Order Great Tales for These Dumb Times!

The F*cking Queen!

In which Citizen Jim arrives late in the story and accuses Chicken Sheets of contemplating rank, unconscionable perfidy.

Normally, I love having a Monday off of work. When I don’t work on a Monday, I pretend it’s because I’ve retired early from my job after choosing all the correct numbers to win a billion-dollar Powerball prize.

On these days, I bound out of bed (Haha! Not really: a crippling case of plantar fasciitis makes me gingerly push myself off the edge of the mattress and hobble to the bathroom muttering, “Mother of God Mother of God Mother of God Mother of God…” until I can stand upright and walk like a normal person) and give my fat cat extra food and act like the only reason I’m making my own cup of Yorkshire tea is because my maid requested the morning off, apologizing profusely but assuring me she would never ask for such a thing “if they thought my poor, sick cancer-riddled gran might live through the day.”

This Monday was different, however.

The evening before, I’d sat on the edge of my ottoman (my actual seat was just too far away from the TV on this night) waiting for Jodie Comer’s name to be read as the winner of Best Actress in a dramatic television role during the Golden Globe Awards. I knew it was a foregone conclusion.

For one thing, she’d surprised everyone who’d never seen “Killing Eve” by winning the Emmy for playing Villanelle. For another thing, most of the women up for the award were not exactly known as (to put it as kindly as possible) “great actresses:” was I supposed to be worried about Jennifer Aniston—whose very face annoys me, but not as much as the sound of her voice and her always-wooden delivery? Yeah, right. Reese Cup Witherspook? No. Nicole “Nic the Stick” Kidman? Haha. Er. Whatever.

Sure, the Olivia Colman-hat was thrown into the ring. And, yeah, okay: she’s been exceptional in every single thing I’ve ever seen her in, but come on! It wasn’t even worth worrying that she might wrest the Golden Globe statue from the freakishly long fingers of Comer.

Then (finally!) the nominees were announced, and the award went to…not Jodie Comer?

“What the fuck?” I said out loud and hit the button on the remote to turn off the TV as soon as the winner gave her goon-faced, drunken speech.

Then I got into a hot bath and scrubbed the disappointment off my body and climbed into bed.

My sleep—if you could call it that; my body told me I’d had nothing deeper than a six-hour “cat nap”—was fitful, haunted by crazy dreams (and not the good kind of crazy dreams that I sometimes welcome for the hopeful charge of creativity they always deliver to my brain).

Waking up was a depressing, confusing affair, and my heart sank when I realized I would have nothing to distract myself from my disappointment with those cack-slinging Golden Globe Awards.

I knew from my near-constant consumption of books, movies, television and other forms of popular culture that the best person to talk to when you’re depressed and confused is a prostitute. Unfortunately, since I live in a town full of people who would claim they had no idea what a prostitute was (and who’d then question the very existence of such a profession), I knew I’d be hard-pressed to find a working girl who could come to me in my time of need. (This is why I didn’t bother to download the Hookers Nearby app for my phone.)

That left me only one option.

After remaining in bed and talking for two hours to Desirée Love-Candy, she was fed up. “Are we gonna do phone sex or not?” she whined and then let out an exaggerated sigh.

“You’re supposed to be helping me—if you aren’t going to help me, why am I still on a call that’s already cost me $250?”

“I ‘on’t know how to help you! How’s come you’on’t wanna know what I got on? Ain’t shit we can do about that lady didn’t win no Glooden Gobes, but goddamn!

On top of everything else, now the phone sex worker sounded intoxicated—from shot-gunning a few cans of Colt 45, not by our conversation.

“I know there’s nothing we can do about it—I’m just trying to figure out why she didn’t win. It’s ridiculous! I mean! I mean! Of course Olivia Colman is good—she’s great, even!—but she was playing the fucking Queen! Someone who already exists! I’m tired of these women winning awards for playing British queens, especially one as boring as Elizabeth II! My girl had to take a really kind of flat, uninspiring character from a not-very-good book and make her come to life—this time without the writing of Phoebe Waller-Bridge to help her along. But she doesn’t stop at making her character come to life—she makes people pump their fists in the air and root for a cold-blooded, psychopathic ASSASSIN! Shouldn’t that count for something? I guess Villanelle’s gonna have to walk around carrying a stone-filled pocketbook and talk to her dogs and her hateful, racist husband in a posh accent to win anything next year! GAH!”

I don’t think Desirée heard most this because I got a fast-beeping sound and the call ended before my tirade was over.

Obviously, this was true rock-bottom: if you can’t even keep a phone sex worker on the line when you’re paying $1.99 a minute, what other hope can you hold for your life?

Even worse, I heard a police siren right outside my house: could I be arrested for just talking to a sex worker on the phone? When I peered through the slats of the blinds, I saw that the cop car was in my driveway.

Worst of everything, I heard an all-too-familiar voice yelling, “I know you’re in there! I can see your beady little eyes looking out here!”

The banging on the door was unnecessary but continued, anyway, until I undid the chain and invited Citizen Jim inside. He waved at the policeman, who turned his flashing lights back on and started blaring his siren as he backed out onto the street and peeled away. (He must’ve been worried he might not get the freshest dozen of maple-icing-with-bacon donuts from Krispy Kreme if he didn’t hurry.)

“I hope this is going to be a short visit,” I said to Citizen Jim as I followed him into my kitchen.

“That’s a fine hello to someone who’s only coming to see if you’re okay,” he said.

“Of course I’m okay—why wouldn’t I be okay?”

He took a can of diced tomatoes and a can of baked beans out of one of my kitchen cabinets, inspecting the labels on each. “Why aren’t you at work?” he asked.

“I worked the weekend, so I have today off,” I said.

“Uh huh,” he said. “And you’re perfectly fine, are you?”

I took the cans from him and put them back in the cabinet. “Yes, I’m perfectly fine,” I said. “But I’m very busy, so you can’t stay.”

His face was turning a deeper shade of red with every passing second. “If you don’t level with me I’m gonna slap you so hard you’ll have to wear your glasses on the back of your head!” he shouted. “I know you’re mad as hell, and I’m here to help you deal with that.”

I hoisted myself up onto my kitchen counter and sat with my arms crossed over my chest. “And why would I be mad as hell?”

“If you’re not mad as hell, then why’d you put those tomatoes and baked beans back inside this cabinet?” he asked, whacking the door of said cabinet with his open hand. He winced and blew on his palm. “Ouch! Goddamn it, Stimpy! Just admit it!”

“Admit what?”

“Admit that you’re beside yourself with grief and rage because Jodie Comer didn’t win a Golden Globe last night!”

“What’s that got to do with tomatoes and baked beans?” I asked.

“Aha!” he said, rubbing his hands together and grinning. “See! You just admitted it!”

“I didn’t admit anything,” I said, though, of course, I actually had just admitted it. In fact, I wasn’t sure how long I could keep this up.

“I know you better than anyone—better than you know yourself—and I know for a fact that if Jodie Comer had won that award last night, you would’ve been in the middle of eating a full-English breakfast when I got here, instead of spying through the window like the cranky middle-aged harpy you’re turning into!” he said. He reached over my head and pulled a jar of orange marmalade off a shelf behind me and shook it near my face. “Look at this! Unopened! Just waiting! For nothing!”

I snatched the jar of marmalade from him and slammed it onto the counter beside me. “I appreciate your concern for me, but I really am very busy,” I said. “Maybe you can come back another time.”

“But you need my help now! You need me to tell you how creepy and weird it is for you to be so upset that some actress didn’t get an award,” he said. “You need me to point out the fact that awards shows are stupid and arbitrary and that watching them is a waste of time but not as big a waste of time as thinking about them for even five seconds after they’re over.”

“Well, see? You just did all that! And you’re absolutely right—as usual! So now you can go and I can get back to what I need to be doing,” I said.

“And just what is it you need to be doing? Planning some way to kill off my character so you can start writing something new with a bunch of new characters that aren’t me? Do you think I’m blind and stupid?” he said, then drew his hand back and flared his nostrils. “Don’t you dare say I can’t be both and that you know I’m not blind!”

“Oh, Precious Lamb, stop being so dramatic about everything,” I said. “I’ll see you again soon.”

“How soon? I need to know! I deserve to know!” he said.

I slid off the counter and pushed him toward the front of the house. Surprisingly, he let me—he didn’t turn around and put me in a headlock or yank my hair or try to push my face through the window I was passing by.

This worried me a little. I stopped, my fingers resting in the crook of his hairy, ape-like arm. “Are you okay?” I asked.

“Like you care! Good luck trying to write anything without me and my hairy, ape-like arms in it!” he said as he ambled down the sidewalk between my door and the front gate.

“Don’t be silly!” I said.

In response, he lifted the middle finger on his left hand, holding it high above his head as he continued walking away from me. He went off to the right and disappeared a moment later.

When he didn’t return for any further last words, I went inside and got back to work on a story that did not have Citizen Jim in it.