Included in Book 8 of the Citizen Jim Stories:
Something Queer in the Air (Scroll down to read now.)
Citizen Jim tries to convince Chicken Sheets that if the gays are allowed to marry, it will never stop snowing.
The West Virginia Bike Chain Massacre
In which a killer is on the loose in Gilmer County, and only one person can crack the case…Jeez!
Terror in West Virginia!
In which something weird is happening to Farmer C.’s cows, and Citizen Jim thinks he has the answer to the puzzle. Of course, he’s not even close…BIG surprise!
The Pope Dope
In which Citizen Jim phones in the dead of night to inform Chicken Sheets that Armageddon is on its way via the Catholic Church’s papal selection process. O my Jesus!
Revenge on the Installment Plan
In which Citizen Jim spins an unlikely tale of being stalked on the Internet by a long, lost love.
In which Citizen Jim becomes aware of the limits placed on several modes of communication in rural America.
When in Rome
After Pope Benedict XVI “retires” and Pope Francis is elected, Citizen Jim is ready to try out his new comedy act on the other side of the Atlantic.
Something Queer in the Air
The winter had gone on long enough.
When I looked out my kitchen window on March 27 and saw that stray snowflakes were still floating through the air I toyed with the idea of leaping to my death from the bridge which is also visible from my kitchen window at Columbia Towers. The only thing that stopped me was the thought that I might want to get a kitten when and if Spring ever decided to kick Old Man Winter in the balls and take over for a while.
But I was setting a date for Spring: if it didn’t stop snowing by May First, I was going into the Monongahela River feet-first.
Just as I was pouring boiling water into my teacup I heard a loud, insistent knocking at my apartment door. I was hoping it might be opportunity, but I grabbed a large knife from the silverware drawer just in case it happened to be either love or my upstairs neighbors.
“Who is it?” I asked.
“U-u-use the f-f-fucking p-p-p-eephole,” stuttered a voice on the other side. I laid an eye against the spyglass that Viktor, the caretaker of Columbia Towers, had recently installed.
Bless his heart–it was Citizen Jim knocking on my door. He was shivering in the hallway, dressed in a tank top, camouflage shorts and rubber sandals. I hid the knife behind my back and opened the door.
“What the fuck?” he asked, shoving me out of the way and heading straight to my bedroom to rifle through my closet until he found a robe. “It is March! Almost April! Why the hell’s it still snowing?”
“Do you want a cup of hot tea?” I asked him.
“Is the cup big enough to lie down in and get the chill out of my bones?” he asked, trying to pull my robe around himself more tightly.
I shook my head.
Citizen Jim went on, still shuddering like a Quaker Parrot. “When I left Alabama it was almost 80 degrees! Spring has sprung everywhere, but not–” He stopped and squinted at me. “What’re you hiding behind your back?”
“It’s just a knife,” I said and showed him.
“Oh my God!” he yelled, snatching the knife away from me. “You’re even crazier than I thought!”
“What? I’m scared of my upstairs neighbors,” I said. “I thought you were them coming to beat me up for complaining about their noisy lifestyle.”
“You and I both know only gay people have lifestyles–are the people upstairs gay?” he asked, tucking the knife into the folds of my robe.
“No, it’s one man and one woman,” I said. “And two kids. Or maybe ten kids. I can’t really tell.”
Jim began pacing, shaking his head and holding up the knife every now and then. I wondered if he might be hatching a plan to rid me of the annoyances above my head. I didn’t care how off the wall his idea was–I’d let him have his way in this matter.
“It’s all making sense, now,” Citizen Jim said.
“What?” I asked, though I doubted I would care to hear the answer if it had nothing to do with getting rid of the upstairs neighbors.
“When that used car salesman gave me five dollars and ninety-nine cents to get out of the new Corvette I fell asleep in at the dealership, he also handed me a tract about how dangerous this gay marriage crap is,” said Citizen Jim. He stopped pacing and looked at the ceiling. “But I set that pamphlet on fire later to keep warm. Oh! What a fool I’ve been. A damned fool, I tell you.”
“What’s wrong?” I asked, as he’d suddenly lost a little color in his face and looked dazed.
“You turncoat!” he shouted. “Traitor!”
“I think you’re just hungry, Precious Lamb,” I said. “Let me boil a pot of oyster crackers for you.”
Just then my ceiling vibrated as someone upstairs threw a heavy object across the room.
“Look, I know what’s going on here,” Citizen Jim said.
“I’m glad you do,” I said and pointed to the ceiling. “To me it always just sounds like they’re throwing shoes filled with cement at each other.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about. And, hey–at least the people upstairs are normal,” he said. “At least they’re not gays controlling the weather until those old geezers in the Supreme Court say that homos can get hitched.”
“No, I suppose they’re not,” I said. “And I also suppose you think the earth is flat and that Stanley Kubrick directed the fake moon landing footage on TV in 1969.”
“Don’t try and change the subject,” said Citizen Jim.
He took the knife I’d handed him earlier and tried to throw it through the kitchen window, but the hard plastic handle bounced off the screen and flew back toward us, barely missing Jim’s ear before it hit the bookcase in my living room and stuck fast into the spine of Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon.
“It’s all clear as day, now,” he said. “You lured me up here as a sacrifice to your gay gods! But the joke’s on you–God isn’t a woman and God is not gay!”
What good would it have done to act surprised or angry or horrified or confused? “I can’t believe how smart you are,” I said. “How did you figure out the plan?”
“Oh, it wasn’t that hard,” said Citizen Jim. He pulled my Union Jack footstool toward him and sat down, crossing his legs at the knees and swinging his foot back and forth. He obviously didn’t realize that striking this pose in my bathrobe made him look gayer than Liberace. He went on: “The key to everything was the drunk on the bridge.”
I nodded. “Yeah, that drunk on the bridge always knows the score,” I said. “How much did you have to pay him for all this information?”
My guess was either five bucks (for a pack of smokes) or three bucks (for a bottle of Thunderbird).
“Actually, he gave me twenty dollars,” said Citizen Jim. “Or he would have if I’d asked. But I just grabbed the wallet out of the back of his pants before he jumped into the river.”
I smacked my forehead. “Oh my God–why didn’t you talk him down?” I asked.
“Ah, hell–you know I believe in the rights of the individual, Stimpy,” said Citizen Jim. “Except for this so-called Marriage Equality bullshit. But if some half-frozen drunk tells me he’s doing himself in because the queers are making it snow in March, who am I to even question him, let alone stop him?”
“So that’s where you got that idea?” I asked. “From a suicidal drunk?”
“He’d had enough,” said Citizen Jim. “We all have. And I refuse to be ritually sacrificed by a coven of lesbians so that spring will come and Chief Justice Roberts will besmirch the institution of marriage after three thousand years of man-on-woman success. There’s nothing more important to maintaining our great nation’s standards of order and decency than keeping marriage fruit-free.”
“Is that so?” I asked. “You really believe that?”
“Damn right. And besides–what kind of world would it be if it became not only acceptable but perfectly legal for women as hot as Portia de Rossi to marry goofy, suit-wearing clowns like Ellen Degeneres?”
I couldn’t argue against this specific point, I have to admit.
“Well, as firmly as I believe that gay people should have the same rights to marry as everyone else–”
“But they do,” interrupted Citizen Jim. “They just can’t marry people of the same sex.”
“Another good point,” I lied. “And I definitely don’t want to be a party to destroying Western civilization. So. Do you want me to see if I can draw up a tri-lateral peace treaty between the gays and the Supreme Court and the weather?”
“Yes I do,” nodded Citizen Jim. “I would appreciate that very much, as would all the normal, heterosexual people whose marriages and lives and spring breaks are threatened by this gay rights poppycock.”
“I can’t do it for nothing,” I said.
“What do you mean?” Citizen Jim asked.
“I can’t tell the gays to stop controlling the weather and convince the Supreme Court Justices to rule in favor of traditional marriage for free,” I said.
“What do you want?” he asked.
I needed to make a Family Dollar run and payday was three moons away. I thought about the cash he stole off the bridge jumper and what the used car salesman gave him to vacate the showroom Corvette. “I want twenty-six dollars,” I said.
“What? Jesus climbin’ up a telephone pole–that’s an awful lot of money!” said Citizen Jim.
“Maybe in 1967, when twenty-six dollars could buy an assload of heroin,” I said, remembering the song “Waiting on the Man” by the Velvet Underground. “But today it’ll hardly buy two bent spoons and a cigarette lighter. I think my offer is more than reasonable.”
“Fine!” Citizen Jim said, standing up and taking off my robe. He shoved a hand into the front pocket of his shorts and pulled free a wad of bills and a handful of change. I held out my hand but he walked over and lifted the nearest window, tossing the money onto the sidewalk below. “If you want it so bad, go and get it!”
With that, he left. As the sound of his sandals slapping the stairs grew faint, my shoulders relaxed. I looked out the window to see I was too late to claim my riches.
Two men were near the money, one looking up at the sky and one bending over to gather the loot.
The one staring at the clouds said, “See, Robert? I told you God doesn’t hate fags!”
“No, child, God does not hate fags on this day,” said the other man.
Citizen Jim ran toward then shouting, “HOMOS!”
In unison, the men screamed, “HOBO!” and took off running hand-in-hand.
Jim looked up at my window. “Those faggots just stole my money!”
“Take it up with the courts,” I said, and slammed the window shut.
I noticed it was no longer snowing. I smiled, knowing in that instant I could never jump off a bridge no matter how awful the weather stayed. Some kitten named Trotsky was going to need me come spring.