Jack Smith and my mother were partners in douche. Not just business but there was a feeling of potential that extended beyond the scope of their proprietary formulation.
In the past douches where historically a serious affaire, medicinal, or vinegary.
Jack was a philanthropist and pharmacist who liked puppies. An unusual man who wasn’t a pervert but cared about children. I had been meandering in the fifth grade. His solution that I read Ayn Rand. Trading me for a telephoto lens.
Together the three of us opened a drugstore. We were like a family gluing down red and green felt checkerboard tiles. We stocked the showroom display cases with knick knacks and incense. We carried black light posters, aspirins, and spinning card racks.
He taught me to smile at customers and fill prescriptions. I learned to type, to count by fives and sweep pills into a well.
My friends were employed too, a few cents each to label bottles of douche. We peeled sticky labels to both sides. Slowly learning the technique to get straight the psychedelic Peter Max graphics with undulating strawberries & bananas splitting.
Jack grew up in Philadelphia wanting a pit bull terrier. One day he bought back a white but mostly pink puppy. Named “Yummy” after the douche. She was a white long nosed pedigree pit. I called her Arnold. After the pig on Green Acres.
When you’re a kid you’re the last to get the news. The douche business had been sold to a company with distribution.
Jack had fallen in love with a red head. The drug store, now closed.
The last time I saw Jack we went out for Chinese. It was a goodbye party, the theme, Jack isn’t leaving you.
I didn’t hear about Jack again until I was 16.
He had given a neighborhood kid a job caring for his dogs and watering his plants when he went out of town. One of Yummy’s puppies.
But his young charge had somehow misplaced it. It disappeared and Jack was accused of having it stolen it. The kid told authorities, Jack had set him up.
A week later Jack returned home to find his apartment empty. A police report was filed. A private detective hired. Neighbors recalled a U-Haul driven by an older woman, the seventeen year old’s mother, and child, had wheeled out Jack’s safe, his furniture, taking everything, but the dogs.
A few days later his car disappeared. After his shift ended at “Longs” he found his parking space vacant. The police soon located his old white Cadillac at the bottom of a cliff.
It was in the newspaper. The dog sitter had let himself in with the same set of keys he had used for his job. Ushering the dogs out to the patio, closing the sliding glass doors behind them.
He surprised Jack Smith, hiding behind his front door. Waiting with a baseball bat. Then poured gasoline on his body.
Arnold or Yum Yum or Yummy coughed for a year from all the second hand smoke.
In the end they called it “good behavior” when his killer served only a 5 years.