The Sad Saga of Cousin Ray
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Being a member of the geezer demographic, I’ve been able to get both jolts of the COVID vaccine. That should give me about 95 percent immunity, but as a glass-half-empty kind of guy, I figure the remaining 5 percent is out there gunning for me. But since I don’t do anything these days, or see anybody, or go anywhere, that lethal 5 percent has a pretty thin chance of taking me down. Granted, my life is somewhat boring, but I do get considerable satisfaction from being not dead.
I need to qualify one statement I just made, the one about not going anywhere. I’ve actually taken two trips since the pandemic started. One was down to a clinic in Everett to get the first shot, and the other was up to Ferndale for the second. I realize this doesn’t sound very exciting, but given the tedium of my pandemic routine, I count these as stimulating road trips, packed with wondrous sights and adventures.
I made the mistake of telling my cousin Ray in South Dakota that I’d gotten the vaccine. Ray—who has 27 assault rifles and sleeps in MAGA pajamas—emailed back that I had made a terrible mistake, explaining that there was a tracking microchip in the vaccine and now Bill Gates knows my every move. I thought that sounded really cool. It’s like Bill Gates and I are buddies now and he’s watching out for me. Besides, I’ve never had a super-rich friend before. Next December I’ll send Bill my Christmas list. This will be upgraded from my usual requests. The hell with new socks, I’m thinking Lamborghini and a room addition.
Cousin Ray—who belongs to a QAnon discussion group and follows a website called Patriots Against Vaccine Tyranny—went on to explain that the vaccine has altered my DNA. Well, I’m OK with that. I don’t think my DNA was all that great to begin with.
But then Ray—who wears a “Fire Fauci” T-shirt, when he isn’t wearing one that says “Stop the Steal”—hit me with the heavy stuff. The vaccine is going to give me Bell’s palsy and make me autistic. In fact, Ray said, the vaccine itself will probably give me COVID. That last part got my attention because I wasn’t feeling very well at the moment. My wife suggested this might have more to do with the two large bowls of chili topped with raw onions I had just polished off. This sounded reasonable, so I took a couple of Tums and felt fine. I reported that back to Ray, who was very excited to learn that COVID was no big deal after all since it could be cured with Tums.
I didn’t hear from Ray for a while after that, but then I got an email from his wife Rhonda Jean informing me that Ray had gone away with the lord. I thought she was talking about Billy Lord, one of Ray’s motorcycle pals, but as I read on I realized Ray had died. Rhonda Jean said he started feeling sickly after flying home from Missouri, where he’d gone to a Josh Hawley solidarity rally. Ray’s doctor ordered a COVID test, but Ray never showed up for it. He figured it couldn’t be COVID because he’s been taking two Tums every day.
As Ray got worse, Rhonda Jean wanted to drive him to the emergency room, but he refused, fearing that if he was hospitalized they would slip a microchip into his IV.
For a while Ray thought he might have been secretly poisoned by Antifa, figuring they were out to get him for all his social media posts about how they were actually the ones behind the Capitol riot.
Well, it was getting increasingly difficult for Ray to breathe and, thinking he might have COVID after all, he opted for a more powerful cure and downed a 12-ounce glass of Clorox. Even that wasn’t enough, said Rhonda Jean, and he passed away.
Rhonda Jean said she would write more later but for now she wanted to rest a while because she was feeling a little puny herself. She said it couldn’t be COVID, though, because she had been taking four Tums daily, as well as zinc and hydroxychloroquine.
She invited me to Ray’s upcoming memorial service, but I told her I’d have to pass because these days I don’t do anything, or see anybody, or go anywhere. Except for those two spectacular road trips.