Wherever You Might Be, You Will Always Be My Dog

Dear Marmalade,

The days are rotten without you. It has rained on and on, like every summer, and the clouds are gray blue. It’s hurricane season. Papa says somebody in a dirty truck snatched you off the street. That you had it coming because you kept going up to strangers to get stroked and play.

He says Louisiana Blueticks aren’t loyal.

But I don’t think so. I know why you ran away! Although I’m really sick you left me alone with Papa. Now I have nobody to take walks with or talk to.

Papa says I’m a lucky girl. That if I had been with you, they would’ve snatched me too. He says Montegut’s full of weird people, like Chuckee Panidos, who smokes cigars and lies down in the middle of the street and sings. But, you know, I understand Chuckee; he’s too happy for this town. Everybody calls him a loser, but the beer and other things they serve at Jim’s Bar only make him sing sweet songs.

It rains and rains, and the sky isn’t blue. I’m writing this letter in the dark, inside the cottage Mama loved so much. The one Papa never fixed, behind our house. Remember how we used to roll on the floor? I told you we’d leave Montegut one day, hitchhike to Houma and New Orleans, where Papa says folks are strange. And that’s where Mama is from and where she went. I told you we’d go find Mama, and you watched me with moist eyes, like you understood, and then barked.

Ow, hold on! Papa’s calling for me. He’s just come out of the back door. He walks down the steps to the yard and stares this way. “Crissy?” he calls from below the roofing. “Where are you? Crissy.”

This is where I always am, in our yellow cottage. For a moment I want to yell at him, “No, I’m not here!” But I know better. I hold my breath. He takes a sip from his bottle, and a minute later, he stumbles back inside.

Marmalade, you know I don’t want to lie in the middle of the street and mumble songs. Why did you leave without me? Was I bad to you? Were you tired of hearing me say how I hate it here without Mama? Had enough of seeing me weep for Papa and how much worse he’s become since Mama left?

The rain is drumming on the roof. It won’t stop. Large drops come down the crack in the ceiling and ting into your indigo bowl. Soon it will be full. I imagine you in a neighborhood with many children and dogs and that you found a good family. A mother who cooks warm meals and takes care of the house. A father who doesn’t get silly with whiskey, helps kids with their homework, and goes to work. And everybody knows how special you are and gives you treats.

Papa talks about replacing you with a good dog, a German shepherd. He says he’ll never get another Louisiana Bluetick. I don’t care what he thinks. To me, you were the best ever.

Marmalade, I know you can’t read. I’m not stupid. I wrote this letter for myself, mostly. I will fold it and put it in the picture book with the photos of Mama and Papa’s wedding. I wrote to remember you, your wagging tail, your yappy barks and slobbering kisses that welcomed me home from school, the way your ear pricked when I talked to you.

Everything used to be better. Maybe, when I read this letter tomorrow or some other time, I’ll leave Montegut too.

But I don’t know. I don’t, because I wish, I wish, if I’d ever leave, that Papa would come look for me.


Your Buddy

Riccardo Savini grew up in Luxembourg, and ever since has kept moving between Europe and the US. He is currently wrapping-up his MFA at the University of New Orleans and writing a novel. His stories have appeared in Forge Journal, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Black Fox Literary Magazine, and Tratti (an Italian magazine).