Rusty Mitchum

Rusty Mitchum

Awhile back, I went in for a check-up at my doctor’s office. I would tell you who my doctor is, but he won’t let me. Really! When I go in to see him, the first thing he does is ask me the same question.

“Do you want to get well?” he asks.

“Of course,” I answer back.

“Then this better not end up in the paper,” he says.

So, if I want to keep my health, I have to keep his name out of it. Anywho, when I went in to see him this time, I hadn’t been sick, but when I got out I wasn’t feelin’ too well.

“How did it go at the doctor’s?” Janet asked when I got home.

“Not too good,” I said.

“Why, what happened?”

“I think you better sit down,” I said.

“Why?”

“I’ve got some bad news,” I replied.

“What?”

“Well, it looks like my time is almost up.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The doctor ... I don’t know how to put this. The doctor told me my cholesterol was a little too high.”

“And?”

“And what?”

“And what else did he say?”

“Not much. We talked a little about guns and such, but that was about it.”

“That’s it? Your cholesterol is too high?”

“Well that’s not the bad news.”

“Rusty,” she warned. “What is the bad news?”

“He is puttin’ me on some cholesterol medicine.”

“And?”

“And what?”

“And, I am going to beat you to death if you don’t tell me what the bad news is,” she said through gritted teeth.

“Okay. Man, you don’t take this bad news stuff too good, do you?”

“Rusty,” she warned again.

“OK, OK. Well, this medicine may have certain side effects.”

“All medicines may have certain side effects,” she informed me.

“Yeah, but this one could be really bad.”

Janet rolled her eyes and gritted her teeth. “What certain side affects are you talking about?” she growled.

“Well, it’s sort of a sensitive subject.”

“Rusty ....”

“OK, but I really think you should sit down.”

“Just tell me,” she said.

“Well ...,uh … I may not be chasin’ you around the house as much as I usually do.”

“What?”

“You know,” and I raised my eyebrows a couple of times.

“Oh brother,” she said. “And that’s bad news.”

“It is to me.”

“You’re an idiot,” she said. “And anyway, where did you hear about that side effect.”

“I happened to be readin’ a magazine in the lobby, and it had an ad about the medicine, and I looked at the side effect part of it, and there it was. It said that 1% of the population might be affected that way.”

“One percent? Oh brother,” she sighed.

“Man, you’re takin’ this better than I expected,” I said. She gave me one of “those looks.”

“But,” I added. “I’ve decided, for your sake, not to take the medicine.”

“What? For my sake?”

“Yeah, I don’t want you to have to suffer.”

She just looked at me.

“Of course,” I continued, “not takin’ it means I will probably die pretty soon.”

“How soon?” she asked sarcastically.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “Could be anytime.”

“Well I hope it’s after next Friday,” she said.

“What? What do you mean?”

“I’ve got a hair appointment next Friday.”

“What’s that got to do with anything?” I asked.

“I want to look nice for the funeral,” she said.

“I can’t believe you are makin’ jokes about this.”

“Look Rusty. You are not going to die. At least not in my lifetime, it looks like. And you are going to take the medicine.”

I smiled. “You do want to keep me around, don’t you?”

She rolled her eyes.

“But what about the side effect?”

“I’ll take my chances,” she said sarcastically.

“That’s mighty brave.”

She rolled her eyes again.

“You know,” I said, “on the way home, I was thinkin.”

“Great,” she said, under her breath.

“If somethin’ should happen to me, I want you to remarry.”

“What?”

“Yeah, I think you should. Not that I would if somethin’ happened to you.”

“Ha!” she laughed. “Rusty, you’d be hitting on women at my funeral.”

“No I wouldn’t,” I said.

“Yes you would. I can see you now. You’d have a hangdog look on your face, and you’d be saying something like, ‘I sure wish I knew how to cook,’ and Iit sure is going to be lonesome all by myself,’ and ‘If I only had a brain.’”

“You are so funny,” I said. “OK, what are you goin’ to do when I die?”

“Go on a cruise,” she said quickly.

“A cruise?”

“Yep. A cruise.”

“Won’t you be lonesome?”

“Who said I was going alone?”

“What?”

“I said, who said I was going ….”

“I heard what you said. I just can’t believe you said it.”

“Look Rusty. You are not dying, so don’t worry about it.”

“What do you mean don’t worry about it. It sounds like you’ve already made plans.”

“I was kidding, you moron.”

“You sure?” I whined.

“Of course I’m sure,” she said and hugged me. “Besides, he gets seasick.”

Rusty Mitchum lives in New Harmony, Texas, where he writes a regular column for The Lindale News and Times. He says the only reason he writes is to keep the voices away.