Chapter 19 Summary
The next day, Opal and Winn-Dixie go to Gertrude’s Pets early in the morning so Opal can sweep and clean the store again. When she gets there, Opal gives Otis a Littmus Lozenge. Otis asks if it is Halloween since Opal is giving him candy, but Opal says that the candy is just a gift for today. Otis puts the Littmus Lozenge in his mouth and soon tears roll down his cheeks. He thanks Opal, and she asks if he likes the taste. Otis says he likes the candy and but it reminds him of being in jail.
Stricken by her curiosity and fearing that she will lose her nerve, Opal quickly asks Otis why he was in jail. Otis says that he is neither a murderer nor a burglar, and then he stares at his boots. Otis says that he is not a dangerous man—he is just lonely. Otis confides that he was sent to jail because he played his music out on the street. Otis loves to play his guitar, but he thinks that music is best played for an audience. So he would play his music on the street for everyone to hear. The police arrived one day and told Otis he was causing a disturbance; they asked him to not play his guitar outside, but the whole time Otis just continued to play his guitar. This defiance made one of the police officers angry, and he tried to put Otis in handcuffs. Otis knew that the handcuffs would keep him from playing his guitar, so he hit the police officer and knocked him out right there on the street. Otis was arrested and sent to jail, where he did not have access to his guitar. When Otis was released from jail, the police made him promise to never play his guitar on the street again. When Gertrude, the owner of the pet store, read about Otis’s story in the newspaper, she hired him to care for the animals in the store and told him that it would be alright if he played music for them.
Opal thanks Otis for confiding in her, and she makes it a point to sweep slowly that morning so she can keep Otis company. Sweetie Pie Thomas comes into the store, and Opal also gives her a Littmus Lozenge, but Sweetie Pie spits out the candy. She says it does not taste good and it reminds her of not having a dog. Opal then thinks about loneliness, and she does not want Otis to feel lonely. She thinks that it seems like everyone is lonely. As she has been doing all summer, Opal thinks of her mother.