Though described as great tales of magical realism, these stories employ both magic and reality in the loosest possible associations of those words. Every time Citizen Jim visits Chicken Sheets she is overcome with both joy and fear, for she loves this violent, abusive man more than anyone on the world!
Included in Book 5 of the Citizen Jim Stories:
The Women Glow and Men Plunder
In which a mysterious visitor arrives on the doorstep of Chicken Sheets, whereupon she discovers that Citizen Jim is in…Australia?! Goodness gracious!
The Magician’s Assistant
In which Citizen Jim arrives with news that he’s discovered his idea of a dream job to finance his writing habit. Naturally, he needs the help of Chicken Sheets to make this dream a reality…Gah!
Disappointed Cows (Scroll down to read now.)
In which Jim’s close relationship with Cow Number Four is revealed after he blames Chicken Sheets for starting Mad Cow Disease in the US…Good Lord!
Chamber of Horror!
In which Citizen Jim arrives at the annual Chamber of Commerce gala wondering where all the zombies are.
Citizen Jim demands that Chicken Sheets leave work and meet him at “Fish and Chips” (a/k/a Long John Silver’s). Magic and mayhem with a dose of malt vinegar.
A night of low anxiety becomes a nightmare involving disease-carrying vermin and a tiny baseball cap.
I was headed to the Western Auto owned by Farmer C. to get the copy for the store’s weekly ad, and it was so cold outside that my nostrils were packed with ice.
When I walked back toward the office to speak to Farmer C., he was standing with a customer, hidden behind a long row of guns at the firearms counter. He waved and said he’d be right with me.
Though I couldn’t see Farmer C. and his customer through the solid wall of guns, I recognized the customer’s voice immediately: “So, with this gun, if I whack about five inches off the barrel, I can pretty much blast her to kingdom come, and there won’t be any part of her left whole?”
“Well, sure. In theory, I mean. But you can’t go shooting people unless they’re trying to rustle cattle or steal oil and gas off your land,” Farmer C. told the customer, then started laughing nervously. “You’re not gonna shoot anyone, are you?”
“Don’t put it past him,” I said. “I know it’s you back there, Citizen Jim!”
Farmer C. said, “Well, I’ll be! You know Kristy Sheets, Girl Reporter?”
“AAAAARRRRRRGH!” was Jim’s response. “I know her, all right! And if you’re smart, you’ll never let her touch one of these guns. She’s tried to kill me a dozen times!”
They stayed where they were, and Farmer C. said, “Now, I don’t believe that for a cotton-pickin’ minute. Kristy Sheets is a good girl.”
Citizen Jim started laughing so hard that he could hardly walk out to where I was standing without help from Farmer C.. “That’s what you think! How do you think Mad Cow disease got started in this country? I’ll tell you how: it was HER DOING!”
“Now, listen. You’re way off base,” Farmer C. said. He grabbed my coat sleeve and yanked my arm, pulling me back and forth like a rag doll. “Why, I’m the best looking, smoothest talking cattle baron in the county, and I know for a fact this girl’s never harmed a cow. She loves cows. She’s dang near possessed by the thought of cows.”
I wouldn’t have gone that far. But since I was there to sell him an ad, I didn’t protest.
Citizen Jim grunted as he slapped Farmer C.’s hand away from my arm. “She’s no friend of the cows, let me tell you, and that’s why I’m buying this gun. It’s the only way to stop the madness!” he said. “I’ve seen the pictures of that bull in your weekly ad. I know a mad cow when I see it. That bull is mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore!”
Farmer C. stepped away from me and frowned. “Come to think of it, old Big Sky’s been acting mighty pissy lately. I thought it was because he caught wind that the calf old Cow Number Four birthed last month might not be his,” he said, looking me up and down. “But now I know the real reason!”
“Yeah, see? He’s MAD! And it’s all HER FAULT!” Citizen Jim said, pointing to me.
“Is not! Don’t listen to him, Farmer C.! I didn’t have anything to do with—”
Farmer C. scowled at me. “Why, I’ll run you outta the county on a rail, little girl!”
“But Farmer C., think about it,” I pleaded. “Is Big Sky ANGRY, or is he just acting DISAPPOINTED?”
“Let’s just go up the farm and see,” Farmer C. said. He grabbed Citizen Jim with one hand and me with the other, lifting and carrying us on either side of him like a couple of empty milk jugs.
Once we reached the pasture, Farmer C. ordered us out of his truck. Before his feet even touched the ground, Jim was being nuzzled by a black bovine with a tag on her ear bearing the numeral four. She looked at him with moist eyes, nudging his hands and nibbling his ears.
Citizen Jim’s face turned bright red as the cow rubbed her face against his chest and tried to lick him despite his protests. “What? Hey, I’ve never seen this cow before in my life! I swear!” he yelled.
“That’s not how it looks from here,” I said. “That cow’s acting just like your old girlfriend Elise, if you ask me.”
Just then, a white bull started charging across the pasture, his breath like fog in front of him as he snorted. I dove back into the cab, while Farmer C. hopped inside the bed of the truck. We watched as Big Sky chased Citizen Jim in circles around Cow Number Four. Finally, Big Sky’s head made contact with Citizen Jim’s rear end, and Citizen Jim went flying through the air, flapping his arms and kicking his legs in the empty space around him.
When Citizen Jim landed in a trough of frozen water, a black and white calf wobbled over to the trough and laid his head on Citizen Jim’s stomach before sighing heavily. Cow Number Four sank to the ground and lowed miserably, trying to bury her face in the snow as Big Sky huffed and puffed at her, making gashes in the frozen ground with his hooves.
“Yep. That’s Number Four’s calf, the one Big Sky thought wasn’t his,” Farmer C. said as he climbed through the open window on the driver side of the truck. “I see what’s going on, now. Kristy Sheets, I’m sorry I ever thought you had anything to do with hurting my cattle. You were right. Big Sky’s just awful disappointed that Number Four went out on him like she did.”
I shrugged. “That’s okay. Citizen Jim gets a little carried away sometimes,” I said. “And anyway, everyone knows the Canadians are to blame for Mad Cow disease and everything else that’s wrong with this country.”
“Well, when we get back to my store, I’m gonna loan you a little tiny girl-gun, and next time you see that damned Citizen Jim, shoot a few BBs in his butt for me, will you?”
“Oh, I could never do that,” I said. “I love him.”
Farmer C. stared at me as if I’d lost my mind, then laughed nervously. “Uh, okay, then,” he said, chuckling and frowning at the same time.
The truck roared to life, and we began driving in the opposite direction of Citizen Jim, leaving him to bond with his offspring.