Uncle Sam Gets Mugged

Uncle Sam’s Cabin

“Quick doctor, we need help,” the woman said. Her voice was as soft and earthy as her green scrubs. Cisco looked over the top of his cards and grimaced. “Are you speaking to me?”

“Nurse Willing,” she said, with a slight upturn on the left corner of her mouth, “Amalgamated Medical Supply. If I’m not mistaken you’re Cisco, a.k.a. Cisneros Corporation.”

“What if I am?”

“It’s Uncle Sam. He’s gone unconscious. His blood sugar is through the roof and he’s having an anxiety attack.”

“Let me get my things. Maria! Ve conmigo por favor.”

Nurse Willing was momentarily startled to see a Mexican woman of delicate beauty standing beside the piano, smiling a Mona Lisa smile. “Was she there before and I didn’t see her?”

“Si,” Cisco said absently. ”She lives in the shadows but since the shift she is more visible.”

“Are you going to finish this hand at least?” Memphis, the shapeshifter asked.

“You wouldn’t ask that unless you were holding a good hand,” Cisco replied. “I fold. You go ahead of us and assess the threat level.”

He followed Nurse Willing out of the Mission and across the desert landscape, which was dotted with cabins. In front of one of the cabins Memphis was waiting. “He seems to be stable at the moment, but he’s had something of a shock. He said he’s been mugged.”

“Uncle Sam, mugged? Who could do that? He’s the toughest guy in Ash Fork.”

“We don’t know yet who did it. But one thing we do know, is that he’s one dangerous son-of-a-bitch.” Memphis pushed the perfect replica of a brass knob and the door slid smoothly open. The inside of the cabin was oxygen rich so that the big man could breathe easier. An old, white-haired black man had his right hand on Uncle Sam’s head, and with his left was shaking a bowl of chicken bones. At the foot of the raised sleeping platform, a robust black woman held the man’s feet in her hands, and sang in a low, rich, earthy voice:

“Lover man oh where, can you be?”

As Cisco entered the room both of them felt the healing presence. He took in the body of Uncle Sam with photographic precision. He’d never seen him with his clothes off before. All that bright red white and blue Nashville drag was draped across a chair, and the once slender body by El Greco was heavy and bloated in the middle.

Cisco had been created to be the personification of the leading purveyors of Direct Consciousness Healing. He could read a body in an instant. He saw the trademark long legs were still long legs, but the symmetry was off. Now the feet were white and naive from wearing shoes. The toes were curled downward as if they were trying to grip a perch, and the legs were disproportionately slender with the torso perched on them like a beer keg on stilts. “Uh oh,” Cisco muttered, allowing his attention to move to the unnaturally expanded chest and shoulders.

“The loss of grounding is evident in the diminished lower body,” he said to Nurse Willing. “Probably had a psychotic episode recently. The vulnerability is being compensated by the overly aggressive posture in the upper body.”

“How do you know that?”

“There’s nothing to know,” he said. “You just look and see. Any body expands to make itself appear larger when it loses grounding and feels endangered. I’d say he feels alienated from his family connections and is trying to compensate by puffing himself up.”

Uncle Sam’s eyes opened lazily. He peered at Cisco, then at the dark beauty standing in the shadows, behind him. He smiled crookedly toward Mary.

“I hear that somebody stole your wallet today,” Cisco said lightly, bringing the big man’s attention back to business.

Uncle Sam’s eyes narrowed slightly. “There wasn’t any cash in it,” he said. “Just credit cards.”

Mary stifled a laugh and Uncle Sam smiled at her more brazenly.

Cisco looked with some distaste at the iconic man’s swollen abdomen. “Your liver’s not working right,” he said. “It can’t keep up with the poison pouring into your system. How’s your alcohol consumption?”

There was a soft skittering noise and Uncle Sam’s eyes shifted toward the scattering of chicken bones on the floor, and to the old black man, crooning softly as he studied them. Finally Uncle Ben looked up at Cisco and said, “When he comes down from this ego inflation he’s headed into a murderous depression.”

“That’s for sure enough a fact,” Aunt Jemima agreed.

Uncle Sam had drifted into unconsciousness again, his right hand jerking reflexively as he muttered something in his sleep. The only thing intelligible was “Tora Bora.”

In the corner, Luther began softly finger picking his guitar. “You’re losing all your highs and lows, ain’t it funny how the feeling goes away? Desperado….”

“Which one’s the more dangerous son-of-a-bitch?” Cisco asked, “Uncle Sam or the guy who mugged him?”

“Take your pick,” Memphis said. “But you know what they say about a conservative. It’s a liberal who got mugged.”