’m well, thank you very much. How are you? Yes, it is a quite lovely night.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Is she not happy already? I thought she was. Do you have a specific example of something I may have done to make her unhappy?”

“No,” replied Beelzebub. “I’m just curious.”

Wait…am I on candid camera? Is that douche bag Ashton Kutcher going to jump out of my hall closet or something?

“Well, Bee, as you know, or should know anyway, your daughter is happy. At least I think so as there has been very little fighting and much smiling, and so I plan to continue to do some more of the same as it appears to be working.”

“Well, that’s fine,” she tersely replied.

Thank goodness.

“But,” she continued, “how do you expect to provide for her?"

Madam, have you been drinking? Are you on some type of new medication? An acid flashback, perhaps? I somehow managed to hold my tongue.

“Well,” I began to calmly and politely explain, “I can see where you might be confused, because it is a well-known fact that we trial attorneys etch out a meager existence in society. Don’t worry, however, I will provide your daughter with the best dilapidated trailer my poverty-line salary can provide.”

Beelzebub seemed satisfied with this answer. Or, at least I think she was as she marched out of my house without another word. I watched smugly as she hopped on her broomstick and flew away into the night.

I told my wife about my close encounter with the bitchy kind and we established boundaries by requesting that Beelzebub call before she came over to make sure it was a good time. We also requested that she knock and resist the urge to see herself in. A deal was struck and all was fine.


Boundary setting works. The next time Beelzebub just popped in she did knock first. The problem was that she “forgot” to call. Knock . Knock. Knock. Maybe if we ignore it, it will go away. Knock. Knock. Knock. Just a little while longer perhaps. Bang. Bang. Bang. Damn.

It is important to note here that this occurred on a Saturday morning. My sexy wife was up early that day and was already dressed and downstairs being productive. I, however, was lazy as usual and got up late. I was also feeling a quite bit frisky on this particular Saturday morning, so I went downstairs so my wife and I could do what newly weds tend to do.

It was in the middle of this morning exercise that Beelzebub darkened my door with her broomstick. This was a huge problem. My wife had the benefit of being able to put her clothes on because she was dressed already before I came downstairs. I, however, am lazy and sleep naked so one can probably deduce by now that while my naked ass was downstairs on this beautiful Saturday, all my clothing was upstairs on the bedroom floor. Oops.

At the precise moment I realized my mother-in-law was darkening my door yet again, I came to the conclusion that putting sheer drapes on the front door windows was a poor design choice. Especially since the stair case was directly next to the door and its large windows. My wife, with a smirk, quickly got dressed and went to open the front door. My mother-in-law beat her to it and opened it herself and started walking in. I remained on the couch in a panic. What to do? Maybe I can just put a lamp shade on my head and blend in with the furnishings.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I prefer that my mother-in-law not see my genitals, even for a moment. I’m afraid another “How do you plan on making my daughter happy?” conversation may be provoked. Thus, the next several excruciatingly tense minutes were spent trying to guess which way Beelzebub was navigating through my house all the while ducking behind doors and walls. There were a few close calls where she almost mistook a door knob for my knob. Fortunately, after what seemed like an eternity, I had a clear shot and was able to run up the stairs unseen to grab a pair of boxers.

My lovely wife and I set boundaries after that by changing the locks on the door and by pretending we weren’t home when we heard a knock. The horned silhouette in the windows made my mother-in-law easily distinguishable from other, wanted visitors.


Boundary setting works. While my beautiful wife and I were on our first real vacation as a married couple, Beelzebub had a key made to fit the new locks on our door. Upon returning and discovering this, I quickly took action. I had the last straw and I was determined to win my battle against evil. Good must prevail. Now, as a lawyer I knew that driving a stake through the heart of the beast would be frowned upon by the police and Van Helsing is no longer available as an expert witness. I was also quite sure the Pope was busy and might not be able to perform an exorcism in time. So, I did the only thing I could do. I set more boundaries.

One hundred miles of interstate makes for a good boundary. In the fourteen months since my wife and I moved to Raleigh, Beelzebub has only been to my house once. And it was an expected and planned visit. I do firmly believe that at least one hundred miles is needed to set an appropriate boundary between one’s self and one’s mother-in-law.

As a trial lawyer, part of my training gives me the ability to read peoples expressions and anticipate what they are thinking. I could see what Josh wanted to say, so I beat him to the point. Yes, Josh, it is true that my old house is still on the market. But, that is the best fourteen months of mortgage money I have ever flushed down the toilet.

“Really?” asked Josh.

“Hell yes! How much would you spend to get rid of your mother-in-law now that she lives five minutes away?” I inquired.

Josh conceded my point. “Still,” he began to say, “I just don’t know about this moving thing…”

I cut Josh off immediately as I didn’t want to hear his excuses. Excuses are for pussies and desperate times call for desperate measures. “Look Josh,” I began, “it is ultimately up to you whether to heed my sage advice or not. I suggest you move immediately, but I will concede moving is a big, expensive pain in the ass. It’s worth it, but I understand if you don’t want to and am not going to push the subject any further. I will, however, leave you with one last thought on the topic: You live in a small ass Georgia town right next to a big ass swamp. A big ass swamp filled with big ass alligators. A big ass swamp that’s secluded. Stakes are cheap and you have a lot of firearms in your house you right wing NRA nut.”

A contemplative look fell across Josh’s face, which was soon replaced by a shameful look. He looked at me doubtfully.

“Hey, I’m just saying…”

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © This work has been copyrighted upon its publication by Michael S. Rothrock. All rights reserved. The complete work, nor any portion thereof, may not be reprinted, reproduced, redistributed, or republished without the express written consent of the copyright holder. Violators may be subject to a legal mess.

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