Chapter 40

After we got Jack our blue nose pit bull, I started singing along to Jackie Blue.

“You have officially lost your mind,” said Brian.

Jack turns his head, looking at me, whenever I play Jackie Blue.

“That’s right, Jackie, they’re singing about you.”

He recognizes his name. He’s so smart. He was smart enough to find us, even though it was more on the side of good luck. The luck of the Puerto Rican man, our neighbor, who brought Jack into the neighborhood, ran out near the end of September, not long after we took the dog away from him.

I was getting back in bed after going to the bathroom in the middle of the night when I heard the most horrendous crash biss boom. Up until then it had been a quiet night. I jumped up and pulled open the curtain. A drunk driver had come down the middle of the road, swerved somehow, lost control, and smashed headfirst into a van parked across the street from our house.

Brian’s Honda Element was parked behind the van. Later on, the car and the van had to be hauled away on flatbeds. They were both so demolished neither of them could be towed. Brian’s Honda was, by some miracle, untouched.

Even still, Brian said, “I’m never parking in the street again.” I ran outside. A minute later Brian came out with Jack. The girl who had been driving had gotten out of the car, barefoot, bawling, and on her phone. She was walking away down the street.

“Hey, get back here!” I shouted. “You can’t just walk away from an accident.”

“I was driving,” her friend said, getting out of the passenger side.

“Don’t take the fall, kid,” I said. “Don’t do it. As much as you love her, you’re in a big mess.”

I called the police.

When they finally showed up they talked to everyone out in the street. “What did you see?” they asked me.

“What I saw was the police station just down the street,” I said. “I called, like, fifty times. You guys got here a half-hour later. That girl’s friends got here faster than you. They picked her up and now she’s gone.”

I was a little mad at the police for taking their time. They took it in stride. That’s the way it is with the Cleveland Police Department.

“What did you see?” one of the uniforms asked me.

“I saw that the kid wasn’t driving,” I said. “He got out of the passenger seat.”

“Really,” the officer said.

“You know what,” I said. “If this kid wants to take the fall for that stupid girl, that’s fine, that’s his choice, but it’s your fault if he finally admits he wasn’t driving, then you’ve got no one.”

I never found out where the girl went when she left the scene of the crime, although I heard later she had gotten hurt, and her friends had probably taken her to a hospital.

After the crash we tried to wake up the Puerto Rican family. But we could not wake those people up. Everyone finally took a window and started knocking on it. The guy eventually came out.

“I’m done,” he said when he saw his van. “That’s the last straw. I’m not even living here anymore.”

He had just gotten the van but had not gotten insurance. It was the same thing with Jack, which is why we took his dog after Jack got parvo. You can’t have a dog and not take care of it. No shots means the dog is going to get sick. No insurance means there’s going to be a wreck.

In the next few weeks they packed up all their main stuff and moved. They left all the kid toys and kid bikes behind. They left a mess behind. They left a huge electric bill and a huge water bill.

“I was trying to give the guy a break, help him out,” said the landlord, who is Puerto Rican, too.

He ended up having to fix the huge mess they left behind.

They moved in with family members in North Olmsted, the last we heard. We never saw them again. We got Jackie, though.

When we take him for a walk it’s the Jackson Parade. He is so stinking cute. Life is too short to blend in. so that works for him. Everyone is “Hi, hi, hi.” Who hates puppies? Everyone loves puppies.

We were walking down the street one nice sunny day when Jack saw some bread on the sidewalk. The pieces of bread were covered with ants, but he started eating it, anyway.

“No, no, no,” said Brian.

He pried Jack’s mouth open to get the bread. The dog’s sharp little razor teeth, at the top of the jaw, slit into one of Brian’s fingers. “What are you thinking,” I said, “sticking your finger into his mouth? He’s a baby, so his teeth are razor sharp.”

Everybody loves Jackie. They want to see him, touch him, pet him, jump on the bandwagon, and that is fine and good, but he can’t be jumping up into their faces. “You live your life in a free-form style.” He just can’t do that.

It’s a problem we’ve been working on. He gets excited, jumps up, and smooches, but sometimes he leaves a love nip with his kiss. “You say it’s easy, just a natural thing, like playing music.” The problem is, when a dog jumps, he’s bound to land somewhere. He usually just catches a little tiny piece of your lip, but even that is too much.

He has to sit and be good. Except when he’s on the Jackson Parade, when he doesn’t have to sit, but still has to be a good dog.

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