by Louis Gallo

Dixie’s pure Cajun out of Bayou des Allemandes where her family owns everything, oil money,

but she’s sweet, gracious, and makes sure her copper red hair bounces when she talks, and she’s

animated, lively, innocent I guess, the kind of innocent that’s been around, and she laughs a lot, smiles constantly, but deep down she’s sad, you can feel it, and today I bring her over to our family’s Sunday feast at my grandmother’s, which I don’t usually do with just anyone, so for now I’m into Dixie and her eyes bulge when she beholds the food on my grandmother Meem’s table because Meem goes all out when I invite guests, and back then most of my family is still alive and I will be lonely when they’re not but what can you do? I’m close to Meem, real close, but I know she judges the women that come round and doesn’t like any of them because I’m the crown prince according to her though she’s really the boss . . . look at this:

a platter of bruschetta dripping with butter and olive oil, the baked ham and pineapple, chickpea

soup, tagliatelle pesto, artichokes stuffed with Progresso breadcrumbs and oyster paste, a bowl of fava beans with olive salad, and for dessert we’ll have lemon ricotta cake and caramel flan (the best in the world) . . .

we all dig in and Dixie eats daintily, exclaiming with each bite how delicious though I happen to know she prefers French to Italian, and I mean Cajun French—they eat alligators down there—and speak some twangy patois that sounds like Japanese.

But Dixie’s too hungry, she’s always hungry, and I like her much, how could anyone not? and she’s damned fine looking and drives an MG convertible, and I don’t mean by hungry greedy, there’s no greed in her soul, she’s just famished, and she wants to eat me up too and that might be fine if I felt like being eaten and sometimes I do but right now I don’t so it’s rough dealing with her and she never gets enough of, well, you know what I’m talking about, as if deprived her whole life, and I know it was a messy divorce, she was crushed when her husband confessed he prefers men, which must have bludgeoned her self-esteem, and I’m sorry for her and want to help but I don’t want consumption (and I don’t mean tuberculosis though I don’t want that

either), I mean being swallowed anew each day and she can’t help it, she’s needy, and when I explain it to her, she cries and promises she’ll change but she can’t change because Dixie is Dixie

and I remember times when I felt the same need and it’s desperate, scary, nobody likes it,

but she almost begs, pleads, she’ll do anything anybody wants, just love me, love me,

but love is a mystery and you might wind up with Medea or Medusa while eager Dixie languishes on the sidelines, still compliant, ready to forgive, and, hell, the girl is rich and hot, so why the hesitation? Oh yeah,

I forgot to mention spumoni, we have that too, and get this, hand made by Meem. We’re full,

bloated, but Dixie accepts a second round of flan and spumoni, and that’s what I mean, how is it

possible? She’s not fat, she’s lean and trim, and that wavy hair bounces and she’s laughing and telling Cajun stories and even my half senile grandfather is charmed, charming, she’s charming,

though I know that after this grand lunch I’ll drive her to the gazebo in Audubon Park and tell her we need to see other people (that cruel line which covers a lot of ground) and she will burst

into tears and I don’t want to use the word grovel because I really like this girl and have a few needs myself, many needs, and I wish Meem were still alive, and the others too, and Dixie’s so ready to comply and enthusiastic despite the telluric sadness and it’s a mistake but maybe another place, another time, because right now, at this instant, I’m hungry for nothing.

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.