Deireadh Seachtaine an-aisteach

In which Citizen Jim arrives and demands presents from Chicken Sheets on her birthday.

Like the title of this story says, it was “A Very Weird Weekend.” For a number of reasons.

Reason number one: it started about half a day early.

I’d decided on Friday morning that I couldn’t take another five hours of repeating every goddamn thing twice or thrice, nor could I stand any more of the incessant complaining from residents. So I left. I’m not proud of this. But I was really at the end of my wits by the time we wrapped up that bingo game.

For another thing, my body was still trying to correct a mistake I’d been making for a week, maybe more. Lately, when I raised my palm to my mouth to take my medicine each night, I thought maybe something was missing from the small cocktail of prescription and OTC drugs I was about to take.

And man, was there ever something missing: my antidepressant.

This had probably exacerbated my reaction to the residents, and looking back I realized that the longer I went without my antidepressants, the more I wanted to climb up on the roof of the local WalMart and throw myself off of it every time I went there to buy supplies for our daily activities.

So I basically felt like I had worms in my stomach and red ants crawling all over my skin.

I woke up at a decent hour but forgot about the 2021 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis that was streaming on YouTube. I tuned in just as the president of Sinn Féin was making her big speech at the annual conference, and I thought it was a damned shame that I had less reason to feel camaraderie with any party in my own nation than with a foreign political party in a country I’d never visited. The fact that I couldn’t think of any politician I wanted to vote for in the United States as much as I wished I could vote for Mary Lou McDonald depressed me more than the dearth of Wellbutrin in my system.

After the Big Speech, I decided to get dressed. I needed to go to CVS to pick up some medicine, and I needed to go grocery shopping. Mainly, though, I wanted to move a little, walk around to counter my inertia.

The Future Taoiseach of Ireland (hopefully!) ready to start her Big Speech at Ard Fheis 2021

But I guess the universe had other plans because I opened the door just as Citizen Jim was lifting a sledge hammer to give it a good whack.

“You’ll be lucky if I don’t give you a good whack!” he said when I opened the door.

Before he said this to me, I’d been prepared to invite him inside for refreshments and a place to rest his bones. After he threatened to whack me I decided I would carry on with my plans for the day as if he’d never shown his face in my neighborhood.

My little Hobbit House

“You can go ahead and whack the door, and you can keep whacking it while I’m gone,” I said. “But don’t get mad if my landlady calls the cops and has you arrested for destruction of property.”

“Why would they arrest me when it was you who just told me to whack your door with a sledgehammer?”

Considering the fact that I usually pay my rent a few days early—sometimes as much as a week early—and make my own small home repairs whenever possible, I was pretty sure I didn’t need to worry about my landlady’s implicating me in a crime of any kind.

“And where the hell do you think you’re going? I just got here!” said Citizen Jim.

“I have to go take care of a few things,” I said. “I’ll be back in about an hour. Do not go inside my house while I’m gone.”

“Not even to wee-wee?” he asked, locking his knees together and scowling.

“Not even to wee-wee,” I said.

“Then I’m coming with you,” he said, tossing his sledgehammer into the bushes—bushes that an obviously haphazard lawn care professional was supposed to but did not remove from in front of my little Hobbit House even after I gave my landlady a sizable check to arrange it.

“Fine,” I said, but I didn’t mean it, and, of course, it was not exactly a fine trip.

My first, and probably strongest, feeling of regret welled up when we were getting ready to leave CVS.

“Hey, wait a minute!” Citizen Jim said, holding tight to my arm. He turned away from me and said to the pharmacist, “Don’t you want her phone number?”

“Jim, they have my phone number, let’s go,” I said.

He gripped my arm more tightly, dragging me backward as he walked to the pick-up window of the pharmacy. “Don’t you want to know what she’s doing later?”

“I’m sorry—what?” the pharmacist said.

“Because I can tell you right now, she’s not doing anything important if you want to ask her out to dinner.”

This gave me the strength to wrench away from him and turn around. “This is really embarrassing,” I said to the pharmacist. “This is my brother. He’s—gah! These are for him, he’s off his meds.”

“The hell you say!” said Citizen Jim. “There’s nothing wrong with me—and if that lady back there wasn’t ogling you while you waited and flirting with you while you paid for your drugs, then I’m Shane MacGowan, the toothless former lead singer of the Pogues.”

“Again, I’m sorry,” I said. “We’re leaving. Jeez. Sorry!”

From the corner of my eye I saw Citizen Jim holding an imaginary phone to his ear and pointing at me.

When he got into the car outside CVS, he said, “Now, Stimpy, don’t be mad at me. That woman was giving you the big eye, and I bet she’s gonna call you as soon as she gets off work.”

“No she wasn’t, and even if she was I don’t want anyone to call me after work,” I said. “I don’t want anyone to call me tomorrow or next week or next month. I’m done with dating. I’m done with romance. I’m done with all that crap.”

“Do you mean to tell me that if Diane Lane knocked on your door later this evening and invited herself in and asked for a cup of tea and tried to engage you in a little funny business—”

I interrupted him. “I don’t need any funny business with Diane Lane, since I’m laughing already.”

“You’re not laughing! You’re mad at me! For trying to help you find your true love so you won’t spend your final days alone in a Swiss hospital dying of lung cancer and shaking your fist and cursing at all the different ethnic groups you hate for no reason.”

“If that happens, you can write a book about me called The Woman Who Kicked the Bucket the Same Hateful Way as Patricia Highsmith,” I said.

Citizen Jim crossed his arms over his chest and started sulking. “Now where are you taking me on this ceaseless nightmare of errand-running?” he asked.

“I told you I needed to go to WalMart,” I said.

“You told me no such thing! Just because you’re thinking something doesn’t mean I’m always going to hear it,” he said. “Turn this little red death bucket around right now.”

“Absolutely not. We’re almost there,” I said. “Do you need to wee-wee? If you need to wee-wee, you can pay a visit to the men’s room at the store.”

(Note: I interrupted myself in the middle of writing the above scene and stayed distracted by watching something like ten YouTube videos of clips from “Arrested Development” and by brushing my cat Chrissy and also by sitting down at my Casiotone keyboard and playing random chords using various synthesized instruments. Plus I made a cup of tea. Now I can’t remember why Citizen Jim was so desperate to get back to Chicken Sheets’s little Hobbit House. I guess if I remember before the story is finished I’ll have to find some way of adding the forgotten scene so that it blends in with the rest of the story.)

Aha! Now I remember!

“You’ve got to take me back to your place so I can use your computer,” Citizen Jim said.

“That’s pretty random, even for you,” I said. “What’s the deal?”

“Well, today is October 30th,” he said.

“Yes, I know. Tomorrow is Halloween, and in one week it’s my birthday,” I said.

“I wouldn’t be advertising that, considering how damned old you’re getting,” said Citizen Jim. “Anyway, today is someone else’s birthday, and I’m supposed to be on a Zoom call in five minutes to start the celebration.”

I know a slew of folks whose birthday is on Halloween, but only a couple of people whose birthday is the day before Halloween. One of those people is dead, and the other I haven’t been in touch with for close to 25 years.

But then I remembered someone else!

“It’s Fonzie, isn’t it? You’re going to be on a Zoom call for Henry Winkler’s birthday, aren’t you?” I asked. “Can I stay in the room with you while you do that? Please?”

“Look, I know you loves you some Fonzie, but you’re barking up the wrong tree. And believe me when I say I know you’re not gonna want to be in the room when I kick off this particular party,” he said.

“I don’t know, why don’t you try me?” I said.

“You ever heard of a young lady named Ivanka Trump?” he asked.

(And now that I’ve written it out, that’s not such a great idea for a plot twist. Let me try again. Let’s start with the last line before this part of the story…)

“Turn this little red death bucket around right now.”

“Absolutely not. We’re almost there,” I said. “Do you need to wee-wee? If you need to wee-wee, you can pay a visit to the men’s room at the store.”

“Fine,” he said.

When we pulled into the WalMart parking lot Citizen Jim made no move to take off his seatbelt.

“I thought you had to wee-wee?” I said, killing the engine and taking my seatbelt off.

“No, you said if I had to wee-wee I could wee-wee in the WalMart men’s room,” he said. “I didn’t say shit about having to wee-wee.”

“Okay, so, are you coming in with me or not?”

Citizen Jim shook his head. “Not.”

“Suit yourself,” I said, and opened the driver side door. “I’ll see you in about thirty minutes.”

“You don’t know that for sure. You don’t know anything. Admit it, you have no clue what you’re doing,” said Citizen Jim. “This story could’ve ended five hundred words ago, yet here we are.”

I shrugged. “Fair enough,” I said.

“No. No, it’s not fair at all,” said Citizen Jim. “I could be at a celebrity birthday party right now. But instead I’m sitting in a parking lot outside WalMart. Arguing with you over whether or not I have to wee-wee.”

“I’m sorry, Precious Lamb,” I said. “I’ll try to do better next time.”

“Whatever. I won’t be counting on it, that’s for sure,” he said.

I put the key back in the ignition and closed the car door. I put on my seatbelt, eased the gear shift into reverse, and checked my rear-view mirror.

“What the hell? What’re you doing now?”

“I’m tired of writing this story. I’m gonna go back up all my files and download the new version of Windows,” I said.

Citizen Jim stared straight ahead as we sped onto Fairhope Avenue, then let a mean snort escape him. “I hope your computer blows up, then maybe I won’t have to be in any more of these stories until you have an actual plot in mind.”

“Maybe it will,” I said, and turned up the radio so I couldn’t hear anything else Citizen Jim had to say.