“I’m so sorry,” I told Nancy, my face a dark beet red. “My friend, I don’t think he took his medication today. Let me help you clean up.” I bent over and started to pick up the spent staples and bits of paper from the floor. As I did so, Lizzy went over and plucked a tissue from the large pile on the desk, offering it to the sobbing woman in the kitten sweater. “I’m sorry you’re crying,” she said. “I like your sweater.”
I felt another level of flustered coming on. I was deeply embarrassed and now also trying super hard not to notice that Lizzy was both cute and sweet. I was trying to maintain my composure, focus on getting out of this place without the police being called. It was too early in the summer to get grounded for the rest of it.
Lizzy and I straightened the desk up as much as we could, but we didn’t know the woman’s organization system and, oh yeah, Jimmy really made an unfixable mess of a lot of it. “That’s the beauty of Oh is this yours?”, I remember him explaining once, “You ruin everything a person has without doing any important damage. That’s the difference between getting detention or not, being grounded or not. It’s what you can argue as being no big deal.” I sighed and bent over, eyeing another staple that I had missed embedded in the rug. I wondered how much better my grades would be if I had room in my brain for real facts and ideas and not just all of Jimmy’s nonsense.
“JB please stop showing your butt to the whole world, we have important business to discuss.” I shot back up, my face an even darker red. I was ready to snap at Jimmy, but then the behemoth of a man standing behind him made me pause. His name tag said Don, but he looked more like a Kong to me. “This one belong to you?” He had a hand firmly resting on Jimmy’s shoulder, whose face was a mixture of smugness and annoyance that was out of place for someone in big trouble. As soon as Don released his grip on Jimmy, he darted back over to us and brushed off his shoulder, shooting a dirty look towards Don as he did.
“Put your hands on me again and I’ll sue you for everything you have, you big ape. I’ll have your moms whole basement by the time I’m done with you.” Don took an angry step forward, but Jimmy swiftly stepped back and placed himself behind me and Lizzy. Nancy had composed herself by this time and placed a hand gently on Don’s arm. “Don’t worry about it,” she told him soothingly, “let’s just let the police deal with it. I’ll call them right now.” She lifted up the receiver.
My heart sank as the phone was raised but, before I could protest, Jimmy stepped forward again and pointed a thin finger at the aged face of Nancy. “The police?” He asked this incredulously, “and what are you going to tell them? That someone came to your animal shelter looking for an animal and, while they were there, they used some tape, tissues and staples? That doesn’t sound like a police matter to me, that sounds like a regular day in a shelter. But I suppose if you wanted to call them, I could mention how your giant monkey goon put his hands on me and roughed me up.”
Nancy slightly lowered the phone, but didn’t set it all the way down yet. “He didn’t do anything more than lead you by your shoulder away from a restricted area.” She said this, but didn’t sound one hundred percent certain in her voice. That was enough for Jimmy; he pressed onward. “Oh, this shoulder? The badly bruised one?” He asked this question right before grabbing her beach mug from the desk and slamming it hard into his shoulder over and over again, crying out in pain as he did so. Confusion on the faces of Nancy and Don gave way to horror as Jimmy stopped and pulled down the collar of his shirt, revealing the fresh beginnings of a solid welt. “So what do you think the police will be more interested in? The fact that your papers are shuffled and your scotch tape is crumpled? Or the poor pale boy who just wanted to find his cat but is now bruised like a clearance peach at Walmart. You decide.”
I could tell from the looks on their faces that Jimmy had won. And I sighed internally, both grateful and greatly annoyed that his plan had actually worked exactly as he said it would. Don grumbled to himself angrily and walked away, disappearing back down the hallway from which he had appeared. After another brief apology from myself, the three of us made our way out of the shelter and back into the bright daylight.
As we exited, my jaw was clenched tighter than it had ever been. I couldn’t believe how messy fifteen minutes of my life could be. Yet, the more days that I spent with Jimmy, the more I saw how insanity can happen every minute of every day and sometimes you just have to ride it out. This seemed to be one of those days.
Deciding it would make me feel better, I whirled on Jimmy and socked him once in the shoulder. He let out a sharp cry, but it was more-so from surprise than from pain. At least I hoped so, I suppose I did just hit him in his bruised side. “That’s what you get for putting us in that tough spot Jimmy, why can’t you ever handle things normally?”
“What was abnormal about the way I handled it?”
“How so? I told you the plan, I followed it even though you did not, and then I solved the case. Just as I always do.”
When I questioned him as to how he solved the case, he told me that he saw Velcro through a high window in a security door and that he could prove it once we were back at our secondary headquarters.
We arrived at my house, which Jimmy called our secondary HQ, and said he was ready to prove it. However, the proof was not quite what I expected. Instead of proving that he solved the case, he simply meant that he could prove that he would be able to spot the cat while jumping in the air, which he did by having Lizzy hold a picture of a cat behind a big box while he jumped over and over and shouted out what details he could see with every glimpse. I was not impressed.
I tried using reason to diffuse the situation. “Why would they lie about the cat, Jimmy? The woman looked at the poster and said they didn’t have it, what would be the reason to lie to us about it?”
“Why do adults lie to kids all the time? Why do they tell us that Santa is real, or the tooth fairy? Or that good things come to those that wait? Or why does your mom tell you that you’ll grow up to be handsome one day? I don’t know why adults lie, but they do it constantly and they seem to love it. And they were lying about the cat, JB, I guarantee it.”
I sighed. “But, why?” I wish I had a better response, a better follow-up. Jimmy just shrugged. “I don’t know, my best guess is that it’s some kind of sex thing.” It was at that moment that by dad decided to pop his head into the room and see what we were up to.
“Jimmy! What are you talking about?”
“Nothing Mr. B, I’m sorry. We were just joking around.”
My dad stroked his chin thoughtfully, his index finger making accidental contact with the thick bristles of his mustache, causing them to stick up in all directions. His look was both comical and serious as he decided whether or not to ask us exactly what was being said before he got there. He decided to let it go.
“Alright,” he said finally. “Get washed up, it’s dinner time. Are you staying to eat with us?” Jimmy turned and fixed me with a hard stare. “No,” Jimmy said, jaw jutted forward with finality. “I don’t have time for dinner. I live in a lonely desolate world where truth is my only companion, everyone else has turned their back on me. I only have time for action.” Jimmy performed a quick round of clumsy karate chops and then somersaulted to the door and disappeared through it.
A moment later, noticing someone else was in the room, someone new, my dad repeated the question. “How about you, are you staying?”
My nervousness returned tenfold when I saw Lizzy smile and nod yes.