Chapter 25 Summary

After the show, Jacob accompanies Charlie to his trailer and sips an impressive single malt scotch. He tells Charlie everything about his time with the Benzini Brothers circus, including the details of how Rosie killed August. Jacob feels such relief—for years, he never told anyone the secret about what Rosie did. Charlie nods sympathetically. Jacob never knew if Marlena was aware of what Rosie had done, but he never told her, fearing that the knowledge might make her change the way she felt about Rosie.

Then Jacob tells Charlie about the years he and Marlena spent with the Ringling Brothers circus. They left after the birth of their third child. Marlena had had enough of being on the road, and Rosie was getting too old to perform. Jacob took a job as the veterinarian at the Brookfield Zoo; he was hired both for his experience with exotic animals and for bringing along Rosie. Jacob and Marlena bought a rural property within commuting distance of the zoo, and there they raised the retired horses, all their children, and Bobo the chimp. Jacob remembers all the crazy days when his children were small and Bobo was naughty, but he says it all went by so fast. His children grew up and went to college, Marlena died, and now Jacob is all alone. Charlie listens intently.

Someone knocks on the door, and Jacob knows that whoever it is has come for him. When Charlie answers the door, the police officer tells him that an elderly man went missing from the nursing home nearby and that he was told that the man likely came to the circus. Charlie pretends he has not seen the old man and tells the officer that the circus will be leaving town soon. The officer peeks inside and asks Charlie who Jacob is; Charlie claims that Jacob is his father. The officer enters to investigate. Charlie shoots Jacob a look and tells the officer that Jacob cannot talk because he suffered a major stroke a few years ago. Playing along, Jacob drops his jaw and lets it quaver while he reaches for his drink with a trembling hand. Charlie rushes to help him with his drink while the officer watches. Finally convinced, the officer leaves and Charlie promises to call the station if he sees the missing old man.

Charlie gets the impression that Jacob wants to stay with him and the circus. Jacob reckons that, since he is alone and does not need any special care, he would prefer to be on the show. He will send his family postcards and thinks no one will miss him much. Jacob tells Charlie that he can sell tickets to be useful on the show, and Charlie’s eyes get misty. Charlie agrees to have Jacob run away with the circus—after all, for this old man, the circus is home.