I was dead asleep when the phone rang. It was three o’clock.

I picked it up and mumbled hello. I figured it was my ex-wife. She calls late at night sometimes to talk. She’s remarried, but it’s not going too well. I tell her not to worry so much, even though I never listen to that kind of advice myself.

Whenever she calls in the middle of the night, it takes me a few minutes to wake up. But it wasn’t her on the other end this time.

After I said hello, the voice said a few words, then hung up. All I caught was “building on fire” at the end of his sentence.

That got my attention.

I called the fire department. They said they hadn’t received any calls about any fires.

I got dressed and got in the car. I drove to City Hall. A woman had called the police the night before and reported a suspicious character peeking inside the windows. Sergeant Buckingham checked it out in the morning, but he couldn’t find any sign of a break-in.

The woman said the suspect was carrying a canister. It had to be gasoline.

My wife’s husband — my ex-wife’s husband, I mean (I do that sometimes) — he’s never liked me. His name’s Frank. She’s Julie. Frank especially dislikes the phone calls. He doesn’t believe men and women can, or should, be friends after a divorce. He has a temper.

I made the turn from Barley onto Kentucky. I saw City Hall up ahead. There was no smoke. No fire. I exhaled.

I pulled into a parking spot in front of the building and turned off the engine. I rolled down the window. I was the only person dumb enough to be awake at this hour. I rubbed my eyes and laughed.

“Don’t move. Get out of the car.”

I stopped laughing.

“Okay,” I said. “I’m getting out.”

It wasn’t Frank. Frank’s voice was higher.

“I said, ‘Don’t move.'”

“So if you move, you’ll be getting out of the car,” said another voice. It was coming from behind the first voice. They both laughed.

On the passenger side of the car stood two men. They were naked, with only a single tube sock covering each one’s genitals. The two men behind me on the driver’s side then jumped on the hood. They were also naked except for one tube sock apiece.

They all yelled, “Your pussy’s glued to a building on fire!” The two on the hood — one looked like a cross between Vincent Gallo and Charles Manson, the other one has to be related to Will Ferrell somehow — dropped a CD on the windshield. The one on the passenger’s side with the peroxided hair did an air-bass solo for a few seconds. Then they ran away.

I wasn’t sure what I’d just witnessed. But over by the west entrance of City Hall was my cat, Mr. Snickerbottoms.

He’d been missing since last Tuesday. Those four naked gentlemen had found him and returned him. I’ll never know why they Krazy Glued him to the outside of the building, but the candle they left burning underneath his tail did help me to locate him in the dark.

It turns out the four naked men were California’s Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the CD* they dropped on my windshield was a bootleg of their performance at the Reading Festival in Reading, England, on August 29, 1999. I can’t say I approve of their vigilante ways, but I’ll never forget the night they reunited me with my pwecious wittle kitty cat.

Around the World
Give It Away
Your Pussy’s Glued to a Building on Fire
Scar Tissue
Suck My Kiss
I Like Dirt
If You Have to Ask
[bass jam]
Soul to Squeeze
Organic Anti-Beat Box Band
Right on Time
Under the Bridge
Me & My Friends
[crowd noise]
Sir Psycho Sexy
Power of Equality

* The CD was too damaged to work on my computer. Next time use a jewel case when you ambush an elected official, boys. (Thanks to “fifth Chili Pepper” Matthew Boles for providing a working copy of the bootleg.)

About the Author

Robert Cass

Robert Cass lives in Chicago. For Popdose he's written under the Sugar Water, Bootleg City, and Box Office Flashback banners and collaborated on the series 'Face Time with Jeff Giles and Mike Heyliger.

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