Jimmy Wonder Mutt was destined for greatness the moment his first ever bark persuaded a suicidal hobo not to kill himself after all. Bent over with crippling liver pains, and drunk, and down to his last dollar-fifty without the heart or the stomach to beg, steal, or borrow another damn cent, the desperate vagabond was about to throw himself in front of a W B Mason delivery van hurtling by – when Jimmy’s bark roused him just long enough to step back, fall over, and sleep it all off till a touch after noon. (After that, he perked up sufficiently to thumb a ride to Philly, where he finally fell in love with a road-sweeping gal from Baltimore.)
Never anybody’s pet, Jimmy Wonder Mutt simply roamed the back-streets of Brooklyn scavenging for food, chasing tail, and dodging traffic, delivery vans and all. Only, on the look-out for tossed bratwurst, half-eaten wiener-schnizel, and left-over noodle kugel, he kept on butting heads with destiny instead. He had a nose for it.
Like at the end of ’95 when, still a hungry young pup, he cracked the FBI’s Poppolini case wide-open – his the curious paw that unearthed the final resting place of Paulie “Plank Face” Poppolini, too hastily disposed of the night before by Ralph “Pastrami” Rollo. (One way or another forensics, some rough-and-tumble investigative short-cuts, and the Witness Protection Program did the rest.)
Or, two summer’s later, when Jimmy inadvertently sniffed out the wicked wrong-doing of Brooklyn’s all-time most successful school football coach, Teddy Smalls. Leaping suddenly up at Teddy during a local Better Healthcare for Seniors Rally, he pulled from the unzipped pocket of his jacket a pair of schoolboy underpants. (Insufficiently explained, they pointed an appalled school district in the direction of Small’s hitherto hidden rampant pedophilia.)
Or that briefly ugly incident in the fall of 2004 when Jimmy snuffed out what could otherwise have been a nasty outbreak of rabies. From the docks, and the hold of a cargo ship from Zanzibar, a wild, flea-ridden, rabid mongrel had been fighting and biting his way through his first night in New York City when he lurched in front of Jimmy at the worst possible moment – Jimmy just moments prior having stepped on a broken glass jar of apple sauce and in, therefore, the filthiest of moods. (Jimmy tore his assailant limb from limb, and the spray of mongrel blood gave a sober nod to Jackson Pollock alongside splattered condiment and shards of glass.)
Or, indeed, through gentler months at the end of the naughties in which an older, becalmed Jimmy’s pottering about inspired the reclusive poet Margo Vintip to pen her seminal collection Dog Days of Sunday – which, in turn, of course, eventually played a key role in the CIA’s discovery of Osama Bin Laden’s Pakistani whereabouts.
Yes, even if history cannot quite tell us from where he got his name, Jimmy Wonder Mutt certainly earned his vaunted reputation. Many are the smaller stories many others could tell you of his life. And some taller tales, too, that might just be true. No single neighborhood could ever contain Jimmy, and seldom did he snaffle and scoff the scores of juicy sausages his nose led him to without somehow bending reality his way en route. Jimmy didn’t skim the surface of his life, he splashed about like a loon.
Even the Office Depot delivery van he accidentally ran in front of, yesterday, plunged into the East River a half-second after killing him, drowning the driver and all its reams of paper.