Included in Book 9 of the Citizen Jim Stories:

The Mystery of the Missing Don Rickles Videos
In which Citizen Jim arrives to retrieve some things he wrongly accuses Chicken Sheets of having – and he is hopping mad! Features a “guest appearance” by Lulu Whippy. BONUS: The final chapter of Citizen Jim’s “The Downwindies.”

Phone Home!
In which Citizen Jim arrives with a soggy box full of old telephones, claiming that he can’t count on Chicken Sheets to ever keep her promises to him. Oh, booooo hoooooo!

Episode de Noir
In which Citizen Jim encounters a woman who promises to be nothing but trouble – and not in a good way.

Hiding from the Police (Scroll down to read now.)
In which Citizen Jim shows up at work and thinks he knows why Chicken Sheets has made her latest career move.

It Passes the Time
In which a fanny-slapping corporate-type arrives and turns out to be someone Chicken Sheets already knows.

A Dark Stain of Urine
In which Chicken Sheets arrives at work to find Citizen Jim, a crime scene and a woman with a dangerous weapon.

Columbia Towers
In which Citizen Jim attempts to save Chicken Sheets from a romantic mishap through the most crackpot, meticulous, and ridiculous means possible.

Hiding from the Police

After more than three weeks at my new job I was still pinching myself every fifteen or twenty minutes just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

As far as working goes, I was a late bloomer–I didn’t have my first job until I was 18 years old. Between then and now it’s become obvious that working is a soul-snatching, mind-numbing, heart-pulverizing racket designed to make rich people richer and to keep everyone else too distracted by their fight for survival to notice this.

But finally, after more than two decades of engaging in this miserable bubble, toil and trouble, I’d landed a job that–

“Oh my God!” shouted Citizen Jim as he stomped down the aisle toward my little cubicle. “What is it with your rambling, pointless prefaces these days?”

“You can’t give me a measly 100 words to set the scene?” I asked.

“It was a hundred and five, Missy!” he said, “And besides–this is gettin’ into time! I don’t have a lot of that these days what with all my job-hunting and scrapbooking and gold-digging and gun-cleaning and clothes-washing and…”

I just tuned him out for a moment. I thought it might be wash day when I saw what he was wearing: a purple jumpsuit (silk) with grey piping and rhinestones studding the cuffs of the sleeves, the hems of the pant legs and the collar. The tongue of the jumpsuit zipper–which was only about mid-chest, so that we were getting an eyeful of Jim’s fur as it strained to escape the confines of his clothing–was in the shape of a dolphin wearing a top hat, jumping over a rainbow; there was a mermaid hanging onto the dolphin’s back fin, while a leprechaun guarding a pot of gold had a hold of the mermaid’s tail.

Honestly, he looked like–

“Don’t you say a word about what I’m wearing,” he said. He stood before me, mad as hell, then looked down at his gold lamé wrestling shoes. “I know I look like a gay car mechanic!”

He really didn’t. I wasn’t certain what he looked like, but it wasn’t a gay car mechanic–at least not the ones I’ve seen in pornographic movies, anyway.

“I don’t think you should be in here,” I said, looking around.

He frowned and kind of nodded. “Yeah. When I told the security guard at the front desk that if I had a badge to swipe at the door I’d swipe it up her ass instead and be on my way, I guess she did let me know she was gonna call the cops.”

I just stared at him, wondering why nobody was paying any attention to the sight of Jim–something that should have caught the eyes of all the normal, sensible people in the place. But he wasn’t fazing anybody.

“Why are you doing all this thinking and not talking,” Jim wanted to know. “What the hell kind of place is this where I’ve had to come and see you?”

I was afraid to tell him the truth. If he knew he was anywhere near the place where I was making a living, he would be sure and wreck it for me. But if I lied I would feel terrible, as I love him more than anything in the world!

“It’s a call center,” I admitted.

“I don’t see anyone talking on the phone–now tell me the truth, or I’ll mash your face in with a brick!”

“That is the truth. This is where I work,” I said.

“I’d be mad as hell if I were you,” he said, glancing around. “Because I don’t see anyone else working.”

“If he wants to stay here yakking all day, you better tell him to get under your desk,” said my cubicle seatmate.

“Don’t point that damned glue gun at me, lady,” Citizen Jim said to her. She was making some sort of art or craft at her desk.

The woman who sits behind me stopped doing jumping jacks for a moment and looked at me. “She’s right. They’ll tase that guy dressed like a queer housepainter and you’ll get fired if someone sees him.”

Was it a queer housepainter he looked like, I wondered? No, not that, either.

“What the–you come with me!” Jim said, grabbing for my arm.

I pulled away and joined in with five other people who all said, “Get under the desk!”

Jim did as he was told and dove under my cubicle. He scrambled around in circles for a moment or two like a dog trying but failing to bite the fleas on his ass.

“You may think you’ve got me at a disadvantage, what with my face being so near your knees and feet,” he said, then I kicked him hard. He groaned in agony. “And you would be right.”

I stared at the book in my hands but started talking to Jim from my vantage point above his head. “Why are you here?” I asked.

“Why am I here? Why are you here?” he asked.

“I already told you–I work here!”

“You looked like you were reading a book when I spotted your scraggly pony tail back here in this corner,” he said. “What are you supposed to be doing?”

“As far as I can tell, I’m just waiting,” I said.

“For what?”

“To go home,” I said.

“Why are you lying to me? What have I ever tried to do except love you in my own way?” Jim asked.

I pushed back my chair-on-wheels and peered into the darkness under my desk. “I’m not lying,” I said. I slid off my chair and squeezed into the space under the desk to face Jim. I knew I might regret at some point giving up my position of power, but I didn’t care. “Jim, I’m telling you the God’s honest truth. Scout’s honor.”

“You swear on a stack of that yellow book you hate”?

“Absolutely,” I swore.

“So you’re trying to tell me–me! Your best friend in the whole wide world–you’re trying to tell me you’re getting paid while you’re sitting there reading a book?”

I nodded. “Yes.”

“And those ladies I saw knitting? They’re getting paid?”

I nodded again.

“I also saw a guy flipping playing cards into a top hat, a girl doing a Sudoku puzzle, and a man and woman who looked like they might be practicing a dance that was a cross between the Charleston and the Jitterbug but with absolutely no music?”

I touched a finger for each answer: “Yes, yes and I’m not real sure but possibly,” I said.

“Wow,” Jim said, scowling and shaking his head.

“I know,” I said. “Isn’t it great?”

He scowled even harder. “No, it’s not great. It’s terrible! A call center? After all those years you went to college? You almost even got a degree, you went so goddamn long,” he said.

“Yeah, well, I like this job. I have insurance and a 401k. I can work overtime. I don’t get hassled. It’s such a big place with so many people that we all just blend in–it’d be the perfect place to go if you were hiding from the police.”

“You were going to write! And get famous and rich! But instead you’re here in this awful, dead end–wait! Did you just say this would be the perfect place to hide from the police?”

I shrugged. “Well, I meant–”

“This is terrible! My God, Stimpy, what have you done?”

I didn’t understand the question.

“You’ve got that look on your face right now like you’re straining your brain,” Jim said. “Now, don’t shit yourself like you usually do when you think too hard.”

“I’m not sure why you think this is so God-awful,” I said. “Do you realize I can sit at work and read? I read The Great Gatsby on Monday! The whole book! And in the morning? When my brain is fresh? I write!”

“Bullshit! Your brain is never fresh,” he said. He gave my forehead a few hard taps. I winced. “This brain like old squid in back room!”

“I’m writing at this very moment,” I said. “This story? The one we’re in right now? I’m writing it as we speak.”

“That’s all super cool and meta and whatnot,” Citizen Jim said, “but I need to know: what have you done? Why are you hiding?”

“Hiding?” I asked. “I don’t get it.”

He slapped my arm. “Come on, you idiot,” he said, and crawled out from under my desk before standing up and yanking me to my feet. “Look around! Then think about what you admitted to me!”

I was still lost.

“You’ve obviously committed a serious crime and you spend your days here hiding from the police!” he shouted. “You confessed just a minute ago!”

About fifty people stood up and looked in our direction. “Hey! Not me! She’s the one running from the law!” Jim yelled, poking me in the neck with an index finger.

I heard a few giggles, many coughs, a couple of groans and one whisper of, “See–I told you!”

Sirens began blaring outside and a few moments later two cops and the security guard from the lobby in the building ran toward our area.

“Over there, officers,” the security guard said.

“That’s right,” Jim shouted, pointing at me. “Right over here–she’s the one you want! She’s the one hiding from the police!”

The security guard shouted, “Gah! That’s the guy who wouldn’t leave! The one dressed like a homosexual furnace repairman!”

That actually was a little closer to what he looked like on this day.

“Not me! Her!” he yelled, shoving me as the officers approached us. “Take her, not me!”

It was like the Pittsburgh airport before the 2004 Oscars all over again.

The security guard got up in Jim’s face and said, “We run a tight ship. If her record wasn’t clean as a Chinaman’s chop suey bowl, she wouldn’t be working here, bub!”

The police cuffed Citizen Jim as I waved goodbye.

“You’d better be at the jail with my bail money before they book me, or you’ll wish you were never born!” he yelled before the security guard clocked him on the head with her little baton.

Oh, how I would miss him! I sat down at my desk and decided that after I finished just one more chapter of my book (I’d begun reading it that morning and was on page 398), I’d start writing a letter to the governor asking for a pardon for any crimes Jim may or may not have committed so that our nation could begin to heal (you know – like when Jerry Ford pardoned Nixon).