Cracking the Corn


The pony run, he jumped, he pitched, he threw my master in the ditch, Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care, Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care.” American Folk Song

When Lynn told Jimmy she had called the police, he went right out to his pick-up truck and started cleaning it out, all the paraphernalia and drugs, especially the crack. He took it all into the house and hid it. Afterwards he couldn’t remember where he had put it.

“Lord knows where!” he said. He was so mad about it he could barely talk, which for him is mad, since he talks one hundred miles a minute.

They had gotten into an argument weeks before and Jimmy had left, going to work in Pennsylvania. He is a heavy machine operator. When she called him he ran back to her. It wasn’t what he thought it was going to be.

“Do you know you could put me back in prison?”  Jimmy said to Lynn when the police came.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to, but my lawyer said I had to.”

She was already regretting it.

The police put Jimmy in handcuffs.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” said Jimmy. “What are you arresting me for?”

“You stole that pick-up truck outside,” they said.

“That is bullshit,” said Jimmy. “I’ve been making payments to her for it. I have proof it’s my truck, believe me. I was just in Pennsylvania with it. She was fine with that. I can show you all my text messages, and she always says, your truck, your truck, not her truck.”

“Let me see those text messages,” said one of the policemen.

He went back to their squad car and when he came back he gave Jimmy his phone.

“It’s his truck,” said the policeman to Lynn. “That’s what you’ve been saying in all your text messages.”

They took the cuffs off. They had to work out a few more things, Jimmy told me, but they finally drove away.

“You fucking called the police,” he said to Lynn.

“We can work this out,” she said.

“There’s no working this out,” he said. “You ruined everything.”

“No, Jimmy,” I told him later. “You ruined everything by going out and having a crack weekend. Maybe you shouldn’t have been that stupid.” He didn’t like that. “Don’t blame her because she called the cops. Yeah, it’s a crappy thing to do, but it gets to the point where you don’t give people too much choice. It’s always your way or the highway, and if they don’t like it, they can go, so, honestly, I can see where she’s coming from.”

He got a written piece of paper from her, signed, stating, yes, this is my truck, in my name, but I have given Jimmy full power over it.

He’s still paying her. “I’m not going to go back on my word,” he said. “I’m never going back to her, either. She ruined everything.”

He was driving., on the phone. I asked him where he was going. “I packed all my shit and I’m going to Colorado,” he said. His kids live in Colorado. One of them is a Marine. The other one wanted to be a pilot, but his eyes are bad. He’s still floundering.

“Are you high?” I asked him.

“I don’t want to answer that,” he said.

“You’re a special kind of stupid,” I said. “Getting high and drunk and driving, putting yourself and others in jeopardy, you selfish bastard. What’s wrong with you?”

“They can’t nail me. I’m not drunk enough.” He had gotten the taste back for drink and coke.

“Your husband was an addict,” he said.

“What’s that got to do with anything?”

“He’s fat, too.”

“What? Are you fucking two?”

“He replaced drugs with food.”

“I have no idea why you’re bringing Brian into this. And he’s not fat, not by far.”

“Don’t you dare defend him,” he said. Then he hung up and blocked me

He unblocked me a few days later. I sent him a text.

“This friendship has reached its conclusion. There’s no room for it to grow.”

A few weeks later I got a letter in the mail. It was addressed to Jimmy. He lived in our house for part of a year, getting back on his feet. Some of his mail was still being delivered to our address. He never bothered going to the post office to set up a forwarding address.

He doesn’t want to hear how he used Brian and me and never paid us back for all the stuff we paid for while he was living in our house. He doesn’t want to recognize we took him in when no one else would, fed him, clothed him, and got him on his feet. What we got in return was not even a thank you.

Inside the oversize letter were his heavy machinery training certificate and new membership card.

Jimmy is famous for ignoring people, but I texted him about the letter.

“I got your laminated stuff, where do I mail them to? If I don’t hear from you, they’re in the trash.”

He sent me his new address right away.

We’re still friends on Facebook. He posts things about me, playing the victim.

“When people throw you out of your life” are the kinds of things he posts. He’s become a drama queen. Get off your high horse! That’s what I should post.

I admit when I’m wrong, and I would say to Jimmy, don’t be a dick your whole life. I don’t know what to do with him. He wants to go around pretending he never does anything actually wrong.

Jimmy and Brian were once best friends, but not anymore.

“I don’t care about me,” he said. “But you bent over backwards for him. I don’t ever want to see the kid again.”

But, if Jimmy is a bad penny, and bad pennies always turn up, like people say, I expect Jimmy will turn up again someday.

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Show and Tell


“There are times when even the best manager is like the little boy with the big dog, waiting to see where the dog wants to go so he can take him there.”  Lee Iacocca

Baby is my gentlest sweetest horse of a dog. Everyone loves him. Everyone is always, holy shit! Can I touch it?

“Of course.”

I love people’s reactions to Baby.

There’s a bar down in Tremont that let’s you bring dogs inside. It was a Monday night, I was bored, and so I called to double-check.

“Inside? Not just on the patio?”

“Inside,” she said.


When we walked in there was big table full of hipsters and plenty of people at the bar. Brian and I walked in with Baby and Veruka. It was like a record being scratched. Everyone turned and looked and before we knew it everyone was on top of the dogs. It was so cool. They were a big hit that night. Everybody loved them, as they should.

A sweet as Baby is, Veruka has a bitch attitude. Not so much in public, but private, yes. She’s had it ever since she was a baby. She’s a sweet girl, and she likes other dogs, but she’s a bitch. That’s how she got the name Veruka.

It’s Veruka Salt from Willy Wonka. “I want it and I want it now!” That’s Veruka, our other horse of a dog.

Jackie is our Pit Bull, who I love. Baby and Jack are always together. Veruka – not so much. Jackie’s got a friggin’ cute adorable face. He’s so kissable, which means I go up to him all the time and start smooching him.

I say, Jackie, let’s go kiss. He comes up on the couch and smooches mommy

Sometimes, though, he doesn’t want to. He’s, uh, what are doing, mom?

Underneath our living room couch seems to be his favorite place, the black abyss of lost toys for him. Even if there’s not a toy under there, he’ll stay in front of it all night long, believing and hoping there’s a toy underneath it.

He likes to eat the couch, too.

He loves the fireplace when it’s cold, wearing his pj’s. I took him over to my mom’s house in them. She laughed every time she looked at him. She thought his legs looked funny hanging out.

Sometimes Baby is too sweet for his own good. We had to separate him from our other dogs for a few weeks because they were beating him up so bad. He doesn’t fight back or stand up for himself. Hermie, who is a little stinker, will take food right out of Baby’s mouth while he is still chewing.

When we’re out in the backyard, and all the dogs are playing and wrestling out there, Baby will mind his own business. He lies down on the ground. What he doesn’t realize is that he’s giving little Hermie a fair shot at him.

Baby is twenty times bigger than Hermie when he’s on his own four feet.

“Watch out, here comes Hermie, take down!”

That’s what Hermie does all the time. Baby lies there and takes it. Sometimes when we come home we’ve got to run through the front door to save him. We can hear Baby screaming and crying in the backyard. All the other dogs are beating him up, even though he’s bigger than all of them by far, except Veruka.

They get so excited biting him.

“Ow, ow, ow,” Baby cries.

Even Pebbles, whose new name is Boulder, because she’s gotten so fat, messes with Baby.

We have to run from the front door to the back door asnd get baby inside so the other dogs stop beating him up. They call it Big Dog Little Dog Syndrome. There is really such a thing. Our vet says there isn’t much we can do.

I used to cut her hair when she was in high school.

“When I go to college I’m going to become a vet,” she said.” I’m going to be your vet.”

I was already rescuing dogs back then.

All right, I thought, but I’ll probably never see this kid again after she goes to college

After she graduated and became a vet she sought me out. She’s been getting her hair done with me ever since, and she’s been my vet ever since. We trade services.

We took Baby, Veruka, and Jack to the Brite Winter Festival, on the West bank of the Flats. There are bands on indoor and outdoor stages, fire and light dancing, ice carving, and plenty of food trucks. The festival was outside McCarthy’s and the Harbor Inn.

Everyone dresses warm because it’s February.

We were walking around the night we went when a guy came up to us wearing a crocheted Viking helmet and an attached Viking beard. The big dog was fascinated by the fake beard on the Viking’s face. Every time he moved, Baby’s head swiveled to follow the beard.

Finally, they got nose to nose.

We walked around and bought hot dogs for the dogs. We bring our own water for them. We couldn’t go seven steps before being stopped by a crowd of people. That’s why we bring the dogs out. We like to show them off. When people see them they just go in love with them.

Baby has his ways, though. If we are in one spot too long, he says ugh and starts to lie down,

“No, no, no, don’t lay down,” I say.

Once he lies down he’s a lost cause. I push him all the way over until he’s belly up, paws in the air, and rub his belly. Everybody else does the same. He gets lots of belly rubs.

He just lies there and takes it, all the belly rubs.

When he’s ready to go though, is when we’re all ready to go. He leads the way. He’s shy around people, except when he gets out in public. That’s when he turns into a people person and we follow behind.

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jimmy Crack Corn


“When I was young I used to wait, on the master and hand him his plate, Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care, Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care.” American Folk Song

One morning my friend Jimmy, who had moved to Florida, slept in while his girlfriend Lynn let her dogs out. She has a big house, and since it is her own house and home, she was walking around naked. After she let the dogs back in she started brewing coffee, and the next thing she knew she heard a sound from the back of the house.

It wasn’t the dogs, although that’s where they were. She tiptoed to the back, peeked around a corner, and saw Jimmy’s dad stretched out on a couch with the dogs. Jimmy’s dad thinks he is Lynn’s boyfriend, even though he is in his 80s.

He got divorced because he thought he had a chance with Lynn. Holy crap! It’s a really sad situation.

She ran upstairs and came back in a housecoat. Jimmy was with her. She pointed at his father.

“Dad, you can’t do that,” he said. “You can’t just come into the house. Lynn should be able to walk around her own home however she wants.”

It’s creepy.

Jimmy was trying to be nice to his dad, letting him know in a nice way not to be the old creepy guy. It was still creepy.

“It’s really hard doing that, kind of freaky,” said Jimmy when he called me later.

It’s not like Jimmy’s dad is her neighbor. Lynn’s house is in the middle of 54 acres. She has barns and horses and fields. She’s a polo woman. She’s not thinking anyone is going to be walking into her house the first thing in the morning.

“My dad’s still obsessing on my girlfriend,” said Jimmy.

His dad doesn’t think he has an obsession, but he tries to see Lynn every day. It’s like somebody trying to put ketchup on everything. It’s insane.

“Tell your dad to stop marking his territory,” I said.

Everyone in the neighborhood thinks Jimmy’s dad divorced his second wife because he screwed Lynn. It’s a mess. His dad doesn’t even try to stop the talk because he’s proud of it, proud that people would think that, even though it probably never happened.

Jimmy’s plan was to move to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to get Lynn away from his father and away from the polo crowd. Lynn had wanted him to learn how to play polo, but Jimmy bought a dirt bike instead. He couldn’t get into the polo world. He wanted Lynn to stop playing polo, anyway, and recover from her injuries, and quit drinking, too.

This is from somebody who is a many times over recovering addict. One of his famous lines is, “I just threw up in my mouth.”

Even though Jimmy thought moving to New Mexico would fix all their problems, it didn’t. He’s a very controlling person. He and I once dated, but it didn’t work out because he’s so controlling, I’m controlling, and two controlling people just don’t and can’t go together. They can’t control themselves.

He thought Lynn should listen to everything he said and do everything he told her to do. He wanted her to take his advice because he knows everything and everyone else knows nothing.

“They’re all stupid,” he says.

A lot of what he told her was about what to do with her money, which she has a lot of, and which is all hers. She talked to her lawyer about Jimmy’s advice.

“No, don’t do that,” her lawyer said. “Don’t listen to that guy.” She followed her lawyer’s advice.

Jimmy threw a tantrum.

“You don’t want to listen to me, fuck you, I’m out of here,” he said, and stormed out.

The storming got Lynn down and she finally called Jimmy.

“I miss you,” she said “You’re right, I should have done everything you said.”

He ran right back to her.

“OK,” he said. “We can be boyfriend and girlfriend again because you’re going to do what I told you to do.”

They got back together, although when I heard about it I thought, how long is that going to last? Someone once said a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle. I could see Jimmy riding off into the sunset sooner rather than later.

They were in New Mexico then, but decided to move back to Florida, to her big house and her horses.

She bought him a pick-up truck. His was a piece of crap. He said he needed something nice. She had it put in her name because Jimmy has problems with the law, with banks, with responsibility. He paid her monthly for the truck. Even when they broke up again he kept making payments to her. He loves that truck.

Even though they had gotten back together, they fought all the time. It wasn’t long before they got into a big fight.

They fight, he decides, “Fuck it!” and takes off for the weekend. She spends the whole weekend trying to get a hold of him. He gets his high on, his drinking, gets his crack on, does whatever he needs to do, and finally calls her on Sunday night.

“I’m coming back,” he said.

“All right,” she said.

He drives back Monday morning, drives up the long driveway, parks his pick-up, and goes in the front door of the house.

“Hi,” said Lynn.

“Hi,” said Jimmy.

“I just want you to know,” said Lynn, “when I saw you pulling up I called and the cops will be here in a couple of minutes.”

“You called the cops?”

“Yes,” she said.

“You know they could put me back in prison, don’t you, put me there for a long time,” he said.

“My lawyer told me to.”

“Your lawyer, who the fuck is he, what does he know?”

“I’m sorry,” said Lynn.

“Sorry, like you can take it back?”

Jimmy turned his back on her, ran out the door to his truck, just in time to see a police car pull up.

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Family Feud


“It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy.”  Groucho Marx

A huge family war broke out when my mom fell and broke her neck.

Even though she isn’t supposed to be left alone, sometimes Pete has to go out for an hour, an hour-and-a-half. She fell and fractured two vertebrae in her neck. They took her to the Cleveland Clinic in Fairview Park.

She doesn’t know she fell. She doesn’t know her face is black and blue. She doesn’t know she’s in pain. Sometimes I think her Alzheimer’s has killed the pain center in her brain.

But the arm on the side she fell down on hurts. She might have tried to break her fall. Every time they take her blood pressure she cries, no, no.

When I found out what happened I was nervous and scared for her. She had a horrible trauma. I stayed overnight in the hospital. I tried to sleep, but sleeping in a hospital is a loose term.

The next morning bad news showed up.

The headline is my sister-in-law.

My siblings hate me. Last year they ripped me apart for posting a picture of me giving my mom a pedicure and us having lunch together. They said I was degrading and humiliating our mother. It’s all about them not having any pictures of her because they don’t do shit with her.

I didn’t acknowledge my sister or brother or his wife, my sister-in-law, at the hospital. I didn’t talk to them and I didn’t look at them. I just minded my own business, kept quiet. They can’t get mad at me for that, right?


After I left, Brian went to see my mom. Pete had gone somewhere, but left his phone. Something possessed Brian to look at it. There was a text on the phone.

“I had this horrible gut feeling come over me” Brian said. The text was from Satan.  He said he went ahead and read it.

“All it did mock you, make fun of you and bash you,” Brian told me. “And your stepfather agreed with everything,” he said. I felt something happen in my heart. I was so upset. It broke my heart.

Brian went off on Pete. “How could you? She’s given up her work schedule, half her salary, to come to your house and help you take care of your wife. She loves her mother.”

When I went back to the hospital I asked Pete, “Don’t you get tired of hearing the nastiness and hatred and mean things from them? Doesn’t it tire you out? Why don’t you shut it down?”

“I didn’t know I could do that,” said Pete.

“What are you, stupid?” I said. “I’ve been here for two-and-a half years helping you. Not only did you not support me, but you agreed with them.”

He must have told them what I said.

The next time I was at the hospital Pete’s phone rang. It was the sister of bad news, my sister. I could hear her. “I’m so sorry that she started all this drama. Do you want me to put her in her place?”

I blocked all of them on my phone. I unfriended all of them on facebook. It makes it easier to go and take care of my mom, knowing who I’m dealing with, knowing who my step dad is, who he thinks I am. We will talk about my mother, about Izzy, my dog that I gave them, about the weather. There’s nothing else to talk about.

Another day at the hospital, he was on the phone with my brother-in-law in Maine, who is married to Satan’s other cousin, my other sister. “Your sister had to have surgery on her hand,” he said. “I’m glad everything went well,” I said. There was no more to be said. I didn’t need to hear more about it. I refuse to talk to any of them.

God forbid that my feelings got hurt and I’m an emotional wreck. I have not had time to do anything for myself for a long time, yet my family has the audacity to get pissed off at me for getting upset about their hatred.

My brother is a paramedic and my sisters are nurses. They think they are way more valuable than me. They don’t do crap for my mom. They don’t do anything.

After my mom got out of the hospital she went to a rehab center. We were there on a Saturday when Brian said, “Oh my mom’s coming to town.”

“Dear God!” I said.

Since I started taking care of my mom my house hasn’t had any attention paid to it. Sunday morning Brian said he was going to church. “How can you go to church? This house is a mess!” He went to church, anyway.

When he got home the upstairs looked like a bomb had exploded. I had unloaded drawers, unloaded closets, and unloaded everything out of two rooms. “Holy crap!” he said. “What should I do with it?”

“I don’t care what you do with it, just get it out of here.”

He took everything to St. Malachi’s.

I did our bedroom, the downstairs, the dining room, all the drawers, and all the cupboards.

“She’s only staying for a few days,” said Brian.

“It’s a great excuse to clean the house,” I said. I looked at our oven. Is that the color it’s supposed to be? I turned on the self-cleaner.

Brian’s mom has never been to our house. We had cats for a long time and she’s deathly afraid of cats. We were at dinner once with her where they had cats and she literally jumped on Brian’s shoulders. WTF just happened?

With all the trauma, my mom getting hurt, my sisters, Brian’s mom coming, tearing my house apart, I decided to get my lips done. I do it every couple of years because I have no lips.

My lip girl is from Hungary and does permanent makeup. My lips were no lips, nothing, and they were slightly crooked. She evened them out. But, if she sticks that needle in my lips one more time, I thought, I am going to lose it, and I did. I burst into tears.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“No, no, it had to happen.”

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Parade Jackie Blue


“Ooh, Jackie Blue, you like your life in a free-form style, you’ll take an inch but you’d love a mile, there never seems to be quite enough, floating around to fill your lovin’ cup.”  Ozark Mountain Daredevils

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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Jumping Jack Flash


“I was born in a crossfire hurricane, and I howled at my ma in the driving rain.”  Rolling Stones

“You can’t do that, guy,” I said. “He’s only a month-or-so, too young to leave in the backyard.”

“I can do whatever I want,” he said.

He was an adorable puppy. Brian and I brought him treats and smooched him over the fence.

“No, you really can’t,” I said.

“You need to mind your own business,” he said. He was standoffish from the get go, not wanting to talk to us.

We had started to notice the puppy crying in the middle of the night, out all night.

“Dog rescue is my business,” I said. “This is my business right here.”

Needless to say, Brian and I and our neighbor, who was Puerto Rican, got off to a bad start. It didn’t help that there was a language barrier. Our immediate neighbors, also Puerto Rican, who we love, were helping by sort of translating a lot of what we were saying. I often didn’t have anything nice to say, so I asked them to not translate that.

He was young, in his 20s, married, with five kids. He had always wanted a blue nose pit bull, so he went and got himself one. He named him Jack. But, there was no shelter for the puppy, no water bowl outside.

“Did you get your dog vaccinated?”

“I don’t need to talk to you guys about what I do with my dog.”

“You kind of do. We have eight dogs. Your dog needs to be vaccinated.”

“If my dog ever goes missing, you’re the first people I’m going to send the police to,” he said.

“That would probably be a good place to start,” I said.

It got to the point where he and I wouldn’t talk. Brian and I would still stop at his fence, bring Jack doggie cookies, watch the dog jump, and watch him grow throughout the summer.

Oh, my God, I was in love with a pit bull!

I had always sworn I would never own one. Pit bulls are a breed you can definitely train for fighting. Once they lock their jaws on you, you can’t get it off. They clamp down. It makes them dangerous. Someone once told me to unlock a pit bull’s jaw you have to poke a finger up its butt.

Too many idiots breed them. It’s time to stop blaming the wrong end of the leash. That’s why we say not to shop and adopt. Too many idiots are breeding their own home brew of dog.

You never know what you’re getting.

He came to our front door one evening in early August. Jack was shaking, shivering, and soaking wet.

“Why is this dog soaking wet?” I asked.

“Please help me,” he said.

I wanted to say, what about the police, what about that situation, but I was more concerned about the dog.

“He hasn’t eaten in three days, and he’s throwing up and has diarrhea.”

“Did you ever finally vaccinate your dog?”

“I don’t know what you mean by vaccinations.”

“I mean, did you get your dog its first set of shots?”

“No,” he said.

“You big stupid asshole,” I said, and asked our neighbors to translate that.

“Your dog probably has parvo.”

Canine parvovirus is viral contagious deadly. The most common kind is intestinal, meaning a lack of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea. It’s very serious, more often fatal than not. It all depends on how fast it’s diagnosed and treated.

“You waited three days?” That’s why I sometimes hate people.

“Well, here you go sport,” I said. “You didn’t get your dog his shots, which would have cost you a hundred bucks. Now it’s going to cost you fifteen hundred, and there’s no guarantee the dog will survive even taking him to the animal hospital.”

“I can’t afford fifteen hundred,” he said.

“I can’t afford fifteen hundred,” I said. “But the deal is, if I take the dog, and I pay for it, he’s my dog.”

We took him to the hospital the next morning. Jack had parvo. When the hospital people wanted to start yelling at us about animal cruelty, I told them it was a neighbor’s dog, a neighbor who had not gotten the dog his shots.

“Oh,” they said.

“What I’m worried about is, I’m going to get him through the parvo treatment, and they’re going to want him back.”

“Oh, no,” they said. “We’re going to put everything in your name, so if it does ever go to court, it will show you paid all the medical bills.”

He was there a week, recovering.  He won my heart. After that I was his mommy.

I felt bad when we took him. I believe the Puerto Rican man loved the dog. He never told his kids Jackie wasn’t coming back. They would ask, ”Can Jackie come over?”

“No, he can’t, because I don’t know what was in your yard that made him sick in the first place.”

Jack loved to play with the kids, at least until they moved away. When we walked him he always wanted to go back to their house. But, the Puerto Rican had no business having the dog. He didn’t take care of Jack, and he didn’t train him, either. That was the shame of it. Pit bulls are a powerful breed. Jack is a powerful dog. You have to train them.

He was a cute puppy and he’s growing up to be a handsome boy. He loves all the kids in the neighborhood, all the other dogs, and he never complains when I dress him in pj’s at night.

Jack was a jumping flash of a dog once he came to live with us.

He is always excited to see people. He likes to jump up and smooch. But, you can’t have a pit bull jumping up at your face. You just can’t.

“It’s fine,” everyone says.

“No, it’s really not fine.”

Everybody loves Jackie, but he’s not allowed to jump.

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My Own MacGyver


“I don’t like to be jerked around like a big dog on a short leash. I’ve found from past experiences, that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable.” Angus MacGyver

We always tell Kirby he doesn’t have to do anything around the house. He does not have to earn his keep. But if he decides something is going to stimulate his brain, when he’s ready to put on his MacGyver hat, by all means go ahead, do whatever you want to do.

“It challenges my brain, thinking, working,” he said. You might win some, you might lose some, but when you challenge yourself you become a better person.

It’s joyful to have him around the house. He can be a big help. Except it wasn’t when I went looking for our Christmas ornaments.

We keep them in the garage. When I went to get them, though, I found out they weren’t there anymore. The garage was completely not our garage anymore. Nothing was where it used to be.

Kirby had decided to fix one wall of the garage. We bought him everything he needed, including cement. He moved everything, only he knew where. But then he got sick, got appendicitis, was out of commission, and then it got too cold to do any more work.

“We’re going to have to wait until summer for Kirby to finish,” I told Brian. In the meantime, everything was somewhere else. “I need my ornaments,” I said. We had to search all over. Kirby couldn’t remember where he had put anything.

Kirby is a jack-of-all-trades. He might not be brilliant at anything, but if you need him to do something, he can do it. He used to be an ironworker. Before he lost his house he took it all apart and put it back together.

Since he’s been living in our basement he’s painted the house, installed a dishwasher, and put our vanity in upstairs. He fixed our front porch, which used to bounce up and down walking across it. He got it done without even bracing anything underneath. No one’s fallen through the porch, so I’m OK with that.

He fixes light fixtures. Sometimes I come home and doorknobs will be mended. One day I came home and our living room was clean. I liked that.

He used to wear his hair in a Mohawk, but now it’s grown out and gone all wild. He looks like a chrysanthemum. He looks like Einstein, except taller, thinner, and with an earring and a necklace he loves, and tattoos. His back is all tattooed, stars, fire, wolves, moons, and a wrench.

A halfway decent haircut goes a long way, but he cuts his own hair. Whenever he gets tired of what it is he buzzes it down to nothing and starts all over again

He took apart my computer, put in new parts, and it works. A friend of ours brought over a heater. Kirby repaired it, put it back together, and it’s working better than ever. Our friend had to bring the heater to him because Kirby doesn’t like to leave the safety of our house.

He sleeps most of the day away since his heart is only working at half of what it used to. He gets tired. His brain only works at two-thirds speed. A third of it is kaput. He leaves the house only to go over to Pookie’s house a couple of blocks away and smoke pot.

When he comes home he likes to reminisce about when he and Brian were young, kids together, and all the crazy stuff they used to do. And that was before he grew up. It all went schizo for Kirby after his mother died. He got a house, but never paid the real estate taxes, and lost it. He inherited twenty thousand dollars, but threw it all away.

He bought a convertible to drive his girlfriend around in. He took her to Vegas. Las Vegas is a place where you make bad decisions. You can get married there in ten minutes and then it takes you ten years to get out of it after you get home. He spent everything on his girlfriend.

Right after Kirby got his twenty grand he came over to our house. “Can you open a safety deposit box for me?” he asked.

“Why do you want me to keep a safety deposit box for you? What do you want to put in it?”

“I have twenty grand in cash. I want you to keep it for me and don’t let me touch it.”

He looked serious, sounded serious, but that didn’t last long. He started coming over our house every week. He’d ring the bell and say, “I have to get to the bank.”

“Kirby! You told me not to let you touch that money.”

“I need it, Jewels, I need it.”

“If you want to be spending it all, throwing it away, it’s not my money, it’s your money. But you’re not going to have any left the way you’re taking it out,” I told him. I was serious. “You’re taking a thousand every other day.” Safety is what happens between your ears. It doesn’t happen in a metal box in a vault somewhere.

Inside of two months it was all gone.

He could have invested what he had, let money make money for him, but he wasn’t willing to listen to us, at all. Kirby is 50-years-old. He has nothing left. He doesn’t have a girlfriend, a convertible, or a house. Nothing

Kirby needs us. He doesn’t drive anymore. We run all his errands and buy all his food. He loves that I cook for him. One day I brought home turkey kielbasa.

“Jewels, how would I go about cooking this?” he asked.

“Why don’t you just ask me to cook it?” I said.

I cooked him a plate of kielbasa and he was happy for the night.

If you enjoyed this chapter of Dogs Never Bite Me, consider supporting the site by clicking here to donate.

25% contributed to the Cleveland Animal Protective League. (Specify APL in notes.)


Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.