In which Citizen Jim arrives after the “last” Citizen Jim story has already been posted online.
I was home alone enjoying the first of several days off for the Thanksgiving holidays. I’d just settled down to read the news from the New York Times website when I heard a knock at the window which faced the desk in my home office. I knew it was just Mister Meme, who’d finally, after four months, discovered that he could jump up onto the window sills of the house and make a nuisance of himself by clawing at and climbing the window frames.
When I lifted the blinds to shoo him away, imagine my surprise when I saw the face of Citizen Jim glaring back at me. “Open this goddamn window,” he yelled, “before your attack cat sees me and makes mincemeat outta me!”
“Why don’t you just try the door?” I asked, cocking my thumb and throwing it over my shoulder.
“It better not be a trick!” he said and disappeared from the window.
The banging on the door a moment later was frantic and was soon joined by screaming and yelling. “Hurry up! He’s on me! Hurry!”
Indeed, when I arrived at the back door, Citizen Jim was trying to disengage Mister Meme from his thigh. Mister Meme was holding on for dear life, though.
“Meme! DOWN, boy!”
Because he ignored my command, I gave the cat a few squirts from a water bottle and he ran off hissing and shaking.
“It’s a good thing I wore this thermal underwear and my Kevlar bodysuit,” Jim said, then pointed at the rips in his jeans. “But you owe me a pair of Levi’s, you bitch!”
“I’m so glad to see you! I was about to go out of my mind with boredom,” I said. “Are you staying for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow?”
“Hell no!” Jim said. “I have a life, you know, and I’ll be eating dinner with people who love me, not you! I just came up here because you left me that message about having some really good news.”
“Well, I’m glad you came, because I do have some really good news,” I said.
“Oh yeah? What is it?” Jim asked, and smacked the back of my head. “Spit it out!”
Before I could answer, he walked into my office and began plundering around my desk. “What’s this?” he said, holding up a straw.
“It’s a straw,” I said.
He examined it more closely. “No, it’s a bendy straw! That’s not for grown-ups!” he said, then he spied something else, which he grabbed and shoved toward me. “And what’s this for?”
“I got that the other day,” I said. “It’s Playdoh.”
“I can see what it is,” he said, then threw the Playdoh across the room. “And I’m wise to your game, now! Oh man! You sure had me fooled for a minute!”
“Precious Lamb, what do you mean?”
“Don’t ‘Precious Lamb’ me! I know what that stuff is for! Ha! You kooky bitches want to have a baby!”
“Oh, Jim, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard you say,” I told him.
“Why else would you have bendy straws and Playdoh just sitting around? Ha! And you want me to supply the juice for a big bowl of fat-baby punch, don’t you? Well, you can forget that, Sister Kristy!”
That’s when I started laughing and laughing and laughing! “Citizen Jim, the good news is that I quit smoking.”
He rolled his eyes. “Yeah. Riiiiiiggghht! Like I’m supposed to buy that line! Next to ‘No more new Citizen Jim Stories,’ that’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told me!”
“No, really. I hold the straws like a cigarette and squeeze the Playdoh to keep my hands busy when I’m having a fit for a cigarette!”
Citizen Jim covered his eyes. “I’m gonna count to ten in Spanish. When I open my eyes, you better ‘fess up or I’ll bash your face in with a shovel! UNO! DOS! TRES! CUATRO!”
I grabbed his wrists and tried to pry his hands off his eyes. “I’m telling you the truth.”
“CINCO! SEIS! SIETE!”
“Jim, don’t be an idiot!”
I pulled the sleeve up on my shirt and pointed to my arm. “You see this?”
“DIEZ!” he shouted and uncovered his face. “Do I see what?”
“It’s a nicotine patch!” I said.
He grabbed my arm and yanked me closer. “Are you sure?” he asked, sniffing it.
“Yes, I’m sure. I’ve been off the cigarettes for a week.”
“Really?” he asked, squinting at me and tilting his head. “You haven’t smoked a cigarette for a whole week?”
“Well, I smoked about half of one a few days ago,” I admitted. “But that’s it.”
Citizen Jim’s eyes got as big and round as a couple of Pink Floyd CDs. “You’re not joking around, are you?”
I shook my head.
“So you aren’t gonna steal my seed and plant a garden of little Chickens with it?”
I made a face. “Eeeeeeewwwwww! That’s the sickest thing you’ve come up with yet!”
He swiped his forehead and let out a sigh of relief. “Wheeww! I’m sure glad to hear that. I’m saving myself for my reunion with Erika Eleniak.”
“You just do that,” I said.
Citizen Jim put an arm around me. “Stimpy, for years and years I’ve been telling you to quit that smoking, and now you finally have.”
“Are you proud of me?”
Citizen Jim took his arm from around my shoulder and shoved me against the wall. “Hell no, I’m not proud of you! You should’ve never started that smoking in the first damned place!”
“Thanks,” I said. “That means a lot to me, coming from you.”
“Yeah, well, you better distract your cat so I can get outta here and make it back to Fairhope in time to eat Thanksgiving dinner with ********* and Helga Holbein. When we get done eating, we’re gonna watch The Best of Lexus and then the girls’re gonna have a slap-off! In a big vat of cranberry sauce and Cool Whip, with drumsticks from the turkey! If that’s not something to be thankful for, I don’t know what is!”
“I love you,” I said to Citizen Jim as he walked outside in a beatific daze. He tripped over a leaf on the back stoop, he was so busy thinking about his holiday plans.
Rubbing his hands together, he disappeared around the corner of the house. “Boy oh boy! This is gonna be better than last Hallowe’en with Granny and Gretchen, when we waited for the Great Pumpkin to appear on John Nelson’s verandah. I sure wish I had a picture of Laurel and Dudie dressed up like Sonny and Cher at the costume party afterward . . .”