Well, where, oh, where can my baby be? The Lord took him away from me.
Or maybe I do. Epic love stories with tragic endings. A Star is Born (the original, with Judy Garland). Wuthering Heights. Tess of the d'Urbervilles, which I read five times because I kept hoping that this time, Angel wouldn't abandon her.
I knew I shouldn't have told anyone that Beauty was coming to live with me until she got here. It happens all the time, at least to me, or at least it seems like it always happens to me. The jinx. If you talk about something before it's in the past, you'll jinx it, and it won't happen.
I should have known better.
Jack's father promised I could have Beauty. He said it would be complicated, and I would have to buy her from the estate, and I said fine, and then thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you. I know it's what Jack would have wanted.
(The whole freakin' Internet knows it's what Jack would have wanted!)
He told me I could have Beauty when he called me from the cottage where he'd been for two weeks, and during our conversation he invited me to come up there some time, and told me how much Jack loved it, which I already knew, because I'd been hearing the stories for years. He said, think about it, see if you can find out what the car is worth, and send me an email. Then he asked me a lot of questions about Jack's apartment, and his possessions, and asked if I could tell him about any of Jack's friends who might like to have something of his.
I spent the rest of the week composing a long, detailed email message for Mr M. I said, I have a friend with a truck who has volunteered to come up and help move things, whatever you need, just call me. I thought of all the things of sentimental value to me, and told him a little story about each one. I braced him for the naughty pictures of me in the schoolgirl outfit that he was likely to find. I told him I'd like to have Jack's Zippo, because I had a Pavlovian response to the sound of it clicking. I sent him pictures of Jerry, and Joomzey, and Rudy, so that he would recognize Jack's friends.
I sent the message that Friday, and on Saturday Mr M replied and thanked me, and said they'd be arriving Tuesday afternoon. He asked me to contact Jack's friends and arrange for everyone to meet at the Black Horse on Friday night. He thanked me again for all my help, and said he'd call me when they were here.
On Monday, I began to make arrangements for Beauty's arrival. I negotiated a parking spot. I asked colleagues for recommendations for car insurance, called Allstate, and arranged for the policy to take effect as soon as the transfer was complete. I located the DMV office nearest to Jack's apartment.
And then I waited.
I didn't expect them to call on Tuesday night, what with the jet lag and time zone change. I turned up the volume of my phone on Tuesday night, though, and slept with it beside my head, just in case. On Wednesday evening I still hadn't heard from them, but my friend with the truck called and asked what was happening. He said he could help me on Wednesday or Thursday, but not on Friday. I called the hotel and left a message.
All day Thursday I held the phone in my hand, waiting. I even took it into the bathroom with me; something I never do. By the time I went to bed on Thursday night, I was just this side of crazy.
Hold me, darling, for a little while.
I love Jerry, I really do, and so I made a point of telling Jack's father all about him in the email. "They were so very funny together," I said. "Jack would make fun of Jerry, because he didn't have 'suit body,' and Jerry would laugh harder than anyone. I know it would mean a lot to Jerry to have something of Jack's. Perhaps a tie, or a set of cufflinks, would not only be appropriate, but funny, in a way that Jack would have appreciated."
I was the go-between: Jerry hadn't called or written Jack's family; he said it didn't feel right, by which he meant he was too shy. People react in many different ways when someone they love dies; you can't blame them for that. So I talked to Mr M, and to Jerry, and told one about the other, relayed messages. Jerry wanted to take them out for dinner at Jack's favourite restaurant while they were here.
So last Friday, late afternoon, after three full days of literally waiting by the phone, and three full days of hearing nothing from anyone, I called Jerry to ask if he would be going to the bar that night. Jack's favourite bar, his Cheers, where everybody knew his name, and the owner was one of his closest friends.
"I'm on my way home to Morgan Hill," he said. "I'm not going tonight. We all went out for dinner last night. Jack's mother gave me a tie, and a pair of cufflinks..."
I didn't know what to say; I had to muster the vocal cords, so as not to cry uncontrollably.
"You... you went out for dinner?"
"Oh yes, Scotty arranged it, and all the people from Big Ass were there..." and again he went on and on about how wonderful it had been, obviously oblivious to the fact that no one had thought to invite me.
And then he twisted the knife: "Ace was there." Ace, who I've known for as long as I've known Jack; Ace, who lives 32 miles away — I remember, because he Google-mapped it the time he drove here to hold my hand and talk about Jack during one of the Very Bad Times — Ace, who hasn't returned my calls since the funeral.
I found the love that I knew I would miss.
Things I know about Jack that no one else knows: That he wanted bagpipes at his funeral. That he loved ceremony, and wanted me to have the flag. That he had a kilt, and knew I was a sucker for them, but would not wear it for me, not yet. He said there were only three occasions for which he would put it on: the funeral of his mother, the funeral of his father, and his own wedding. That he loved Beauty as much as he loved me, and that that was okay. That the bagels were his way of punishing me for knowing him too well. That after Sara's wedding, we shopped for diamonds at Tiffany's. And exactly what he meant when he said, I'm working on it.
Things Jack knew about me that no one else knows: That despite everything, I love my Daddy, and he loves me. That the reason I didn't want to elope to the Bellagio was because I wanted my Daddy to dance with me at my wedding. That I wish I had said yes ten years ago when Jack asked me to move to California with him. That I loved Beauty as much as I loved him, and that that was okay. My ring size. That if he asked, this time I would say yes, and that I'd want it to be here.
He's gone to Heaven so I got to be good, so I can see my baby when I leave this world.
Jack's Evil Brother has no idea who he's dealing with. I'm eight million times smarter than he is, and I will fight to the death for Beauty. We're going to have the happy ending that was stolen from me and Jack, no matter what it takes.