by Louis Gallo
We’re off visiting one college after another in the Commonwealth so my youngest daughter can decide for the Fall, and, right now, a student tour guide leads us along varied walkways to a rather dumpy campus (though some parts are Jeffersonian impressive), and the guide walks backwards to face us, a rather morose group of twelve or so parents and students, bantering chipperly about this and that, especially the diversity of the school (one Jew, twelve blacks, two Hispanics) . . .
well, it’s a small private place, muy expensive I might add . . . and she brags about the Olympic-sized pool and the fabulous cafeteria food yet none of us really want to hear chit-chat, we just wanna see the place, size up the lay of the land (just the facts, m’am) and it’s stifling and sweltering, we’re sweating, thirsty, miserable, yes, we’re a sorry group, solemn, pissed off, sleepy, harried (and we’re ninety miles Tennessee-ward from home), when suddenly, as if out of nowhere, this pooch, a sort of battered Boston terrier, trots briskly towards our group, a mutt ageing along with the rest of us, rather filthy and mottled, and he’s in the distance for the moment, but gaining, gaining on us, and it’s his zealous intent that amuses me, all business, as if he’s part of the group now, which he is, and he trots along right beside me, tongue flapping as he huffs, short stubby tail awag, and he and I make eye contact, that’s it, we’re partners now, he keeps looking at me, and I return the gaze and start to laugh, in fact, I can’t stop laughing although I try to stifle it as a cough but it’s obvious I’m laughing and the guide gives me the evil eye since I imagine she thinks I’m laughing at her, but no, the dog (whom I’ve named Bosco because he’s the color of that awful drink my mother made me sip as a child−
but it’s not even Bosco I’m laughing at though I suspect he’s the fool Shakespeare missed, making mock of our entire enterprise here by imitating us! It’s the situation, we, a group on serious business involving lots of money, and here’s Bosco, jaunting along, for five buildings now, sticking close to me, though he refuses to actually enter any of the buildings, he merely waits for us to finish and exit, and the guide has tried to give him the slip by exiting on the rear side of where we are now, the gymnasium, and I am dismayed that the ruse has worked − but wait! here comes Bosco spinning round the corner of the edifice, racing toward us, the guide who has ignored Bosco all this time now shooting venomous glances his way, and I lag behind the group so Bosco can catch up, which he does, impervious, cocky, all canine smiles as he glances adoringly at me. But sad to say, we’re back at the bursar’s office and must leave Bosco behind, which he senses, for he takes one sniff, turns away, gives me a last backward glance and ambles away . . .
I see another tour group across campus and he heads their way. I like to think I made a friend this day, a goofy little creature who, merely by existing, puts all of our grand enterprises to shame. And on the drive home at sunset I start to laugh again and my wife and girls laugh and no doubt Bosco, still on campus, never stops laughing as he sinks his teeth into the marrow of that juicy bone we call wisdom.
Louis Gallo’s work has appeared or will shortly appear in Wide Awake in the Pelican State (LSU anthology), Southern Literary Review, Fiction Fix, Glimmer Train, Hollins Critic,, Rattle, Southern Quarterly, Litro, New Orleans Review, Xavier Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Missouri Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, Mississippi Review, Texas Review, Baltimore Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Ledge, storySouth, Houston Literary Review, Tampa Review, Raving Dove, The Journal (Ohio), Greensboro Review,and many others. Chapbooks include The Truth Changes, The Abomination of Fascination, Status Updates and The Ten Most Important Questions. He is the founding editor of the now defunct journals, The Barataria Review and Books: A New Orleans Review. He was awarded an NEA fellowship for fiction. He teaches at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.