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 the dark.

    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 blank.

    “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.”

                                                                                                                                                  (to be continued...)