lost-and-found

Her Name Is Chalucy

Chalucy stumbles out onto the sidewalk in front of that purple house, her eyes on fire from the first sun of the day. Scorched concrete stings her small bare feet as she hops to the end of the front walk, where her toes finally adjust like neatly arranged rows of tiny, seared steaks. Her senses crackle with a quick electricity that makes her shiver uncontrollably, and she feels aware, animate, relieved. She sits down slowly, anticipating the nip of the hot sidewalk on her rear, and lets the summer breeze deliberately fill her lungs. In it she tastes the grass, the highway exhaust, the new roses, the garbage truck two blocks away, the candy wrapper skittering across the street’s cracked pavement.

Morning has bro-ken, like the first morning.

Cat Stevens fills the house behind her on what feels like infinite repeat, soured further in brash accompaniment by the fantastically terrible singing of a woman named Maude. Maude is sprawled on that worn paisley sofa, reading her way through piles of old Life magazines, though God only knows how she can really read and sing along with such loud music. The television, unwatched, advertises dreadful future programming in another room. A greasy kitchen timer rings to announce the successful boiling of several questionably aged eggs. Upstairs, Maude’s husband Frank tinkers in a room that’s filled with dusty old appliances, casual swearing, and the kind of grave, gargled coughing that’s earned through decades of unfiltered smoke inhalation. All of it – Maude, Cat Stevens, ding!, “tomorrow on a fresh new episode of Smallville,” the clatter of doomed toasters slamming against bare wood floors and Frank’s booming croup – all of it swirls together every day to form an aural chaos that would send even the meekest of deaf persons into a murderous rage.

Blackbird has spo-ken, like the first bird.

Chalucy filters out the confused symphony behind and tries to hear only the birds and children giggling on bicycles in front of her. She’s restless, uncomfortable, her faded pink dress bunched around her middle like an itchy second skin, exactly what it feels like. She loathes it, but Maude makes her wear that dress, says she’s “Chalucilicious” in it, says she wants to “spread her on some breads and eat her up for Sunday brunch.” Chalucy’s very friendly, but goddamnit she hates that Maude.

Mine is the sun-light, mine is the morning.

Chalucy considers her options, the same she has every time she sits at the end of the front walk. In one direction, she returns predictably to that house and continues living for the quietude of each brief night (although Frank’s been snoring again, so that’s some fleeting consolation). In each of a hundred other directions, she simply walks away and starts over, even if it’s for an hour or a day. It’s the third of July though. Holy hell breaks loose tomorrow; the neighborhood becomes an adolescent war zone, thousands of dollars in front-yard pyrotechnics ejaculating all over roads and rooftops. Too risky to walk away today, too risky. Chalucy stands up and pivots to face the house and Maude’s shadowy figure, silhouetted against a shimmering collection of wall-bound dinner plates from the “Treasured American Musicals” series.

Morning has bro-ken, like the first morning.

She begins to shiver again, her vision blurred by the abruptness of the turn that again points her away from the purple house. Seconds later, Chalucy is trotting down the sidewalk, towards the park that she knows is at the end of her block and the Little League Championship series that she doesn’t yet know is being held there today. Some smallbody knocks a gently curving slider into shallow left field and the parents in blue send up a rowdy, melodic cheer. Chalucy is energized, her trot a full run, the speckled gray sidewalk a river beneath her. Free! Alive! Nipping at bugs! She feels able to fly and she imagines it, then feels it, her six pounds lifted gently in mid-gait by a sweet smelling old man who immediately removes her faded pink dress, whispering in her ear that everything’s going to be alright.

7 Responses to “Her Name Is Chalucy”

  1. Earl Hoffert

    You mean “sweet smelling young man” – Mail the pink dress back, with the local pound as the return address.

  2. kate

    Girlie clothes, Cat Stevens, tons of outdated magazines and an old man who snores too loud…sounds like my childhood.

    Run, Chalucy, run.

  3. dad

    Wait just one minute young man. I don’t recall ever having that Birds & Bees discussion with you. Where did you pick up the word “ejaculating”?

  4. Sloan

    Yeah, you dropped the ball on that one, so to speak. Good thing we had Cinemax.

  5. all dogs go to heaven

    Oh, man! I had a dog run away from home … we (family) would always recapture her, until she finally had a successful escape. Darn Dog! At lest I never put her in a pink dress.
    Really though, this was another excellent story. You had me going almost to the end that the main character was a little girl, not a little dog. Keep up the creative writing!

  6. Seka

    remember the fun things we used to do watching skinamax, slippery sloan?

  7. Bee Dubs

    I tried both phone numbers on the flyer- one was busy and the second one has somebody who keeps hanging up on me. Do you have any others?

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