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My Mother-In-Law's Cushion: Flash Fiction by cam

Chris has written more than 300 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

A Cactus Known as Echinocactus grusonii, aka, Mother-in-law's Cushion

My Mother-in-law's Cushion

“What the hell is it,” said my boss, Leroy, when he arrived a few minutes after I did at the used car dealership which he owned. He was standing there, holding a brown paper bag with his lunch in it, staring as if the thing might reach out and bite him if he were to venture too close.

“You’re not going to believe this, but I’ll tell you anyway,” I said.

“If I don’t believe you, Roger, it’s because half of what comes out of that gob of yours is BS.”

“Not true, not true. It’s seventy five percent or it’s nothing,” I said. “That’s why I became a used car salesman, and it’s why you hired me in the first place.”

“Keep talking like that in this fine establishment and you’ll be looking for work someplace else. You still haven’t told me what that….that….thing, is.”

The houseplant was rooted in a pot the size of a washtub. Dozens of raised ribs, like tiny mountain ranges, ran from top to bottom with stiff needles pointing out in every direction.

“It’s my Mother-in-law’s Cushion.”

“HeHeHe. Wouldn’t we all like to assist that particular woman in our lives onto that particular cushion?” If he were really contemplating his mother-in-law and the cactus, which actually is known as a Mother-in-law’s Cushion, the mental scene must have involved said woman plucking one inch, yellow spines out of her unfortunate behind.

“Where should I put it?” I said.

“How about...., oh, never mind, just put it in your car and take it wherever the hell you want to, but it’s not defiling these sacred halls.”

“Come on Leroy. Look, we can put it right over here by the front door where everyone can admire it when they walk in.”

“And the first little cookie cruncher that comes running in will think it’s a big, bouncy ball, and we’ll be tossing a lawsuit back and forth with his parents for the next year. No thanks pal, get it out of here, pronto.”

“This cactus is a big deal among garden designers, Leroy, especially here in southern California where the climate is perfect for them. It will grow little white flowers all around the crown, and people will stop by just to see this awesome specimen of the Echinocactus genus. It may be relatively small now, but picture a three foot tall, barrel cactus right outside those doors with people milling around, oohing and awing and then coming inside, happy to buy a car from a local, highly respected businessman who is so cultured as to have this…”—I shut my gob long enough to dramatically point at the ugly thing just like Vanna White might do it—“piece of fine, organic art on display.”

“You actually rehearsed that bull shit, didn’t you?”

“Maybe a little bit after dinner last night. And some more on the way to work, but what do you say, Leroy. Can I plant it outside?”

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“If it’s such a wonderful piece of….fine, organic art, why don’t you plant it at your house?”

“Because I, um, I’m allergic to it. If I at least have it here at work, my mother-in-law will know I appreciate it.”

“Garden designers, huh?”

“Yes, the kind that design gardens….”

“You don’t say.”

“I was going to say the kind that design gardens for the rich and famous. You know, people with lots and lots of money to spend on things like….cars, trucks and vans.”

“And these rich, famous folks are going to come to a used car lot to look at your Mother-in-law’s Cushion, then, after becoming completely awestruck, will walk in and purchase a 1999 Subaru?”

“Stranger things have happened.”

“Yeah, in a Stephen King novel.”

“You’re thinking about it, aren’t you?”

“You’ll have to put a fence up around it to keep the cookie crunchers away.”

“No problem boss,” I said, as he walked to his office.


A few minutes later, Leroy came into my cubicle holding something behind his back.

“Here,” he said. “Hang this on your wall.”

“What is it?” I said.

“It’s the salesman of the month award. Comes with a prime parking space out front. After the sales pitch you just gave me, you deserve it.”


Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on August 20, 2015:

Thanks mactavers, It was fun to write, especially after I learned about "my mother in law's cushion." What a name for a cactus.

mactavers on August 20, 2015:

I especially loved the ending.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on August 11, 2015:

Michael, I am so glad you liked this little story. It's one of my favorites. Nice to see you today.

Michael-Milec on August 11, 2015:

Serious results come out when funny things are persuasive. You came up with A plus performance Chris.

Voted up.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on August 04, 2015:

thumbi7, I'm glad you liked the story. I hope your mother in law thinks it's funny too.

JR Krishna from India on August 04, 2015:

Funny read. I will share this with my mother -in-law :)

Thanks for sharing

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 29, 2015:

Deb, I believe he could sell snowballs to an Eskimo. Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on July 29, 2015:

That was excellent. It brought a smile to my face. That clown can sell anybody anything, can't he?

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 27, 2015:

Thank you Larry. I appreciate the comment.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 27, 2015:

Venkatachari M, I'm glad you enjoyed my effort to write a funny story. It is not easy. My hat is off to anyone who can do it on a regular basis. I appreciate the compliment as well.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on July 27, 2015:

Very entertaining. Great work!

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on July 26, 2015:

Great idea and wonderful story. Very funny and entertaining. You are a great storyteller, Chris (cam 8510). Thanks for it.

Voted up and awesome and sharing it on G+.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 25, 2015:

Lorraine, Thanks for reading and for your encouraging words. This cactus is funny from looks to name.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 25, 2015:

Thanks Eric. I'm glad you found it funny. For the challenge, I'd rather steer clear of comedy, but I do have to be prepared.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 25, 2015:

Blossom, I just couldn't get the name of this cactus out of my head as I was preparing to write according to the prompts I was given. It is a hilarious name. Thanks for reading.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 25, 2015:

Becky, thanks for the encouraging words. By the time you had read the story, I had already made some changes. But thank you for the input. This particular kind of cactus seems to be popular right now for gardens. In the wild they are an endangered species (Mexico, their native location).

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 25, 2015:

Thanks for reading Shauna. I appreciate the encouragement as I get ready for the upcoming challenge.

Lorraine from Montreal on July 25, 2015:

Well written and really fun to read! When I saw the photo for a second I thought it was some kind of cool crochet or something, and that it actually was a cushion. Goes to show that photos can draw your attention and it was well worth the read! Good luck with the competition.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 25, 2015:

Nothing better than a couple of cons conning each other. Very funny.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on July 25, 2015:

Good story! I didn't know they were called that - ouch! I'm a mother-in-law!

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on July 25, 2015:

Funny Chris, and none of it sounded forced, I have never read any of your work that did. I would not mind having one of those in my front yard. I am gradually adding cactus and other desert plants to my front yard, so I don't have to water everything.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on July 25, 2015:

Used car salesmen are the kings of BS. Roger rightfully earned his Employee of the Month accolade!

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 25, 2015:

John, I struggle with comedy. As I looked back at this one, I think I tried to force some parts that really weren't funny. I've changed them and would really appreciate you taking a second look if and when you get a chance. Maybe with those revisions, any real humor might stand out a little more. Thanks for your comments, though.

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on July 25, 2015:

Quite a funny story Chris. You did very well with the prompts you were given. Well done.

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