Chapter 12 Summary
On the morning Opal is scheduled to begin working at the pet store, she arrives so early the Closed sign is still on the door. But the door is unlocked, so she and Winn-Dixie go in. Once inside, Opal hears the most beautiful music she has ever heard. She sees that all the animals are out of their cages on the floor. Mice, snakes, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, lizards, and birds are all on the floor together, and Otis is standing in the middle of them playing his guitar. The animals appear to be entranced, and Winn-Dixie settles himself on the floor and becomes part of it. Gertrude the parrot screams, “Dog!” and flies over and perches on Winn-Dixie’s head. Otis looks up at Opal and stops playing his guitar, but when the music stops, the animals are roused from their spell and begin hopping and crawling around the store. Otis shouts for Opal to help him, and the two begin shoving animals back into cages. In the chaos, Opal thinks Otis must be some kind of snake charmer to be able to sway the animals with the sound of his guitar. Opal tells Otis that he should start playing again, and once the music starts, the animals fall back into their trance. Opal is then able to put each one back in its proper cage. Opal asks if the animals had escaped their cages, and Otis admits that he took them out on purpose because he feels sorry that they are locked up all day. Otis confides that he has been to jail, then he tells Opal that she has to sweep the floor. As Opal works, Winn-Dixie follows her around the store, and Gertrude remains perched on his head.
When Opal leaves Gertrude’s Pets, Sweetie Pie Thomas is once again outside the window and says that she saw everything that happened with the music and the animals. Sweetie Pie asks Opal if Otis is a magic man, and Opal says she thinks he is. Sweetie Pie hugs Winn-Dixie and asks Opal if she is coming to her birthday party. Then Sweetie Pie sees her mother sitting on their porch, and she runs off to tell her mother the story of Otis as a magic man. Opal thinks about her own mother and the stories that she has been collecting to tell her. She will tell her mother about Otis, Miss Franny Block, and Gloria Dump. Opal hopes these are the kind of stories that will make her mother laugh the way the preacher said she likes to laugh.