"How come you don't
let me play with them great big marbles,
Jack?" Thump. Thump. "It's like I told you before, them are
reserved for me." Jack crossed his legs underneath himself--
Indian style. "See, I am the king and you are my servant. Like I
said before. So, you do what I tell you to. Ya hear?" Baker got
quiet. "Yeah, I guess I understand Jack. I just don't think it's
fair, that's all." Jack twisted up his face, "Hell Baker, ain't
nothin' in this life that's fair, at least that's what my Daddy says
and nobody ain't gonna fight him over what's right." Baker
frowned and looked down at his feet. His socks were hanging
off his toes and that kind of reminded him of something he
couldn't think of. Thump Thump.
"Damn, it's thumpin'
up a storm! I sure wish Momma and
Daddy would come home." Jack started to agitate himself just
thinking about everything being the way it was. Baker looked
up from under the weight of his blonde bangs and said, "Maybe
she's hungry?" "God damn you Baker! I done told you that two
is for pee and three is for hungry! And don't say she. Daddy
don't like it. 'It' is havin' to pee that's all. And 'it' can do it in its
box!" Jack screamed these last words out into the face of the
The boys got quiet for a
minute and took turns rolling the
marbles up the steep incline of pillowcases.
"Hey Jack, I know your
Daddy is Sheriff and all but don't you
think she should be able to pee in the toilet like we do? I mean,
she's a person, after all. I know you know where the key is
'cause member that time you showed me it? Member, we was
lookin' at those naked pictures and you showed it to me?
Member? So, why can't we let her out to go pee?" Thump.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.
Jack looked afraid. "Shit
Baker! You tard! I ain't supposed to let
her out unless there's an emergency or somethin' like the
house catchin' on fire and it's supposed to thump seven times
and now it done thumped that many and I don't know if it's
havin' an emergency or not. Maybe she, I mean it, just hears
you talkin' and knows you're a big pussy or maybe there's
somethin' bad goin' on in there! I just don't know what to do."
Jack jumped off the bed and went toward his Daddy's dresser.
He dug to the bottom until he found the key with the little
piece of lace hanging off the end of the ring. "Yeah you dumb
nuts, I know where the key is--" Thump. Thump. Thump.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump! "That's eight
Jack!" Baker lept off the bed and sat in the corner. "You got to
let her out Jack. You got to."
Jack got down on his hands
and knees and knocked on the big
wooden box but there was no answer. He ran his hands along
the whole thing which fit neatly under the bed. It was cut to
leave only one and a half inches on every side clear of the bed
frame. He was scared. He knocked some more but it was quiet.
Normally he could at least hear the breathing and the vibration
a live thing makes when there's wood all around it. But there
was nothing and Jack started to sweat.
The key went in easily.
He started to pull out the stopper when
he heard Baker say, "Hey Jack! Hurry it up. She might be dyin'
or somethin!" "Shut up you fuckin' tard!" Jack was starting to
cry and that made him careless. She wriggled out. "Holy fuck!"
Jack said. He had never seen her before. She was skinny and
bald almost, from his Daddy shaving her head so her bugs
wouldn't fill up the whole house. She was naked and her eyes
looked crazy. "What's the matter?" Jack couldn't see any blood
She humped along the carpet
like a dolphin. Her arms had
withered and she couldn't talk right. "You, I, You, I, You, I...."
That's all she could say. "You don't look like an 'it'... I mean
you sort a look like a girl or somethin'. Do you have to pee or
what?" The room stayed still. "Jack she looks bad, real bad.
Look how white she is. I think we ought to get her outside a
spell. She don't look like she can breathe real good." Baker and
Jack looked at each other for a sign, some light to go off in one
of their eyes that would be the "decent thing to do" signal. But
they had never seen anything like this before. "You, I, You, I,
You, I...." She pried deed into Jack's eyes and held on tight.
Jack remembered his Daddy
coming home from a hunting trip
with a big burlap bag in the back of his truck. He smelled
something like urine and vomit and blood all mixed together
and his Daddy's feet after he carried the bag into the bedroom,
sawed and chopped for a good long while, made the thing
scream, made it quiet again and finally sat down to supper. He
could barely eat, his Daddy stunk so bad. That was a long time
ago. Maybe six years or so. He wasn't sure exactly, but he
couldn't miss the smell that assaulted his nostrils and made his
knees shake like Jell-o before it's done. All that time had
passed and he had busied himself learning to read and write
and do his times tables, blocking out Sunday nights because
there was too much banging on the floor above his room and
momma cryin' and Daddy screaming, " You a bad dog! Bad dog!
Rub your nose in it you piece of shit bad dog! Rub it! Bad dog!"
Then Momma would start wailin' and carryin' on and Daddy
would soften up and say, "Good dog. You want a treat? That's a
good baby. You go on back in your box now..." That was always
the end. Then he could go to sleep but it would take a long
time to get that particular smell out of his nose, the same smell
that came out of the box and followed the girl flopping on the
Jack got sick. He couldn't
hold onto his 7-Up and ginger snaps.
There was a flood that day, out of Jack's mouth and it settled
around his socks. Some got in his hair. A few drops came out of
his nose. There was too much sickness in the room for such a
small boy so he just let it cave in on him and curled up because
he didn't know what else to do. "You, I, You, I, You, I...." she
was bobbing on the floor and her eyes looked soft and wet.
Baker got down on his hands
and knees and crawled toward
the girl. She looked to be about fifteen, the same age as Patty
Lupome who was a sophomore, in the face. Her body looked
more like a child's and that made Baker open a window.
"Listen, miss. You just get on outa here. Take this money-- I
thing it's only enough to make a phone call and maybe get a
soda or somethin' but you take it 'cause you look thirsty. You go
on now. Don't be scared. We'll just get a rat or somethin' and
put it back in there and the Sheriff'll never know the difference
until it gets to be Sunday night. Today is Thursday."
The girl couldn't reach
up to grab the window ledge. Every time
she tried she would just fall down and that made Baker feel real
bad. He touched her ankle and she jumped. "I'm lettin' you go
now miss. You don't need to be a scared of me." He hoisted
her tiny frame up to the cool breeze and pushed her butt onto
the ledge, "You, I, You, I, ...." Baker smiled his best smile and
said, "You go on now miss. Go on and call someone to get you.
If you can't remember the number try 911. That's all I can think
of." He squeezed the hand with the coins in it and gave her a
good shove. He climbed down off the window ledge and
looked around for Jack.
Jack had crawled into the
box and tossed the keys out to Baker.
"You can play with the big ones if you want to. I'm just gonna
be in here for a while."
"What's it like in
ther Jack?" "Well, it's small and it stinks and
it feels like my Daddy. There's some shit and pee and left over
pot pie. Promise me we won't ever get no pets when we get out
of here. Promise me we'll never go huntin' neither. Kay?" Baker
chewed on his bottom lip and thought about those things for a
while. "Kay?" Jack said from inside the box. "Yeah," said Baker
and he climbed back on top of the bed, collecting all of the
extra big marbles in his right hand and the smaller, prettiest
ones in the other. "She sure looked small when she came out,
and not like dog at all, even though that's what your Daddy
called her. She looked like she was too tiny not to love."
"Don't call her 'she'
remember. Call her 'it' 'cause Daddy says
so." Baker stuffed the marbles into his pockets. "Hey Jack,
what you gonna tell your parents?" No answer from the wooded
area was forthcoming. "Jack?" "I ain't gonna tell 'em nothin'.
Lock the door Baker. Don't give me no lip, just do." "Jack, you
done gone crazy or somethin'?" "Lock it Baker. I ain't crazy and
I ain't Jack no more. You call me 'it', ya hear? I wanna be
Daddy's dog. I'll get me a treat come Sunday."
Baker did what Jack wanted,
just like he always did. He thought
he heard some scratching on his way out, but he just kept