polite introductions were made, we located juana behind the toilet bowl, and then crammed three of us into the backseat for the excursion to killeen.
before we made it out of NJ's neighborhood and on to I-35, we listened to his brother excitedly remark "look at that man over there". we all turned to the right to watch the black man with short curly hair, overalls, and no shirt waiting to cross the street as NJ replied "uh... that's no man."
it was true. he was right. the meaty flesh of the woman's left breast peering around the bib of her overalls said so. "eeew!" we all replied as i realized too late that the absolute delight of our find had caused me to forget to pull out my camera.
after stopping at a junk shop of a gas mart containing a slew of god awful knick knacks, we understood that stopping into the outlet center across the highway would successfully delay our arrival time at their mother's home. it was at the resident GAP that NJ purchased the first pair of pajamas i had ever seen him with so that i wouldn't be uncomfortable lounging about his mother's house in mine.
NJ and i got in our exercise as we criss-crossed the mammoth complex and watched his brother driving from parking space to parking space.
the 4-year-old nephew managed to maintain his calm until we hit the killeen city limits at which point he began screaming bloody murder. he'd had enough. as childless adults that childrened adults try to protect from the horrors of parenthood, we politely searched the corners of the car and landscape with our eyes and whistled a light tune under our collective breath as sister-in-law wrenched her torso in an attempt to execute a series of spankings from the front seat.
after passing the local african/american restaurant as well as a strip mall string of seedy bars and strip clubs, we began to wind to and fro through increasingly darkening countryside and past the sign declaring we were now in the territory of the Screaming Phantoms. NJ regaled me with stories of their dubious activities as they come howling down the hillside every night to haunt the townsfolk.
finally, we turned into a drive and piled back out of the car. i discovered NJ's mom and my mom have similar tastes in decoration ... down to the gold weave ribbon they had both used on their xmas 2004 trees. she greeted me with a hug and set about preparing grilled pizzas for everyone. to pass the time, we watched the nephew feed handful after handful of dog kibble to a posse of about seven raccoons on the back porch.
after everyone else had retired for the night, NJ's mom craftily worded her question about his sleeping arrangements and upon his agreement, brought out a full set up for the couch. this meant i would be sleeping in "the doll room" alone. with the bathroom light on and the door to the living room cracked open.