The apothecary was almost done making the cough drops, but the Kibitzer was tired of watching. He ho-hummed to himself, took another bite of some slightly stale popcorn, and decided watching was not always what he had pictured it would be. It was a very unpleasant observation and it did not sit well him or his stomach. The popcorn didn’t help. He belched once in hopes of relief.
It was during the descent of the belch out of his mouth that he heard what sounded like a pop, saw the delivery boy run out of the saloon, and then watched as lightning tripped the light fantastic across the kid’s body.
He then saw another two or three people scurry out of the saloon as if escaping an unpleasantry, like a distant relative’s interminable funeral or a spelling bee where they were next up and the word was interminable.
The Kibitzer forgot all about the cough drops and stepped outside, glancing toward the sky as if somehow he could observe a bolt of lightning before it hit him, and then considered running through the rain to the other side of the street.
That’s when a young lady came up and kneed him in the groin.
The Kibitzer dropped to the wooden sidewalk, balled up, and began rocking back and forth as if it might dissipate the pain.
“My name’s Bonnie,” she said, leaning over him. “No man leaves my apothecary without payin’ for what he ordered.”
“I wasn’t leaving,” the Kibitzer said, his teeth still clenched.
Finally, he rolled over onto all fours.
“Didn’t you see the kid out there? He got struck by lightning?”
Bonnie shrugged. “Happens a lot lately. He’ll be okay. Nobody in this town dies anymore. Been bad for my business, I tell you.”
The Kibitzer was again standing fully erect, if feeling a little tender. The rain had slackened to almost a light drizzle.
“We already lost two undertakers and the saw bones has gone back to yankin’ teeth. If it weren’t for medicinals for that, I’d probably be blowin’ in the wind, too.” She then slipped him the bill for the cough drops.
The Kibitzer looked at it. “What, no discount for the laying on of hands?”
She smiled at him, then raised her hand. In the muddled light of the evening, she still looked quite menacing. “I didn’t finish.”
The Kibitzer paid her and gave her a generous tip.
He then dashed out into the rain, forgetting the cough drops.