The Adventures of Me and Jack
Jack Klugman, Man of Action
April 12, 2004
I first met Jack Klugman some time in the late 80's. I was drinking to forget about
a girl and he was drinking to remember being Quincy. Billy Joel would have
been proud. We hit it off right on and talked until our consonants melted into our
vowels and the bar lights went on. Jack and I, we became drinking buddies and shared
lots of adventures from then on. Thing was, Jack was one useless sumbitch.
Jack was always broke, was the first to run off during a scrap and was always telling
these longwinded Quincy stories -- always with the fucking Quincy. If
I never hear the name Sam Fujiyama again I will die a happy man, no matter how much
ass he got. He grated on all of us that way, but he was a nice enough guy and was
always game to let us sleep on his couch when we'd hit the bottle a little too hard.
So this one time, Jack and me, we decided to head up to Baldwin to do a little
fishing -- big into salmon, Jack. He was a whiz with the vice and spool and had
whipped up a fresh batch of streamers and spring wigglers. Now, my car was in the
shop at the time, and Jack, well he never did have a car that I can remember, so
we hopped on the Greyhound.
It had been a late one the night before - we'd each downed more than a couple and
I'd taken some sweet plump thing home with me. Both Jack and I were feeling light
on sleep and pretty thick in the head, so the thought of snoring away our bus ride
sounded mighty fine. Thing was, there was this kid a few rows back that wouldn't
shut her fucking trap. This little girl cried, whined and screeched for a full two
hours, non-fucking-stop. She couldn't have been more than four and her worthless
fuck of a mother wasn't doing shit about shit. Sleep wasn't going to happen at
this rate and we were both pretty steamed about it, Jack and me. Stupid bitch
needed to learn to control her kid, you know?
Now, this was when things got weird. Jack was never much one for confrontation -- he
must have learned that passive aggressive shit from some rich shrink in Hollywood. He
was always saying shit like "well, if I was you," and "how would you feel?" I never
much understood it, myself. But this time something was different. Something in him
snapped. Old Jack stood up, marched down that aisle and shouted at the kid's mom.
"What the hell is wrong with that kid?!? If she screams one more fucking time, I'll
make you wish I was a gentleman!!"
Needless to say, my jaw dropped. Jack had never so much as raised his tone in my
experience. I don't think she recognized him, and she got all snippy like.
"It's her tooth, mister, it hurts somethin' awful. Now go mind your own and sit down."
I'd have thought this would have been enough to send Jack back to his seat, mumbling
under his breath. I'd have thought wrong. He must have learned something during
those years on TV, because old Jack, he pulled a pen-knife out of his pocket. Something
wicked was in his eye, but this was Jack-motherfucking-Klugman! He'd never hurt a
fly unless they'd murdered someone during prime-time and left a fingerprint covered
shoe-lace in the corpse's rectum!
Well, old Jack, he reached over that worthless excuse for a parent and shoved the
little girl's seat back into the reclined position. The mom, she gave a gasp and
looked ready to pop, but Jack just raised a single finger and looked
her dead in the eyes. She froze like a deer caught in the headlights and shut up
like a fruit cellar. He reached across her, and before anyone could move, he had
that penknife knuckle deep in the little girl's mouth!
Now I've seen some crazy shit in my day - remind me to tell you about that hooker
from Negaunee sometime - but nothing could compare to what happened next. Jack,
faster than you can say NBC, pulled his fingers out of this four year old's mouth
holding the abscessed tooth between them. He yanked a flask of Jack (ha!) out
of his hip pocket, poured a swallow down the girl's gullet and stomped back to his seat.
I'm not really sure what he did with the tooth after that, but I can tell you this
much: no one, the little tooth-acher included, made another squeak for the remainder
of our bus ride to Baldwin. I sure as hell wasn't going to question a good
thing. I hit my flask and went to sleep.
I was sure enough wrong about that Jack Klugman. He's a man of action. We didn't
catch any fish, though.