I begin to search for a name. I want it to be profound, something that will prove my wisdom at so young an age. It’s a lot of pressure to pick a name. No wonder so many people name their children after themselves. It’s not honor. It’s cheating. I look at him again. He has a chubby black nose and soft eyes with which he could conquer the world. He’s calm and small. Napoleon. I’ll name him Napoleon because I want to prove that I am ironic and because, well, he is short. Perhaps he will prove to be feisty when he isn’t sleeping so much.
I look at him and smile as he flops on his side after relieving himself. Not a promising start for an ambitious, demanding conqueror. Louis. I will name him Louis because he will love the life of leisure I can give him as soon as we rid ourselves of this mess. I catch his eye and rub my finger against my index and middle fingers as if I have food, seeing if he will come to me. He takes a big breath and sighs. Not likely. It figures. Three others to give me companionship. One doesn’t speak and only observes, making you feel as if he is searching you, picking you apart for wounds if he should ever need to save, or worse, strike you. The other speaks with an accent that is grating to me ears. He is kind enough but I can’t bear much more of the twang. It’s like a bad Western– and I hate good Westerns. Besides, he likes to walk ahead with the horse. Whovever thought it was wise to feed a horse and then let him walk in front of the pack obviously didn’t think enough.
And last of all, a dog who is about as animated as a stuffed animal.
It seems as if there are three movies going on simultaneously. True Grit. Some sort of movie in which the president is in danger and has a body guard tailing him. And Homeward Bound. Make the any Lord of the Rings movie. Because all we seem to do is walk.
I groan just from the irritation of my own negative thoughts and feelings. I can’t stand even myself. I lean my head up against the wall and feel the rough bricks hang on to a few pieces of hair. The young man immediately reaches over and pushes the back of my head away from the wall. “Thanks.” I mouth. He only checks to make sure no hair is caught to the brick.
The older man is gently picking up crates and barrels down the alley. He finds one and retrieves a wad of papers. I was hoping for more. A key. Something that proved something. Anything at all. That we had a destination. He smiles at me and then spits.
The end of the crate digs into my thighs. I walk up to the horse and feel the leather saddle on his back. His tail swishes almost silently behind him. I grab a carrots about of my messenger bag and hand them to him. Beside me, the older man picks up the crate and pulls out a cap, like a newsboy cap and shoves it on my head roughly but with what I can assume is as much gentleness as he could muster. Then, without another word, he starts to saunter back down the alley and, though I want to stop, I want to scream “Where are we going?! I have a right to know!” I follow him. And Louis catches up, steps on the back of my pants and I pick him up. He licks my ear and we keep ambling, silent in our small convoy through this labyrinth of bricks.