A Day in GPJ with Ezzie
Jack gets my leash out of the closet, and I know we’re going somewhere. I hope we’re going to Tess’s house. She always has something good to eat.
The first person I see when we leave the house is our next-door neighbor, Louetta.
“Hi, Jackson! Hi, Ezzie!”
“Hi, Louetta, how are you today?” Jackson calls across the yard.
“Still kickin’, but not very high. Hirey’all doin’?” she hollers back.
“Finer’n a new set of snow tires. We’re on our way to Tess’s house.”
“You give her a smooch for me, now, ya hear?”
Jackson laughs. “If I have to.”
We step on the sidewalk and even though my legs are short, I’m out-pacing old Jackson. I pull and strain on the leash, leading the way to Tess’s house. I’m not sure who’s more excited to be going to see her—him or me.
“Mornin’, Taterhead!” Jackson calls to the postal carrier. “Is it hot enough for ya?”
“Oh, it could be worse,” Taterhead calls back. His head doesn’t look like a tater. I wonder why they call him that. Folks have the strangest names. I’m glad Jackson had the good sense to name me Esmerelda, even though he only calls me that when he’s mad at me. I like it when he calls me Ezzie.
I stop and sniff at Mrs. Hookumbaker’s mailbox, and I pick up a stick to take to Tess. Next we run into Skeeter Duke, and while Jackson stops to talk to him, I stick my head under a clump of hydrangea bushes.
Jack tugs on my leash and we’re off again. We pass by the town green where old Clive and Earl are playing a game of checkers.
“Earl, you’re so crooked, when you die, they’ll have to screw you into the ground.”
“Clive, you’re just jealous because you’re dumb as a box of hair and couldn’t win a game if your life depended on it.”
“Mornin’, boys. Who’s winnin’?” Jackson asks. “Or need I ask?”
“I am,” they both say in unison.
“Say, y’all been up to Slick & Junebug’s today?”
They look at him like he’s lost his mind.
“Of course you have. What’s the blue plate special?”
“Meat loaf, mashed potatoes and cornbread,” Earl says without looking up from the board.
“Sounds good. I’ll probably see you up there in a while.”
“Not if we see you first,” Clive calls after us. I think he’s kidding.
We walk on and next thing I know, we’re coming up to the bookstore, where Pickle’s out front sweeping the sidewalk. He has the skinniest legs of anybody I’ve ever seen. He wears a different color of Chuck Taylor tennis shoes every day. Today he has on green. Jack stops to talk in front of the open door, and when I see Martha Maye inside, I tear off toward her as fast as my little legs will carry me.
“Ezzie! How’s my girl?” She bends down to pet me, and I roll over on my back so she can rub my belly.
“Martha Maye, I’m sorry. The little dickens got away from me.”
“Aw, I’m always glad to see this old girl.” Who’s she calling old? “Whatcha’all doin’?”
“We’re headed over to Tess’s. We’re going to help her around the yard.”
“Well, don’t work too hard. And give her a smooch for me.”
“I you insist.” Jack groans, but I think he’s faking it.
We go out the door and up the road, then take a left onto Tess’s street. She’s out front pulling weeds, and Jack says, “She looks prettier than a glob of butter on a stack of wheat cakes, doesn’t she, girl?”
She smiles when she sees us, and I suddenly realize I lost that stick I picked up for her. I nose around while Jack and Tess do some mooshy stuff. Then I hear the magic words.
“Do you all want to come in for a cookie?”
My favorite word. Life is good in Goose Pimple Junction.