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The Freedom Kid

The phone is ringing.

I'm lying on a hotel bed somewhere on the outskirts of Indiana, bruised and bleeding, trying to save up my energy to make the drive to the next show, and the GODDAMN PHONE is RINGING.

In this hazy funk, this funky haze, hey, man, haven't you ever smoked haze before, you're such a lightweight, I hold on to the hope that maybe it's Amanda. Maybe, through some unforefuckingseen circumstance, she's decided that Michael White really isn't her cup of tea and she needs a little Svoboda in her life. Lose that tag team zero and get with the Undercard Hero, baby. I'll open the show, and your mind and legs will follow.

But it can't be. Not after our last conversation.

Ring number two.

It's probably Jomatran, touting the merits of some new product for me to shill. Ever since the vacuum infomercial (when I ad-libbed rather obscenely about just how much the product in question sucked), I've been wary of doing the advertising thing. Then there are always the public appearances, but between being billed at a comedy club as "Pete Snowboat" and that one time at the used car lot, I'm not big on those, either. I could use the money, though.

Third ring and I pick up the phone and it isn't Amanda and it isn't Jomatran. My phone doesn't recognize the number at all, in fact. I answer anyway.

"This is Piter, and it's three o'clock," I cheerfully report, "in the FUCKING MORNING!" Speak softly and carry a big stick, right? In this case, my stick is a loud and guttural stressing of the word "fuck" to assault my caller's eardrums with.

"Oh, shit, thank the Anti-Christ you answered. Piter, I need help, I swear to Sid Caesar's ghost."

I wrack my brain. "Sid Caesar is dead? Wait, who... is this?"

"Come on, man, this is Peter. Peter Griffith. The Freedom Kid. We met at that autograph signing?"

The tumblers click into place and the vault opens. "Oh, hey, Peter!" I wait a beat before saying what's really on my mind. "I gave you my number?"

"Yeah, and Jommy's, but you said if I ever need help with my career I should call you."

"So, like, you having trouble cutting a promo or something?"

But of course it's never that simple.

"I'm in lock-up in Kalamazoo, Michigan for abusing a penguin."

"Abusing a... kid, you better not be yanking my chain, here, because I have had a BAD day."

"No shit, man, I swear to Bob. You've gotta get me out of here!"

I sigh in a way that I hope conveys my grudging assent. "I'll be there in a few hours."

In a few hours