A remake of an 80’s pop song fuzzily pours out of Grayla’s cell phone. She is already lying in bed, but seeing that it is Gimlet calling, she feels obligated to answer. It is partially a feeling of obligation but also a matter of each sister being the closest friend the other has. Grayla and Gimlet could share anything and if Grayla didn’t answer this call, Gimlet would probably attempt another two to three calls.

“Hey,” states Grayla after she had cleared her throat to remove any gruffness.

“Guess-what-I-have-a-story-to-tell-you!” exclaims Gimlet excitedly. This was normal.

“Can you tell me tomorrow evening? I have to get to sleep… work early.”

“Nope, can’t wait, you’ve got to hear it now.”

“Okay, you have twenty minutes and I won’t guarantee any intelligent feedback.”

“Okay.” And then, “so I was hang-gliding with Jebediah this weekend and we had the best time. He wants to take me out to dinner. He’s a professional hang-glider and is sponsored by a company and his parents own this restaurant in Southern California…”

“Cool. How’d you meet him?”

“He was friends with Mitch. I ran into him the other day and when he heard that Mitch and I had broken up he asked for my phone number. He has a dog too.”

“Mmmkay. Sounds like a cool guy. How old is he?”


“Not bad.”

“What about you?”

“I don’t know what’s going on. Friggin’ two guy-friends tried to make a move last night, wasn’t gonna happen.”


“I know, right? Well, I have to go to sleep. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“Okaaaay,” whined Gimlet, “good-night.”


Ten minutes pass. Grayla is forcing her eyes to remain closed, seeking sleep desperately.

The pop song again.

“I forgot to tell you one thing. I have a story about Mother.”

Grace Grumpus’ past is mostly a mystery. As the Grumpus girls age and discover problems of their own, Grace is frequently known to relate stories from her childhood, consistently one-upping the tragedies of the Grumpus girls. These stories remain secrets until the proper segue presents itself, festering wounds to the subconscious, growing more grotesque with time, no doubt. Sometimes stories are told by Grace’s sister, Greta or the eldest Grumpus girls’ biological father, Gerald. These stories are mostly at odds with the anecdotes as recalled by Grace herself, leaving the Grumpus girls curious as to the reason for such inconsistencies.

“Aunt Greta told me.”


“Mother used to do the white powder drugs.”

“While she had us?”

“I dunno, maybe.”

“I hope not.”

“She also used to sleep around.”

“Ah, do not want to know!”

“Maybe we aren’t even full-blood sisters!”

“We are. But maybe GRIMMA was not! Maybe that’s why they had to get rid of her!” shrieked Grayla amid laughter from both Grumpus sisters.

In the background, Grayla can hear Gimlet telling Gelda laughingly, “Remember Grimma? The reason Mother had to get rid of her was because Father knew she was the mailman’s kid.”

“Nuh-uh!” cried Gelda.

“GIMLET!” Shouted Grace, stomping in from the neighboring room, “Don’t fill the girls’ heads full of lies like that!”

More laughter.

Gelda tries to laugh as though she is in on the joke now. She doesn’t want Grace thinking that she is gullible enough to believe or that she is sensitive enough to be hurt by the assertions of or about Grimma. The Grumpus girls were raised tough. No crying like Grayla used to do when she had to eat zucchini. When Grayla still lived at home, she had told Gelda and Glinda, who was likely too young to even remember, that crying over zucchini was the reason Grimma was no longer with the family.

“It’s not like I believed, Mother!” retorts Gelda.

“Whatever, the Grimma stories aren’t that funny, Gimlet.” Grace injects.

“Whatever,” mumbles Gimlet into the phone as much as to her mother and Gelda.

“Talk to you later.” Laughs Grayla into the phone.



Grace removes a photo album from beneath the longer couch in the living room and calls Gelda and Glinda over. Glinda is the youngest of the Grumpus girls and barely remembers a time when Grayla lived at home or a time when things were happier.

Grace points out pictures of Grayla and Gimlet crouching in a pool of mud, smudged faces grinning. She points out a picture of Grayla and Gimlet with Gelda in tow near a lake, surrounded by towering evergreens under the azure sky. She points out a family picture of all the Grumpus girls dressed similarly, Grayla and Gimlet looking nearly like twins, Gelda looking lanky, and Glinda looking rotund and cherub-like, her features at that time still too soft to resemble anyone.

“See. Do you see another sister?”


When Grayla and Gimlet were in their teens, the girls went to great lengths to describe Grimma, the supposed missing sister. They hadn’t convinced Gelda or Glinda and Grace just laughed at the antics of the eldest Grumpus girls. They did convince Gimlet’s best friend Karla for some time, until Gelda began laughing hysterically at Karla’s apparent gullibility.

I am or am said to be the second daughter of Grace Grumpus and Gerald Grayson. Grimma Grayson by name, but to Gelda and Glinda the last name is never mentioned. Gelda and Glinda may or may not be aware of the more suspicious name change of the eldest, undisputedly existing Grumpus girls. Born approximately eleven months after Grayla and twelve months before Gimlet, I was a somewhat sickly infant, toddler, and small child. My disappearance from the Grayson and Grumpus families occurred when Gimlet was three and Grayla was five. Grace and Gary Grumpus were already dating but not yet married. Gerald and Genevieve were similarly involved. Grace maintained custody of the children she had born to Gerald, allowing the Grayson children to become more entwined in the soon to be Grumpus family than the Grayson family.

I was or am said to have been the disfavored child. The truth in any of this is disputable and perhaps exaggerated by the eldest Grumpus girls, whose stories of Grimma, the other sister, are formed from what could be repressed memories and what are definitely two vastly imaginative minds.

If asked, the Grumpus parents and Grayson parents both would deny my existence, but the stories live on, raising questions as the darker pasts of the Grumpuses and Graysons are revealed.

The Begats

July 22, 2008

La Familia Grumpus is:

Gary and Grace Grumpus

Grayla, Gimlet, Gelda, and Glinda Grumpus

Grayla and Gimlet Grumpus are actually the children of Grace Grumpus and Gerald Grayson, who divorced when Grayla and Gimlet were small children.

Gary and Grace Grumpus married when Grayla and Gimlet were at least school age, continuing the family having Gelda and Glinda Grumpus.

Gerald remarried as well, having three more children with Genevieve Grayson. The children are named Ginger, Gillian, and Gerald Jr.

The focus of La Familia Grumpus is the Grumpus family but the Grayson family plays a somewhat important role, at least in the history of the eldest Grumpus girls; Grayla and Gimlet.

The narrator of this story, me, is Grimma Grayson, the second child of Grace Grumpus and Gerald Grayson, whose existence is debated among both the Grumpus and Grayson families. More on that soon.