In which Citizen Jim arrives with a plan to avenge the anti-gay stance of a national restaurant chain. (Sort of.)
I was sitting on the filthy, germ-ridden bathroom floor of a gas station about half a mile from where I live when I heard a knock on the door.
“Go away,” I said, and turned the page of a book I’d been reading. “Use a coffee cup.”
The knocking on the door recommenced and I placed a finger on the page to mark my place. I looked at the door. It was now vibrating from the pounding of some lunatic’s fists.
“Open up!” said a man’s voice.
“You’re banging on the wrong door, from the sound of it,” I said. “Unless you’re a lady on some mighty powerful testosterone.”
“I’ve got a stick of dynamite in one hand and a blow torch in the other. You take your pick, because that door’s gonna be open in a minute whether you help me or not, Missy!”
All of a sudden, the puzzle pieces fell into place. “Take it up with the management,” I told Citizen Jim and let my eyes fall back on my book.
“Oh my God, Stimpy! Why are you being so hard headed? Get out here so I can talk to you,” he said. “I promise I won’t smack you or kick you.”
I sighed. How could I refuse such a heartfelt offer of peace from someone I love as much as Citizen Jim? I stood up and said, “Just a minute,” using a piece of toilet paper as a bookmark.
Citizen Jim must have been leaning against the door with all his weight. When I pulled on the handle, he plunged headlong through the air onto the floor, the force of his collapse knocking me against the wall beside the toilet.
“Hurry! Lock the door!” I shouted. But Citizen Jim had only managed to get himself into a kneeling position and was holding the sides of his head moaning and groaning like a drunk trying to fight off whiskey bottle Ninjas in a bad dream.
After a struggle I got to my feet and twisted the deadbolt, then stood with my back against the door.
“What the hell?” I asked once I got a good look at Citizen Jim.
“What? By God, you’d be moaning and groaning like a whiskey bottle Ninja fighting off a sleepwalking drunk, too, if you’d slammed into the wall with your head,” he assured me.
“It’s not the moaning and groaning I’m confused about. I’m wondering why you have on–” I stopped and squinted. “Why are you wearing that…” I still wasn’t sure what my next words should be.
“Cow costume? You seriously don’t know why I would be dressed like a cow?”
“Seriously,” I said.
“Have you ever heard of a little restaurant chain called McDonald’s?” he asked.
“Of course,” I said.
“Well, this isn’t about that restaurant chain,” Citizen Jim said. “This is about the Chick Filla.”
“Chick Filla? You mean Chick Fil-A?” I asked.
“Yeahyeah–with the cows that say eat more chick – ”
“Don’t say another word,” I interrupted. “Those assholes are under a major homosexual boycott.”
Citizen Jim was now sitting up, my book in his white and black-spotted lap. He said, “Yes, I know! That’s why we need to get to the nearest one as soon as possible.”
“You idiot–you know I’m gay! Why would I ever give them so much as a dollar?”
Jim opened my book to where I’d marked my place and threw my bookmark into the toilet. After that, he tore out the page I hadn’t finished reading. “Did I say I wanted you to give them a dollar?”
“What’re you doing, you jackass?” I asked, grabbing my book and the loose page he’d crumpled into a ball. “If you don’t want to buy their food, you certainly can’t protest the place dressed as their damned marketing mascot.”
“Did I say I wanted to protest the Chick Feela?” he asked.
“It’s not Chick Feela or Chick Filla,” I said. “It’s pronounced Chick Filet!”
He grabbed the corner of the sink and hoisted himself up off the floor. “Whatever the chick it’s called, we’re fixing to go get some money off of ’em.”
“Oh, okay,” I said, deciding to just roll with it to keep my head from exploding. “So you’re planning to rob them in broad daylight wearing a costume that would indentify you more easily than fingerprints? Am I driving the getaway car?”
“Did I say I was going to rob the Chicken Filet?” Jim asked, snatching my book and hitting me over the head with it.
I sank to the floor, stars floating in front of me. “Please just tell me what you’re going to do. Then you can kill me.”
“Look, those good Christian folks at Chicken Filet gave something like three million dollars of their deep fried profits to good Christian folks what hates the gays, right?”
Let’s face it: I wasn’t going to let myself get caught up in a debate of semantics, especially regarding so-called “good Christian folks.”
“Three million is one of the figures I’ve seen in connection with Chick Fil-A’s discriminatory practices,” I said.
“Well, the way I see it, all you and I have to do is go in there under the guise–you know what that means, right? Or do you think I made up that weird, confusing word all on my own?”
“I’ll look it up later on dictionary.com,” I told him.
“Do you know how to spell ‘dictionary’?” he asked.
I sighed. “That’s what Google’s for, right?”
“Okay, so we’ll go in pretending to be–there. That’ll save you some frustration–we’ll pretend we’re a couple of good Christian folks what hates the gays. That’d be good for–what? Fifty bucks apiece, maybe? After ten visits, we could have us some five hundred dollars each!”
I shrugged. “Who cares? I don’t want their money any more than I want to give them mine. I want nothing to do with them.”
Citizen Jim threw up his mottled black and white arms. “You’re not thinking about the big picture! Once they you have the money, we can call up Anderson Cooper or that Maddow fellow and tell ’em the Chicken Filet is giving money to the gays!” Jim said.
“Oh, Precious Lamb. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard in a long time,” I said.
Citizen Jim chucked me under the chin. “Just think about your little face on the news with a sign under it that says, ‘I’m Chicken Sheets and I’m a homo and Chicken Filet loves me as much as Jesus does.’ Wouldn’t that be great?”
I was trying to smooth out my crumpled book page so I could tape it back into my copy of Moo by Jane Smiley. “Honestly, I think you better go without me,” I said. “I’d like to just stay here and read.”
Citizen Jim shook his head. “So in other words, you’re not as gay as you are lazy?”
I shrugged. “I guess so.”
The truth was, I wasn’t as lazy or as gay as I was interested in reading my book all alone in that gas station bathroom.
“All right. I’ll quit bothering you. I’ll go and fight the good fight without your apathetic lesbian ass,” he said. “Or maybe I won’t. Maybe you’re just proving what the people Chick Fil-A support say about the gays. You are awful, awful people. Maybe it is people like you who are ruining our country.”
I think that’s what he said. I quit paying attention after, “I’ll quit bothering you.” That’s all I wanted: peace and quiet and solitude.
A new set of fists started beating on the door, then I heard a police cruiser’s siren and the sound of helicopter blades chopping the air above the building. Someone yelled, “Get the tear gas and the Michael Bolton CDs ready! We’re going in!”