In which Citizen Jim extorts Chicken Sheets for the privilege of telling her why he locked himself in the trunk of her car.

The waiting room at Immediate Critical Care Right Now was as quiet as a tomb. Thinking about a tomb made me wonder if that was where people ended up after they’d sought medical attention from a so-called “Doc in a Box.”

If so, getting killed by incompetent medical professionals wasn’t cheap. I knew this because Citizen Jim made me pay his bill when the waiting room attendant asked him for his insurance card.

“You see that democratic socialist ghoul right there?” he asked, pointing to me. “That’s my insurance card.”

To pass the time while Citizen Jim was being examined, I scrolled through my Twitter feed, blocking all the promoted Tweets and muttering, “Jesus Christ…” every time I saw anything that had to do with our Fake President, Kanye West, or news stories that failed to call Bernie Sanders a frontrunner in the 2020 primary election.

Blessed relief from this exercise came in the form of Citizen Jim’s staggering toward me with his arms stretched out before him, Frankenstein-like.

“Hurry!” he whispered loudly. “Run!”

As he shuffled past me emitting grunts and showing his bottom teeth, I stayed seated. “What did they say?” I asked.

“Come outside and I’ll tell you,” he said. “I don’t want them to know I took a few bandages and things for my own personal use later.”

Sure enough, cotton balls, tongue depressors, Band Aids, rolls of gauze, and Latex exam gloves fell out of the pockets of his shorts and from the sleeves of his t-shirt with every step he took.

When we were inside my car, I asked again. “What did the doctor tell you?” I asked.

God knows I’d paid enough money for the right to know.

“If she wants to get that crabby old hippy with the crazy hair elected so we can have Medicare for All, she’d better start getting used to paying for all that Medicare,” he’d told the attendant before he saw the doctor.

“He said that I’m dehydrated and that I probably have sprains and strains in every muscle of my body, maybe even some snapped tendons and ripped cords and a few shattered bronchial tubes from screaming at the top of my lungs for hours!” Citizen Jim said. “And he knows it was all your fault, so don’t even try to go back there if you get sick because they promised me they wouldn’t treat a monster like you for any reason.”

“So it’s my fault?”

“Of course it’s your fault! Who else’s fault could it be that I got locked inside the trunk of your car?” he asked.

“You still haven’t told me why you were there,” I said.

“Oh my God, Stimpy! As if that really matters!” he said. “Just take me to the corner of Fairhope Avenue and Greeno Road so I can hitch a ride to my mother’s house.”

I offered to drive him to his mother’s house—which was a block or so from where I lived—if he would only explain to me why he’d been inside the trunk of my car in the first place.

“You take me to my mother’s, and then I’ll tell you,” he said. “I don’t trust you to keep your word for anything, not after what happened this morning.”

My alarm went off at seven o’clock. By the time I hit the snooze twice and made my bed and washed my face and fed the cat and prepared a cup of tea, it was nearly eight o’clock. The wind outside was strong, and the sky was bruised and swollen with clouds ready to split open and dump the pure, sparkling tears of a God battered by our worst behavior onto our heads.

While I was checking to see if my spider-friend Foxy had ever come back to build a new web (she’d gone missing after the last heavy rain) it occurred to me to write a Citizen Jim story on this morning.

There was a knock at the door. I thought it might be the mail carrier alerting me to the fact that my monthly shipment of Yorkshire Tea was being delivered—and God knew I needed it, as I was down to 30 or 40 teabags.

Unfortunately, it was only Lancelot, a fit bloke from Winchester, England who, along with his wife and kids, lives next door to me. As soon as I saw who it was, I hoped he wasn’t wanting to borrow any tea since, as I just mentioned, I was down to nearly nothing in that department.

“Hate to be a bother, but I was jogging by and noticed there’s something knocking around inside the boot of your car,” he said.

The cat was in the house, so I knew it wasn’t her. And a spider is too small to make much of a racket inside the trunk of a car, so I knew he hadn’t found Foxy.

“It’s probably just Chad,” I said.

Lancelot gave me a weird look.

“That’s what I named the rabid raccoon who’s been skulking around the neighborhood,” I said.

“Actually, whatever’s in there is screaming—like human screams, not raccoon screams,” he said. “You need me to take a look for you?”

The last thing I wanted was some handsome foreigner playing knight errant to a damsel in distress—because I was neither. “No worries,” I said. “Thanks for letting me know.”

“Cheers!” he said, and jogged down my walk way toward the street.

I took my keys out of the lock on the front door and hit the trunk emblem on my key fob.

“…better let me out of here or I’ll sue you and the descendants of Henry Ford to the moon and back!” the voice of Citizen Jim yelled. “You won’t even have the memory of a pot to piss in when I’m through with you!”

I used a branch that had blown off the pecan tree to lift the trunk from a safe distance. “Is that you, Precious Lamb?” I asked, still standing far away from the car.

“Close the trunk and take me to a doctor right now!” he yelled.

And so I did.

When we pulled up outside the cottage his mother rented in a retirement village, I repeated my request that he tell me why he’d been hiding in my trunk to begin with.

“I wanted to surprise you, all right? I wanted to make you happy by showing up just to say hello on a dreary day, like best friends do,” he said. “I guess it’s true that no good deed goes unpunished.”

“Why didn’t you just knock on the door and come inside so we could have a chat?” I asked, though I did not add that I would’ve offered him a cuppa, since I wouldn’t have. I was running too low on tea for that kind of hospitality.

“I figured you’d be going to the grocery store at some point, so I got in the trunk so I could wait on you to open it,” he said. “Then I was going to jump out and say, ‘Surprise!’ and take a picture of you screaming and crapping in your pants so I could post it on Instagram with all my other Halloween photos.”

As stupid as it sounded, I knew he was telling me the truth.

“I just didn’t know I’d be in there for six hours while you piddle-farted around inside your house,” he said, wincing as he touched the back of his head.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’ll do better from now on.”

“I might have this crick in my neck for the rest of my life!” he said.

“I just said I’ll do better from now on,” I reminded him.

“And don’t worry, I won’t tell Mama who did this to me,” he said. “For some reason she thinks you’re a good friend to me and I don’t want to ruin that for her.”

“Thanks,” I said as he moaned and groaned and grunted while getting out of my car. “Feel better.”

Citizen Jim slammed the door and shuffled away without saying goodbye.

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