On Notice

by jkatejohnston

13 August 2015

Dear Max,

Remember the man with the newborn baby and little dogs that I called assholes? (See Boys, July 22.) I walked by that house again the next day. A sign in the window said, “PROTECTIVE DOGS AND NEWBORN BABY. PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB.” I told Teresa. I thought we’d have a chuckle about unexpended indignation. She suggested that I avoid that house. They do have a newborn baby, and we know what that’s like. So that’s what I’ve been doing.

A few days ago I walked by it again. There was a different sign in the window. The Sheriff’s star. An eviction notice. The mini-blinds were raised. It was empty. I looked in the window and saw my own face in a mirror.

Where did they go? Who would rent to them with an eviction history and those two dogs? And what about the baby?

I felt chastened. Again, it was temporary. But I admonished myself to be nice to people and their dogs. You never know when they’re at the end of their rope.

I can’t end on that preachy note, so here are some Enzo notes:

I was making Enzo write a thank you note. “Mom, I have to do something that involves my future. Like, twenty years from now. It’s top secret. Not even Teresa can know about it.” He went to the living room with a fresh card and envelope and wrote something. He was looking at his class picture, which includes the kids’ names. He asked me how to spell “Love” and “Sign.” He asked for tape. He put whatever he’d written in the envelope and taped it closed.

Later he decided that not even Teresa could know. She held the envelope up to the light.


“Mom, put your face next to Petey’s butt and be ready to be amazed.”


“When I hit the water with my needle dive, it sounds like a sonic boom.” (While I’m thinking of it, other current dives include Bling King and Backwards Potato.)


 “I can make goosebumps at will.” He holds up his forearm and looks at it for several seconds. “It’s not working.”


 “There’s Jurassic World pajamas and sheets. They planned ahead.”


 Every year during spawning season we see dead and dying Chinook salmon at the American river. They’re usually pretty beat up by the time they get that far upstream. Enzo wants to catch one. “If it’s totally rotten, we can just throw it back. But if it’s all really clear and has no rotting flesh and no eyeballs missing—we keep it and eat it!”


Teresa: “Your new watch is water resistant to fifty meters. How many feet is that?”

Enzo: “A hundred and fifty. That’s deeper than I will probably ever go. Can it withstand, like, huge cannonballs?”