In which Citizen Jim arrives on Independence Day to escort Chicken Sheets to the annual fireworks display on Fairhope’s Municipal Pier. Special guest appearance by Lulu Whippy!
Even though Dr. C. didn’t ask me to cover the big fireworks show over in Cedarville on the Fourth of July, I decided that I wanted to drive over there, anyway. I certainly wouldn’t be staying to watch the fireworks, but I was still trying to distract myself from the temporary-but-heartbreaking absence of my lady friend, Miss Mabel.
Unfortunately, my car refused to start. I popped the hood and examined the engine, tapping on the spark plugs and hammering the crankcase a few times, but I still couldn’t get it to turn over.
When I had all but given up, I heard a familiar voice in the distance: “You’re gonna BUST IT!”
Obviously, it was Citizen Jim. God only knew how many times he’d said these very words to me when I had the hood on my car raised, a hammer in one hand and a socket wrench in the other.
“Now act right or I’ll jump off here and beat you unmerciful with a garden hose! Slow down!” he yelled, and I realized he wasn’t talking to me—I mean, I was just standing there.
I turned around just in time to see Jim sitting in a basket on the front of a Rascal Deluxe™ while Lulu Whippy gripped the handlebars and kicked her legs out to either side, howling, “I’M TRYYYY-EEEENG TO TUUUUURRRRRN!”
Apparently the weight of Jim had become too much for Lulu Whippy to handle while trying to maneuver their transport vehicle. But as soon as Jim saw me he hopped off the front of the Rascal™ and stumbled toward my car.
With her load lightened, Lulu Whippy instantly zoomed up the street as if she were driving a rocket, zigzagging from gravel to asphalt and back again before disappearing in a fog of noise and a cloud of exhaust within seconds.
“Gah! I oughta kill you!” Jim fumed.
“Hi, baby,” I said. “What’s the matter now?”
“Well, I knew you wouldn’t come down for the fireworks extravaganza on the Fairhope Pier, so I got Lulu Whippy to bring me up here to fetch you. I didn’t know she’d be driving that stupid Rascal Deluxe™.”
“What happened to her bicycle?” I asked. “Did someone have it towed away again because she parked it outside Page and Palette?”
“Honestly, you don’t want to know what happened to that bike,” Jim said, shaking his head, hands on his hips.
“Sure I do,” I insisted.
“Well, I’ve told you how stupid Cormac is, right? That dog of Sonny’s? So a couple days ago Lulu Whippy came over to practice her cannonballs off the diving board of Sonny’s pool. And while she was doing that, Cormac ATE HER BIKE!”
“Way! Sonny and Diana weren’t home at the time so when they got back they took the dog up to the vet and then accused me of feeding him a white wicker basket and two tires—spokes and ALL! Then they evicted me! And that’s why I’m GONNA KILL YOU!”
“Calm down,” I said.
“Why do I always have to be the one to calm down? What about YOU?”
“I’m just standing here, Precious Lamb,” I said helplessly.
“Well, you’re just gonna be standing there with your back on the pavement and your feet pointing at Heaven if you don’t crank up that yacht you’re driving nowadays and take me back to Fairhope!”
“But what about Lulu Whippy?” I asked.
In answer to my question, Lulu Whippy zipped by us, the wheels on her Rascal™ a full six inches off the ground. A moment later, due to the Doppler effect, her screams warbled and faded as she shot over the main road and crashed through the wooden fence around my neighbor Buster’s farm.
When she and the Rascal™ disappeared into the woods atop the ridge, I turned back to Jim. “She’ll be back, don’t worry,” I said. “And I can’t get this damned car to start, anyway.”
“Oh fer fuck’s sake! Stand back, Stimpy, and let a man do the job,” he said, snatching the hammer out of my hand and twirling the wrench by its socket like a crank.
He bent over the front of the car and began to bang metal and pull wires free from several spots around the motor. After two minutes of this, I got into the car and tried to start the engine, jumping in my seat when Jim screamed.
He ran around to the driver’s side of the car, swinging the hammer at me. “You scoot over and let me in there for a second!”
My seat was pushed forward so far that Jim couldn’t even fit his new and “improved” skinny body behind the wheel. It didn’t matter, anyway.
“OH GOD!” he shouted, smacking his forehead. “Have you lost your mind?”
“What?” I asked.
He pointed at the dash. “There’s your problem right there! YOU’VE GOT NO GAS!”
I leaned over and looked at the gas gauge, then turned red. “Oh jeez!” I said.
“I swear to God, Stimpy, if you ever had a brain you must have used it to play kickball!” he yelled.
“I’m sorry. I forgot,” I said, still red and near tears.
“You forgot! How many times has this happened to you? I’ll tell you: more times than I can count! You live half a mile from TWO GAS STATIONS!”
A buzzing sound started coming from across the highway and down the hill sped Lulu Whippy, the basket on the front of her Rascal™ now crowded with three squawking chickens and my cat Jay, who was being beaten nearly to death as the hens tried to flap their wings.
“I CAAAAAAAN’T STAAAAAHHHHHHHP!” Lulu Whippy yelled as she shot past us again.
“Ah, hell and tarnation! I guess I’m gonna hafta go take care of one more helpless woman. You’re such an embarrassment that I’m uninviting you to the big fireworks show in Fairhope,” Citizen Jim said. “And don’t even think about trying to follow us back!”
“I’m pretty sure you know that fireworks scare the bejesus out of me, anyway,” I said.
“Oh, what doesn’t scare the bejesus out of you?” Jim groaned. “Listen—everyone in town knows you’re a registered Democrat, and those Republicans in Fairhope won’t stand for traitors at their Fourth of July celebration! So if you know what’s good for you, you won’t show your face down at the pier tonight!” “I wouldn’t dare,” I said and smiled happily as Jim jogged off toward the sound of Lulu Whippy on her Rascal™.