Louie Is Lost
PLOP. SPLAT. “Owwwww!” SPLAT.
Just a second ago Louie had been snugly dozing, cushioned
inside Mandy’s soft totebag, nestled warm and safe against her folded flannel
pjs and socks.
In an instant, Mandy’s totebag had flown off the luggage
rack atop Mama and Pappa’s SUV, splitting apart and throwing Louie out into
SPLAT. Giant cold raindrops stung Louie’s eyes
blurring his vision as the tail lights of Mama and Pappa’s SUV disappeared,
taking away Louie’s whole world. Cars sped by, each throwing a spray
of dirty water onto the side of the highway and into Louie’s face.
He couldn’t believe this was happening. He’d
been left behind. In the dark. Wet. Cold. Alone.
SPLAT, another car sped by.
Louie had never felt so miserable or frightened.
Not even when Mandy’s girlfriends had snickered and called him “honky monkey”
because his fur was white (well, actually silver), but in Mandy’s neighborhood
in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Louie’s silver fur stood out like white
bread and marshmallows against the dusty, dark skinned Mandy and her neighbors.
Well, I’m not white now, Louie thought, as another car sent a dirty, cold
spray of oily water over his head.
Suddenly, Louie was blinded by the bright head lights
of a car. It was coming right at him. They’re coming back for
me. For a second, Louie felt a rush of relief so deep it took his breath
away. He squinted and shook his head, trying to see past the head
light beams, expecting to hear Mandy’s light laugh in the next second.
“Well, old fellow, you’re in a mess here, aren’t you.”
A calm voice sounded nearby. “I’d better take you home to Caro.
If I can just find something here in the trunk....Ah, here’s a nice plastic
bucket that’s just your size, old fellow.”
Disappointment and relief surged through Louie.
This was NOT Pappa! And where was “home?” Who was “Caro?”
But the man’s voice sounded friendly, even if he did persist on calling Louie
“old” and it was dry and warm inside the man’s car – even if he didn’t know
where that car was heading.
“Don’t worry, old fellow, if I know anything, I can
promise you that Ms. Caro will get you cleaned up and settled in with the
Brigade fast enough.”
What, Louie wondered, was a “brigade.” Oh, Mandy,
where are you! Where am I? He’d remembered hearing Mama telling
Mandy that the family was packing up a few things and going to stay with
Pappa’s brother in New Mexico until the storm was gone. He’d thought
it would be a grand adventure to travel someplace new. At least they’d
be far away from New Orleans when the big storm blew in. Louie tried
to remember the name of the town where Pappa’s brother lived, but came up
“Let’s see, now,” the man said. “We’ve got the
bears, of course, an elephant, a rabbit or two, and a camel, but I don’t
think Caro’s found a monkey before, so you’ll be the first one in the Brigade.”
Louie felt, at that moment, that things couldn’t get
much worse. He was muddy and wet and afraid and lost. And now
he had to face some kind of wild animal pack, where he’d be the only monkey.
The car started to slow and came to a stop. Louie
could hear the man open and close the car’s door and then he was being carried
(bucket and all) into a building.
“Caro!” the man called out, “I’ve brought another stray
home for you.”
“What!” a voice called back, “Just what I don’t need.
Tell me its not another old, sick dog!”
“Nope,” the man replied. “Its someone better.
Take a look inside the bucket I left on top of the dryer.”