Foxy and Phoebe and Taylor and Kate

In which Citizen Jim arrives for a little blood-letting, and can’t believe he has to tell a bed-ridden Chicken Sheets who’s hosting SNL…

Citizen Jim sat on the edge of my bed staring holes through me. He was mad as hell!

“You mean I came all the way from Birmingham with a jar full of leeches to draw the bad blood out of you, and now you say you’re just suffering from something a pharmacist called ‘malaise’?”

Actually, the pharmacist had pronounced it “may-laze” (kindly defining the word “malaise” for me) when I described my symptoms to her. Then she didn’t even laugh when I said, “Yeah, like what I’ve had since Trump became president.”

So, really, I might have emotional cancer for all the dumb pharmacist knows.

“I’m sorry, Precious Lamb. But I’m sure glad you’re here,” I said, reaching out to take his furry hand only to have my fingers smacked. “I’ve had a really bad day.”

“Yeah, well, sorry isn’t going to feed these leeches,” Citizen Jim said. “They need blood! But I’m sure you don’t care if I get sued by ASPCP for letting them starve.”

“What’s the ASPCP?” I asked.

He rolled his eyes. “The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Parasites,” said Citizen Jim. “I thought you’d have more sympathy for leeches, being the fist-raising, red-flag-waving, Gramsci-worshipping socialist that you are.”

“Could you cut me a little slack?” I asked.

Honestly? I knew I wouldn’t be getting any sympathy from Citizen Jim.

“No!” he said.

See?

The weekend hadn’t started out too great.

At around three o’clock on Friday afternoon, I got a flu shot at work. My boss, a registered nurse, warned me that the arm where I’d received the shot might get a little stiff, and so I spent to rest of the day and all evening moving it around to try and avoid the worst of that side effect.

However, 12 hours after I received my flu shot I awakened with a low-grade fever, hurting all over. The pain was severe, and not just in my arm. By three-thirty, I was howling from muscle spasms at the shot site, as well as my other arm, my thighs, my calves, and even my feet. I took a couple of Aleve and a Xanax after soaking in a tub of scalding water, still spasming but finally able to go back to sleep at around five or five-thirty.

On top of all that, I told Citizen Jim, Foxy was nowhere to be seen when I checked on her before I went back to bed.

“You let a hooker come here and spend the entire night?” he asked. “Are you insane? Nobody does that!”

I had to explain to him that Foxy is a spider who lives under the eave of the roof on the south side of my little Hobbit House.

“Her web was in disarray and I couldn’t find her anywhere,” I said, feeling a sob rising and catching in my throat.

“Well, she might not be a hooker, but it sounds like she could be,” he said. “Forget about her!”

Foxy in repose.

I felt only a little better when I awakened at ten-thirty and went back to bed at one o’clock. I slept until four-thirty that afternoon. When I woke up, I realized I’d missed most of the Texas at WVU football game that was playing on a major network. The Mountaineers were already getting the snot whacked out of them by the time I tuned in, and they never recovered.

“Did you lose a lot of money on the game?” Citizen Jim asked.

“Of course not,” I said. I only ever wanted WVU to win so that my sister wouldn’t be too depressed to talk to me when I called her on Sundays during football season.

“Then shut up about it. Football is not what’s important right now,” he said. “I guess with all your sickness and fever and muscle spasms you’ve forgotten what today is?”

I had not forgotten what day it was, and that made me even sadder than I would have been otherwise.

Though I’d swallowed my sorrow over Foxy, I did start crying in the middle of telling Jim that I’d had to cancel my reservation for Saturday night at Olive Garden. On October 5 for the last six years or so I’d been celebrating the birthday of Kate Winslet there. My celebration usually consisted of sitting alone at a table and using a band of aluminum foil fashioned into a ring to practice the marriage proposal I was going to offer her as soon as she divorced her third husband.

“It’s just as well, Stimpy,” he said, reaching out to stroke my hair (I thought) but smacking me upside the head instead (which didn’t shock me at all). “Olive Garden is way too fancy for a gal who served bangers and mash at the wedding reception for her first marriage. When the time comes, don’t put yourself out beyond Chili’s or Applebee’s.”

“Thanks,” I said, wiping my tears and trying to smile. “That’s good advice.”

“Here’s the thing: I wasn’t talking about your creepy Olive Garden-thing when I asked if you knew what day it was,” he said.

Oh.

“What were you talking about, then?” I asked.

“What the—after bugging the shit out of everyone about how they need to watch ‘Flea Bites’ you didn’t know that Phoebe What’sher-Hyphenated-Name is hosting ‘Saturday Night Live’ tonight?”

“Really?” I said.

“Ooooh reeeeaalllleeee?” Citizen Jim said. “Hell yes! And your favorite singer in the world is going to be the musical guest!”

“Oh my God! Lloyd Cole is going to be on SNL?” I asked excitedly.

“Lloyd Cole? Who said anything about that old drunk?” he asked me.

“But you said my favorite singer in the world—”

“I was talking about Taylor Swift, you dolt!”

Huh?

“Taylor Swift? She’s not my favorite singer—I only know two of her songs, and I only like one of those two songs.”

“Did you or did you not just write a blog post about Taylor Swift being in a dream you had back in 2015?” Citizen Jim said.

“Well, yeah,” I said. “But—”

“Do you ever have dreams about Lloyd Cole?” he asked.

I shrugged. “I don’t think so? I can’t remember.”

“All right then. Admit that I’m right and we’ll move on,” said Citizen Jim.

I just stared at him.

“Bah! Never mind! I need to get these leeches back to the lab I stole them from before I came down here,” he said and stood up.

“Why don’t you just stay and watch SNL with me?” I said.

“Oh, don’t try and make friends with me, now,” he said. “You can watch it by your damned self. I’ve wasted enough time here trying to play nursemaid to you.”

“Thank you,” I said. “You’re my best friend in the world!”

“Bullshit! You don’t appreciate anything I do for you,” he said. He started walking toward the front door.

“I love you!” I called.

“Whatever! And listen! If my ass gets pulled over on the way home and they arrest my ass for having these stolen leeches, I’ll be calling your ass to get my ass out of jail,” he said right before the door slammed. From the other side of the door, he yelled, “Asshole!”

And then he was gone.

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