Baby! Baby! Come Back to Me!


"His name was Dawg, I think. I don't rightly know. I don't rightly remember. Sometimes I don't remember so good. Sometimes I forget things. It's been a long time since I had a dawg and even longer since I had that dawg but I remember that he was a good dawg. A ferocious Pit Bull, he only bit me once or twice, I think, I don't remember. He was gentle and sweet to me."

With him admitting that he was once a dog owner, now Jerry looked at Old Joe as if he was a kindred spirit.

"Yep. She did. That's what she did, the bitch. She stole my dog," he said going beyond Old Joe's anger. "Not only did she leave me because I forgot Valentine's Day, because I'm so busy and tired from working to support her to the lifestyle that she's grown accustomed to living and for her to have money for shopping, but she stole my dog. She stole my Baby."

Old Joe looked at Jerry with an obvious question on his mind.

"Baby? That's the name of your dawg? Baby? What the Hell kind of a dawg does a man name Baby? And what the Hell kind of dawg cost six big ones, more than any car on this street? Granted I should have named my dawg something other than Dawg but I'd never name a dawg Baby," said Old Joe. "Only a cracka would name his damn dawg Baby," he said giving Jerry the hairy eyeball.

Jerry made a face and shrugged.

"Kettle black, no pun and/or offense intended," he said. "Just as you named your dog, Dawg, what the Hell kind of a dog does a man name Dawg, especially when that dog is a Pit Bull?"

Old Joe gave Jerry a shrug while looking at him with curiosity.

"So go on, tell me, what kind of dawg is Baby?"

As if he was talking about Susan instead of his dog, Jerry looked at Old Joe with pride.

"She's a Great Dane, a Harlequin Great Dane" said Jerry. "But not just any Harlequin Greet Dane. She's special. At more than seven feet tall when standing, all lean muscle, she's almost two hundred pounds. She's the biggest Great Dane I've ever seen."

Seemingly impressed, Old Joe nodded his head while smiling.

"Oh, that's a big dawg, a real big dawg, and a dawg in search of a better name. I'd be more apt to name your dawg Duke or even Big Dawg than Baby," said Old Joe. "Damn," said Old Joe. "I can't believe she stole your dawg. Motherfucker," said Old Joe. "Bitch!"

Impressed by his passion, Jerry seemingly had a new found friend and a kindred spirit in Old Joe. Seemingly, he had someone who keenly understood his outrage at what Susan did to him by taking his dog. Only, not nearly done yet, Jerry had more to tell Old Joe.

"And she took my truck too," said Jerry.

As if he had thrown cold water in Old Joe's face, the old man bobbed back his head before looking at Jerry with shock.

"Say what? Your truck? She stole your truck too? Bad enough she stole your dawg, ain't no woman should steal a man's truck. That's just as bad as another man stealin' a man's horse in the Wild West."

Old Joe shook his head in disapproval.

"Yeah. She took my truck," said Jerry.

Jerry looked at Old Joe with sadness while Old Joe looked at Jerry with shock.

"Not that it makes a difference being a man's truck is a man's truck and somethin' that a woman should never steal but, just wonderin', what kind of truck did she take?"

With as much pride as telling Old Joe what kind of dog he had, he showed the same level of pride in telling Old Joe the make and model of truck that Susan stole.

"A brand new 2015 Ford F-150, the Platinum Edition," said Jerry.

As if he had just been head butted, Old Joe bobbed back his head again.

"Damn, that's an expensive truck," said Old Joe staring at Jerry as if he was making internal calculations. "I ain't never had a new truck or car. My new car smell was rust and mold. I bought all of my cars and trucks used with more than a hundred thousand miles on 'em. Just to satisfy an old man's curiosity, what does a truck like that cost?"

Old Joe looked at Jerry with suspicion while Jerry looked at Old Joe with kindness.

"Fifty-thousand," said Jerry. "The list price was even higher after options, closer to fifty-nine thousand dollars."

As if he had been head butted yet again, old Joe bobbed back his head again.

"Fifty-thousand? Fifty-thousand dollars? Damn, that's a lot of bread for a truck," said Old Joe looking around his neighborhood. "That money would buy me any house in this neighborhood. Pardon me for saying this but your woman, Susan, is a dirty bitch for stealing your fifty-thousand dollar truck and your six-thousand dollar dawg, your baby," said Old Joe.

Old Joe looked at Jerry with anger while Jerry looked at Old Joe with sadness.

"That ain't the half of it," said Jerry. "She took my guns too, a double barrel shotgun that I keep in the truck, my Glock 9 mm that I had locked in the glove box, and a .38 snub nose that I had in the nightstand by my side of the bed," said Jerry.

Old Joe looked at Jerry wild-eyed.

"God damn filthy bitch of a whore," said Old Joe. "What woman steals a man's dawg, a man's truck, and a man's guns? That just ain't right. No, that just ain't right," said Old Joe with outrage while shaking his head.

Old Joe gave Jerry a hard look while Jerry focused on finding his dog.

"Baby! Here Baby. Come to Daddy," said Jerry. "Baby!"

As if sizing him up, Old Joe studied Jerry for a minute while staring down at his shoes.

"Lemme ask you a question?"

Old Joe stared from Jerry's watch to stare down at his shoes again.

"What's that?"

Jerry looked down at where Old Joe was staring.

"Those are some mighty fine shoes. Are they Florsheim? I used to have me a pair of shiny, black Florsheim shoes back in the day when I had my Buick Electra 225. Damn, those were better days," said Old Joe looking as if he was remembering his Buick Electra 225 and his Florsheim shoes. "Only a couple of my brothas from different mothas took possession of my car. They said I was too old to drive my own damn car," said Old Joe with unrepressed anger.

Old Joe looked at Jerry impressed that he had a pair of Florsheim shoes.

"Floresheim? Do they even make those shoes anymore? They're Cole Haan shoes," said Jerry.

Jerry made a sour face.

"Pardon me for askin' but how much did those shoes cost you?"

Jerry looked from Old Joe to look down at his shoes before looking back at Old Joe.

"I don't know, around three-hundred dollars with tax," said Jerry.

Jerry looked at his shoes again.

"Damn, I ain't never had me a pair of no three-hundred dollar shoes," said Old Joe.

Old Joe looked from Jerry to look down at his shoes before looking up at Jerry again.

"Made from the softest leather, they're very comfortable," said Jerry.

In the way that he had with Jerry's Rolex watch, Old Joe seemed to have an unnatural interest with Jerry's Cole Haan shoes.

"What size shoes are those shoes?"

Old Joe looked from the shoes to smile up at Jerry.

"Eleven," said Jerry.

Old Joe now had a big smile while staring at Jerry's shoes again.

"How 'bout that? We take the same size," said Old Joe.

Jerry ignored Old Joe to concentrate more on calling his dog.

"Here Baby! Come baby," said the Jerry. "Baby! Come to Daddy! Daddy loves you!"

No longer interested in the dog, Old Joe was more interested in Jerry's shoes and watch.

"So lemme get this straight. You're walkin' the streets in this neighborhood, my neighborhood, unarmed? Is that right?"

Old Joe suddenly had an aggressive look on his face.

"Yes," said Jerry. "Licensed to carry, I feel naked without my guns."

Deservedly so, Jerry suddenly had a look of fear on his face.

"Not as naked as you're gonna feel oncer I take them shoes, your watch, and your wallet," said Old Joe pulling out a handgun from his pocket.

Jerry took a step back with thoughts of running but he could never outrun a bullet.

"Listen, Old Joe, I'm having bad enough day without you robbing me too," said Jerry.

Jerry looked at Old Joe for the same sympathy that he gave him when he told him that his girlfriend stole his dog, his truck, and his guns.

"Not as bad a day as the day you'll have when shoot full of holes and leave you layin' in the gutter dead, if you don't give me those shoes, watch, and wallet," said Old Joe.

Jerry put his hands up in the air while looking around for help but no one in this neighborhood was about to help him defeat Old Joe.

"What if I give you a few dollars for your concern and for your trouble? How's twenty bucks sound?"

Old Joe made a face.

"Let's make that a hundred dollars. I'll give a hundred dollars and I'll be one my way," said Jerry pulling out his wallet.

Old Joe grabbed his wallet. He rifled through his Jerry's wallet for the cash and for his driver's license.

"Five hundred bucks. What kind of fool walks around with five hundred dollars in this neighborhood? You're lucky I got to you first instead of some of the real bad brothas who live here," he said with a snide laugh. "I'm doin' you a favor, a public service, by takin' your money before you get hurt, really hurt bad by someone who's not as nice as me," said Old Joe.

As if trying to hide his watch, Jerry pocketed his hand.

"I didn't realize where I was. I just kept walking while looking for my dog," said Jerry.

Old Joe tossed Jerry his wallet.

"I took your cash and your driver's license. I know who you are and where you live but you don't know who I am and where I live," said Old Joe.

Jerry pocketed his wallet.

"Thank you for the return of my wallet," said Jerry.

Jerry put his hands back up in the air hoping that a passing patrol car would see him being robbed but patrol cars didn't patrol this neighborhood. Cops never came here unless in full force and in riot gear when there was real trouble.

"I don't do credit cards," said Old Joe. "With all the cameras out there today, that's the easiest way to end up in the slammer."

Jerry smiled happy to have his wallet and credit cards returned.

"Thanks for the return of my credit cards," said Jerry. "It would be a pain in the ass to cancel all of those credit cards."

Jerry returned his hands to the air after putting away his wallet.

"Unless you want me to shoot you where you're standing, put your hands down. I don't want to draw unnecessary attention. I don't want one of the other rats who live here bustin' in on my good time and on my petty crime," said old Joe. "Now gimme those shoes and that watch."

Jerry handed Old Joe his shoes and his watch.

"Here take it. None of that matters to me without Baby," said Jerry removing his shoes and his watch.

With one eye on Jerry with his gun pointed at him, Old Joe kicked off his ratty shoes and put on Jerry's shoes. Then, when Jerry handed him his watch, he put on the watch too.

"The least that I can do, I'll put the word out. Trust me. If you're baby is out there, I'll find your Baby within the hour," said Old Joe with confidence. "How hard can it be to find a beautiful, busty blonde driving a new truck with a Great Dane sitting in the front seat? What color is the truck?"

Old Joe already had his phone out and was calling someone.

"Thank you," said Jerry. "Ruby red. The exterior is ruby red and the interior is black leather."

Leaving Jerry standing there without his cash, his watch, and his shoes, Old Joe turned to leave.

"Now count to a thousand so that I can make my getaway. I don't run much faster than I can walk and that's not very fast," said old Joe. "Happy Valentine's Day Jerry. Maybe next year you'll remember this special day of love."

Jerry smiled after the old man happy that he didn't shoot him while wondering if he could put the word out to find his Baby.

"Happy Valentine's Day, Old Joe," said Jerry waving to him. "A day to always remember, I'll never forget Valentine's Day again."

A lesson learned, by the time Jerry returned home, Susan and Baby were there waiting for him.

"Baby!" Baby ran to Jerry and standing on his hind legs as if he was a giant grizzly bear, he put his giant paws on Jerry's shoulders and licked him as if he hadn't seen him in a month. "I'm sorry," said Jerry to Susan. "I promise never to forget another birthday, anniversary, or Valentine's Day. I'm glad you're back," he said smiling at Susan with the love he had for her but didn't show.

Obviously still angry with him for forgetting Valentine's Day, she looked at him with hurt.

"I had no choice in returning. Otherwise, I would have been gone for good," she said.

She looked at him as if she had some bad news.

"What do you mean? What happened?"

She looked as sad as he looked when she took off with his dog, his truck, and his guns.

"Four, black men in an old Buick Electra pulled me over and took your truck and your guns. We walked home," she said. "One of the men was a wicked old man, a kind man. He kept smiling at me as if he knew me. He told me to tell you that he liked your dog but that you should rename him Duke."

Jerry smiled knowing that Old Joe helped him to get both his babies back and all that was really important to him.

"What else did he say? Did he say anything else?"

One day he'll tell her about Old Joe but not now. With the truck insured, once he reports the loss, his insurance will reimburse him for his watch and guns.

"Yeah, he said to tell you that I was a keeper and that I should be more important to you than your job and your damn dawg," she said with a laugh.

As if he had won the lottery, Jerry was beaming. It took Susan to leave him and Old Joe to find her for him to realize that the truly important things in life weren't his job and making money.

"He's right," said Jerry with a shrug. "Keeping things in perspective from now on, you are more important to me than my job and/or my dog."

Susan threw her arms around his neck and kissed him.

"Oh, honey, that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me," she said laughing while rolling her eyes. "I'm sorry about your truck and your guns. I know how much you loved that truck."

As if never letting her go, Jerry held her tighter.

"Don't worry. I can always buy another truck," said Jerry. "The important things are what I have here with me now," he said giving her a big hug and a wet kiss.

"I love you, Jerry," she said.

She kissed him again.

"I love you, Susan," he said.

He kissed her again.

"Now that I have my family back, let's leave the dog home, take your car, and go shopping to buy you a proper Valentine's Day gift, a diamond engagement ring," he said falling to his knee. "Susan Jill Parker, will you marry me?"

Susan looked at him stunned. Not even thinking about her answer, she responded immediately.

"Yes," said Susan kissing him and hugging him.

"Happy Valentine's Day Baby," he said to Susan instead of to his dog.


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