Rummy

August 29, 2013
By

Donald Rumsfeld was in front of me in the checkout line at the grocery store. Swear to God. He had long red hair but I know it was him. He was buying a tall can of Tecate, a Hostess cherry pie, and a box of powdered latex gloves. He was wearing a corduroy history teacher jacket with those oval suede patches on the elbows. Each patch had a mouth, and the left one seemed to be trying to teach the right one Spanish. “Carrot.” “Zanahoria.” I don’t think the right mouth was really into it, though. I reached out to give it a little touch and it licked my finger. I giggled a bit (not too loud).

Donald Rumsfeld paid for his purchase by punching the sales clerk in the mouth. Van Halen’s “Panama” was playing and the golden fist drifted past like a sailboat. I waved at the grouchy captain but he was too busy breaking his iPhone to notice. Or maybe he was just pretending not to notice. You can’t be sure in this day and age. But the breeze was cool and refreshing.

Blood went everywhere. There was blood on the Juicy Fruit, blood on the 5-Hour Energy, and Justin Theroux on the cover of Whatever now had a sloppy red Hitler ‘stache as Jennifer Aniston kissed his ear. The cashier, GLENN, fell backwards onto the cigarettes.

“Ticket.” “Boleto.”

The store manager emerged from his office and held up a score card. 7. Come on, seriously? That was at least an 8. Booooooo.

I followed Donald Rumsfeld out to the parking lot. A Pomeranian locked in a Prius was barking hysterically at him, and he was barking right back, in between swigs of warm cerveza.

“Can you fucking believe this shit?” I said to the Girl Scouts selling cookies by the store entrance. None of them answered, but that’s okay. It was a rhetorical question. There was a large, hairy-armed man in a crocodile shirt standing behind them, and I couldn’t help but notice that he was staring at me. I glanced over at him, looked back at Donald Rumsfeld and the dog for a few seconds, then to the hairy man. He looked like Dennis Quaid after eating another Dennis Quaid, and damn it, he was still staring a hole through me. I lifted my eyebrows and my shoulders in the universal gesture for “Is there something I can help you with?”

“Are you supposed to be eating that?” he grumbled.

I looked down at my right hand. Empty. Hmm. Left hand. Freshly peeled tangerine. Ahh. Well, can you blame me? Even the word is delicious.

I returned my eyes to Mr. Hairy Starey Quaidbeast over there, then shifted them down to the Girl Scouts, who were also staring at me, mouths hanging open. I was beginning to sweat as I swiveled my head to look back at Donald Rumsfeld, and of course he was staring too. Even that damn dog had stopped yapping and was looking at me like I was about to open a bag of Snausages.

GLENN had emerged from the air conditioning, but he was too preoccupied to care about the unfolding fruit situation. His face was creased like the back page of an old Mad Magazine. He was smoking a Swisher Sweet and playing a slot machine game on his phone, crying.

The tangerine in my hand was throbbing, getting heavier by the second. I wished it would turn into a black hole and eat all these bastards. Juice began to trickle up my arm. Why did I pick today to wear this white tuxedo? Fruit flies were dancing in a conga line, oblivious to my state of mind.

The sliding glass whooshed open and I heard the opening drum beat from Nirvana’s “Scentless Apprentice.” My hand suddenly and involuntarily slammed the soggy tangerine into my unexpecting facehole. The initial pang of horror was quickly rinsed away by fantastic, stuttering waves of citric joy. I imagined an audience of Depression-era theatergoers sighing with relief. A pink grand piano skipping across a frozen pond. The authoritative voice of Robert Mitchum reading an outdated Chinese restaurant menu bouncing off the mesas. A wounded Civil War soldier trying to delete his Facebook profile before Death can–

I swallowed what was left of the blasted tangerine before that train of thought could deliver its cargo. Hoping that the situation was now satisfactorily resolved, I checked in with my audience, only to discover that they were long gone. A crushed box of Thin Mints was all that was left of the Girl Scouts. A goat was sleeping where GLENN was weeping.

“I hope, God I hope I never run into Condoleezza Rice,” I said to the goat.

“Go home,” whispered the sun.

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