The three bears -- Daddy (when ""he's good he's very very good but when he's bad he's the shits"") and Dylan, he's three, and Jack, that's me the teenager who tells this all live in Oakland, where Daddy who blows too much dope before and after Mom died (they'd already split) is the Monster of Ceremonies on some Thriller TV show. Well, obviously we've got the wrong bedtime story but this one will keep you awake all through its appealing-appalling chronology of what happens after Dexter -- he's the kid next door -- loses his mother after she crashes for the last time and then Cheyenne, the dog of the really delinquent boy also nearby gets poisoned which for some reason he blames on one of them and so kidnaps Dylan who is not found for days -- not only semiconscious but scared to death -- ""his eyes had a petrified ice-cube look."" Up until this time McCall is pretty much in control of his California-modern 400 blows childhood but then it gets much messier and even too freaked out for this particular scene. The title's from an old Duke Ellington song about a loser ""Jack the Bear/ Jack the Bear/ Take all them steps/ And get NO-where."" Fewer steps, and it would have been infallibly susceptible stuff.