Acupuncture After The Apocalypse

You Think We Can

“So how do you think we can get Eve back here?” Levi asks. We’re talking by phone. That’s the best we can do, given his schedule now that he’s Mayor-elect. (He takes office in January.)

Levi’s calling from the Mayor-mobile, while I’m sitting in my office. He calls several times a day now, always only for the couple of minutes he can steal between appointments. I have a woman waiting for me in Room Optimism. Each of the three exam rooms here at Chicken Soup Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture is identified by a name rather than a number. Optimism on the left, Harmony in the middle, and Vitality is on the right. The gal in Optimism has surely undressed by now, and is probably growing chilly waiting for me to come in and stick needles in her.

“What, you’re thinking we stage a rescue operation to bring Eve and Mason back from Brazil?”

Over the receiver come sounds of mastication. Levi is wolfing down his breakfast.

“What are you eating?”

“Slice of Snickers pie,” Levi says. “Instead of sweetening it with just sugar, you use a half-cup of Dr. Pepper. A woman this morning gave me the entire pie. I’m on my Good Will Tour, you know. Driving around the region thanking my supporters. Maybe we need to go down there.”

I’m not sure whether this is a suggestion to me or directions to his driver.

“To Brazil, I mean. Let’s you and I go down there and bring them back.”

“How do you know they want to come back? Maybe they’re safer where they are,” I say.

“Impossible. Nowhere in the world is as safe as where we live—this big, beautiful midsection of the U-S-of-A.”

“Did you really just say ‘U-S-of-A?’”

“You try running for office. It messes with your vernacular.”

“Did you just use the word ‘vernacular?’”

“What, like you wouldn’t?”

“I’m not the one pretending to be a man of the people.”

The sound of a long exhalation comes through the phone. “Come on, Janey. It’s still me. Same old pompous lawyer who secretly eats pie made from crushed-up candybars at eight in the morning. Are you in or are you out?”

Jill Riddell is a writer in Chicago. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute and has a weakness for nature, magic, and pennies abandoned in sidewalk cracks.