Married, Not Buried

Citizen Jim arrives at the home of Chicken Sheets to enlist her for a top-priority mission that she absolutely refuses to accept.

It was Sunday afternoon and, as is usually my wont, I snuggled under the down comforter and fell asleep within ten seconds of turning on the Military Channel.

While asleep I began to dream…

I was in a football stadium during a game, seated at a table with a group of Pentecostal women who were forcing me to help them work on a giant scrapbook. In the background, Celine Dion and Michael Bolton were belting out a duet of “The Wind Beneath My Wings” over the PA system. Apropos of nothing, Dick Cheney emerged from the shadows and strode over to where I was to offer me a menthol cigarette.

Then the Pentecostal women turned into strippers just as my girlfriend came into view with an increasingly angry look on her face.

By the time she reached the spot where I stood with the strippers, the scrapbook on the table turned into an alligator snapping turtle and I felt myself shitting my pants in the dream as I failed to scream, trying to awaken myself.

I finally did awaken—in a cold sweat, staring at the ceiling, then at Citizen Jim’s upside-down face.

That’s when I finally screamed.

Jim climbed onto the bed and started jumping up and down, yelling at the top of his lungs, “Wake up! You’re having a nightmare! Wake up!”

My girlfriend strolled into the room and began spraying Citizen Jim with the water bottle we usually only pick up when the cats are scratching at the carpet or trying to liberate Fergus from his cage so they can hunt him and eat him.

Jim fell in a heap on the bed, hissing and holding his arms over his face. After she saw that Jim was good and drenched, my girlfriend gave me a few shots with the bottle, almost as an afterthought it seemed.

“Seriously?” she asked. A rough translation of that single word might be, You need to move your afternoon naps outdoors from now on if this is what’s going to happen the moment I turn my back.

She slammed the door as she left the room.

“Did she just squirt us with a water bottle?” asked Citizen Jim.

“I think she did, yes,” I said, blinking. “Yes, she did.”

“Oh, Stimpy! Come on! She’s the worst one yet!” he whined. “She really is, I think.”

I shrugged. “Too bad. She’s my favorite ever of all time.”

“Yeah. That’s kind of why I’m here, speaking of favorites,” he said.

“So you do have a reason for barging in and trying to catch our mattress on fire?” I asked, referring to his jumping up and down on the bed earlier.

“You better shut your mouth or I’m gonna smack you so hard your eardrums are gonna be full of your eyeballs!” he said, drawing his hand back and laughing as I pretended to cower in fear. “You better pretend to cower in fear!”

I propped a pillow behind my head and folded my hands over my belly. “Go on. Let’s hurry up with this so I can finish my nap.”

“This is only about five trillion times more important than some stupid nap,” Jim said. “It could be a matter of life and death, so I need you to swear that you’ll help me.”

“Whose life and whose death?” I wanted to know.

“My life and my death, you idiot!”

“Okay, I swear,” I said and looked at the digital clock on the night stand by the bed. “You have five minutes.”

Jim hopped off the bed and started pacing near the footboard. “As you know, I recently became a married man,” he started.

I nodded and rolled my eyes. “Four minutes forty-five seconds,” I said.

“And I know my getting married was a nightmare for you, what with knowing your final chance at happiness was gone—”

“Not really,” I interrupted. “Not at all, in fact.”

Jim held his palm out to me. “Whatever gets your through the night,” he said. “But the thing is, I’ve got all these…how shall I say it? All these…loose ends out there…women—not loose women, mind you—but good, chaste women who aren’t aware of my…change in relationship status.”

“Then they must not be friends with you on Facebook. So how important could
they—”

“Shut up! I’m not finished. Now I’ve got a list here,” he said, lifting his Red Sox ball cap and reaching inside it. He produced a damp, wilted sheet of paper folded into a two-by-four-inch rectangle.

“I refuse to touch that,” I said and pointed.

“Fine,” he said. “You don’t need a list anyway. Because of these stupid stories, you know, and all the information about my love life they contain.”

“True,” I said. It wasn’t, though. Not even a little bit.

“Well, I’ll let you get started,” he said, his hand on the doorknob. “You don’t know how much I appreciate this.”

“Wait a second,” I said. “You just expect me to give these women the kiss-off for you while you slink off to a Pink Floyd concert or to Fenway Park to watch a baseball game?”

“Whoa! You wait a second!” he said, rushing over to the bed and getting in my face. “You thought I wanted you to break up with those ladies for me?”

“Well, yeah. You’re not exactly single anymore.”

“I think you’ve misheard me—I’m married, not buried!”

“But—”

“There’s no ‘but’ to it, Missy! O mah God! If I’d left, you’d be ruining my life right now!”

“What exactly did you want me to do for you?” I had to know.

“Obviously I wanted you to call up all the womens I used to be with and let ’em know I need some sister wives for my new bride.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“Hell no I’m not kidding. You ever watch that crazy show on the cable TV about those Mormons? That guy’s only got three wives—I figure if you contact all my ladies, I could have me three or four times that many.”

“You don’t even have a job—how are you going to support 12 wives?”

“Hey, 13 can live as cheaply as 12, provided they all have good jobs, right? All the women, I mean.”

“And I guess they’re just supposed to work before, during and after they start giving you children?”

“Children? Where?” he asked, running to the window and peering under the bed. “Oh, my wife hates children! If the Google tells you any of those women has children, you just cross her off the list! I’m not kidding!”

“It doesn’t matter because there’s no way in hell I’m contacting all your ex-girlfriends and asking them to join you in plural matrimony,” I said.

“But you have to—you swore you would!”

“Yeah, when you said it was a matter of life or death—now I know it’s just a matter of lust and lunacy,” I said.

Jim came at me swatting the air with his sweaty, fungal ball cap. “I guess my happiness will never matter to you. Since you know you can’t have me, you want me miserable—lonely and poor and miserable.”

“You have a wife. And you said she was an alchemist—that’s a lucrative profession, right? Or it has been throughout history at certain times for people who may or may not have actually existed? If you’re lonely, though, that’s your fault.”

“Fine! But I better not find out you’ve been calling Erika Eleniak or Citizen Meredith or ********* or Helga Holbein or Elise to ask them out.”

“If you think I’d ever take your sloppy seconds, you’re crazy,” I said.

“Yeah, we’ll see what you’re saying when that chick with the squirt bottle kicks your sorry ass to the curb,” he said. “If she doesn’t drown you first, that is.”

“Don’t concern yourself, Precious Lamb. You know I’m leaving all my worldly possessions to you in my will.”

“Considering you don’t and never will have a pot to piss in, that’s no great comfort to a man with only one wife.”

I shrugged. “Until I die, it’s all I can offer you except my love.”

“Fuck off,” he said and left.

I knew that meant, “Call me later.”

And I would. Gladly. Oh – happily!