God of Squirrels – Chapter Six: Side Effects

As Buck sits in his car in the Costco parking lot, a white paper sack full of prescriptions in his lap, he cracks open his can of diet cola and starts popping pills. He reads the directions on the prescription bottles only so far as to learn how many pills to take, and not which play well with others and which should be taken alone. Since the dose is based on the average size person and since he’s packing a few extra pounds around his middle, he doubles the doses of all the prescriptions. By the time he’s done knocking back the pills, his tongue is so blue with artificial coloring, it would make Doc proud.

He’s startles at a knock on his car window. A uniformed security guard stares in at him. He lowers his window half way. “Yes?”

The guard’s face is inches from the window. His breath is minty fresh. “Sir, you shouldn’t take your prescriptions out in the open like this. We’ve had a string of robberies in the parking lot where customers have had their prescriptions stolen while doing just what you’re doing.”

“Really? That’s good to know,” Buck reads the name tag, thinking he should get one for his suit, “Sam.” His skin starts to feel really warm so he lowers the window all the way. “That’s a spiffy uniform you’re wearing.” Buck means it. For some reason that he can’t explain, the sharp creases in the dark blue polyester trousers look really cool to him right now. He’s not trying to give Sam a hard time, but Sam doesn’t know that.

Sam pulls down on his baseball cap, given to him by a strange guy downtown he used to think was crazy because he talked to himself all the time, but not any longer. “It’s honest work, pal. No need to make fun.”

Buck smiles a big genuine smile. “No, Sam, don’t take it that way. I mean it, really. Uniforms are underrated. They give the wearer a seriousness a suit can never match, no mater how powerful the tie is.” Buck fiddles with his own tie knot and realizes he’s babbling. “You’re not even wearing a tie and you look very serious. I get the sense you must really enjoy your job.”

Sam nods. “I stopped a robbery last week. Prescriptions again. Sorry, I thought you were taking the piss.”

“Nah, not me, pants still zipped,” he says and laughs at his own joke, a trait he ridicules in others for doing but it’s like he’s outside his body watching himself laugh. He’s acting like such an idiot, yucking it up with a rent-a-cop of all people and babbling about nonsense, but he can’t do anything about it because suddenly, with a loud buzz in his head, he really is outside his body and no longer a participant, only an observer.

Buck’s body starts up the car and gives Sam a grin so big it looks like his teeth might pop out. “Go for the gold, Sam, that’s what I’m going to do.” With that he puts it in drive and zooms out of the parking lot, his arm out the window waving the whole way.

But to Out of Body Buck’s surprise, he’s left sitting on his keister in the greasy stain on the pavement of parking spot 27. He looks up at Sam, wondering what just happened, and is reassured to see Sam looking down at him, as if he’s still the physical Buck. “Can you help me?” he asks.

Sam shakes his head at Out of Body Buck. “Sorry, dude. You’re the part of him that’s holding him back. You’ve been jettisoned.” Sam chuckles. “Odd really. It’s usually the higher-self, the ethereal part, that pushes the ego personality to love more. But not in your case.”

“How can you know that? Are you some sort of security guard guru?”

“Because he was laughing and happy when he left. How many people do you know who laugh when they drive? Can you remember the last time you laughed? How about the last time you were happy?”

Out of Body Buck can’t remember. He’s been nothing but angry and anxious for as long as he can remember. Maybe Sam is right. “I’ve been going through a rough patch in my marriage, might even get divorced. It’s hard to be anything but sad and pissed.”

“Buddy, looks like you just divorced yourself.”

Out of Body Buck gets to his feet, his surprise and fear turning to anger. “Now who’s taking the piss? Fucking rent-a-cop.”

Sam laughs. “See? I was so right about you. You are the crappy part of you that’s been left behind. The part of you that just drove off seems like a real nice guy. I’d have a beer with him anytime, though he seems more into pills than is my thing, but everyone to their own.”

“But what will happen to me?”

Sam touches the bill of his cap. “Not my problem, pal. I don’t have a clue anyway.” He pulls the cap off and the apparition of Out of Body Buck disappears. They’re much easier to ignore when you can’t see them, he thinks as he returns to walking his patrol beat through the parking lot.

Next chapter – Freedom

Previous chapter – Velvet

First Chapter: Buck

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