It was hard trying to act like I didn’t know Citizen Jim when he showed up on Friday afternoon.
He rushed through the door and shouted, “Clear out! Give me room! This man needs some air!”
He fell to his knees on the floor and slapped the inert form across the face. “Wake up! Goddamn it, your family needs you! We’re down by two points! Don’t you give up on me!”
Citizen Jim continued slapping until two firemen pulled him away.
“What’re you doing? He’s dying! Look at his face, he can’t even open his eyes!”
“Sir, that’s a dummy.”
“Don’t you dare mock the afflicted,” Citizen Jim said. His eyes were wild.
“He’s not—that’s not even—”
The head firefighter could barely find the words to address such idiocy. He pointed at the floor. “This is a CPR class. You’ve been smacking a plastic model. And a very expensive one at that.”
“You monsters! You can’t put a price on a human life!”
He was removed—kicking in all directions and screaming obscenities—by three firemen. They tied him to a folding chair where he thrashed and swore vengeance until the cops arrived twenty minutes later to haul him away in a city cruiser.
Watching this scene really shook me up. Another strike against Citizen Jim’s record could be devastating, since just two months prior he’d been arrested for felony jay-walking and aggravated lollygagging.
But what could I do? I needed CPR certification for my job. I was afraid that if they thought I knew Citizen Jim they might tell me to leave.
Then they might blackball me from every CPR class in the county, maybe even the state, or on a national level.
Then I’d never get my CPR card.
Then I’d get fired.
Then I’d get evicted for not being able to pay my rent.
Then I’d have to find a way to live on the streets without being arrested for vagrancy.
Then I’d have to sell all my podcasting equipment and mechanical pencils just to feed my cats.
Eventually, I’d have to give away the cats, too, since I wouldn’t be able to care for them in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed.
If I didn’t have my cats and I didn’t have my mechanical pencils, what kind of terrifying hellscape would my life become?
In other words: I had no choice but to leave Citizen Jim in jail.
I only hoped he could forgive me one day.